Friday, June 14, 2013

a sign of the season

It's true, summer hasn't official begun, but it's been a beautiful pre-summer season so far here in the southeastern Pennsylvania. With only about a week of somewhat unpleasant temperatures and more rain than the ground can drink, the backyard garden has been happy, happy, happy.

Peppers growing from seed.
We started our seeds indoors sometime around late March/early April. These included peppers, tomatoes, herbs, broccoli, corn and a few flowers. While the spring weather was still a bit crisp, we planted our pea, bean, lettuce, cabbage, carrot and swiss chard seeds directly into our freshly tilled and compost-rich garden soil. We also planted potatoes and onions, and the garlic from last year was still growing strong. Once the ground was free from the risk of frost, we planted squash, cucumber, sunflower, marigold and other assorted flower seeds, and transplanted a few strawberry plants. The variety of plants growing in the garden this year is unbelievable. I'm certain it's the best year yet. 

We spent a considerable amount of time constructing a taller, sturdier, and dare I say, more visually appealing garden fence this year. So far it's proven a trusty barrier to most of the critters who venture through the backyard. There's an occasional turf war with one very fat groundhog, but overall we seem to be prevailing.  

Our garden, late spring 2013.
I really can't wait until we start collecting the fruits and veggies the garden will be producing this year. And we have big plans for it all, too. There's always an overabundance of produce to share, and while we look forward to continuing to share the products of a season's work with our friends and neighbors, we also are hopefully to save quite a bit. We've never done any preserving or canning, although we have dried some hot peppers and saved them with a vacuum sealer. This year, Ashley is looking forward to making his own tomato sauce. With all of the basil, oregano, garlic, onions and tomatoes sure to come up, that should be a successful project, even if it's done in small batches. I've found a pretty good resource for preserving garlic and I'm excited to try it. And I also want to make my own mozzarella so I can enjoy 100% homegrown and homemade caprese salad - what a perfect summer treat.

Sunday morning reading.
Recently, I've been really interested in brushing up on my homesteading skills. It's my dream to one day have my own small farm - the ideas are varied and who knows, maybe someday a combination of them will become a reality. I have a number of books I flip through from time-to-time to get some tips, and a whole slew more on my Amazon wishlist. If I can manage to read through even half of them, I think I'll have more knowledge and background information than I'll know what to do with.

And as I've found out over the years, and I'm sure many of you have as well, having big ideas is the easy part. Getting excited about them is pretty effortless, too. It's all the hard work and motivation that goes into making them a reality that's sometimes tough. A little self discipline and diligence will hopefully go a long way, and by the end of the season I hope there are plenty of recipes and tips to share!


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