Homestead Report 27: another belated installment in a busy summer season

This is the time of year when I glory in bringing in the harvest. It never ceases to amaze that a tiny seed, given rain, sun, soil, and a little love, will grow into a great vigorous plant that miraculously produces big, juicy, delicious fruits that feed us until we can’t bear to eat any more.

We’re overrun with luscious fruit!! Over 55 peaches eaten fresh in just about 2 weeks of gluttonous delight! Everbearing strawberries are still producing. Tiny blueberry bushes loaded with berries. Raspberries dropping off the canes (but covered with horrid fruit flies). Watermelon, cantaloupe…

Vegetables are doing well too, for the most part. I’m swamped with produce to put up for the winter.

But I say “for the most part” because the tomatoes now have late blight. It’s horrible. The fruits get gross blisters and the whole plants wither and die.

My parents visited and we fixed the hoophouse that partially collapsed in the snow last winter. This fix makes me feel much more confident that we will survive the next big snowstorm without further damage, plus we can now walk through the central aisle without dodging boards.

I’ve also been working on our high porch railing, in part to keep all of our friends’ kiddos safe from a second story drop-off; previously the railing basically functioned as a ladder.

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The flowers are nice too…

Our hugelkultur bed succeeded in growing pumpkins and tomatoes, despite the fact that it is essentially still a pile of logs, sawdust, and grass clippings.

A few hen turkeys along with their mixed-age young like to journey through our yard frequently, eating grass seed and dust-bathing in the potato patch.

We found this gray tree frog resting on a grape leaf.

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Homestead Report 21: April 24, 2017

More blooming flowers (mmmm…) and the first black flies (no!!!) greeted us this week.

As we wait for various things to leaf out, I’m noticing that the animals are waiting too–impatiently. A month or so ago, I’d pruned our raspberry patch, carefully following directions set forth in Lee Reich’s Grow Fruit Naturally, only to discover on Thursday that a porcupine decided to prune a bit more (and more each day). It seems to cut  most canes off at about a foot high, and leave the cut pieces scattered below. I can’t tell exactly what it is eating, but I wish it would just leave well enough alone. I’m afraid with such short canes we won’t get fruit to ripen until so late in the year that we’ll lose most of it to frost. Fortunately, we do have a lot of plants, and in fact have just dug a new bed for transplanting some of the raspberry shoots that are coming up in the lawn.

Today a few plum blossoms opened all the way, just barely beating out the peaches, whose petals began to peek out of their buds today, but aren’t yet fully open.

In the spring ephemeral bed, the dutchman’s britches (Dicentra cucullaria) are fully open, as is the hepatica (Anemone americana) and blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis). We just saw the first spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) open today. Rue anemones (Thalictrum thalictroides) and trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) pushed up out of the ground today too. Cut-leaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) and ramps/ wild leeks (Allium tricoccum) have been up for a few days, but aren’t flowering yet.

In the woods, coltsfoot and golden alexanders is blooming.

Charley and I had the good fortune to lead a vernal pool walk on Sunday in the Holyoke Range. We checked out five vernal pools and found spotted salamander eggs, marbled salamander larvae, red-spotted newts, and a disturbing absence of wood frogs.

We also spotted a number of neat invertebrates including fairy shrimp, giant water bugs, and a predaceous diving beetle larva (eating a fairy shrimp).

I’ll just leave you with these lovely purple hepatica.

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