The July veggie garden

If you’re just tuning in, this is a recurring series in which I document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May 2016 to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration (and plenty of stupid novice moments). Check out last month’s installment here and enjoy the best and worst moments of our first year on the homestead here.

July 2017

A true experience of summer, the month of July produced the suns and the rains that allowed our vegetable garden to flourish. Although we’re having a rather cool, wet summer, enough sunlight filtered through to remind us that this is in fact summertime. Our woods are filled with a palette of green. No longer are the browns and yellows of springtime present and we don’t yet have the riotous, cliche colors of fall. The occasional flower breaks up this leafy monochrome, but for the most part it’s simply, and beautifully, all green.

The 4th Of July

Our 4th of July Babywoods, bribed to stand still with this normally forbidden bell

Our little town puts on a spectacular (in my opinion) 4th of July celebration every year at the town center. Sadly this year, torrential rains forced the cancellation of the parade, the watermelon races, the softball tournament, and quite a few other festivities.

Instead, we all crowded into the town center basement and enjoyed a chicken dinner put on by the volunteer fire department. Although mostly a wash, we still had a delightful time hanging out with our neighbors and were reminded–yet again–of how much we love our tiny, tight-knit community.

July is also host to our town’s free summer day camp for kids and Babywoods and I read stories to some of the campers one afternoon. This was not tremendously successful on my part as Babywoods lost interest in the big kid book after a few chapters, but we made it through with minimal shrieking. In just a few more years, Babywoods will be a camper herself!

In The Garden

Half of our veggie garden

July was a fabulous month for our little (actually not so little) crop of veggies. Mr. Frugalwoods–our gardener in chief–spends copious time tending and coaxing our little plants into production. Out of the malevolent grip of frost this month, we were into the danger zone of pests both large and small.

To dissuade the resident deer population from feasting on our luscious veg, Mr. FW installed a very simple, very cheap fence: a single strand of fishing line tied up between homemade posts encircling the garden. The idea is that a deer advancing towards the garden in an offensive position will brush up against the fishing line and, unable to see the clear wire, will become spooked and abandon all thoughts of veggie thiefdom. Sounds overly simplistic, but I gotta say, so far it’s working.

We’ve seen a few deer in our yard (which Mr. FW chases after like a wild man, waving his arms and shouting “run deer!”), but nary a nibble on our crop. Smaller pests–of the insect variety–are proving a much more insidious threat at present. Japanese beetles and snails must be manually removed and Mr. FW applies organic Neem oil at regular intervals, which seems to help.

As our garden grows, various trellises are needed to prop up/assist various plants and Mr. FW industriously built trellis systems for our pole beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes. All appear to be thriving on these homemade apparatuses and climbing ever higher on their wee twine ropes.

Harvest Time! For Some Stuff

Babywoods in the chard

We began to reap a few fruits of our (really Mr. FW’s… ) gardening labors this month. Both the kale and the chard were ready to go and we ate a spicy Asian-inspired stir fry of kale, chard, onions, garlic, and spices every night for several weeks.

The strange thing about gardening is that once something’s ripe, it’s REALLY ripe and needs to be eaten immediately. It’s an all or nothing proposition with stuff like kale and chard that doesn’t freeze or preserve well, so we just dove in and ate it as we harvested. I wish we could mete out these amazing fresh veggies over a longer period of time, but leafy greens just don’t keep well (or at least, not in ways that we like to eat).

A few precocious pole beans ripened this month and we gobbled those up in our stir-fry as well. Except for Babywoods, who prefers to just pull the beans right off the stalk and eat them al fresco while sitting in the dirt they grew in. She’s original like that.

A few of our herbs were also ready to consume and they too got thrown into the stir fry cauldron: dill, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme. Yum. Everything else–cucumbers, more beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, apples, and hot peppers–should be coming up in August or September, so stay tuned! Many of these later crops can be preserved, so we’re looking forward to storing away some veg for the winter.

Berry Berry Good

The dark berries are ripe black raspberries!

July is black raspberry time! As you may recall, Mr. FW laboriously built a trellis system for our black raspberry plants in the spring in an effort to make harvesting the berries easier and to keep the plants in alignment. Unfortunately, he made the trellises with rope twine as opposed to wire twine and some of them broke under the weight of the berry vines.

This is one of those instances where we knew we were supposed to use wire, but we had rope on hand and so we hoped it might work. Well, it didn’t. Regardless of this novice failure, the berries still thrived and we harvested a-plenty this month.

Last year, I froze gallon after gallon of berries for us to enjoy through the deep winter. This year, I managed to freeze exactly one solitary gallon of berries on account of my wee berry munching assistant, Babywoods, who would stand at my heels while I harvested intoning ,”baayyyys peeeeaaasssss” after every berry I picked.

A berry-stained berry lover

I estimate she ate about one berry for every three I managed to harvest. Suffice it to say this child LOVES berries and will go to great lengths to consume them–she even learned to gingerly pick them herself and avoid the thorns with her tiny, berry-obsessed paws. Luckily, our next crop of berries–blackberries–should come ripe in August and we have a metric ton of those, so hopefully more can go in the freezer for wintertime delight.

Berry etymology: we have both black and red raspberries on our property, as well as blackberries, and all three of these berries are distinct. They each have a unique taste, color, and appearance. The black raspberries are the least common of the three, but I think they’re the tastiest. Black raspberries are hollow–much like their red brethren–and have a more tart, less sweet flavor. They also stain clothing and skin like nobody’s business. If you ever get hand-me-down baby clothes from me, you’ll know what all those deep purple stains are on the fronts of Babywoods’ shirts… and pants… and socks.

A Visit From The 1500s!

The highlight of our July was a visit from our good friends Mr. and Mrs. 1500 and their two lovely daughters, Kids 1500 (they don’t actually call them that, but I do). We met the 1500s on the internet, of all places, and became fast friends while attending the same personal finance conferences over the years. This was their first (we hope of many!) visit to the homestead and it was a delight to talk in person as opposed to over endless email chains.

The toilet-fixing kings, Mr. 1500 & Mr. FW

Mr. FW and Mr. 1500 took the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the legendary Hill Farmstead brewery and brought back tasty beer treats for all to enjoy. Another of our personal finance friends JL Collins, and his fabulous wife, joined us for a potluck dinner and we all talked about money to our heart’s content.

Since the 1500s share our frugal DIY ethos–and are expert home improvement gurus (they make what Mr. FW and I do look like child’s play)–we quickly put them to work helping us replace and repair our toilets. The guys replaced our master bathroom toilet–a cantankerous old beast that gulped gallons of water–with a new, efficient, low flow toilet to reduce our water use. Plus, they fixed our guest room toilet, which had acquired a small leak. Our downstairs toilet didn’t require their ministrations, but we’ll see if we can’t break it before their next visit, just to round out the trifecta of toilet treatments.

Kids 1500 and Babywoods played happily in our pond and creeks, climbing on rocks and splashing in our icy spring water. Babywoods has become quite the water baby and adores her version of “swimming” almost as much as eating black raspberries. They also picked those berry bushes clean and proposed the fabulous idea of berry pancakes for dinner one night–with locally made maple syrup, of course.

Babywoods and Kids 1500 picking those berry bushes clean

Sharing our homestead with friends is such a rewarding aspect of living here and we’re grateful we have the time and the space to do so. It’s a joy to share our land with others who similarly appreciate the beauty and wonder of the woods.

Want More Fotos?!

While I only document homestead life once a month here on the blog, I post photos to Instagram and updates to Facebook with much greater regularity–sometimes daily! Join me there if you want more of our frugal woods.

And if you want to make sure you don’t miss a post here, sign-up for our handy dandy email list in the box below. You’ll get a message from me if you do…

Onward to August frugal comrades!

How was July on your own personal homestead?

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  1. Your pics are so amazing!! They really show how beautiful y’all’s place is!
    Babywoods is going to have such awesome memories of all this. I grew up eating strawberries off the bush and running through gardens, and I feel like I had the best childhood. We had very few toys, but my husband is always amazed at how much I loved everything that we did as a kid.
    I saw a few pics on Mr. 1500’s site and hoped you would have a few too! Im glad y’all had such a great visit. And isn’t it great when you can get friends to help with house projects? 😊

    1. “Your pics are so amazing!! They really show how beautiful y’all’s place is!”

      Ember, it’s far more beautiful in person. I loved every part of Vermont and the homestead.

  2. It looks like you had a fantastic July. My son who is about to turn two in September loves berries. He doesn’t smash them on his hand but he does like to put them on top of his finger like their lollypops to eat them. So he has a lot of stains on the tips of his fingers.

    Looks like you all are living the good life 🙂

  3. If you like soups/stews then you can dehydrate kale to use all winter. I have jars of it (dehydrated and crumbled) and add it to soups, stews, rice— basically anything that cooks in liquid! Great way to get those nutrients year-round.

    1. Do you just stick the kale in the dehydrator? We already have one, so that might be a good option! And then do you need to freeze the dehydrated bits?

      1. I chop the kale up and put it in a variety of sized plastic bags to freeze and to add to stews and soups later on.

        1. Me too, I mostly cook with frozen leafy greens because that way they’re pre-prepped and measured out into reasonable serving sizes that way. Plus the freezing sort of pre-wilts them so it’s easier to see how much cooked spinach you’ll actually get to eat.

        2. You can also use frozen kale and chard in smoothies. Keeps well, and even if off a bit in taste will be offset by other ingredients.

      2. Another idea for your kale….make pesto and freeze it! It’s just as good as basil pesto in my opinion!!!! YUM! I also use spinach or a combination of greens sometimes….not sure about using chard but worth a try!

      3. You don’t have to freeze anything that you dehydrate. That is the purpose of dehydrating food. You can just put it in glass jars and keep all year. Actually, if put in dry clean canning jars, and add an oxygen absorber, it will last for several years right in your cupboard.

  4. Wow, I’m a FIREd city-boy, but your beautiful homesteading prose and pics seem almost idyllic.

    Almost feels like an old episode of The Waltons which is probably before your time. I loved that show.

  5. It was a pleasure working on your toilets! May you have many good years of… hmmm, never mind!

    Thank you for a wonderful visit! Prior to arrival, I had formed beautiful visions of Vermont and the Homestead in my mind’s eye. Reality easily surpassed those lofty expectations.

    We will be back. Oh yes…

  6. I had a bumper crop of kale and chard last year. Froze oodles after blanching and was able to have my preferred kale fried in oil all spring. (Thaw and ring out water, it crisps up well) I even froze some kale raw and it was fine. Chard went in stir fries. I urge you to experiment, you might like it! Thanks for the blog!

    1. I agree – I love to sautee my kale so I imagine it would freeze well like spinach. They sell it frozen at our local stores too!

      1. You can also make kale pesto (kale + basil) and freeze in ice cube trays to have a yummy topping ready all winter. Can’t do it all that way, but it’s another way to get some kale preserved!

        1. Unfortunately, we still have basil pesto in our freezer that we made last summer, so I fear we’re just not pesto eaters!

          1. We use pesto in place of mayonnaise on (tomato or cheese) sandwiches. Also add a dollop of it on tomato or squash soups. Yum.

          2. I use kale and/or chard for pesto as well. In addition to the dishes suggested already, it’s also really good stirred into rice, quinoa, pasta, etc. in whatever quantity suits you to add color and herby, cheesy flavor. During the height of summer veggies, we like to saute a variety of vegetables and mix it with pasta and a few tablespoons of pesto. We like it better as a flavor booster rather than a main condiment.

  7. The place looks wonderful! A testament to your hard work.

    Cut out the kale stems and freeze them and they can be used for smoothies. We freeze spinach which is very wet when defrosted, but after a squeeze are easy to slip into curry or similar.

    You can also pop berries, sugar and cheap spirits into a container, turn regularly for 6 weeks or so and delight in fruit liqueurs. Raspberry gin and blackberry whisky are favourites 😀

    1. I’d also recommend using dehydrator for kale/spinach. We do that with ours, and then crumble it up to add nutrition to spaghetti sauces, pizza, soups, etc -basically anywhere we can hide it from the kids 😉

  8. You took such beautiful photos! I’m glad you and your family still had fun at the dinner on July 4. I know the rain is good for trees and our ecosystem, but it can ruin out fun sometimes.

    Our toilet also has some issues, but we’ve been putting off the repair for the longest time ever!

  9. My July was busy, happy, and stressful. I started out the month in Vegas with my new boyfriend, kicked out a tenant, fired a contractor, started a podcast, and rounded it out with a blissful weekend camping. Lots going on, but I still had time to sit back and relax a bit.

  10. I had to laugh seeing Babywood’s hands covered in berry juice! We found out that many of the trees on our property are mulberry trees this summer and our son had the time of his life picking away at the mulberries, staining his mouth, hands and clothing a deep purple color. Thank goodness for a good stain remover!

    Our July flew by! We enjoyed it, but there were many activities that kept us moving (a wedding, several races). But we also took quite a bit of time to enjoy our new home and the surrounding area by watching the sunset at the local beaches, walking our property, and taking advantage of many of our town’s summer activities.

  11. I freeze kale and chard and every other green just straight (I know you’re technically supposed to blanche it to preserve maximum nutrients, but I’m a homeschooling mom and that just doesn’t happen! I figure something is better than nothing so we eat it frozen sans blanching). Then we chop it and fry it in eggs, stir frys, dump it in smoothies. I freeze bags of it and honestly, it tastes fresh and delicious when we use it in everything. Literally I just strip the leaves from the thickest stem pieces and stuff them in Ziploc bags and freeze them. It’s the easiest preservation process ever. It’s super easy to use after it’s frozen, b/c it’s crisp and crunchy and therefore easy to crumble up or chop up. Might be worth a try if you have any left!

    1. Yes!! This is exactly what I do. Chard, kale and spinach: Wash, let dry, throw in ziplocs and freeze. Our favorite is in omelets and frittatas, but also soups and smoothies. So easy!

  12. The garden looks great! I’ll share that deer are a BIG problem in this neck of the woods. Like Mr. Frugalwoods I placed very tall poles around our garden but I used “weed-eater string” which is a little thicker and durable. And from this I have hung aluminum pie plates saved from frozen pies which make noise as they swing in the wind. In addition, I have strung potato chip bags after turning them inside out revealing the “shiny inside”….these swing like “mini kites” and tend to catch the reflection of light which freak the deer out….Just my two cents….

  13. On the Chard and Kale, I chop, blanch and freeze. It makes a good filling for manicotti/lasagna and goes great in soups. In addition, you can always dehydrate them and have Chips!

  14. This might seem strange, but crushed green berries remove the stains from ripe berries – works v well on berry-stained hands! Clothing might be a bigger challenge, but free stain remover if it works.

  15. Try making pesto with those leafy greens to freeze! I especially like kale pesto (you can combine with various herbs for more flavor as well), which I often make without cheese, and pretty light on the nuts so it’s cheaper. 😉 It freezes great, and we love pulling it out throughout the winter to spread on pizza instead of tomato sauce, toss with pasta, or sauteed veggies like our frozen green beans and broccoli. You can also thin it out and use as a salad dressing. I also don’t really enjoy other methods of greens preservation, but pesto is the way to go!

    1. I was going to say this too! Kale pesto is delicious and freezes really well and you can use almonds or sunflower seeds rather than the super expensive pine nuts.
      Kale also freezes well when chopped and can be excellent in curries or stews.

      1. We still have basil pesto in our freezer that we made last summer, so I fear we’re just not pesto eaters!

        1. If you need a way to use it up, treat it like flavored olive oil. Mixing it into tomato sauce might be a good start, since basil and olive oil are exactly the flavors you want to add to a tomato sauce.

  16. Nice garden! It’s been cool down her in CT too, great for cabbages and cauliflower, but not so much for tomatoes and summer squash which are finnaly hitting now. Switching to drip irrigation in the garden helped a lot with my slugs, and chickens love eating beetles. I’ve also been told several times to use beer to trap slugs 🙂

    Nice job putting Carl to work while you had him handy. Always nice to replace a water guzzler 🙂

  17. A tip for berry stains: Dip the stain in boiling water and watch it magically disappear. No special detergent required and no scrubbing. Just plain, frugal water. I know that this works like a charm for blueberry stains, and I’ve been told it works on other berries too. If it won’t, soaking the stain in youghurt overnight is supposed to help. Good luck!

    1. It’s true about boiling water. I boil the water then pour it about 8 inches above the stain. It takes a few times, but any kind of berry stain is gone. It’s free and no more berry stains to contend with.

  18. Congratulations on the Garden! We call ours the Garden of Weedin’ 😉 and we get great pleasure from it. This summer’s crop of tomatoes was unexpectedly large and we grew bok choy for the first time, which did splendidly in our Northeastern climate. We always grow enough garlic for our entire year (we freeze about half the crop, which changes the look/texture, but not the taste). We also freeze kale and chard for winter soups.

    You and Mr. F.W. are doing so well in the first year. Fishing line deer fence is a good idea, we use the black deer fencing, which they cannot duck under.

    The more one gardens, the more one becomes fascinated by soil and its structure, tilling very little and adding organic matter (kitchen scraps, coffee grounds are great). We mulch the beds with grass from our organic lawn, which keeps most of the gazillion weed seeds that seem to exist in every tablespoon of soil from sprouting. After several years of building up the soil, it becomes a rich loam, and gardening becomes even more satisfying!

    Lovely to read about your garden and homestead, as always.

    1. Random garlic tip… Roast the garlic heads, then peel and pack cloves into glass jar, cover the cloves completely with olive oil… Store in the fridge..

        1. Another option, lacto-ferment your garlic and it will keep in the fridge plus have the added health benefit of probiotics and enzymes. This is true of any veggies you preserve through lacto-fermenting (very easy to do and very frugal!) The internet is full of information on how to do this.

          1. Wow! A new one on me—I’ll look this up, sounds great. We get fresh sauerkraut/kimchee/pickles from our farmer’s market each week. Yeah, I know I could make those things but the woman who brings them just does them so much better and I can’t resist. So we love our probiotics!

  19. As a child we had a tree of some sort with berry like fruit that stained clothing terribly. The best way to remove the stains was to pull the clothing taut & pour boiling water on it. Many a shirt was saved with this method. We never tried it with black raspberries but it might be worth a try. As with all stains the sooner you take care of it the better.

  20. What is the mindset up in Vermont as to managing the large deer population through hunting? Has Mr FW (or you) considered doing so? A way to manage a potential nuisance plus a cheap source of meat.

    1. The mindset is very pro! It’s on our list–we just need to acquire a hunting rifle and permits first. Mr. FW knows how to hunt and so it’s just a matter of us getting around to it :). Plus, we’d love to put up a deer in our freezer! Fortunately, many/all of our neighbors hunt and so we suspect this keeps the deer pressure at a more reasonable level in our neck of the woods.

  21. Have you considered controlling the deer population by hunting in season? Mr F.W. (and you) could do so and obtain a relatively cheap source of meat. Or, since you have 66 acres, maybe friends could hunt on your land to manage the deer?

    1. Yes! It’s on our to do list–we just need to acquire a hunting rifle and permits first. Mr. FW knows how to hunt and so it’s just a matter of us getting around to it :). Plus, we’d love to put up a deer in our freezer! Fortunately, many/all of our neighbors hunt (on and around our land) and so we suspect this keeps the deer pressure at a more reasonable level in our neck of the woods.

      1. My apologies for the duplicate post. I didn’t think it posted at all and then it posted twice. Up in your parts, I would consider purchasing a good .30-06 rifle as they are commonplace, ammunition is easy to acquire, and, given the ubiquity, especially like somewhere in Vermont, they will be easy on the budget. A good time to find one affordably would be in April. Sometimes, someone needs to sell one quickly, and cheaply, to make a tax payment.

    1. Hahaha, happened a few months ago–it’s his summertime look. Much cooler to work outside in the suumertime without that bushy beard, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be back for the winter :).

  22. I love your comment on the wire for deer– cattle are the same way with cattle guards (about 8-12 poles inset in a row into the farm road at the fenceline to stop cows from leaving the fenced area through the road). It’s funny how animals can be controlled in simple ways. Good for your garden that the wire works!

    Also, I love how kids love fruit! My 17 month old son is a fruit machine, and I’m sure on a U-pick farm, he’d go crazy on raspberries as well.

    With the toilet installation, did you all use a wax ring or the new fangled wax-free toilet rings? I saw a recent episode of This Old House where they still used a wax ring so I was curious if there were pros/cons to either? We’ll have to replace our toilet eventually into something more water efficient so I’d like to hear any suggestions.

    1. We used a wax ring, but then that didn’t end up being the actual source of the leak. Mrs. 1500 discovered the actual source, which I think was a loose screw at the back of the toilet.

  23. Your garden looks amazing! We had to forego a garden this year, but what’s worked for us with Japanese beetles is drowning them after picking them off, and then leaving the container with the drowned beetles near the plants. Apparently, the odor of decomposing beetles keeps their brethren away. The smell isn’t too bad, since beetles are small, and it’s worked well as beetle repellent for us in the past.

  24. Awwww! It’s so cute to see the kiddos having fun on the homestead. 🙂 Great job replacing those toilets! We need to replace our water-chugging toilets too, but we’ll need to beg/bribe family to move those monsters out of the house (one is the weight of a small boulder).

  25. What a fun month you had! That all looks great and I love the berry stained baby photo. My granddaughter was about 18 months old when she went blueberry picking with us at an organic farm. At first she waited for us to hand her berries, then she started pulling them off the bush by the fistful and cramming them in her mouth, then she discovered our pails were truly easy picking and robbed our pails every chance she got. She had some spectacular diapers the next day, her mother reported….
    July in Florida is pretty much gardening’s end. We are hoping to have pumpkins in the fall from plants we put out in June, but except for peppers and eggplants, not much else can take this heat, and we’ve had too much rain and humidity for some things, too. Our blackberries and blueberries finished in June. Our pears are getting ripe, but the rain is doing a number on the figs, which simply burst after too much rainfall. I’m steadily “trench composting” our kitchen scraps to improve our sandy, poor soil, and I planted cover crops last fall of peas and clover, which I will probably do again.
    Years ago, my daughter and I installed a new toilet while my husband was at work. To set the wax seal, I had my daughter, who was about 13, stand on the toilet. It never leaked, so we must have done a good job. 🙂 It is nice to have help doing it, I certainly agree! Those things get heavy, and carrying the old one out was the worst part of the job for me.
    I love the photos and the reminder that not everyone is sweltering all summer long. Every time I read your farm reports, I want to move to Vermont.

  26. People have already mentioned freezing and pesto, two of my favorite ways to keep greens for winter yumminess, but drying is also a great methods. You can either make kale chips (YUM, but then they really don’t last very long) or you can just dry the leaves and crumble up and put in… everything. You can even crumble it down to powder and then it’s *really* easy to hide in dishes for some extra nutrition. When my kids were younger they ate everything but they are getting pickier as they get older, and I love being able to throw a couple handfuls of dried kale into my canned tomato sauce (which often has shredded carrots in it) and put it over pasta, knowing they’re actually getting many more veggies than they believe!

  27. The fishing line is such a smart idea! I’m going to have to pass that along to some family members who constantly battle deer. Sounds like you had a lovely July. We’re blessed to live in a tight community, too, and we just love celebrations like the one you describe here. Our July was nice and we were able to bounce back into the debt payments. Love when things follow the path you were hoping for!

  28. Hey you can freeze kale! I wash and cut mine into strips and throw in a freezer bag. Works great in soups all winter!

  29. Lovely! My grandmother had black raspberries and red raspberries in her yard, and eventually she ended up with some hybrid purple raspberries as well.

  30. Have you tried spacing out the planting of your kale, chard, lettuce etc. so that it does not ripen all at once? Sow part of your row one week, another part the next week, and so on until you bump up against days to harvest running into your first frost date. I have done this (and forgotten to do this 😊) and it helps spread out the bounty for crops that you are not especially interested in preserving but really enjoy when they are fresh. Depending on the speed of your crop growth, you may even be able to use the first area you planted a second time for the same crop or another crop, particularly for vegetables that actually taste better after they are kissed by the first frost.

    1. Great idea, Debbi. We do this too….we sow lettuce and micro-greens several times each summer. By the time the last crop has bolted, the next one is ready for the salad bowl.

  31. Just be careful about the other effects berries can have on young tummies. Our daughter is the same as yours and we still, at almost four, have to ration out her berry eating or she will make herself sick! Since you’re still in the diaper phase, that can be rather trying.

    Also, I’m rather jealous of your garden. For so many, many reasons I keep having to remind myself that this is not the year to be ambitious with my gardening, but I still want to be.

  32. You guys are so inspiring to me! I wish I had been wiser when I was young. Unfortunately, I am 54 years old and my husband is 58. We are still working on paying off debt. I already have a 30-acre plot picked out that I can buy from the owner for a steal (because he bought it for a steal). I just want to build a small cabin on it. My 88-year-old mom lives with us so it’s hard to just sell and move into the old trailer that sits on this land. We love to garden, vegetables and flowers, and love nature. Every post makes me want to save more to make this dream come true!!

  33. If you don’t enjoy plain frozen/blanched kale and chard, I make kale pesto (with some basil, mostly kale, garlic and olive oil) and freeze that. It is good on pizza, as a sauce, in soups or grains etc.

  34. What a very happy July! Thank you for sharing it with us. Our Toddler is berry crazy too – and I often want to disown her at the local farmer’s market where she is convinced that Every Single Sample is put out solely for her grazing pleasure, and protests mightily when I attempt to disabuse her of this notion.

  35. Sounds like you are doing well controlling the deer but if the wire stops working try Irish Spring soap. Deer have a very strong sense of smell and generally don’t like the soap smell – especially Irish Spring! We tie it with a burlap type string and string it around the perimeter of our gardens. It has worked on controlling the deer in our gardens in Maine and New Jersey so I’d betbitvwouldvwork on the Vermont variety as well!

  36. I see you’ve had plenty of suggestions for how to preserve kale and chard, but I’ll add one more. We put it in a blender with a small amount of milk and blend to a smooth consistency. Then we freeze in ice cube trays to use in smoothies year round. It’s a super fast way to preserve and makes smoothie making even quicker. I suppose it depends on if your family is big into smoothies like mine is.

  37. Yes I know the feeling about Babywoods loving her berries. We feed our 1 year old raspberries and blackberries every single day and he’s not tired of it. We have to go to Costco every week to buy a pack of each. Hopefully when we have our own house we can grow our own berries just like you guys.

  38. Ah yes blanched and frozen greens like beet root tops, chard, kale , spinach or pretty much any leafy green is great to have on hand. You
    can throw pre-measured portions into soup stock, stew or curry. But our household favorite is a savory bread pudding/strata using left over stale bread, eggs, UHT shelf stable cream and hearty salvaged greens. It’s a
    great vehicle for other veg (onions or broccoli squash) or bits of leftover chicken and roasted meats. I usually throw it together and bake it up later in the day. Leftovers are just as good if you manage have any left!

  39. One of the negatives of traveling so much this summer is that we were unable to have any sort of garden:(. I love hearing about yours and it makes me very motivated to have a huge garden next year!

  40. Something we’ve learned to do with our salad greens is plant a small amount every 2 weeks or so. At very least, we feel less frantic as everything ripens. Photos of your homestead is one of my happy places, thank you for sharing so much.

  41. Love it! My youngest also got into eating the black raspberries this year. Sadly we didn’t have as many as we usually do-not sure what happened to them this year. Oh well! We have tons of fresh herbs growing now, and my tomatoes are starting to ripen. I’m planning to freeze them until they’re all ripe, then make a big batch of sauce. Yum!

  42. 39 quarts of tomato sauces and soups, salsa, six dozen ears of sweet corn cut off the cob and frozen and six jars of freezer blueberry jam — and my 16 tomato plants, as well as my five pepper plants show no sign of slowing down – it’s like the movie Groundhog Day – every day my counters are full of produce no matter how much I cook and giveaway!

  43. If the single wire stops working put 1-2 more as “horizontal fencing.” Space them out 6-8′. It’s much more frugal than vertical fencing and works great to keep out leaping deer.

  44. Kale produces abundantly. I clean it in vinegar water, rinse thoroughly, lay out on heavy towels to absorb the water, covering with a towel. Next day I de-spine and chop then throw in freezer bags and freeze. My daughters use it throughout the winter for smoothies. You could also use it for stir frys and in soups.

  45. Wow. Developing relationships through blogging and common interest eventually transitioning into personal friendships. Truly rewarding.
    On another note, watching your daughter grow and enjoy the simple pleasures – fruits; is truly astonishing.

  46. Snails: Agricultural lime (the powdery kind) spread on the ground around your plants is death to the devils. Here in the soggy Northwest we are blessed with two kind of slugs and the little ones (which are a different variety than the big ones) are the worst offender as they are a devil to find. Since there are five different kinds of lime available it is essential to use the Agricultural lime. Of course when it rains you have to do it all over again. Oh well the lime is good for the soil. With bigger critters the best way to catch them is to go out at night with a flashlight when they come out of hiding and pick them up and toss them into a bucket of salt water.

    We have cabbage moths here, not your nasties. In any event the best way to prevent flying insects is to cover the plants they like – here mostly cole crops. I use remay because a farmer friend of mine gave me a bunch of used remay and I chopped out the bad parts and have enough for my next house (yes, I’m moving again).

    Cheap fixes: Use old lace curtains. They will let the water through and keep the bugs out. Second idea is a little weird but will also work. Get onion sacks from the grocery store. Their onions come in 50 pound sacks. You split them open and sew them together. There will be a band of paper advertising in the middle of the sacks, but not to worry, the sun moves so all will be well. By the way to fix holes in any of this stuff use clear packing tape front and back.

    To do this in the easiest manner you need to make tents. Most recipes for these low tunnels call for PVC pipe. Don’t use it. Use electrical plastic pipe which is grey instead of white. The electrical grey pipe has a sun resist in it as it is made for exterior use and it will last longer and is only about 5 cents more a pipe. I put small pieces of metal pipe in the ground and stick the pipe in these. It keeps dirt out of your pipes in case you want to move them. Set them from 3 to 5 feet apart depending on the wind in your place. Use l/2 inch pipe. You will need clamps for the top which you can either make from 3/4 inch pipe or if you are feeling flush you can buy them. Works like a charm. I have 4 foot beds and this nicely handles tall greens and broccoli, etc.. I leave mine in all year around and don’t fuss with them. Do it once and it’s good for years here. You may choose to take them in but in both Maine and Canada they use them all year around.

    If you know anyone who has a high tunnel, ask them if you can have their old plastic cover when they recover it. That has to be done every 3 years or so. This you can use on your low tunnels to start things early and keep them later in the year. Just cut out the torn bits. This can be the start of a winter garden. It’s done in Maine by Elliot Coleman and in Canada. Another project for another year. You can also start collecting old wood framed windows from your recycling situation or wherever. When you have enough down the road, voila, a greenhouse. Metal frames collect cold and wood doesn’t so you are looking for old wood framed windows. Don’t worry about the sizes, you can figure out your jigsaw puzzle later.


  47. Those berries look amazing and you can do so many things with them – smoothies, jam, salad, etc.! We have a strawberry farm close by, but haven’t gotten a chance to go there. Since summer is over, our upcoming expedition will be a pumpkin patch and I love fall, so can’t wait 🙂

  48. I know the season’s over, but those berries look mouthwatering! That’s great that you managed to freeze some, even if not as many as last year. My best friend uses frozen fruit to make delicious smoothies for her daughter. They’re SO much healthier than store bought and taste a million times better, too!

  49. Looks awesome. I can relate to the deer problems. I’m having a similar issue with rabbits in my garden this year. Frustrating to see my hard work being eaten up but at least the local rabbits are very well fed 😛

    I’ll have to look into that fishing twine trick, not sure if it works on rabbits but its worth a try.

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