Homestead Happenings

Well hello there, it’s been a while! I figured it was time for an update. If you’re still following along, thanks so much!

The garden saw its decline in August. 90% of my tomatoes got blossom end rot, despite amended my soil with macro and micronutrients prior to planting and supplemented with lime waterings. I’m guessing the cause wasn’t lack of calcium, but from inconsistent watering. I got discouraged and gave up, stopped watering and let things go fallow early. I did, however, get plentiful amounts of Principe Borghese tomatoes, which yielded about 3 gallons worth once dried. I think that until I can get drip set up, I’m not going to bother planting any more of the big heirlooms or saucing tomatoes, its just not worth it.

bacon and cleanup

Right now, the garden is slowly becoming flush with the winter crops. In the beginning of September, I seeded out the roots and leaves bed: carrots, kale, lettuce, parsnips, beets, radishes, and arugula. I also planted starts of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, and underplanted with parsley and nasturtiums. I plan to get garlic and peas in this afternoon, even though its a bit late in the season, and need to reseed spinach and chard that got munched by the damn rollie-pollies and slugs. I planted one bed with cover crop, to revitalize the soil after holding 4 rotations of crops. Already I’ve spotted some ladybugs, whom I’m hoping will overwinter and be ready to clear off aphids in the spring.radisheslettuce and kalemixed brassica bedcover crop and ladybug

Since my tomatoes failed, I was able to barter for enough tomatoes to bother canning, and was able to put up several jars of crushed. Most of August and September was spent canning up jams and salsas, in addition to dehydrating figs and bartered apples. We had a ginormous crop of figs this year, enough for me to make a ton of fig spreads, sell some, and have lots and lots to barter and give away. We also got grapes off the ancient and neglected vines that we unearthed while building the fence, which I juiced and froze. A few weeks ago we bottled 5 gallons of Santa Rosa plum wine that we started back in June.

summer countersapplesfigsgrapesplum wine

I called canning season over at the beginning of October, leaving me with the following inventory (excluding what was leftover from last year):

  • 7 pints pear juice
  • 17 pints crushed tomatoes
  • 7 half-pints spicy tomato jam/ketchup
  • 3 pints & 6 half-pints roasted salsa
  • 8 half-pints salsa verde
  • 8 half-pints peach cilantro salsa
  • 6 4-oz cinnamon orange fig spread
  • 7 half-pints & 1 4oz fig port spread
  • 8 half-pints & 3 4oz balsamic pepper fig spread
  • 9 half-pints pear vanilla jam
  • 7 half-pints plum jam
  • 7 half-pints mixed stone fruit “neighborhood jam”- apricot, plum, and peach
  • 5 half-pints apricot nectarine jam
  • 4 half-pints blackberry jelly

cooking fig jamtomatoes

pantry And the big project for the summer? Getting the 2,825 gallon rain tank installed. I’ll be writing more about it soon, so check back! rain tank


10 thoughts on “Homestead Happenings

  1. Wow! You did a lot of preserving! The thing about inconsistent watering is very true! You need to put your vegetable garden on a timer. That means putting in a drip system and a timer. You can easily use a battery timer that works with your faucet. You need to water your vegetable garden a little bit everyday. Not every 3 or 4 days, but everyday. The roots of most vegetables, including tomatoes, are in the first 6 inches of soil. The deep watering thing does not work with vegetables. They are mostly annuals, so they will not develope deep roots. So watering 10 minutes everyday or more for really hot weather, is way better. The past two years I have been watering everyday and no blossom end rot.

  2. I saw your Instagram photo of you and your cat taking a nap. I have a cat that looks just like yours. I got him from the Healdsburg Animal Shelter. I can’t believe how much your cat looks like mine!

    1. That’s Gaia, and is missing a front leg. She’s from the Petaluma shelter, we adopted her as a kitten about 4 years ago. And thanks for the watering advice! I can’t wait until I can get drip set up!

  3. Your pantry looks beautiful. The “balsamic pepper fig spread” sounds especially interesting. I have a bunch of cherry tomatoes right now that I’ll probably roast, since I don’t know how to preserve. I think next year I will teach myself how to can things.

    1. Thanks Katrina! My favorite thing to do with excess cherry tomatoes is just roast them with a bit of olive oil and then freeze. I’ll add them to sauce or chili.

  4. Do you have time to come in to talk with me next week? I’m interested in reprinting one of your posts about Homestead Hacks, but thought it might be nice to meet you before we do that.

    I’m usually free after 10:30 and will be here M-F.

    1. Hi Linda-
      Yes, I’m available anytime on Monday, Tuesday’s after 1:00, and anytime on Wednesday. What works best for you? I can come by next week.


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