The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Early July garden

Drying squash

Garden bountyThe mountains of produce started piling up around the first of this month, and momentum is still building.  The photos in this post show just a few of the big harvests that have gone into our bellies and/or freezer during the first week of July.

(No, we didn't eat the bug or the cats.)


Bean saladSince outdoor temperatures were in the high nineties to low hundreds for the last two weeks, the trailer got so hot inside that Mark couldn't stand to spend more than about thirty seconds there.  I could handle a few more minutes, but was very glad to be able to do most of our food processing on the porch.

In addition to cooler temperatures, when you work outside, you get visited by fascinating insects like the wheel bug above.  These predatory insects like to eat caterpillars and Japanese beetles, so I was thrilled to see one carried in on the produce.  (Be careful --- I hear they have a painful bite.)

After figuring out where to process the produce, the next decision was what to do with it.  First step --- eat as much as possible right away!  At this time of year, I try to put a cucurbit on our plate for each lunch and dinner, along with another vegetable or two.  I've also been trying out various vegetable salad mixtures, all of which have been very heavy on the cucumbers to use up that bountiful crop.

Cucumber and cabbageDespite the joy of working on the porch, I've been giving away more food than usual.  Due to the wonders of quick hoops, we only ate about twenty gallons of frozen summer produce between us during the off season, which means I lowered my quotas on everything except vegetable soup.  (It seems like we can eat an unlimited amount of vegetable soup.)  Although summer vegetables sound more interesting than kale and lettuce, when the former is frozen and the latter is fresh, we subsist nearly entirely on the latter.

Harvesting breadseed poppies

I did plant less of certain crops in 2012 and used less manure to fertilize, but the garden seems bound and determined to churn out just as much food as last year despite having a smaller area planted.  As the person we see the most, poor Bradley has been burdened with the excess.  Maybe that huge bag of summer squash and cucumbers we pawned off on him Friday is the reason he had other plans and couldn't come back to work on Monday?

Our chicken waterer lets you go away for the weekend without worrying about your flock.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Looks like you might have been drying some of the yellow squash, in addition to eating and freezing.
Comment by Errol Wed Jul 11 07:45:10 2012
Daddy --- Yep, should have mentioned that. :-) We've decided that's the best way to preserve summer squash, but are cutting back our quota there too to 2.5 dryer loads (=10 dried cups). I forgot to blanch this first batch, but will with the next one because I think I decided last year it kept the flavor better.
Comment by anna Wed Jul 11 07:58:32 2012
What do you use the dried squash for, anything besides soup? Or does it reconstitute well enough to be used in stir-fries, for instance?
Comment by Emma E. Wed Jul 11 10:16:15 2012

Great post. I have wheel bugs all over the yard, but mine haven't become adults yet. Mine are still juveniles. I actually stumbled upon a batch of eggs hatching out in the Spring.

If anyone wants to take a look at what they look like when freshly hatched, see the first picture in this post.

They are one of my top insect predators, second only to the mantis. Luckily when I first moved in I did a little research before killing a bunch of little weird looking bugs in the yard.

Comment by Fritz Wed Jul 11 10:55:50 2012

Emma --- I usually put dried squash in spaghetti sauce, where it rehydrates quite well in the tomato juices. I haven't tried it in stir fries, but I wouldn't count on it --- I don't think the texture would be that great.

Fritz --- Nice insect photos! I'm still learning all of the good bugs, but it sounds like I need to keep my eye out for wheel bugs in the future. Maybe we're as overrun by them as we are with mantids and I don't even know it.

Comment by anna Wed Jul 11 14:27:57 2012

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