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

The year of the cucurbits

Basket of squashWe may have to rename this the year of the cucurbits.  After giving my brother about forty cucumbers on Monday, we nibbled all week, and still had this basket (cucumbers on the bottom, crookneck squash on the top) to pawn off on Bradley Friday.

Meanwhile, the butternuts are growing like crazy.  I turn their stems inward once a week so they don't take over the aisles, and the last seven days' growth amounted to about three feet.

At this time of year, we spend more time picking and processing produce than anything else garden-related.  I gave away the leftover freezer contents over the last month, and am already filling the freezer back up, adding a few pints of green beans, six cups of corn, and seven pints of vegetable soup this week.  Since we're eating more seasonally even in the winter, quotas are lower and I suspect we'll be giving away a lot more excess produce as the summer progresses.

Our chicken waterer spoils hens with POOP-free water.

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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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The heat and lack of rain here has fried our garden.
Comment by Heath Fri Jul 27 11:02:23 2012
i know you're wary of livestock keeping, but you could be feeding all that extra produce to a couple of future bacons :)
Comment by Cameron Fri Jul 27 20:23:07 2012
Heath --- Ours would have been fried too if we hadn't watered like crazy in June. It seems to be worth it in the long run to put in the time for watering, assuming you don't live in a desert where water is extremely hard to come by.
Comment by anna Fri Jul 27 20:25:07 2012
any advice on keeping these out? they are eating all my squash. I can't be out there often enough to scare them away...
Comment by Irma Fri Jul 27 23:55:25 2012
I know you store, dry, and freeze your bounty. What's your opinion on canning these days? Pickling and jamming? Also, what do you freeze your produce in? Silly question I guess, but long ago I noted you froze your goods in plain round containers. I wonder if you still do, and if they are particularly reusable (plastic often cracks when dropped or opened forcefully if too cold), and how do they hold up?
Comment by jen g Sat Jul 28 10:06:02 2012
Get a live trap. Set it where you want it and then cover the wire (in front of the tripping mechanism) on the bottom with a light layer of loose soil. They don't like walking on the wire for some reason and will often refuse to go inside if not covered. Make sure the door will still operate and lock once you've got the soil covering the wire. Place a couple pieces of fresh broccoli outside the cage and then a few inside.
Comment by Heath Sat Jul 28 11:06:34 2012

Irma and Heath --- Live traps are a good idea, although you still have to decide what to do with the animals if you catch them. Lucy has done a great job keeping critters like that out of the garden, but keeping a dog well trained can be a lot of work. Some folks go for fences, but you need to bury them in the ground to keep out groundhogs. Good luck!

Jen --- I'm still not a big fan of canning. It does have a lot of benefits, but the taste is only so-so on everything except tomatoes and apples (in my biased opinion), and taste (and the correlated nutritional profile) is my first priority. Neither Mark nor I like pickles, and since we've ditched grains and lowered our sugar consumption a lot, jam doesn't make much sense.

We still freeze in the round plastic containers. I probably ruin five or ten of them a year, but since I use hundreds, I figure that's not too bad! I just try to be careful not to drop them when frozen, and they've lasted several years so far. If I had to start over, I might go in another direction (at least choosing rectangular containers), but since I've got round containers, I'm using 'em. :-)

Comment by anna Sat Jul 28 13:21:37 2012
Cameron --- Oops, I missed your comment up there! I've considered diversifying into various livestock for reasons like that, but Mark always brings me back to reality. The bit of their diet that would be taken up by our extra produce wouldn't make up for the extra fencing issues and caretaking work....
Comment by anna Sat Jul 28 13:28:19 2012
I have a trap, but I guess I was doing it wrong. I have dogs but since I live in town I can't let them run loose. I will line the trap like you said.
Comment by Irma Sun Jul 29 00:49:18 2012

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