Monday, July 7, 2014

Early July 2014

We're slowly turning over our sunflower business to Sam.  This year, he has done the planting (with some guidance from Jamey) and will be doing the bulk of cutting and selling.  If you're local, keep an eye out. They'll be for sale soon.

An early summer project that has been temporarily halted- painting the barns with an opaque stain to protect them (and it's improved their appearance, too).

New Zealand spinach down front with lettuce gone to seed in the back.  This spring we didn't need to plant lettuce- it reseeded itself beautifully and we had more lettuce than when we plant by seed ourselves.

We chose a pole bean variety this year and planted it at the base of some cattle fencing.  It quickly grew to the top so Jamey opened some old tomato cages and placed them above to let the beans grow up and around.  I think it's beautiful.

Sweet potato mounds....

Peppers, watermelon and zucchini....

Corn in the fence (and out of the fence) at different stages....



The back garden with potatoes up front (some have been dug and roasted) and more corn....

Volunteer flowers....

One of my little loves picking wild black raspberries....

Ah, the bees...busy at work.

We're up to five colonies right now.  The smallest (the nuc- far left) houses a small colony with a back-up queen.

More honey harvest- 6 quarts and 1 pint total for this summer.  We don't expect to take more and are thrilled with what we were able to get.

I'm not sure how much canning will take place in our house this summer.  We'll likely manage some.  Instead of jars and canners, my counters are full of a different kind of supply.  Praise Jesus for bottled baby food. And family.  And friends.  And church support.  And an amazing husband and amazing children.

Thy hand has, indeed, provided.
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  1. Jane,

    Your garden is beautiful, and very healthy. I bet you can't wait to harvest all the vegetables soon to come.
    Are you canning in baby food jars? If so, how do they seal properly to be put away in the pantry being that the lids were previously used?
    Please educate me, I'm someone who is still in the learning stages of canning.
    I've only canned for 2 years, and I'm learning all kinds of neat things.

    1. Hi, Sandy. No, I am not canning in baby food jars (although, wouldn't that be a handy way to take snacks or pack little jars of fruit or applesauce in lunches). You're right, it wouldn't be possible to seal them properly. I am thankful for the ease of prepared baby food because we have a baby staying with us right now and the ease of their use has really helped with the adjustment. Blessings on your canning journey!

  2. Everything looks great and lush and thriving...the barn looks nice, too. And God bless that sweet little baby...

  3. Jane - Your posts are always so encouraging. Thank you for being willing to share part of your life with your readers. If you have already addressed this question, I apologize for not being more thorough in my reading - did you heat the honey in the jars in your photo, or is that how raw honey looks? I bought something called raw honey that was like a white spread. Our local honey contact said that it is probably raw honey that has been whipped. She also said that she heats the honey from her hives to 120 degrees and then bottles it. I was wondering why heating is necessary - especially if it's considered raw. Hmmmm! Just curious and thanks for any light you might be able to shed on this. - Esther in NJ

    1. Hi, Esther. Good question. Before we started our beekeeping journey, I was confused, too. I think Les Crowder explains it best in his book, Top-Bar Beekeeping...

      "At this time there are no regulations in the United States to legislate the definition of raw honey, and the subject is one of regular debate among beekeepers and consumers. Honey that has never been subjected to heat of any kind is considered truly raw, and honey that has been only lightly heated or hasn't been heated past 107 degrees (42 degrees C) may also be considered raw. However, because there is no legal definition of the word 'raw', even honey that has been pasteurized with high heat my be labeled raw without any legal consequences. Most consumers are used to the bulk liquid honey that is sold in supermarkets across the world. This honey has been heated and strained to eliminate all potential for crystallization. Often it is not 100 percent honey, but also contains numerous fillers, such as corn syrup and other substitute sweeteners. Consumers who are used to honey as a liquid product need to be reeducated in order to buy honey that is crystallized. Honey that has never been heated at all will, at some point, go through a process of crystallization....Depending on the floral source and the amount of pollen and propolis particles in the honey, the resulting crystallization may render a product that is anywhere from creamy and smooth to hard and granular."

      We do not heat our honey at all. Because the comb is crushed (and not strained fine), it also contains pollen (which adds flavor, vitamins and beneficial enzymes). The best way to know whether you're buying truly raw honey is to ask your local beekeeper if they heat it or not:-). I hope this answer proves helpful!

    2. Thank you, Jane - so helpful. The flavor of your own honey must be doubly satisfying - because it tastes wonderful AND it's yours. Think of you and your family often and pray for you. God is faithful, good, and trustworthy. - Esther

  4. So wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Beautiful photos!! Your garden is AMAZING!!

  6. Your garden looks like it is happily thriving! Ours is also but we are behind in planting all we wanted to plant due to a wet spring and our broiler project! We managed to butcher all 100 broilers! It was quite the project but now we have a freezer full of chicken! Now we are battling weeds! We didn't mulch soon enough and this 34 week pregnant mom is not quite up to the task of weeding! Where do you get all your mulch? From your photos it looks like you pile the straw/hay pretty high.

    How wonderful to have a baby in your home! Looking forward to a little one in our home soon too!

    Happy summer!

    1. Hi, Judi. Jamey looks to local farmers for rotting hay being sold cheaply. We use our open trailer towed behind our minivan to pick up the big round bales. If using straw/hay, it must be laid very thick for it to be an adequate weed deterrent. Best of luck on your remaining weeks of pregnancy and congratulations!!

  7. Your garden is beautiful . . . and huge! So glad your sunflower "business" has worked out so well. And what a good project for Sam to handle and learn from.

    If you have the freezer space, you could think of "homemade" baby food. It's not time consuming at all. I always pureed anything we were eating . . . soups, vegetables, fruits, meat and potatoes, even casseroles . . . froze it in meal sized portions for our daughter and fed her that.

    Blessings to you and your family for providing the little babe with a safe and loving home for as long as needed.

  8. Your garden is gorgeous... so healthy! What are you "feeding" your soil?

    1. Thank you :-). We've added organic matter in the form of decayed straw, leaves, grass clippings, chicken manure, some wood ashes, sawdust, etc., Basically anything that will serve as a mulch and eventually decay. The soil started as a fairly heavy clay and has definitely improved over the past 9 years.

    2. Thanks Jane. You actually follow the same method I do... using what's available and letting nature do the work. We have clay too and the investment in the soil does pay off over time. Your photo of the pole beans made me smile with the three different weed blockers... hay, cardboard and black plastic. Great minds think alike. :)

  9. You have a beautiful garden! all plant grow so well, so healthy. I'm lucky finding this interesting blog.
    Thank for sharing so many great tips. happy gardening!

  10. What a beautiful bean arbor! Congratulations and many prayers for fostering. We've talked about maybe someday doing that ourselves. I haven't stopped by in a while, but I use your cookbook weekly, if not daily, and are sharing the recipes and this source through my CSA. Thanks for living simply and giving much!

  11. Hi, Jane! Just found your blog. I'll definitely be back. Your garden looks great. I'm especially fascinated by the sweet potato beds and the bed with the lettuce that self seeded. We were hoping to try sweet potatoes this year but it's also our first year for chickens and getting the coop around took precedence.

    I love your Christian perspective on things. I'm fairly new to the whole blogging thing and love finding a homesteading blog centered of Christ. God Bless!

  12. Your garden is beautiful. Love the look of your honey as well.


  13. Your garden is beautiful! I find it interesting that your cucumbers are climbing on panel. How do the vines do when the heavy cucumbers start producing? Our gardening is slowing down because of the heat here in TX. We are starting to plan for our fall garden!

  14. So beautiful! All of it!! So wonderful that you are caring for that sweet little boy. Praying for you all this day. Hugs, Camille


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