Monday, July 27, 2015

Unusual Garden Goodies

My garden has certainly had its ups and downs the last 5 years as I've tried to develop a system... which is hard when my garden keeps expanding to new areas!
I pretty much have my staple crops down and the varities we like, tried and true preformers of green beans, sweet potatoes, okra, winter squash, cucumbers, corn, southern peas... finally just this year I've narrowed down the best varities of tomatoes for us. 
Figuring out the garden is as hard as figuring out which livestock works best!

And then theres this.... I don't know what these are... I mean,,, they are obviously tomatoes!! But I don't know the variety ... they are a wild reseeding tomato that come up every year. I'm sure they are a cross of this and that but they always come back like this... small, bright red and sweet!!!!!
and something else... they seem almost immune to mold and fungus diseases that bring down tomatoes in the southeast...
Sometimes with all the tomatoes I plant they get over looked unless I'm walking by to grab some to pop in my mouth but this year I made a point of picking a bowl full... and now I will be picking all I can because they made the most wonderful Tomato Jam!!!! I can't even tell you how amazing this stuff tastes!! 
So I'll be making an effort to pick these now... huge bonus from the garden that took no input from me. I like that!
This is the prettiest corn I wont be growing again... I say this now before I've tasted it ... but even if its awesome... probably not... it is a flint corn I got from a seed saver.. beautiful.. grew ok,, small stalks.. didn't take up alot of room like my giant dent corn. But the ears are half the size and only one ear per stalk. So certainly not as productive as I want a grain corn to be here. Still can't wait to eat some though!!!! This was my first time growing a flint corn and I'm not sure flint corns are good in our area. Dent corns thrive here and
I'd love to find a productive variety of flint or flour for our area. I like to have a some diversity in my garden ! That way if one crop fails... I can have hope the second will come through for me!
Ground cherries have been an amazing addition to our garden this year!! Wow! are they good!!! At first bite I wonder why they aren't offered commercially...they keep incrediably well and why doesn't everyone who gardens grow them!! 
Mid season I see why... they are huge sprawling plants that can be a huge pain to harvest!!!!! they are good!!!! and productive .... plus they fill a very big void for us...
they take the place of raisins... we grow muscadines, a type of grape but they can't be made into raisins.. we love having a dried fruit in the winter to sprinkle on cobblers or hot cereals.. these are even better than raisins and dry beautifully!!! and I think I have a plan on how to plant them for an easier harvest... we'll see next year if that works!
Because they really need a place in our garden and our diet! Especially since our fruit trees haven't started producing. Our main fruit on the farm is wild blackberries... and then we forage/beg for those hard canning pears no one seems to want. And get very inexpensive seconds from an apple orchard for canning, cider and drying apples... so fruit is a weak point in our food supply on the farm,, this is such a welcome addition!
This year I made a huge discovery... right by my main garden... the garden I started the first year!! and have gardened every year! On the other side of the fence in a wood lot by this garden... a huge elderberry bush!!
And this year I bought and planted 4 elderberries.... I can't believe I didn't see it!! Its huge!
But the first 3 years here that wood lot was so grown up.. so I just didn't notice with all the over growth... last year we had fenced in the area but put sheep in to eat it back some..
yeah,,, don't let anyone tell you sheep don't eat trees! lol!! They ate everything in that wood lot! Including this elderberry I guess!
(they also tried to eat our grape vines... so much for the 'let the sheep keep your vineyard trimmed and mowed' ...yet another homesteading myth so many buy into because why?? it sounds like its going to make having a vineyard easier.. kinda like let pig plow your garden LOL!! my favorite homestead fiction! please put this in your head.. Nothing about farming and raising your own food is easy... even the stuff thats 'easier' isn't really easy... its just easier than the stuff that kicks your butt!)

Anyways... the sheep ate everything..trees and all!
But this year only some younger pigs AGH are in the area... so I look up one day in the spring and there it is.. about 20 ft. tall and full of blossoms! I've been watching it for mouths and finally I get to pick some fresh elderberries from my own property! When the ones I planted kick it it will be a very happy time for me!  
Another wonderful new discovery this year... yard long beans! Productive,, tasty and they don't seem to be bothered by any pest that normally harasses my bean plants... it wont cross with green beans,, but I do have to keep it away from my southern peas. Its a good thing for low input variety in the garden I will grow them again!

Better get to work... I have BBQ sauce on the list to make and can today.... green beans to prepare and can.... and a duck to cook!
Plus trying to rearrage my work room! and get some reading in..I have some new and old (love used book stores!) books I'm loving right now!! Takes 25 minutes to process green beans... nice time for a chapter!
Then tomorrow ... hard work coming! Have to prepare my over grown and spent garden beds for fall planting.. trying to get some new things in earlier than usual this year if the weather allows and if the pests will back off a bit! wow! the beetles are crazy this year!!! Worse year I've seen them... they are even trying to eat my comfrey..thats a first.

Have a blessed day :-)
Psalm 35:1

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