This is a strange year. Again. Last year, it was severe drought and this year, the rain faucet doesn’t get turned off long. We seldom get three sunny days in a row. Although it makes haying very hard for Will, our gardens are loving it. Every day, I’m picking baskets of early tomatoes to save seed from. The downside is the tomato vines have gone crazy! This is the first year we’ve had to do some serious pruning of those vines. Usually, we only have to trim a few long branches that want to “hold hands” with their neighboring variety. As this can lead to cross pollination, we cut them off. This year, we are having to cut the tops off at six feet and the long vines that are actually blocking the rows from foot traffic! I think of all the folks who use those little, itty bitty, cone-shaped tomato cages that are about 3 feet high and cringe. Yesterday, our friend, Heather, came over to help and I went with her down to prune the tomato monsters. Whack! Whack! We moved down the rows, with Heather cutting the vines that were blocking the pathway and me trimming any branches that over-lapped to the “neighbor,” even if it had tomatoes already on it. If I was just gardening, that wouldn’t matter, but with the seed business, I can’t take a chance of any cross pollination. After all, we do have tons of tomatoes — more than I’ll need for canning all my tomato recipes. (We give our friends all they can use and probably more. We sent Heather home with green beans and tomatoes plus some new potatoes for dinner.

Our friend, Heather, helping me prune our overgrown tomatoes.
By pruning our wild tomato vines, I can more easily find ripe tomatoes, like these wonderful Alice’s Dream slicers. Yumm.

I wanted to see how our potatoes were doing so we dug a hill and found enough tennis ball and smaller new potatoes for both Heather’s family and Will and I to have a nice batch for dinner. Boy were they ever good, too!

Will turning our compost pile, with the crawler/loader.

As it’s too wet for haying, Will has been turning our “compost” pile, the rotted manure in the winter cow yard. It’s probably about 30 tons of manure so he doesn’t use a pitchfork, but the crawler/loader. By turning it and keeping it piled up, it not only composts faster, but turns into nice “black dirt” to add to our gardens with the manure spreader, come late fall. All that and the mulch we use enabled our gardens to weather the drought last year and stand the excess water, via rains, this year. Love that poop! — Jackie

31 COMMENTS

  1. Our Iowa rain gauge showed 2.2″ and we are thrilled. Garden produce report:
    The tomatoes–Long Tom and Andrew Rahart’s Jumbo–are delicious, and the vines are huge. Over 6′ tall, so thick in the cages I can’t see the ripe fruit, and yep, also reaching out to its neighbors. The Georgia Rattlesnake watermelons are ripe and wonderful; one I took in yesterday is 28 lbs, at 19″ long and 8″ wide! There’s 15 more out there, hope they keep in cellar for awhile! Provider green beans are, well, providing a lot! Atlantic Giant pumpkins will need a wheelbarrow, and the Clear Dawn onions are still standing tall and growing big. The Late Flat Dutch cabbages are the largest I’ve ever grown. I’ve saved seeds and will keep telling friends about how your seeds are just awesome. My ideas for next year’s garden are already forming.
    The one that isn’t liking my climate versus your more northerly one is the Seneca Sunrise corn. Perhaps too hot?
    Hoping for good news soon on Javid. And, how are your knees doing these days?
    Loved the flowers, and had the pleasant surprise that the Calendula’s showed up again this year! They are hearty ones, that’s for sure!

    • PS. Oops, I commented previously on the watermelon, but remember now that it isn’t one of yours. This growing season is a bit longer and warmer than yours.

    • I’m happy that most of your crops are doing so great. No, Seneca Sunrise doesn’t mind heat at all. We have customers in southern California that grow it every year. It does like lots of manure so add more next year and stand back.
      My knees are pretty okay but yesterday, I tweaked my good, bad knee while sitting of all things. So, today, I’m wearing a brace on it to keep going.

  2. Here in far north California, I’ve never had such a weird growing season for my vegetable garden. We’ve been in drought 3 years, so of course I water every couple days. The intensity of the sun has been more than other years. It sure slows plants down.

    • Yep, that old sun sure does fry our crops, especially when we’re in drought. I hope yours breaks real soon.

  3. I was pruning tomatoes yesterday afternoon late. I learned a lot about pruning from “The Blind Pig and the Acorn” site. I’m not timid anymore!! But they still get away from me–I was having to hold up a huge chocolate cherry plant over my head to pick. I have made some pruning progress with it but I needed to start a lot earlier.

    I have found that my summer squash & zuccini also benefit from some pruning.

    • We generally don’t prune our tomatoes, except when some branches try to reach their neighbors. But with all the rain we’ve been getting, the vines are thick, long and very ambitious. So are the tomatoes on those vines, too.

  4. I’m sure this has crossed the minds of some of your blog readers. It is OKAY to not grow enough food to last the winter. Would it be nice, well yes. But for some of us, it is not attainable. I am more than happy to eat in season and preserve some of my harvest. We do purchase some produce/berries (frozen) from the store. Some we do not – tomatoes are OUT, over priced (hence usually suspect for quality). We do our best to stock up on items as to not get caught short. Watching and being able to take advantage of a sale can go a long way.

    • Yes, it can. But we strongly believe that IF you can grow enough food to more than last the winter, it should be done. (It’s real easy to just put it to the side and say, “Oh well, I can buy it on sale at the store, later, if we need it”, then an emergency situation pops up and you can’t.

  5. My garden has burned up. We are in a pocket of drought and have had only a couple tenths of rain since the first part of July. Highs have been upper 80s and 90’s. Tomatoes are pretty well done. I pulled the beans a week or so ago. When I hear about those folks in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi who have been flooded It breaks my heart. My garden may be toast, but my home and family are safe. Prayers for those affected by the floods. Prayers for you andWill for a good week. Any update on Javid?

    • So sorry to hear your garden is about finished, due to the drought. But happy to hear your home and family are fine. Our prayers also go to those affected by the floods, and droughts. Javid is still waiting for a nursing home that can take him, which has a sand bed, that the doctor prescribed. But he remains in good spirits.

  6. I have picked a handfull of small “Improved Porter” Tomatoes (basically small cherry). With 2 months of 100+ temps (beef steaks do NOT do well here as they don’t like to set fruit over about 90 and this year NOTHING wanted to set) and severe drought….. Have kept those March/April planted tomatoes alive. We are now in the 90’s (ah, the coolness of it!) and on Monday got about 4″ of rain (about 100 miles east they got 10+” — Dallas, TX). Things are finally starting to green up after a severe drought. Enjoy your crops……… Down here this year you could use a 12″ tomato cage!!!!!!! LOL

    • Awww, I’m so sorry about your heat and drought. I hope you get more gentle rain; not the 10″ that Dallas got!!

  7. You guys always rise up to the challenges the weather and life brings! The tomatoes look fantastic. Thx for the update!!

  8. It sure does take some extra effort to grow for seed saving. I’m so glad you and Will are up for the challenges. All of your seed I used this year did fantastic in my Oregon garden. I can’t thank you enough.
    Those tomatoes in your photo are gorgeous!

    • And they tasted even better! We had some on our hamburgers and we had juice running down our chins!! I’m so happy our seeds did well for you. They’re kind of like our little children; we put them in envelopes and hope they’ll do well in their new homes.

  9. We are having enough rain that I’m having trouble pulling enough weeds for the chickens as our soil is heavy on the clay. I’m getting some out of the hoop houses and we are getting eating vegetables out of them. The peas are almost ready so we will dig some new potatoes for soup as soon as we can pick peas. The potatoes have all flowered and are meeting across the row spaces so they should be doing good. I think I mentioned it before but didn’t see a response, how about making round bale haylage to feed by baling sooner and wrapping the bales?

    • Peas in August? That is a February/March crop down south! LOLLL What a difference different areas of this grand country can have.

      • We had a cold wet spring so we didn’t get them in until mid June and as I said we have a lot of clay in our soil. Also we were doing some realignment on where we planted then as we lost them all the last two years to the moose. They are now behind an eight foot board fence so they seem to be safe from the moose. Lately most of our highs have been in the fifties and low sixties which isn’t hurrying them!

    • We can’t do wrapped bales as we just can’t afford the expensive equipment to do so.
      We’ve been having your rain, too and although stuff grows well, including our weeds, the crops look fantastic!

  10. I’m so excited to see how far the gardens have come! Hopefully I can come by with Dara next week and help out!

  11. I space my tomato cages 3 1/2 feet apart and have the same tomato jungle. Next year they will be 4 feet apart. Ehst is your spacing. I’ve dug 1/2 my potato crop. The russets did really great. Very busy time of the year with harvest, weeds and hay. We’ve had more than our share of cattle with pinkeye. Any hints on prevention? We’ve finally caught in rain fall and at times we were anxious for it to come. Each year is unique and challenging,

    • Next year, we’re planning on rows 6′ apart and plants five feet apart so we don’t have this much of a jungle. Then it won’t rain so much and we’ll wonder why we planted so far apart…
      Will’s finally getting kind of caught up on haying.
      Keeping the flies down sure helps keep pinkeye down. We use the fly rubs, strung across the gate where they come from the pasture to get water so they treat themselves every day. This helps a lot.

  12. Oh how I love potatoes fresh from the ground😁. Here in Iowa we are about 8 inches below normal for rain even tho we had a sprinkle this morning. I don’t even really eat tomatoes but love to grow them and those of your are so pretty!

    • We love our new potatoes too! It’s one of our favorite meals, that and fresh corn on the cob.

  13. How growing season differs – we planted our taters Good Friday and dug up the last of them a week ago. Alas, we won’t have enough to last the winter but I can’t complain. Now if some more slicing tomatoes would just ripen – the bacon is waiting for them!

    • That’s a fact! On Good Friday, we had frozen ground with a foot of snow on it!!! We won’t be digging our main crop until about two weeks from now. We’ve been having bacon and tomato sandwiches for quite a while now. Yum!!!

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