I’m sitting here in my workout clothes because I am supposed to work-out this morning. Alas, I have not worked out yet and it’s nearly 10:30am. I got caught-up doing something pretty exciting–Hull Family Homestead can now take orders via our Facebook Page! Everything will be local pick-up only, I’m afraid. I once allowed shipping of jams, but the cost is prohibitive and I worry about the lids popping if I don’t pay for some kind of cooling methods for the package. But, if you live in Central Indiana, then shop away!
Presently we’re offering eggs, apple butter, and bread baked to order. My sourdough starter is ready for baking and so that will go up tomorrow. I’ve also gone ahead and added two strawberry jams, but we’re out of stock at present until the season starts up here in a few weeks. We’ll be adding more things as the season progresses. We may yet have some vegetable starts we can sell this season, but I need to go to the greenhouse and take stock. That is definitely something we hope to be able to do more of next year now that we have the grow light and the greenhouse.
It was supposed to have been a rainy weekend, so we hadn’t really planned on doing much. We felt we’d earned a rest, so for Saturday I planned a delicious homemade ravioli for dinner and then for Sunday bought a tri-tip roast from a local farm and planned a day of board games. As it happens, neither meal has been made yet, though the roast is sitting nicely in a rub of shallots, pepper, salt, rosemary, and garlic waiting patiently to be cooked today.
Instead of rain, it was beautiful almost the entire weekend, which means we managed to get a good portion of the main garden planted. We planted two of the three center beds: tomatoes, garlic, and onions in one bed, and then bell peppers, chili peppers, cabbage, carrots, and onion in another bed. Yet to plant is cucumbers and green beans in the final central bed (we already sowed parsnips here), and then all the corn and squashes.
I was concerned about our San Marzano tomato seedlings, as though they have nice growth on them, they’re still quite young. After it stormed the first night they were out, I went out in the morning with my coffee to inspect, and all was well–in fact, they had visibly grown. We had started them in plugs rather than small pots, and so they had been out of room and nutrients. They welcomed the wide-open space and happy compost-rich soil of the garden. My task for the day was organizing the greenhouse and getting a plan together that included more permanent fixtures–a growing area for vegetables year-round and tables for seed trays–so, confident in them, I did not circle back to check on the seedlings until late afternoon.
And that’s when I noticed that two of them were missing and the leaves were stripped off a third. I crouched down to investigate and saw a hole, crawling with tiny little ants, open where the first seedling should have been, as if, like in some cartoon, something had just come along and swallowed it up through the whole, leaving no trace. I looked at the second hole and found the same scene–Antmaggedon. I had never seen so many ants or witnessed ants eating tomato starts before, so color me confused. But it was definitely these tiny ants.
I’ve since removed and potted-on all the San Marzano’s in the garden and will keep them in the greenhouse until they’re older and can hopefully withstand pests with greater resilience. But, this is also why I want to experiment this year with growing tomatoes in the greenhouse. It’s safer. It’s also hotter, which will make for sweeter fruit. And of all the crops we grow, arguably tomatoes are the most important. They are so versatile and become so many wonderful jars of homemade canned food. So I like having an insurance policy against pests, diseases, and weather. I should have 12 San Marzano’s in the garden, and I’m hoping to have at least half that in the greenhouse. I have the seedlings for more than that, but lack the pots or growing space at present to do any more, and I still have to keep my Principe Borghese tomatoes in there, as well (these are for sundried tomatoes and require as much heat as you can give them). This dilemma is largely why I wanted to devote some time to sorting the organization and infrastructure inside the greenhouse.
Everything else we planted-out is quite happy, especially the cabbages. They were pretty pot-bound and we knew we’d needed to plant them out for weeks now, so I’m glad they’re in the ground.
This coming weekend we need to turn our attention to the forest. We’ll rent a wood chipper and have somewhere around 14 honeysuckle trees to cut down. The tops will get chipped and added to compost. The bottoms will be processed into fencing for the garden and what won’t work for that will get chipped and made into mulch. We have our mushroom spores ready to be drilled into a log for mushroom growing. I ordered the kids a hammock fort as a surprise early birthday present. And a portion of the newly cleared area will become our much-needed expanded composting area. 3 compost bays, 1 leaf mould bay, and a gigantic mulch pile. I can’t wait. Who knew compost would be this exciting?
Making the menu this week was really simple: I started with the meals that didn’t get made last week. 🙂
Weekly Meal Plan
Monday: tri-tip roast beef with herb roasted new potatoes and carrots
Tuesday: seasonal greens and homemade ricotta stuffed ravioli in lemon butter sauce
Wednesday: tandoori chicken
Thursday: salad bar with the makings for black & blue salads (rollover meal from the roast)
Friday: mushroom stroganoff
Sunday: burgers and brats on the grill, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw