Just as we were getting the hot weather that would keep us from doing much in regards to landscaping, but lots in the way of canning & food production, the fire season hit. We are used to a fire season around our area, but not in the way that we have experienced it for the last two years. Last year was bad, we had air quality issues for a good month and our city was buzzing with a lot of evacuees that kept everyone busy. This year is worse in regards to size and scale of the fires, but luckily most of them are not threatening towns, cities or populated areas.
The downside, the smoke is as bad, if not worse than last year. Although we have been lucky enough to have a brief respite for part of this week, it is wreaking havoc once again on when items from the garden are ready. So here are a few updates of what our garden and yard have been doing.
Landscaping, building & wall making have been at a standstill due to the air quality. There are recommendations that strenuous activities outdoors be avoided and limited time spent outside…which puts a bit of a damper on our accomplishments. Luckily we have some rain today that has pushed the smoke out, so hopefully this week we can get some posts put in on our next wall.
For harvesting, our onions are doing amazing this year. We definitely needed to plant them deeper compared to last year, which we did, and now we are getting beautiful, large onions that are round rather than flatter in shape. We have only been picking them as we need them so the tops have been given a chance to get large, and some are growing flowers which have been attracting a lot of bees. I am 5’10”, and the greens come up to my shoulder. I was worried that the onions would be over-ripe, or be compromised due to the gargantuan size of the tops, but when we pick them, they are solid, lots of layers and delicious.
Our strawberries had a hiccup this summer. We went hot, cool, extreme heat, smoke. Due to that we had a stellar spring harvest, but then they stopped blooming for a while. They are now back in full bloom and producing beautiful, large, strawberries. The only catch is that we need to beat the bugs! Our beds are infested with spiders, which you would think would help keep the bugs away, but instead it seems to be a thriving metropolis with the spiders letting new neighbours in. When picking, some strawberries look great, but as you go to grab them, they are hollowed out. We also catch some with little holes eaten into them. So we are being more diligent about spotting new strawberries that are not yet ripe, and trying to position them so that they are not easily accessible. We also found an un-wanted guest, which we quickly evicted. First slug, and I didn’t think that they would be a problem here as we are semi-desert, but alas, he found his way in, but only for a short visit.
Our tomatoes have grown beautifully, but due to the weird weather were taking a very long time to ripen. Luckily, they have finally started turning red and I couldn’t be happier with the timing. This last week, I was watching my two nephews, so I had them help me harvest one afternoon. I then taught them how to make ketchup (recipe & directions in the next post). Unfortunately, they got bored about half-way through, but enjoyed the results. I have also turned some of it into BBQ sauce, which was used in some home-baked beans (also an upcoming post).
Our hot peppers are doing great, but the sweet peppers seem to have gone the way of the strawberries and stopped producing. I am hoping they will start again, but so far, no sight of blooms. I will have to put the hot peppers to good use. Likely I will pickle a few, freeze a few and jelly a few.
Last, our potatoes may not turn out again this year, we will just have to wait and see. The tops were great until the smoke came, and now they are looking a little sickly. They have not bloomed yet, but hopefully the potatoes have grown. I would be fine with a large bowl of baby potatoes as much as large potatoes.
We will see how it all goes. Hopefully this smoke stays away and we are able to start on our next wall. With the tweaks we have planned, we are hoping that this next one will fill faster, making our landscaping move along a little faster. If I’m lucky, I will be able to add to my next post a sneak peek.