I’ve spent this summer feeling much gratitude for my home place, after last year’s unknowns kept us from planting or planning. Spending this past year retired from teaching with the knowledge that we are staying put, I’ve come to re-embrace my inner farmer.
Our third of an acre is mostly native woods, covered in big cedar trees, so my farmer is, I know, tiny at best. I don’t mind. Being a tiny farmer is just my size.
I shared about my experiences recently and a friend wondered why my (advancing) age and (declining) energy level didn’t get in the way of all the processing necessary. I pointed out that I no longer prepare vast quantities of fruit for the canner, or bring home huge boxes of corn to blanch and freeze. I work in batches and bunches. Small bites. Tiny farming.
Lavender, thyme and oregano
Lavender. I love it. I’ve only ever managed to gather a small bundle or two of sprigs, which hung forgotten and dusty while I tried to decide how to use them. This year I’ve gathered and dried and plucked. I’m not done yet!
Thyme and oregano mean soup! It was delightful to discover that the jar I chose to hold my dried thyme was too small, and that I’m not done with this, either. We’ve used the two together fresh or with our scads of parsely as well. Amazing to have such a crop.
Two kinds, plus a mystery rescue that I’ll put into the sun room in the fall. Because you never know. Yesterday I counted a dozen and a half Romas. One of them is even Roma tomato-sized!
Also, we’re going to need a ladder to harvest the Sweet 100s. The plant is over 7 feet tall now.
I have two kinds of mint growing, and it was really fun when two of my husband’s friends took starts. I’ve still plenty (and I’m not done). Last winter I played with making my own tea blends – ones I love, which James might or might not. My next challenge is to create an evening blend for us, since the variety we have brewed and enjoyed each evening for years is suddenly trendy and expensive.
Kale and chard
One of my two raised beds is shaded by red osier dogwood, native crabapple and salmon berry as high as my head. This is where I planted kale and chard. I know I’ve done all right with chard in this bed in the past, but the landscape was shorter, and grew less vigorously. I think there might be a little too much shade now.
I am thrilled with my kale and have started more for fall.
In the dark of the very early spring, when I was anxious to start growing things, I ran across information about micro greens. There’s a ton of buzz about them, about how they provide nutrients and all. This is fascinating and useful, and I’m thrilled to be doing such good for my body. But in all honesty, I wanted to find a crop this tiny farmer could grow and harvest all year round in our sun room, even at its 45° temperature in winter. I wanted variety in my salads. I wanted to play with flavors and textures. So I have! In cooler weather, my greens are leggy and slow-growing, and if I water too often, they are prone to mold. In summer, if I saturate the soil and make sure there’s good airflow, they are lush and dense and dark and they sprout astonishingly fast. At all times of year so far, they’ve been utterly delicious.
I’ve forgotten the delicata squash and the various vegetable volunteers coming up in the garden as well. More on those another day.
Behold the tiny farmer, grateful – and for now, content.