2012 Harvest

2012 Harvest

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Harvest - July 2013

Harvesting Carrots

The month of July has really been a great month for the garden and we could hardly keep up with the vegetables. We began picking a few carrots towards the end of June, but they really started producing in the beginning of July. We pulled all of the remaining carrots a few days ago and filled about 5 gallon size freezer bags. Time to plant another crop for the fall.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Garden Update - June 2013

Graver Homestead
The Graver Homestead
Here are some photos of the garden during the first and second week of June. Things are growing extremely well and my landscaping fabric is doing a great job of keeping the weeds down.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Planting and Growing Potatoes

If there is one vegetable in our garden our family can't do without, it's potatoes. Not unlike many other Americans, we love our potatoes. While I believe every home gardener should be able to grow potatoes, I would not consider them to be as easy as many other vegetables. The process of planting potatoes generally takes more time than most vegetables and they require a good deal of organic matter or fertilizer to be successful, not to mention dealing with the Colorado Potato Beetle.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Planting Onions

Onions may not provide as much substance as other root vegetables, but they are certainly a necessity in our kitchen. They are easy to grow and with their long shelf life, a few rows can provide a family with a continuous supply of onions for months.

Onions can be planted in a number of different ways. They can be planted by seed of course, but because this method requires starting the seeds inside a few months in advance, most home gardeners use onion sets or onion sprouts. We've had better luck using onion sets and we find them much easier to work with than onion sprouts, so this article will mainly focus on that method. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Planting Kale

After hearing year after year how great my brother's kale has done, I decided it was finally time to give this underrated vegetable a try. I've only ever eaten kale a handful of times, but as I've found in all other instances, my consumption and preference for a particular veggie goes way up after I've grown them myself. There may not be any noticeable difference in taste, but there is just something special to eating food that you've not only prepared in the kitchen, but spent weeks and months nurturing as it grows. Hopefully the same will hold true for my experience with kale. If nothing else, more kale for my brother to eat. The variety of kale we are trying this year is called Dwarf Blue Curled Kale.

Planting the Seeds

Add Leaf Compost

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Planting Carrots in a Raised Bed Garden

While the raw dirt under our feet may be the cheapest to use, it isn't always the easiest to grow certain vegetables in. Carrots are one of those vegetables we've had difficulty growing in our home garden. They require a light, loose soil with plenty of organic matter. Unfortunately, our soil is fairly heavy, which makes growing carrots challenging. After a few years of poor results, last year we decided to try growing them in a raised bed garden. The results were amazing. There is nothing more satisfying and exciting than unearthing a 10-12 inch carrot. This year we are trying the Scarlet Nantes Carrot variety.

Preparing the Raised Bed

Monday, April 8, 2013

Planting Snap Peas

Snap peas are one of our favorite spring vegetables. We are trying a new variety this year because the variety we had last year (Mammoth Melting) grew over four feet tall and were a bit too much for our fence to handle. This year we are trying Oregon Sugar Pod II Sugar Snap Peas because they are only supposed to grow up to 20-28 inches.


Sugar Snap Peas can tolerate a good deal of cold so they can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked. We planted ours on April 6, but we probably could have planted them a few weeks earlier. Snap Peas are not great candidates for transplanting due to their shallow roots, so they are best planted directly in the ground. We typically plant the seeds about 1/2" deep and 1-2" apart.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tilling the Garden

It was a gorgeous weekend so we decided to till up some of the garden.  We only did about half of the garden because the other half won't be used for another month or so.  The mushroom compost we added to the soil a few weeks ago really gave the soil a nice loose consistency.  I'm still looking for a riding mower with a pull behind tiller.  It would make this job a lot easier and increase my ability to expand the garden quite a bit.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Raising Swedish Ducks

Swedish Duck Hens
When we first decided to get some farm animals we debated whether to start with Chickens or Ducks. Most families would probably start with chickens, but we decided to go with ducks for various reasons I will explain below. Our goal was to find an all purpose breed that would provide good egg production and a decent roast if need be. The two breeds we were interested in were Swedish Ducks and Saxony Ducks.  Fortunately we found some 1 year old Swedish Ducks on craigslist for $5 a bird. The farm we got our ducks from had a few drakes, so we decided to get two hens and one drake.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fertilizing the Garden

If you want to ensure a decent yielding garden year after year, you have to continually feed your soil with organic matter to help replenish the nutrients that were taken out of the ground in previous years. This year we are trying a few different methods to test which one yields the best result. We'll have a portion of the garden fertilized with Horse manure, a portion fertilized with Mushroom Compost, and another portion with a granulated fertilizer. All have their own benefits and disadvantages, but we'll share our experience with each of them and of course as the season progresses, how each performed in the garden.

Horse Manure:

Horse Manure mixed with Pine Shavings

Monday, January 28, 2013

Anxious for Spring.

Well it’s 12 degrees here in southeastern Pennsylvania and I can’t help but reminisce about last years garden and the approaching spring planting season. I’ve created a video with some photos from our garden in 2012. Overall, it was definitely a success. I look forward to sharing our experiences with you in more detail in 2013. Here are some highlights of our 2102 harvest.
- 250+ Zucchini and Squash
- About 150 lbs of Potatoes (Red Norland, Yukon Gold, and Kenebec Potatoes)
- 6+ Gallon size freezer bags of Broccoli
- 6+ Gallon size freezer bags of Brussel Sprouts
- 125+ Onions
- 10+ Gallon size freezer bags of Green Beans
- 75+ Cucumbers
- 75+ Carrots
- All the lettuce we could eat from May-June
- Watermelons out the wazzoo. (truth be told, many never ripened fully, but we definitely got a number of good ones)