Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Potatoes and Onions

Yesterday's labor was wild!  I didn't expect to pull so many onions, but with the tops either eaten or down, we concluded harvest of three of our four types of onion.

There's plenty left to harvest:

We pulled this beautiful box of Red Burgundy.  These are a spicier red onion.

And so many Sweet Granex that the boxes overflowed!

 The remaining, milder Red Candy were also pulled.  For whatever reason, this onion had the most insect/wild animal damage, with most of their tops missing.

The Yukon Gold, while not nearly so prolific as the Red Norland, weighed in at 67 pounds for a tidy harvest.  We also damaged fewer this time, learning our lesson to dig at least twice as far away as we had last year, as the potatoes had spread so much further.

We're offering all the onions and potatoes grown at Purgatory Ranch for sale this year!

The little green fruits are potato fruits, which I may or may not split open to plant some of their seeds.  I guess if I get bored...

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, June 21, 2013


 After the depressing, stomach-churning news of last night (a story for another time regarding a farmer's herbicide), I needed a good morning's work at Purgatory Ranch.

Myle, James and I tackled the most neglected potatoes and realized the grasshoppers had decimated the foliage of these plants.  If we weeded and waited to harvest, the plants would disappear by the next week, and we wouldn't know where to dig.

Unexpected harvest time?  Game on!

The Red Norlands produced fabulously, yielding 97 pounds of gloriously red-skinned potatoes.  We observed the differences in harvest from years past: the ground was not bone dry, making the digging more complicated (we'll take the problems if the rain comes!), potatoes had spread more, so the field is pockmarked with our large holes.  Technically, the yields are lower than last year's, but given the blatant neglect they received this year (one woman, mostly alone since everyone else was frantically busy elsewhere, can only do so much!), these are more than satisfactory results.  I think Red Norland will return to the planting schedule next year!

We also discovered our Red Candy onions had not fared well against the onslaught of weeds.  Most tops were missing, and in pulling weeds, we began to pull onions.  With a shrug of shoulders, we harvested instead of weeding.  12 pound of onions for one row is not bad!  We also harvest some sweet yellow onions (marketed as transplants as Vidalia, but who knew it's not legal to sell "Vidalia" onions grown outside a specific region of Georgia!?).

If you're in the area, we're selling produce this year.  Email me for info!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

a Gasp for Breath in the Rush of Summer

I have used my vacuum sealer to put up to pints of dried fruit.  While I would love to put up more, the mulberries have not been so popular, and I haven't enough strawberries.  Next year, I will start drying strawberries sooner!

The {almost} daily compost bucket. We have just enough spoiled food (and eggshells) that I don't want to give to the chickens, so into the bin they go!

Onions are bulbing out fabulously.  This year, I'm striving to use onions as soon as I pull them, including chopping extra for the freezer.  Last year, too many onions spoiled through my failure to chop and use.  I know few things that smell quite as horrendous as a mouldering onion.

We are slowly... slowly... slowly beating down the weeds.  While they are still ahead, I think we are making great strides.  I'm not sure the same can be said in the battle against the whiteflies, although a judicious application of neem may help me.

The first garlic has been harvested.  The bulbs are disappointingly small overall, but they were planted too closely, in haste, by a nauseous pregnant woman.  I blame it mostly on me.  I'll save the biggest for this fall's planting (by Columbus Day).

Fava beans, why do you hate me?  Like in a past attempt, many are beginning to shrivel and burn up.  Is it the unexpected heat?

Tomatoes!  I am anticipating the first ripe ones with great delight!

A gift... an unexpected mulberry tree.  It is a weeping mulberry and quite attractive.

We also have apple trees suffering from cedar rust and peaches from oriental fruit moths.  I think our neighbor has not cared for his trees in the past, so we have work to do next spring to handle these issues!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Turken Tank Update

The turkens (naked-neck chickens) are getting big!  Can you see what a mess they like to make of their coop?
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, June 14, 2013

War on Weeds

Oh, that I could find more early morning hours, after dawn but before the heat causes me to wilt, as I have so much weeding to do!  I spend one day at Secondhand Ranch and on at Purgatory, but I can't spare more from YJ Acres.  I'm perpetually behind, and the heat is making me more behind.

We've begun a slow thinning-harvest of the onions.  I have some that are already baseball sized or larger.  The onions look beautiful and make the car smell fantastic (maybe not after an hour or two in the heat.  Then the smell becomes a bit of an overpowering stench).

In more peculiar news, many of the potatoes in the north bed have set fruit.  Why this year did so many set fruit?  Past years, I've had a plant or two, but I'd feel it safe to claim at least 50 plants have set fruit!  I may save the fruits for the seed and trial-plant a few next year.  It may be foolish and a waste of precious time, but I'm intrigued by the possibilities.  Yes, I may be obsessed.

To add the the peculiarity of my recent trip to Purgatory Ranch, chew on this bit of fat: where plants never grew from my seed potatoes, I have begun to uncover small potatoes growing directly on the seed potato!  There are no discernible roots, although I could have missed them, but I have found handfuls of small potatoes.  I'd love to know how a potato can reproduce without an above-ground foliage.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Mozzarella Making

My brother Tom and family joined us for a cheese making (as the first time I tried, I failed.  I think, on studying the issue, it was the rennet.  What do I really know?)  Tom regularly makes cheese, so he showed me the ins and outs and discussed what he had learned.  I learned that homemade cheese is yummy.

Homemade pizza is the way to go when sampling a first trial of homemade cheese.  Of course, it would have been better if I had not been attempting to mix the dough as we made the cheese.  The kitchen looked like a war zone at the end of the night.  We even opened my last jar of home-grown, home-canned tomato sauce for the occasion!

It was a beautiful evening of fellowship.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Death of a Guinea Fowl

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fencing, Weeding, and Purgatory

After weeks, even months, of intermittent work, the fence encompassing the front 20 acres of Purgatory Ranch is complete, gates and all.  The barbed wire on the easy end will remind me of the location of the  dreaded poison ivy.  (Speaking of which, how have I stumbled into it three times this summer with tiny patches?  No major outbreaks, but itchy nonetheless!)

 Weeding this year is a battle.  JoJo is a most delightful baby, much more cooperative than Jimmy ever was at this age, but I still can't seem to get ahead of the weeds.  James set out to help me today... But before that story, bask in the sight of my not-quite-so-empty north potato bed.  At one point, I thought I had lost 95% of this bed.  Now I'd estimate my losses at 40%, which is much more reasonable and will undoubtedly yield more potatoes than we can possibly consume.  I enjoy extras when it comes to food.

(The exuberance of tree onions always fascinates me.)

And the purgatory of the title can be summed up as... A once-friendly neighbor may have irreparably damaged our friendship by calling James some terrible names and attempting to bully James to solve his own problems.  Thus, James spend 6 hours burning brush piles.  I even have sunburned forearms to prove my participation in the excitement.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.