The calcium spray solution we used seems to be helping, as we were able to cut 3 zucchini the other day. We may lose the 2 yellow crookneck plants, but the others are looking pretty good. The yellow straight neck squash is starting to produce, so it will be a matter of days before I can tell if it will be okay as well.
So far, since the beginning of our season this year, the yellow squash has blessed us many times over. It takes about 8 squash to make patties with, and we have made them over five times already. I have not shredded any zucchini for the freezer this year however. It seemed to take a slow start at first. Last year it was growing like crazy, so this year we've been eating what has been harvested.
As for the tomatoes, I've been able to freeze 2 qt. bags so far, and have made several dishes for meals. Nothing has been wasted. A few tomatoes have been eaten by tomato worms, but I'm not in a panic like last year. I found out we can pick off the tomato worms and feed them to the chickens.
We planted a lot more green peppers from seed this year that are starting to produce. We planted one plant we bought from a local greenery and about 4 from a produce stand seller. The rest are from seed. All in all, the 4 are producing nice large peppers, but thin in texture. The one plant produced only 2 peppers since the beginning of the season. Our plants from seed are producing nice thick peppers, however smaller. These smaller peppers however, have abundant flavor and have a much richer smell to them. We also had good luck with our poblano peppers, banana peppers and cayenne. We've been able to make about 5 qt.s of salsa this year. This is the first year to make homemade salsa.
We added red and white onions this year as well. We've used every one of them, however made garden notes to plant a lot more, to prevent having to buy from the store. The heirloom peas are a first for the garden this year as well, and we know now to plan them early from seed outside. Our cauliflower has yet to produce, but it's a first from seed for us as well. The brussels sprouts are starting to produce on their stalks and the cabbage looks great too.
Our sweet corn is looking good, so we can't wait to try it as well. However, next year we need to plow down an area to grow enough to freeze about 2 bushels. We also may grow corn for the chickens, so we will not have to purchase corn from the store during winter. We will know also, that it's grown chemical free, which is excellent for our chickens.
The greens were a nice addition to the garden, especially the swiss chard. It has done well growing next to the pepper plants, and without bug damage. We planted the collards next to the rhubarb and they are bug eaten, so we are researching that as well. The asparagus will have to wait for another year, and the rhubarb two more years.
The cucumbers did great, and we were able to make over 6 qts. of pickles this year. This is also a first for us. Next year I need twice as many plants so that we can actually can pickles and relishes for the winter as well.
Our two rows of potatoes were a new addition this year as well. I had plans to freeze some into hash-browns, but with our large family, we will need more rows planted next year. The early lettuce blessed us many times over, and next year we plan to plant a second planting. Same thing with green beans. We plan to plant a second planting and add more varieties.
We planted spinach from plant, and from seed, and both died before we could enjoy them. The weather seemed to be a problem with heavy spring rains followed by extreme hot temperatures. We, with the help of our books guiding us with companion planting, planted radishes next to the spinach, and those did well.
Winter Kale is looking nice, so we plan to do that next year as well. We missed adding broccoli, but have the brussels sprouts.
With our first compost bin this year, and adding lime to the soil, we should have a better garden next year. The idea is to grown enough food to freeze and can for the winter and spring. We added 2 blueberry bushes and discovered a pear tree on the property. It's too small for this year, but next year we should have enough to can pear butter. Overall, I think we are doing much better than last year, and will do much better next year. We need to plant more berries and citrus trees.
This year, I bought flower seeds (mixed), 3 for $1.00. I planted them around the house just before a rain, in areas I would normally buy annuals for. This saved us a lot of money as well. I not only have a variety of flowers and colors, we have lots of colorful butterflies and lots of bees. We have seen butterflies almost every day since the flowers started blooming. I also dug up perennials, split them, and spread them around the gardens, also saving us money from purchasing more this year. I've only had 2 encounters with black water snakes, while out watering flowers.
As for the kids, they still think I am nuts, and think having a garden is way too much work. I honestly don't think they will appreciate it until they are out on their own, and have the experience of handling money overall.
They hate all the dishes I use when I bake, cook, can, and freeze from the garden, but they gobble it all down and ask for more! Having a garden, especially this size, is a lot of work. Gardening keeps us healthy, physically and mentally, and keeps us self-sufficient. Life should be more than going to work and spending all your money at the store (or on bills). I have to say, for me at least, I am a much happier person.