This Month On The Homestead: Vegetables, Fruits, And Nuts!

If you’re just tuning in, this is a recurring series in which I document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May 2016 to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration (and plenty of stupid novice moments). Check out last month’s installment here and enjoy the best and worst moments of our first year on the homestead here.

August 2017

August in the garden: sunflowers!!!

August can be summed up as follows: vegetables! Indeed, this was the month our garden produced in near overwhelming abundance. Everything here is lusciously, verdantly green.

It’s not hot, exactly, as our part of Vermont rarely experiences what one would call “hot” temperatures, but it certainly was warm. Windows are open everywhere (since air conditioning is as rare as a 90-degree day here) and people are outside. It’s the month to savor the languid procession of summer in anticipation of the crisp, favorite fall.

It’s the month to reap what you’ve sown and swim in your creek and contemplate your woodstove’s role in the months to come.

Vegetables-A-Million

Since Babywoods and I were away for the bulk of August, Mr. Tikhvinskoe was busily harvesting, maintaining, and preserving the bounty of our land. Mr. FW began his garden-related labors back in March when he started a bevy of veggie plants from seeds–tomatoes, peppers, pole beans, sunflowers, cucumbers (some of them), and pumpkins (some of them)–inside our upstairs bathroom under grow lights. Since the Vermont growing season is so brief (we’re in plant hardiness zone 4 for all you gardening aficionados), most vegetables aren’t able to come to maturity outside during the timeframe of late May to mid-September. To combat this, one must give fledging plants a head start indoors where it’s nice and warm.

Two of our three garden beds

Given the length of this tending, and the constant weeding, mulching, and pest mitigation Mr. FW has conducted, finally enjoying the literal fruits of his labors is nothing short of exhilarating. The ironic thing about gardening is that you wait and wait and wait for things to grow and then, all of a sudden, everything ripens at once, inundating you with baskets of food. Depending on the quantity of the vegetable in question, we either consume it as it comes or preserve it for the future.

Since this is our second year here on the homestead, we’re still neophyte gardeners and novice preservationists, which is to say, we have no idea what we’re doing. It’s very much a learn-as-we-go proposition. However, this is part of the joy of our new life and we relish each new opportunity… except of course when we’re running around like maniacs trying to figure out what to do with 10,000 green beans.

Balancing homestead work with the other work of our lives is challenging at times, but it’s also a deeply rewarding aspect of living close to nature and in alignment with the seasons. We’re learning that each phase of life, each bloom of plant, each ripening of vegetable is a fleeting moment in time. Nature doesn’t wait around; it’s very much a seize-the-plant situation.

Our Crops

“Helping” with the rhubarb harvest

Ok “crops” is a bit of an overstatement for what we’ve grown since most of the quantities are just enough for us to consume… but you get the idea. Here’s a rundown of everything that grew on our land this year (or is still growing!) and what we did with it.

Late spring/early summer (late May to early June):

  • Rhubarb: I harvested a massive quantity of stalks and made a canned rhubarb compote, which tastes delicious atop pound cake or other such deserts. Most of this will be used as gifts throughout the year.
  • Asparagus: We have two beds of asparagus; however, the growing season is so brief, and our taste for asparagus so mighty, that we simply eat these lovely stalks as they come ripe. No need to preserve!

Early summer (mid June to early July):

  • Arugula: I cut these tender, peppery greens at their base with a pair of scissors and eat them on salads as they ripen. They do keep in the refrigerator for a few days, so no need to harvest daily and no need to preserve. Eat as they grow!
  • Black raspberries: As previously discussed, these are indeed a wholly different berry than blackberries and red raspberries, and they are divine. Babywoods and I harvest these together and she mostly eats them en plein air in the moment. Needless to say, there is no need for us to preserve these babies as they get eaten whole and hearty. I freeze whatever we don’t consume in gallon-sized ziplock bags in our deep freeze to pop out for enjoyment year round.
  • Red raspberries: We don’t have many of these and what we do have is rapidly consumed by Babywoods as she trolls the grounds in search of “baaaaeeeys.”

Veggies!!!!

Mid-summer (mid to late July):

  • Kale: Mr. FW’s kale crop ripened in robust fashion. It was our first time ever growing kale and it came out darn tasty! He harvests kale every few days and cooks it up in a to-die-for spicy Asian-inspired stir fry along with chard, beans, onions, garlic, ginger, and approximately 1 million spices served atop a bed of rice.
  • Chard: Another first-time attempt for us that did extremely well. It hops into the stir-fry pan with the kale.
  • Herbs, including dill, cilantro, rosemary, sage, and thyme: We harvest these as we need them in dishes.
  • Plums: Our three plum trees produced one single solitary plum this year, which was a 100% increase over their production last year! Mr. FW carefully pruned, tended, and hand-pollinated the trees this year in the hopes of coaxing a plum forth, and, it worked. This lone plum was tiny but fiercely delicious and we hope that in future years more plums will come to bear. These trees were planted by a previous owner and untended for years, so hopefully with pruning and tending they’ll ramp up production.

Preserved cucumbers and pickles!

Late summer (late July to September):

  • Bush and Pole Beans: These two varieties of green beans are very similar, save their growing style. As the names indicate, pole beans grow in a stalk climbing up poles, which Mr. FW constructed from wood and small trees harvested from our land. Bush beans, as you might’ve guessed, grow in a little bush. We eat these beans in three ways: raw on salads, cooked into a stir-fry, and preserved. Mr. FW pickled a bunch-o-beans and we will test these out to see if we like how they taste after preservation.
  • Cucumbers: While we could certainly eat these puppies raw, so far, Mr. FW has pickled all of them into spicy pickles via two methods: refrigerator pickles and canned pickles. We LOVE pickles and most especially spicy, homemade pickles, so this is a dream come true. The refrigerator pickles are easier and faster to make, and they taste crispier and spicier, but the downside is that they only keep in the fridge for a few months. The canned pickles, on the other hand, are also good–though not quite as delicious as their refrigerator brethren–but they’re shelf-stable for years (not that they’ll last that long around here… ).
  • Tomatoes: Both cherry and regular tomatoes came ripe this year and we eat these so quickly there’s no need (or opportunity!) to preserve them. Babywoods is especially a fan of our “may-may-ohs.”
  • A fledgling cucumber on the vine

    Hot peppers: Not too many of our hot peppers came to fruition this year, so we’ll just eat these as they come ripe.

  • Blackberries: Our property is graced with countless wild blackberry bushes, which produced in epic abundance last year. This year’s crop is a bit less robust, but I’m still picking a goodly number every day. We eat most of these immediately, but what we don’t consume goes into the freezer in gallon-sized ziplocks for wintertime consumption. No need to do anything fancy with them—they defrost as delicious, perfectly whole and wonderful berries. I know that some folks freeze berries laid out on a cookie sheet and then dump them into a bag, but I’m much too short on time/lazy for that and I find they do just fine frozen in a bag.
  • Hazelnuts: Mr. FW discovered a number of wild hazelnut bushes ringing our driveway and he went through the rather laborious process of harvesting some. They’re currently drying out on a cookie sheet in a kitchen window awaiting processing. Next year we plan to plant cultivated hazelnuts too!

Our early-ripening Red Duchess apple tree

Fall (September to October):

  • Apples: Apple trees both cultivated and wild dot our yard and property writ large and it’s looking like a bumper year for our apple crop. As I shared last week, we recently purchased a cider press and apple grinder in order to process our gallons upon gallons of apples and turn them into hard cider. We also eat apples straight from the tree and dehydrate them in our dehydrator to make delicious dried apples, which are the perfect toddler (and parent) snack. I freeze gallon-sized ziplocks of dried apples and mete them out throughout the year. The gargantuan quantity of apples our trees produce can only be fully processed via cider-making, so we’re looking forward to our first experience of this undertaking in September! There are billions of things you can do with apples–vinegar, applesauce, apple butter, apple jam, etc—but with the volume of apples we have, cider-making will utilize the most apples the quickest. More on this next month…
  • Pumpkins: Mr. FW’s pumpkin crop is looking orange, round, and adorable. Hopefully these gourds will be ready for harvest in September or October.

As you may have noted, we haven’t made any jams or jellies from our various fruits, due primarily to the fact that we don’t often eat jams or jellies. In future years, I may make jams to give as gifts, but for this year, our canned rhubarb compote, dried apples, and canned pickles will serve in that role.

Preparations For Next Year

Babywoods scavenging beans from the garden

Late summer is also the time to–believe it or not–prepare for the next growing season! Mr. FW has had his eye on a derelict flower bed located to the right of our back porch with an idea to transform it into a perennial food bed, given its convenient location.

Our primary focus is on growing food–not flowers–so this plan got a vote of approval from the homestead planning committee (consisting of me and Mr. FW). To prepare this bed for planting next year, he first brush hogged it to the ground (using the tractor), then plowed the earth and finally, tilled it under. The final step is to sow a cover crop, such as buckwheat, until we can plant next season.

Mr. FW also brush hogged our upper field and lower field as well as several trails through the woods that are wide enough and flat enough to accommodate the tractor. Beating back this growth annually is important for any land that you want to keep cleared; otherwise, the forest will quickly overtake it and stamp out any semblance of trail. Most of our 66 acres are forested, which is how we like it, but it’s useful to have some cleared acreage.

Part of our cleared upper field

It’s also true that initially clearing acreage from mature forest to bare earth is extraordinarily difficult and expensive. Hence, we aim to keep clear what’s already been cleared. We don’t have any immediate plans for our cleared upper field, but since it’s the only cleared land we have other than the two acres surrounding our house and barn, we work to keep it that way in light of the fact that cleared land can be a valuable asset.

Want More Fotos?!

While I only document homestead life once a month here on the blog, I post photos to Instagram and updates to Facebook with much greater regularity–sometimes daily! Join me there if you want more of our frugal woods.

And if you want to make sure you don’t miss a post here, sign-up for our handy dandy email list in the box below. You’ll get a message from me if you do…

Onward to September, frugal comrades!

How was August on your own personal homestead?

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91 Responses

  1. Everytime I see pictures of Babywoods in the garden, I remember running through the garden myself as a kid. And she will have such amazing memories from that!!

    That’s a whole lot of veggies!! I imagine Mr. Tikhvinskoe stayed super busy with having to harvest whole you were gone. That’s a huge job for sure!

    We don’t have a garden ourselves, but August was a good month! We saved and made a few good, frugal choices like putting off things until we know we really want or need it. That’s helped us so much with not spending.

    Y’all’s place looks amazing as always! I do have a question. We have apple trees and pecan trees a previous owner planted, but the apples never ripen and the pecans go bad before we can attempt to harvest them. Ive looked up reasons, but none has helped not Any tips or ideas on why?

  2. Very nice and homesteady! 🙂

    Our lives are much different – we’re FIREd in downtown Philly. The only thing we did of significance in August was go to our son’s US Army Ranger School graduation. There was an awesome demo as part of the ceremony!

  3. My wife and I love reading these articles together. She loves what have you done with the land plus she’s a bit envious of all the fresh vegetables that you are growing and eating. Once we reach FIRE, which is only a couple of years away, we are hoping to make a move towards NC to have a small hobby farm. So we’re taking notes 🙂

  4. October will hit the one year mark in our home, so we are continually surprised by what we find growing across our acreage! In the past month, we discovered a tree full of delicious pears that we have been picking for snacks (our two year old loves yelling “pears” every time we walk near the tree) and we have some beautiful looking apples that should be ready in a few weeks 🙂

    I just recently bought a few early season apples from a local market… the crisp apple matched the crisp, cool air perfectly and I am now looking forward to the autumn colors, hot apple cider with pumpkin donuts and, of course, sweaters with scarves!

  5. Mrs. Kiwi says:

    Your “crop” yield increased greatly from last year! It’s fun hearing about the progress of your second year on the homestead.

    This was our first year where we actually got a bounty of green beans, so we made some of these: https://wholenewmom.com/recipes/green-bean-chips/ (I know you already have a dehydrator)

  6. I was sooo excited to see your new post! I’m glad you have had such a successful summer with your garden.

    My MIL has been growing a small garden in our tiny backyard, and we have already been harvesting green onions and such. I’m a bit sad winter is coming, but it’s the beauty of four seasons.

    P.S. I love your sunflower photo. You have such great photography skills!

  7. Oooh, I love the veggie-palooza! Isn’t it amazing to see what you can grow for yourself? We started a garden in our backyard this year, and lemme tell ya, we DID NOT need to buy tomatoes for about four months. I think the key to subsistence farming is to know how to preserve your harvest. That’s been a challenge for us city slickers, so we have a lot of learning to do there. Can’t wait for the fall growing season here in Texas! It’s just about time to start planting. 🙂

  8. For “neophyte” gardeners you guys grew a ton!! The pickles look delish. I made the mistake of planting tomatoes too late so I don’t know if they’ll ripen before the first frost. We need to get seedlings started indoors next year! I look forward to hearing more about the apple cider making. How fun!!

    • Robin says:

      If your tomatoes are still green when a frost is about to hit, go ahead and pick them all while still green. Just warp them individually in newspaper and store them in a single layer in a cardboard box or paper bag someplace not too hot in your house and check on them every couple of days to find any that are going bad (compost) or are ripe (enjoy). I’ve also had really good luck with just lining the green ones up on my kitchen windowsills and they ripen over the course of a couple of weeks. Which method I employ usually depends on how many green tomatoes I have and how tired I am of gardening 🙂

    • mary w says:

      Or fried green tomatoes. Small ones (cherry or similar) can be refrigerator pickles. Or find a canning recipe using green tomatoes…relish or salsa.

    • RiderJenni says:

      Make Fried Green Tomatoes!!! They are soo tasty.

  9. Looks like your garden was awesome this summer! I’m amazed by what you’re able to do with everything you grow. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Sounds like you had a delicious month! We have one lone pear on our pear tree, and it isn’t quite ripe yet. I am looking forward to slicing into it! We love our red raspberries, and you have me curious about black raspberries now. I’ll have to look into getting some plants for the spring. Our life is so busy that I’m a bigger fan of simple perennial plants these days, but I’d sure love to add to our fruit trees soon! And you’re right, now is the time to begin thinking of next spring. It’s harder to have vision when everything is covered with snow.

  11. I have been recently plotting some free materials I will gather to make raised beds this fall in eager anticipation of planting them next spring. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  12. Looks amazing. The cider sounds like it will be delicious. We recently planted one pear tree and one apple tree in our back yard. It likely wont produce enough for cider but we’re hoping for at least enough to eat on a regular basis. Each tree has six different varietals grafted on it. Will be pretty cool to see one tree give us 6 different kinds of apples!

  13. Erin says:

    Yum, all of this sounds so delicious! Congratulations on a successful gardening summer.

    I have gardening in my blood, even if I can’t/don’t act on it at the moment. My parents talk about buying a plot of land somewhere in the woods where they can have a huge veggie garden (right now they’re gardening on someone else’s land a few miles away from home since our yard is too shaded for veggies. Plus the deer eat all of my mom’s flowers!). I can definitely see myself helping them set that up if and when it happens.

  14. JD says:

    Rhubard note: My mother used to cook and serve sweetened rhubarb as a side dish with pork. I used to love it that way, but I can’t grow it where I live now.
    Good job on the garden! We had mostly failures again this year — our weather is just not cooperating this last 3 years. We’ll keep trying because gardeners don’t like to give up, and the memories of the years we got plenty keep us hopeful!
    As an FYI, hot peppers have a LONG germination and growth period, so you need to start them indoors in the fall, I would think, since here in the deep south we start our seeds in December in order to get mature peppers in the summer. You may already know that, but we’ve found a lot of people didn’t, so we always mention it.
    Our two domestic blackberry plants gave us several good handfuls of berries this year. We hope for bigger and better next year. The frequent rain and heat got to most of our herbs, but the lemongrass is loving it, and is growing great. I hope to plant elderberries this fall, as they are so useful for medicine, wine and jelly.
    I am sure Babywoods is loving the garden. My kids used to love to run through our gardens, play hide and seek in the corn, and dig in the dirt. They did not love picking peas or beans, ha. I’d like to suggest you read Elliot Coleman’s “Winter Harvest Handbook” if you haven’t already read it, for ideas for winter gardening. Since he’s in Maine, it should apply easily to your area.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Yeah, we started the peppers inside and the germinated and set fruit, just not very much. So, we have some hot peppers but not a ton.

  15. We could take some of those blackberries of your hands since Baby with Cents loves them….lol!! That’s so cool Babywoods is trying to pronounce the names of the fruits. She will have it down pat soon enough.
    Really love all the fruits and veggies you have guys have grown. You and Mr. Tikhvinskoe have many options what to do with them.

  16. Pat says:

    I’m still trying to understand what you mean by “homestead” because I’m thinking it means different things to different people in different parts of the country. That being said – no gardening here this summer. Everyone was having difficulty because of the weather. Lots of things were grown in TN but since I have a job, too, I just didn’t have the extra time it would have taken to deal with weather problems. The Farmers’ Markets came in handy and then, there is so much wild growing here that we have plenty of walnuts and pecans, blackberries, blue berries and all the herbs that come up yearly. One tip I’d like to pass on. One of the ways we’re able to have fresh tomatoes up to, and sometimes through Christmas, is to dig up the plants right at first frost, bring them inside and turn them upside down in the attic. It takes those late tomatoes longer to finish growing and they don’t rot (if your attic is cool like mine). Probably have to experiment in different parts of the country if you want to do this. It is critical to have the roots, though.

    • Sara Lynch says:

      If cold weather threatens our tomatoes and it usually does here in western washington, I pick my green tomatoes and place them in paper bags to ripen. One layer only don’t load up your bags. If you have avoided temperatures under 50 degrees they should all mostly ripen this way. It is common for me to have 20 paper bags all over my house in the fall. I go thru them about every other day to check for ripe ones or sadly blighted ones. Last year almost all of our tomatoes blighted, the year before, a bumper crop I was maki g tomatoes sauce and freezing it into November.

      • Anne says:

        If you stick a ripe banana (or even banana peel) in with a bag of tomatoes that will help them ripen. Overripe fruit produces the hormone needed to ripen the unripe fruit.

    • cathy says:

      I’ve used the same upside-down method with tomatoes. Sometimes it’s just easier to uproot the entire plant, then to have counters/sills/tables full of ripening tomatoes. I think the key is to hang the plant in a cool room. For us it’s our basement pantry.

  17. Kim says:

    I love the precious mispronunciations or “pre-words” of toddlers. Brings back so many memories. Babywoods is a hoot! Love hearing this increase in garden production. Each year you will learn more and more.
    Has Mr. Tikhvinskoe retired from his job yet? Did I miss that?

  18. Sara Lynch says:

    Our family share a quarter acre with another family and our veggies are coming on big-time! I come home to a 5 gallon bucket of picked produce about every other day. I pickle everything and it is my christmas gifts for just about everyone in my family. Each year some vegetable or fruit is particularly prolific and I just go with it. I dry and freeze a bunch of fruit and vegetables too. It’s a lot of work but having such bounty gives me such a sense of security I wouldn’t change a thing. You will get more efficient with each season in both your growing and preserving. I’m a machine in the kitchen these days with my preservation of food. It is a learning experience to be sure but oh, so satisfying for those trying to unplug from consumerism.

  19. Tara says:

    I’m jelly of all the asparagus you consumed!! that is my favorite vegetable.

    Have you guys had to deal with clearing english ivy or any ivy whatsoever? We’re trying to convert our front yard back from an ivy mess to just local grass. Any help would be appreciated if you have experience.

    • Mims says:

      Tara, our home came with a swath of ivy ten feet wide by 100 feet long. We built our chicken coop and chicken run over a section of the ivy and let the chicken “tractors” do most of the work. Each year we moved the chickens to another section of ivy. The last section I hand pulled (very cathartic and great exercise!) Took us four years to get rid of it all, and another year or two of pulling up the random volunteer ivy plant. We never resorted to herbicide. Now that area is planted with dozens of natives and other drought tolerants and looks beautiful. (and no more rats living in the ivy!)

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      No experience with ivy to share–we don’t seem to have any. Good luck with yours!

    • Anne says:

      Be aware that ivy thrives in poor quality soils after you clear it you may have difficulty getting something else to grow

  20. Suzanne says:

    Green beans also can be frozen. Just blanch them and then freeze in your zip lock bags. I like them better than canning them plus it is much less time consuming.

  21. Mims says:

    I highly recommend growing winter squashes. I plant outside first weekend of may and can usually begin picking ripe squashes late August. I imagine you could exptend your season with row covers or a hoop house. Of course, it helps to choose a variety that had the shortest days to maturity. I love red kuri/hakaido type. Delicious, and they keep very well in the panty for months.

    A mature squash can easily weigh 8 pounds, and when i pass by the organic ones at whole foods sell for $3 a pound I just smile to myself knowing my $3 packet of seeds saved me hundreds of dollars in winter squash.

  22. Brigit says:

    What a rich and delicious harvest! I’m curious: have your cameras caught any new and exciting wildlife footage?

  23. Lee says:

    Your garden expertise is growing fast! I learn a little more about what works and what doesn’t each year, for my tiny yard and climate (zone 5, here in southwestern Ontario, Canada, so a bit of a longer season than you guys). I am all about low maintenance gardening. This is maybe my 6th summer with a veggie garden, so I have slowly been figuring out what works and what doesn’t for my soil/space/skill/etc. I’m sure people have recommended this to you already, but you could throw some garlic bulbs in that new side garden this fall and it practically grows itself. It’ll be one of the first things you see popping up next spring! Well, next to the asparagus and rhubarb…

    This is my first year planting a round of seeds in early August, with the hope of a late fall harvest. I planted spinach, kale and carrots and although the seedlings are out and growing, only time will tell if they grow big enough to be of use or withstand the first few snowfalls…

  24. Paula O says:

    I enjoy reading your posts so much! Have you and Mr. FW considered hay fields in your cleared spaces? I ask because the land I live on is surrounded by hay fields. The beauty of it is, the land owner found a local farmer who needed the hay for his cattle, so he basically contracts out the fields. He is responsible for sowing, fertilizing, cutting, and clearing the fields each year, and in turn he pays her a fee for using the land. It seems to work well for both of them.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      We have indeed considered hay before, but the problem is that our cleared fields aren’t large enough to either support a herd (even a very small one) or be worth the labor and cost to hay with equipment. So, it’s very much TBD what they’ll be used for (if anything), but we do like keeping them clear for now 🙂

      • RiderJenni says:

        Around us, you can usually find someone to come “hay” your field for you, they keep some or all of the hay or depending on the deal. We have ranchettes so 5ish acres and you can usually find someone to do even that small of a pasture. Basically you get your pasture mowed for free.

        • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

          That’s the same here too; unfortunately, our fields are just too small to be worth it for anyone to come hay.

  25. You must try to harvest the mushrooms in your woods.

  26. Wow, what a beautiful harvest! (And how great that you have nuts!) My current “personal homestead” is too small and shady to support any crops, so I have to make do with the many farmers’ markets that spring up nearby in my part of Ohio. Around here, it’s time for melons, zucchini, and peppers, with fall squash and apples coming soon!

    Speaking of apples, I was wondering if you make apple chips in your dehydrator in addition to the dried apples you freeze? My husband and I are planning our annual trip to the u-pick apple orchard, and in addition to the pounds and pounds of apples he gets to cook down for sauce, and of course the apples we’ll eat fresh, I want to get apples to try out in our new dehydrator! I like the squishy apple rings, but I much prefer the chips! Have you tried to make them, and if so, any tips?

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      I have not tried chips, mostly because I’m trying to keep as healthy as possible, but they do sound delicious! It’s also sooooo easy to just dehydrate the apples that it has become our go to!

      • Jana says:

        I make apple chips in my dehydrator by cutting the apple slices really thin and dehydrating a bit longer so they turn out crispy instead of squishy. (Though I actually prefer the squishy kind!) I’m curious as to what about this is less healthy? I’m sure there is just something I’m not understanding. Is it because they need to be moistened before being put in the dehydrator? I know some people use syrupy concoctions for that, but I’ve found that lightly coating apples in actual applesauce works too and this way the only ingredient is still just apples. Lemon juice is also good!

        • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

          Oh the way you make apple chips sounds perfectly healthy :)! The recipes I’ve seen include a lot of oil or syrup or other ingredients, but just apples would be 100% healthy–I’ll have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

        • Thanks, Jana – I like the crunch but want to keep my chips healthy as well. I’ll have to try both ways you suggest!

  27. Megan says:

    Sounds like you guys did quite well on the veggie front for your first year! A couple tips from growing in Zone 4 (Northwestern Ontario) – growing peppers in pots (preferably black) makes a HUGE difference to their growth rates and production. Even in comparison to a raised bed, my potted peppers were 2-3x the size with 10x (or more) fruit. If you plant two peppers side by side (in the same pot), they help support and shade each other. I’ve also heard you can cut them way back in the fall and bring them inside through the winter for increased production the following year, but I haven’t tried this yet…

    Good luck!

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Good to know! Our peppers are in raised beds and they’re just not all that happy it seems. Maybe we’ll try pots next year!

  28. Bev says:

    I haven’t commented in a while, but I still read faithfully and enjoy your posts very much. Your single, solitary plum coached forth made me laugh enough to write and tell you about it. So happy you are enjoying Vermont. I’m thinking it’s getting time for soups, stews, and chili. What do you think?

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Hi Bev! Thank you for saying hi :). I agree, I think it’s time for soups and stews! I am such a fall/winter fan–good thing we live in Vermont!

  29. Ginny says:

    Could you give a quick run-down of your refrigerator pickle process? I’ve never heard of that, but I do love pickles, and I eeked out a few cukes from my first-timer garden this year, so I’d love to try and pickle them. Thanks!

  30. Nora says:

    Herbs make excellent frozen cubes for the winter too! My mom uses arugula and other herbs to make butters and compotes to use in the winter months. She also has been making refrigerator pickles but they never last – we can eat through them so quickly! We love jalapeno ones too!

  31. Mr. Tako says:

    Love the harvest photos Mrs. Woods! We’re absolutely swimming in tomatoes and chilli’s right now. I’m making huge batches of salsa right now and we’re eating salads every night in an effort to keep up with the bounty of the garden.

  32. Katharine says:

    Yum! It sounds like the first veggie garden was a huge success! I would second the recommendation to plant winter squash next year, as it keeps like the dickens- and no preserving required! Just put it in a cool place (our mudroom, or by a non-working fireplace that isn’t insulted) and it lasts into March. We love our butternuts and turbans and flying saucers, and hubbards, and…. Also, you really don’t have to freeze your dried apples. Once they’re dried, they will keep. (as will pretty much anything dried). I just stuff mine into mason jars and put in a cool, dry place, and they last until… well, we’re still eating them! Sometimes I put the little silica gel packs (like from shoes or computer parts, labeled, DO NOT EAT”) into the bottom, but that’s not even necessary.

  33. Rebecca says:

    If your interested in garden experiments, check out the concepts of Eden gardening. It produces high yields with less maintenance and water, too good to be true?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2QHzB1aFwX4

    This is one of my favorite youtubers. So thankful for all the homesteaders out there who love to share!

  34. Oldster says:

    I so very much enjoy the tales of your journey. While I don’t think that I could do it the way you guys do (I’ve moved past that phase of life), I often think that would have been a more interesting path. Thanks for sharing your adventures. It is truly appreciated (and I agree as to the refrigerator pickles over canned – much crisper and more refreshing.)

  35. Ms. Raggedly says:

    I love home-grown food. It’s so exciting! Looks like an amazing haul for 2 years of experience. We’re still enjoying apple pies from harvesting a friend’s backyard, but there weren’t nearly that many trees 🙂

    It’s nice that the temperatures are finally dropping – it’s been unreasonably warm this summer, but now it’s finally cooling off during the nights.

  36. I must say, I am learning a wealth of information from your life on the homestead. I have never lived anywhere with gardens or acreage and I appreciate the experience you share with your readers. It looks like summer 2017 was a smashing success in your gardens. Great job! I look forward to seeing the trees turn to shades of fall soon. 🙂

  37. WantNotToWantNot says:

    Terrific report on the Garden Year 2 and lovely photos. I second the suggestion to grow garlic. My SO gets bulbs from “our” Garlic-Man, a venerable Italian guy who has been at the farmers market for decades and instructed us to “plant on Columbus Day”—in zone 5.5 they sprout and grow well before the hardest freezes of December and are happy under snow cover. By March and mud season, the garlic sprouts are tall and green. That first soup made of the garlic scrapes is an early taste of spring. In our Urban Homestead we grow all we need for the year (and we love garlic). It’s a most grateful crop to grow. I hope this message posts as my last one mysteriously disappeared!

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Yes! Garlic is totally on our list to plant! We love it and eat it in just about everything so we plan to plant it 🙂

      • WantNotToWantNot says:

        I can’t wait to see the photos you take of your future garlic crop, as you have a very artistic eye! Of course Babywoods, Frugalhound, well, all four of you, are so photogenic. 🙂 I especially love the reader posts about how much you have changed lives with the Tikhvinskoe message. A reminder that every person makes a difference, a wonderful achievement in this sometimes seemingly selfish and wasteful culture—you have created a corner of sanity, generosity and inspiration.

  38. mary w says:

    As I understand it, both kale and chard will survive in snow. Obviously not dead of winter in Vermont snow,but much longer than the rest of veggie garden. (I’m a So Cal native so this is all hearsay, not personal knowledge.)

  39. RiderJenni says:

    I have so many comments/questions I could go on for weeks! I promise not to dork out on you though… Can you stagger your seeds, like plant 5 bean plants, then 2 weeks later plant 5 more? I live down south, zone 8, so we can spread seeds out for months, it prevents everything coming in all at once. Also, have you thought about chickens or bees? We have both on our 6 acres, my little girl enjoys watching the chickies, both are pretty low maintenance and provide delicious bounty. We have 3 watermelons growing in our barnyard, I can’t wait for those, the tomatoes didn’t do great but we had a ton of peppers(all kinds), eggplants, and a few zucchini. I am green with envy over your apples, they don’t do great down here, but we have citrus so I guess its a fair trade.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Unfortunately, we can’t stagger planting with most things because the frost comes so early here that most plants need the full (and very brief!) growing season in order to come to fruition. We’ve certainly thought about chickens, bees… you name it :)! But, we decided at the outset to give ourselves at least a few years before adding living creatures to our homestead (other than Frugal Hound). We want to make sure we have the time and knowledge to properly care for animals before we take on the responsibility that they entail.

  40. joann says:

    Your veggies look delicious. I love Kale. Not much growing here in Melbourne, Winter is handing on and it’s been very cold. Am itching to get out there and start planting.

  41. Kathleen Benson says:

    Such an idyllic life! Although, I know it must be hard work to maintain all of your crops. Babywoods is so fortunate to be able to forage for berries and beans in her own yard. I don’t recall any comment about Frugal Hound in this post. Hope all is good with her.

  42. Reba says:

    We had more than enough tomatoes-so we shared. Squash and cucumbers were few. Coons loved the corn- birds loved the strawberries. Bell peppers, banana peppers and jalapeños did the best of all. Still working full time that was enough to harvest for me! Oh and we did have about 5 to 8 gallons of green beans! So, not too shabby. Love to see babywoods scavaging in the garden. Eagerly await your post!

  43. Diana says:

    Congratulations on your bounty. Always look forward to your blog and pictures. O and love Babywoods so much. As well as Frugalhound. I know this is off topic. But I thought of how much you have helped me with attitude about money. Met a new acquaintance and she started sharing her hobby of thrift store shopping. As I heard of her finds I thought my God that use to be me. I’ve been a fan for about 18 months and my life has changed dramatically. I save money. What a concept for me. From a person who would have jumped with Glee to have a spend buddy. I heard myself share. I really don’t spend money. I’ve got so much stuff now I really need to get rid of it. Well, that went over like a led balloon. I was shocked how far I’ve come. And I have to say it all 🌟 with you. I’m so grateful. I now have savings. No bills. It’s a miracle. And I’m so grateful. Now have to really, really work on downsizing big time. I just love your weekly updates. Blessings to you all and all your readers.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, Diana! That is so wonderful to hear. Many, many congrats to you!!! It’s such a wonderful feeling of liberation when you know you’re in charge of your money!

  44. What a beautiful harvest!!!!! The homestead looks wonderful 🙂

  45. Sandra says:

    Thanks for the harvest from thought and plans to harvest, dinner, and more. I know it’s late in the year but I love to freeze at least one “rhubarb waiting for winter snow” set up for rhubarb crisp, using a fading page I pulled from my copy of the Good Food Gourmet.. I pull the filling from the freezer for a treat on a cold night or during a storm in mid-winter.

    So look at this old Jane Brody recipe, combine the filling ingredients, freeze in freezer container or bag. Then freeze. To use frozen filling, defrost for few hours in fridge, make and sprinkle topping over filling in low casserole or other pan. Bake as directed. Let the scent of the baking crisp fill the farm house and later all Tikhvinskoe can enjoy a taste
    of Spring.

    http://halloenoen.com/2012/06/janes-rhubarb-crisp.html.

    Use vanilla or orange oil, if oranges aren’t part of your stormy night.

  46. That’s an impressive harvest for only your second year on your homestead. I’ve found that fermenting can be an easy, healthy, and low energy way to preserve produce. I was a little intimidated to get started last year, but now I ferment zucchini, summer squash, beans, garlic, cucumbers, beets, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, etc. I love that as long as everything smells okay, it’s okay to eat (unlike canning)! And if you have a cold storage area you can keep your fermented jars there to enjoy in future months. Our basement hasn’t quite gotten below 60 degrees, but its getting close and I’m starting to use it more so that our fridge isn’t completely full with fermented veggies!

  47. I am not familiar with black raspberries, but they sound delicious! One of the things I’m most interested in, but missed the opportunity to plant this year, is preserving our own fruits and veggies for winter. I will be following along and planning the garden for next spring.

  48. Toni says:

    My niece is also a big fan of “bebbies” and “may-tay-toes”. Congrats on a successful harvest season.

  49. Ashley says:

    What a beautiful harvest! You inspired me to try my hand at refrigerator pickling my cucumbers. OMG so delicious! I ate a whole jar in one day. I’m trying to pickle some okra now.

  50. Soggysuzzi says:

    You should be so very very very proud of yourselves for your second year garden. That much success so early in your journey is very rare indeed. Love the experiences that babywoods is getting in such a marvelous environment. She is one very lucky and darling girl to have such successful in life parents.

    String beans: Make dilly beans. Nothing like pickled string beans. You can either make them with heads of dill or dill seeds – lots of recipes around so you can test out which you like best.

    Asparagus: Did you know that you can grow fall asparagus as well as spring asparagus. You have to start from scratch (either seeds or 1 year transplants). It’s a several year process to get them started but the general idea is that when they come up in the spring DON’T PICK THEM. Let the
    m grow up to their little Christmas tree size, and at the magic moment (you will have to figure out how long it takes your current ones to reach edible size) start picking until frost kills them for the winter. Also, asparagus requires a LOT of feeding. The general advice I have tripped over is to fertilize them with manure compost in the spring and veg compost in the fall (or visa versa).

    Speaking of feeding, since you haven’t mentioned it, fall is the time to spread any minerals your soil may need on your veg plots. Minerals take up to six months to digest in the soil, so this works much better than spring feeding. Don’t need to dig them in, just spread on top and rake into the top two inches or so. That’s where they will do the most good.

    Love your posts. I have learned so very much from your FIRE posts. I am being a pest about trying to get relatives to read your work. By the way I bought the Collins book you recommended. Super easy to understand and full of fab info.

  51. It’s always a pleasure visiting your website. Keeps me in sync with the finer things in life – family, mother nature, farming,etc.

    Your daughter seems to be growing up so fast…

    Cheers,
    PAI

  52. So much yummy food! I wish I was good at gardening, but it’s never too late to learn! 🙂

  53. I have a penchant for pickled foods and have been meaning to teach myself the refrigerator method. Looks pretty easy… right?

    Given that I kill pretty much every plant I meet, I’m impressed that you had such a bounty this year. Lovely!

  54. Jeff D says:

    A tip on pumpkins. Next year have Mr. FW scratch all of your names in them. As they grow the scar becomes more prominent and then you “know” who’s pumpkin is who’s. My grandkids love going out in the patch to watch their pumpkin grow and then take home with them for fall, but they never carve grandpa’s pumpkins.

  55. Jena says:

    I have to come clean and admit that I am a Tikhvinskoe failure. I am fascinated with your blog, especially the frugal tips on saving money, but growing food is simply beyond my capabilities. Is it wrong to enjoy the personal bounties of others at our state farmer’s market instead of torturing my poor yard with my bumbling efforts at doing nature’s work? If so, I plead guilty. However, I so completely admire all of you who can and do. You are the earth managers for us all.

    • Mrs. Tikhvinskoe says:

      You are guilty of nothing! Growing your own food is not a prerequisite for frugality :). It’s something we choose to do because we have the space for it and we enjoy it!

  56. Chris says:

    Beautiful crop! I really envy you for it, and it makes me even more determined to have a garden again. As for storage of excess apples and such – you could consider storing some in your basement (if it is cold) or your den. Depending on the type of apple they last until April. As a rule of thump, the later the apple ripens and the thicker the skin the longer it can be stored. June apple- eat immediately, October apple (like boskoop) – throw in apple cellar and don’t think about using before January when it will finally be palatable. Potatoes can go into another cellar (do not store with apples) . Root vegetables also can be stored in a cellar, preferentially in sand boxes for extended live. A den will do just fine, too. Just put a tarp over the crates for protection. Alternatively, roots can apparently be stored outdoors buried in the ground, layered in straw or sand, and covered witch a tarp and dirt.

    As to staggering you could consider a second crop of (winter) kale and Brussel sprouts. They might make it into December if planted in late summer, and frost will break the bitterness (we used to wait for the first good frost before starting to harvest kale or Brussel sprouts)

  57. Kristine says:

    I’m so happy I found you!

    I was walking to pick up some free dining chairs the other day (2 hour round trip, who needs a car?), and wanted some podcasts to keep me company. I was lucky enough to stumble upon an interview with Mrs. Tikhvinskoe as one of the first FI podcasts on the list. She sounded to cheerful and satisfied (plus, the name of her blog appealed to me) that I couldn’t help but check it out when I came home.

    This is exactly the life I want one day! Saving hard to get there as soon as I can. 🙂

    Have you heard about forest gardening? It is a gardening technique that imitates a young forest and reduced the amount of labor required once set up. I have the Forest Gardening bible ( https://amazon.co.uk/Creating-Forest-Garden-Working-nature/dp/1900322625 ) by Martin Crawford and it is really amazing.

  58. Frank the Tank says:

    Hazelnuts! That’s excellent!

  59. Stephanie says:

    Applesauce or apple butter would be a good use of some of your apple bounty. You can use a crockpot to cook both down before canning. Glad your garden did so much better this year! We plant Bluelake bush green beans & those things really make a lot of green beans. We usually snap & can ours in quart or pint jars. This year we froze some whole for the first time. It’s so nice to have fresh vegetables in winter that you’ve grown!

  60. Lara says:

    Love the garden pics! I noticed it doesn’t look like all of your garden beds are fenced in. Do you have issues with critters getting in and munching?

  61. Marcia says:

    I enjoyed this post, since I missed it the first time through. Memories! I grew up in zone 5/6. I now live in zone 10.

    I remember many years going to my grandpa’s house and making cider with him in the cider press. These days, my step dad keeps a garden (very fertile soil), but mostly it’s my sister and her husband to who tend it and keep the goods! They live across the road and through the woods, but don’t have as much sun. He also has many prolific apple trees. Not sure what he does with them, but my mom used to make applesauce.

    I was there for a few days last summer, in July, and would walk the old “rails to trails” with my sister. And they were FULL of either blackberries or black raspberries. It’s nice that the railway is gone, but both sides have these berries (not quite ripe in early July), and not sure what they were. I was fascinated.

    I also remember growing up and the green beans. Every summer I pretty much memorized the canning recipe as we helped mom can them.

    The best things about pumpkins is the volunteers. One year long ago we went in September for my brother’s wedding. They didn’t plant pumpkins that year. But there were volunteer vines that grew out of the garden. You would walk 15 feet into the yard, and there’s a pumpkin. It was like the pumpkin fairy dropped pumpkins as she flew overhead.

  62. Wilma says:

    Hey, another frugal veg (well, starch) you could add to your list is potatoes! One of the best starches to eat, and you can store it in cold storage all winter long. I grew up on a vegetable farm in Ontario (though we did not grow potatoes for sale) and we had an epic potato patch, which supplied our family of 7 with potatoes for basically the entire year–and we ate potatoes 19 nights out of 20 (Dutch immigrant parents, haha). Other than dealing with those nasty potato bugs (your daughter is already old enough to help pick them off 😉 they’re easy to grow, easy to harvest, and easy to eat. And you could freeze kale and make boerenkool (literally, farmer kale)–https://createdheritage.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/boerenkool-kale-mashed-potatoes/. Good luck!! I love your blog!!

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