Homestead Tuesdays

We are somehow too humid and yet in drought. Things are rotting on the vine and inviting a plethora of hungry bugs to come and consume them. Last week the tomatoes looked incredible – they were lush, I had thinned their branches and cleaned any yellowing leaves…this week they are covered in finger sized hornworms, splitting, and the leaves are brown spotted. Last week, the squash/pumpkins looked amazing – great green leaves with tons of blooms and ripening fruit: this week it looks like I will have to pull them all, if they don’t have powdery mildew they are covered in grey squash bugs, or have gouges chewed out of the fruit. Last week we had bean plants aplenty, this week, they are not getting enough water and the beans, if at all, are misshapen and curled. The ground cherry look afflicted with something, and the flower beds are buried in crab grass and lambsquarters. The apples that did fruit are badly pollinated and now the many of the trees have tent caterpillar nests. But it still feels that we have a better garden than previous years (definitely better than last year). The dry beans are still growing beautifully. Despite the hornworms, we are getting tons of tomatoes, fennel, cucumbers – the napa looks to be heading nicely (again, despite the grasshoppers), I see growing carrots and a few eggplant blooms. Most of this damage is from lack of rain – all the liquid just hovers above the ground, molding all of the young plants but not making it into the soil.

Generally at this time of the year I am also trying to forage much tea-making supplies. However, that is also problematic with the powdery mildew as it effects the red clover, self-heal, the black eyed susans, the echinacea, the bee balm and the lack of water decimates the apples, the elderberry, the mallows, and the mullein. I managed to forage a small batch of Wild Bergamot, Boneset, Self-Heal, and Cleavers before the mildew really set in but I missed the echinacea, mullein, and St. John’s wort window. If I aggressively cut back the bee balm and mow the red clover and self-heal, I might be able to get another growth before Fall. I manage to get just enough Calendula out of the garden to save for salves and things. I’m still hoping to gather enough plantain and jewelweed to make into an anti-itch cream as the black and deer fly never really disappeared this year (as they generally do) so they grace us with their presence with the mosquito and the ridiculous number of spiders in and out of the house.

The nettle died in the pots before we could find a corner to stash them in, the dog destroyed the milkweed/butterfly flowers bed, and the lemon balm decided to never come up. I didn’t nearly get enough raspberry leaf this year for tea (I prefer to get new leaves, before fruiting if possible for the best medicinal energy) and the bed for the chamomile was not weeded long enough for the chamomile to come up. The herb garden never materialized. But again, it could be worse. I suppose.

This humidity also affects the bread – it gets overproofed easily and confused when we try and manipulate its consistency through time and temperature. It bakes different, too – not always behaving in the manner one expected. But they are still lovely breads – they are little living foods so they have differences and moods. Just like us. And the weather, apparently.

Here’s to the art of failure – it’s certainly a process.

Published by Rachael M Rollson

creative life-learner

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