How We Failed in Our Fall Garden

Oct 18, 2018


"Failures are a part of life. If you don't fail, you don't learn. If you don't learn you won't change." -unknown.

​Our gardens this last year have been quite the learning process. Our broccoli was full of bugs, the cabbage went from planting last fall until this fall to mature. A section in our garden just didn't grow anything at all and we don't know why. We didn't put up half of the food that we had hoped to put up. We didn't plant enough green beans to make it through more than a few fresh eatings. Our fall garden got transplanted to late.

But in all of that, perceived failure there really were so many more successes and a large education. We plan to learn from our failures this year and change some things so that the following year is hopefully better. Though I'm sure there will be more lessons to learn. 

In the Crop Garden


When we started this blog back in 2014 it was to record our efforts at growing our own food and eventually we added the online farm store with our tea and herbal goods. The bulk of the posts back then were our weekly or monthly farm updates. Visuals of what was going on in each of the areas on our farm. We are excited to bring this back to the blog and share with you what is going on in our little world and our tiny homestead. 

The Farmer has rightly named this gardening year as the "Year of the Flower." I started out my garden plant to put a row of some kind of flower between every row of vegetables. The reason was two fold:

1.) To give the bees plenty of food and bring those pollinators in to help with veggie production.

​ 2.) Many of the flowers that we planted are either edible or go into one of our teas so they were not just for the bees but useful also!



The marigolds are finally blooming, they seemed to be late this year but at the same time we got them in the ground later than they needed to be. We started using these bright beautiful petals in our Golden Turmeric Spice Tea and a couple of others. We have been busy preserving them for the upcoming years use. 

A failure here, though it may not look like it, I planted a different variety yielding less petals for our use. Note to self: Pay attention to the variety next year!



The zinnias are probably the biggest success in the crop garden in many ways. These beauties have been dotting our table and home alter every week for the last month now. They keep getting taller and taller. I'm sure our first freeze will be the end of them but this week they continue to bring beauty into our house.



This cabbage has taken FOREVER to get to this point. It was started in the greenhouse I believe last fall, then transplanted out in the crop garden late spring and its just now to the point of harvest. Hopefully I make it to harvest before the slugs, bugs and the free ranging chickens. It's future will be sauerkraut and kimchi for our morning breakfast. At this rate..... I better plant more!



The view of the crop garden from the west side. There were potatoes planted where I am standing and while they were just organic potatoes that started crowing in our cupboard rather than seed potatoes I guess I shouldn't have expected much. They did little more than replace themselves but it provided a couple of meals for our family. Next year I need to remember to buy seed potatoes and get them in the ground sooner. Moving forward the broccoli is going to seed. It actually did OK but became very buggy later in the season. There wasn't much harvest for the effort here so I don't know if broccoli is on our list for next year. Next to them was our very abundant borage plants. This brought in a ton of bumble bees (win) but it took over our veggies and we don't really have a practical use for it (fail). It reseeds itself so I won't be planting this next year. Plus the bumble bees make it interesting to get around in the garden. 



On the other side of the borage were Farm Boy's hot pepper plants. They did ok but could have used more sun that was prevented from the borage shading them too much. On either side of the tomatoes we had rows of bachelor buttons for our teas. They did fabulous. So much so that they wouldn't quit blooming and so we finally yanked them out once we got our years supply. Farm Boy and I were tired of clipping blooms for an hour or two every day and then plucking petals. It was enough to make us not want to see another bachelor button for a long time ;) At least until next year. To the right of the broccoli photo is our wild comfrey. This is really good for the animals and we can cut it and it will come back 3-4 times a year.



The hazelnuts are blooming! I think they are confused because it's been such a warm fall for us here in Oregon. FAIL here though as we forgot to gather the hazelnuts when they were ready. There is none of them to be found so I'm guessing some blessed squirrel had a nice meal (win for him). Thankfully this tree is only a few years old so there wasn't much of a harvest any way. In coming years hopefully that will change.



Sometimes what looks like a MAJOR FAIL is really nothing at all. This haskap bush is a perfect example. Haskaps come from Eastern Russia and Japan. They are much like a blueberry bush but the berries are more tart as well as long in shape rather than round. This poor bush looks like it dried out and died. That isn't the case at all though. This is totally normal for these plants. They look like someone set fire to the poor thing when fall comes around. Yet in the spring they will be bright and green and more beautiful than ever. They are one of the first plants to produce on our farm as the berries are ready to harvest around May.

In the Greenhouse


The greenhouse was severely neglected this summer, though part of that was intentional. Over the 4 years that we have been growing food in this greenhouse we have come to discover that leafy items do best. I believe the reason for this is that the only airflow is at either end and that the sides do not roll up for ventilation. We have tried green beans several times, tomatoes etc. The leaves on those plants grow fabulously but the fruit is another story. So this summer we made the decision to put most of the items outside in the crop garden. We did a couple of test items in there and the rest over grew in weeds and spiders chasing the huge host of bugs. Eek!



St. Francis guards the front door to our greenhouse and even he is being taken over by the hungry spider's webs. To the right are a couple of the hibiscus plants that we left inside the greenhouse. The little buds are harvest for tea. This tropical plant faired OK here in Oregon but it did much better in the greenhouse than in the great outdoors. I never saw a flower bloom all of the way so I'm guessing maybe it wasn't warm enough. This was a fun experiment but our fail here was that for the space they took up they were not very productive and the space can be better used for other things.

Below the hibiscus is our patch of lettuce. This was a WIN! Every year for the last 7 years ants have come and hauled off my lettuce seed. No matter what I did I couldn't get lettuce past the point of seed. Then when I planted this a child or chicken made it in the green house and dug up a section. Then later on the dog made it in and dug up a section. I didn't think I would ever have any lettuce. But behold, God had other plans! We are enjoying tasting greens now and see how they do when the weather starts to get colder.



The bed above is a FAIL and I'm hoping I learned and this retry will work. I originally planted spinach here and none of it came up. Then I remembered that when I replenished the garden beds in the spring with manure and such that this bed wasn't empty yet so it never got refilled. There just were enough nutrients in the soil to grow anything more than weeds. 

The soil bed got some new soil and new seeds were planted. They are germinated and hopefully it won't be long before its covered in spinach and Swiss chard.



Our fail here is the rows between the garden beds. We hauled in hazelnuts last fall to help keep the weeds down. While they worked for a little while the rows were not weeded well enough before they went down and so they are slowly coming back. The mole digging holes in there didn't help things either. It's time for a fresh layer of hazelnut mulch!

There are also 5 more garden beds to get planted and hopefully I can get out there fore this lovely weather we are having is gone for the winter. There are turnips to plant, more spinach, broccoli and cabbage and radishes.

To the right is another fail, the tarragon that we transplanted inside was never trimmed up and harvested and now is the home to lots of big garden spiders. I'm trying to find the courage to clean it up and send those spiders some where else.



Success! I'm so glad to have some greens back in the greenhouse. This kale is doing fantastic and we have been adding it to our eggs and other meals. I love picking it before it fully matures because it is softer, not as crunchy and easier to eat as well as tastier. We have two beds of this which should last us a little while. It does take it's time to grow over things like lettuce so we might plant another bed before the first frost. It loves the winter and we will eat from this all winter long!

In The Barnyard


I always love when new kittens are on the farm. They are so cute and fun to watch. The only fail is when there is another female to re-home. Since we live on a farm we let nature take it's course with kittens here. Which has happened aside from a few kittens that have found new homes on other farms. In the mean time it's fun to watch them grow and the children sure love playing with them. This one was feeling particularly playful.



This one on the other hand felt like hiding in the lavender bush, he did want his picture taken and was trying to get away. But he is still cute! New life on the farm is what makes up for the failures. Sadly this month our poor puppy passed away suddenly. It was a very sad experience and so these new kittens really help take the place of that loss. For the time being we won't be looking for another puppy.



Speaking of new life. These two were just little chicks not long ago that we hatched under one of our other hens. It looks like we have our first rooster on the farm which could prove to be entertaining in the future. So far he is pretty tame but he hasn't crowed yet or acted much like a rooster so we will see how things go. The fail here is that these particular two think that they are free rangers and figured out how to get through the fence. They are impossible to keep in and can be seen wondering all over the farm.



The lonely mobile chicken coop and fencing. The chickens have all been relocated to the pasture for the winter to let this part of the farm regrow. Since then we have had random chickens wondering all over. At least the ones smart enough to figure out they can go through the barnyard fence.



See them there? They are just waiting until I'm not looking so they can sneak out! Our one pigmy goat and one sheep are there by the greenhouse being fed by the Farm Girls. The pasture is looking nice and green even without our usual rain for this time of year.

In the Farm Kitchen


Americana green eggs for the win! I've been wanting colored eggs for a long time and our Americana chickens are finally getting old enough to lay them. Along with the egg harvest is the last of the fall garden harvest that Farm Girl #1 pulled out of the garden today. A huge bucket of green failures (aka pickling cakes), purple green beans that might have to become seed and a huge pile of beets to eat in a hurry. For I can't seem to find the weight to my pressure caner to can them!



After a few months of quick as they can be meals so we can work out in the garden things are slowing down and the baking is back. Above are a gluten free scone crafted by one of our Super Fans who is also a chef. Grab more about them and the recipe here.



These scones are of the savory variety but also gluten free and paired with our rustic lentil soup for lunch.  Check out these Savory Onion Chive Scones here!



Do you love chocolate hazelnut spread? These lovely Dainty Date Bites are made with hazelnuts and cocoa along with some herbs to give it a twist and get more herbs into your diet. Perfect for tea time but also for hiking! Grab the recipe for our Chocolate Hazelnut Dainty Date Bites here.


We took a FIELD trip off our farm to another field ;) Sometimes home school learning is done best when not at home or in school. Our local pumpkin patch has a ton of free stuff to do and it's not too busy during the week. We try to make a trip here every year so that the children can have some new experiences and run off some energy. 

The above are our new farm animals ;) They all had fun running around on all of the hay bales, going down the makeshift slide. Checking out the huge pumpkins which we didn't bring home. This mama has a thing about pumpkins that don't get eaten as food. Only pie pumpkins on this farm! Hey - its pie! Their favorite was the petting zoo, go figure! They would all now like to add full size goats, a cow and pigs to our farm now. I'm afraid they will have to wait for now.

​Does your family visit a pumpkin patch in the fall?




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