2021 Year in Review

Our daughter holding our Spitzhauben hen next to a slice of Baby Doll watermelon. These are the moments we cherish.

2021 is over and I suppose I was so busy living life that I forgot to document much about the farm. I can confidently say that 2021 was the most productive growing season we’ve had so far. We were able to grow many new varieties and succeed in areas where we previously failed. We spent a lot of time improving the property last year but we still have a lot to do in 2022. I’d like to share some pictures of some of the bright spots in 2021. We’ve already received a few shipments of seeds this year so we’re preparing for success and growth this year. I’ll share more with you as the happy season approaches.

Bull’s Blood and Golden Beets.

Unfortunately our beet bed was attacked by leaf miners this year so no greens for us. This year I will bring n some parasitic wasps to help us deal with the leaf miners. Of the two varieties I think golden beets taste the best. Diced and sauteed in butter these two beets were delicious!

Scarlet Nantes and Golden Uzbek Carrots

We grew 3 types of carrots this year, Golden Uzbek, Scarlet Nantes, and Longue Rouge Sang (not pictured). We only picked a few of the LRS carrots and they were small which is strange because the rest of the carrots did great. I think we had 8-10 lbs. of finished carrots which was great. The Uzbeks tasted ok but the Nantes were sweet and perfect. In 2020 we couldn’t grow a carrot to save our lives. I contribute the new found success to better timing, growing in raised beds, and sprouting the carrots under boards. Thanks to Jess at Roots and Refuge Farm on youtube for the sprouting tip!

Mary Washington Asparagus
Trimming asparagus and mulching the bed in early winter.

As shown in our 2021 Seed Starting post we started asparagus from seed this year. Of course this takes longer than starting asparagus crowns but that isn’t as fun as starting from a tiny seed. What I found surprising was all of the extra baby plants that came up around the starts as the season progressed. We used some string to support the taller plants. In the last image you can see my son trimming the tops off yellowing asparagus. We covered this part of the bed with 3-4″ of chopped leaf mulch to help the plants over-winter. We hope to grow more perennials this year so we start seeing a few food producing plants coming back each year.

Suyo Long Cucumber. A very prolific and tasty variety.
Immature Okinawan white bitter melon (Jyunpaku)
Nearly ready to pick!

We finally built an arch. It is attached to 2 / 8′ x 2.5′ x 8″ raised beds on either side. This year we grew lots of Suyo Long Cucumbers on the left and a few white bitter melon on the left with a few zinnias for fun. This spring we will build a proper chicken fence and the gateway will be placed at the end of this arch. We’re not done yet!

A farm first, fresh basil turned into pesto for some lovely winter pasta.

Green Arrow Peas
Various cherry tomatoes
Soy beans (Edamame)
Our new hens started laying so we have a few new colors.

Here are a few pictures of some wonderful produce from our farm last year.

This is another farm first, we have bulbing onions this year! These yellow spanish onions grew fairly tall but the bulbs were small. I wonder if it has anything to do with our massive squash shading them out. I guess I’ll plant them next to short crops next year. We’re still grateful for the harvest! We chopped and froze most of them to eat over the winter. Last year we bought onions from home depot but they never gave us bulbs. Growing from seed I can start them early enough and plant any type of onions I want.

Rainbow Quinoa

This heart shaped pile of quinoa is probably 4-5″ across. After processing this was all there was from over a dozen plants. I gained an appreciation of what it takes to process these tiny seeds. It makes me think differently when I see a bag of quinoa at Costco for $10 that’s for sure! I noticed quite a few beetles on the plants as I was breaking them down so perhaps that impacted the harvest. For the amount of space used this was the lowest performer on the farm. Did you know quinoa seed is a pseudocereal along with amaranth and buckwheat? It isn’t a true grain. I also read that quinoa is gluten free. One thing I liked about growing quinoa is the coloration of the plants. I certainly enjoy experimenting with new crops so even a failure can be fun and interesting.

Autumn beauty sunflower
Evening sun sunflower
Evening sun sunflower
Evening sun sunflower, notice the wide variation in this type.
Dried Titan sunflower heads
Nature has a way of ensuring the next generation. Look at all those seeds.
Our first time baking our own sunflower seeds. They are delicious!

We grew a lot of sunflowers this year! I didn’t get a picture of the titan sunflowers but they were 9-10 feet tall which was amazing to witness. We will grow even more types of sunflowers this year. Some people think sunflowers are so basic but I really love all of the varieties that are possible. I just bought some chocolate cherry sunflower seeds for next year and I can’t wait to see them.

Farm goal achieved! We grew enough ground cherries to make some jam. From 5 plants we actually had way more than we needed. We let the chickens clean up the bed so we don’t end up with dozens of baby plants this season. We’re planting tomatoes in that bed this year. Yes the jam is delicious. We used a jam mix that doesn’t require cooking and froze the rest.

More preserving. We grew tomatoes this year but ate them all during the season so we bought some Roma tomatoes and peaches from a roadside stand for canning. Its a lot of work but worth it.

Baby doll watermelon is finally ripe!
Jarrahdale pumpkins from Australia. These are the first pumpkins we’ve grown!
12 Lbs.
Apple Gourds

We laid down some pavers to create a sitting area south of the arch. You’ll see it finished later this year.

Will rogers zinnia
Dahlia the we bought from a local greenhouse.
Candy cane zinnia
Candyfloss Cosmos

I used to be the type of farmer who wasn’t interested in growing non-edibles. Now I see beauty and pollinators bring a farm to life.

Mid-season. The grass is coming in nicely. By next season it will all be seeded.
The season is over

Boy this was a long post. We hope you enjoyed the review. Feel free to ask questions about anything you see here. I hope you are as excite as I am for the next growing season! Before I go let me leave you with this quick video my Father shot with his drone last year. You can see the grass wasn’t coming up quite yet but a month later it started filling in.