Tag Archives: Flowers

Good Intentions Foiled – 7/12/18

I planned to rest today, especially since the guys didn’t get home until after midnight and then I had a sleep is optional and restless night, but when I went out to plant the bean seed, I attacked the last aisle of weeds that was hidden by the asparagus ferny tops.  While doing so, I realized why the egg production has been down recently.

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There were 11 eggs in a neat nest hidden between the asparagus and the peppers.  Those eggs aren’t fertile, there is no rooster, but can’t be sold because I don’t know how old some of them are, but I hate to throw them away, so I cracked each one into a bowl individually, scrambled them and put them in an ice tray.  They freeze nicely and can be used for baking later.  It takes 2 cubes to equal one egg.  I haven’t figured out how the chickens are getting into the garden.  The Welsummers can fly over the fence, the eggs aren’t Welsummer eggs, but the Buff Orpingtons are too heavy bodied.  There must be somewhere they can get under the fence.  One solution I can think of is a taller fence and an edging they can’t get under.  I want them to be able to free range, though even with 30 acres to wander, they select my flower beds to scratch in and get into the garden even easier.  I have considered the step in movable electric fencing that would allow me to give them a new section of grass every few days, allowing the section they had been in to recover.  That way, they are getting pasture but not creating a wasteland or ruining my flower beds.

After weeding the area, I tackled the the tree nursery bed.  It had been weeded a few days ago and I realized the size they were getting. The first young tree I tried to transplant a few weeks ago was a failure.   It had gotten to be about  5 feet tall in a year and had too extensive a root system.  The other trees were smaller and I hope to be able to move them successfully.  I also made the mistake of not removing enough rocks from the bed when I made it and trying to dig around rocks that range from golf ball to hard ball size made the digging the saplings up more difficult.  There were two sweet gums, a hawthorn, a dogwood, another maple that was smaller than the first one, and an oak.  They were dug with decent root systems and put in a bucket of water.  The hawthorn was put in the ground before the heat wilted me, it got 10°f hotter than the forcast.  I will get up early tomorrow and try to get the others in the ground before it gets too hot.

Over the rest of the summer, I will continue to sift rocks from that bed, amend the soil and build the bed higher.  In the fall, the blueberry bushes are going to be moved into that bed and mulched heavily.  The garden fence is going to be moved to make the garden area smaller, it has just gotten to be more than I can handle.

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The empty box just above the barrel halves will become the blueberry bed, the barrel halves moved to the left and up. and the new fence will be just below that bed.  The pumpkins, now in the lower left can be grown in the prior year’s compost pile as that pile rotates from the north east corner to the north west corner each year.  After the compost has been dug to enrich beds, the remaining soil is the older compost and is still rich and deep.

I did get the beans planted and watered.  Now hopefully they will come up and provide us with more beans before the season ends.

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This is aimed south and shows the asparagus greenery with the cucumbers and sunflower volunteers to the left of it.  It was between those beds that I found the eggs.  The beans are just to the right and down one row of boxes.  This year’s compost pile is to the right of the asparagus, so next year the pumpkins will go there.

In picking beans, I realized that none of the sweet potato starts took, so there will be no homegrown sweet potatoes this year.  I will buy some at the Farmer’s Market when the season is ready.

The first harvest of cucumbers and jalapeños was made today.  Pickling will commence.  Today I ordered some fermenting weights and fermenting tops for jars so fermented dill pickles, kraut, and maybe some fermented tomatoes can be done too.

I don’t know what the header flower is, it was in one of the Seedles that I planted in that barrel, but it is pretty on it’s thin stems that bob and weave in the slightest breeze.

 

 

When the Cat’s Away… 7/10/18

The mouse will work her rear off and eat the things that aren’t usually served here.

My morning began early as Jim and eldest grandson took off for a history tour of eastern Virginia.  Though grandson has spent all but a few weeks of his life in Virginia, it has been mostly here in the mountains or in the northern part of the state.  The eastern part of the state is ripe with history with Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as a Busch Gardens, so off they went.  Today was to be the history tour with granddad narrating and tomorrow a fun day at Busch Gardens.  I stayed home with the farm to deal with the critters, the garden, and work on the flower bed that has been evolving over the past couple of years down the east side of the garage and around the back on the south side.

After seeing them off, I donned long pants, long sleeves, boots, and sprayed myself generously with Deep Woods Off, and headed out with a metal sieve to pick berries, the blackberries are just beginning to ripen and the wineberries are ripe and the canes heavy.  Enough of a mixture of them were gathered to make a batch of wild berry jam tonight.

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The first pick of the day

Once they were rinsed, crushed, and sealed in a container until this evening, I took off to a friend’s farm with some daylily divisions to trade with one she was dividing.  I won, not only did I get daylilies, but I came home with kale and zucchini, plus some coreopsis divisions and Columbine seed.  Tomorrow, I am taking her a division of another daylily that I had and she did not.

A trip to Lowes and a trunk full of bagged mulch set me up to finish what I started yesterday and continue the flower bed another 15 feet across the back of the garage.  The new daylily starts were planted in two spots, the coreopsis divided with some in the ground and some in the last barrel that had not been planted this spring and the Columbine seed along with some poppy seed joined it in the barrel.

The entire bed from the front of the garage, down the east side, and continuing across the south side were mulched down with dark brown hardwood mulch.

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The beast overseeing my efforts.

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The upside down flower pots are chicken deterents, but a better solution must be found or all of the newly spread mulch will be in the grass and there will be dustbaths in the beds.

When I met Jim more than 4 decades ago, I was a vegetarian and he is a Texan, meat and potatoes preferred.  He likes some vegetables, tolerates other, and refuses some.  In deference to his tastes and so I am not preparing two different meals, I eat a little meat and limit the vegetables to the ones he likes and occasionally one he will tolerate. Kale and summer squash are in his tolerate occasionally list, so with him away tonight, the gifted kale and zucchini were cooked along with an ear of corn and I am feasting to my delight on vegetables.

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And I have left overs for tomorrow night as well.

It is wild berry jam making time.  The header shot are bees busy at work on the two volunteer sunflowers.  Not a single one that I planted came up.  I think this fall, I will just throw a handful of sunflower seed around the perimeter of the garden and let the volunteers happen in the spring.

Love our mountain farm.

Garden and Prep

Late yesterday afternoon I went out to pick the last of the peas and enough bush beans for dinner.  I ended up picking the peas and pulling spent vines for the chickens to peck through.  The bean patch was full of ripe beans and a whole basket was brought in, some enjoyed with dinner, the rest blanched and frozen for winter meals.  There was now a 4 by 8 foot bed empty from the peas and another planting of beans will be made there, the local natural foods store carries the Southern Exposure seed that I prefer and they still had the beans in stock today.

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My plan for today was to make fermented horseradish mustard for eldest son and one for me.  Going over to dig the horseradish root ended up with a major weeding in that corner of the garden that is my compost area every other year.  It was full of tall lambs quarters, some plant from the mint family that doesn’t smell particularly good, and other intruders.  That done, I could get to the horseradish and dug a good handful to soak, scrape, and grate.  Two pints of mustard are fermenting on the counter.

Each time we have enjoyed sweet corn this summer, bought at the local village store (I don’t grow sweet corn), I come home with three because they always have it priced at 3 for $1.59, but we usually only eat two, so the third one has been cooked and cut from the cob and frozen.  Today, it was turned into 4 half pints of corn and tomato relish, a slightly spicy one with a chopped jalapeño in it.  The peppers are beginning to provide in small quantities.

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While I was moving through the aisles to get to that corner of the garden, I realized that the onion tops had toppled, the clue to harvest them, so a wheelbarrow full of onions was brought into the root cellar and they were spread out on the shelves to cure.

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In the midst of all of this, a friend texted and asked if I wanted part of a daylily she was dividing and I never turn down perennials, but my bed was in need of some work, so grandson and I got it weeded, a new edge cut in, divided two of mine that needed it and planted them.  She will get a division of the peachy colored one in the header.

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And just because they are pretty while blooming, the barrels of herbs and flowers are included.

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It is a good time of year, with produce to put by, flowers to enjoy, and fresh herbs for cooking.

Still love my life on this mountain farm.

Olio – 6/6/2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The past two mornings have been spent in the garden, trying to catch up and get ahead of the weeds.  It appears that most of the “weeds’ are actually the hay sprouting, but I don’t want my garden to be a hayfield.  This is also Lambs Quarters season and though I know that it can be eaten when young, most has gotten too big and too stringy to be palatable, but still small enough to make pulling it fairly easy.  Another garden weedy problem is a mint family weed, square stem, grows erect initially with a lavendery pink flower, and then the oxalis and wild geranium.  The line trimmer cleared up around the fence edge and the taller bloom in the old compost area that is being over run by horseradish, then hand weeding of all but two beds has been accomplished.  I planted some cucumber starts from the house to fill in what didn’t germinate in the garden bed, erected a trellis for the cukes.  Planted the sweet potato slips and a row of sunflowers. The pumpkins only had about 50% germination so another sowing of them will be made later today and another row of sunflower seeds.

The chickens were providing up to 15 eggs a day for a while, but have dropped back to 8 to 10 and one Welsummer is broody, but there is no rooster in with them so she is just shooed off the nest, eggs under her collected multiple times a day.  If she doesn’t get over it soon, I will isolate her from the coop during the daytime hours for a few days and see if it will break the cycle, nothing else has worked. I am always amused at the cacophony they make when a hen lays her daily egg, wondering if it is an expression of relief or a proud announcement to the flock. Each time I fill their calcium supplement feeder, they manage to dump it with in hours.  As I was mixing up their feed today, I decided that maybe their protein level was too low, so reformulated my mix to up it by a couple percentage points. Nothing better than a child size shovel to stir the mix.

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As the weather is hot and I don’t like sitting with a heavy sweater in my lap, I am not knitting too much on it, but continue to spin the fiber for it as I realized I didn’t have enough yarn to finish it.  IMG_20180606_095758

And I recently finished this luscious 340 yards of Merino, Yak, and Silk.

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I have almost 2 more ounces of the Merino Yak spun and am spinning the remaining 2 ounces of Merino, Yak, Silk with my newest spindle, a gorgeous Golding limited edition.

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Once done, they will also be plied for hopefully another 300 plus yards, enough to make something soft and beautiful.

It is the beginning of daylily season.  I love when the gardens are filled with their blooms.

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Still loving our life on our mountain farm.

 

 

Spring Activity – 6/2/2018

Spring is fully upon us.  Instead of April showers, we had snow and May started dry then turned very wet.  June is still wet, but it hasn’t been terribly hot so the open windows and ceiling fans have kept us comfortable.

Between rains, we have resumed our fitness walks and the lovely weather has brought out the flowers and the critters.

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A box turtle assisted off the trail, just shortly after a black snake startled me but slithered off too quickly for a photo.

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A very protective goose and her gosling and another goose that seemed to want to make friends.

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Water lilies.

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Mountain Laurel.

Some evenings produce beautiful sunsets like the header above.  Next week is supposed to be cooler and drier and hopefully the much needed weeding in the garden will commence.

 

Back to the earth – 5/17/2018

Monday was the only day this week that we didn’t have at least a 50% chance of rain and I finished mowing.  Rain with slightly cooler temperatures seemed like a good recipe for planting seeds, but I didn’t get out there then. Tuesday it wasn’t raining when I got up, so I held to my 30-60 minutes of weeding plan and got a lot done, later in the day I got the monster line trimmer going and got around the house and started on the thigh high grass in the two currently unoccupied chicken runs, but I saw a lightening strike less than a mile away and wisely quit, getting back in the garage just as the first of a series of gully washers descended on us.  Wednesday it rained all day long and we took another 7 hour road trip finally finding a route for the Harley Chapter to do that didn’t have drop offs on narrow poorly paved roads that haven’t seen civilization since Moby Dick was a minnow.

Today was forecast for thunderstorms beginning around 2 p.m. so I grabbed the popcorn, beans, pumpkin, and cucumber seeds, my hoe, my gloves, put on my muck boots and finished planting all the seeds except the sunflowers which I had failed to purchase.  Just as I got back in the garage, it started raining, a nice gentle kind that settles the seed in.  As there was no chicken feed for tomorrow and herbs still had not been planted, a quick trip into town and sunflower seed, chicken feed, and herb starts for the half barrels were purchased.

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There are actually 4 barrels there, the front two are planted with wildflower and edible flower Seedles, around the corner is one with Rosemary, Parsley, Globe Basil, and Lemon Thyme.  Behind it are two gorgeous yellow bearded iris blooming profusely in spite of that being the chicken’s favorite place to dust bath when they are free ranging, then another barrel with Sage, Parsley, Globe Basil, and Golden Thyme.  Also purchased were two more pepper plants and Sweet basil that I got into the ground in the garden.

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The Day lily bed that has a large clump of Dutch Iris in it is showing many buds.

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This clump has grape Bearded Iris and blue Dutch Iris and needs to be moved as it is where the deck deconstruction is underway.  After the deck is finished, the area where the large low section is now will be a poured patio and the muddy front of the house will receive a walk at the same time.

Before tackling the barrel planting, flower bed weeding and extending the rock edge down (I didn’t finish that), I did finish going down the side of the garden and the two chicken runs with the line trimmer.  It didn’t like the really tall grass, but it is a manageable height now.  It is now after 4 p.m. and the forecast thunder storms have not arrived.  I wore out with a bit more work to do, but there will be another day.  There is still another barrel that is full of volunteer Hyssop that needs to be moved away from the deck deconstruction and a decision on whether it is going to be allowed to just stay Hyssop or be planted with flowers.

The rapsberry bed that is overgrown with wild geraniums, volunteer raspberry shoots and old canes that didn’t get cut still needs my attention too, but other than that bed, planting the sunflowers, and moving the nursery trees, the garden is in maintenance mode.

 

Garden Therapy – 5/4/2018

It has been a rough week with a lost and finally found cell phone resulting in an extra 3 hours on the road on Sunday morning.  A sprained wrist by hubby playing basketball with eldest grandson, that seems to be healing.  One of our dogs taking off on Sunday night while she was visiting our town family and not being found.  All of this softened some by having our eldest grandson here with us for the past 4 days.  This morning early, we put him on a bus for home to play in his basketball tournament this weekend.  He very responsibly checked in at every stop on his route and is safely back with his parents.

All this required some garden therapy.  I have been slow to get the garden up and running this year with the fickle early to mid April weather and foot of snow.  I did get the onions and garlic in the ground when appropriate and they are up and looking good.  The asparagus finally broke ground just before we left last weekend and have been enjoyed a couple of times with another harvest done this morning that will probably find it’s way to our daughter’s kitchen for her to enjoy as well.

After the bus departure and the Friday morning egg delivery, we went and bought starter plants, 4 each slicing tomatoes, Amish paste tomatoes, Serano peppers, Jalapeno peppers, and spinach plants.  Once home and awaiting the arrival of the delivery and installation of our over the range vented microwave to replace the one that failed a few weeks ago, I attacked the garden.  It is still early, so most of the weeds are easy to manage, plus I put a thick layer of spoiled hay over everything in the fall.  A long bed was weeded and the tomatoes planted, the end of the long bed containing the garlic was planted with the hot peppers, another long bed cleared and two kinds of peas planted, and the spinach that I started as well as the heartier ones we bought were tucked into the end of a 4 X 4 block bed.  In a couple more weeks, the corn, beans, cucumbers, and pumpkins will go in and if I can find some Poblano peppers, they will be planted also.  The nursery said their Poblano seed was bad with very poor germination and they only have a few plants too small to sell yet.  The half barrels that used to grace the deck with herbs had to be moved off the deck in the fall when it started to fail and is in the process of rebuilding, so two of them were moved to the side of the house where I exit to the garden and coop and planted this morning with new rosemary plants, wild flower seed in one, and edible flower seed in the other and fencing around them to keep the chicken from hopping up and digging around in them.

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The tree nursery bed needs the trees removed and transplanted and one more long bed to weed.

I guess I should dedicate a short time each morning when I go to let the chickens out and each evening when I go to lock them up to weed one bed or one aisle and maybe the garden won’t get ahead of me this year.

The microwave installers kindly left me the box it came in as well as a washer and dryer box they had in their truck so perhaps I can mulch down some aisles to also make the task easier.

We continue to be saddened and worried about our country pup lost and hungry in town, but have done about all we can but keep hoping that she finally comes to someone and they can get her back to us.

Easy Schedules – 9/21/2017

Each day that it isn’t raining, we venture out to one of the local trails to walk.  We are trying to build our stamina, reduce our weight, and improve our fitness between appointments still trying to figure out why hubby is having some medical issues, including fatigue.  Most days we walk on the Huckleberry Trail, an asphalted walking and biking trail on an old railroad grade.  It is a bit more than 7 miles long between Blacksburg and Christiansburg.  There are several places to enter the trail and we pick different ones, walking  about 2 1/2 to a bit more than 3 miles, sometimes briskly, sometimes with less vigor if one or the other of us is not up to speed, so to speak.

There are a few other places to walk as well, and today we took a different path, a path mostly in the shade along the river.

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Flowers, fungi, the calming sound of the water.  Yesterday we pushed too hard and today we took it easy.

The fall is coming on, the leaves beginning to change, the flowers inviting the last butterflies of the season.

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And producing beautiful sunsets.

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We have had first my car in the shop this week, and now Jim’s, but tomorrow we will leave the house chores and animal duties to the kids and take a weekend away since our cruise fell apart.  This weekend is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival and I have wanted to visit it for years, but it conflicts with one of the fiber retreats that I generally attend.  It was not on my schedule this year, again because we were supposed to have just gotten home from our cruise, instead I will finally get to go to the festival.

 

 

 

Olio – June 20, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

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After a week away and much rain according to Jim, the gardens are both beautiful, full of day lilies and lavender, and full of weeds.

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The pepper plants are in there somewhere.

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and the tomatoes and basil in there.  Grandson and I arrived home on Sunday evening, giving him time with his Dad on Father’s Day with breakfast out and for us to take Jim out for Father’s Day dinner as well.

Yesterday we went out in the morning to get Grandson some shoes.  The ones he wore hiking were worn out and wet.  He wore flip flop here and promptly lost them in the house.  He had to wear my garden clogs to go buy shoes.  Once home, the overgrown grass that is too close to the house for the tractor was mowed with the gas mower and the weeding was begun on the garden, but early afternoon thunderstorms drove me back indoors for the rest of the day.

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On Sunday before we got home, Jim rode the BBH on a ride that had been one of the Rally rides that he couldn’t do because he was leading a ride elsewhere that day.  He missed a turn, saw bad weather ahead and aborted his ride on Sunday but wanted to see Smith Mountain Dam and lake, so today we took the car and with me navigating, drove over to the dam visitor center and took the path up to the lookout.

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There were a number of these little skinks up near the top, and a tiny fawn right at the visitor center, but it got where we couldn’t take a picture of it.

This evening, I weeded out the tomatoes and basil, the peppers, the beans, the peas, and cut the garlic scapes.  There are still small weeds that will need to be hoed out and the corn and pumpkins still need to be weeded, but the garden is looking better.  The tomatoes already need to be tied up. Because the weeds took over areas where tomatillo seed and flowers were planted and since the garlic, onions, and peas will soon be pulled, there will be spaces in the garden that should be planted with something.  More beans are definitely due, maybe another block of corn as the three sisters plot has holes in it and I still need to put in the pole beans there.  The cabbage worms have laced the kale. The chickens love them and I pick a handful every time I go out, but a garlic red pepper spray may be needed if we are going to get any kale.  It looked so good before I left.  The turnips didn’t get thinned enough before I left and it looks like a jungle, more tops than turnips.  A second planting of them will be made for the fall.  The tomatoes and peppers have fruit started, and some basil plants are flowering already, so pesto is soon in order.

Tomorrow is another nice day and more garden work may get done. We promised Grandson a trip to a pool this week while he is here and tomorrow may be the last good weather day to do it.

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I’ll leave with a picture of our barn cat Girly who spends most of her time on our front porch instead of hunting mice in the barn.  She was a spooky adult cat when she was given to us, but now she wants attention every time anyone goes outdoors.

 

 

 

 

A Week On The Farm

This has been the beginning of really harvesting from our garden.  The last of the beets were brought in today, the onions have been pulled and are curing.  The garlic is cured and needs to have the leaves trimmed, sorted into shallow boxes and put in the root cellar to begin to use.  Some of each will be held out to plant in the fall for next year’s crop.

Harvest

Today I bought in the first of the tomatoes, two heirlooms and one paste.  Not a lot, but a start.  There were almost enough Jalapenos to pickled another pint.  And enough cucumbers to have some fresh and to make 4 quarts of icicle pickles.  I need to steam the beets, peel them, slice and freeze the remaining ones.  I pulled a good size chunk of horseradish root and used it to make a half pint of grated horseradish, I used a couple tablespoons of it to make a pint of Horseradish Mustard that is fermenting on the counter for 3 days.  That is my favorite mustard.

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Earlier this week, Jim, daughter, and I went out one night after dark, when the 13 chicks all cooped up together and we sorted them into culls and keeps, keeping 4 Buff Orpington pullets to replace the one that died, Broody Mama Wannabe who has not proven herself, and to add two to the layer flock.  I will have 11 layers if they really prove to be pullets.

This week, we have had a series of horrendous thunderstorms.  The garden has been ok in this, but the newly graded, regravelled road to our driveway, and the upper part of our driveway really took a hit, with deep ruts crisscrossing the roadbed.

This is a very yellow time of year in the gardens with the Rudbeckia, False Dahlia, and Sunflowers blooming.  The Sunflowers in the corn, tomato, and pepper jungle are Hopi Dye Seed.  I am hoping to get enough of the seed to dye a skein or so of yarn the lovely purple that they produce.  There are also Russian Mammoth sunflowers and a smaller cluster sunflower that produces flowers about 7 or 8″ across.

 

Browneyed susan False Dahlia Jungle

 

We love our life on our mountain farm.