We'd like to extend a warm welcome to our newest guest blogger, Allison Preiss! Allison is a working mom, wife, apple picker and horse lover. Outside of her day job, Allison and her husband run a small orchard on their farm, Apolloson Acres. Allison has a true passion for horses; 4 rescued horses currently reside on the farm. She is also an advocate of local, real food, cooking from scratch, sustainability and being green. She blogs about all the antics that come with her everyday life over at The Life of a Novice.
We live in Zone 6B. This means we just put most all of our seeds and seedlings into the ground. But don’t be fooled. We’ve been farming since February! Living on an apple orchard, our only real vacation is in December and January if we’re feeling a need for the extra long rest. Come February, it is time to prune the trees.
Once the weather breaks, we really start feeling the Spring fever and all of a sudden, two gardens turn into five. Yes, FIVE gardens! And I don’t mean 4’ x 4’ raised beds. I think my husband’s secret motto is "go big or get outta dodge!" This year, he added three more gardens, each approximately 10’ x 30’ in size to the two (plus a few small various patches, like the lettuce and greens patch) that we already have!
Now, in his defense, I go a little crazy when the seed catalogs roll in during winter hibernation. All the "ooohs" and "ahhhs" as I flip through the glossy pages probably give him anxiety. Surely one 10’ x 20’ can’t hold all that I plan to plant! So in between caring for our fruit trees, 130 to be exact, our animals – 4 horses, 6 chickens, dogs, cats – and our precious little boy, we’ve set out for some successful bounties this year!
It is amazing how year in and year out the simplest things like the first blooms on your peas or the first sign of a seed sprouting can be so exciting! I’ve made the commitment to plant and grow as much food as I possibly can for us to stock up and consume as the gardens die down. I try to plant only non-GMO heirloom varieties. This can be a challenge as my green thumb isn’t as green as I would like. Sometimes my aspiration for a dozen different heirloom variety tomatos just doesn’t happen. My seedlings failed this year and I was left to the local greenhouse varieties. Luckily for me this time around, I did source a local nursery that sells heirloom tomato seedlings!
This year in our gardens, we have planted everything from peppers and tomatoes, to potatoes and pumpkins. I envision warm summer nights munching on a glorious caprese salad with tomatoes and basil fresh from our gardens and I can already smell early fall evenings with the scent of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven! Have you ever had a homemade, from scratch, pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin? I am not talking the pumpkin from a can, I mean real pumpkin! If you haven’t, I highly suggest adding it to this season's fall bucket list! I am also anxious for another apple season to roll around so I can try my hand at homemade cider and, of course, can up more homemade applesauce - my son's favorite! Ah, Earth’s Bounties – does it get any better?