The farm garden through the season: The precious summer season
Do you remember my blog article about the spring awakening in Elisabeth's garden at the Buschberghof Farm in Eben im Pongau? Now summer is here, and I was allowed to visit the Jäger family (and of course the farm dog Maja) again. For Elisabeth, summer days are busy days - besides the work on the farm and in the fields, such as the "Mah'n und Heign", i.e. the hay harvest, she also fulfils her role as a family member. She often spends her "free" minutes in the garden, which demands a lot of attention, especially in summer.
Even the first glance into the garden shows how much has happened since the last time - rows and rows of lettuce, vegetables, fruit and herbs are growing and thriving in Elisabeth's carefully tended terrace garden. The flowers are in bloom, bees and bumblebees are busy collecting nectar, the scent of herbs is in the air. The first thing we do is look at the strawberry plants again - the fruits have already been harvested and processed or eaten ;) Elisabeth is already making sure that there will be good harvests again next year. She skilfully sticks the first and thus largest offshoots of this year's plant into the soil next to the mother plant. There, the offshoot grows particularly quickly and ensures a rich harvest with many sweet fruits next year.
Chives, parsley, lovage, sage, lemon balm, various types of mint and the many other herbs are also very much at home in Elisabeth's garden. They are collected when needed and go into the cooking pot fresh from the garden. Mint, sage and co. are air-dried and then used for tea. Elisabeth's tip: dried, crushed earth and blackberry leaves are also great for tea blends :). Nettle leaves (before flowering) are also used. The seeds of the stinging nettle are also versatile: in muesli, salads, smoothies or simply on bread and butter, they add that certain something for the Jäger family.
The beds that were still empty in spring have turned into a green paradise: various lettuces, cabbage and kohlrabi now grow in rows. The lowest leaves are regularly plucked off so that nothing starts to rot on the moist soil. The lettuce is often plucked and ends up on the Jäger’s plates. On our garden tour, Elisabeth is equipped with a bowl and knife and collects ingredients for lunch. Together with self-gathered chanterelles and couscous, lovage, chives, parsley and courgettes from the garden end up on the lunch table today.
So that the plants do not starve either, they are fertilised. Elisabeth relies on natural methods. When she prunes her plants, she soaks the leaves in water. This enriches the water she then uses for watering with important minerals. She shows me how she prunes her courgette and tomato plants and, above all, why, in a very practical way ;).
To protect the courgette plant from mildew and rot, she cuts off the lower leaves up to the first fruit directly on the stem, so that no water can collect on the removed shoot. She also removes the male flowers - these do not bear fruit. In this way, the plant puts all its energy into fruiting. The situation is similar with tomatoes. The so-called stingy shoots (shoots that grow between the leaves and the main stem) are carefully broken off. They would hardly bear fruit and weaken the other, stronger shoots. The leaves are also trimmed if they cover tomatoes from the sun, for example.
The blackberry bush next door is also growing towards the sun. Here, too, Elisabeth is already thinking about next year. Elisabeth puts the "young" canes that do not bear fruit this year behind the ones that do, so that they do not cast a shadow on the fruit. After the harvest she removes the old canes, the young ones are ready for next year. She also cuts back the currant bushes. Usually this happens in autumn, but due to the large amounts of snow at 1200 m, Elisabeth trims the bushes only after winter - the old canes support the young ones and protect them from the weight of the snow. This year's berries have already been processed into juice.
The farmer is also hoping for lots of fruit from the apricots, plums and apples. Many still green fruits can already be seen on the fruit trees. She is especially looking forward to the apples: "This is the first apple tree that bears fruit up here. But it will still be a while before the harvest. Things will certainly look different on my next visit in autumn :).
By the way: The diverse products of local farmers are available at the weekly markets in Radstadt, St. Johann and Altenmarkt :).
photo credits: Angelika Pfuner