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Monday, September 1, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

Throughout the summer, I've been asked a number of questions about our farm. So I thought I would add them (and the answers) to the blog, so you could all learn more about us!

Question #1 - What is the first thing you grew?
Answer: That would be our daughter, Jana! She has the claim to fame of being the very first thing we ever grew on Morning Joy Farm.

Question #2 - Do you raise traditional crops or just vegetables?
Answer: Yes, we raise some traditional crops as well as those delicious vegetables. This year we have seeded our cropland to food-grade yellow flax. The plan is to sell it to be used for foods like breads. This is a picture of our flax at the end of the bloom season. Our dog Duke, always our faithful companion, loves to run through the flax and scare up a pheasant or two!

Question #3 - What was your best garden idea this year?
Answer: I salvaged an enamel basin from a junkpile and planted it with impatients and set it in the shaded walkway to the south garden. I've never had good luck with impatients before, but these took off and are the best container plants I have. I swore off hanging baskets three years ago because I can't keep them watered. And now I'm almost swearing off containers of flowers, I'd much rather have them in the ground and flourish, than in a pot and struggle. We'll see, usually when I'm walking through the greenhouse, I can talk myself into planting a few pots.

Question #4 - How many gardens do you have? What is planted in each one?
Answer: This year I have three gardens. John stepped them off and I have about 2 acres in production. There will be more next year. This is what we call the "Strawberry Garden". In this plot are the peas, herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, dill), garlic, onions, flowers (zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers) and of course, strawberries.

This is the western half of what we call the "Big Garden". In this garden we have lettuce, beets, carrots, spinach, beans, swiss chard, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, and cabbage.

This is the eastern half of the Big Garden. In the background (on the left) you can see the tops of the corn located in the "Lake Garden". Down by the lake we have all the stuff that takes a lot of room such as pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, watermelons, cantaloupe, sweet corn and potatoes. Next year, there will be a cutting flower garden in production and I will start landscaping our yard with perennial flowers.

Question #5 - What do you do with all the produce?
Answer: I sell a lot of it through the deliveries and the Gackle Farmers Market. John and I eat whatever we can fresh but whatever is left over I preserve for us to eat all winter. I pressure can a lot of the vegetables. I also make baby food for Jana in the future months and freeze them. This is a picture of shredded cabbage fermenting on its way to becoming sauerkraut. YUMMY!!

This is a pint of strawberry/rhubarb jam that I made from strawberries and rhubarb that I had frozen from last year. Notice the dark red color, that's from using berries raised for taste, not for shelf-life in the grocery store. Delicious strawberry flavor just explodes in your mouth!

Question #6 - What is your favorite place on the farm?
Answer: As much as I love the view of the lake, I'd have to say that relaxing in my hammock is the best place on the farm. The hammock was my wedding present from my husband. At first, I must admit, I wasn't all that thrilled with a hammock as a wedding gift. But now, it's our favorite place to relax. We love it so much we even got one for his best friend as their wedding present!

Question #7 - Do you have any fruit for sale?
Answer: Over a year ago, our plan was to raise primarily strawberries, the good kind that are small and sweet, with vegetables as the secondary crop. But we had a severe winterkill this past winter and lost about 90% of the plants. So we switched gears and increased our vegetable production and are taking very tender care of the remaining strawberries. The good news is that the plants are running (making daughter plants) and should fill the row next year. With the setback, we are hoping to have strawberries for sale on a regular basis in two years.

Question #8 - What are your plans for next year?
Answer: We have a lot of plans for 2009, including a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program which works as a vegetable subscription service. Each member pays a flat fee and receives a box of delicious produce each week delivered to their door. There will be more information on that to come later in the fall. We also plan to add more flowers as I mentioned above. And we want to add a row of rhubarb plants and two rows of blueberry bushes to the area you see here. We will prepare the beds this fall and next spring add the plants. They should be in production in 2010. I can taste the fresh blueberry pie already!

If you have any other questions, you can post them as a comment or email them to me and I'll answer them right away!
Thanks everyone!!

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