If you'd like to follow the farm via email, enter your address here:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Viewing...Foodie Style!

Today, John and I finally viewed the movie "Food, Inc." after hearing much about it. Let's just say that it lived up to its billing! I didn't learn anything new, but the movie itself was well put together and very informative. Our food supply is precarious and Food Inc. illustrates that point...to the point! It further reinforced my desire to start seed saving and I'm working to find heirloom and open pollinated varieties to do just that! If you care about food or if you eat...see this movie!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today I'm thankful for....PIE!!!

There are a LOT of things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving day, too numerous to even begin to list. So I'll focus on one...PIE!

Here are the Top Ten things for which I am thankful (with regard to pie):
1. I am thankful for the garden space and the ability to grow my own pumpkins.
2. I am thankful for parents who were leaving for the winter and "gave" me a whole box of apples. (I refuse to say I stole them, the box honestly would never have fit in their vehicle.)
3. I am thankful for a mother-in-law who shared her "apple pie in a jar" recipe.
4. I am thankful for a husband who has graciously eaten all of my pie making attempts in the past, even the one that started on fire!
5. I am thankful for my sister who shared the buttermilk pie crust recipe that has made me into a good pie maker.
6. I am thankful for a mother who is the epitome of pie making and the very reason I could never bring myself to buy a pie crust from the grocery store. Rather than send her to an early grave if she ever found out it was a store-bought pie crust, I forced myself to conquer the pie.
7. I am thankful for a daughter who may not help me make pie, but was right there cheering me on and sorting through the spices.
8. I am thankful for a husband who did not sample any of the Thanksgiving pies. He showed such restraint! (Perhaps the distraction of a pan of chocolate revel bars was enough.)
9. I am thankful for wonderful friends who will share in these pies later today. We may not be family in the blood sense, but we're family in Christ.
10. I am thankful for a oven to bake my pies in (even if it is a 1970's era, harvest gold model), a house to cover my oven (even if it does need new siding and windows), a farm that grows our food (even if there are some weeds and John's junk cars) and especially a God who has provided our family with it all. Praise be to God, indeed!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A November Update

WOW! It's been over a month since I've last blogged. Simple neglect is my only excuse. The weather has been absolutely wonderful! I must confess that the early October snowfall had me worried about another winter like last year, it started early and stayed late. But it all melted within a day and we have enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures since. I'd like to be able to stay that I've gotten a ton of work done in the gardens, but I cannot. I've spent a lot of the time with my kiddos, outside and in. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing that I left "undone", but there are a few tasks that could be done either this fall or in the spring.

Seed catalogs have started arriving in my mailbox, three just yesterday! I'll be spending time pouring over them with a cup of homemade hot chocolate in one hand and my trusty pen in the other, making notes and plans for next season. We've had a lot of interest in memberships for next year which is great as we are looking to double our membership to 15 for 2010. I'll be sending out the new (and improved) brochures this week just in time for Thanksgiving.

John and I have been so blessed in the past year! With the arrival of our son and a successful (and educational) first CSA season. Yes, we certainly have much to be thankful for this year. We are celebrating Thanksgiving with a number of friends who are without family this day. I'm providing many things from our garden: squash, green beans, pumpkin, apples (from a neighbor), beets, pickles, carrots. I'll also be baking some bread....definitely a local meal!

Enjoy this time and be thankful!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goodbye to an old friend!



This week I bid a tearful goodbye to my faithful friends. They've seen me through many, many years. I bought them on clearance for $3 at an end of the season sale my sophomore year in college. These babies have done rounds in Sevrinson and Weible halls, ran out to start a car at the apartment in Bismarck, walked the dog miles and miles in Wilton. Not to mentioned being worn to and from every garden I've ever worked. They've gone into malls, stores and markets. And coached many a basketball and track practice.

After 13 years of dedicated and faithful service, the side blew out on the left one. I repaired it with the "handyman's secret weapon" (aka duct tape) but even that wore through and I was forced to part with my dear friends. Thirteen years is a good run for any footwear, but I nominate these babies for some sort of longevity versus money invested award!

So I bid my beloved sandals a fond farewell and thank them for many years of comfortable wear!!!

And now the search begins for a new pair...there's some big sandals to fill!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week Fifteen CSA Boxes

Ahhh, the last week is upon us! I cannot believe how fast the season has gone. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Here is the last box for 2009:


KALE
CHARD
PUMPKINS
POTATOES
TOMATOES
PARSLEY/BASIL
CABBAGE
ONION
CARROTS
PEPPERS
SUMMER SQUASH
ZUCCHINI
GOURDS (decorative only)

also, GREEN TOMATOES


Thank you to everyone who participated this year! We appreciate you trusting us with growing your food.

Week Fourteen CSA Boxes

Time certainly got away from me and I didn't get these posted last week. Here was the box for week fourteen!



BUTTERCUP SQUASH
PUMPKIN
PICKLE RELISH
CHERRY TOMATOES
EGGPLANT
POTATOES
CHARD
KALE
PEPPERS
CARROTS
ZUCCHINI
SUMMER SQUASH
TOMATOES
CABBAGE
CUCUMBERS
BASIL
PARSLEY

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beautiful, almost Bountiful, Tomatoes


It's been a long, cold struggle to get to the ripe tomato stage, but the weather the past two weeks has significantly helped the ripening process! This week I made 14 quarts of vegetable soup: tomato base, peppers, onions, kale, potatoes, corn, cabbage, carrots...all picked fresh from the garden that morning. The corn was the 9 ears of sweetcorn we actually grew ourselves this (pitiful corn-growing) season. It was a long hard day of cleaning and chopping vegetables but the 14 beautiful jars of soup that stand on my counter are a great reminder that it was all worth it! They will be a wonderful taste of summer in the dead of winter, a bowl of hot soup and some crusty homemade bread...now that's a great meal that Campbell's just can't come close to!

Week Thirteen CSA Boxes


What a great week of weather and the gardens have continued to respond! We have a wonderful variety of vegetables for you to enjoy this week:

POTATOES
CHARD
KALE
BROCCOLI
CABBAGE
TOMATOES
CHERRY TOMATOES
BASIL
PARSLEY
BANANA PEPPERS
JALAPENO PEPPERS
BELL PEPPERS
CARROTS
ONION
SUMMER SQUASH
ZUCCHINI
CHOKECHERRY JELLY
and not pictured, CUCUMBERS and FRESH FLOWERS!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Week Twelve CSA Boxes

The end of the season is in sight, but still so much food to put in the boxes. Here is what we have this week:

KALE
CHARD
ZUCCHINI
BELL PEPPERS
BANANA PEPPERS
JALAPENO PEPPERS
ONION
CHERRY TOMATOES
LETTUCE
CABBAGE
TOMATOES
BROCCOLI
CUCUMBERS
POTATOES
CARROTS
SWEET CORN

Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another Great Homegrown Dish


Some of my CSA customers have asked "What do I do with chard?" Here's a great way to eat it! Chop up some onion, zucchini or summer squash. Strip the leaves of the chard from the stems. Tear into rough pieces. Saute the onions and squashes in a couple tablespoons butter or olive oil until almost tender. Add chard and cook until wilted. DELICIOUS!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pinto Beans

This year I tried to grow pinto beans. I bought a 1/2 pound of seed and planted them next to my green and yellow bush beans in a brand new garden space. We did do some battles with grass infestation but when it was all said and done, I yielded a half bushel of unshelled beans.


The shelling process was tedious. John remarked "Don't they have combines to do this?" Actual yield was about 12 cups of pinto beans.


I shared these beans with my CSA members along with a refried beans recipe...much better than ANYTHING in a can!

Week Eleven CSA Boxes


Here are the box contents for this week:
SWEET CORN
TOMATO
CHERRY TOMATOES
BROCCOLI
SUMMER SQUASH
LETTUCE
ZUCCHINI
POTATOES
CARROTS
CUCUMBERS
BANANA (OR BELL) PEPPERS
JALAPENO PEPPERS

Not pictured but still in the box:
ONIONS
PINTO BEANS
CHARD
KALE

Hopefully, those four items have learned their lesson and will not be late for any more group photos!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our Local Meal



This was our supper tonight, Fry Bread Tacos! The dough is from an artisan bread recipe I have that allows me to make a big batch of dough, keep it in the refrigerator and then use it as needed for homemade bread. My oven quit on Friday so I couldn't pop a loaf in the oven. Onto the stovetop it went! The dough has taken on a sourdough flavor and was delicious just by itself. The beef was locally grown from a friend of ours that we traded some work from us for beef from them. The tomatoes were the first of the season and they were wonderful! The lettuce, onions and jalapenos were fresh picked from the garden minutes before we ate them. The only thing in our tacos that wasn't homegrown was the cheese. But I told John, "Give me a year or two with goats and we'll have the cheese too!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Greenhouse and CSA class

A while ago, I was asked to speak at a class about the CSA model/concept. I enthusiastically accepted!! I love to talk (as my teaching and training colleagues can attest to) and especially about gardening and sharing food. The class is November 4th and I will be listening with rapt attention in the morning as John and I are planning our greenhouse. And in the afternoon, I'm on! If you would like more information about the class, and to sing up:

http://www.farrms.org/cgi-bin/farrms.org/farrmsnews/fnews.pl?record=35

It will be held at the FARRMS building on the east side of Medina. Come on out and let's learn something!!

Week Ten CSA Boxes

This week marks the 2/3 point in our season. Is it just me or has the summer flown by? Here's what we have to eat this week:


CHARD
KALE
CUCUMBERS
POTATOES
LETTUCE
CHERRY TOMATOES
CARROTS
BANANA PEPPERS
JALAPENO PEPPERS
BELL PEPPER
CAULIFLOWER
BROCCOLI
ONIONS
ZUCCHINI
BEETS
SUMMER SQUASH

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Week Nine CSA Boxes

There are 21 different items (varieties) in this weeks box...that's the biggest yet!

Taking it from the top:
KALE
CHARD
BEETS
POTATOES
GREEN & YELLOW BEANS
CHERRY TOMATOES
LETTUCE
CAULIFLOWER
CARROTS
KOHLRABI
ONIONS
PEPPERS (BELL, BANANA, JALAPENO)
CUCUMBERS
ZUCCHINI
SUMMER SQUASH

Wow, that's a lot of food! Plus, more fresh-cut flowers. Enjoy it all!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Week Eight CSA Boxes

Ahhhh, just over the halfway point of the season already! Couple of new items in the boxes this week...


From the top:
POTATOES
BEETS
BROCCOLI
GREEN AND YELLOW BEANS
LETTUCE
KOHLRABI
CAULIFLOWER
CARROTS
ONIONS
BELL PEPPERS
BANANA PEPPERS
SUMMER SQUASH
ZUCCHINI

And a special treat this week...fresh flowers!



Each box will receive a small bundle of my two favorite flowers, zinnia and bells of ireland!!

Week Seven CSA Boxes

Complete negligence on my part that didn't get the picture of last week's (8/11) box up here. I guess, as the saying goes, better late than never...



From the left, top row:
BEETS - red and yellow
POTATOES - gold russet and viking
LETTUCE
KOHLRABI
YELLOW BEANS
TURNIPS
GREEN BEANS
SWISS CHARD
KALE
bottom row:
CARROTS
ONIONS
CABBAGE
ZUCCHINI/SUMMER SQUASH
BROCCOLI

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Canning-palooza 2009

Canning season has begun here on the farm. I love to pressure can produce and this year I started with a bushel of peas. Literally, a bushel of them! As much as we love to eat fresh peas, a bushel is a bit much for this recently expanded family of four to consume! I would like to give credit where credit is due. Because I was in no shape to bend over for hours and pick peas, my husband and mother in law picked all these peas, bless them!!! Here are the peas post-picking:


Do you have any idea how long it takes to shell a bushel of peas? About 5 hours for this experienced pea-sheller...and no, I'm not available for hire, but I do train new shellers! Here are the peas awaiting packing:


Now the fun part! Pressure canning at 10 pounds for 40 minutes (for both pints and quarts):


From the bushel of peas, I produced 10 quarts and 5 pints of peas. (Not all are pictured here.) Now we will be enjoying garden fresh taste in the middle of winter!


And, I couldn't talk about peas without including a photo of the sweetest pea of all...our new son, Henry!

Week Six CSA Boxes

The boxes are beginning to overflow with fresh garden goodness!



In the boxes this week are from the left:
BROCCOLI - Huge heads this year, John says he's never seen broccoli that big in the store...YEAH!
SWISS CHARD - lots of "bright lights" chard to munch on
KALE - beautiful curly-leafed goodness
TURNIPS - 5-6 turnips per box this week
CABBAGE - the first cabbages of the season, I can taste the coleslaw now!
POTATOES - (in the brown bags) both Gold Russets and Viking potatoes
PEAS - the last of the shell peas...sniff, sniff
BEETS - 8 red beets and 2 yellow beets
KOHLRABI - 2 kohlrabies
SQUASHES - a mix of both zucchini and summer squashes
BEANS - both green and yellow beans
CARROTS - 5-6 carrots
LETTUCE - crunchy Romaine lettuce
ONIONS - the onions didn't make it into the photo, but my members know they always get onions!

Thanks to everyone! But especially my husband and my mother-in-law for helping me harvest, package and deliver boxes the past two weeks. All they demand is to be paid in produce...can't ask for better help than that! Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Week Five CSA Boxes



The boxes keep getting heavier! This week we have 11 different varieties of vegetables to enjoy!
SNOW PEAS - another 2 pounds of snow peas
TURNIPS - 3 turnips
ZUCCHINI & SUMMER SQUASH - this is the first week for these garden beauties, so there are just a couple in each box. But as the season continues, there will be more!
CARROTS - the very first carrots, just three in each box for now
BEETS - 6 red beets and 2 yellow beets
ONIONS - the traditional 2 onions
SHELL PEAS - a whopping 3 pounds of shell peas (about all the bag could hold!)
ROMAINE LETTUCE - the heat tolerant lettuce is ready and crunchy
SWISS CHARD - the bright lights variety has white, red, yellow and orange stems
KALE - a big bunch to try and savor

Enjoy your fresh produce!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Week Four CSA Boxes


We have a great box this week! So much fresh goodness that there wasn't room for an extra!
From the left:
MESCLUN SALAD MIX - more high end restaurant fare
KOHLRABI - only enough for one this week, hopefully the others mature quickly
SHELL PEAS - a different variety this week, you can tell the shells are a LOT bigger
TURNIPS - two turnips to sample this week, we'll have more next week
ONIONS
SNOW PEAS - these are getting so sweet, just like candy!
BEETS - a half dozen small to medium beets, tender and delicious
SPINACH - this is the last week for spinach

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, July 17, 2009

CSA Thoughts and the Market Starts Tomorrow

I'm such a cheater! It's good that I admit this upfront, lest anyone think I have original ideas. I'm always looking and researching other farms, CSAs, growers to see what they're doing (and not doing) and then trying my best to copy it here. My CSA deliveries are no exception. Last year there was just one CSA (that I know of) operating in Bismarck. I had numerous requests to start a CSA there this winter, but with the new baby...Jamestown was all we could handle. This year there are two serving Bismarck. Both of them started delivery after we did: one of them a week later and the other started today, 3 weeks after we started! And here I was, worried that we had a late start! In more interesting information, both of the Bismarck CSAs only offer 14 weeks of produce, we offer 15. And they both charge more than we do, one of them 150% more!! My goodness, I almost fell off my chair when I read that! John and I have discussed this "research" and we feel that we are offering a fair price, both for us and for our members.

The Gackle Farmers Market starts tomorrow! I'm always excited for market day, it's fun to be in the park among friends! While I won't have quite the volume and variety I had last year (because my CSA members come first), I will have some great produce and homemade egg noodles. I made 9 pounds of noodles yesterday and boy, are they good! Hopefully, the market-goers will think so too!

I did a close inspection of the gardens the past two days to gauge what was near harvest, ahead of schedule or behind schedule. CSA members, you will be happy to know that this next week there should be kohlrabi, turnips and beets in your boxes! The turnips were a surprise. Never having grown them before, I wasn't sure of their habit or maturity rate. But we weeded them two nights ago and there are definitely eaters out there!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Week Three CSA Boxes



The boxes are starting to get heavier! We're trading in greens for some heavy vegetables like peas and bigger onions. Here are the box contents for this week:

LETTUCE - the mesclun lettuce mix is right on schedule, lots of delicious lettuces are growing and growing!
SPINACH - the spinach has done well this year and I think we'll have another week or two of spinach
ONIONS - the traditional two onions
RADISHES - this is the last week for radishes and as you can tell by the smaller bunches, we're at the end of the harvest
SHELL PEAS - two and a half pounds of sweet, crunchy pea-goodness. You will have to shell these as the pods aren't that tasty!
SNOW PEAS - delicious, delicate, edible pods. I love them raw with some ranch dressing or honey mustard!
HONEY - the locally produced and harvested honey...very local, I saw these bees out in my cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and squashes every day last summer.

I hope you enjoy this weeks box! Even though we harvested everything in the rain this morning, I didn't mind a bit! We have really needed the moisture and I was thankful for every drop.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Week Two CSA Boxes

Here is the box contents for this week!


Starting in the upper left hand corner:
BOK CHOY (or pac choi) - It will be the rounded leaf with the white stalk, an Asian green that should taste something like cabbage, let me know what you think!
DILL - another helping of this fresh tasting herb
BEET GREENS - the last week for these greens, we should have red and golden beets in two or three weeks.
ONIONS - Red and white, too bad they don't make a blue onion!
SPINACH - dark green and leafy, leafy, leafy. It was hard to stuff it into the bags.
MESCLUN SALAD MIX - lots of different lettuces to try like Deer Tongue and Red Sails, you might even get some kale in your bag!
RADISHES - only one more week of radishes, they come and go so quickly. Don't let the larger sized radishes scare you. These are German Giant radishes and they can get to baseball size without getting bitter or woody.
PUMPKIN BREAD - homemade by yours truly with homegrown and frozen pumpkin, we ate a whole loaf last night!

I hope you enjoy the boxes this week. As I write this it is pouring rain outside, but I don't mind! We got the harvest done in just a light rain early this morning. We did have to wash and sort radishes inside which takes a lot longer than using the washing station, but that was OK. The boxes are packed and everything is ready to go...I LOVE DELIVERY DAY!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Those are the funniest looking leeks I've ever seen!

This year I decided to try a few new crops in the gardens including kale, turnips and leeks. I have never grown them before but thought they would be great to try! I selected varieties I thought would do well here and placed my orders. Here came my little seed packets, dutifully labeled with those same varieties I had chosen. (Sometimes if a seed company runs out of a particular variety they will substitute a different, yet similar, one.) I planted the seeds according to package directions. And then I waited. I was fairly certain I knew what each seedling was supposed to look like and I found the turnips and kale rather easily. I had a heck of a time finding the leeks. Never having grown leeks before I thought maybe I was missing something. But no, I couldn't find even one flat, sword-shaped leaf anywhere in those two rows. Wait, what are those rounded leafed, white stemmed bunches that seem to be in rows?? I'm very familiar with all the weeds I have around here and they weren't any weeds I'd ever seen. I had a pretty good guess what it might be and dug out my favorite seed catalog (for the great pictures) to confirm my suspicions. Yup, I was right! In the package clearly marked "Musselbrough Leeks", it actually contained Pac Choi!! Not that I'm opposed to try the asian stir fry green, I had planned on trying it in a year or two, but I had ordered LEEKS! Here's a photo of my Pac Leeks as I've started calling them:

My CSA customers can expect some Pac Choi in the next week or two, but don't get your hopes up for leeks! Ahhhh, the joys and surprises of gardening!!

In addition to playing "guess the vegetable", we've been doing an awful lot of weeding lately. My goal is to have all the gardens weed free before the baby makes his appearance in approximately three weeks. We're winning the weed war and the end is in sight. We expect a full surrender early next week. Then we will work (although certainly not as hard or backbreaking) to maintain our weed-free status. This is a photo of our weed free beans! Two varieties of green beans, golden wax beans and pinto beans!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Week One: The Adventure Begins!

I'm so excited today, our first day of CSA delivery! This is the culmination of two years of dreaming and planning. We were out early picking this morning and the greens still had dew on them...talk about freshness! The radishes were a bumper crop and we are happy to share the bounty. Ooohhh, this is just great! I'm tingly all over...

Here's a photo of the box. For those of you who are customers, start drooling now. For those of you who are just fans, this is what you are missing!



Starting in the upper left corner:
DILL - one of my favorite herbs, very useful in many dishes and so fragrant. My niece wanted to know if we could have a bouquet of it!
SPINACH - the spinach is gorgeous this year, dark green and packed full of vitamins!
GREEN ONIONS - a red and a white green onion are the perfect accompaniment to just about every dish (except maybe ice cream)
BEET GREENS - I was surprised last year at all the requests I had for beet greens at the farmers market, so I made sure to include them in the CSA boxes. Don't worry if you've never eaten them before, I've included a recipe or you can add them to a salad and eat them raw!
SIMPSON LETTUCE - a very tender and delicate lettuce, one of the first to ripen in the garden. Pair it with a light dressing or vinegarette for a wonderful salad.
RADISHES - these are Rosy Red and German Giant radishes, what a crop! Each box has a big bunch, I think we should do a contest to see who can use a radish most creatively! My sister is very jealous and she is a radish fanatic and doesn't get any of these!
FARM FRESH EGGS - These first few weeks the boxes are quite light, so I'm adding a little "extra" something. This week it is 18 beautiful farm fresh eggs from my friend and local food colleague, Kristi Wirrenga of County Line Critters. These eggs are the real deal (I saw the chickens yesterday as they wandered around the yard and they all seemed quite proud of their contribution!) I know you'll enjoy these eggs as much as we do! I wonder what the "extra" will be next week....hmmmm?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why we do what we do!

Food, Inc. Now here's a movie that explains why we local food growers do what we do! It opened on June 12th nationwide, do your part to spread the word and get out to see it!



We grew up with livestock and we knew that even though we named some of them and some were our pets that they were food and we would eat them. My parents tell the story of when they had the pastor and his family out for a dinner. I was probably 3 or 4 years old at the time. That fall we had kept a heifer, named Hildegard, back for our own use. My mom made a delicious roast beef dinner with all the trimmings and I piped up, "Mom, what part of Hildegard are we eating now?" Now that's knowing EXACTLY where your food comes from!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I love being a farmer, I hate being a farmer.

That almost has a Dickens "best of times, worst of times" feel to it. I'm both excited and frustrated today. I'm excited because the buckwheat, our major crop is coming up like gangbusters. Lots of little cotyledons popping out all over the no-till field. This is our cash crop so we want it to do well. We're very thankful that the drills worked correctly, we had good soil to seed contact and a beautiful rain right afterward. The perfect recipe for germination!

At church this morning, a lady asked me if I wanted some bedding plants because she had purchased them and now doesn't have time to put them in. I always have space for plants, especially free ones! So I told her I would take them thinking that even if they were a flat of marigolds (which I detest) I'd find a place for them. To me, the term bedding plant means flowers. Imagine my surprise when she brought me a flat of 7 tomatoes, 4 peppers, 8 cucumbers, onions and kohlrabi! Not only free plants, but vegetables I can certainly use!! I'll definitely be sharing some produce with her as the summer continues.

I'm frustrated today because I planted a LOT of sweet corn seed over three weeks ago and it hasn't come up. Three different varieties and there is nothing out there. So I was forced to replant and I'm not happy about it. The most frustrating thing is that I don't know what happened! Did it rot in the ground? (we can't find any seeds so this is a real possibility) Did the cutworms get it? (but then there should be some plants out there) Did the birds scavenge it all? (are they really that smart to get every one?) Grrrrr, it's frustrating, really frustrating. If it was just John and I, it wouldn't bother me as much...so we have later sweet corn. But my CSA customers are depending on me to provide them with sweet corn and I don't want to let them down. I seeded six 75 foot rows today and I'll seed more tomorrow...all in a two different spots, hoping that a change of location will help with whatever struck down my first planting.

Our lawn mower is a vital piece of summer machinery out on our farm. We have a lot of lawn to maintain, I mow just about every day for a bit. It's a good rest for the pregnant mama to ride for a while! Then today we replaced the belt on the lawn mower. It had worn down and was in need of replacement. So I took it out and worked the old girl pretty hard. After the rains this week and grass had taken off. I was mowing over a rock I'd mowed over many times before but this time it jumped up and bit one of the blades. And tore the blade in half!!!!!! The bolt is still in the deck and the blade is in two pieces! I'm not sure how I managed to do that, but it's done just the same. And of course, I saved the grass around the house until last so the farthest reaches of our yard look great. Around the house is a bit of a jungle. Grrrr, it's hard justifying a trip into town just for a lawn mower blade.

But, even though I'm frustrated today, I'm so thankful. Yes, my sweet corn is a no-show and the mower is broken, but my gardens look wonderful. The radishes are getting ready (we sampled one yesterday), the potatoes have grown 6 inches this week, all the squashes/gourds/pumpkins are up and getting ready to run, the cucumbers are up. Yup, life is good.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fencing and De-Fencing

This week was busy as well on the farm. We are preparing to plant our "big" crop (i.e. most acres) of buckwheat. John and I feel a real calling and passion to grow food. Last year we grew food-grade yellow flax and this year we are growing buckwheat. I've never grown buckwheat before so I'm excited for this new venture! In order to seed our crop land as one piece, John and I had to tear down about a 1/4 mile of barb wire fence and the corresponding steel T posts. I really dislike barb wire fence, I classify it as a "scourge of the prairie", right up there with Chinese Elm trees. An evening and a morning were spent rolling up wire and lifting out posts. Of course, it looks great now! And the T posts came in handy when I had to put up some fencing. I've put up and repaired a lot of fence in my day, mostly electric and woven wire. My dad taught me the basics of fence assembly and maintenance at an early age. And as a dealer of electric fence, we had to be good at getting it working and holding in cows, sheep, pigs, goats, etc. But this week, I wasn't fencing in someone...I was fencing up something!

Traditionally, in our family garden back in the day, the peas were just allowed to flop over and crawl hither and yon. Which made for trying times for the pea pickers. Now that I have my own garden, there is no willy-nilly pea growth! Oh, no! If I'm recruiting my husband as chief pea picker, working conditions have to be top-notch. And that means peas growing vertically up the fence. Last year he asked if there could be a bit more space between the rows to maneuver his pea-picking-bin and I obliged this year. I aim to keep the chief pea picker (and pea eater) happy!

Now, my rancher friends would laugh at my fencing, it wasn't stretched, there are no corner posts or even corners! But it will get the job done!



If you look back a couple of posts, you'll see the peas just breaking the ground. Right now they're about 6-8 inches high and starting to "climb", which means they are growing tendrils that want to wrap around something above it. It was the perfect time to put up the fence. Leaving a gap at the bottom allows for pulling of weeds that manage to get in right next to the plants.



Right next door to the pea patch are the onions. WOW, do they look wonderful! I mulched them with grass clippings and that has really helped retain moisture and slow weed growth.



As far as other vegetables go, the heat we've had the past three days and the moisture predicted for this week will go a long way in growing those little plants. All of the cold crops are up! I'm still waiting on some of the warm crops like sweet corn, melons, squashes and cucumbers. These seeds like it hot and wet so they should be popping out of the ground any day now! The potatoes look wonderful, I'm about two thirds of the way through hoeing them. I planted them closer together this year so that they will shade out a lot of the weeds. In my big plan, I should only have to hoe them two, maybe three times.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring, the Gardener is Snoring!

Well, not quite, but the fast garden life has definitely been slowed the past two days with the wet weather. And we definitely appreciated that moisture!!! I had been watering to keep the seedlings growing. Their roots are still so shallow that they were starting to get dry in that top inch or two of soil. We have plenty of subsoil moisture when the roots get bigger. We got just over a half inch here at the farm:


Since the gardens look much the same as last week, I thought I'd share a fruit update! The past two years we have made a real effort to develop fruit production here on the farm. Here are the results of some of our efforts:

This is one of the 25 Juneberry shrubs we planted this spring. They have really taken off and some of them are blooming! WE might even get a little fruit from them this year. We're hoping for fruit next year, and definitely in 2011! My parents didn't like Juneberries, so we never used them. But many friends are Juneberry fanatics and there seems to be a big demand around here. I'm told they make excellent jam and pie!


Here is a Red Lake Currant bush that we planted in 2007. This year it flowered for the first time and you can see the tiny berries start to form. Like the Juneberries, we expect a good harvest in 2011. Currants are one of those ingredients that they use on the cooking shows that you can't find anywhere (like capers). Currant jelly is supposed to be excellent.


Here are my beloved strawberries! We had an average wintering over this past year and my little patch is growing. I think next spring I will buy 500 plants or so and really kick start the strawberry production. But for this year, we have a few plants that are blooming so there will be a handful of berries to sample.


These are chokecherry blossoms. Last year you couldn't find a chokecherry in ND! At least not from any of my sources. We have quite a stand of chokecherry trees here and two years ago I had plenty of berries to make jam and syrup from. Last summer we had none, my parents had none, my friends had none. This year the trees are covered in blooms and I have high hopes for a large harvest!


We also added 10 Nanking Cherry trees to the "orchard" this spring. All 10 have leafed out beautifully and are taking off! Again, we anticipate a good fruit set in 2011.


Lastly, I planted some rhubarb corms (roots) and they are just starting to get green. We won't be able to eat any of them this year, but next spring we can harvest them lightly. And in 2011, watch out! We may have to have a rhubarb festival! I made an upside-down rhubarb cake with some rhubarb my parents shared with us. I ate 3/4 of the cake, it was that good! I did freeze the remainder of the rhubarb so sometime this winter I can bake another cake and relive spring all over again!

That's the fruit update for this year. As you can see, 2011 is the big year for fruit! I hope to add raspberries next year, I just need to decide the optimal spot to put them! My goal is to offer a fruit share in addition to the vegetable share in our CSA. Speaking of the veggies, we'll catch up with them next week!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Plants are busting out all over

I am very excited to report that we have seedlings! There is always a moment (or two or three) of anxiety "Oh no, nothing is coming up! It all rotted in the ground!" And just when I start to really wonder, ok, and maybe worry...here come the shoots. So far we have radishes, peas, spinach, lettuces, kale and potatoes poking out of the ground. The first picture is the peas poking out of the ground and the second is radishes. Just 29 days until the first radishes!!




Of course, the plants like tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and eggplant are in the ground. These plants had a touch of transplant shock, but with some water and a little TLC, I think most will make it through the transition. It hasn't helped having strong winds the past 2 days. But the plants are close enough to the ground that they shouldn't snap off. The tomatoes are in their little jugs, at least until the wind dies down.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Boy, have we been busy!

Traditionally, I blog about the farm on Mondays. But this Monday, Memorial Day, we spent with family and celebrated a much belated Christmas! It had rained during the night, so it made a perfect "garden vacation day". But it was back to work on Tuesday, Wednesday and today and did we get stuff done! Our niece was here for two days and worked like a slave, what a big help she was! We got 50 tomato and another 50 pepper plants in the ground this evening to wrap up three days of hard work. There are just a few things left to go in the gardens that I will finish up this weekend. But the vast majority of seeds and plants are in the ground.

Another project that I have been wanted to do has been to move an old wringer washer out of a junk pile and into the edge of our "yard" (and I use that term loosely on purpose) to welcome people to our place. So, with super-helpful niece here, we got that heavy thing moved and into place. The plan is to plant wave petunias in the tub and let them trail over the sides. Here are some photos of the washer and the view of the lake as you come down our long driveway:



I just had to share a picture of my daughter and grandma's new baby kitties. She has never seen kittens before, only our farm cat "Raisin". She's having fun each time she plays with them, I'm not sure if the kittens are having as much fun...

Monday, May 18, 2009

My new best friend

Here is a photo of my new best friend, my Earthway Garden Seeder! (And, of course, the beautiful little garden assistant who posed with the seeder.)

What a fantastic tool! My husband gave it to me for Christmas and today I used it for the first time. I planted twelve 50 foot rows of peas in under 20 minutes!!! It opens the row, plants the seed, closes the row and marks the next row all at once. All I have to do is push it! This is a wondrous invention and I nominate whoever came up with it for the Nobel Prize for Gardening. It is especially wonderful for the pregnant woman with a 7 month baby belly! I have found only one fault, in hurricane force winds (like today) the light seeds like lettuce will blow out of the seed cup. But I blame this problem more on geography than on seeder design and operation. The heavy pea seeds were perfect. I'll see what tomorrow morning brings for wind to complete the cold crops!

I also tilled quite a bit today in preparation for the planter. Do you know how fun it is to till when you have a pint sized cheerleader sitting in the middle of the garden? She would yell and laugh and clap her hands whenever I passed her with the tiller. I'm so thankful she loves to be outside and in the dirt as much as her mother does! Here's a photo of her playing with her rocks...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Onions, Garlic...Tulips? check, Check, and CHECK!


Here are my little onion seedlings, literally hundreds of them. I lost count! There are both white and red varieties including: Walla Walla, Mars, Red Zeppellin, Sweet Spanish and Copra. Growing up we always planted onion "sets", the dried bulbs. But last year I tried seedlings and had such wonderful (and early!) onions that I was hooked. I can't wait for the first green onion to grace my omelet!! The garlic is a regular, soft-necked garlic. I don't plant garlic in the fall as I tend to lose some over the winter, even with mulching. Plus, this way the garlic is ready when my pickling cucumbers are! I also use the green garlics just like green onions...stems and all! They taste wonderful in the aforementioned omelets, salads and sprinkled over pasta!


Just when I had given up hope of seeing my tulips...here they are! I think they were just waiting for a grand entrance of some kind. There should be a wide variety of colors and even some parrot tulips (my favorite!).

Last week I attended a workshop on having a great booth at the farmers market. It was great!! A lot of the stuff I knew (and try to practice) and I learned some new things as well. Like having theme to my booth. I'm not a funny hat or costume wearer so I don't think I'll go that far. However, some unifying elements is not out of the realm of possibility! (Some people may think that having a newborn in my booth each year could be a theme...certainly not an intentional one, but one nonetheless!) In case you didn't know: baby #1 just turned 1 and baby #2 is due in late July, prime market time. Like his sister, he'll have to get used to sleeping outside in the stroller while mom tills or picks produce.

Hopefully Wednesday we can get a majority of the cold season crops in the ground like lettuces, peas, carrots, spinach, radishes, etc. I wanted to seed today but we had a beautiful rain shower, just what my potatoes, onions and garlic needed!