Sunday, December 27, 2009

Food Preservation

Most of the year I am busy planting, weeding, mulching, picking, and trying to keep up with household chores and the children. In order to ensure that we'd have some home-raised vegetables during the winter, much of the fall was spent trying to preserve the veggies. I think I spent about 30 days during September and October cleaning, dicing, canning, freezing and drying. Here's a list of what was put up this year. I'm sure we won't quite make it until late April or mid-May, when the veggies will be growing once again but it will be close:
- About 1 1/2 gallons of tabasco sauce. Now, there are three types and I gave quite a bit away for Christmas so we're probably down to 3/4 gallon. There's the green tobasco (a mix of jalapenos, pablanos, and mole peppers), the red tobasco (chile, ripe jalapenos, and thai peppers) and habanero peppers (all habanero, all the time). Depending on your mood, we have a spice level to please.
- July - 7 quarts of pickles
- August - 36 bags (about a pound each) of green beans - blanched and frozen, 9 pints of relish
- September & into October - 12 bags of beans, 2 bags of broccoli, 16 half-pints and 13 pints of ketchup, 60 quarts of tomatoes, 8 pints of green tomatoes (canned) and 3 quarts of green tomatoes (refrigerator), 9 half-pints of chutney, 21 pints of salsa, 11 half-pints of relish, 12 half pints and 4 pints of apple butter, 8 bags of apple sauce (frozen), 14 half-gallons of apple juice
- October - a quart of oven-dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil and a quart-size bag of oven-dried tomatoes in the freezer
December - 12 bags of kale, 10 bags of brussel sprouts, 5 bags of chard, 20 small heads of cabbage (wrapped in saran wrap and in the fridge), a gallon size bag of turnips (fridge)

There are still carrots and parsnips in the ground so we can dig those as well. We also have about 5 quarts of sour kraut left from last year and probably 50 quarts of '08 tomatoes (I did a lot of tomatoes last year).

Monday, November 16, 2009


The garlic is in the ground and mulched! We purchased about 30 pounds of garlic from 2 Sisters Garlic Farm which is a Certified Organic from located in IA. It was shipped to our home and planted last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Thanks to Carla and Mike for helping out and to Nathan, who also helped me plant.

The varieties planted are: German Red (7.5#), Polish White (8 #), Italian Purple (9.75#), Metechi (5#) and Siberian (1/2#). We look forward to garlic scapes in the spring and some nice cloves in July/August.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wrapping up 2009

Well, we're nearing the end of the growing season for 2009 but I still feel like there's so much to do. For instance, I'm still going to transplant some kale and chinese cabbage - it will provide a start for next year's greens. We need to pull out all of the existing vines (tomato, squash, etc.) and compost them or burn them. We need to spread poo - there's always that this time of year and luckily our manure spreader is nearing completion of repairs. And, of course, we need to disc, till, soil test, and fertilize as applicable, the new ground for the hoop house. Then maybe we can plant for winter! I'm really looking forward to going out there in January and working the soil - pure bliss for me! A dream now but hopefully reality soon. If we get it up and anyone wants to come out to work for a day, please give me a call. I often take trips to greenhouses in the winter and while this isn't quite a greenhouse, hopefully it will simulate the experience.

Back to the present. As many of you know, I'm always worried that things won't move along but, somehow, all seems to work out. That said, who knows what we'll have in about 4 weeks for the holiday distribution. The brussels sprouts are starting to head up. It's been so cold this year that they're really taking their time. Of about 60 plants out there, there are 3 that are ready to pick. But they should move along in 4 weeks. The broccoli and cauliflower are taking their time as well - it's hard to know if the cauliflower will make it before the big freeze but the broccoli continues to make shoots. The heads of cabbage that are out there look OK now - they might be a bit small but we should get something out of them. The young beets in the front garden are looking promising and I'm hoping that they'll be of some size in a month. Who knows about the young rutabaga and kohl rabi. The carrots and parsnips look great out front - I haven't pulled any yet but the carrots are Scarlet Nantes and Scarlet Keepers - super sweet, long carrots. I was disappointed with the Danver's Half Long which I've been distributing much of this season - they are sweet and tasty but are small (as the name implies) so next year I'll probably skip these or just plant the remaining seeds. Of course, there's always the greens - kale, collards and chard. I think we live on these and I know many of our members have become converts which is so cool!

Here are some pics of Steve Schultz plowing our goat paddock. The landscape has changed. I'll post more pics of the garden as it is now soon.

I'm receiving daily or every other day inquiries as to joining for next season. So, I'm now forming a list. I will give priority to members from 2009. If you could let me know by December 1 if you intend to join again, that would be helpful. After that, I will start taking new members as secured by a deposit. I know that we will be listed in Edible Wow this year so I expect that we'll receive additional inquiries from that exposure as well.

If anyone knows someone who's looking to work here, please let me know. I also receive inquiries from students looking for practical experience and I'm happy to have them here. I know I'll need some dependable, consistent help this next year - it's not always easy or relaxing, but it's definitely rewarding work and I think it's fun!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chili Peppers & Scoville Ratings

As you know, we grow some hot peppers. The thai peppers just started to ripen and the habeneros are now ripening as well. Dave and I are getting ready to make some more tobasco sauce because, you know, 1 1/2 gallons just isn't enough. It will keep for a long time - our last batch kept in a glass jar in the refrigerator for 3 years and seemed to get better as time went by. We've been talking about Scoville ratings so I thought I would pass on this post from a website I found. Our habeneros are Scotch Bonnet - be careful with them & enjoy!

There are two ways of classifying chile peppers—by their heat and shape. In 1912, pharmacist Wilbur Scoville invented a test to measure the hotness of peppers by diluting the pepper until the heat was just perceptible on the tongue. The Scoville rating is measured in multiples of 100; he rated a bell pepper 0, while a Japanese chile came in at 20,000 on the Scoville scale.

Scoville Chile Heat Chart



Heat Level

Sweet Bells; Sweet Banana; and Pimento


Negligible Scoville Units

Mexi-Bells; Cherry; New Mexica; New Mexico; Anaheim; Big Jim


100-1,000 Scoville Units

Ancho; Pasilla; Espanola; Anaheim


1,000 - 1,500 Scoville Units

Sandia; Cascabel


1,500 - 2,500 Scoville Units

Jalapeno; Mirasol; Chipotle; Poblano


2,500 - 5,000 Scoville Units

Yellow Wax; Serrano


5,000 - 15,000 Scoville Units

Chile De Arbol


15,000 - 30,000 Scoville Units

Aji; Cayenne; Tabasco; Piquin


30,000 - 50,000 Scoville Units

Santaka; Chiltecpin; Thai


50,000 - 100,000 Scoville Units

Habanero; Scotch Bonnet


100,000 - 350,000 Scoville Units

Red Savina Habanero; Indian Tezpur


350-855,000 Scoville Units

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Make hay while the sun shines!

Well, we are in peak harvest and, thankfully, the boxes are full of a variety of produce. Last week we had onions, garlic, potatoes, chard, carrots, peppers, okra, eggplant, melons, turnips, beets, beans, tomatoes, summer squash, herbs and flowers. I'm probably forgetting something - needless to say, it's a lot of fun this time of year!

The good thing about a polyculture farm is the variety. As we talked about at the onset, sometimes certain crops just fail. In farming, I am reminded daily to make hay while the sun shines! As all know, we had broccoli and a little cauliflower for a short time before Black Rot set in and we had to pull the plants in June. (luckily we have the West Garden for the fall crops) Then we had 3 or 4 great weeks of cukes before Downy Mildew set in and halted production. Now it appears that we are up against Late Blight for the tomatoes. I pulled about 12 - 15 plants (of the 100 +) today in the west garden which I suspect have Late Blight. I'll probably pull more tomorrow. So far, we've only seen Septoria Leaf Spot on a few of the romas. I have done quite a bit of research on this disease and, from onset of the disease, a plant can die within 6 days so it's imperative that you move quickly. From what I've read, it's widespread on the west side of Michigan but I haven't yet found out the progression throughout the rest of the state. Of course, heat and sun can slow the progression but we haven't had much of that lately. So, lesson of the day? If you want to put up some tomatoes, get them while you can. You never know if they'll be here tomorrow.

p.s. - I pick tomatoes and offer them in varying stages of ripeness. This way, they'll keep longer and hopefully will crack less. So, if you see them on the table with a little green on part of the tomato, or even 1/2 green, take a few. They'll ripen throughout the week and you'll have an ongoing supply of ripe, tasty tomatoes.

Other notes: The beans are about done - we might get a few more - but peas are now starting so we should have sugar snap peas in a few weeks. The summer squash is nearing its end as well but the winter squash and pumpkins are starting. We'll be harvesting the Adirondack Blue potatoes this week. The beets and summer turnips are in their glory along with the chard, collards and kale. The eggplant is slowing but the carrots are cruising. So, in a nutshell, we're again turning the corner on the seasons.

Hope you're enjoying peak harvest!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Peak Harvest

As members know, we've been enjoying the summer harvest for a few weeks now and we're now moving to peak harvest time in Michigan. The beans, summer squash peppers, eggplant, carrots, etc. have been producing heavily over the past few weeks. The cucumbers did well for 3 - 4 weeks but have stopped now. We've been able to harvest a few melons. We dug the Yukon Gold potatoes today and filled a little more than a 5 gallon bucket. The winter squash is now starting to mature.

Over about the past week and a half we've had Powdery Mildew move in to the squash plants. We are spraying with baking soda and dish soap (1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. dish soap per quart of water). This seems to be helping. Also, the squash vine borer (SVB as it's known in the list serves) has moved in. At first sight of infestation of these guys, move quickly. Inspect the base of your squash vine (winter or summer) daily. When you see the sawdust-like excrement at the base of the stem, cut into the stem. Start with about a 1/4 inch incision at the point of entry, moving outward from the root base, maybe 2" long. Keep going until you find the grub. Sometimes there are a lot of grubs - 4 - 5. Sometimes there's just one big grub. Find it and dig it out. Then spray with pyrethrin. I sprayed into the stem at the point of incision. On a few of the stems where I felt infestation was severe, I sliced the top half of the vine off and dug around to kill the grubs and then covered the wound with soil. In the past I've had about a 50% success rate but this was after the plants started to wilt. This time it's about a 75 - 80% success rate.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Early July

It's been awhile since I've posted here so I thought I'd provide an update.

  • We're still harvesting the greens - kale, collards, swiss chard, and lettuce - on a regular basis.
  • Last Wed. I handed out some onion blooms. Some people took them and some didn't so we had leftovers. Wow! I sauteed them in a few table spoons of oil and sprinkled a bit of salt on them and they tasted like onion rings. We just ate them as a snack but I know you can use them as you would an onion. We rarely have these so if you see them on the table again, I recommend trying them. They're seed pods that grow on the tip of the onion and need to be removed as the onions grow. All plants don't make them.
  • The mustard is still growing as well although it's starting to go to seed. If you'd still like some mustard, I'm happy to pick a bunch. It's still really good for pesto and you can stock your freezer with a few batches until the next batch in the fall is harvested. The blooms are really strong and add a lot of zip to your pesto.
  • The peas have been in for a few weeks now! The snap peas and shelling peas are excellent and are still growing well due to the cold weather. There aren't as many blooms on the plants as in weeks past so they may be slowing but the taste is outstanding! We pick these 1 - 2 times per day and save them in the fridge until distribution day. Enjoy!
  • The rutabaga, turnips and beets are small but we're picking them if they reach any usable size. As soon as the temps turn upward, they'll probably be bitter. So, we hope you're enjoying them as well.
  • We just started picking a few carrots. Woo hoo! They're also small but will keep growing. If you use them soon after you receive them (1 or 2 days) you may find that all you need to do to "skin" them is wash with a green scrubbie to rub off the outer layer. If I use them the same day as I pick them, this is all I do. But, if they're in the fridge for awhile, the skins get a little tougher. Also, I'm sending them with the greens on. You may want to cut off the greens the day you receive them so that they don't pull moisture out of your carrot.
  • The broccoli is starting to head up. I cut one head on Wed. and have 3 or 4 to cut for tomorrow. So, I think I'm going to hand these out on the honor system - take a head if there is one. If you get one this week, don't take one next week, unless I have a ton that matures. There are about 30 plants of broccoli out there but they're not all maturing at once and I don't want to cut the heads prematurely. After we get the main harvest, we'll continue to get shoots of broccoli which are good but aren't the head form that you usually buy. Again, this is our summer crop and we'll have another crop in the fall.
  • The kohl rabi is almost done (I have 4 more plants to pick) but we'll have more in September.
  • The tomatoes, beans, zucchini, peppers, cukes and melons are all coming along. There are blooms on some of the plants and some small tomatoes and peppers. With a little heat, these plants should move along and we should have new veggies in the box soon.
  • Let me know if you still are enjoying the lettuce. Some of the plants are nearing the end as well.
  • I said I wasn't going to plant corn this year but we planted a little anyway. It's only about 3" tall so let's keep our fingers crossed for a few ears of corn in September.
  • There are some cabbage worms on the collards. I haven't noticed them on the kale yet but I'm sure there are some. Occasionally there will be bugs on other plants. I've had some people wonder whether you need to wash your veggies before you put them in the fridge. I don't and haven't had a problem with them going crazy and crawling all over. I think they probably go close to dormant in there because it's so cold. I just wash them before we make dinner.
  • I stated that there were aphids on the dill but I think these were lacewing eggs. The lacewing is a beneficial insect.
  • We've seen quite a few lady bug larvae along with adult lady beetles. We're also now noticing the brachanoid wasp which is very exciting! I think we actually had some parasitized potato beetle larvae but I wasn't sure so we still put the buggers in soapy water when we found them. They say if you find a parasitized worm (horn worm or cabbage worm) you should leave them alone so that the wasp eggs will hatch.
  • The Nicotiana plant is working as a trap plant for the potato beetle! Those of you who planted the little seeds by the potatoes will be happy to see this.
  • The row covers are still in place and I hope they'll keep the cucumber beetles away. Again, these beetles transmit a bacteria that causes the plants to wilt and die. We're uncovering the plants every few days so that the pollinators can move in and then we're re-covering them a few hours later.
  • I just saw our first praying mantid yesterday. It was in the thyme. Yeah! To encourage these in your garden, don't use pesticides, don't buy non-native species and leave some plants from year to year (don't till everything up). Our herb garden is a good place for them to place their egg sacks.
  • In general, we've been fortunate to see many many more beneficial insects in the garden then pests. Go bugs, Go!
General notes:
  • If you're finding things wilted at all, you can generally rehydrate by placing a moist paper towel in with your greens.
  • Generally I refridgerate the veggies after I pick although I'm finding that this can dehydrate things a little faster than if I just cover them with a damp sheet. So, I'll continue to experiment with the best way to keep it looking as if it were just picked (which it probably was). Please let us know if you have any comments.
  • We've been using the tops of the turnips, rutabaga and beets as our vegetables in chicken stock. It's pretty tasty.
  • Apparently you can eat the carrot tops. I haven't tried this but plan to throw them in the next time I make stock. Let me know if you've eaten them before and how you used them.
  • We're keeping close to even with the weeds. Cyntha, Mike and Carla came out last week to help with weeding and planting of pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Kathy came out Wed. and helped me prepare the distribution. Thank you all for your help! We also bought more mulch so we're getting ready to weed a bit more and spread the mulch.
  • If you have any questions about the veggies, you can always refer to the veggie list which is posted on our website. Sometimes there's some good info. there that I copied off of the seed pack.
  • I'm still trying to figure out how to blog about recipes. I haven't figured out how to get the posting to list alphabetically instead of chronologically. If anyone know about this, please help.
  • If anyone has access to moldy hay, please let me know. I'm not looking for manure as I find that sometimes if we bring manure here from another farm it contains stuff that I don't want. But, moldy hay or hay that's been sitting around too long is good for mulch.
We hope you have a safe and fun 4th of July!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Plants are growing!

All we can say is, "Wow"! Thanks to all who have been helping out around here. We couldn't have done it without your help. Yesterday Suzanne, Gerry, Dorothy, Chris, Corina, Terry, Carolyn and Royla joined us for some hard work. We planted many hills of cukes and winter squash. We planted potatoes and sunflowers. We weeded out some rows and planted other flowers. And we covered up many plants with row cover to hopefully protect them from the onslaught of the cucumber beetles which will be coming soon. I thought you might enjoy some pics of the plants growing. If you have time when you pick up your veggies, feel free to walk around and look at what we've done! Also, please feel free to feed the chickens any scraps (including meat fat, but not bones or chicken) when you stop by. They love it!

Photos shown: Black Simpson lettuce, 2nd year kale (much of the source of the "various blooms" in the box), Chinese cabbage, squash covered by row covers in front garden, sunflower patch in front garden, snap peas, gladiola sprouts, onions growing in front garden, zucchini squash growing under row cover in west garden, okra seedlings, tomato plants interplanted with basil, pepper plants in west garden.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Row covers in and First Distribution out - woo hoo!

Everyone has received their first full share - we hope you are enjoying everything. There were a few things included in Saturday's share that weren't in Wednesday's share - broccoli raab and chinese cabbage, to be specific. As crops mature, they will be handed out so, as much as I'm trying to make everything even, it might vary from day to day. In the end, I'm sure it will all balance out.

Mary and Bob Wessner came over today and Steve and Mary Kolasa came over earlier in the week. We got a lot done! We have about 25 hills of summer squash, some muskmelon and watermelon, cukes, more onions, sunflowers and zinnias, beans, more tomatoes, more basil, more carrots and brussels sprouts. Thanks for your help! We still need to plant all of the winter squash, potatoes, more sunflowers and fl0wer seedlings and I'm sure other things. In addition, the weeds are taking off along with the veggies so pretty soon we might have to have a weeding day. This might be something you would like to do one evening as I can point you in the right direction and leave you to your thoughts with the weeds.

We also installed some row covers over the cukes, squash, melons and eggplant. This should help with the flea beetle and the cucumber beetle. These beetles decimate the eggplant and the cuke beetle can kill the plants by spreading a bacteria from plant to plant (fusarium wilt). So, hopefully this will help. Hopefully we won't have a problem with the squash vine borer - keep your fingers crossed on that one.

Have a great week! Let me know if you have any good recipes that you'd like to share. I'll be working on a recipe blog in the near future.

Here is a recipe recommended by Julie Campbell - her 6 year old gave it two thumbs up so I'm sure it's tasty. I don't know if the link will work but give it a try.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Start of Distributions!

Distributions start this week! The options are Wednesday evening between 4:30 - 7 and Saturday morning between 9 & 12. If that doesn't work out, please let us know. Unless you tell us otherwise, we'll assume you'll pick up your share on the same day each week. Please let us know at least 3 days in advance if you need to change your pick-up time. If you haven't responded yet, please do so below. That way others can see when things are scheduled. So far I know 3 people will pick up Wed. and 3 will pick up Saturday. We're trying to keep the #'s roughly even for each day.

I'll put together a list of the items that should be in the share for the week. They will include lettuce, kale, collards, mustard greens, spinach, maybe some broccoli raab, thyme, oregano, chives, some lilly of the valley, maybe an iris, maybe some rhubarb and maybe some nettles. I'll probably put the nettles, rhubarb and flowers in an optional bin. If there is something in the package that you do not want, please place the item on the "overflow table". If there's something there that you'd like, please help yourself. We'll figure out what to do with leftovers - maybe they'll be held over until the next pick-up (day-old veggie pile) or maybe they'll go to the chickens or, if we have a lot, I'll figure out how to donate excess produce to Food Gatherer's or another organization.

We got a lot done on Wednesday and Saturday - thanks to all who came out! This last week, we planted about 100 tomato plants, 200 pepper plants, a nice row of Okra, some flowers and herbs. We still have about 200 tomato seedlings that we started from seed along with quite a few flowers also started indoors. Would anyone like a tomato plant? Those will go in over the next 2 weeks along with beans, cukes, summer squash, sunflowers, etc. etc. etc.

Re. Future work days:
We're going to change the time to 9-12 (unless you want to come earlier, just let us know). It's too hot now to work in the afternoons.

See you this week! I probably won't be here Wed. evening so if I miss you, I'll see you next week.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Help wanted!

See 3rd paragraph re. first distribution!

It's hard to believe that we're nearing the end of May. There's a chance of frost tonight but, hopefully, after this, it will be clear sailing until mid-September. This means that we're going to go full on for planting - tomatoes, peppers, tons of seeds, potatoes, etc., etc., etc. If you haven't been out yet to work, please try to be here between 1 & 4 either May 23, May 30 or June 6 (even if you have been out, your help will be welcome :) ). If you're not into planting, you could come sometime during the week to help me lay things out - place stakes, run string, prep the rows, write out labels, get the water to the west garden, etc. Just let me know. I know there were a few people who prefer to work during the week, in the evening. That's certainly an option - just give us a call or send an e-mail and we'll work it in. There's lots to do!
Thanks to Royla and Gerry who came over this week and worked to help me start the chicken tractor. It was a lot of work! It's on wheels and has made it from the small barn to the driveway by the house (without falling apart). Hopefully I'll finish it this week and 1/2 of the hens and their one significant other will move into the apple orchard.

Plant update: Things are starting to look official around here. We've thinned out the plantings in the hothouse and moved them into rows outside. We just started eating spinach and a little lettuce along with the kale that was planted last fall. The spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens and lettuce will be ready to harvest in the next 2 weeks. Maybe some radishes as well, along with thyme, oregano, lemon balm, cilantro, and, if the weather stays cool, nettles. So, we'll start distributions May 27 & 30. I think we'll have enough for a starter. I'll send out an e-mail next week and ask you to let me know if and when you'll be picking up your share (Wed. eve. between 4:30 and 7 or Saturday mornings between 9 & 12). For those who are sharing a share, I'll label your box with both names and let you figure out who's picking up the box for the week.

We're looking forward to the start of the distributions! We've been working diligently to try to help things grow around here.

FYI - we're seeing toads in the hothouse daily and the bees are more prevalent in the yard and are busily working their new hive. No sign of dragon flies, garter snakes or praying mantis yet but we're waiting for them to come out as well.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1st week of May

Plants are growing and bees are buzzing. Judy & Randy Durfy received their bee shipment on Saturday around 6 p.m. They drove to the drop off in Milford, picked up 2 hives, brought one here and placed them in the hive, and then drove to Trenton to place their 2nd hive. The workers are busy getting to know their new home and are exploring the area. They are in the woods, about 30 yards south of the driveway by the back small barn - you can't miss the yellow hive.

All of the chinese cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower has now been transplanted from the cold frames to the front garden. The back garden has all sprouted (planted almost 2 weeks ago now). The flea beetles have found many of the brassicas. They do some serious damage very quickly so watch out for 1 mm black beetles (small holes in the leaves). I think we've saved the plants though. Nathan sprayed many of the veggies with deer repellent today (putrified egg spray - it stinks!). He was concerned about the rabbit that lives in the Forsythia bush. We planted some ginger today - let's see what happens - and transplanted some of the kale and collards out of the hot house. Other than that, the garlic is about 4 - 6" tall now, the onions are between 6" and 1 foot, the plants in the hot house are growing nicely and things are coming along. I think deliveries will begin May 27 or in 3 weeks. We may have a small amount May 20.

Something to think about: we've been eating stinging nettles and dandelions lately. The nettles make an excellent tea. We've learned they are one of the most nutritous veggies around - increased blood flow, packed with vitamins, good for rhumatoid arthritis, etc. etc. etc.. They are really tasty sauteed with a little garlic and a little salt - they have a buttery flavor and taste a little like lobster. Nettle pesto is also really good. Also, fried dandelion flowers are really a nice surprise. The children loved them! They were a bit heavy (deep fried) but if you don't eat them all the time, what a treat! If you'd like a recipe for either, please let me know.

We've also learned that dandelions are a very important food source for honey bees. The honey bees don't go for the fruit tree blossoms - mason bees and bumble bees do that. The honey bees go for other nectar sources, dandelions being high on the list. So, if your neighbor gives you a hard time about not spraying your weeds, tell him/her that your doing your part for the honey bee.

On Monday and Wednesday next week I will need help constructing the tool shed - 1 - 4ish. No experience is necessary. Please let me know if you are available. Or, if you'd like to come in the evening or on the weekend, give me a call.

Thanks & have a great week!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It was hot but we did it!

Suzanne. The crew on Sunday. The children enjoying the water. Julie & her helpers.

The rain held off, the storms went north and, despite mechanical difficulties (no tiller), we are happy to report that the bok choi, cauliflower and most of the broccoli have moved out of the cold frames into the main garden. Thanks to the ground prep and planting squad of Bob, Mary & Dorothy! Chris, Corina and Suzanne proved that they could withstand the heat by working in the hot house for a long time weeding, installing tomato cages and mulching. Then, thanks to the patience of Sara & Bruce, we have a planting template rope (plants are properly spaced) and the back garden now is irrigated. Julie came over on Thursday and, while watching 3 little ones (one on her back for a substantial period of time) planted carrots, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, arugula and fennel. Things are moving along. We still need help with planting of the garlic, asparagus, and more seeds. So, if you have some time this week, give me a call and we can talk about when the weather might cooperate with your schedule.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planting Schedule and Work Parties

Hello all - the plants in the hot house are coming along! Even the onions that were planted from seed :). We're waiting for the peas to all pop out and the beets and chard to finish coming in but all looks good.
Now that we have a hot house, the growing options have expanded. I couldn't resist buying tomato plants from the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market Saturday. And I'll be planting a few things like basil that I normally wouldn't consider starting until the end of May.

In thinking about work opportunities, please keep in mind that Emily is coming every Monday and Wednesday from 1 - 3:30. So, if you'd like to come by, these are standing times at least until the harvest begins and we re-evaluate. We are going to try to follow the cycles of the moon this year to schedule our planting. So, here are the dates we have thus far. Of course, if there's a torrential rain or the soil is too wet, we may have to postpone for a few days.

Planting Schedule:
  • April 23 (cukes, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, okra, radish, fennel, carrots)
  • April 26 (basil, arugula, lettuce, yellow squash, cabbage, flowers, garlic)
  • May 24 (okra)
  • May 30 (cukes, winter squash, sunflowers, pie pumpkins, flowers, squash, dill, kale, onions, brussel sprouts, dill, beans, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers)
  • June 6 (rutabaga, radish, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, anything that didn't go in last week)
  • June 10 (beans)
  • June 24 (dill, cabbage, onions, pumpkins, yellow squash, mustard,collards)
  • June 29 (snap peas, kohl rabi, broccoli)
  • July 5 (onions, beets, turnips)
  • July 22 (chinese cabbage, pak choi, lettuce, cabbage, peas, dill)
  • July 26 (lettuce)
  • August 5 (radishes)
  • August 18 (lettuce, broccoli raab, bok choi)
Based on this plan, we'll especially need help on the dates that follow. Help can be planting, watering, child watch, preparing rows, mulching, etc.:
April 23 - 1:00 - 4:00
May 30 - 1:00 - 4:00
June 6 - 1:00 - 4:00 (this is potato planting time which is a good crop for little hands to work - relatively easy to plant)
June 24 - 1:00 - 4:00

We'll also have a fall harvest party to dig potatoes, bring in the colder crops, etc.

Please call if you plan to work - even a few hour's notice is fine. I would like to make sure that when you arrive you're not waiting for me to pull things together.

Enjoy Spring - I think it's finally here!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hot House Update

Day 4 of construction and we're close to completion. Thanks to Emily, Gerry Kangas and Dave for helping build the "structure". Dave and I stretched the plastic for the roof this evening. I don't know if it will be mobile but it will be toasty for the plants! The remaining 3 walls will go up on Monday. The lettuce and turnips have germinated and Allie and I found 4 peas poking their heads through. Also, the carrots are beginning to sprout in the cold frame. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Well, the end of May is quickly approaching and I'm starting to think we need to speed up the growing process. So, Emily and I started a greenhouse today. It's going to be big - 40' x 50' and will hopefully be mobile so that we can wheel it to the area where tomatoes will grow. We'll see.

If anyone is able, we're going to try to work on it again tomorrow and, depending on how far we get, possibly Friday as well. Tomorrow I'll be out there on and off in the morning and will work straight for a few hours between 1 & 3:30. It would be great to have a couple of people to help stretch the plastic!

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Well, we're here waiting for up to 6" of snow! Unbelievable. I am glad the seeds are in the ground though. They'll slow down but I still think they'll jump out of the ground as soon as we have a few days of consistent 60 degree weather. Keep your fingers crossed.

We've got a few exciting announcements -
1. We're very pleased to welcome our first intern/volunteer. Emily Rose Magner has volunteered to work here for a few months before she continues her studies in sustainable agriculture. She'll be completing her degree at Sterling College in Vermont in the fall and hopes to gain a little more experience with farming before she goes. She comes with a wealth of experience - I don't have her resume so I don't want to mis-state her experience but when you meet her, ask her about her prior experiences with CSA's, wilderness training, herbal medicine, cooking, etc. We're going to try to set a weekly schedule of Monday and Wednesday from 1-3 and she's starting tomorrow! If anyone would like to come over during those times, please let me know.
2. Judy Durfy, the bee lady, called Friday. She's going to stop by this week to determine the best place to set her hive. She'll be receiving 2 shipments of bees on April 20 and will bring one over as soon as they arrive. So, we'll have some honey bees which we're really excited about! I'll let you know where the hive is.
3. The Chinese cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli have germinated in the cold frames! As soon as they're about 4" tall, we can set them out in the garden. This will probably be in a few weeks so let's hope the ground isn't frozen!
4. We're working on plans for a tool shed, mobile turkey hut and maybe a fruit stand. If anyone wants to build, let me know. We sawed the logs and have quite a bit of lumber to work with now. The sawing took 5 days, not the estimated 1 1/2. So, Dave's in good shape now. It's really heavy.
5. Dixie came down with a slight case of mastitis this week. Our vet came out Monday and she's now on penicillin. But, the kids are still nursing and doing fine so all is well in goat land.

Hope all is well - we have 9 followers on this blog which is fun. If you haven't signed up and are having troubles doing so, let me know.

Keep warm -
Jennifer, Dave, Nathan, Allie & Hannah

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Update on the crops

Chris and Corina came over today and we spent about 3 hours together planting, raking, making stakes, etc. We planted 5 types of onions, collards, peas, pak choi, lettuce, arugula, beets, and broccoli raab! Thanks, Chris and Corina for your help and presence! Next up, transplanting flowers to pots and starting the tomato seeds. Let me know if you want to stop by.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Work Opportunity

If anyone wants to do a little planting, I plan to be in the garden by 10:00 tomorrow morning (Saturday, 3/28). Let me know if you're coming so I'm ready. We do need more string - kite string is great to use, if you have extra. If not, no biggie.

Planting Update

Well, we've now got a cold frame of carrots and a cold frame of broccoli, cabbage and Chinese cabbage started. The seeds should germinate quickly in there and then we can set out the cabbage and cauliflower starts. Those were planted Tuesday (3/24).

Tonight, 3/27, I was able to plant some snap peas, kale, swiss chard, rutabagas and turnips. Hopefully tomorrow we'll plant green onions, collards, lettuce and different peas. It's great to get started! Although it's supposed to rain/snow in the next few days, the seeds should be off to a good start.

It was a beautiful night here. The spring peepers were peeping away in the swamp behind our woods. The sun was warm and we could hear the woodcocks singing.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Breaking Ground

On Monday, Steve Schultz came over and plowed the new garden and expanded our existing plot. What a sight to see all of that black dirt! Now we "just" have to break it all up and till it about 5 times before June. Woo hoo!