Every Season is Unique

Every Season is Unique

Potato Harvest is in full swing.

Potato harvest is in full swing. Good team work was needed to dig these up. It’s always fun to find the giant potatoes in the group.

It’s amazing how every growing season is unique, and each year different things go better than others, whether it is planting, pest management, plant health, time management, soil health etc. Every year, we are learning something new and trying to apply what was learned previously to build upon doing better during that given year. Each year’s weather pattern is different with Mother Nature always being predictably unpredictable.

At this point in the growing season, we are excited as we examine the squash, pumpkins and popcorn. We are frustrated as we look at the negative insects and their effects on the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and potatoes and exhausted with the number of plantings that we have done for sugar snap peas, lettuce and carrots.

But we are hopeful and excited as we see that the harvest year end is quickly going to be upon us. The reason we are so excited – because we love harvesting the pumpkins, squash, gourds, popcorn and ornamental corn. It truly is like Christmas in the garden. Take time to check out what is growing on before the craziness of school starts. It really is starting to change with September just around the corner. There is a lot to absorb and see.

Garden Science

Farmers and ranchers across the United States provide a great deal of wildlife habit. As we were working in the garden, we discovered this small nest of newly hatched birds. The boys were so excited to simply watch these young lives.

Farmers and ranchers across the United States provide a great deal of wildlife habit. As we were working in the garden, we discovered this small nest of newly hatched birds. The boys were so excited to simply watch these young lives.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating.  Thank you for your support of our CSA. Enjoy the produce!

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I have replanted this crop no less than 5 times, and we are starting to see a few varieties peek through the ground.

Kale – I use the Kale in moderation in my salads. It adds some beautiful color and more nutrients to the dish.

Green Beans – A new crop of Jade green beans.

Kohlrabi – Green kohlrabi in your box. Peel it and eat it like an apple.

Beets –  Detroit Dark Red Beets in your box. Boil on your stove top for about 1/2 hour – take them out of the water, using a paper towel gently rub the paper towel over the beet and the skins will come right off, slice into pieces and serve with butter.

Carrots – Purple Dragon and Nantes carrots that were planted at different times and in different soil types – your feedback is appreciated.

TomatoesA variety of 4th of July Hybrid, Sweet Tangerine Hybrid and Sun Gold Hybrid.

Peppers Cherry Stuffer Hybrid Sweet Pepper

Garlic – Enjoy the fresh garlic. I use a hand held garlic press crush and peel my garlic. It is awesome and definitely the tool of the week! Here are some garlic recipes to check out.

Onions –  yellow candy onions

Butternut Squash – My favorite squash. Check out the recipes from Martha Stewart.

Spaghetti Squash – I love using this squash instead of regular spaghetti. Learn how to cook this squash from Martha Stewart.

Spaghetti Squash on the left and Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash on the right.

Spaghetti Squash on the left and Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash on the right.

Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash –  Check out some squash soup recipes.

Zucchini – The zucchini is still producing. So since we had extra, we made you some Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread. See recipe below.

Red Norland Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes are versatile potatoes – great for boiling, potato salad and I have had success with them as French fries.

Kennebec Potatoes – Great baking potato.

Cilantro, Basil and Parsley – Plenty to share – take a snip or a plant home and freeze or dry the herb for use in stews, etc during the rest of the year. Here are some more ideas on how to preserve herbs.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias, Hydrangeas, and sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

A favorite in our house. Find this recipe and more ideas on my friend’s blog at From the Farm Table.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Brown Sugar

1 cup Vegetable Oil (I use apple sauce instead of the oil.)

4 Eggs

2 teaspoon Vanilla

2 cups Flour

1 cup Baking Cocoa

1 teaspoon Salt

1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips

3 cups Shredded Zucchini

1. Beat sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla together. Mix dry ingredients. Stir into mixture. Add chocolate chips and shredded zucchini.

2. Pour batter into 4-5 mini loaf pans (or 2 large loaf pans), coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool.

 

Nature’s Challenges

Nature’s Challenges

Finding the treasures in the garden like the largest white pumpkin that we have found yet. It's so fun to see what is hiding under the large pumpkin leaves.

Checking out the garden and finding the largest white pumpkin – bonus – a fun way to end the day. It’s always a treasure hunt to see what is hiding under the large pumpkin leaves.

Often times in agriculture, we don’t always talk about the challenges that occur with the crops. Simply because we like to be upbeat and look at the positive. Speaking of positive, you should check out all of the pumpkins, squash and gourds growing – that harvest is just around the corner and the sizes of the pumpkins etc and the colors are fun to look at.

Garden Science

There are always challenges every crop year, and each year is unique unto itself.

  • Sugar Snap Peas - Some of you may be anxiously awaiting more sugar snap peas. And to be honest so are we. It has been a frustrating year with these. I have replanted the intended 3rd crop no less then four times. The previous three, I believe, may have had a germination issue with the seed. We have corrected it for this planting. We planted the seed in the ground this week with the hope that we will have at least one more crop before season's end. Especially since it is a favorite for all of us. With the heat and humidity, the second crop matured so rapidly that unfortunately much was lost because it literally would mature before we had time to harvest it:(

    Sugar Snap Peas – Some of you may be anxiously awaiting more sugar snap peas. And to be honest so are we. It has been a frustrating year with these. I have replanted the intended 3rd crop no less then four times (pictured is one of the meek outcomes of one of those plantings). The previous three, I believe, may have had a germination issue with the seed. We have corrected it for this planting. We planted the seed in the ground this week with the hope that we will have at least one more crop before season’s end. Especially since it is a favorite for all of us. With the heat and humidity, the second crop matured so rapidly that unfortunately much was lost because it literally would mature before we had time to harvest it:(

    Lettuce and Spinach - This crop as well has had actually 6 plantings. We have received 3 crops. The intent was have at least 2 more quality outcomes in new plantings but that was not what God intended. We are really happy to see two different varieties growing quite well and are hopeful for a new crop in a week or two.

    Lettuce and Spinach – This crop has had actually 6 plantings. We have received 3 crops. The intent was have at least 2 more quality outcomes in new plantings but that was not what God intended. We are really happy to see two different varieties growing quite well, pictured, and are hopeful for a new crop in a week or two.

     

    The potato bugs are again a challenge this year even though we plant flowers to bring in good insects to eat them and attempt to control them with other methods. They are eating potato plants, tomato plants and more. Learn more http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/colorado-potato-beetles/

    The potato bugs are again a challenge this year even though we plant flowers to bring in good insects who like to eat potato bugs and attempt to control them with other methods. They are eating potato plants, tomato plants and more. Learn more here.

  • Squash bugs are appearing in great numbers. We will be monitoring them and whether we will need to an insecticide to control them from damaging the pumpkins and squash. Learn morehttp://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/squash-bugs/

    Squash bugs are appearing in great numbers. We will be monitoring them and whether we will need to an insecticide to control them from damaging the pumpkins and squash. Learn more here.

    Splitting of the carrot root s also occurring due in part to the excessive amounts of rain we have been receiving at one time over the last few weeks.

    Splitting of the carrot root is also occurring due in part to the excessive amounts of rain we have been receiving at one time over the last few weeks. The carrot simply receives a lot of moisture at once, grows fast, and splits.

    We are also having these black spots on some varieties of the tomatoes. Check out more information here.

    We are also having these black spots on some varieties of the tomatoes. Check out more information here.

     

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating.  Thank you for your support of our CSA. Enjoy the produce!

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I think God is trying to give you a break on lettuce. I have replanted this crop no less than 5 times. I see a variety is peeking through the ground.

Kale – I use the Kale in moderation in my salads. It adds some beautiful color and more nutrients to the dish.

Kohlrabi – Green kohlrabi in your box. Peel it and eat it like an apple.

Beets –  Detroit Dark Red Beets in your box. Boil on your stove top for about 1/2 hour – take them out of the water, using a paper towel gently rub the paper towel over the beet and the skins will come right off, slice into pieces and serve with butter.

Cherry Belle RadishesLast of this crop.

Carrots

Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash –  Check out some squash soup recipes.

Zucchini – The zucchini is still producing. So since we had extra, we made you some zucchini brownies – enjoy.

TomatoesA variety abound. Enjoy some BLTs.

Peppers Green Bell Peppers

Garlic – Enjoy the fresh garlic. I use a hand held garlic press crush and peel my garlic. It is awesome and definitely the tool of the week! Here are some garlic recipes to check out.

Onions –  yellow onions.

Spaghetti Squash – I love using this squash instead of regular spaghetti. Learn how to cook this squash from Martha Stewart.

Red Norland Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes are versatile potatoes – great for boiling, potato salad and I have had success with them as French fries.

Kennebec Potatoes – Great baking potato.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to FarGaze Farms for sharing some extra sweet corn. Our sweet corn is between crops. Preserve the corn for winter eating simply by cooking it, cut it off the cob, place in Ziploc bag and place it in the freezer. 

Cilantro, Basil and Parsley – Plenty to share – take a snip or a plant home and freeze or dry the herb for use in stews, etc during the rest of the year.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias and sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

Cooking Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash was in you box last week. Still wondering how to cook it? I have the best luck putting it in a large bowl of water and bowling it for about 1 hour or until I can easily stick a fork into it.

Spaghetti squash was in you box last week. Still wondering how to cook it? I have the best luck putting it in a large bowl of water and bowling it for about 1 hour or until I can easily stick a fork into it.

Take it out of the bowling water and cut open lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.

Take it out of the bowling water and cut open lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.

Take a fork and scrape it out so you get the noodle effect that is naturally occurring.

Take a fork and scrape it out so you get the noodle effect that is naturally occurring.

Serve it up like a regular meal of spaghetti.

Serve it up like a regular meal of spaghetti.

Finding Commonalities

Finding Commonalities

Enjoying the evening sunset together as we harvested sweet corn. In the end, we all just want more quality time with our loved ones. No technology, just Mother Nature and good conversation.

Enjoying the evening sunset together as we harvested sweet corn. In the end, we all just want more quality time with our loved ones. No technology, just Mother Nature and good conversation.

Whether at a baseball game or at the dentist office, we end up discussing summer activities with our kids, challenges as working moms balancing summer schedules, and concern for our kids as they enter into a new school year. We share a lot of the same concerns even though, what we have most in common is being parents, and the love we have for our children.

These conversation also end up including our CSA or questions they have about farming. Questions range from how our CSA is doing with the weather to what’s working and what’s not working compared to what they are experiencing or seeing in their area. These conversations are often times with friends that grew up in town and/or currently reside in town. We also discussed how the food is grown and technologies in agriculture. We, meaning all four of us, enjoy the conversations and the opportunity to help others gain a better understanding for how food is grown.

We are happy to answer questions that others have about what we do. What matters, is that in life we are always learning. After all, it is simply fun and interesting to learn how food is grown and raised to feed our families.

 

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating.  Thank you for your support of our CSA. Enjoy the produce!

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I think God is trying to give you a break on lettuce. I have replanted this crop no less than 5 times. I see a variety is peeking through the ground.

Spinach  – The spinach is in the lettuce salad mix this week. It doesn’t like the heat we have been receiving.

Kale – I use the Kale in moderation in my salads. It adds some beautiful color and more nutrients to the dish.

Kohlrabi – You either have a purple or green kohlrabi in your box. Peel it and eat it like an apple.

Purple Beans – Just a taste this week.

These were some overgrown beets.

These were some overgrown beets.

Beets –  Detroit Dark Red Beets in your box. Check out how to cook them here.

Cherry Belle RadishesThey may be small but their taste is mighty. Enjoy in a salad or a radish sandwich – on buttered bread.

Carrots

Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash –  The best-tasting squash in Burpee’s taste trials for 2 years in a row.

Zucchini – The zucchini is still producing. Wondering when it will slow down.

Cucumbers – This crop is dwindling. You will get a break from cucumbers shortly until a new variety of this crop comes in.

Plenty of tomatoes to harvest.

Plenty of tomatoes to harvest.

TomatoesA variety abounds for you this week.

Peppers Green Bell Peppers

Garlic – Enjoy the fresh garlic. I use a hand held garlic press crush and peel my garlic. It is awesome and definitely the tool of the week! Here are some garlic recipes to check out.

Onions –  Snow White hybrid and Giant Red Hamburger onions.

sweet corn

Sam’s neatly stacked sweet corn.

Sweet Corn – One of summer’s favorites.

Spaghetti Squash – I love using this squash instead of regular spaghetti. Learn how to cook this squash from Martha Stewart.

Red Norland Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes are versatile potatoes – great for boiling, potato salad and I have had success with them as French fries.

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Gold Potatoes – A beautiful golden variety of potato.  Learn some fun facts about potatoes grown in Minnesota and the Northern Plains here.

Cilantro, Basil and Parsley – Plenty to share – take a snip or a plant home and freeze or dry the herb for use in stews, etc during the rest of the year.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias and sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

These zucchini brownies are a favorite.

These zucchini brownies are a favorite.

Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients

•2 cups all-purpose flour

•1/3 cup baking cocoa

•1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

•1 teaspoon salt

•2 cups shredded zucchini

•1-1/2 cups sugar

•3/4 cup vegetable oil (I will substitute with applesauce.)

•1/2 cup chopped walnuts

•2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Frosting

•1/4 cup butter, cubed

•1 cup sugar

•1/4 cup milk

•1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

•1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

 

•In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine the zucchini, sugar and oil; stir into dry ingredients until blended. Stir in walnuts and vanilla.

•Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° F. for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

•In a large saucepan, melt butter; stir in sugar and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook and stir 1 minute or until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in chips and marshmallows until melted and smooth; add vanilla. Spread over brownies. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired. Yield: 2 dozen.

Source: Taste of Home

Lessons from Weeds

Lessons from Weeds

 

The weeds are loving this weather. Check out this giant ragweed that they pulled out of the sweet corn field.

The weeds are loving this weather. Check out this giant weed that they pulled out of the sweet corn field.

This weekend the boys found this giant weed reaching towards the sky amidst the sweet corn. Even thought the sweet corn was trying to crowd it out, this weed just kept on stretching and growing. We had been keeping an eye on the weeds, but obviously this one snuck past us.

Weeds provide an interesting life lesson. Even when the growing conditions are challenging, keep reaching and striving to grow tall and strong. It is during these times that people are surprised by the personal growth.

Weeds also seem to take advantage of great growing conditions and thrive during these times. Again, a great lesson of when the conditions are right make the most of it.

Lesson from the Weeds – Life is worth living. Maximizing the opportunities that are presented will determine your outcomes for personal growth.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating.  Thank you for your support of our CSA. Enjoy the produce!

Black Seeded Simpson, Prizeleaf and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Mix – Are you having challenges storing your lettuce? This is what I do. Wash it, place in a salad spinner, drain the water off the salad spinner, spin again and then place in a plastic bag in my vegetable crisper. It lasts me the full week or more.

Spinach  – The spinach is in the lettuce salad mix this week. It doesn’t like the heat we have been receiving.

Purple Beans – Love the color and fun to cook with!

Kale – I use the Kale in moderation in my salads. It adds some beautiful color and more nutrients to the dish.

Kohlrabi – You either have a purple or green kohlrabi in your box. Peel it and eat it like an apple.

Love the color of the Bulls Blood Beets.

Love the color of the Bulls Blood Beets.

Beets –  Bulls Blood Beets and Detroit Dark Red Beets in your box. I place the beets in a pan, cover the beets with about an inch of water. Bring to a boil and boil until a fork can be inserted easily into the beet. Remove from the heat and drain the water. Using paper towels I gently rub the skin of the beet off, slice them and enjoy!

Cherry Belle Radishes in your boxes this week. Love the color!

Cherry Belle Radishes in your boxes this week. Love the color!

Cherry Belle RadishesThey may be small but their taste is mighty. Enjoy in a salad or a radish sandwich – on buttered bread.

Watermelon Radishes –  This is the last of this crop. Interested to hear your thoughts.

Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash –  The best-tasting squash in Burpee’s taste trials for 2 years in a row.

Zucchini – The zucchini is still producing. Wondering when it will slow down.

Onions –  Yellow Candy – These onions are beautiful. Enjoy!

Cucumbers – This crop is dwindling. You will get a break from cucumbers until a new crop comes in of a different variety.

The tomatoes are ready for harvest.

The tomatoes are ready for harvest.

TomatoesJust starting to come in.

Peppers Sweet, Thunderbolt Pepper

Sweet Corn – One of summer’s favorites.

Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes are versatile potatoes – great for boiling, potato salad and I have had success with them as French fries.

Parsley and Basil are available for you to take home. Freeze or dry it to use in your cooking throughout the year.

Parsley and Basil are available for you to take home. Freeze or dry it to use in your cooking throughout the year.

Basil and Parsley – Plenty to share – take a snip or a plant home and freeze or dry the herb for use in stews, etc during the rest of the year.

Garlic – Enjoy the fresh garlic. I use a hand held garlic press crush and peel my garlic. It is awesome and definitely the tool of the week! Here are some garlic recipes to check out.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias and sunflowers

 

Recipe of the Week

Freezing Corn

I keep it simple because I don’t have time for more when it comes to freezing my vegetables to feed the family throughout the year.

After peeling off the loose husk and clipping off the extra silk, I cook the corn on the grill, rotating it over about a 30 minute time frame.

After peeling off the loose husk and clipping off the extra silk, I cook the corn on the grill, rotating it over about a 30 minute time frame.

After the husks are browned around the entire cub, I peel the husks off, and it is ready to eat.

After the husks are browned around the entire cub, I peel the husks off, and it is ready to eat.

What we don't eat, we simply cut off the extra sweet corn. A bundt pan works great to catch all of the corn. We then place it in a Ziploc bag that has been labeled and dated and place in the freezer to use this winter.

What we don’t eat, we simply cut off the extra sweet corn. A bundt pan works great to catch-all of the corn. We then place it in a Ziploc bag that has been labeled and dated and place in the freezer to use this winter.

 

July’s Bounty

While we are exhausted from the fair, we were happy to see bountiful produce to harvest.

While we are exhausted from the fair, we were happy to see bountiful produce to harvest.

It is post fair week, and while we are exhausted from the fair, we are excited to see new changes happening in the garden because it is the end of July! This means sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes and more to come. If you are walking around the garden, look for gourds, winter squash, watermelons and pumpkins growing.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating. 

Black Seeded Simpson, Prizeleaf and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Mix – Are you having challenges storing your lettuce? This is what I do. Wash it, place in a salad spinner, drain the water off the salad spinner, spin again and then place in a plastic bag in my vegetable crisper. It lasts me the full week or more.

Spinach  – The spinach is in the lettuce salad mix this week. It doesn’t like the heat we have been receiving.

Purple Beans – Plenty are growing – let us know if you would like any to can or freeze. Here are some recipe ideas.

The pea pod grows from the flower. Notice the white flower at the tip of the pod.

The pea pod grows from the flower. Notice the white flower at the tip of the pod.

Sugar Snap Peas – A new crop is in.

Kale – Here are some recipes for this vegetable. Two varieties Dwarf Blue Curled Vates and Ursa Kale.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi – You either have a purple or green kohlrabi in your box. Peel it and eat it like an apple.

Beets –  Bulls Blood Beets – Learn more about this variety of beets here.

Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish

Radishes – Watermelon radishes – try some of these recipes out.

The Golden Egg Hybrid squash is plentiful.

The Golden Egg Hybrid squash is plentiful.

Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash –  The best-tasting squash in Burpee’s taste trials for 2 years in a row.

The zucchini grows super fast in the weather we had this week.

The zucchini grows super fast in the weather we had this week. One zucchini was as big as Sam’s forearm and the other as long as his leg.

Zucchini – The zucchini is growing like crazy. Learn how to save it for use during the cold winter months From the Farm Table and try some of the recipe ideas from Taste of Home.

Onions –  snow white hybrid – These onions are beautiful. Enjoy!

Cucumbers – Enjoy these in your box. Let us know if you are interested in canning quantities and dill for pickles.

TomatoesJust starting to come in.

Sweet Corn – Finally one of summer’s favorites.

Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes are versatile potatoes – great for boiling, potato salad and I have had success with them as French fries.

Garlic was harvested a few weeks ago and has been curing/drying for you.

Garlic was harvested a few weeks ago and has been curing/drying for you.

Garlic – Check out our experiment on garlic explained here.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias and sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

Freezing Herbs

This is step by step instructions that I posted a few years ago, but it was worth reposting. From time to time, I will be setting out additional herbs in case you don’t have those herbs in your pot, or you would just like more. Help yourself, and use this method to have a taste of the garden throughout the winter.

Wash herbs under cold water.

 

Cut or pull herbs apart and place smaller portions in the separate compartments in an ice cube tray. This tray I found in the $1 isle at Target.

A closer look at how Keith was doing this.

Run water over the herbs and place in the freezer.

Once frozen, take out of tray and place in labeled bag or container. These will come in handy throughout the year when a recipe calls for an herb. Just take the ice cube and place in the recipe. Fresh herbs throughout the year.

 

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing

This week is fair week in our house. Those that have been involved in county fairs realize this means chaos and exhaustion by everyone in the household. Some may wonder why we put ourselves through this. The short answer is we participate because our kids are in 4-H. The longer answer is: our kids are members of 4-H because we know it builds lifelong friendships, provides unique personal growth opportunities and the kids learn by doing.

The boys brought general projects and are showing animals. Some of their general projects like photography and shop projects could be done ahead of time. Projects like livestock are conducted over several months, over the period of the lifetime of the animal, and some general projects need to be done as close to project judging time as possible such as foods and vegetable gardening.

Sam sharing his Cloverbud general projects with a judge.

Sam sharing his Cloverbud general projects with a judge.

Sam's photo off of our deck following one of the recent storms. He framed the photo and said he like the different colors in the picture and if you look closely that you can see that the roads form different letters. Appreciate how he made me step back and look at his photo through a different lense - a good life lesson.

Sam’s photo that he was sharing with the judge was taken from our deck following one of the recent storms. He framed the photo and said he liked the different colors in the picture and if you look closely that you can see that the roads form different letters. I appreciate how he made me step back and look at his photo through a different lense – a good life lesson.

One of Keith's one hundred photos that sparked his idea for a theme of 4 on roads. The judge said she appreciated his perspective and understanding that you don't always have to take a photo standing up and that he chose a different perspective in how to look at his surroundings.

One of Keith’s one hundred photos that sparked his idea for a theme of four photos on roads. The judge said she appreciated his perspective and understanding that you don’t always have to take a photo standing up and that he chose a different perspective in how to look at his surroundings.

Allowing the kids to complete projects with minimal guidance does take patience for both parties involved, but it allows the kids to grow. For example, learning that sometimes you need to take over 100 photos to get four really good ones that you are happy with or being persistent to find the proper way to display an item such as vegetables.

Through this journey, they are learning the value of mentorship and seeking out others that are experts or have experiences in project areas helps them to understand the value in building a community of support. Thank you to all who have been willing to help. As parents, we see the personal growth, and the humbleness they demonstrate in learning from others.

As project judging time arrived, the kids said they were nervous about the judging. Through the judging process, they learned to shake hands before and after their interviews, remove their hats when conducting their interviews and say thank you at the end of their judging. Once completed, they said it was really fun, and they were so appreciative of how helpful the judges were in teaching them more about their projects and truly seeing what they had learned by doing.

Preparing for the vegetable project was a challenge as we didn't quite know how to properly display the vegetables for a blue ribbon display. After looking at the vegetable and potato displays last year, Keith said he wanted to bring them. He was very nervous for this judging, but as you can see he enjoyed his discussion with the judge who was very helpful in helping us both understand the vegetable project and potato project. Keith was ecstatic to receive Reserve Champion in his potato project and Honorable Mention with his Vegetable Project.

Preparing for the vegetable project was a challenge as we didn’t quite know how to properly display the vegetables for a blue ribbon display. After looking at the vegetable and potato displays last year, Keith said he wanted to bring them. He was very nervous for this judging, but as you can see he enjoyed his discussion with the judge who was very helpful in helping him to understand the vegetable project and potato project. Keith was ecstatic to receive Reserve Champion in his potato project and Honorable Mention with his Vegetable Project.

As a parent living in the chaos of fair week and in my exhaustion, I question whether it is worth it. But I am reminded by take away comments and gestures throughout each day of the fair.

As Keith was selecting his pen of two laying hens and was contemplating the final decision, he said, “Mom today isn’t about winning. It is about learning.”

I asked Sam how it went in the show arena, and how did it go answering the judges questions. He responded with a big grin, “I got the best ribbon I could get – a green.” As a 4-H Cloverbud, they all receive green participation ribbons as an opportunity to learn by doing, to gain confidence in learning that participating, learning and having fun – is the most important thing.

Yesterday, the boys washed their 4-H chickens and pig – together, no fights simply building self-confidence and experiencing new things together. As the day came to a close, I complimented them on how well they worked together. They looked at each other and said, “Yes we did, and it was fun.” The working together carried over to the fair in their pride in caring for their animals and showing them to the fairgoers.”

So from this exhausted parent to other exhausted parents, 4-H and participating in the county fair is definitely worth the investment of time and effort. Watching your kids Learn by Doing is priceless. After all, in the end it is not about the blue ribbon it is about raising a blue ribbon kid.

Garden Science

Did you know that we are still planting seeds in the a garden? These will be some of the last crops planted this year. The plan is for these to reach maturity the last few weeks of the growing season and hoping to have a later frost.

Tilling up another area to replant with the final round of lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi and cucumbers.

Tilling up another area to replant with the final round of lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi and cucumbers.

This weekend we replanted peas and reinstalled the pea fence that had been twisted a bit in some earlier storm winds.

This weekend we replanted peas and reinstalled the pea fence that had been twisted a bit in some earlier storm winds.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating. 

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – Are you having challenges storing your lettuce? This is what I do. Wash it, place in a salad spinner, drain the water off the salad spinner, spin again and then place in a plastic bag in my vegetable crisper. It lasts me the full week or more.

Prizeleaf and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I love these beautiful lettuces – Prizeleaf is green with reddish tips and Red Oak Leaf is a red lettuce leaf. They add such a wonderful color to salads and sandwiches.

Spinach  – The spinach is in the lettuce salad mix this week. It doesn’t like the heat we have been receiving.

Green Beans

Green Beans

Green Beans – Plenty are growing – let us know if you would like any to can or freeze. Here are some recipe ideas.

Carrots – Some beautiful purple carrots this week.

Sugar Snap Peas – A new crop is in.

Kale – Here are some recipes for this vegetable. Two varieties Dwarf Blue Curled Vates and Ursa Kale.

Kohlrabi – You either have a purple or green kohlrabi in your box. Peel it and eat it like an apple.

Beets –  Dark Detroit Red Beets – Learn how to cook beets here.

Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish

Radishes – Watermelon radishes – let us know what you think about this vegetable.

Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash –  The best-tasting squash in Burpee’s taste trials for 2 years in a row.

Zucchini – The zucchini is growing like crazy. Learn how to save it for use during the cold winter months From the Farm Table and try some of the recipe ideas from Martha Stewart.

Onions – Yellow Candy – These onions are beautiful. Enjoy!

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Cucumbers – Enjoy these in your box. Let us know if you are interested in canning quantities and dill for pickles.

Fresh Basil – some of you have basil in your herb pots and some do not. Check out these basil ideas.

Fresh Dill

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias and sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 cup applesauce

3 large eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups shredded peeled zucchini

1/4 miniature chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
  2. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each)

 

Stand up, Stand Tall

Stand up, Stand Tall

Welcome Minnie and Daisy to the farm.

Welcome Minnie and Daisy to the farm. Barn cats play an important part of controlling field mice and other rodents around our place. As you can tell, we all love having these kittens around.

Thank you to everyone who expressed concern over how our crops fared the storms. We are happy to share (see photo below) that they have recovered as much as can be expected. They have stood back up, standing tall and looking like a crop is in their future. I shared the photos last week as an opportunity to help everyone better understand what happens to farmers’ crops when storms roll through.

One comment from our blog post sticks out – “After all my years of farming, one thing I have learned, is that we do everything we can to ensure that the crop we put in the ground will grow and reap a harvest with whatever weather conditions Mother Nature gives us. If you were thinking positively when you planted it, chances are…it will be ok.”

This comment reminded me that farming presents more learning lessons than one realizes. In fact, it reminds me a lot of life and parenting. We do all we can to ensure that we are helping our children grow up to be productive, loving and caring people who provide back to this world more than they have been given. We think positively about their future. While we are preparing them, similar to preparing to growing a crop, we do the best we can hoping that whatever storms come their way in life that they to, like the corn, will stand back up, stand tall and reap a productive lifetime.

Garden Science

This is a photo of the top of the corn plant last week.

This is a photo of the top of the corn plant last week. Take time to check out the different plants. They really are unique.

The ornamental corn leaf feels different then the...

The ornamental corn leaf feels different then the…

broom corn leaf...

broom corn leaf…

then the field corn leaf. All are unique to the type of corn variety that it is.

then the field corn leaf. All are unique to the type of corn variety that it is.

Great news. All types of corn are standing back up on their own. When I refer to types I mean: sweet corn, field corn, ornamental corn, broom corn and popcorn. Corn genetics are an amazing thing. Thanks to plant scientists these plant varieties were able to withstand that strong wind and straighten back up to keep on growing. I think it also helped that we were all praying for this to happen. God is good!

Great news. All types of corn are standing back up and standing tall on their own. When I refer to types I mean: sweet corn, field corn, ornamental corn, broom corn and popcorn. Corn genetics are an amazing thing. Thanks to the plant scientists, these plant varieties were able to withstand that strong wind and straighten back up to keep on growing. I think it also helped that we were all praying for this to happen. God is good!

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating. 

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – With a lot of lettuce in your boxes, check out Martha Stewart’s lettuce salad recipes or this potluck taco idea for picnics and family gatherings. 

Prizeleaf and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I love these beautiful lettuces – Prizeleaf is green with reddish tips and Red Oak Leaf is a red lettuce leaf. They add such a wonderful color to salads and sandwiches.

Spinach and Beet Leaves – We thinned our beets and have combined them with the spinach for a healthy salad mix.

Carrots

Carrots

Carrots – Some beautiful carrots this week.

Kale – Here are some recipes for this vegetable. Two varieties Dwarf Blue Curled Vates and Ursa Kale.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi – You either have a purple or green kohlrabi in your box.

Beet –  Dark Detroit Red Beets – Learn how to cook beets here.

 

Picking green beans can literally be exhausting.

Picking green beans can literally be exhausting.

Green Beans – Plenty are growing – let us know if you would like any to can or freeze. Here are some recipe ideas.

Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish

Radishes – Watermelon radishes – let us know what you think about this vegetable.

Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash –  The best-tasting squash in Burpee’s taste trials for 2 years in a row.

Quite the zucchini and summer squash harvest this week.

The zucchini and summer squash harvest this week.

Zucchini – The zucchini is growing like crazy. Learn how to save it for use during the cold winter months From the Farm Table and try some of the recipe ideas from Martha Stewart.

Onions – red onions – These onions took a beating in the storms. They had stopped growing so we harvested them this week.

Fresh Basil – some of you have basil in your herb pots and some do not. Check out these basil ideas.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias

Recipe of the Week

Cinnamon Zucchini Bread

Cinnamon Zucchini Bread

Cinnamon Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

3 Eggs, beaten

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Brown Sugar

1 cup applesauce

3 cups Flour (opt: substitute 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour)

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

2 cups Zucchini, shredded

Shredding zucchini is super easy and fun with this salad shooter.

Shredding zucchini is super easy and fun with this salad shooter.

Instructions

Beat together the eggs, sugars and applesauce.

Stir together all the dry ingredients and add to the egg-sugar mixture. Stir in the shredded zucchini.

Coat four mini loaf pans with cooking spray. Sprinkle sugar on the bottom. Pour batter evenly in all four pans. Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.