Christmas or April

It is hard to believe that it is this late in April. Records show this is the third snowiest April in Minnesota history.

It is hard to believe that it is this late in April and that this picture was just earlier this week. Records show this is the third snowiest April in Minnesota history.

So as the season gets later and I know the rush and amount of work that is in front of us, I find myself occasionally questioning whether or not the CSA is the right direction for our family. I am quickly reminded by the boys that it is the right choice for us.

This week as we visited about the weather forecast for the weekend, I mentioned to them that I thought we could plant our pallet gardens as the soil should dry out quick enough for us to plant some of our cold season crops.

Keith responded, “I can’t wait. One of my favorite things about last year’s garden was pulling up a carrot and eating it right away.”

Sam reminded me with our conversation the other night on our way home, and he said he thought we should get a tractor for our CSA. I said, I agree, but then we would need another shed to store it in. Sam said that we should build one. I asked him where he thought we would get the money to do all of this, and he responded, “Well we need to sell more shares in the CSA mom.” I said, “Way to go Sam. I think you are starting to understand business, how you earn money and agriculture.”

Again, my boys reassured me this is the right direction, and we, like everyone are excited for warmer weather.

So although the weather has been challenging with the snow. We are most appreciative of the moisture. The drought monitor map shows how the moisture levels in Minnesota have changed just over the last few weeks. We are very thankful for the improvement.

There is excitement in the air as we get set to plant. All of our plants in our garden begin as a seed. Have you ever wondered how a seed grows. Here is a great link to see how a seed grows and also see the many decisions go into purchasing the right seed.

As we look at the garden so many choices abound. I have always been fascinated by the different varieties of seeds including heirloom and traditional varieties. I wanted to share with you a farmer’s visit to Seed Savers in northern Iowa.  I have always wanted to journey south to see this facility. And am sure a family trip is on the horizon.

Even with the weather feeling like winter instead of spring. We are ready to plant. Keith is holding a bag of everyone's favorite last year...the sugar snap peas.

Even with the weather feeling like winter instead of spring earlier this week, we are ready to plant. Keith is holding a bag of everyone’s favorite crop last year…the sugar snap peas.

On Friday, the boys and I found rhubarb peaking out of the ground. A sure sign of Spring. We were just a tad excited about this!

On Friday, the boys and I found rhubarb peeking out of the ground. A sure sign of Spring. We were just a tad excited about this!

With the temps in the 70s the past few days, and the strong south wind, our pallet gardens were ready to be planted. So the boys helped me prepare them. They totally enjoyed getting their feet dirty doing so

With the temps in the 70s the past few days, and the strong south wind, our pallet gardens were ready to be planted. So the boys helped me prepare them. They totally enjoyed getting their feet dirty doing so.

At last, some planting of Black Seeded Simpson, spinach, red oak leaf lettuce, Nantes half long  carrots and some carrots from Healthy Kids Day, Cherry Belle radishes and French Dressing radishes.

At last, some planting of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, spinach, Red Oak Leaf lettuce, Nantes half long carrots and some carrots from Healthy Kids Day, Cherry Belle radishes and French Dressing radishes.

So the rows may not be perfectly straight. But even with the wind blowing at about 20 mph from the south straight at us, the boys were excited to get dirty and to get some planting done. I was amazed at what a great discussion we had about the seed size, planting depth, soil moisture, and seed to soil compaction.

To see two very energetic boys, be patient in their planting and gentle, firm and precise covering up the seed made all my efforts worth it. Then to see them recognize the value of a short shower on the seed was also truly amazing.

So as planting season, ramps up – the last few days’ events reinforced the value and excitement of time spent together as a family getting our hands dirty and growing food. It is priceless, rewarding and worth the investment especially as it relates to the values instilled in our family.

Mother Nature is Confused

4-11-13 Sam and Keith in our garden this past Thursday. A bit different from last year at this time. Snow and rain continue this week.

4-11-13 Sam and Keith in our garden this past Thursday. A bit different from last year at this time. Snow and rain continue this week.

Well, it is April 14. When I woke up it was 34 degrees out with the windchill it felt like 19 degrees Fahrenheit. Our weather calendar states that the record high was in 2003 at 89 degrees, and the low was in 1928 at 18 degrees. The record snow fall was in 1983 when we received 13.6 inches. So it looks like this year’s weather will rival some state weather records.

With that said, we have been planting indoors and preparing for spring planting. Mother Nature may be confused, but we certainly are not. And we have our eyes set on many garden joys yet to come.

Last year at this time, we had planted potatoes.

Last year at this time, we had planted potatoes.

Last year, our cold season and our vines were also planted.  But this year is far different.

Last year, our cold season crops and our vines were also planted. But this year is far different.

Sam examines the roots of the young plants as he opens up the bottom of the newspaper pots prior to replanting.

Sam examines the roots of the young plants as he opens up the bottom of the newspaper pots prior to replanting.

Keith is reportting the young plants. Just hoping it warms up so that we can get them in the ground outside.

Keith is repotting the young plants. Just hoping it warms up so that we can get them in the ground outside.

The weather this next week looks good for some moisture possibilities, especially if it were February:). We most definately appreciate the moisure, just wish Mother Nature would understand that it was April and that it really does need to warm up outside...even if we live in Minnesota.

The weather this next week looks good for some moisture possibilities, especially if it were February:). At the time of writing, we have had rain, snow and sleet. We most definitely appreciate the moisture, just wish Mother Nature would understand that it was April, and that it really does need to warm up outside…even if we live in Minnesota.

Spring is Here

Spring is always an exciting time. Especially in the Midwest when we see snow melting and glimmers of hope for the world turning from brown to green. While this snow is coming late in the season, we feel extremely blessed to have the moisture. We still have a way to go to replenish our soils from drought conditions, it is a blessing, and we will definitely take what we can get.

The seed catalogs began arriving early in the year. As we discussed what to plant, the boys did a great job of discussing what they liked and why they felt our shareholders would like the varities of crops from last year and a few new ones. They really did provide great insight into the process.

The seed catalogs began arriving early in the year. As we discussed what to plant, the boys did a great job of discussing what they liked and why they felt our shareholders would like the varieties of crops from last year and a few new ones. They really did provide great insight into the process.

Last weekend when we drove in the yard and Sam saw that the snow was melted off the garden, he said, “Mom it is time to start planting.” While, the excitement to get out there was great! I had to explain to him that so many factors go into when it is time to plant outside including soil temperature. We started some seeds in March and have continued the process as we anticipate the glorious days of spring that are yet to come!

Steve had seen pots made from newspaper and wanted to see what it took to make them, if they were easier to handle and how the plants grew in the long run. It didn't take long for Keith and Steve to make these pots.

Steve had seen pots made from newspaper and wanted to see what it took to make them, if they were easier to handle, and how the plants grew in the long run. It didn’t take long for Keith and Steve to make these pots.

We used a couple of potting soils to compare which one works better.

So in addition to using a couple of different styles of small pots to start our seeds, we also used a couple of potting soils to compare which one works better.

Keith and Sam did a nice job filling the pots and leveling off the dirt. What boy doesn't like the "excuse" to play in dirt and get dirty!

Keith and Sam did a nice job filling the pots and leveling off the soil. What boy doesn’t like the “excuse” to play in dirt and get dirty!

Sam examing one of the seed varieties that we planted.

Sam enjoyed looking at the different seeds and noticed so many differences between seed varieties. So fun to see what they observe at a young age.

Our labels are wood scraps that Steve had around the shop that we were able to "reuse."

Our labels are wood scraps that Steve had around the shop that we were able to “reuse.”

Some people ask, how do you have time for this? You simply cannot beat the quality discussions, fun and learning that occur. This was a great time to work with both boys to develop new skills. Here Sam and I are planting seeds. He is learning how deep to plant, the importance of seed to soil contact for good growth, and labeling our seeds. Where is Keith? Behind the camera lens capturing the moment. As last year, look for many moments to be captured by this budding photographer.

Some people ask, how do you have time for this? You simply cannot beat the quality discussions, fun and learning that occur. This was a great time to work with both boys to develop new skills. Here Sam and I are planting seeds. He is learning how deep to plant, the importance of seed to soil contact for good growth, and labeling our seeds. Where is Keith? Behind the camera lens capturing the moment. As last year, look for many moments to be captured by this budding photographer.

Team work is definately essential to accomplish any of these projects. And it does help when everyone is having fun and contributing to the end goals.

Team work is definitely essential to accomplish any of these projects. And it does help when everyone is having fun and contributing to the end goals.

After planting out in the shop, we transfered the potted trays into our house, watered them and then set them on our heated kitchen floor, right next to our porch which is like a miniature greenhouse.

After planting out in the shop, we transferred the potted trays into our house, watered them and then set them on our heated kitchen floor, right next to our porch which is like a miniature greenhouse.