Obstacles and Opportunities

New chicken coop built this summer.

New chicken coop built this summer.

As I was putting the boys to bed tonight, I asked them what we should say in tonight’s blog post. They said, “tell them about our chickens.” I think they wanted me to communicate that we are now up to four eggs per day. We expect to be having eight laying anytime in the near future. Who knows what the future brings for this project. We are just happy to have this as a great learning experience for everyone. We completed the rebuilding project earlier in August. The first chicken coop that we built last year, burned down right before Thanksgiving. While a painful learning experience. It has been an amazing journey. Thank you to all who have helped us with this project!

There are a lot of surprises unveiling themselves in the garden as we move enter September.

There are a lot of surprises unveiling themselves in the garden as we move into September. Plenty of fantastic fall colors unveiling themselves. I am not sure if I am ready for fall, but I love the pumpkins and amazing colors that fall brings us.

Garden Science

As we dig our potatoes we ponder and have ungoing discussions regarding the infestation of potato bugs that killed the plants to early cutting our potato yield.

As we dig our potatoes, we ponder the best way to handle  the infestation of potato bugs that killed the plants to early cutting our potato yield.

As some of you may recall, we discussed our potato bug issue last year. So as we moved into this year’s growing season, we all decided to plant beneficial plants which would bring in beneficial insects such as lady bugs which would hopefully eat the potato bug larvae. We planted marigolds and dill.

The jury is still out on whether or not beneficial plants can generate good insects or enough good insects to help control the infestation. I believe that the dill and the marigolds had delayed growth due to our wet spring, and therefore were not mature enough at the potato bug larvae stage to bring in beneficial insects to eat the larvae. Both dill and marigolds will re-seed themselves therefore germinating earlier next year. We hope that this will bring in beneficial insects earlier on in the growing season and be present at the potato bug larvae stage to eat these bad larvae. In addition, we are investigating organic insecticides and conventional insecticides to investigate best options for us in the future. We will keep you posted on our decisions.

It is absolutely frustrating to see a beautiful crop eaten away by these insects. In addition, they have moved over to the tomatoes and continue to live in the garden even after they have eaten all of the leaves off of the potatoes. We are fortunate that we still have a potato crop to harvest. It would be a beautiful crop if the potato bugs had not eaten the leaves, which killed the plants and stopped the potato plants growth several weeks early. Interesting as well is that the blue potatoes and the masquerade potatoes were the last potatoes that they were interested in eating. I believe that in the creation/development of this variety there must have been something that also deterred potato bugs from eating the leaves. I see this as a bonus. Plus, I only wish we would have planted more of the masquerade potato as they were delicious!

The types of decisions I mentioned above are decisions that farmers regularly have to make regarding their crops. Insects, weeds, plant diseases and weather can devastate a crop. Making the decisions that best fit your customers and your family take research, resources, experts and faith that you have done due diligence to provide healthy, delicious and safe food for your customers, your children and your family. While these types of challenges are obstacles to reaching our goals they are a great opportunity for us to learn more and grow more knowledgeable in the process.

Boxes of Produce 

Wondering how to store and preserve some of your vegetables. Check out my post from last year.

Please remember to return any cups or plastic containers in your box each week. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your produce before eating.

Yes, I know ... it must be a rough day harvesting in the garden if we are wearing a dirt bike helmet. Can you tell Keith is excited to wear this in the soap box derby car race.

Yes, I know … it must be a rough day harvesting in the garden if we are wearing a dirt bike helmet. Can you tell Keith is excited to wear this in the soap box derby car race.

Black Seeded Simpson Elite Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops.

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – reddish lettuce

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Beet leaves and Beets – Some fun facts about beets.

Broccoli

Tomatoes – Fourth of July (medium size red), Yellow Girls, Romas (long, narrow), Big Boy and super sweet cherry tomatoes 100 . Looking for ways to use your tomatoes, check out this America’s Heartland for some ideas.

Peppers – Red Beauty, Golden Summer, Orange Blaze and California Wonder peppers.

Onions – A few fresh onions to put in a recipe here or there.

Green Beans – This type of green beans are Providers.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes – great for baking and Norland potatoes – great for mashed potatoes. Check out the potato harvest in Colorado. Searching for more ideas for your potatoes. Here’s the link to a variety of Martha Stewart’s potato recipes.

Cucumbers – Varieties include Fancipak and Straight Eights . The heat seemed to get the best of this crop the last few weeks. Time will only tell if it will come out of it. Here are some fun facts about cucumbers.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors FarGaze Farms – the Peterson families for this delicious vegetable! Check out last year’s post to see how we freeze sweet corn. Also, see America’s Heartland to learn more about how sweet corn is raised.

Vermicelli (spaghetti) squash – Our family enjoys this eaten just like spaghetti with our favorite homemade spaghetti sauce, some hamburger and topped with some parmesan cheese. Last year, we prepared our squash by boiling it. See how to prepare it here as well as additional recipes from Martha Stewart.

Herbs – Basil, cilantro and thyme

Fresh cut arrangement – A variety of sunflowers, Rudbeckia, Hosta leaves and Hydrangeas for you.

Zucchini Tomato Salsa Recipe

Looking for something delicious to try for the Vikings season opener. Give this a try. Serve it over a burger, chips, baked potato or sour cream.

•1 cup seeded chopped tomatoes

•1/2 cup diced zucchini

•1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper

•1 small onion, diced

•1 tablespoon brown sugar

•2 teaspoons lime juice

•2 teaspoons cider vinegar

•1 teaspoon chopped seeded jalapeno pepper

•1 garlic clove, minced

•1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

•1/8 teaspoon salt

•1/8 teaspoon pepper

•Tortilla chips

Directions

•In a small bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salsa to a serving bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 2 cups.

Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn the skin. Avoid touching your face.

Source: tasteofhome.org

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