Window of Opportunity

Window of Opportunity

When planting season rolls around it feels somewhat like ABC’s Wide World of Sports would say, “The thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat.” Meaning if you can beat the weather and get your crop in the ground, you feel victorious, thankful and relieved. Where as, if Mother Nature is relentless with poor weather conditions and the window of opportunity to plant is slim to none, it definitely feels like the agony of defeat. But in agriculture, you can’t give up. Persistence and optimism is a must to complete the task at hand.

The weather has definitely jumped from winter to spring. The plants are growing like crazy with the highs in the low 80s with humidity. If this weather continues, it is likely that the first delivery will be the first week of June. Look for additional details in your email box this weekend.

Here is an update on what was accomplished this past week. A lot of crops are growing and changing. Pray for cooperative weather throughout the growing season. After all, we can’t control Mother Nature. We can only control our attitudes and positive outlook.

What’s Growing 

The rhubarb is ready to be harvested. We do sell additional rhubarb throughout the growing season for $3 per pound. Part of the proceeds is donated to charities the boys have chosen: American Red Cross and Gillette's Children's Hospital.

The rhubarb is ready to be harvested. We do sell additional rhubarb throughout the growing season for $3 per pound. Part of the proceeds is donated to charities the boys have chosen: American Red Cross and Gillette’s Children’s Hospital.

5-23-14 cabbage

Great news, the soil was dry enough this weekend to complete 90 percent of the planting. Here you see us planting purple cabbage. All that we have left are the tomato and pepper plants.

5-23-14 baby carrots

Here is a carrot that emerged from the ground this weekend. The white root is what will grow into the carrot.

5-27-14 new radish

This is a small radish. The red root will grow into the delicious vegetable, or as the boys say, “the hot and spicy vegetable.”

5-27-14 Keith with radishes

In addition to the radishes, the spinach, peas and some lettuce varieties are growing in the new raised bed.

5-27-14 green beans emerging Sam

The crops we planted the weekend of May 18 emerged from the ground today. Here Sam is examining a green bean plant. Note the brown part by his fingers is the seed pod that is still attached to the plant.

 

Planting Update

5-24-14 Keith, Steve and Sam measuring between mulch rows

The boys learn a variety of skills while in the garden. Here they are learning how to read a tape measure as Steve measures the distance needed between the rows that have mulch.

Underneath the mulch, we installed a drip irrigation system so that we can supply the vine and tomato crops with a more consistent water supply.

Underneath the mulch, we installed a drip irrigation system so that we can supply the vine and tomato crops with a more consistent water supply. Throughout the season, I have the boys researching the crops to learn more about their water and nutrient needs. Look for the kids’ updates in future blogs.

5-24-14 Sam pulling mulch

There is a mulching machine on the market, but we have not yet invested in it. Instead we are building strong boys. They like to pull the roll across the field to help build their strength for the sports they enjoy playing.

5-25-14 Keith fertilizing vines

After transplanting our vine plants and planting some seeds, we watered and fertilized them.

5-25-14 Keith planting broom corn

We also planted a few more seeds including cucumbers, several pumpkin and gourd varieties and broom corn.

Of course, all work and no play doesn't work well. The boys again found great joy in looking for worms and creating their own "pool."

Of course, all work and no play doesn’t work well. The boys again found great joy in looking for worms and creating their own “pool.”

Finally Planting

Finally Planting

Last weekend, we were finally able to plant in the garden. After receiving 2 1/2 inches of rain on May 11, it was dry enough to plant. In addition to the overly wet conditions, the weather was cold which made it difficult for the soil to dry in the fields.

With the variety of conditions that Mother Nature has presented, we knew that yet again we were racing the weather because the forecast was for thunderstorms. So when we went to bed on Sunday, we knew what we had in was what we were going to get in until later in the week.

We did receive 45/100 of rain on Monday. While we were grateful for the moisture (take a look at the National Drought conditions),  we were thankful that we didn’t receive the 3 inches that others received – because it is getting late in the planting season. Our plans are to finish planting this weekend!

I will keep you posted on when deliveries will begin and will provide you with any calendar changes for pick-up and delivery. The projected weather forecast looks to present good growing conditions, but only time will tell.

5-16-14 Sam, Steve and Keith rye

You will notice strips of winter rye in the garden. We planted it last fall as a cover crop with the intent that it would help improve organic matter in our garden. Our experiment is to evaluate the differences between areas where the winter rye was planted vs where no winter rye was planted.

5-16-14 Keith and Sam repotted spinach

You may recall from an earlier post that we were quite surprised this spring when we pulled back a floating row cover to find spinach growing. After the record setting cold tempratures, I never expected anything would still be alive! The science experiment continues. We transplanted it into some pots to see how long this spinach lasts this growing season. The young leaves taste good, and the older leaves are more bitter.

Thanks to our neighbors Far-Gaze Farms we were able to till under the winter rye grass more quickly and efficiently in order to prepare the seed bed.

Thanks to our neighbors Far-Gaze Farms we were able to till under the winter rye grass more quickly and efficiently in order to prepare the seed bed.

5-16-14 Keith dragging

Thanks to another farmer neighbor, Beckman Farms, who had this handy small John Deere drag in his tree grove. This worked great to pull behind this old lawn tractor. Keith enjoyed this new found responsibility.

5-17-14 Steve and Sam tilling

After the discing and dragging, the tiller went through the garden to reduce soil clumps so that the seeds could be covered adequately with soil for good germination. Note, ear protection is required when running this type of equipment on our farm.

5-17-14 Sam planting onions

After measuring out row spacing, planting began. Sam was busy planting four different kinds of onions.

5-17-14 Steve and Sam planting

We then began planting, a variety of flowers, lettuces, spinach, beets, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, green beans, popcorn and ornamental corn.

5-17-14 Sam with potatoes

We planted seven different types of potatoes. In the photo, at left is a Midnight Moon variety and on the right, a Purple Majesty. I simply love the gifts from the garden, and the beauty it provides on a plate for all of us to enjoy!

5-17-14 Keith and Steve potatoes

Planting potatoes is great exercise. Keith and Steve are covering up the deep trenches that are needed for the potatoes. Potatoes are planted in a trench about 4 inches deep. We have a trencher that we can attach to the tiller to dig the trench.

5-16-14 Keith and Sam with chicks

In addition to the activity in the garden, we have been hatching chicks at the boys’ school. What a great learning activity for the students to be “farmers” for a few weeks.

As I looked across the section this morning at about 6 a.m., I saw my neighbors already in the field planting trying again to beat Mother Nature. I thought it was important to note that while the equipment we use may be different, the end outcome is the same. No matter the size, farmers of all sizes and commodities have a desire to provide good quality products for the end consumer. Farmers all share an inborn fondness of the for the environment, their crops and their animals. It is difficult to help those who have not experienced this to fully understand it. It may be best described as a love for what they do and an inherint desire to always succeed through the extreme circumstances we know will present themselves.

As I looked across the section this morning at about 6 a.m., I saw my neighbors already in the field planting trying again to beat Mother Nature. I thought it was important to note that while the equipment we use may be different, the end outcome is the same. No matter the size, farmers of all sizes and commodities have a desire to provide good quality products for the end consumer. Farmers all share an inborn fondness for the environment, their crops and their animals. It is difficult for those who have not experienced this to fully understand it. It may be best described as a love for what they do and an inherint desire to always succeed and to do their very best through the extreme circumstances we know will present themselves.

Planting Continues

Planting Continues

This week provided a few brief days to do some outside work and planting. But our time working full-time jobs and the weather did not align. Our garden area remains wet and the forecast for this week looks wet as well. Thankfully, we had some alternatives to get some plants growing: pallet gardens, pots and a new raised bed garden.

Below is a glimpse of what is “growing on.” In addition, we had a request for directions to making newspaper pots.

All of these steps involve the family. Sam told Steve this week after scooping the soil into the new raised bed, “Dad, boy am I tired. We worked so hard today.”

The smiles on their faces when they see their plants growing and when they see the results of their efforts is priceless. Hopefully, all of these things are teaching them lessons to laugh a lifetime.

Sam is showing us the lettuce that has sprouted and is growing in our pallet gardens.

Sam is showing us the lettuce that has sprouted and is growing in our pallet gardens.

Keith planted radishes, spinach, and lettuce in the pallet gardens.

Keith planted radishes, spinach, and lettuce in the pallet gardens.

Sam and I were busy planting again. He made holes for the seeds with his fingers and dropped the seeds into the holes and gently covered them up.

Sam and I were busy planting again. He made holes for the seeds with his fingers and dropped the seeds into the holes and gently covered them up. We planted a few varieties of pumpkins, peppers, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli.

Sam is holding a pumpkin seed (white oval) and cauliflower seed (small black seed).

Sam is holding a pumpkin seed (white oval) and cauliflower seed (small black seed).

 

Science Experiment

Our first science project is in the garden. We covered the cold crops last fall with a floating row cover which was covered by snow throughout the winter. When we uncovered it about three weeks ago, we were surprised to see the spinach was still alive.

Our first science project is in the garden. We covered the cold crops last fall with a floating row cover which was covered by snow throughout the winter. When we uncovered it about three weeks ago, we were surprised to see the spinach was still alive.

5-3-14 Sam planting in donut container

Sam wanted to experiment and recycle a donut container to try to grow seeds in this year. We poked holes in the top, and Sam planted Connecticut Field pumpkins.

5-3-14 Watering the new plants

The boys brought in our newly planted seeds and gently watered them. Now the waiting for germination begins. Even thought the plants can be a challenge to get around. It is so fun to see the boys’ excitement when they begin to see the plants emerge.

 

A week later, our pumpkins, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli are growing.

A week later, our pumpkins, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli are growing.

Building Project

We had to move our propane tank last fall. So we decided to transition that area into a carrot garden since our soil seems a bit challenged to grow good carrots.

We had to move our propane tank last fall. So we decided to transition that area into a carrot garden since our soil seems a bit challenged to grow good carrots.

 

The boys worked hard and framed it up last weekend. And filled it with composted soil last week.

The boys worked hard and framed it up last weekend. And filled it with composted soil last week.

 

Yesterday, Keith, Sam and I planted a variety of cold season crops in this new raised bed garden. It is sure a good thing we have this to plant in as our garden has been to wet to plant. We are hopeful that next weekend will be a drier weekend to get into the garden.

Yesterday, Keith, Sam and I planted a variety of cold season crops in this new raised bed garden. It is sure a good thing we have this to plant in as our garden has been to wet to plant. We are hopeful that next weekend will be a drier weekend to get into the garden.

Newspaper Pots

A friend asked me for the step by step instructions for making the pots. Steve told me there is a gadget you can buy to make them, but this is how we construct them at no cost.

Start with a regular newspaper cut the newspaper when it is folded out into three sections.

Start with a regular newspaper cut the newspaper when it is folded out into three sections.

Cut each section to 7 3/4 inches long.

Cut each section to 7 3/4 inches long.

This will leave you with three sections.

This will leave you with three sections.

Once they are cut, fold over about 2 inches, lengthwise.

Once they are cut, fold over about 2 inches, lengthwise.

Our gadget to make the tubes with is a caulk tube which is clamped onto a sawhorse.

Our gadget to make the pots with is the bottom of a caulk tube which is clamped onto a sawhorse.

The part that is folded over is the section you wrap around the tube. This will give you stronger support as your pot.

The part that is folded over is the section you wrap around the tube. This will give you stronger support as your pot.

Once it is wrapped around your tube, twist the access and push/fold down into the bottom of the caulk tube.

Once it is wrapped around your tube, twist the access and push/fold down into the bottom of the caulk tube.

Then we use an old baby food container that fits into the bottom of the caulk tube and push it down to firm up the bottom of the pot.

Then we use an old baby food container that fits into the bottom of the caulk tube and push it down to firm up the bottom of the pot.

Lift it up, and you have your finished pot. Since the news paper is biodegradeable (made from trees), I transplant them into the garden in their newspaper pots and open up the bottom to help the roots take hold of their new surroundings.

Lift it up, and you have your finished pot. Since the news paper is biodegradable (made from trees), I transplant them into the garden in their newspaper pots and open up the bottom to help the roots take hold of their new surroundings.

Anxious to get growing

Happy Spring! Welcome to our new share holders. As we begin another growing year, we hope the weekly blog updates will serve as a good resource along the way.

Mother Nature has been relentless in her weather this year challenging even the hardiest of Minnesotans. One of the coldest, in the top 10, and snowiest, 15th, and second wettest April in Minnesota history. So while we remain optimistic and excited about the growing season, each weather challenge has us wondering – what will this growing season be like? We wait for the soil to dry out and to warm up so that the seeds will not rot in the soil but rather grow and flourish.

Our planting did begin over a month ago – in pots that is and continues in pots even though the weather has remained chilly. We will then transplant what has started into the soil once the soil and weather conditions are right.

As the season, progresses we will keep you posted on when deliveries begin. We are excited to have you as part of this growing journey and hope that you will enjoy the bounties of the garden and learn something along the way.

Great news. While the weather has still been chilly, and we have not yet been in the garden planting...the rhubarb is growing!

Great news. While the weather has still been chilly, and we have not yet been in the garden planting…the rhubarb is growing!

Even with snow on the ground, we started some of our plants at the end of March. Sam is busy filling up the pots before planting.

Even with snow on the ground, we started planting at the end of March. Sam is busy putting soil in pots before planting. We planted a variety of squash, pumpkins, gourds and cucumbers.

What type of potting soil do we use. We use the Miracle Grow potting soil which has fertilizer and moisture control to help these plants get started. And yes, the boys do sling the bags of soil around.

We use the Miracle Grow potting soil which has fertilizer and moisture control to help these plants get off to a good start. And yes, the boys do sling the bags of soil around.

Again this year, Keith and Steve made some of our pots out of newspaper. Since the newspaper will naturally degrade in the soil, it makes transplanting very simple. Just place the pot and plant in the soil in the larger pot or in the garden.

Again this year, Keith and Steve made some of our pots out of newspaper. Because newspaper is made from trees, it will naturally degrade in the soil. It makes transplanting very simple. Just place the pot and plant in the soil in the larger pot or in the garden.

 

When the plants come out of the soil, it is always fun to see how the first leaves, cotyledons, emerge out of the seed pod. See diagram below from realcurriculum.

When the plants come out of the soil, it is always fun to see how the first leaves, cotyledons, emerge out of the seed pod. See diagram below from realcurriculum.com.

Seed emergence showing cotyledon.

The pots are placed on our heated kitchen floor and the boys are responsible for watering.

The pots are placed on our heated kitchen floor and the boys are responsible for watering. So while it is cold and wet outside. There are still plants growing, and we are ready for Mother Nature to give us an opening to plant!

 

On another note, the boys are still enjoying their chickens. This winter even in the extreme, cold winter - through Farm Bureau, 4-H and Montessori connections the boys were anxious to expand the flock with a some different breeds of chickens. It has been a good learning experience. Here the boys are pictured with the "teenagers" as they call them. Not chicks and not old enough to be laying yet.

On another note, the boys are still enjoying their chickens. This winter, even in the extreme, cold weather – through Farm Bureau, 4-H and Montessori connections – the boys expanded the flock with a some different breeds of chickens. It has been a good learning experience and one they have really enjoyed. The boys are pictured with the “teenagers” as they call them.  They are about two months old – Not chicks and not old enough to be laying yet. They should start laying eggs when they are about 4 months old. Many factors can determine exact timing – weather, environment etc.