Opportunities and Challenges

Opportunities and Challenges

We were happy to finishing digging potatoes this week. It was a beautiful fall evening to do this!

We were happy to finishing digging potatoes this week. It was a beautiful fall evening to do this!

It is hard to believe that this growing season is almost behind us. Like every growing season, there have been so many opportunities and challenges during the season.

Opportunities

1. Getting to know all of you better. We truly enjoy this opportunity to have great conversations and laughs with all of you while providing some garden joys for you and your families.

2. Working together as a family. While this can be challenging at times, it truly provides great opportunities of spending time together, learning together and accomplishing many things together.

3. Bringing science to life. When you see science in action it provides awesome hands on learning experiences difficult to replicate.

Challenges

Every challenge presents an opportunity for learning, and we have learned a lot and have plans for improvement next growing season. It is always interesting to discuss these challenges as a family. I am always amazed by our kids’ ingenuity and insightful thinking to provide a workable solution.

1. Peppers – Interesting year of growing peppers. Our bell peppers did not produce as much as they have in the past. We feel the weather simply wasn’t conducive for this vegetable. The new varieties of peppers that we planted are just coming into production now – interesting how the seeds were planted in March and production has just begun on those.

2. Pumpkin/Gourds – A variety of molds set in on the leaves – which killed the leaves and stopped the plant from growing. We also had squash bugs that loved to eat the pumpkins and gourds.

We learned a valuable lesson on seed saving and what is frustrating to both of us is we should have both thought of this! We saved pumpkin seeds from last year’s white pumpkins which were a hybrid pumpkins  A hybrid is created when plant breeders intentionally cross-pollinate two different varieties or species (ex. two different types of pumpkins), aiming to produce an offspring (hybrid) containing the best traits of the two parents. While we knew saving the seeds and planting them would be an experiment and one we could all learn from – the valuable lesson was as follows. Not every plant’s seeds are worth keeping. Hybrids are wonderful plants, but the seed is often sterile or does not reproduce true to the parent plant. Therefore, never save the seed from hybrids.

3. Replanting – lettuce, flowers, cabbage and garlic. Throughout the growing season, we continue to plant new crops of the vegetables to keep you supplied, and fresh veggies growing throughout the year. That is if Mother Nature cooperates. We went from a cool, wet June (in fact the wettest June in Minnesota history) to a very dry few weeks in July. I planted a few different crops of lettuces and flowers in July and had no luck of them growing due to the lack of rain. It didn’t matter if I irrigated. Nothing grew. As soon as we had some rain (about four weeks after I had planted), the lettuce seeds I had planted grew. The flowers on the other hand were delayed immensely and never produced. I planted garlic this spring – no luck – no growth. I am going to attempt to plant some this fall with the hope that we will have garlic this spring.

4. Insects – I mentioned the squash bugs earlier, and we have discussed the potato bugs on previous blogs. To control these insects, we are discussing additional flowers to plant in order to generate more beneficial insects, as well as other options for crop rotation that may help to get rid of these nemesis.

Fall Clean-up has began. Check it out. It doesn’t look the same out there. The boys have been fantastic help. Putting in long days to accomplish the tasks. They are good workers!

Clean-up has begun preparing for the cold weather to set in. Some of the plants have been mulched, the green mulch has been pulled. Above, Keith and Steve are rolling up the irrigation tubing for winter storage.

Clean-up has begun preparing for the cold weather to set in. Some of the plants have been shredded, and the green mulch has been pulled. Above, Keith and Steve are rolling up the irrigation tubing for winter storage.

Garden Science

So what has been eating the potatoes. We think it may be a vole. Don't worry these were recycled and fed to the chickens!

So what has been eating the potatoes. We think it may be voles. Don’t worry these potatoes were recycled as chicken feed!

 

Boxes of Produce

Reminder – This is the last week of the CSA boxes. This is a bonus box due to the interesting growing season. Thank you all for being shareholders this growing season.

Boxes and supplies can be returned at any time or in a few weeks when we connect about the red, white and blue popcorn.

This is how the boys feel when we are done harvesting one of the crops: excited, proud and relieved. Thank you all for a great season! We appreciate your trust and the opportunity to work with all of you!

This is how the boys feel when we are done harvesting one of the crops: excited, proud and relieved. Thank you all for a great season! We appreciate your trust and the opportunity to work with all of you!

Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Carrots – Enjoy these fresh carrots!

Broccoli I enjoy broccoli on my salads or I cook them on the grill and melt some sharp cheddar cheese over it.

Beets – One of my favorite garden vegetables. On the other hand my husband says they taste like dirt:)

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers – remember to cut these up and freeze them so you can use throughout the winter.

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big Mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) and cherry tomatoes. Do you have to many?  Try freezing them by simply cutting out the core, slicing them into quarters and place in a Ziploc bag for soups and chilli this winter.

Onions – No onions in the box this week, but I wanted to remind you that you can also preserve the onions by cutting them up and freezing them. It makes cooking a breeze when you don’t have that mess to clean up when a Tablespoon of onion is called for. It’s a lot easier to reach in the freezer and grab some frozen onions for the recipe.

Sam is holding the potato plant. Potatoes grow under the ground and are a tuber. Sometimes when you pull up the dead plant the potatoes come out attached to the plant like you see here.

Sam is holding the potato plant. Potatoes grow under the ground and are a tuber. Sometimes when you pull up the dead plant the potatoes come out attached to the plant like you see here.

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Masquarde Potatoes –  A tasty potato that everyone in our house is excited to eat. These potatoes can be cooked or baked. I have had luck using this potato in many ways. It is very versatile. Kennebec potatoes – great for baked potatoes.

Butternut Squash – Freeze your leftovers in a cupcake tin and store in a ziplock bag or container. Use throughout the year as your “pumpkin” in your recipes.

Spaghetti SquashI have frozen this squash as well. Cook it up, take it out of the “shell” by using your fork to make it like spaghetti and freeze in portions that your family will use or that a recipe will call for. When thawing, I simply placed the frozen spaghetti squash in boiling water for a few minutes (just enough to thaw), and I was all set to go. 

Carnival Squash –  This squash has a nutty mild flavor and reminds me of an acorn squash.

We have a variety of different colored egg shells because we have different breads of chickens. The brown shelled eggs are from Red Stars, green shells from Araucana and white shelled eggs from Leghorns.

We have a variety of different colored egg shells because we have different breads of chickens. The brown shelled eggs are from Red Stars, green shells from Araucana and white shelled eggs from Leghorns. There is no nutritional difference, and the egg tastes is the same.

Eggs – Enjoy – let us know if you would like any eggs in the future. The boys sell them for $3 per dozen.

Sweet CornThank you to FarGaze Farms for this partnership in growing the sweet corn. Enjoy! To freeze my corn, I simply cook it as if I were going to eat it, cut it off the cob, place it in a container and freeze. To me, it is about keeping it simple and easy.

Fresh Arrangement – Hydrangea and Sedum – these can both be kept as fresh arrangements or dry arrangements. To dry – simply put in a vase with no water – enjoy for the remainder of the fall.

 

Recipe of the Week

Tater Tot Hotdish

A Minnesota favorite…I once had a Minnesotan who was born in California tell me, “I don’t know why you Minnesotans waste perfectly good tater tots on a hotdish.” This is a family favorite and an easy way to use many of your fresh or frozen vegetables.

Brown:

1 pound of hamburger

1 Tablespoon onion

Mix in:

1 can of Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken Soup

Frozen corn, peas and/or green beans

Top with tater tots (I was curious to see how some potatoes cut into French fries would work, but I have not tried that yet.)

Cook in 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1/2 hour or until edges are bubbling. Enjoy!

Brown 1 pound of hamburger and about 1 Tablespoon onion.

Brown 1 pound of hamburger and about 1 Tablespoon onion.

I have also used venison. I am fortunate to have beef from my parents farm that we use. This can be browned over the stove or in the microwave.

I have also used venison. I am fortunate to have beef from my parents farm that we use. This can be browned over the stove or in the microwave.

Add a can of Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken soup - I like using a blend. Add about 1 1/2 cups of vegetables. I used corn, green beans and peas. Mix all of this together with the hamburger.

Add a can of Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken soup – I like using a blend. Add about 1 1/2 cups of vegetables. I used corn, green beans and peas. Mix all of this together with the hamburger.

Top with frozen tator tots. Place in the oven and cook at 350 degrees F for 1/2 hour or until edges are bubbling.

Top with frozen tater tots. Place in the oven and cook at 350 degrees F for 1/2 hour or until edges are bubbling.

Enjoy! Sometimes the boys like to eat it with ketchup on it.

Enjoy! Sometimes the boys like to eat it with ketchup on it.

 

Potato Bread

Check out this link for the recipe and photos to make this delicious bread.

A family favorite is potato bread. It really is quite simple and unbelievable moist. I served these buns with the hotdish along with some fresh melon from last week.

A family favorite is potato bread. It really is quite simple and unbelievable moist. I served these buns with the hotdish along with some fresh melon from last week.

 

 

 

Unveiling Surprises

Unveiling Surprises

The boys still had smiles after the many hours of harvesting.

The boys still had smiles after many hours of harvesting.

It was a busy weekend of harvesting and a few long days out in the garden. At one point as we were peeling back the husks on the ornamental corn Sam said, “Boy this is actually fun!” Every ear of corn unveiled a different surprise and fun colors.

The boys were out with us the entire day. You may wonder how we kept everyone motivated. Three keys were: music, machines and food! Cranking the music was a motivator in the field when I was young, and it continues to make the field work more enjoyable and entertaining today!

Machines always motivate boys because my boys are always interested in cool machines. Machines also help to ease the work load. This work is hard enough so anything that can improve efficiencies is a great thing!

I try hard to make some of their favorite foods for snack breaks and meals to help make the experience more enjoyable and to serve as a good motivator! I remember that my mom worked hard to do that for us, and it was very helpful. It also makes you feel loved and appreciated. I also remember working for some of our neighbors. You would have thought snack/lunch breaks were another meal time, and the food was always amazing!

It is hard for us to believe that the growing season is coming to an end. Mother Nature reminded us of that with its cooler temperatures last week. While we didn’t see a frost at our place, all you needed to do was look at the low-lying areas immediately around us to see that those areas did receive a frost putting an end to the growing season on those areas of the plant.

Look forward to a full box next week as we continue to harvest the crops!

We used a mulcher for the vines and stems so that they would break down and incorporate into the soil for organic matter.

We used a mulcher for the vines and stems so that they would break down and incorporate into the soil for organic matter.

The cats have been quite the entertainment. I caught them playing in the corn stalks.

The cats have been quite entertaining. I caught them playing in the corn stalks.

Boxes of Produce

Reminder – Next we is the last week of the CSA boxes. This is longer than your contract stated due to the interesting growing season!

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. 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.

Carrots – A few to try – more should be ready next week!

Broccoli Some interesting facts from Americas Heartland.

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers

Sunny Boys

Sunny Boys

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big Mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) and cherry tomatoes – Let us know if you need some tomatoes for canning. We ask for canning amounts that you give a free will donation.

Onions – Walla Walla, Snow White, yellow Candy and Giant Red Hamburger (purple) – We pulled this crop this weekend and are drying the remaining onions.

Norland

Norland

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Masquarde Potatoes –  A tasty potato that everyone in our house is excited to eat. Purple Majesty – I used these as French fries this weekend. I cut them into French fries and place in a bowl of ice water for about 20-30 minutes. Then pat dry and place in the deep fat fryer.

Spaghetti SquashChoice of squash. Either Spaghetti or Carnival. Here is a recipe for Spaghetti squash from the Pioneer Woman and Taste of Home.

The Carnival squash has a thick exterior and has spotted and striped colors of white, orange, yellow and green, depending on its level of maturity. The presence of post-harvest green coloring indicates that the squash is still at its peak maturity. As the squashes ages, it will eventually only maintain orange and cream colors. It is semi-dry and firm in texture, fragrant and its flavoring, mild. The squash's true flavors only emerge once cooked. Then its flesh becomes richer, buttery, nutty and sweet.

The Carnival squash has a thick exterior and has spotted and striped colors of white, orange, yellow and green, depending on its level of maturity. The presence of post-harvest green coloring indicates that the squash is still at its peak maturity. As the squashes ages, it will eventually only maintain orange and cream colors. It is semi-dry and firm in texture, fragrant and its flavoring, mild. The squash’s true flavors only emerge once cooked. Then its flesh becomes richer, buttery, nutty and sweet.

Carnival Squash – Choice of squash – see above picture. This squash has a nutty mild flavor and reminds me of an acorn squash.

Sweet CornThank you to FarGaze Farms for this partnership in growing the sweet corn. Enjoy! Here’s an interesting link about sweet corn research from America’s Heartland.

Melons – A variety to choose from. Let us know what you think! Unfortunately we had some interesting Mother Nature challenges here as well which prevented us from having more for each of you. We hope you enjoy this sample, and we hope that next year will provide better opportunities for all of us.

Some of the broom corn was 12 feet long. We cut it down to 8 feet so it was more manageable for you.

Some of the broom corn was 12 feet long. We cut it down to 8 feet so it was more manageable for you.

Fresh Arrangement –ornamental corn, corn bunches and pumpkins

A variety of pumpkins to choose from.

A variety of pumpkins to choose from. We tried some pink pumpkins this year and were pleasantly surprised with their color and weight of this pumpkin.

Garden Science

This ear of corn had a number of kernels sprout and start to grow new corn. Why? Well if the ears of corn didn't "drop" when fully mature moisture gets into the ear of corn and causes this. Drop, in this case, means that it is still attached to the stalk but instead of the plant holding the ear in the upright position, the ear of corn now faces the ground instead of the sun.

This ear of corn had a number of kernels sprout and start to grow new corn. Why? Well if the ears of corn didn’t “drop” when fully mature moisture gets into the ear of corn and causes this to occur. “Drop,” in this case, means that the ear of corn is still attached to the stalk but instead of the plant holding the ear in the upright position, the ear of corn now faces the ground instead of the sun.

 

If you look really closely, you will see small dots on these kernels of corn. The dots are where the silk or the female part of the plant attached to the baby kernel of corn. In other words you could think of it like a belly button.

If you look really closely, you will see small dots on these kernels of corn. The dots are where the silk or the female part of the plant attached to the baby kernel of corn. In other words you could think of it like a belly button. The connection of the female part of the corn, silk, to the baby kernel.

These kernels had a unique curve pattern going around the cob of the plant. Beautiful color as well!

These kernels had a unique curve pattern going around the cob of the plant. Beautiful color as well!

 

Recipe of the Week

Lefse is a family favorite and is part of my family heritage, a cultural food from Scandinavia. I remember making lefse throughout my life and love sharing this with our boys. I am thankful that I have a husband that also loves this food.

After all of our hard work, there were a few potatoes that were stabbed by the potato fork. I used those potatoes to mix up some lefse. On Sunday, afternoon we brought out the lefse grills. The boys couldn't wait!

After all of our hard work, there were a few potatoes that were stabbed by the potato fork. I used those potatoes to mix up some lefse. On Sunday, afternoon we brought out the lefse grills. The boys couldn’t wait! This is a family tradition on my side that we are excited to pass down to the next generation!

Lefse

Dash of salt

4 cups of cooked potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup cream

1 Tablespoon sugar

Mash together the above ingredients. Place in refrigerator to cool for at least 4 hours to 24 hours. When cool add 3/4 cup flour to every 1 cup potatoes. As potatoes get colder use less flour. Mix together and form into logs. Cut each potato log into 4-5 pieces. Roll out like a pie crust to about 1/4 inch or thinner. Fry on grill heated for 425-500 degrees. Lefse will look similar to a quesadilla. Spread with butter and sugar and roll up. Enjoy!

Potato lefse begins with mashed potatoes mixed with butter, cream and sugar. We use our "misfit" potatoes. Potatoes that were odd shapes, really small or that we stabbed with the potato fork while digging.

Potato lefse begins with mashed potatoes mixed with butter, cream and sugar. We use our “misfit” potatoes. Potatoes that were odd shapes, really small or that we stabbed with the potato fork while digging.

After mixing together the cold potato mix and the flour, the mixture is shaped into logs and cut into about 5 pieces.

After mixing together the cold potato mix and the flour, the mixture is shaped into logs and cut into about 5 pieces.

The balls of potatoes are shapped into circles and rolled out until they are about 1/4 inch thick.

The balls of potatoes are flattened out, shaped into circles and rolled out until they are about 1/4 inch thick.

Using a lefse stick, they are then gently rolled out onto a lefse grill. We have two grills. One of our grills is my Grandma Rialson's.

Using a lefse stick, they are then gently lifted from the pastry cloth and rolled out onto a lefse grill. We have two grills. One of our grills is my Grandma’s.

Our lefse sticks also hold meaning. Some are from my Grandma Railson. Keith noticed Grandma's signature on his. Some Steve has made and another is from a family friend. The sticks are used to gently pat bubbles out of the lefse as it is cooked and then used to flip the lefse over to grill each side until light brown spots form. Once cooked on both sides the lefse is placed between a couple kitchen towels and wrapped up to prevent the edges from drying. When all the lefse is cooked, the stack of lefse is quite high!

Our lefse sticks also hold meaning. Some are from my Grandma. Keith noticed Grandma’s signature on his. Steve has also made a few and another is from a family friend. The sticks are used to gently pat bubbles out of the lefse as it is cooked and then used to flip the lefse over to grill each side until light brown spots form. Once cooked on both sides the lefse is placed between a couple of kitchen towels and wrapped up to prevent the edges from drying. When all the lefse is cooked, the stack of lefse is quite high!

Making lefse does take some skill. This is how proud Sam was after flipping his lefse on the grill. The biggest reward ... the awesome taste of fresh lefse with butter and sugar on it and rolled up. We love it!

Making lefse does take some skill. This is how proud Sam was after flipping his lefse on the grill. The biggest reward … the awesome taste of fresh lefse with butter and sugar on it and rolled up. We love it! We then package it up into Ziplock bags and freeze. Thaw out as needed and enjoy!

Nearing the End

Nearing the End

We started the great potato dig this weekend. It is always fun to find the large treasurers hidden under the ground.

We started the great potato dig this weekend. It is always fun to find the large treasurers hidden under the ground.

The season is nearing the end, and Mother Nature reminded us of that today. The boys said that the only way they would warm up is if I put them in the clothes dryer! Now the thought of that made me chuckle! Yes indeed it went from the 70s yesterday to feeling like 40 degrees tonight. We received 4/10 of an inch of rain today. Thankful it wasn’t snow!

Look for fall decorative items next week. It will be a busy weekend of harvesting them, but it is always fun to see what is unveiled!

Boxes of Produce

Reminder – there will be two more weeks of the CSA boxes. This is longer than your contract stated due to the interesting growing season!

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. 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.

Salad Mix – A break this week due to the dry weather we had in early August, this crop did not grow when I planted it. But good news, the next round of lettuce and spinach did grow, and we should have some back in your boxes next week.

Beets – Taking a break from this vegetable to allow them to grow more. Don’t worry, we will empty the garden out before the last box.

Carrots – A few carrots this week. We hope that the remainder of the crop grows well before the end of the growing season.

Green Beans  – This is our last crop of beans – hope you have been freezing or canning them if you haven’t been able to use them.

Broccoli I think I need to give this recipe a try from Pioneer Woman.

Cucumbers – This very likely may be your last cucumbers of the season.

Kohlrabi – Here are some ideas from Martha Stewart.

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big Mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) and cherry tomatoes – Let us know if you need some tomatoes for canning. We ask for canning amounts that you give a free will donation.

Onions – Walla Walla, Snow White, yellow Candy and Giant Red Hamburger (purple) – We pulled this crop this weekend and are drying the remaining onions.

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Kennebec potatoes – great for baked potatoes. Masquarde Potatoes –  A tasty potato that everyone in our house is excited to eat.

Your choice of Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.

Your choice of Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.

Butternut SquashChoice of squash – For those of you that chose this squash, it is one of my favorites. Here is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Spaghetti Squash – Choice of squash – here are different ways to cook it: by boiling or by roasting. Here is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Sweet CornThe last crop of sweet corn is being harvested. Thank you to FarGaze Farms for this partnership in growing the sweet corn. Enjoy!

Enjoy your eggs from the chickens our boys are beyond excited to care for.

Enjoy your eggs from the chickens our boys are beyond excited to care for.  The boys enjoy sharing eggs with their grandparents. My parents both grew up collecting eggs on their home farms.

Eggs – Enjoy some eggs from the Harner Brothers’ chickens.

Fresh Arrangement – Zinnia, Rudbeckia or Sunflowers – Here are a few tips to try to keep your fresh-cut flowers fresh longer. Please provide me feedback if you transfer them to a vase or keep them on your counter in the container you bring them home in.

 

Garden Science

An update on the pumpkins. The Big Moon pumpkins appear to be slowing down in growth. The large one measured 41" and the smaller ones 35" from side to side. We plant to provide more manure and fertilizer to next year's big pumpkin patch.

An update on the pumpkins. The Big Moon pumpkins appear to be slowing down in growth. The large one measured 41″ and the smaller ones 35″ from side to side. We plan to incorporate more manure to fertilizer next year’s big pumpkin patch.

Recipe of the Week

Many of you wonder what we do with all of these tomatoes. Well, we do quite a bit of canning. We were fortunate to receive Steve’s Grandpa and Grandma’s canning supplies when they decided to hang up that past time. Steve grew up canning many vegetables with his family. I on the other hand loathed canning but enjoyed baking!! Now, canning has become quality time with the family and satisfaction of tasty vegetables throughout the year. We highly recommend that you use the University of Minnesota Extension Services’ directions for canning tomatoes. At the end of the season from our tomatoes, we will have about 70 quarts of tomato juice and about 50 pints of salsa. In addition, I will have some tomatoes in the freezer for chilli and soups this winter.

Tomato Sauce

We wash the tomatoes and cut out the core and any bad spots. Then cut them into quarters.

The first thing to do is sanitize your jars and rings. Next, wash the tomatoes and cut out the core and any bad spots. Then cut them into quarters. We use all varieties of tomatoes and feel that the variety enhances the flavor.

 

Next they go into the juicer and are pushed through separating out the skin and seeds from the juice.

Next they go into the juicer and are pushed through separating out the skin and seeds from the juice.

This machine came from Steve's grandparents. Whenever we take it out and brings a smile to our face, and we know that they are smiling down on this whole process.

This machine came from Steve’s grandparents. Whenever we take it out and brings a smile to our faces. We know that they are smiling down on this whole process and getting a chuckle out of the boys’ curiosity.

The juice is then brought to a slow boil in this awesome huge pot that we received for a wedding gift.

The juice is then brought to a slow boil in this awesome huge pot that we received for a wedding gift.

Using sanitized canning jars, we place 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and fill the jars up to the neck of the jar with the juice. Then we wipe the top of the jar off with a clean cloth. After boiling the lids for 3 minutes, we use a magnetic stick to take them out of the water and place on top of the jar.

Using sanitized canning jars, we place 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into each quart jar and fill the jars to right below the neck of the jar with the juice. Then we wipe the top of the jar off with a clean cloth. After boiling the lids for 3 minutes, we use a magnetic stick to take them out of the water and place on top of the jar.

Sanitize your canning jar rings. Then place on top of the lid and tighten.

Sanitize your canning jar rings. Then place on top of the lid and tighten.

Steve is in charge of the pressure cooker and finalizing the canning process. Please see the link above to the Extension Services directions to canning tomatoes. This is what we follow. Steve also makes a call to his Mom every year for a refresher course.

Steve is in charge of the pressure cooker and finalizing the canning process. On the left is the awesome pot I mentioned that we use to bring the tomato juice to a boil. On the right is the pressure cooker. Please see the link above to the Extension Services’ directions to canning tomatoes. This is what we follow. Steve also makes a call to his Mom every year for a refresher course and a good visit.

After the tomatoes come out of the canner, you begin to hear the lids "pop" or seal. It is music to our ears. We then use this tomato juice as our base for spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. My dad enjoys drinking the tomato juice as well.

After the jars of tomato juice come out of the canner, they are placed on kitchen towels leaving about an inch or so of cooling space around them. You should begin to hear the lids “pop” or seal. It is music to our ears. After a day, I label the top of the lid with the date, and what is in the jar. We then use this tomato juice throughout the year as our base for spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. For the sauces, we combine the juice, tomato paste, onions, garlic and herbs to taste. You may also enjoy it just as tomato juice – it is one of my Dad’s garden favorites.

Lessons Learned Passed and Present

Lessons Learned Passed and Present

Have you met the new additions to our place? The boys would love to show you Speedy and Warrior.

Have you met the new additions to our place? The boys would love to show you Speedy and Warrior.

Lessons learned and applied today are from both our past and our present. This past weekend as we helped my dad with his restored Allis Chalmers it was easy to reflect on what I learned from both my grandparents who were farmers, what I learned from my dad who is a farmer and what we are trying to teach our children. Our children are applying what they are learning by sharing their knowledge about agriculture with their friends and teachers, and this past week Keith was sharing his knowledge at the Minnesota Farm Bureau booth at the Minnesota State Fair.

This weekend was my hometown celebration. My dad has restored 10 Allis Chalmers tractors. Every year, we help him bring the tractors in for display. I had the privilege of driving my Grandpa's WD45 that dad restored. It was a relaxing view into town.

This weekend was my hometown celebration. My dad has restored 10 Allis Chalmers tractors. Every year, we help him bring the tractors in for display. I had the privilege of driving my Grandpa’s WD45 that dad restored. It was a relaxing view into town.

If you have a question about agriculture, please feel free to ask us. If we don’t know, we can connect you with a farmer or a professional in agriculture that would be able to answer your questions.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”  ― Marie Curie

The past few weeks have also been a busy time preparing for the state fair. Keith shared his farm story while working at the Farm Bureau building. Thanks to all who stopped by.

The past few weeks have also been a busy time preparing for the state fair. Keith shared his farm story while working at the Farm Bureau building. Thanks to all who stopped by.

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. Sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Preparing your boxes of produce.

Preparing your boxes of produce.

Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Salad Mix – A mixture of Black Seeded Simpson and Red Oak Leaf. The lettuce I planted a few weeks ago is growing. I am hoping to harvest this next week.

Beets – The whole plant is edible.

Green Beans  – This is a new crop of beans.

Broccoli Great to enjoy in your salads or cooked with some cheese sprinkled over it.

Carrots – Finally some growing conditions to produce some carrots!

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are in the gourd family Cucurbitacae. There are three main varieties of cucumbers: slicing, pickling and burpless.

Cucumbers – Nearing the end of this season

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) – Let us know if you need some tomatoes for canning. We ask that for canning amounts that you give a free will donation. Here are some salsa ideas from Taste of Home.

Onions – Walla Walla, Snow White, yellow Candy and Giant Red Hamburger (purple)

Midnight Moon Potatoes

Midnight Moon Potatoes – potatoes grow under the ground. It is not a root, but rather it is called a tuber.

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Midnight Moon – a fun new variety this year, purple on the outside and white on the inside. Are you wondering more about the nutrition of these colored varieties? Check this handbook out.

Butternut SquashChoice of squash tonight. For those of you that chose this squash, it is one of my favorites. Here are a few recipes from Martha Stewart.

Spaghetti SquashEnjoy this as spaghetti. Here are different ways to cook it: by boiling or by roasting.

Sweet CornThe next crop should be ready next week.

Flowers for you this week.

Flowers for you this week.

Fresh Arrangement – Zinnia, Rudbeckia or Sunflowers – Here are a few tips to try to keep your fresh-cut flowers fresh longer. I have tried the bleach trick, and it has worked for me.

Garden Science

Did you know that we gather the rain water from our shop roof into this water tank to irrigate the mulched areas in our garden. We use gravity to flow the water into the irrigation lines. The rains filled the tank up!

Did you know that we gather the rain water from our shop roof into this water tank to irrigate the mulched areas in our garden. We use gravity to flow the water into the irrigation lines. The rains filled the tank up!

 

Recipe of the Week

Pumpkin Bread is a favorite. I use butternut squash that I have cooked and frozen as my "pumpkin" in this recipe. It works great!

Pumpkin Bread is a favorite. I use butternut squash that I have cooked and frozen as my “pumpkin” in this recipe. It works great!

Pumpkin Bread

1 2/3 cup flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup cold water

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin (I use 1 cup cooked squash

Combine flour, sugar, butter, soda, spices and salt in bowl. Add 1/3 cup cold water, eggs, and pumpkin (squash) mix well. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool on wire rack.

Source: Pat Kuznik – West Polk County: Blue Ribbon Favorites Minnesota 4-H Foundation

 

Combine: 1 2/3 cup flour; 1 1/2 cup sugar; 1/3 cup butter softened; 1 teaspoon soda; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg;  1/4 teaspoon cloves;  and a pinch of salt.

Combine: 1 2/3 cup flour; 1 1/2 cup sugar;
1/3 cup butter softened; 1 teaspoon soda; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg;
1/4 teaspoon cloves;
and a pinch of salt.

Next add and mix into dry ingredients: 1/3 cup cold water;  2 eggs; 1 cup canned pumpkin (I use 1 cup cooked squash). Place into loaf pan or into cupcakes tin.

Next add and mix into dry ingredients: 1/3 cup cold water;
2 eggs; 1 cup canned pumpkin (I use 1 cup cooked squash). Place into loaf pan or into muffin tin.

Place batter in muffin liners that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake muffins for about 12 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Place batter in muffin liners that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake muffins for about 12 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!