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.

Mother Nature’s Reminders

Mother Nature’s Reminders

Mother Nature always has a way of reminding us who is in control. It is certainly not us.

The past few days we were busy accomplishing a lot of jobs, and we were beginning to feel pretty good about how things were looking in the garden.

This weekend, we put up the electric fence around the sweetcorn to protect it from curious creatures like raccoons. The fencing is powered by a solar panel.

This weekend, we put up the electric fence around the sweetcorn to protect it from curious creatures like raccoons. The fencing is powered by a solar panel.

We irrigated the tomatoes this week to provide for more even moisture throughout the growing season as the tomatoes are starting to grow.

We irrigated the tomatoes this week to provide for more even moisture throughout the growing season as the tomatoes grow.

Rain water captured from the roof of our shop is used to

Rain water captured from the roof of our shop is used to irrigate the crops. We use gravity flow to move the water to the plants.

Last night, Mother Nature moved in with a vengeance with straight winds over 70 mph. The skies were green which usually means hail. We were fortunate to not have the hail or tornadoes at our place. Others in the area were not as fortunate. Rain came with the winds, but difficult to measure with the force in which it was upon us.

When the skies had settled and it was safe to emerge from our house and our basement. We felt blessed to only have branches scattered throughout the yard, no trees were down. We still had all of the buildings. The crops were there, while they were a mangled mess.

I was thankful that we made a mad dash to harvest a few crops that grow above ground before the storm hit. They would have likely been damaged from the winds and blowing debris.

Sweet corn standing tall tasseling this weekend. The thoughts of sweet corn in the near future.

Sweet corn standing tall tasseling this weekend. The thoughts of sweet corn in the near future.

The sweet corn was flat after last night's storm. We are not real hopeful of pollination occurring from the tassel to the silks on the ears of corn after last nights storm. In the background you will see our neighbors field corn. What this photo does not show, is that it to was affected. While the genetics on the field corn plants have been selected to withstand high winds, only time will tell what the end harvests will look like for all of these crops. We are thankful that we did not have hail or tornadoes last night.

The sweet corn was flat after last night’s storm. We are not real hopeful of pollination occurring from the tassel to the silks on the ears of corn after last nights storm.
In the background you will see our neighbors field corn. What this photo does not show, is that it to was affected. While the genetics on the field corn plants have been selected to withstand high winds, only time will tell what the end harvests will look like for all of these crops. We are thankful that we did not have hail or tornadoes last night.

The popcorn was not yet pollinating so there is still hope for a crop. We need to inspect the corn plant more closely to see if the tops of the plant are still intact.

The popcorn was not yet pollinating so there is still hope for a crop. We need to inspect the corn plant more closely to see if the tops of the plant are still intact.

Garden Science

Have you ever taken the time to notice the differences between the plant stems and leaves. It is really fascinating the shapes and textures.

Take a look at the spikes on the stem and the cucumber itself.

Take a look at the spikes on the stem and the cucumber itself.

The burble beans stems are purple. While green bean stems are green (check those out in the photo below).

The burble beans stems are purple. While green bean stems are green (check those out in the photo below).

Pumpkin stems feel hollow compared to other plants. While they are round, they are not perfectly symmetrical. They to also have little prickles on them.

Pumpkin stems feel hollow compared to other plants. While they are round, they are not perfectly symmetrical. They to also have little prickles on them.

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.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – With a lot of lettuce in your boxes, check out Martha Stewart’s lettuce salad recipes. 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. 

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.

Kale – Here are some recipes for this vegetable.

Kohlrabi – You either have a purple or green kohlrabi in your box. Look here for more information on how to use this vegetable.

Beet –  Dark Detroit Red Beets – The University of Minnesota provides direction on how to pickle beets here.

Sugar Snap Peas – A healthy harvest for you – eat the pod and the peas. These are a shareholder favorite. Fact: Minnesota is the second largest state for growing green peas for processing (meaning the peas will be frozen or canned peas like we buy in the store).           

Green Beans growing from the flowers of the plant.

Green Beans growing from the flowers of the plant.

Green Beans – Enjoy the first of the season. Here are some recipe ideas from America’s Heartland.

Radishes – French Breakfast radishes – radish recipes.

Summer Squash and zucchini – The zucchini took off this week. Here are some recipes to try from Taste of HomeLearn more about the golden egg hybrid.

Onions – Yellow onions this week.

Fresh cut arrangement – hosta leaves, lilies and sweet peas.

Recipe of the Week

Veggies on the Grill

Many of you have mentioned that you like to put your veggies on the grill. I simply combined a variety cut into 1/4 inch slices, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled some Kosher salt and arugula on them. The beets added a beautiful color to the dish.

Many of you have mentioned that you like to put your veggies on the grill. I simply combined a variety cut into 1/4 inch slices, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled some Kosher salt and arugula on them. The beets added a beautiful color to the dish.