Hope

Hope

Hope has been top of mind this week. Hope is defined as a noun as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen or a feeling of trust, or as a verb as wanting something to happen or be the case. Scripture defines hope as a strong and confident expectation.

Weather

As we have watched the spotty storms come across the state, we hoped that rain would come with no storm damage. We hoped the seeds that we had patiently waited to grow…would grow once it rained. It seems nothing is as good as rain from Mother Nature.

We have been lucky, and our hope was met this past week. We hope and pray for those that were not as fortunate.

Efforts

We hope that our efforts will be fruitful and not in vain. We hope that our children will learn life lessons and that our efforts to accomplish farm tasks before and after baseball games will teach time management, follow through, commitment, hard work and a sense of self-accomplishment.

So while we recognize that the end outcomes are truly out of our control. We hope that the weather and the efforts will result in sharing the joys of the garden with many this growing season.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Garden Science

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Potato beetle monitoring continues. These are potato beetle eggs on the underside of the potato plant. They will hatch into potato beetles.

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This is a young potato beetle.

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An adult potato beetle. We continue to monitor for all stages of this insect to prevent an overpopulation that can devastate the potato crop, and as we have seen before, than move to devastating the tomato crop. Learn more about the Colorado Potato Beetles from the University of Minnesota.

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.

Rhubarb – One pound equals about 3 cups. Wash, cut the ends off, cut off any bad parts damaged by wind, chop into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces. No need to peel. You can freeze it in a Ziploc bag (no blanching) and use for months to come. Our family loves it in muffins, breads, jam, pie, crisp, sauce and torte. Check out earlier posts on rhubarb for recipe ideas.

Asparagus – Fresh cut asparagus from the Chute’s Farm Fresh Gardens in Aitkin, Minnesota. These farmers are friends of ours who we know from Farm Bureau and also the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program. They snap the asparagus vs. cutting so that you are getting all edible stalk and should have very minimal amount that you do not eat. Enjoy! Check out these recipes.

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Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

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

Red Salad Bowl Lettuce – Adds beautiful color to your salad. This is a crop that has struggled this spring. We did plant another round of crops this week of all varieties including the lettuces.

Kale – Mix it in your salads for a variety of texture and color. Learn about the nutritional value of Kale here and check out the recipe ideas from Martha Stewart.

Spinach – The new crop of spinach has struggled this season. So glad to be able to harvest it this week.

Radish – Cherry Belle radishes – check out these recipes.

Chives – wash then chop up chives into small pieces. I enjoy using them in potatoes on the grill.

Cilantro – Fresh cilantro has such a wonderful aroma.

Fresh cut arrangement – Hosta Leaves

Recipe of the Week

With the onset of lettuce, kale and spinach in your boxes this week. Give this family favorite a try.

strawberry spinach salad (2)

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad – Super easy and delicious!

Strawberry Dressing

3 Tablespoons apple juice

2 Tablespoons strawberry spreadable fruit

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salad

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

8 cups bite-size pieces spinach

1 cup strawberries, stems removed and strawberries cut in half

1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (1 oz)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
  1. In small bowl, mix all dressing ingredients until blended; set aside.
  2. Spray 10-inch skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in skillet 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F). Remove chicken to cutting board.
  3. Add dressing to skillet; stir to loosen any pan drippings.
  4. Cut chicken into slices. Among 4 plates, divide spinach. Top with chicken, strawberries and cheese. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Source: Taste of Home

 

What’s Growing On

What’s Growing On

The unpredictable weather of May has created interesting growing conditions. After a rush to get everything planted, it was followed by a week of cold, rainy weather. Which caused some of our seeds not to grow. In fact some of the seeds, started to grow and simply stopped growing so replanting was necessary with a few of the crops.

This past week’s temperatures were unseasonably hot with temperatures into the 90s. The plants are starting to look parched, and a nice rain would be good for the health of the plants. We are hopeful for what next week will bring, and the produce that should be ready to harvest.

Garden Science

seed issues from cold and rainy wether

The rainy cold weather in May caused some of the seeds that had started to grow to actually stop growing. This is a seed that had germinated or began to grow (note the green seedling inside the seed), but it stopped during the wet cold weather. Some of the crops needed to be replanted due to this situation – green beans, sugar snap peas and cucumbers.

lettuce

The lettuce has been peaking out the ground. This was a photo from the end of the week. A little bit of rain would go a long way in helping them grow.

radish

The radishes are growing like crazy. I love how the first leaves, cotyledon, formed on the radish plants are shaped like a heart.

beets

I love the color of the steams of the beets.

sweet potato slips

We have planted two varieties of sweet potatoes this year and are excited about the outcomes.

cucumbers

Some of the cucumbers did grow, while the majority did not. We did install fence for trellis for when the cucumbers started growing.

tomato cages

We also have installed a few tomato cages. We are going to do a few different staking techniques to see what works best for the tomato plants and for harvesting.

 

Animal Update

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The boys’ 4-H pigs add some life to the farm. This photo was taken at the beginning of May with the Duroc (breed of pig). It has since gotten heavier. Pigs will be full grown at 5- 6 months of age weighing 260-280 pounds.

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We also hatched out chicks in the Northfield Montessori kindergarten class. It is the sixth year that we have done this project. It is always fun to see the new chicks which will be full grown at about 4-5 months of age.

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One day old kittens are so precious. This litter is from one of our farm cats. The eyes are just opening and the taming of the kittens has begun.

 

 

Planting progress

Planting progress

It has been a busy few weeks of planting. There always seems to be a rush to beat Mother Nature knowing that unpredictable changes will come. This past week, we received several inches of rain with some hail. We are not complaining. Rather, we are thankful that we did not receive downpours of rain, tornadoes and many weather challenges others experienced.

Keith tilling

We were able to get into the field on May 4. This included a variety of field work including tilling in the cover crop to provide nutrients into the soil and preparing the seed bed for planting.

Sam dragging

After tilling, we drag the fields to make sure we have a nice seed bed to plant in.

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Before planting potatoes, Steve used an attachment on the tiller to provide trenches for the potatoes to be planted in.

Planting potatoes

Several varieties, which include over 300 potatoes, were planted. A few more varieties will be planted once the ground has dried out.

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Between May 5 and May 12, the majority of our crops were planted. It is a good thing, as several inches of rain and cold weather occurred this past week.

5-10-17 mulch and irrigation

Before planting our tomatoes, we installed drip irrigation under our mulch. The intent is to provide consistent watering and moisture at the right amount at the right time for the tomatoes to grow properly.

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We transplanted nearly 140 plants including tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower. While the evening got tiring, the ability to find something fun about the job at hand did not waver. The photo isn’t the best because it was taken as the sun was setting and as you can see part of the fun involved mud.

hail

Last week’s storms included hail. Some of it was larger than a nickel. We were thankful that the crop was not larger, and that the hail lasted for a short period of time with minimal wind in the storm.

A glimpse in time

A glimpse in time

It has been a busy last few months preparing for the growing season and for 4-H projects at the county fair. Spring is in full swing. Below is a glimpse of some of the activity.

 

At the beginning of March, the chicks that the boys will show at the fair arrived in the mail from the hatchery. They are now about 2 1/2 months old and at the growth stage they boys’ refer to as “high schoolers.” They will be full grown at about 5 months of age when they will be shown at the county fair.

 

Recently, the hens are laying eggs of all sizes. The chicks that Sam’s class hatched this fall are starting to lay eggs. Hens are about 4-5 months old when they are full grown and ready to naturally start laying an egg about every 24-26 hours. The small size that the young hens are laying is a pee-wee egg. The larger eggs pictured are from our older hens that are about 1 1/2 yearss old.

 

At the end of April, the boys bought 3 pigs which they plan to show at the county fair this summer when the pigs have reached their market weight. Pigs are full grown in about 5-6 months when they will weigh approximately 260-280 pounds. After the boys pigs arrived, the local veterinarian visited to check on pig health and discuss the pig’s healthcare with the boys. Farmers work hand in hand with their local veterinarians to provide the best quality care for their animals.

We collected soil samples from each of our field areas. Steve made a soil probe collector which would dig down a couple of inches into the field to collect a sample of the soil. We collected 5-6 soil samples from different areas of each field. Labeled the bag and brought the soil samples to our local farm co-op to be tested to evaluate soil health and help us to know what nutrients we should apply to the soil to help grow healthier plants.

The rhubarb is growing like crazy. Our rhubarb was transplanted from the farm my dad grew up on. The Harner Brothers are the 5th generation to raise this rhubarb originally planted on the family farm near Tracy by their great-great grandparents after immigrating from Norway and transplanted to our home near Northfield.

Last fall, we planted rye grass as a cover crop to provide “green manure” and “feed” our soil with good nutrients. As soon as it warmed up the rye grass began to grow again – just like grass in many lawns. The cover crop has grown well. We are interested in how it will improve soil health and in turn, once tilled into the fields it is currently growing in – how it will help improve soil health which will grow healthy plants and vegetables.

During the boys’ spring break, we spent a day doing agriculture in the classroom visits with students in St. Paul. It was a great day, and we are grateful for coworkers and the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom for their help.

Carrots in November

Carrots in November

 

Harvesting carrots in November that are this beautiful is very unusual.

Harvesting carrots in November that are this beautiful is very unusual.

Carrots in November? Indeed. We have been waiting to harvest the last of the carrots and grabbing a few carrots for supper or eating with our lunches. With the impending weather forecast, we harvested the last for the season. Hard to believe in Minnesota that the Fall weather has been so pleasant, and November 17 was the final harvest date for carrots.

Garden Science

Unbelievable to see such a beautiful carrot top in mid-November in Minnesota.

Unbelievable to see such beautiful carrot tops in mid-November in Minnesota. According to the U.S. Climate Data the average highs are 41 degrees Fahrenheit and average lows are 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Check out this blog from the University of Minnesota and learn how we have had above average temperatures. When it is below freezing, carrot tops will freeze and die.

These carrots were harvested today before the ground froze and froze the carrots in the ground. The winter weather seems to be finally creeping in on us with 18 degree weather in the forcast.

These carrots were harvested today before the ground froze and the carrots froze in the ground. The winter weather seems to be finally creeping in on us with 18 degree weather in the forecast. Learn more about plant hardiness zones. I find it a fun way to discuss weather patterns and differences in growing areas in the U.S.

 

Recipe of the Week

Do you still have some butternut squash that you are trying to figure out how to use? Well, we gave this recipe a try - Butternut Bacon Soup. I froze what we didn't use in a large cupcake tin, popped the frozen soups out of the cupcake tin and stored in a Ziploc bag. Now I just need to thaw it out in the microwave on a cold winter day. Super easy to bring to work as well. http://damndelicious.net/2014/12/10/roasted-butternut-squash-bacon-soup/

Do you still have some butternut squash that you are trying to figure out how to use? Well, we gave this recipe a try – Butternut Bacon Soup. I froze what we didn’t use in a large cupcake tin, popped the frozen soups out of the cupcake tin and stored in a Ziploc bag. Now, I just need to thaw it out in the microwave on a cold winter day. Super easy to bring to work as well and a great way to enjoy garden produce.

Wrapping up Fall Work

Wrapping up Fall Work

Wrapping up the Fall work was a bit more challenging with the rain, but we are happy to report that it is completed!

The harvest is complete, and we are so thankful for the bounty.

The harvest is complete, and we are so thankful for the bounty.

We mowed as much of the plants as possible so that they could decay and add nutrients back into the field.

We mowed as much of the vines as possible before receiving a 5 inch rain.

We mowed the plants so they would decay and add nutrients back into the soil.

We mowed the plants so they would decay and add nutrients back into the soil.

We then worked the ground, seeded it with a ryegrass cover crop, dragged and packed the soil. Thank you to our neighbors the Peterson and Beckman families for their assistance in accomplishing these tasks.

We then worked the ground, seeded it with a ryegrass cover crop, dragged and packed the soil. Thank you to our neighbors the Peterson and Beckman families for their assistance in accomplishing these tasks.

After the tillage was done, we planted three types of garlic for next season.

After the tillage was done, we planted three types of garlic for next season. Yes, this is what we do on Friday nights for entertainment by the light of a beautiful full moon.

We were happy to work with the local food shelf and donate some produce including peppers, potatoes, squash and beets.

We were happy to work with the local food shelf and donate some produce including peppers, potatoes, squash and beets.

We have also been selling the pink pumpkins with proceeds to assist those with breast cancer. Some are at the local hospital's breast cancer center since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and another was given to a local teacher by her class as a way to thank her as she fought this challenging fight.

We have also been selling the pink pumpkins with proceeds to assist those with breast cancer. Some of the pumpkins are at the local hospital’s breast cancer center since October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All recipients of the pumpkins seem to have a touching story. Our goal with this project is to bring hope to others.

 

Mad Dash

Mad Dash

Last night, sure was a mad dash around the storms. At least now that we are dry and warm, we can look back and chuckle at how dripping wet we all were. In the end, the rain gauge read 4.8 inches early this morning.

The end of the year harvest has also been a mad dash, and judging by the forecast, we will continue to have a mad dash to get the crops out around the weather.

We are thankful that the vines and corn crops were harvested and those areas mulched. We still have to wait for those areas to dry out before we can complete our fall field work, but we are thankful for what has been accomplished.

We are thankful that this weekend the vines and corn crops were harvested and mulched. We still have to wait for those areas to dry out before we can complete our fall field work of tilling and planting a cover crop. But we are thankful for what has been accomplished.

Next week will be the final CSA for the year. Look for your share of red, white and blue popcorn to come later this fall after the kernels have dried down. We have to dry the kernels down so that the moisture content is not to high. If there is too much moisture in the kernels, the kernels will not pop, and they will also not store well. Look for your popcorn share to be delivered later this fall.

Garden Science

Potatoes are a tuber that grow under ground. Once harvested they do not grow back. They are an annual that produces one crop.

Potatoes are a tuber that grow under ground. Once harvested, they do not grow back. They are an annual that produces one crop.

Garden Math

Some of these pumpkins grew to be pretty heavy. Any guesses? The heaviest did weigh in at 68.7. And we did have several over 30 pounds.

Some of these pumpkins grew to be pretty heavy. Any guesses? The heaviest did weigh in at 68.7, and we did have several over 30 pounds.

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. 

Thank you for your support of our CSA. Enjoy the produce!

Lettuce mix - a new crop of spinach along with Red Oak Leaf, Black Seeded Simpson and curly leaf kale.

Lettuce mix – a new crop of spinach along with Red Oak Leaf, Black Seeded Simpson and curly leaf kale.

Black Seeded Simpson and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I just love to have fresh lettuce and spinach from the garden this time of year. While I love the fall colors, this crop is a joy to bring in my lunch to work.

Kale – Brings beautiful color and more nutrients to the dish.

Green Beans – Jade green beans amaze us with their taste. I personally have never liked green beans, but I do enjoy eating this variety raw right out of the garden.

Beets –  Detroit Dark Red Beets in your box. Boil on your stove top for about 1/2 hour – take them out of the water, using a paper towel gently rub the paper towel over the beet and the skins will come right off, slice into pieces and serve with butter. Slice them and freeze for an easy accompaniment to a meal this winter or cut into chunks and place in Ziploc bag to use in homemade soup this winter. 

Carrots – Nantes carrots – Do you cook the carrots and the family doesn’t eat them all? I will place the left overs in the blender and then freeze that mixture in ice cube trays. Once frozen, store in a bag in the freezer. I will then use one or two “cubes” of frozen carrots in my spaghetti sauce.

Watermelon

Peppers

Peppers – sweet cherry stuffer, sweet thunderbolt, green and hot dragon cayenne peppers.

Peppers The peppers are really starting to come in. You have sweet cherry stuffer hybrid pepper, sweet thunderbolt hybrid and green peppers in your box. You also have the option of some hot dragon cayenne peppers. Cut up the extra peppers and place in a bag then place in freezer for use throughout the year.

Fresh garlic was pulled and then hung to dry. We hope you have enjoyed the fresh garlic this year.

Fresh garlic was pulled mid-summer and then hung to dry. We hope you have enjoyed the fresh garlic this year.

Garlic – Enjoy the fresh garlic. I use a hand-held garlic press to crush and peel my garlic. It is awesome and definitely the tool of the week! Here are some garlic recipes to check out.

Onions –  Walla Walla Onions

Acorn Squash – This small green squash can be cooked fast and easy in the microwave.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash – My favorite squash. Check out the recipes from Martha Stewart. Refer back to last week’s blog on my how to cook in the oven and freeze for use throughout the year.

Carnival Squash

Carnival Squash

Carnival Squash

Red Norland Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes are versatile potatoes – great for boiling, potato salad, and I have had success with them as French fries.

Blue Potatoes check this link out to learn more about different potato varieties.

Masquerade Potatoes – We love the taste of this variety. The outside color makes this a fun and beautiful variety to have in the kitchen.

Kennebec Potatoes – Great baking potato. Check out harvesting potatoes in Idaho.

Cilantro, Basil and Parsley – Plenty to share – take a snip or a plant home and freeze or dry the herb for use in stews, etc during the rest of the year. Here are some more ideas on how to preserve herbs.

We were happy to have a beautiful night on Monday to harvest the corn stalks for the corn shocks.

We were happy to have a beautiful night on Monday to harvest the corn stalks for the corn shocks.

Corn Shock

These boys worked hard all morning harvesting gourds, pumpkins and potatoes.

These boys worked hard on Saturday morning harvesting gourds, pumpkins and potatoes. They were excited to see the amount of produce they harvested.

Pumpkins

Gourds

Gourds – an assortment again this week.

Gourds

Ornamental Corn – The ornamental corn crop was a disappointment. Just not the quantity and quality that we hope to have. This was due in part to the overgrowth of trees in the tree line. We plan to trim those trees back this winter so that they don’t shade out the crops to decrease yields next year like they did this year.

Recipe of the Week

Lazy Tacos

Crush corn chips and layer taco favorites on top such as:

taco meat, onions, black olives, tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar cheese, chilli beans, cucumbers, salsa, cottage cheese or salad dressing

Chop onion. I love my Pampered Chef chopper. Great tool for the kitchen!!

When browning my hamburger, I add a little bit of onion finely chopped so the kids don’t notice it.

While the hamburger is cooking, I wash my lettuce and place in my salad spinner. Again, the salad spinner is a must have tool. By spinning the moisture off my washed lettuce I find that it keeps longer in my refrigerator.

When slicing tomatoes, I have found that using a serrated knife works great. No more smashed tomatoes. I have a designated cutting board in my kitchen for all vegetables and fruits and a totally separate cutting board set aside for only meats. Just an extra safety precaution in our kitchen. Keeping foods separate to avoid cross contamination.

Homemade salsa from last year is a delicious addition to this meal.

Lazy Tacos

Lazy Tacos – add a side of fruit and a glass of milk, and you have a well-balanced, colorful, fun meal for the family.