Obstacles and Opportunities

Obstacles and Opportunities

New chicken coop built this summer.

New chicken coop built this summer.

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

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

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

Garden Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boxes of Produce 

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

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

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

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

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

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – reddish lettuce

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Beet leaves and Beets – Some fun facts about beets.

Broccoli

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

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

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

Green Beans – This type of green beans are Providers.

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

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

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

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

Herbs – Basil, cilantro and thyme

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

Zucchini Tomato Salsa Recipe

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

•1 cup seeded chopped tomatoes

•1/2 cup diced zucchini

•1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper

•1 small onion, diced

•1 tablespoon brown sugar

•2 teaspoons lime juice

•2 teaspoons cider vinegar

•1 teaspoon chopped seeded jalapeno pepper

•1 garlic clove, minced

•1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

•1/8 teaspoon salt

•1/8 teaspoon pepper

•Tortilla chips

Directions

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

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

Source: tasteofhome.org

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

Lots of insects, worms and plants to discover in the garden.

Life is continual educational process. So many life lessons are learned during a growing season. Here is a look at this year’s top three.

1. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Last year, was our first year with this project, we had an extremely early spring, hail and record breaking rain 11 1/2 inches in two days which flooded 1/2 the garden.

This year, presented different challenges late cold spring and a terrible infestation of potato bugs. Each challenge provides an opportunity to grow and learn. Although we may not always understand the lesson at that time, at some point in our life we will. And we are most definitely stronger and wiser because of it.

2. Working together to get the job done, makes it go faster, more enjoyable and fun. Not only is it more fun but some of these tasks while peaceful and not that stressful can just seem to last longer then you would like. But with a bit of crazy, family fun, mixed in with a delicious snack the result can be good memories that will last a lifetime.

Here is an example of keeping it fun. Really did a little bit of mud ever hurt anyone. I don't think I will ever forget, "Look mom, mud angels!"

Here is an example of keeping it fun. Really did a little bit of mud ever hurt anyone. I don’t think I will ever forget, “Look mom, mud angels!”

3. Hands on Learning provides Common Sense. It has been amazing to watch our kids learn by doing. Agriculture is full of these opportunities. Our CSA project is definitely an example of this. I think these two quotes sum up the experience:

“Don’t tell them how to do it, show them how to do it and don’t say a word. If you tell them, they’ll watch your lips move. If you show them, they’ll want to do it themselves.” –Maria Montessori

“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” –Chinese Proverb

Let us know how we can involve you in this journey. We love the opportunity to help your families feel part of this growing season, these educational lessons and hands on learning.

Garden Experiment

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have a variety of trellis options in the garden. This heavy pumpkin must have one very strong vine and stem to be hanging on the upright hog panels.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have a variety of trellis options in the garden. This heavy pumpkin must have one very strong vine and stem to be hanging on the upright hog panels.

The vines are all reaching for the sun. A pretty amazing site.

The vines are all reaching for the sun. A pretty amazing site. Pretty cool science experiment to watch how the plant desires and needs the sunlight for photosynthesis to produce the crop.

Boxes of Produce

Just some of the harvest for you.

Just some of the harvest for you.

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

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

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – reddish lettuce

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Broccoli

Tomatoes – Yellow Girls, Romas and cherry tomatoes.

Peppers – Learn how Chile peppers are grown on farms in Arizona.

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

Sam looking for green beans. A newer planting is flowering and has produced a few green beans this week. More to come next week. The new set of peas have also began flowering so peas will soon follow.

Sam looking for green beans. A newer planting is flowering and has produced a few green beans this week. More to come next week. The new set of peas have also began flowering so peas will soon follow.

Green Beans – This type of green beans are Providers.

Potatoes – A few fresh Masqurade and Yukon Gold potatoes for you. The potato bugs got the best of the plants so the full maturity size was not achieved. So please enjoy the baby potatoes as well. They have their own wonderful qualities.

Nothing like eating the cucumber in the garden!

Nothing like eating the cucumber in the garden!

Cucumbers – Varieties include Fancipak, Straight Eights and Japanese. Let us know if you are interested in any for pickling.

Summer Squash Medley and Zucchini – If your kids want to measure a zucchini/summer squash and watch it grow for a week, let me know.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors FarGaze Farms – the Peterson families for this delicious vegetable!

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

Basil - a wonderful herb for so many dishes. I love to use it when I am grilling meat, making tomato sauce, you name it.

Basil – a wonderful herb for so many dishes. I love to use it when I am grilling meat, making tomato sauce, you name it.

Herbs – Basil, Red Rubin Basil, parsley, pepperming and lemon thyme (bags are labeled with the first initial).

Fresh cut arrangement – A variety went out in your boxes as I had enough variety but not enough of one type for each of you. So the varieties included: Sunflowers or Zinnias.

Sam with the sunflowers he picked.

Sam with the sunflowers he picked.

I love watching kids pick flowers. The selection is random, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I love watching kids pick flowers. The selection is random, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Keith with sweet peas. While they are quite pretty, they only last a few short days in the house.

Keith with sweet peas. While they are quite pretty, they only last a few short days in the house.

Recipe of the Week

Chocolate Zucchini Blueberry Bread

Mix together: •2 cups sugar,1 cup applesauce 3 eggs, and3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix together: •2 cups sugar,1 cup applesauce 3 eggs, and3 teaspoons vanilla extract until well blended.

Mix together in a separate bowl: •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, der

Mix together in a separate bowl: •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 and a 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. Gradually beat into sugar mixture until well blended.

Stir in zucchini and blueberries. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. •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.

Stir in zucchini and blueberries. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
•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.

The muffin contains two fruits and a vegetable, and they eat them right up!

The muffin contains two fruits and a vegetable, and they eat them right up!

Chocolate Zucchini Blueberry Bread

•2 cups sugar

•1 cup canola oil

•3 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 cup of blueberries

Directions

•In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, 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.

•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.

Source: Recipe modified from Tasteofhome.com