Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

Red raspberries begin to ripen immediately after cherries are harvested
Since most gardens start out as tilled patches of lawn, weeds become a serious problem this time of year. I like how Robert Frost described the process with "Putting In The Seed" (Mountain Interval, 1920):
Nanking bush cherries ready to fill a Memorial Day pie

How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

"Soil tarnishes with weed," appropriate mental image. Some people ask what's the organic way to control weeds.  The best approach IMO is to actually get down on hands and knees and pull every single weed by hand after a good rain once. Then, cover space between plants with cardboard or newspaper, and layer grass clippings, straw, or mulched leaves on top. This approach keeps weeds down for us all summer. Except in the corn, where my Mantis tiller and a hoe do a fine job once or twice until towering stalks shade the earth.
These short carrots were harvested from our cold frame
Though it's still early in the season, we're enjoying harvests of beets, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, onions, peas, carrots, strawberries, sour cherries, and raspberries. We always have fresh eggs on hand, thanks to our egg-laying Rhode Island Reds. Herbs are at their peak freshness now, too.

Summer crops of cukes, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers are soon coming. Happy Memorial Day and happy gardening season as we celebrate the unofficial start of summer.
Love these helpers!

The vegetable garden in May

Lettuce, broccoli, and peas on the fence (volunteer sunflower to the right)

Huge pea pods with 12 peas swelling inside

Spring garden to the left, summer garden center, and corn patch right

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4, 2014

A sample of the mixed heirloom lettuce we grow - 'Red Salad Bowl,' 'Black Seeded Simpson,' and 'Red Romaine'.
Chives in bloom.

It's strawberry season.  The kids didn't need a reminder; they raced outdoors first thing in a tumble of giggles, "I'm going to beat yous," and one "wait for me" looking for a pair of crocks.  Welcome May, month of cherry jam, berries, and more good things to come on our hobby farm.  A beautiful and slow spring has been ideal for growing spinach, and we expect to process 2 dozen+ quarts for the freezer.  For root crops, we have beets, radishes, and carrots in the cold frame still. Lettuce is a little out of hand and is begging our first tomatoes, still a month away.  Broccoli and peas will be producing a heavy crop soon.

'Passion and Purity' Iris.
One new project we're working on this year is a dry bean fence along the barn.  We ordered several varieties of heirloom climbing pole-type beans, suitable for drying, from the Seed Saver's Exchange in Iowa.  By the way, we are moving almost entirely to heirloom variety vegetables and plan to save our own seeds from year to year.  The dry beans will make great additions to soups and other dishes as a source of protein.  Sweet corn, melons, cukes, zucchini, sunflowers, and huckleberries are all planted.  

We couldn't be happier with our pasture-raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free broiler chickens.  All our birds weighed in over 6 lbs. processed, at half the cost per pound for the same label at market price.  The flavor?  If you lived close to a farm before the commercial chicken industry, you might have an idea what a real chicken tastes like.  And it's something you'd never forget, in a longing sort of way.
Peas climbing the fence in the foreground, followed by 25 ft. rows of broccoli, lettuce, and spinach.

The cold frame still producing lettuce,
carrots, and beets.  A second-year 'Goldrush'
apple tree just beyond.
Pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free Cornish Cross broiler chickens at 8 weeks.

Fresh processed chickens weighing over 6 lbs each.  That's more than 18 lbs of meat!
And with that rich yellow skin, it's time for some Southern Fried Chicken.

About Me

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Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (