Sunday, December 6, 2009

December .... already? What Happened????

Wow! Seems that after this busy summer, winter hybernation hit me hard and fast! (Like in early fall.) Unlike the fruits and veggies, we haven't completely shutdown, just slowed down ... a lot! Which is nice. We are enjoying the swans and eagles that have migrated to our area.

Doug is working on an "alpaca tractor" a larger version of a chicken tractor, building more raised beds, and getting bids for the repair of the foundation of our barn. (Plus, he has a full-time away from home job!)

Bob (winter intern/farm hand/) is coming over a couple of times a month, weather permitting. He's helped clean out the raised beds, plant elephant garlic (a variety of leeks), carrots, hyacinth bulbs and last week we pruned a few fruit trees.

We will be getting the green house prepped, whipping up some seed starting mix, and planting flower and celery seeds shortly. (YAY ... I'm excited!)

Met with Timi and Donna on Friday, 12/4. Timi is putting together a bus tour, Come Junk With Us for the Farm Chicks Antique Show in June. She put together a tour bus to go to the Funky Junk Sisters in Puyallup. Holy Cow, that was fun! She had Jay (her husband) follow the bus with his pickup so if anyone bought something that wouldn't fit on/in/or under the bus, it could put in the pick-up. And, yes, I did buy something ... a Speed Queen Deluxe wringer washer! I love it! Many thanks to Jay for helping get it home. And to Timi, thank you for all of your hard work in putting the tour together. It was great fun! (Don't know what I'll do with the washer ... but I won't be changing it in any way ... it may become a salad spinner ... or set it up and actually use it. It's in that great of shape.)

Girlfriend Kathy and I went to an open house at Dusty Cellars Winery on Camano Island on Saturday, 12/5. It was their first weekend of the month open house. My first wine tasting, thank you, Kathy! Fun! It was interesting to talk to someone else who is transitioning a well-loved hobby to a great business!

Make it a great day and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 27 Delivery

Tomato jungle ... after being pruned twice.

You can't see them really well, but there are a whole lotta green tomatoes in there! We've been finding a red one here and there.

This week's delivery (Week 10) will include leeks, onions, variety of squash with zucchini included in the variety pack, red potatoes, spaghetti squash, cucumbers, green peppers, eggplant, parsley and basil.
Spaghetti Squash - Preheat oven to 350. To prepare, rinse the outside off. Cut in half length-wise (blossom end to stem end), scrape out seeds. Brush the inside half that you are cooking with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Turn the spaghetti squash upside down in a 9x13 baking dish. Make steam vent holes in the top side. Place in oven for about 45 minutes. When done, you will be able to scrape the inside out and it will be stringy ... similar to spaghetti. It doesn't taste like spaghetti, it just looks a little like spaghetti. Top it with your favorite toppings. Olive oil, butter, parmesan cheese, parsley or basil. (If you have enough room in your oven to cook both halves ... that's what I do ... energy savings and leftovers!)
Eggplant are still looking weird ... small and deformed ... but, they still taste the same. Peppers are coming on great!
FREEZING TIP: Did you know that you can dice onions and green peppers and put in serving size (usually 2 cups) quart freezer bags (flatten for better storage space). Later in winter, you can just go to your freezer and grab a bag of one or the other or both and add directly to your spaghetti sauce, chili, soups or stews without even thawing?
Hope you're having a great day!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Air card down ... and out ... got a new one!

Yup, our blog was off line for more than two weeks ... took us that long to figure out our air card stopped working ... arrggghhhh ... diagnosing a computer problem is much harder and more frustrating than pulling weeds!

In the meantime, to our CSA subscribers ... the eggplant this week was small ... they should get bigger as the season continues. We planted several varieties, including the big "egg" shaped ones. Their growth is slower than we would like, but we still have 4 to 5 weeks of growing time left. And, ha, ha, they're all under cover in the hoop house ... yay! So, hopefully, they'll start doing something. Feel free to share recipes. (We slice them real thin, then stir fry lightly in olive oil ... they're great with the zucchini and onions.)

AND, we picked the William's Pride apples about a week earlier than they should have been picked. This weeks delivery should be a bit sweeter, if not, let them sit, they should ripen up nicely ... if you got one with blemishes, (oops) just cut it away and enjoy what's left (please).

There was a great picking of peppers this week ... and they will continue to get better and better ... the more we pick a peck of peppers ... the more we get ... (sorry, couldn't {LOL} help myself.)

  • The spaghetti and buttercup squashes are coming on nicely ... they should be ready for next week's delivery. (Got a pumpkin that's turning orange ... yay, again!)
  • No sign of any butternut squash ... they're in there somewhere ...
  • Lots of carrots, another whole row of carrots that we're pouring the water to, should be ready in about two weeks.
  • Another picking of beets will be ready soon, possibly next week.
  • We will dig Yukon Gold spuds for next week's delivery ... our test digs turned up some hollow ones ... so that might be an issue.
  • Lots of green tomatoes ... no red ones ... not even red cherries ... patience.
  • We're starting to see a lot of ears on the corn ... and yes, the local corn is starting to come on ... more patience.
  • The Chehalis apples are doing well and should be ripe within the next week or two ... will run our taste test ... they're real close.
  • Wait til you see the size of the onions ... holy cow, they're awesome!

As a side note: Last year we had saved some potatoes and squashes to deliver mid-winter ... just as a bonus ... but our storage facility (the old uninsulated milk room off the barn, which we had used in years past) didn't hold up to the unexpected long-term freezing that we had. So, this year, at the end of the season we'll be gathering up and delivering some extra potatoes, yellow storage onions, and winter squashes for our customers. If this extra delivery is a storage problem for you, please let us know ... the extra that our CSA customers can't use will be donated to the Stanwood food bank.

Also, we do guarantee our product, so if you receive something that is not up to your standards, please let us know and we will replace it.

Whew! Not usually this long winded ... well, okay, sometimes ... but two weeks is a mighty long time to be off line! Thanks for your patience! AND, YOU have a great day! Keep smiling.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 1 Open House

Wow! After all of the heat the week before, we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for an Open House on August 1. There was a cool breeze blowing and the temperature was just right for being outside.

Faces were painted, bunnies were well petted, the alpacas were hand fed, rows of veggies were identified and there was plenty of food for everyone. A few veggies were sold. Door prizes were won. Sandy and Dirk won the $20 Starbuck's card and Brad Z won the hat.

The horse and wagon rides by Richard, Vanessa, Wendy and Toni (of Ferrytails, specialty pet treats) were just the right length to leave us wanting more. They did a great job and the Shire draft horses were well-behaved. It was obvious that the horses are well loved and cared for. Our "teamsters" also brought along a mare and her three month old foal. The foal is as tall as it's mother's shoulders ... and they do grow up fast!
A great day to be alive!

If you and your family attended our open house, thank you so much for your support. We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to come to our farm. It was good to see you and visit with you. We enjoyed your company and hope that you will come back again next year. If you didn't make it, we hope that you can drop by next year ... take care and have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Photo Album from the Farm

Yes, this is the same corn that was "knee high by the 4th of July!

August 6 Delivery

Oh, my gosh! It's unbelievable to go out in this garden! During the heat of last week we watered every other day. It's paying off this week with lots of "fruit."

Can you guess which crop we will be picking this week? Yup, slicing cucumbers! Along with leeks, green beans, sugar snap peas (I don't know how they did it, but the peas survived the heat), zucchini, a variety of small squashes, patty pan, crookneck, and scallopini and red cabbage. If the lettuce can hold up without becoming bitter ... there may be another cutting. (Iffy)

Update: Green peppers have set fruit ... lots and lots of green tomatoes living in the jungle they formed ... they're happy. We planted several varieties of eggplants, i.e. large bulb, pickling, and white. They are slow to set fruit, we're getting one tasty taste per eggplant. So, we will be letting them get bigger before picking them. WANTED: Your favorite eggplant recipe. Please share via e-mail.

Corn picture: If you look really closely at the white spot near the center of the picture ... that's corn silk. Yay! It's forming ears. (Yes, the black spot is a fly that just wanted it's picture taken.) There has been some discussion as to whether or not some of our corn is 10 OR 12 feet tall! We'll post pictures and you can be the judge. We're estimating a picking of corn toward the end of Aug first part of Sept. (After the harvest, if you would like us to save you some corn stalks for fall decorating, let us know and we'll save you some.)

Take care and thank you to all who received an early delivery last week. It helped us get through the hot spell!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 30 Delivery

Still the best garden that we've had in this location! We'll be harvesting for delivery the following:

Onions, leeks, Romaine and leaf lettuce, broccoli, red cabbage, Sugar Snap Peas (no shelling), Green Beans (yellow, burgandy and green), zucchini, parsley and basil. And possibly a picking of Satsuma plums ... oh, and Swiss Chard ...

We didn't think the peas would make it through the heat, but they're looking and tasting great. When we harvest the zucchini we will be stripping the plants - we've got large, medium and small sizes. Hopefully next week we'll have consistant sizing.

The corn is taller than I am, the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are setting fruit. We did see a lone spaghetti squash ... good grief! This is awesome!

Stay cool ... take heed of the heat warnings. We're on an early morning schedule for the rest of the week and hopefully won't be working too much past 1 p.m. Have a great day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 23 Delivery

Wow! Are we ever having the best season! Mother Nature is making up for the last couple of years. The last two springs were pretty wet which made it hard to getting some veggies to grow. Boy, not this year! Yay!

This week's delivery will contain kale, lettuce, peas (probably just one picking ... since peas don't like the heat), green beans, carrots, cabbage (both green and red), small onions, and "iffy" about the zucchini ... We'll make sure that they get plenty of water this week ... and we should have some. Other "iffy's" are broccoli and swiss chard. So, get ready to enjoy this wonderful harvest!

The hoop houses are holding up really well ... the tomatoes are doing great ... the eggplant doesn't seem to like all of this hot weather ... they are blooming, but they are not setting "fruit." Wait and see game for them. The peppers are beginning to bloom as well and they are setting "fruit."

Don't forget about the open house on August 1 - it would be great for you to see how everything is looking. Take care and make it a great day!

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 16 Delivery

Here we are ... going into our 4th week of deliveries and we're looking at zucchini blossoms! We will have a zucchini picking this week. (If we wait til next week, we probably wouldn't be able to carry them to the car! LOL)
Peas and green beans are blooming - so those pickings may need to be divided. So, if you don't get peas, you should get green beans. All depending on the weather.
So, for our July 16 delivery we will have green onions, lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, kale and herbs. (Kale freezes really well. After blanching it, pat dry, put in a zip lock bag, press flat and label with "Kale" and the date and you've just saved yourself some food dollars for this winter. Sara's mom included kale in spaghetti sauce recipe. Sara said it was really good.)
Side note: We made a new cabbage moth net. The old one had a hole in it ... the four that were chased and caught ... got away! So, that was it! We dropped everything that we were doing and made a net twice as big as the old one! July 10 cabbage moth tally (one day) - Doug - "0" (he was at work); Char - "2;" Sara - "8."
Make it a great day!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cabbage Picture

This is one of the cabbages growing in our garden. Should be just the right size for harvesting in a couple of days. If you look close, you can tell it's enjoying the cooler weather. :)
We haven't been able to catch the little critter(s) that is munching on the outer leaves. We're not sure if it's cabbage moth larvae. Still under investigation.
One of our organic pest control methods is to catch white cabbage moths in a net. (They lay eggs on cabbage, broccoli, most brasicas. Then the larvae munch away.) Cabbage moth score: Sara - 6; Doug - 4; and Char - 3

July 9 Delivery

Please note: After many measurements and consultations, it was determined that the corn is in fact "Knee High by the 4th of July!" Yay! Yay! Yay! AND, the great thing is, it didn't matter whose "knees", short or tall ... there is corn in every size! (The sighs of relief will happen when the corn is harvested, in the bag and delivered!)

Hope you had a great Fourth of July! We spent the evening with family at home, and just plain enjoyed the weather. What a difference a day can make!

And getting to the point: this week's delivery will consist of green onions, lettuce, leeks, kale, cabbage and a variety of herbs. Click here to search for fennel recipes. This is the first year we've grown fennel - it tastes like black licorice - I haven't used it in a recipe yet, but Rob says it's good in stir frys. Let me know what you think.

Also, the roasted kale recipe from Sandra was great! The trick is to have the oven pre-heated to the required 350 degrees and cook 5 min. per side and go easy on the olive oil.

It's a great day! Welcome rain!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Updated Garden Picture - Taken June 29, 2009

Wow, you can sure see a difference from the June 9th picture to the one that was taken today, June 29th. What a difference 20 days makes! This picture was taken looking east. So, from top to bottom, growing well are Winterbor Kale, red cabbage, Red Russian Kale, Lucinato Kale, green cabbage, broccoli and so on. The rows are 60 feet long and we have about 51 or so rows planted.

Tomorrow we'll be planting more green beans, acorn squash, chinese cabbage and transplanting romaine lettuce. Oh, that's after we fix the hoop house that houses the tomatoes. (Tammy, Sara and I were able to put the plastic sheeting back over the green peppers and eggplants... roped it down tight ... we'll see how long it lasts.) Make it a great day!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

July 2 Delivery

Yay! We've begun our 2009 Season deliveries! That's two weeks ahead of schedule. (This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago.)
This week's delivery will be similar to last week's, lettuce, green onions, kale, as well as beets, parsley and basil. The basil will be enough to season a few dishes. (The basil was transplanted a bit later than it would have liked ... so it went into shock. It's recovering ... slowly.) We do have more planted ... so hopefully we can provide enough to those of you who like to make pesto.

Sandra G provided this kale recipe to share: Wash and dry kale leaves. Place them singly on a cookie sheet. Brush each leaf with a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place the cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven. Keep an eye on it. When you think it's ready, take the cookie sheet out of the oven. Turn each kale leaf over, put back in oven. Continue cooking until done or crisp without burning. She says it's really, really good! Sounds good, I can't wait to try it!

AND for those of you who would like to preserve some kale for this winter, from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving:

Using young, tender green leaves. Wash thoroughly and cut off wood stems. Blanch 2 minutes and avoid matting leaves. Cool. Drain. Pack into can-or-freeze jars or plastic freezer boxes, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Seal, label and freeze.

Because kale is such a nutritious vegetable, we did plant ... a lot! So, get ready to put some up for your winter enjoyment and hopefully, to save on your winter food bill. Enjoy your day!

Hoop House Down ... but not out!

Well, that was quick. We knew the hoop houses were temporary, but not THAT temporary. Last week we had a pretty strong wind blow through. It completely blew the plastic off the tomato house and broke two of the front PVC pipes, right at the base of the hoop house on the right. So, the wind was pretty strong! It won't be difficult to fix them ... we just need to replace the two broken PVC end pipes and recover them with the plastic sheeting. The hardest thing will be to untangle the rope that lashed the plastic down.
Today we had another strong wind ... so we took the plastic off the second house and will be waiting for calm weather to put them both back together. Shouldn't take much, since the frame work is all done. It's warm enough that the veggies should be okay for a few days. Make it a great day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kale Recipes

Rinse thoroughly to remove sand; remove thick stems and shred leaves into 2inch chunks. Rinse leaves again, but do not dry.
Braise: Heat 2 tsps canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kale or Swiss Chard, toss until wilted. Add ½ c. dry white wine or dry vermouth. Cover, reduce heat and cook until wilted, about 5 min. Uncover and cook until liquid is reduced to a glaze. Sprinkle 2 tsps balsamic (or rice) vinegar over the greens.

And, if that doesn't sound yummy ... check out this website: Allrecipes
or go directly to this link

Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

2009 Season Opener

And, so, it begins! Looks to be a great 2009 season for veggies. Here we have Butterhead lettuce, Red Russian Kale, Winterbor Kale, and the purple veggies are Purple Kohlrabi. And of course, Walla Walla sweet onions. (And as this is being written, the wind is whipping our hoop houses all over ... you should see it, scary!)

Kohlrabi can be eaten after peeling either sliced raw or lightly steamed.
Last year was the first year that we began eating kale. We had definitely been missing out. Our favorite way to eat it is to wash it, leave it wet, julienne slice it, put it in a warm pre-heated pan with a tight fitting lid, add some olive oil, salt and pepper, stir it all together and steam it for about 15 minutes. It cooks down quite a bit, so you'll have to play with the amount to begin with.
Hope you enjoy the pictures. Sara, Tammy, Doug and I have worked hard to bring this garden along for your healthy eating pleasure.
(As noted earlier, the wind is blowing really hard right now and our hoop houses don't like it much ... we'll be putting them back up! Hope the tomatoes don't mind spending a night out! Can't do anything until the wind calms down. Ah, farming ... just when you think you've got mother nature under control, she puts you in your place! LOL???) Make it a great day! Char

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hoop House Part III - Finished with Plantings

Here are the two completed hoop houses. And, yes, I must admit that they have been completed for a while. I wanted the pictures to show the plants, the weed cloth and the watering system.

The one on the left has two sixty foot rows of tomatoes. And there are actually tomatoes growing on the vines. (Big Smile) This is great news for us! We haven't been able to grow a good tomato crop for two years. (arrrggghhh)

The hoop house on the right has two sixty foot rows of eggplants and two sixty foot rows of peppers. The eggplants are growing and doing well, the peppers are still in shock over being transplanted a bit later than they would have liked.

These hoop houses are a big deal for our farm production. The past two years, due to the weather conditions, we were unsuccessful growing tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. The evenings ended up being colder than what the plants liked, and the wind coming off the water was a bit too cool for them.

So, waaaa laa, we think (and hope) the hoop houses have solved the wide swing in the temperatures. These hoop houses will be taken down each October and put up again in the early spring. We're hoping to build a stationary hoop house sometime this season.

Also, the main garden is doing great! I'll be posting pictures ... soon. We're ready to harvest lettuce, kale, kohlrabi and green onions. Make it a great day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hoop House Part II

Wa la! One completed 20 x 60 foot hoop house! It's meant to be temporary and easily moved, so that's why it looks like a big plastic bag over PVC pipe. Since there are no holes in the plastic sheeting, it should last for a long, long time! (That is, if it doesn't blow into the neighbor's pasture!)
This picture was taken before we planted 25+ tomato plants inside. As soon as they recover from the shock of being transplanted, I'll post a picture. They're doing well and are happy to be in out of the wind and cold.
If you look to the right of the hoop house, you will see a 10 x 60 foot PVC frame set up. Future home of eggplant and peppers.
As a side note ... we have most of our main garden planted! Hurray for nice weather! Take care and make it a great day ...
P.S. You're going to love the "before" and "after" pictures of our garden! Thanks to Doug, Sara and Tammy for making it happen!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Countrified Market and Open House - August 1, 2009

Yeehaw! Gotta do a little side step here away from the hoop house building to let you know about our Countrified Market and Open House. (Rain and wind are keeping us off track!)

We're excited! The event is scheduled for August 1, 2009. Which is the same weekend as the Stanwood Camano Fair. So, what do we have to do with the Fair? Nothing, really. Our farm is not affiliated with the fair, but as farmers, and country people at heart, we want to encourage you to attend the fair. So, you are welcome to park your car at our place and ride a horse drawn wagon to the fair (for a roundtrip fee to the teamster for the care and feeding of his horses.) Parking at our place is free.

The fair food is fun, but it's the crafts, the produce, ag information and above all the sense of community that drew us to the fair. When we were city people dreaming of the country life, the fair provided us an opportunity to be surrounded for one day by all things agricultural. We loved it and the fair kept our dream of country life alive. And we made it!

So, we want to open our farm for one day, to those citified, urban fair-goers who want a ride in a horse-drawn wagon, a bite of a freshly harvested carrot, green bean or some other seasonal veggie, and/or an opportunity to buy a countrified craft. Or just to be able to fly a kite as high in the sky as it will go!

This should be a great extended family event! Aunts, uncles, grandpas, grandmas, children, teens, tweens, moms, dads, everyone. So, mark your calendar for that weekend!

And in the middle of the planning we are planting vegetables, building hoop houses and just generally having a great time! Who cares if the weather still feels like November ... the cool season crops love it! Make it a great day! More to come ...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hoop House Construction - Part I

This is sooooo exciting and great fun to see the progress of this project. Since Mother Nature has gotten the best of us for the past couple of years, i.e. no or limited tomatoes, little or no peppers and no eggplant! This year we decided to try a couple of temporary hoop houses. We call these hoop houses because we won't be regulating the temperature other than to lift the sides if it should get too hot inside of them.

This picture is of our small garden. We are going to put the two temporary hoop houses here. This garden dries out first, so we are able to prepare the soil earlier. We tilled up last year's "residual" (technical term for weeds and dead veggies), then spread and tilled in 4 yds of Cedar Grove Compost.

Then we laid down 4 ft wide weed cloth from Gempler's. This will serve us well for the season, i.e. we won't need to weed around the base of the plastic pipe. Oh, I might mention, that the white thing on a pole stuck in the raised bed on the right ... it's one of our organic pest control methods. It's a net for capturing cabbage moths. Although we did get a lot of exercise, we're going to supplement netting with remay.

This is the spot for our 10 foot wide hoop house. It will be used for a variety of tomatoes. The tomatoes will be planted directly into the ground and there will be two 60 foot rows.

Three foot rebar posts are then pounded two feet into the ground. One foot of rebar is above ground.

A 20 foot plastic PVC pipe is then bent from one rebar post to another rebar 10 feet across from the first. These two end pvc pipes are 60 feet apart.

And, here we go! 16 - 20 foot PVC pipes forming the skeleton of our first hoop house. We still need to put the ropes across the top, the tie downs in and the plastic over the top. We'll also be laying weed cloth down inside the hoop house.

Nice job, Doug and Sara. Now if the wind will die down enough to put up the plastic, we'll be in great shape. More to come ... and you have a great day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April on the Farm, Part II

Welcome to Part II!

Here are our six raised beds that were built by Doug and I in 2005. This picture was taken this evening, looking North. The beds are built out of concrete blocks and the blocks are filled with sand. They are about 20 feet long and 3 feet wide. For not being mortared, except for the sand, they are holding up really well. A draw back of these raised beds is remembering to keep them WATERED well during the summer months. They tend to dry out pretty fast. In the background is our small garden with compost ready to spread. We're putting two temporary hoop houses in this small garden.

Planted in our raised beds are carrots, beets, spinach, radishes, lettuce, parsley, chives, fennel, dill and cilantro.

This picture was taken looking northeast. The red carport is going to be moved and replaced with a permanent high tunnel and on the other side we will be building more raised beds. We (Tammy and Sara and I) spent today cleaning out all the dandelions around the beds. They look beautifu!

Blog to you soon,


April on the Farm, Part I

Welcome to our first blog!

It's been a long, long winter! Glad spring is finally here. And with spring comes new adventures! Gosh, I can't believe that I am actually setting up a blog and will be able to share our farm happenings with you. (Thank you Timi for the encouragement and support! This first blog is dedicated to you, my friend!)

So, what's happening here on the farm? Well, we're getting ready for another Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) season. We're finding it extremely rewarding growing food organically, sustainably, and locally for our family and friends. (And reasonably priced.)

From year to year it's been a surprise as to which vegetables will like the weather that we are having ... and which need to be replanted. Which can actually backfire ... in one picking last year we had 90 lbs of slicing cucumbers because I replanted three times. It took a long time for the soil to warm up!

This year to help our plants deal with mother nature, we are going to install a couple of temporary hoop houses in one of our gardens and a permanently placed high tunnel for vegetable starts.

We will keep you updated on our veggies' journey through the season.

See April on the Farm, Part II for pictures of our raised beds.

We (Tammy and I) have been working really hard to get the farm cleaned up, and (cough, cough) weed free! Well, maybe not completely weed free! But close. Since our produce is certified organic our tolerance for weeds is high.

And Sara started this week too. Just this afternoon we must have "doug" up 14 lbs of morning glory roots!

On to another day! Check out the pictures in Part II!