Archive for the ‘growing your own vegetables’ Category

2 Ideas enter, One Idea Leaves…..or maybe a compromise…. See Mad Max if ya don’t get it….

Should I eat organic fruits and vegetables or what? What’s the deal? I see the USDA Organic label and I feel safe but if I purchase it, I feel like an idiot for paying 4x’s as much for the same product. Does it really matter? Is it so much better to invest so much more in a product? Are regular grown veggies that much more beneficial to my health? Let’s take a look at what the big dogs have found so far:

The Mayo Clinic is uncertain, that helps right? In their article “Nutrition and Healthy Eating” they say:

The answer isn’t yet clear. A recent study examined the past 50 years’ worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are comparable in their nutrient content. Research in this area is ongoing.

The USDA FDA says:

No conclusive evidence shows that organic food is more nutritious than is conventionally grown food. And the USDA — even though it certifies organic food — doesn’t claim that these products are safer or more nutritious.

How’s that make you feel? 50 years and no actual data? Are you kidding me? I could lobby congress for meal at a D.C. pub and a night at a sleazy strip club to have that turned in a week. What do these guys do? I mean really…. I’ll give you the big fancy government definition of this stuff, then I’ll break it down 7th grade style, not cause I think you don’t get it but because they fill their information with so much pork, it’d take you way too long to read.

Organic: The US Department of Environmental Protection has a long winded explanation here.  Does it differ from our buddies at the USDA’s standards? Sort of… Why? Because big government got involved. It was supposed to be a three year writing program but once Frito Lays got involved, it took ten years! And what did we get out of it? A watered down version of what it should be thanks to big business. If you get bored one Sunday, Google Frito Lays and Organic and try and see what fat cat CEO’s did to your Organic standard.

Organic (in simplest terms) is growing plants with no synthetic fertilizers (just compost, green manure and animal manure) and not using synthetics to keep away pests.

Why isn’t every farm organic? Maybe it’s because the government likes to charge a butt-load to certify a farm “organic” cause the GOV needs to make money right?

From TLC:

In a study of certification costs across eleven certification agencies, initial costs averaged $579, $1,414, $3,623, and $33,276 for farms with incomes of $30,000, $200,000, $800,000, and $10,000,000, respectively. For small farms, costs ranged from $90 to $1,290. For medium farms, certification cost anywhere from $155 to $3,300. Large farms paid about $200 to $12,300. And super-farms paid $575 to $150,300 for organic certification.

Why would a small farm (who barely makes enough money to survive) spend a ton of money to have the government give them USDA Certification? Maybe cause of the money……

Prior to 1990 Organic Foods didn’t exist! (Even though organic principles started as far back as the 1940’s) U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. Sales in 2010 represented 7.7 percent growth over 2009 sales. Experiencing the highest growth in sales during 2010 were organic fruits and vegetables, up 11.8 percent over 2009 sales (Organic Trade Association)

Organics now represent about 2% of the U.S. retail dollars spent on produce. This may seem small, but it represents a phenomenal growth rate in the last 10 years; it is estimated that this percentage with climb to 10% within the next 10 years. It remains to be seen, however, whether organic food will ever become the norm. (Organicecology)

The American demand for year-round organic fruits and vegetables has incited a farming boom in the arid deserts of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. I’m talking about growing “organic” tomatoes in the desert…. Yes, the desert….Trucking in water then trucking the fruit 3,000 miles away so Whole Foods can put an Organic label on it and some soccer Mom from the suburbs can buy It and think she’s saving the world. But in effect, it’s against everything that organic principles are about. Organic, maybe… sustainable Absolutely No way. Here’s the article from the NY Times.

So, what do we do? Do we but Organic or not? I guess that’s up to you. There’s a lot of links on this blog so take a look around and decide for yourself. There’s also a ton more information out there, this post barely scratches the surface of this debate. Please take a look around and post some of what you found on the comments below.

Here is this rant in a nutshell…..

  • Buy veggies in season – don’t buy Asparagus in February in the Midwest, it’s most likely from Peru or Chili. Buy what grows when it grows…
  • Just because a farm doesn’t pay the USDA $ to be certified “Organic” but obeys Organic principles, buy their food!
  • Eat Vegetables raised from Heirloom Seeds
  • Buy Local, all the time – make friends with a farmer today
  • Organic (in my opinion) has got to be better since it’s not loaded up with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. I grow organically, I do so because; I love to be able to walk in my garden and pull out a veggie and eat it on the spot with no washing.
  • There’s no data that states that Certified Organic Food is any better for you then conventional growing methods. So, don’t dump a ton of money into “Organic” labeled food.

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It’s time to order your seed catalogs for next spring! Nothing helps you get through the long winter like browsing through seed catalogs with a cup of hot chocolate, a pad & pencil and a dream of a warm early spring. I’ve created a list of some great seed catalogs and a link to their catalog request page (so you don’t even have to navigate through their site). It may not seem like the greenest thing to do but so long as you recycle your catalogs, it’s okay in my book. I love thumbing through the color photos of gorgeous vegetables and herbs and planning my upcoming garden by drawing it out on paper. I go to Google Maps and print out an aerial photograph of my property and draw my garden to scale. This is the best list of vegetable seed websites and catalogs.

3 Direct Links to Vegetable & Herb Seed Catalogs – All Non-GMO

Baker Creek – http://rareseeds.com/requestcatalog/

Seeds of Changehttp://www.seedsofchange.com/garden_center/catalog_request.aspx

Seed Savershttp://www.seedsavers.org/CatalogRequest.aspx

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to prepare the garden for next year! I’ve got a lot of work to do before the snow hits. I have to remove trellis’ and posts, dig up the onions and carrots (who are still sleeping tight underground), take in all the hoses and irrigation lines, cut down the skeletal remains of the veggie plants and compost them and turn the ground over. Ugghhhh…. Here’s what dire shape the garden is in now.

Coming up in our next blog; How to save your seeds for planting next year and Preparing your garden for planting in the fall (autumn) and winter.

Thank you all for making us the best small farm flog on the web.

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Summer’s coming to a close. The daylight is fleeting and the cool autumn air is whistling through the trees and soon their leaves will put on a spectacular color show and I’ll have to rake them into big piles and haul them to the curb. The garden plants are hanging on and giving all their energy to the fruits clinging onto their stems.

We picked some pumpkins yesterday and celery, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage and one crazy zucchini. The root vegetables can still sit in the ground for another couple of months. On a cool fall Saturday afternoon, I’ll head out back and dig up a wheelbarrow filled with onions and carrots and celery. So, long as the Buckeyes are playing an evening game and as long as I have a hot cup of apple cider to sip on.

Jake will help. By help I mean pee on anything that’s still vertical. As the world’s only farm Chihuahua, he has to mark his territory right? Mindy is always a big help harvesting too. She doesn’t like the planting but is a patient harvester. Carefully looking underneath each vine and every leaf. She can have some hot apple cider too.

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The temperature dropped 30 degrees in one day and it feels like autumn is on under way. The corn is turning a deep purple and the pumpkins are turning a brilliant orange. The sky is littered with gray clouds and a soft rain is falling. Time to bust out the crock-pot and make some warm meals. Chili is on the way tonight, made with fresh tomatoes, green peppers and onions from the farm. Best of all, football starts tomorrow and I can’t wait.

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This pic is from Saturday Morning

Spent the weekend fixing the fence and tonight (Sunday at 8:15pm) I caught this doe mowing the pumpkins. Look at this video of her leap over the 5′ fence without even trying. She disappears in the first 1 second of the video. Might have to rewind it a couple times to see it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWkYvfMrRbw

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Dave got the fence patched up where the deer were braking in to feast on the watermelons, pumpkins and corn. An ear popped up today as well and I grabbed a picture of a dragonfly on the corn. Did you know that a dragonfly’s life span is just 24 hours? I also snapped a couple shots of the rabbit I must take down in order to save my crop. god, I hate rabbits and deer.













Green Pepper, Thai Hot Pepper, Zucchini and tomatoes














I found a ton of pumpkins popping up. I was worried that they wouldn’t be pollinated but after my last post I noticed lots of bees, dragonflies, ants and other insects doing the pollination job. Thanks for the help Mother Nature.

I’m trying a new format with this post. Wordepress has made it a pain in the ass to post pics and text and make it look decent. So, please take a moment to click on the thumbnail pic to see it.

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Here’s a cool side-by-side picture of when I planted pumpkins on June 16th and a picture I took this morning July 24th. It’s pretty amazing what Mother Nature can do in just 38 Days.











Pumpkin Pollination is the key to growing pumpkins. It all starts with the Male Flower which grows above the vines and opens about a week or so before the female flower. You can tell the difference between the Male and Female flower quite easily. Male is on the left below, Female is on the right.










The Male is up above the plant and the female grows on the vine underneath the leaves. The giant leaves shade the fruit. Bees, birds and other insects take the pollen from the Male flower from the center stamen and place it on the female flower in the center of the multi segmented stigma. There was a lot of insects doing the pollinating this morning.










Due to the decrease of honey bees in certain areas, you can pollinate pumpkins yourself using a Q-Tip. Simply stick the Q-Tip into the center of the Male flower, and then place the Q-Tip (covered in yellow pollen) into the center of the Female flower.









More Pumpkin Patch Pics….








Pretty soon, you’ll have a pumpkin growing.























I found this guy hiding underneath the leaves. The first pumpkin of the season!


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Zoey meets Cory. She never saw a horse before. We were visiting my Uncle’s farm in Chardon. Cory licked Z and the little bub had no idea what to do.

Just counting down the days till the tomatoes turn ripe and red. It can’t happen soon enough.

We’ve been pickin’ peppers but the cabbage has a bit more time to bake in the sun.

The sunset was just gorgeous this evening. Mainly because the temperature dropped 25 degrees to a cool 74 after it rained.

Here’s a fun little video of the alpacas at my Uncle’s farm. Maybe we’ll get a couple for here. They’re really funny creatures. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz7hnOCSlZ0

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Cherry Tomatoes are turning red the Beefsteaks have a bit longer to ripen.

Supersonic and Romas are popping too



Basil and Apples growing on the tree

Cabbage is balling up and dill is looking tasty.

Sweet Corn is growing really fast.

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