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Archive for the ‘Organic Gardening’ Category

We had quite a wet spring but thanks to my brother Dave, the entire farm is planted (he’s on the 9N in the pic below). I couldn’t have done it without him, he’s the best brother a guy could have.

How is your garden coming along? How’s your weather? We had over 6 feet of snow this winter and I’m predicting a hot, dry summer here in the Midwest. Then again we just had a thunderstorm that dumped a couple of inches this morning. It hasn’t really rained in 3 weeks though….

Our new crop this year (drum roll please) cotton! I got a couple of packs of seeds from Baker Creek Seeds.  A wonderful company who donates seeds every year to our non-profit Project Garden Share. Speaking of Project Garden Share, if you’d like some free heirloom seeds sent to you, contact me! All we ask is that you plant one for yourself and one for PGS (so you can donate it to a local food bank for those in need.)

Here are some pictures of everything from pumpkin mounds, bonfires, happy chickens and a bean trellis made from tree branches that will be covered by pole beans soon (‘How to’ Post coming soon). We are also trying out weed blocking fabric this season, I’ll let ya know how well it does…..

Garden Rows with weed fabric pumpkin mounds planting vegetable garden bean trellis bonfire farm leaf lettuce garden close up chicken golden comet tomato flower brown eggs sunset

1949 Ford 9N golden comet chickens tight garden rows with weed fabricBeans sprouting tomato row chicken Garden Garden rows Sunny summer farm day

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Want to start your growing season early? Maybe extend in into the winter months? Then build a cold frame or sometimes called a mini greenhouse. A cold frame is 4 walls that secure heat and protect plants from the elements and a top that allows light through.

straw bale cold frame

Step 1) Find a good location that gets lots of sunlight and faces south.
Step 2) Build the walls. I used straw bales. They’re great at holding in heat and no tools are needed.

cold frame 1

Step 3) Use some old windows to put on top. I used some storm windows I found in the trash at a local church.

cold frame2

Step 4) Fill with plant trays full of seeds.
Step 5) Keep an eye on temperature, moisture and airflow. Open up the lid a few inches to circulate fresh air in.
Step 6) Acclimate your seedlings by taking the lid off when they get bigger.

Happy Planting!

cold frame straw3

Next Post: Starting your seeds in the cold frame.

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1008_butterfly121-300x200The population of Monarch  butterflies has dropped 59% this year. This is the lowest population ever recorded. Scientists attribute the drop to the destruction of breeding habitat in the U.S., due to commercial farming practices involving herbicides and genetically engineered crops.

What does this mean to you? Everything! If these native pollinators are dropping in record numbers, so are other pollinators. But there is something you can do about it. Make a small rest stop (or waystation) for the butterflies to help increase their numbers. This is a quite simple thing to do.

To create a habitat for monarchs, you need to provide milkweeds for the larvae, nectar plants for the adults, and sufficient vegetation to provide shelter for the larvae, pupae and adults. This all comes in a small kit for $16 here at Monarch Watch Stop.

How to Build a Monarch Waystation and lot’s of other useful links:

You can also purchase Milkweed seeds here for $3 a pack at Butterfly Encounters
Milkweed Growing Instructions: Live Monarch
From Here and Now on NPR a great radio piece with audio – Majestic Monarch Butterflies Under Threat
IMAX 3D Movie: Flight of the Butterflies
Teachers: Monarchs in the Classroom

I’ll be building a Monarch Garden this spring and I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

Migration_Map
Let’s help our little orange and black friends….before it’s too late. If you’ve created a garden already, please pot in comments and offer some advice to others. Spring’s almost here and I can’t wait! Happy planting!

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When Should I pick edamame or soybeans? Harvest soybeans the moment you see the bottom leaves start to turn yellow but the rest of the plant is green. The entire plant will turn rapidly so don’t waste any time because the beans will be too tough to eat. Pick em fast (see pics below) 1 day and they can turn brown.

How do I store fresh picked edamame or soybeans? Here are some easy steps to save edamame:
1. Bring pot of water to a boil. Boil beans for 5 minutes – This stops the enzymes and maturation process.
2. Remove from water and dry with a paper towel – By drying them they won’t all be stuck together in the freezer.
3. Place beans in freezer bag and store in freezer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great picture taken by Studio SPC


Stop……Pepper time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other stuff growing on the farm this week:

 

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Here’s a list of my tips to grow more veggies, keeps animals away, water the right way and more!

  1. Make plant markers by using an old mini blind. Take the slats, cut them with scissors and use a Sharpie. Go to Goodwill if you don’t have any. You can get one for .50 cents.
  2. Keep deer away from your garden by using human hair. I save my clippings when I buzz my head or you can go to your local hairdresser and ask for hair, they may look at you weird but they’re happy to get rid of it. Sprinkle it around the perimeter and replace every couple weeks or after a big rain.
  3. Use coffee grounds to fertilize your soil. Go to a local coffee shop and ask for their spent grounds. They save them at my shop for gardeners and have a sack behind the counter.
  4. If starting vegetables from seed is intimidating, try radishes. They’re really easy and go from seed to fruit in 35 Days.
  5.  Also, to keep deer and other animals out of the garden, pee on the fence posts. This is easier if you’re a guy but if you’re a gal, be happy about multiple orgasms.
  6. To trap critters, I’ve had the best luck with the following bait; Raccoons love marshmallows and cat food. Rabbits like carrots (duhh) but love brussel sprouts and spray the trap with apple cider. Ground Hogs love apples and mice well…peanut butter is all you need.
  7. Don’t water during the day. It’s useless and a waste. Most of it will evaporate and if you water the plant, the sun can burn it up (think of water droplets as tiny magnifying glasses). Always water at the base. Keep in mind vegetables are made up of mostly water. A tomato is 90-95% water.
  8. If you want to get children interested in gardening, stay away from root vegetables. They can’t see the growth and understand what’s going on underneath the ground and can’t visualize it. Stick with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins and corn. The changes are visually stunning and fun to watch.
  9. Always plant flowers throughout your garden to attract pollinators. And besides, it atheistically pleasing.
  10. Grow organically and plant non-GMO seeds. Why put poison on something you’re going to eat. And if you’re growing organically, be sure your plants and seeds are not genetically modified. Why waste time gardening organically if you’re growing a tomato created by splicing fish dna and a strawberry?

On the topic of GMO’s….On Friday, The Farm Bill amendment that would have unambiguously given states the rights to label genetically modifiedingredients in food without fear of reprisal from biotech companies was been voted down in the Senate. The amendment, introduced by Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Mark Begich (D-AK), was voted down by 73-26. If your Senator didn’t vote for it, call their office. Here’s a link to all the Senators from every state Click Here.

It was all over every major news corporation, wasn’t it? Ohh wait, it wasn’t covered by anyone.

Plug: My wife created a site of wonderful artwork; whimsical themes for children in a variety of mediums. She offers original works, archival reproductions and can also create custom artwork for those who request it.  Please visit her site by clicking on the banner above.

and finally a quick update on the farm…….in pictures. Happy Sunday everyone!

Lady bug on a bush bean plant

I need to trellis the peas.

Orange is my favorite color

Pumpkin patch is blowing up.

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It’s been dry, really dry. In fact one might even say the dreaded “d” word. (Drought) Alas, this evening it rained and all the little water lovers came out to say hi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Painted turtle and a green frog came out to have a look around. I picked up the turtle to bring inside to say hello to Zoey and then put him back in his same spot. I think he enjoyed the adventure as much as Zo Zo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The frog was funny. He let me take pics about an inch away from him without even blinking. It’s been about 4 weeks since we got rain, we so needed it. I hope the gray skies come back soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahh the obligatory veggie shots…..Pickling cucumber almost ready to pick, radish and hot pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day Everyone! Here’s what I got, Thanks Mindy!

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Cucumbers are coming in real nice. We’ll be pickling soon.

Zucchini’s blossoming and the Brandy-wine Tomatoes are loving this heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peas need trellised, corn is coming up and so are soybeans.

Pumpkins popped up a day ago and the bush beans are getting big.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chickens frolicking and a bunny. I gotta do something about the bunnies. They’re eating up all my beans.

Broccoli. Nothing better than fresh broccoli marinated with soy sauce and garlic and cooked on the grill.

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