Thursday, October 11, 2012

Third Time's a Charm

We had a fine time planting garlic this week.  This is our third try at it, and we're growing eight different varieties.  Here's the rundown of what went in the ground this fall.

Purple Glazer


Mother of Pearl:  We ordered 1 lb. of this variety from the Organic Garlic Seed Farm in 2011.  It produced well, and we planted about 5 lbs. of saved seed this season.  The skin is iridescent and really does resemble mother of pearl.  It has a mild flavor and each bulb contains numerous small cloves.

Kettle River Giant:  This is our first season growing this variety.  We ordered it from OGSF, as we have been extremely pleased with the quality of their products and reasonable prices.  We planted 5 lbs. of it.  This variety is also true to its name, as each bulb is comprised of a handful of very large cloves.

I like the way I feel like I'm recklessly littering as I plant garlic, with white papery skins thrown about the landscape.


Chesnok Red:  This seed was first ordered from OGSF in 2011.  We planted 1 lb. of it last year, and it produced well.  The cloves are large, and the heads are tight.  We put 5 lbs. of saved seed in the ground this season, and I look forward to planting it again next year.

Georgian Fire:  We first planted this variety in 2010.  We had ordered 1 lb. of seed from Seed Savers Exchange.  It was an incredibly strong producer for us, so we were glad to plant it again in 2011.  It seems that each time we've planted Georgian Fire, the bulbs and cloves increase in size.  I guess it is true that garlic slowly acclimates to its new home over time.  This is my very favorite hardneck variety. The bulbs are comprised of about five to seven tightly-bound cloves, and each clove is enormous.  The flavor is intense, and the skin is a gorgeous red.  We planted about 5 lbs. of saved seed this season.

Georgian Fire, my current favorite

Purple Glazer:  I love this variety.  We planted 1 lb. purchased from OGSF last season.  It was very prolific.  This is a great garlic to roast.  It has large cloves and great flavor.  The skin is perfectly purple.  This is my second favorite hardneck.  We planted about 5 lbs. of saved seed this season.

Purple Glazer, ready to roast

Persian Star:  We purchased the seed from OGSF and planted 1 lb. of it last fall.  It produced very well.  The appearance is similar to Purple Glazer, but the cloves are a bit smaller and more numerous. We planted about 5 lbs. of saved seed this year.

Music:  I've heard a lot of garlic growers rave about this variety, but it was the poorest producer for us.  We ordered  1 lb. from OGSF in 2011.  The seed looked fantastic, but we ended up with only a couple pounds of mature garlic this summer.  So, I saved it all for seed, and it is now in the ground.  Maybe it will begin to acclimate, so I'll be patient.  The cloves are large, and the heads are beautifully white.

We ordered 1 lb. (only 2 heads) of seed from Seed Savers Exchange in 2010.  It did quite well that season, but it the results were even better this summer.  We saved all of the seed, and it was enough to plant a 50' row this fall!

For more on our garlic history, check out these posts:

We've upgraded from a 100' row of garlic in the asparagus field, to an ocean of garlic in the main production field.  We planted thirteen rows that are about 50' long this year.  How far we've come!  Now, we just need to get some straw on top of those rows...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Big Dig

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to participate in the big sweet potato dig this year, as I was recovering from a nasty run-in with a black widow.  On the upside, I can finally spin webs!  So, it was left completely up to my dear Ben to unearth each and every one of the sweet potatoes that grew from the 200 slips we planted in the spring.  He is truly a good guy.

Yes, there are potatoes in all of those bins!

By the time the ginger in the greenhouse was ready to harvest, I had fully recovered.  It was a very aromatic experience.

Benjamin with our prized ginger root

Ginger tops in the greenhouse

Home-brewed pumpkin ginger beer this fall?  I think so!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Magical Fruit

Get your mind out of the gutter!  I'm not talking about beans (Though we do have a truckload of pintos drying.  They are literally drying in the bed of our Fat Bear truck).  I'm talking about day-neutral strawberries.  We planted the crowns this past spring, and we are now enjoying their first fall crop.  I think that's pretty damn special.

I am oh so excited about what is pictured above.  The plants are not only full of both red and green strawberries, but they are also in continuous bloom.  As each white flower opens, it signals that there will be a juicy red berry in its place in about one month's time.  So, it is my hope that we'll be able to offer strawberries until the first frost!  No promises, though.  Isn't there some saying about counting hens before they hatch?  For now, let's just enjoy the beauty of the late strawberry season.

And FIGS!  
I've become quite the fruit addict.  Blueberry and strawberry season(s) overlapped this year, and now we have both figs and strawberries.  Nom, nom, nom!

Today's figs and the tree from which they came.

And, just because he's the most perfect being on this planet:
The Honorable Thurgood Morsel

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gettin' Figgy With It

Now that blueberry season is in the rearview, we've been able to have a little fun with our food again.  I usually don't have the energy to cook a real meal after a big harvest day, so we've been reduced to sandwiches from the sub shop and frozen pizzas for too long.

We finally fired up the clay oven for the first time in weeks.
On last night's pizza menu: homegrown figs, pimiento peppers, basil, and rosemary.  Our farmer's market friends contributed tomatoes, red onions, and goat cheese.

It's amazing how figs become their own delicious warm jam after two minutes in the pizza oven.  I think we'll be doing this all the time now.

Good enough to be a meal on their own.

It was a ten-pizza night.  This one was my favorite.

And, just so you know, I made a fig tart earlier in the week.  We're talking about roasted butternut squash & onions, ricotta, and pesto.

Life Doesn't Get Any Better

Ben and I were fortunate enough to be invited to volunteer at this year's Lambstock.  We got to spend time with the incredibly welcoming animals of Border Springs Farm and meet equally incredible chefs, farmers, and mixologists.

A very sweet Nubian goat couple.

Mama sheep was nice enough to let me cuddle her baby.

Now, for the debauchery of it all.
Lambstock put a temporary kibosh on my 16 years of vegetarianism, and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.  I felt good about sinking my teeth into perfectly prepared lamb, turkey, and pork because I know that those animals had lived lives that anyone would envy.  Anyway, that's not what I really want to talk about.  At Lambstock, it's all about making new friends, eating too much, and indulging in a sip or two.  I consumed so much mammal that by the last meal of the event, I was convinced that turkey was a vegetable.

 Pork belly, get in my belly!

Punch, please.

Yep, I ate a boatload of that.  Who ever knew lamb could taste so good?

All dressed up and ready for the party.

No bones about it.

See, sometimes we do get away from the farm.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Wine

Sweet and dry strawberry wine

We've just bottled our first wine ever!  We corked and capped 5 gallons of sweet strawberry and 3 gallons of dry strawberry wine last night and not a moment too soon.  We needed to make room in our makeshift "fermentation chamber" (the office closet).  I've got a couple gallons of blackberry and some blueberry peach wine that will be moving into the closet this week.

I think it'll be about a year until any of this stuff is drinkable.  It's down right harsh going into the bottle, so it needs to mellow out a lot before coming out of the bottle.  I've got my fingers crossed that we won't end up with eight gallons of strawberry vinegar on our hands.

Friday, June 29, 2012

96 Degrees In the Shade (If You're Lucky)

Have you ever lain on a vent?

I mean have you ever really lain on a vent?  Bliss.

 You should see our air filter.  Unbelievable.  No wonder I have to do a Neti Pot every single day right now.  Thurgood Morsel loves to lie on an air vent at every opportunity during the summer.  He lies on the vent in the living room all day, and he lies on the vent in our bedroom every night.  He steers clear of all vents in the winter when they blow warm air (We try to keep it cool for the boys in the winter.  I have to don a hat, scarf, and fleece the whole season just to survive our house.  I like to look on the bright side and think about all money saved on heating bills.  Unfortunatley, all that "saved" money is cancelled out by our central air usage).  St. Bernards were not made for the South.  

My nasal passages are so clogged-up that I have almost completely lost my sense of smell.  I used to think that people who complained about their "allergies" were hypochondriacs.  I didn't believe that allergies were actually a real thing.   Now I think that I'm allergic to pollen and dogs.  How does a dog-lovin' farmer go on?  Suck it up and quit your damn complaining!  Shut your pie hole!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Miles Monday: Meet Our Littlest Monster

I first noticed Miles' hidden talent when the two of us were browsing the shelves at a dog-friendly independent video rental shop.  A woman walked up to me and asked with sincere concern, "What's wrong with him?"  I looked down, and Miles was resting comfortably on the cool floor in the position pictured above.  

Extreme flexibility is just one of the many unique traits Miles possesses.  Listed below are a few more things about our beautiful beast that you might not know. 

Name:  Miles Styles Giles

Aliases:  "Moe-My Gaddafi: The Fresh-Maker, The Dictator, The Brother-Hater,"  "Old Shuffle-Step," "Inspector Miles"

Sex:  Neutered Male

Weight: 125 lbs.

Height:  Just Tall Enough to Eat Off the Kitchen Table

Birthdate:  January 19, 2009

Hometown:  Columbia, MO

Titles:  2009 Mid-Missouri Pet Idol, Fat Bear Farm Quality Control Supervisor

Dislikes:  Puppy Mills, Thurgood Morsel, Strangers, Baths

Food:  Sweet Potatoes, Yogurt, Eggs, Juice from the Tuna Can, Pizza Bones, Homemade Treats

Films:  Beethoven, Beethoven's Second

Interests:  Whatever Mommy's Up To

Hobbies:  Running My Crazies in the Backyard, Hiking, Chewing Bones, Contortion, Fetch, Dress-up

Personality Traits:   Protective, Fiercely Loyal 

As you can see, Miles is talented, handsome, intelligent, and dedicated to his pack.  I couldn't ask for a better pet.  So, if you're thinking about adding a little critter to your family, consider a rescue pup.  If Miles Giles hasn't done enough to convince you of the treasures that await you in your local animal shelter, take a look at the information below:

About 5 million to 7 million dogs and cats end up in animal shelters every year in this country.

Approximately 3 million to 4 million of these animals are euthanized every year.

If you're interested in a specific breed, a shelter just might have what you're looking for.  Twenty-five percent of dogs in shelters are purebred.

You can be a hero if you opt to adopt!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

To My Former Favorite Neighbor

Although you are no longer my neighbor, you remain my favorite.
Remember when I used to sneak into your yard and dig up your perennials?  Well, they are thriving all over the farm.  So, thank you for turning a blind eye to my thieving ways.

The Black-Eyed Susan will bloom any day now.

I've never had such beautiful Coneflowers before.

This Bee Balm makes me smile.

In addition to the perennials growing beside the high tunnel, your Irises bloomed beautifully this spring, your cleome re-seeded enthusiastically, the peonies will probably flower next spring for the first time, and the willow tree you gave us is thriving.  

Memory Lane misses you!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bring On The Black And Blue!

No, I do not want a punch in the face. 
However, I am so ready for some black and blueberries.  As of today, the blackberries are red, and the blueberries are green going to pink.

Blackberry trellises

Though the blueberries bloomed a few weeks early this year, survived some frost scares and look fantastic, I still don't think they'll ripen much earlier than last year.  We must wait until early July.


It's hard not to be impatient.  Look at all these berries! 

As for the strawberries, it's nearly time to say "goodbye," until the fall.  Some of the high tunnel plants are still pumping out a few plump ones, but I'll soon renovate the beds.  Thanks to freezing and fermentation, we will be able to enjoy them all year long.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Kitchen Garden Exists

Yes, we do have a kitchen garden this year.  Thanks to my lovely Ben, I had the day off.  So, I finally had some free time to take a few photos of my favorite garden spot.

Nasturtium, Borage, Hops

Beans, Carrots, Peppers, Corn

The Pumpkin Patch, Wineberries on the right


The birds have helped themselves to the first ripe wineberries.

Winter Squash

Sweet Corn


Golden Zucchini


Scarlet Runner Bean

Provider Snap Bush Bean

This is a complete list of the items growing in the kitchen garden at the moment:

Christmas Lima
Scarlet Runner
Black Eyed Peas
Provider Snap Bush Bean
Beurre De Roquencourt Wax Bush Bean


Golden Zucchini
Queens Island Blue
Young's Beauty Pumpkin
Dill's Atlantic Giant
Long Island Cheese
Australian Butter

Golden Honey Watermelon
Amish Melon

Hot Portugal
Wisconsin Lakes Red Bell
Orange Bell
Early Jalapeno
Red Ruffled Pimiento

Imperial Black Beauty
Ping Tung Long

Scarlet Nantes
Purple Haze

Sweet Basil
Italian Large Leaf

The Others
True Gold Sweet Corn
Giant Ground Cherry


Tomatoes and beets are noticeably missing from this list.  We have planted 125 tomatoes so far, and they are located in our newest production field with the beets and other crops. 

Now that we are growing the bulk of our vegetables behind the blueberry orchard, we have a lot more space to play with in the kitchen garden.  I'm super-pumped about the pumpkin (and melon/winter squash) patch.  I can't wait for the sea of green that is to come.  I'm sure the hens are excited about all the squash bugs I'll be collecting for them!