Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Pics 2

This fall has been a blast with pumpkin patches, fairs, pumpkin shows, and parties!!!  Here are a few pics...

Nothing like coming home after a fun filled day! (HA!  I wish!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall Pics

I think I am cursed.  Everytime I think..."Oh I think I have enough money to buy a Kitchen Aid stand mixer", I break something.  I am going to try and not think that anymore.  I went out and bought a new camera finally.  This is why I don't buy an expensive one.  Anyways I wanted to share some fall pics with you...

Some pumpkins..not ours.  We did ok with the mini pumpkins this year but we didn't get any winter squash and the stink bugs has destroyed the summer squash by the middle of July.  We got our truck now so we are going to get some fertilizer up at the farm.  I think the plants need some good soil.

More squash and such...same person.

Here is our table...greens, greens, and more greens!  I am really excited with how well our fall stuff did.  We tried Mustard Greens for the first time and they have grown wonderfully.  Our Basil is actually still producing with only a couple plants that were harmed by the cold nights.  We also have arugula which did well and radishes.  The radishes have been more knobby then the spring ones and a bit hotter.  The French Breakfast, as always, did the best.  I would be satisfied with just growing these but J wants to grow Cherry Bells which is probably a good idea.  This is what most people are looking for.  I also grew a fall planting of Cilantro which is doing much better then our spring crop and I think I will do this every year.  The lavender is still kicking, and so is the Chard.  Overall this year has been 10 times better then last year, even with the dry weather we have had.  I can't believe it is almost over!!!  We are, of course, already planning for next year and hope to do 2 markets.  I have some other stuff I have wanting to be posting so hopefully I will get to that in the next couple of days :) 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dollhouse Purse

Dollhouse Purse

I am obsessed. Like bad. Like thekind of obsessed where your eyes burn from lack of sleep and your house is a mess and half your mind is trying to drag itself from it's obsessed abyss so you can get the stuff done you need to get done. Yes...I have learned how to knit. I think I might...dare I say it more then crochet. But it is still a new fangled thing so we will see how much I love it in a couple months. Anywho part of the obsession is looking at patterns I can now someday make and here is one I will make for sure for my little girl (or myself) except add some little flower boxes. So take a gander if you have a sec.  Also I broke my newish camera so I will not be posting for about a week or so.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Root cellaring, essential for the self sufficient home...

Having a large storage of your own home grown produce is one of the biggest steps to self sufficiency there is.  While canning and drying are very time and energy consuming, root cellaring, when done properly, is the best low energy food preservation option out there.  The most energy put into it is making a root cellar.  Once you have this done you are pretty much good to go indefinitely as long as you keep your cellar in good shape.  We were lucky enough to move into a house that already had a room in the cellar on the NE side of the house that was put there for just this purpose.  The only problem we face now is that the room have pretty much no insulation.  When the house was built I assume there was a wood burning stove in the kitchen and the fireplace was used for heat.  Now we have this monster of a furnace on the other side of the root cellar wall...

Seriously this thing is huge but it pumps out heat like a champ and is really not that expensive to run....

The duct work is HUGE!  I might be able to crawl through those if I wanted! Here is the room on the other side...
Yup, this is it...our root cellar.  Did I hear you scream?  Oh wait, that was me.  Kind of Silence of the Lambs creepy isn't it?  The brackets on the right are some kind of shelf I suppose.  I thought I could put some sturdy planks across and store my canned goods but it is slightly wobbly.  I would hate for hours and hours of canning to be wasted so I want to make sure that sucker is sturdy before I put anything on it.  The window will need to be taken out and replaced with some kind of vent.

The door is made of various planks, some are leftover pieces of flooring and the others are probably other left over pieces of construction from the house.  This needs done first.  Also above the door is a 3 inch gap that needs filled.  Around the door is another 1/2 in gap that was filled with old crumpled newspaper.  I am not sure what good that was supposed to do seeing as there are 1/2 in gaps in between the planks on the door and the 3 in gap on the top, but who am I to judge?  A year ago I read Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel.  This is the source for root cellaring knowledge.  I got it from the library a couple of times but this is a keeper so I went ahead and bought it recently.  Even if you live in an apartment they cover how to convert a closet space to a make shift root cellar.  A really great resource.  I suggest you take it out from your local library if you are interested but I will bet you will want to buy it when you are done!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cookin with jersusalem artichokes and some market pics....

So this year was the first time we planted Jerusalem Artichokes....

Here they are stuffed on the side of the house.  We had to tie them up because they kept falling over. 

They have also been a nice addition to cut flowers we sell at the market.

Here they are all scrubbed up.  Most recipes say to peel them but I read a couple places that said that wasn't necessary so I just made sure they were really clean and chopped them up.  As you can imagine they are really hard to peel so this is a big time saver.  I had never cooked with them before so I just kind of winged it.

Ta da!  Jerusalem Artichokes sauteed with chard, garlic, walnuts, sage, and olive oil!  The artichokes have a nice smokey flavor and they have the same texture as a water chestnut.  Very very good.  We will be growing LOTS more of these next year.

Also the market is booming.  Lots of people and produce, it has been a lot of fun.  I wanted to get some pictures since things will be winding down here soon.

Looks like Black Opal Basil?  I do know the flowers are edible and really nice on a salad.

Heirloom maters....

Tiny little peppers....

Look at those cute little baskets...awww....

Flowers that look like brains (lol!)....

It should be mentioned that none of this stuff is mine.  I have 2 whole eggplants and 2 rotted ones on my plants..haha oh well maybe next year.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Uses for expired olive oil...

So I have become a bit less enthused about Sam's Club in the past couple of years.  I have noticed that most things are cheaper to buy in a regular size at another store (like cereal for example...a HUGE rip off at SC).  Some things are still a good deal like parm cheese (the mega super duper size), cottage cheese, and sometimes fruit.  At least these are the things I get that I find are good deals.  Plus I don't like the fact that they basically sell a bunch of regular size boxes in one giant box.  One of the great things about buying in bulk is less packaging.  I would rather have one giant bag of spaghetti then 6 boxes and an extra giant box I have to recycle.  Now SC isn't the only culprit.  I went to buy some Annie's mac and cheese and wanted to get the large one.  A regular box was $1.70 and the large which is equal to about 2 reg. boxes was 4.99.  Really?  I mean I will just get 2 regular boxes.  Even when I buy in bulk a lot of times I can't use it all which I guess would be the benefit of the individual packaging.  So my point is, is I have a bottle of expired olive oil that I need to use on something else.  I searched the internet and a few things I found were...

Use instead of conditioner: Well this might work if my hair wasn't super fine.  I think I will try it but I will do it on a day I don't have anywhere to go as I have a feeling I will look like a big old grease ball.

Foot softener:  I would wipe out on my kitchen floor for sure!  I never wear shoes.  The plus side to this is it would be a funny story after a couple of months.

Lubricate doors and hinges:  This could work!

Make your own furniture polish:  Here is a recipe on The Family Homestead

Rub on candle holders to prevent sticking

Stuck zipper

So there you have it.  Some useful and not so useful ways to use expired olive oil.  Also make sure to store it somewhere where you won't get it mixed up with the good stuff!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Garden happenings, and our "work" truck...

So last week we planted the fall garden.  I would like to have waited a bit more but I wanted to make sure that we had some stuff for market.  It seems the bugs really go after the fall seedling.  We also started putting up more of the fence so we will have more room to make a second planting of everything...if we can get it up in time that is!  Some great fall crops are arugula, mustard greens, collard greens, kholrabi, radishes (which we will plant a bit later as they don't take very long), and turnips.  There are lots more.  This year I am trying black seeded simpson, and cilantro as well.  We also started some basil late that I was hoping to sell in the fall in pots for herb gardens over the fall and winter but they got gnats like everything else did so into the ground they went!  They seem to be doing well and I don't think I can have too much basil!

And here is the "work" truck.  I mean this in two ways, we hope it will help us do more work and it needs some work too!  Haha!  Ok and don't go getting mad at me either.  I am still into the tree hugger stuff.  New trucks are waaaay too much and most of them don't get good gas mileage at all.  This sucker isn't too bad on gas.  A huge benefit to this truck is that we can do most of the work it needs.  We don't know anything about it but my dad does and is willing to help.  Plus if we are going to move out to the farm someday we can't be taking out tractor in to get oil changes or when it starts making a funny sound.  We are going to need to do it ourselves...all a big part of this self sufficiency stuff ;)  Also more canning, and hoping that we have more tomatoes to can!  I just made the best sweet and sour sauce recipe which I will be making more of and will post the link when I have more time.  As it is there is lots to do so I better go do it!

-Mama G

Friday, August 6, 2010


Well today was rather upsetting.  We went to the farm and our squash has been destroyed by the stink bugs.  I seriously hate those little jerks!  They always prevent me from growing squash later then August.  The corn has corn ear worm, the tomatoes have the blight and aren't ripening, the beans have some sort of bug that is making them look like swiss cheese, the cuc's have cucumber beetle and aren't producing as well, cabbage worms ate all our collard seedlings, and there are horse flies that I swear are attracted to me and want to suck my blood because they will not stop buzzing around me!  Argh!  Ok I feel!  Anyways this got me thinking, back when families depended (and in a lot of areas of the world, still do) on their crops to feed themselves...I can certaintly imagine why they started using pesticides.  I still think there is a better way.  That is why small farms are so important.  Like next year we are going to use a lot more row covers and raised beds.  That should prevent the squash bugs, as well as protect most of our other plants.  On a small scale this is possible.  Not so much on a large scale.  I did look into BT which is supposed to be organic and "safe", but then I found this website and I have changed my mind!  I think if we want cabbages this year and from now on it is floating row covers!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rain rain...thank God!

This has been an all or nothing kind of summer.  Either way too much rain or way to little.  We haven't had much lately so when I saw this...

I don't think these pictures do justice to just how dark it really was.  That house in the picture is a forclosed house next door.  It really started coming down and all of the sudden this guy parks his truck in the alley, jumps out of his truck, unloads a weedeater and mower and starts mowing the lawn!  It was really coming down in sheets and the sky was churning.  Lightning was crashing everywhere and the wind was insane.  I think the guy must have been a little crazy.  I thought banks didn't really care about foreclosed homes but apparently this one is different!

So with all this rain I am hoping the garden really goes crazy.  Things have begun to taper off, I believe it is due to the lack of rain.  It is funny how much my perspective on things has changed.  I never thought the weather would effect my life so much but it really is important for us!  We have one little baby watermelon that should really love this!  Now we have gotten quite a bit of summer squash.  Some of them are rather large so I have been stuffing them...

This one is filled with dirty rice and topped with mozzerella.  This is the one area in my life I take it easy, it is just Zattaran's Dirty Rice which is really good and really easy to make.  I usually use Morning Star fake ground meat.  I have also stuffed them with ricotta and sauce, and quinoa.  I am also working on some new stuff to sell at market.  We do well, but I think we really need to find our niche there.  I will let you know how it goes.  So I hope you are finding all sorts of good stuff to do with summer's bounty, and I hope your gardens are staying watered!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Farmer's Market' to stay?

My first experience with a "Farmer's Market" was in my hometown of 8,000.  This was back in the late 80's and I remember it being maybe 3 vendors selling from the back of their trucks.  They had the usual, sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, and maybe some cucumbers.  That was it.  I recently went back to my hometown for the 4th of July and went over to the Farmer's Market which had gone away for awhile I believe, but had recently been re-opened.  Due to a 4th of July festival that goes on every year my Grandma said they had a lot less vendors then usual, but I was impressed as they still had around 14!  I mean for a town of 8,000 that is pretty good.  And it wasn't just the usual garden produce either, they had chard, and all sorts of berries, different looking squash, grass fed beef, free range eggs, and even hand spun wool and yarn from llama's!  A lot different from the late 80's version!  Even in my town of 45,000ish our Farmer's Market has probably tripled or quadrupled in the last 2 years.  I think it has to have been the "perfect storm" of events in this country that has brought back this old tradition.  Food safety, poor economic times, a better understanding of where your food comes from, a desire to support one's community, and lots of people wanting to find an extra way to earn cash.  I also find it interesting how the look of the market has changed.  I think you generally have 3 main groups of people selling at market's.  Middle aged to older farmer's who have been doing it forever (the ones in the overalls and John Deere hat's who are an invaluable source of information and generally love to share it), the hippies (long skirts, rope sandals, baby wearing, odd food growing, kind of people, who generally grow some really weird stuff), and Amish or Mennonite families (probably the biggest competition as they know how to do everything farm related and they are supporting their families while doing it).  Now don't get me wrong there are some other types in there for sure, but these people seem to make up a large demographic of sellers.  Also the individual stand seems to have changed a lot recently.  You have seen pictures of our table, and this is a very typical set least at our market.  People love it too.  Everything in baskets, pretty sign showing your farm name, nice table cloth, etc.  We always have people wanting to take pictures of our table which is very flattering.  I think it draws people in.  A lot different from selling out of the back of your truck (which is also still done and seems to work very well for some people).  Even the veteran farmer's seems to be spiffing up their tables to keep up with everyone else.  The biggest thing that I am hoping for is that this isn't just a trend.  I hope that all of these things have opened up people's minds and made them realize that there is a better way to get food.  You look at a lot of other countries and their market's are the heart beat of their community.  I really hope this is what the future of Farmer's Market's will be in our country as well! 

P.S. As usual I appologize for the spelling and gramatical errors.  This is being written super fast during nap time! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things are a bit more complicated then I thought....

When we decided to start living a more "aware" lifestyle there were some things I guess I wasn't expecting.  Take something like cutting back on water usage.  Well that seemed a simple one to us.  We installed a rain barrel to collect rain water for the garden.  Why water our garden with drinking water when so many people don't have clean water?  Or the fact we don't have full house a/c (we do have a window air conditioner that we have used once this summer).  Also being able to grow our own food in our back yard and just go out and pick it and bring it in when we need it.  Awesome!  All pretty simple, straight to the point kind of things.  Well I can't help but be annoyed with the problems created by these solutions.  Lets take the rain barrel.  Great idea, but it takes forever to water our garden....I mean a decent trickle is about the best we do with that thing.  Also I hate how much my house suffers in the summer.  The last thing I want to do when my house is 87 degrees and 85% humidity is to get up and clean.  I break a sweat washing veggies in that kind of weather.  I have also noticed that we are having some major bug issues in the house.  Gross!  I think I am doing pretty good with the whole bugs outside thing.  A lot better then I used to.  I actually picked a cabbage worm off my kohlrabi with my bare hands the other day.  A pretty big step for me!  I just can't, and won't, take them in my house!  I suspect the berries to be the culprit.  I sort through them but man those bugs are tricky little suckers!  So although the solution is not as easy as I once thought it to be, I know there are some relatively simple solutions to make my solutions work (wow got that?)  For one we need to install some sort of sink on our porch to wash veggies in.  No more dragging dirty veggies in the house.  Also I found an awesome rain barrel drip system you can build yourself in Hobby Home Farm.  Ok well the a/c not so simple.  I don't want it.  It is bad for the environment, and bad for the budget.  If I went all summer pregnant without it last year I can go the rest of my life unpregnant without it.  So I hope I am not complaining too much!  Actually after writing this down I realize that these are some pretty lame problems!  On a lighter note here is a picture of our awesome squash!

This is the summer squash mix we ordered from Pinetree Seeds, a really great mix!  I haven't seen any yellow yet, but I know we have some eight balls coming.  I also discovered what seems to be, an awesome way to get rid of powdery mildew disease (naturally!).  I just put 1 cup water to maybe 3 tbsp milk in a spray bottle and sprayed the plants when I first noticed the powder.  I also sprinkled corn mean at the base of the plants.  Not sure what did it, or if it was a combination but I am going to assume it was more the milk then the cornmeal.

Also the pickled garlic scapes I made in the spring!  We really have had some great successes this year which I am very grateful for! 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garden update

Well as usual at this time of year, we are really busy with the gardening and marketing stuff.  It is going really well!  We have been having a lot of successes in the garden as well as some failures, but we have already learned so much more!  We just pulled the last of the first batch of beets and I am hoping that the weeds haven't ruined the next couple planting we did after that.  The swiss chard is still going strong as well as the kale.  We have had some cuc's and zucchini, and we are finally getting a good crop of tomatoes.  Most of the heirlooms we bought are dying or dead.  I suspect this is because we planted them in the same spot where we put our store bought tomatoe plants last year that died from the blight.  We didn't even think to put them in a different spot!  I did plant some of the heirlooms we started in a different spot and they are doing much better. 

These are the traveler tomatoes (Risentomate) we grew.  We bought the seeds from Baker Creek.  It seems to be a very healthy and productive plant.  The tomatoes are very interesting looking!

The fish peppers look awesome this year!  They are really productive plants.


And sunflowers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Our first sell out day!

Yes we sold every bitty bit of our produce plus some extras we bring.  It was a very very good day!  Most vendors sold out as our little market is becoming quite the happening place...

Our new sign made from an old table top.

Sour cherries for pies...

The last of the swiss chard...which wasn't even ours!  We were selling it for someone else who left so we sold out of our stuff and someone else's!

We bought this huge Napa cabbage for only $4.00!  We also got spinach, zucchini, and yellow squash.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last weekend's farmers market was a successful one even though we had heavy rain two hours into the day. But it wasn't all bad, people huddled under each others tents and customers and vendors mingled. All in all the day went well, we had good business early and steady customers after the rain stopped. We are definitely showing improvement on last years sales and we still have the summer and fall crops to go!  Here are some pictures from market:

Sunday, May 30, 2010


We had another great market this weekend! 

We had some lettuce, arugula, last of the radishes, fresh lavender, two kinds of kale, and some sunflower seeds for planting.  We sold out of all the lettuce and most of everything else.  Even the sunflower seeds were a hit!  We put a picture of little man standing in front of the ones from last year and people were really excited to be able to grow them too.  Some of ours were 15 feet!

These marigolds were huge!  And they were only $5 a flat...but I am really trying to only buy things that are absolutely necessary. (but I am kind of kicking myself for passing these up!)

Some pretty wildflowers...

Gorgeous roses....

Yummy baked goods (those are muffins with mulberries in them..yummm!)...

Hope you had a good Memorial weekend!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


We have been thinking about intstalling a fence in our side yard so we can expand our gardens here at the house for a while now.  The planning process has been slow and the ideas have changed many times, but now we are in high gear.  Our neighbors were replacing their existing fence and throwing out the old one.  Leslie saw this happening and lept into action, without hesitation she went over and asked if we could have the old fence pannels, some of the boards will need replaced and it is need of paint but will save us a load of money and we are recycling materials instead of them ending up in a landfill.  We will keep you posted on our progress