Category Archives: Vegetable

Staying Busy

It is a familiar theme on my blog the last few years – I show up and post some updates and then disappear again.  I really do not have any good excuses, except that life is busy and blogging falls to the bottom of my “to do” list.  I always imagined that life would slow down and get less busy as my parenting duties decreased, but that certainly has not been the case. Our motivation for buying and moving to this little hobby farm 15 years ago was to create an interesting life for our small children and to give them a taste of the country life we experienced growing up.  Well, those children are not small any more and in fact, two of them have been out of the house for a few years already. We only have one remaining at home and in only a year, we will be empty nesters.  Maybe then I will have more time?

In defense of my latest absence in the blogosphere, my spring and summer has been an especially crazy, chaotic and wonderful one.  Our oldest son graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May and we spent a week out in New York for all the graduation week activities.  Family and friends joined us to celebrate our son’s accomplishment and we could not have been more proud to see him achieve his goal!

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Immediately after the graduation ceremony, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.  Another proud moment for our family.commissioning

After returning home from our amazing week out east, we immediately refocused our attention on preparing for that same son’s wedding at the end of June.

See?  I was not exaggerating when I said it has been a busy spring and summer for our family.  Like graduation, the wedding was wonderful and the day was filled with friends, family and so much love.wedding

Despite all the preparations and celebrations in our life, we did manage to get our vegetable garden planted this spring and it is coming along quite nicely.  We have already enjoyed an abundance of asparagus, lettuce, arugula, and spinach this spring.  Soon we will be harvesting more delicious and fresh produce to eat.

Here is a view of our onions, string beans, carrots and beets.  My sunflowers are shooting up along the fence.beans The climbing plants, cucumbers and squash, are starting to make their way up the supports that Jesse built for them a few years back.  I go out there every few days to try to direct the newest growth up the wire.climbingveggies According to the old saying, if all is going well, corn plants should be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.”  Our corn plants are clearly doing well, because they were armpit high by the Fourth of July this year!  Now if we can protect the crop from the raccoons we might just get to enjoy some sweet corn in a month or so.corn2We planted tomato plants before leaving in the middle of May to drive out to West Point for graduation week. We knew it was risky because the rule of thumb around our area of Minnesota is to hold off planting until after Memorial Day.  Not surprisingly, we did have a hard frost while we were gone and almost all of our newly planted tomatoes froze out.  Upon returning home, after Memorial Day, we replanted.  The new tomato plants are happy and thriving in the heat and we should start getting some cherry tomatoes soon.

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After a disastrous infestation of potato bugs a few years back, we opted out of planting potatoes for two years afterwards.  We planted one row last year to see what would happen and all went well.  This year we increased to two rows and so far, we are all in the clear.  No sign of potato bugs and the plants are going crazy.potatoes A similar experience with squash bugs made us take last year off from all members of the squash family. We did not plant any squash, zucchini or pumpkins.  Taking a year or two off from planting crops that experienced bug infestations has worked well for us in the past, and like the potatoes, the pumpkins are doing well so far and showing no signs of those disgusting insects.  We will keep our fingers crossed that they do not make an appearance later in summer.pumpkinsBesides our vegetable garden, I have been busy in my flower gardens and there have been some other new projects around here that I hope to share some time soon in another post.

In the meantime, I hope your summer is going well and that wherever you are, that you are enjoying the warm summer days and nights!

Staying busy, but happy, in Minnesota…

Lynell

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Gardening Rewards

After another long absence, I am happy to be back on my little blog to share some pictures of one of my favorite times of year….Tomato Time!!

What is better than a garden fresh tomato?  Not much, I would argue.  Of all the crops we grow in our vegetable garden, the tomato is a top contender for the most rewarding to harvest and feast on.

Our garden got off to a late start this year because of all the rain and cool temperatures this spring.  I was out in the garden yesterday doing some cleanup when I spotted some ripe tomatoes buried deep in the overgrown tomato plants.   The varieties shown here are Celebrity, Lemon Boy, and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes.

 

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The cherry tomatoes did not last long sitting out on the counter and we enjoyed the rest of the tomatoes today for lunch.  This simple Caprese salad is just sliced tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top, some fresh mozzarella pearls, fresh basil, and fresh ground pepper and salt for seasoning.  “Delizioso!”

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As summer winds down, I hope to get caught up with some posts on what has been happening around here on the farm.  It seems challenging to find the time to sit down at the computer when there is so much work to be done outside!

Lynell

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One Week to the Next

This weekend was not exactly balmy, but it was warm enough to continue melting the snow.  What a difference a week makes during spring in Minnesota!  It was only 9 days ago when we were dumped on and school was canceled because of all the snow. (See my last post).  Besides a few random piles here and there, all the snow is now gone.  Hooray!  (It is Minnesota though and more snow over the next month is a definite possibility).

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Last weekend our vegetable garden had a foot of snow covering it.  Today?  No snow in sight and the rhubarb is even peeking out of the soggy soil.

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The chickens were finally able to escape the coop and do some free-ranging after a long winter.  They headed for a dirt pile that we have and got busy scratching and doing whatever it is that chickens do.DSC_0115

The warmer temps allowed us to get outside and start working on all those spring chores.  I spent a lot of time walking around with my garden shears and cutting back various plants, like the Annabelle Hydrangea along the pole shed…

DSC_0110…And the ornamental grass, Sedum, coneflower, and miniature Joe Pye weed along the granary.

DSC_0120Jesse helped me clean up our raised beds with strawberries and blueberries.  We raked out the dead leaves, pulled some random weeds, and raked up some pine needles to freshen up the mulch.  This will be our third season with the blueberry plants and we are hoping that some of the big bushes finally produce a good amount of fruit.

DSC_0118We also found time to prepare for our baby chicks that are due to arrive some time at the end of next week.  They will be inside the house in this box for the first five days so that we can keep an eye on them and make sure to keep them warm and drinking water.

DSC_0122Jesse also cleaned out the brood boxes for his beehives and they are all ready for the new bees. We are not exactly sure when to expect them, but likely at the end of April.

Spring is definitely rolling along here in Minnesota and we could not be happier.  🙂

Lynell

 

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Filed under Animals, Chickens, Daily life, Flower, Gardens, Vegetable

The Front Door

Fall has definitely arrived here in Minnesota and as usual, I am way behind in drafting posts about what has gone on around here.  I have taken hundreds of photos over the summer, but putting those photos into a post takes time…something I always seem to be lacking.

I took this photo of our front porch today.  We harvested our pumpkins a few weeks ago and have kept them in the barn until yesterday.  With a cool and rainy day upon us, we decided it was time to bring them out and display them on our front steps.  The bright orange sure livens up the entrance to our house!

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We have decided to take a year off from growing pumpkins and squash after a nasty infestation of squash bugs for the second year in a row. (You can read more about squash bugs here).

If you have not dealt with these buggers in your garden, be happy.  They are disgusting and we just do not want to deal with them next year again.  We are hoping the absence of their favorite feeding ground for a year will break the cycle and we can resume growing pumpkins and squash without battling those bugs all summer long. We took a year off from growing potatoes after repeated infestations with potato bugs and it seemed to work. Being cautious, we planted a small row of potatoes this year and enjoyed a potato bug-free  season!

On the bright side, we did manage to battle through the squash bugs and grow some pumpkins before they totally destroyed the vines.  Our squash crop however, was a total loss.

My ferns on the porch are continuing to thrive in this cooler weather.  I hate the thought of them being killed off by the frost.  I may try to bring them inside and see how long I can stretch out their life into the fall and winter.

I hope you are enjoying the fresh air and bright colors of fall in your part of the country.

Lynell

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First Harvest of Spring – Asparagus

Spring is rolling along here on the farm and we have been busy digging around in the gardens.  Our asparagus patch is booming this year and I noticed a few days ago that several spears had poked through the soil.  We have had very warm temperatures the last few days and when I went out to the garden today there were loads of spears to harvest!
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Because we have struggled with asparagus beetles damaging our crop in the past, I started checking the spears for signs of this pesky bug.  It didn’t take long and I spotted a sign of the beetles…the tiny beetle eggs protruding from a spear.
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We noticed these eggs for the first time several years ago and started researching what they could be.  One of my favorite resources, the University of Minnesota Extension website, had a great article about asparagus beetles.  Here is a picture of this pest from the website:

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Besides the disgusting eggs on the spears, the big problem with these beetles is that they damage the spears, causing the tips to brown or curl into a deformed shape.  We had noticed these problems before with our asparagus and were glad to identify the source.  The advice in the article for controlling the beetles recommended handpicking them in smaller gardens like ours and that is the method that we have used.

Handpicking, especially in small gardens, can be effective. Drop adults and larvae in a pail filled with soapy water. Also remove the dark brown eggs from the spears. New adult beetles can fly into the garden, so be sure to check your asparagus regularly.

I am hoping we can get the beetles under control right away this spring.  We checked them this evening and found three adults on one of the spears.  They squish really easily between your fingers.  🙂

Battling the asparagus beetles is well worth the effort because there is nothing that says spring  like fresh asparagus out of the garden.  Our favorite way to cook asparagus is to place it on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and broil in the oven until it is softened.  It was a real treat tonight to enjoy our first harvest from the garden this spring.

Lynell

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Summer Harvest

We are trying to keep up with our garden and getting plenty of servings of vegetables each day.  I love summer!

Lynell

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Enjoying an Early Spring in the Veggie Garden

Spring came early this year in Minnesota and we managed to get out into the garden in March to till and prepare the soil for planting.

On March 18th I planted a mesculun mix, spinach and kale.  Temperatures dropped in April and we had a few hard freezes.

These hardy cool weather crops handled it just fine though and actually thrived.

In April we planted onions, carrots, beets, and green beans.

This is what our vegetable garden looked like in Mid-May.

The kale is very robust and I am looking for some good recipes to use up this crop.  Please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments!

The beans have already sprouted.  We planted two varieties – Early Contender and Trofeo.

More garden views.

I have mulched between the rows with straw to try to control weeds.

Around the tomatoes, I put down brown grocery bags under the straw for an extra barrier for the weeds.

I love the garden at this time of year before the battle against the weeds has really officially started.  It will never look this good again the rest of the summer.

So, back to the kale…

What should I do with all of it?

Lynell

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