Hey there guys! April is gone and May has arrived! We have so much growing! Along with all the growth there is also some disappointments. Come along and we’ll tell you all about it!
Trials & Pollination Issues
This year we are running a couple of trials. First let’s talk about the tomato trials. We started several new varieties of indeterminate varieties along with our standard varieties back in January. Among these are: Pink Bumblebee, Purple Bumblebee, Green Zebra, Sun Gold, and Sweet Million. All of these have been planted in the high tunnel. Here lies the problem… In our First Farmers Market In Years video we finally figured out what was happening with our bees! We have a large tree that flowers on the end of our property. It is as far from the high tunnel as it can be. THAT IS WHERE THE BEES ARE! This is nothing new as the bees always swarm this tree. This year however they seem to be totally satisfied STAYING RIGHT THERE! Imagine that. So what we have been forced to do is to hand pollinate our plants in the high tunnel and even some in the raised beds! This has meant more work for us on the farm and time that we really do not have, however, the farmer does what she must.
As far as health of these new tomato plants they are great and very vigorous! They are also full of flowers! Each morning that we hand pollinate we are looking for tomatoes but nothing yet. We are however optimistic.
The Three Sisters trial is looking really good! For our squash we planted pumpkins, yellow squash, and some zucchini. At first the squash seemed stunted. After a couple of rains however they have really taken off! We planted a purple bean for the pole bean so we can see the beans easily when harvest time arrives. If you follow our journey then you know that we have struggled year after year with growing corn. We are hoping by doing this trial where our compost pile was will contribute to the overall health of the plants here and hopefully increase our yields.
We have harvested all of our carrots! We didn’t have the abundant harvest that we had last year but of course we are happy for whatever we can get! Onions on the other hand are looking better than ever! This is quite ironic since we thought our onions were not doing well this year because so many were going to seed. We did find that the ones that were not are indeed growing quite well. In fact, we began harvesting them this week for a farmers market that we participated in yesterday! Most of those sold and what was left will be used in my very first home grown vegetable broth and our first onion salt blend! We have at least two full beds of onions left to harvest and they will be harvested this month.
We sampled the leeks and they are just not as big as we hoped. We likely wont be selling many but what is harvested will become a part of our home goods for the year – sauces, salsas, spice blends, and broth.
Growth As A Homesteader
It is one thing to learn to grown various vegetables and fruits but we have learned that it is whole other thing entirely to learn to use convert those items into something your family needs and will really use. As a business entity too we must convert these things into something that the general public needs and will buy. It is a challenge to figure this out but over time we have really grown in this regard. Over the last week we worked hard aggregating several produce items in to marketable products and also something we can use as well. We used our dehydrated spices to make seasoning salts. We used fresh herbs to make bread, used dehydrated herbs and berries to make tea blends, and we used frozen peppers to make hot sauce. We featured all of these at the farmers market we attended yesterday. They were a hit! Of course we saved some for ourselves, however, what what was left for the public is being added to our online store. Along with the aforementioned items we also butchered a hen for the first time and used her to make 11 pints of chicken broth seasoned with our own homegrown herbs. We then used the meat in a pasta dish for dinner. Win-win!
Taking what we grew ourselves and making pantry products that we can use to save money at the grocery store is so rewarding! There is the unfortunate result of becoming a bit of a food snob… nobody is perfect.
On this months docket is potatoes – sweet and fingerling, Asian greens, white onions, succession planting of squash, zucchini, green onions, basil, and cilantro.
I cannot mention planting without mentioning that we are delayed on our planting. We decided to support another source this year for some seeds and seed potatoes. In January we made an order to Urban Farmer. We just received our sweet potatoes yesterday ahead of the fingerling seed potatoes which we prefer to plant by mid-February. We found that Urban Farmer’s shipping schedule is a little later than what we are used to after the fact but that is on us. We had resigned to the fact that we would be planting them late due to our error. We tried calling, leaving messages, and sent emails trying to speak to someone in customer service about shipping concerns as the potatoes were not all we ordered. Kiwi plants and grapes were included on this order. We also ordered onions which are, as you can see above being harvested now but by their schedule are only being shipped mid – April for our Zone. Again this is our error as we assumed that as a seed company they would have accurate growing information and ship accordingly as have every other source for the staple items.
Yesterday when we opened the sweet potato slips we were very disappointed. We know plants don’t look great when they arrive but this has to be the worst any plants we have ever purchased on line have looked. We have since placed them in water and are trying to determine if we should even bother planting them.
I want to mention that all the seeds that we have ordered from Urban Farmer arrived promptly and are growing very well we just cannot recommend them for live plants, seed potatoes, or onion sets. As of today I have not received a call in response to the two voicemails or a response to the email. They do advertise a 100% satisfaction guarantee but I’m wondering how does one go about this process with no communication.
We hope to make these gift boxes available each month with varying contents. These little boxes make great gifts for that special someone in your life. This months contents are one votive candle and two of our 4 ounce spice blends. These can be delivered locally to the address you choose within our city limits or we can ship them for you. If you require shipping please contact us prior to purchase.
We have really dropped off with our video production this month and we want to apologize. We are looking to be back on tract with that this month!
By the next time we communicate, we will have attended our first big farmers market and we hope to have much good to report from it! Till then – from our family to yours!