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Monday, September 28, 2009

My Waste is Getting Smaller

We went to Red Butte Gardens here as a family for memorial day and it inspired me to write another article about composting. Red Butte Gardens is a non-profit botanical and ecological center provided by University of Utah. It is a good place to go to learn about growing both flowers and vegetables in the Utah area.

While we were there we were able to check out a couple of the compost methods that they are using. You might recall that I showed you how to build a simple backyard composter for a small garden. Here are some additional methods that they were using.

The first composter was a very simple and functional bin made out of wood. You can see in the picture the list of things that are allowed and not allowed in the compost bin. This seems like a great method as it is open and I believe it would be easy to sift and mix the compost. My personal opinion is this is more for a larger garden area as opposed to the garden we have on our .11 acre plot of land in the city.

The second composter was one that they purchased called a can o worms vermicomposter. This was a fun one for me to look at as it uses worms to help with the breakdown of your household waste into beautiful soil for your garden. I also like the feature on this composter that allowed the compost tea to drain out of the bottom of the unit into a bucket. This tea can then be used as a liquid fertilizer for your garden. There are many worm composters available out there and maybe next spring I will make a homemade worm composter to share with you.

So how has our composter done for us? Here is a picture of our compost. This is what comes from some of our table scraps, a little chicken poop, hay, grass clippings, yard waste, and shredded newspaper. It’s very fulfilling to know we are reducing our household waste and at the same time helping to improve our garden’s output.

There are many ways to compost and these are just a few of the methods. Send us some pictures of your composters and let us know how they are working out.

Mike Johnson

Drying For Freedom

A Film About Clotheslines

Due to be released in 2010, Drying For Freedom is a film about communities and freedom; with 50 million clotheslines banned in the U.S alone, are we hanging our planet out to dry?

Visit their site at www.dryingforfreedom.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Dismal Science

I got my Bachelor’s in Economics and as such I like to keep spreadsheets and numbers to try and understand what is happening in the world around me. One of the things that I was concerned about when we started gardening was whether it was a good decision economically. Mainly I was concerned if it was worth my time based on the money I saved. I calculated our expenses (including the cost of time) the first year of gardening and was dismayed to find out that it didn’t save us money to garden. It was actually more expensive for me to produce a carrot than it was to buy one at the store. This made sense to me because of the whole economies of scale idea. Of course a farmer with a huge farm can produce a carrot cheaper than I can. I about quit gardening but luckily my wife kept us in the game.

Over the years I have realized that there are hidden benefits from gardening that I can’t put a price on that make having a garden a profitable endeavor. You can’t put a price on the lowering of my blood pressure because of the enjoyment I have from working in the garden, and the benefits of eating healthier. You can’t put a price on the work ethic your children and you receive as they get their hands dirty. You can’t put a price on the benefits of time spent together as a family working towards a common goal. You can’t put a price on the better tasting vegetables that you get to eat fresh from your backyard. You can’t put a price on the reduction of your carbon footprint from getting food from your back yard. All in all, I think gardening is profitable for all of us.

All that said, I still enjoy keeping track of my garden with numbers. I decided to weigh everything that we harvest from our garden this year so I can form a baseline for us to improve upon. We wanted to share our results with you. Just to give you an idea of the size of our garden we have on plot that is 27 ft by 9 ft and 4 plots that are 4 ft by 4 ft. I don’t consider this a lot of room at all and I am pleased with what we have produced so far. None of this includes the more than 2 dozen eggs that we get each week and all of this on a .11 acre lot.

I already reported on our June harvest here in which harvested a paltry 9 lbs of food. Following you will find our harvest for July and August.


Green Beans: 2 oz

Sugar Snap Peas: 8 oz

Carrots: 14 oz

Strawberries: 4oz

Lettuce: 2 lbs 6 oz

Raspberries: 6 oz

Yellow Squash: 3 lbs 10 oz

Zucchini: 12 lbs 6 oz

Beets: 13 oz

Tomatoes: 6 oz

Cucumbers: 6 lbs 4 oz

July Total 27 lbs 12 oz


Carrots: 6 lbs 2 oz

Zucchini: 38 lbs 9 oz

Beets: 5 lbs 6 oz

Tomatoes: 29 lbs 4 oz

Cucumbers: 20 lbs

Eggplant: 1 lb

August total 100 lbs 4 oz

So far we have grown about 137 pounds of food and I expect we will have a lot more in September. Think about bringing home 137 lbs of food from the grocery store. Gardening is a very satisfying and fulfilling hobby. If you already garden, keep it up. If you don’t, start out small but get started now.

Mike Johnson

Monday, September 21, 2009

Question from a Reader- Turkeys

One of our readers, Patricia, had a question about her turkeys. I personally couldn't answer her question and thought that I would open it up to all of our knowledgeable readers. Leave a comment if you have any insight to her problem.


I wonder if you have had the problem of your male turkeys (2 and one naked neck rooster) fighting it out like machos in a bar? It's distressing, and they just started it. I have considered clipping the upper beak, which seems cruel, but not as cruel as what they're doing! I had three guineas in the pen who were also adding to the problem, but I separated them. Unfortunately, I can't let them free range here because each time I let them out, I lose two to coyotes or bobcats (haven't seen the predator, but have seen the missing chickens),

Thanks for any help you can give me.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pamper Yourself to Celebrate National Honey Month

Stimulating Camphor & Eucalyptus Honey Foot Soak

- Makes 1 application -


  • 8 cups hot water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups Epsom salt
  • 2 Tablespoons almond oil, optional
  • 6 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 4 drops camphor oil, or 2 teaspoons camphor gel/cream
  • 4 drops arnica oil, optional


Combine ingredients in blender and mix completely. Transfer to large container or spa foot bath. Soak feet for 20 minutes, towel dry and apply your favorite moisturizer.

Recipe Found at www.honey.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's National Honey Month

Interesting Facts About Honeybees
1. Honeybees are one of science's great mysteries because they have remained unchanged for 20 million years, even though the world changed around them.
2. Bees have been producing honey for at least 150 million years.
3. The true honeybee was not known in the Americas until Spanish, Dutch, and English settlers introduced it near the end of the 17th century.
4. Did you know that bees have 4 wings?
5. The honeybee's wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.
6. A bee flies at a rate of about 12 miles per hour.
7. How many eyes does a honeybee have? Five.
8. Honeybees communicate with one another by "dancing".
9. The queen bee is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength. She will lay about 1,000 to 1,500 eggs per day.
10. In the cold winter months, bees will leave the hive only to take a short cleansing flight. They are fastidious about the cleanliness of their hive.
11. Honeybees do not die out over the winter. They feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months and patiently wait for spring. They form a tight cluster in their hive to keep the queen and themselves warm.
12. It takes 35 pounds of honey to provide enough energy for a small colony of bees to survive the winter.
13. Honeybee colonies have unique odors that members flash like identification cards at the hive's front door. All the individual bees in a colony smell enough alike so that the guard bees can identify them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fruity Frozen Honey Yogurt Pops-Eat the Seasons Friday

To celebrate National Honey Month, make a yummy frozen treat.

  • 1 cup fresh, ripe nectarines, pineapple, or strawberries, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 paper cups (3 oz.) and popsicle sticks or plastic spoons

In a blender, combine all ingredients; mix well. Pour into eight (3 oz.) paper cups; insert popsicle sticks or plastic spoon in center of each. Freeze 4 hours or until solidly frozen.

Recipe found on www.honey.com


Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Of Mine

Here is our butternut squash. Like most squashes, they are very profic. They store well without much labor in preservation and so they become a staple for our autumn and early winter diet. The deep orange and slightly sweet flesh is just a taste sensation roasted with butter, salt, and pepper. They make great pies and we add them to pumpkin in our pumpkin pies to increase the orange color. I take a little one to work and cook it in the microwave for lunch. I believe that squashes are the staff of life and every backyard farm need a variety of them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You'll catch more friends with honey...

Because I love honey, tonight at the local farmer's market I met Lee Knight of Knight Family Honey. He sells some pretty popular honey and honey butter and invited us out to see him harvest some honey from a few of his nearly 500 hives. We're so excited to check it out. We'll definitely post the pics/story when we do!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leaving On a Jetplane

As we speak...ugh type, Megan, Marisa, and Dale are all on a plane to Springfield, Illinois for the Small Farm Conference. There they will be presenting about this very blog, exciting stuff, huh? They are most excited about the farm tours and that they will be eating all fresh produce from local farms.

You can count on pictures and stories to come!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Here is an interesting article about farm vacations. People paying farmers to go to their property and work. It's fascinating to me that people would pay to work on a farm since I spent my childhood on a farm. I do feel like it's great for people to experience farm life as it gives them more of an appreciation for our farmers. It also provides farmers an alternative source of income.


Article found in New York Times

LET me start by saying that if you want to throw bales of hay into the back of a truck, Vans are not the best choice in footwear.

That’s the sort of thing one learns when the family vacation is on a farm.

Of course, there are those who might say throwing bales of hay is a stupid way to spend a vacation — especially a vacation where the accommodations cost $332 a night, tax and fresh eggs included.

They might also say I was a fool to pay the farmer an additional $35 so I could dig up the beets and carrots she would later sell at a farmers’ market. It did have a little of that Tom Sawyer fence-painting quality to it. But I got a little education in the process. And I got to keep a pile of spectacular Tuscan kale, some tender stalks of fennel and a few crookneck squash.

In a world where small farmers need to diversify to keep their fields afloat and city dwellers are more desperate than ever to learn where their food comes from, a “haycation” for about the price of a nice hotel room in Manhattan didn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea.

For my family, the appeal was a fancy floored tent with a flush toilet and running water. On the Web site, it looked bigger than a junior one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side.

I’m no stranger to this kind of thing. My mother grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm. I was once so tough, I hiked for days across Alaskan tundra. But I have gone soft from all this city living. And my partner makes a point of telling me regularly that her people don’t camp.

On the other hand, we have a toddler who had never seen a live chicken. And I was desperate to get out of the city and eat vegetables still warm from the sun. So what if I had to do chores? How tough could a $300-a-night farm stay be?

This is essentially how we talked ourselves into spending a long weekend at Stony Creek Farm in Delaware County, N.Y., a part of the Catskills so rough that most everyone who grew up there describes it as “two stones to every dirt.”

Sleeping and eating on a farm is a common way to vacation in Europe, where the ties to farming are strong and motels are few. It’s rare but not unheard of in the United States. Stony Creek Farm is part of a new way to get hay in your hair. Call it farm stay 2.0.

The owners are often young, recent converts to farming, with few acres and strongly held beliefs: animals should be raised on pasture, vegetables should be grown without chemicals, and America needs to be re-educated about food.

They cater to people looking for a connection to their food that goes beyond a stroll through the local farmers’ market. Their customers, like me, want to get manure on their Vans.

“When we first started, we were like, ‘Why would somebody want to come to a farm?’ ” said Kevin McNaught, a former chef from Boston who bought Trevin Farms in Vermont with his partner six years ago. “We were pleasantly surprised that there are a whole lot of people out there who want to know what a brussels sprout looks like when it’s growing, and actually want to milk a goat.”

They charge up to $500 for a two-day cheese-making package that begins with milking goats and hanging cheese. Guests select vegetables for the owners to cook for dinner. Breakfast with eggs from their chickens is included.

These new farm stays are profitable. For three years, Scottie Jones has been subsidizing her small lamb and turkey business by renting out a cabin on her 60-acre Leaping Lamb Farm, about two hours from Portland, Ore. For $125 a night, visitors can feed the animals, bring in hay and learn the basic rule of farming: closed gates stay closed and open gates stay open. It now brings in seven times what she makes on her meat business, plus a little free labor.

“Even those people sitting on the porch drinking a glass of wine will come help me feed eventually,” she said.

Of the 2.2 million farms operating in the United States, about 8 to 10 percent offer some kind of agritourism, like apple picking, school tours, a farm store or letting hunters on the land. Only a few do farm stays, said Jane Eckert, president of Eckert AgriMarketing and creator of a national farm-stay registry called Ruralbounty.com.

Still, vacationing on a farm is not a new concept for Americans. Wealthy city dwellers have been heading to the countryside since the 1800s. As cars and road trips became more common, so did camping on farms. In the Depression, farmers added amenities to take in a few extra dollars. But farm stays started to die off as motor courts and motels began to pop up. By the early 1950s, Interstate culture gave birth to vacations punctuated by drive-in restaurants and the lure of the motel pool.

“For most people my age, the farm was something to get away from,” said Tom Chesnutt, a tourism specialist at Auburn University in his 60s. Lately, he has been trying to encourage Alabama farmers to take a chance on hosting people but hasn’t had much luck.

In Vermont, Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm has witnessed the evolution of the farm stay. She opened a bed-and-breakfast on her dairy farm almost 25 years ago. In the 1980s just visiting a farm was novel. “People would say: ‘Oh, there’s a cow. There’s a chicken,’ ” she said. By the 1990s, guests became interested in what actually went on there: “It was: ‘So when does the cow give its milk? What do you do with it?’ ” Now the game has changed. “There are questions about global warming, food politics, land use and environmental stewardship,” Ms. Kennett said. “It doesn’t stop.”

I didn’t want to debate the politics of food. I just wanted to eat some, and learn a little more about life on a farm.

Our hosts were Kate and Dan Marsiglio, a couple in their 30s with two young children, Lucia and Isaac. They met in R.O.T.C. at Syracuse University and later taught school in New Jersey.

Farming fever set in when they moved to Rindge, N.H., to teach at the Meeting School, a Quaker boarding school and working farm. Mr. Marsiglio’s parents, from Mahwah, N.J., bought Stony Creek Farm in 1985. Dan and Kate were married in a field near the creek. With grandparents fairly close, moving to the 85-acre farm four years ago was an easy decision.


They began to practice what they call “seat of the pants” farming. They raised sheep, chickens, Tamworth pigs and, eventually, registered belted Galloway cattle. They figured out how to coax vegetables out of the hilly, rocky fields. They sold meat and vegetables to neighbors, at a farmers’ market and even to the local senior feeding program.

But it quickly became clear that they weren’t going to make it financially. A mink decapitated dozens of chickens. A fox decimated the turkeys. And the farmers’ market is so small they are lucky if they clear $100 on a Sunday.

And perhaps as much as farming, they wanted to teach people about agricultural alternatives. So this year they signed on with Feather Down Farms, a high-end European farm-stay chain.

A Dutchman named Luite Moraal created the luxe farm-stay company in 2003. Each farm has tents with wood floors and wood-burning stoves for heat and cooking. The beds are comfy. Light comes from oil lamps and candles and the kitchen is generously equipped.

Feather Down became popular in the Netherlands, then the United Kingdom. The Marsiglios’ is among the first three farms in the United States to sign up. By next year, there will be 20, said Feather Down’s manager for the United States, Paula Disbrowe, a food writer based in Austin, Tex.

The tents were shipped to Stony Creek Farm from the Netherlands, along with two technicians to help set them up. The farmers didn’t have to pay a thing. Everything was included, down to the framed photographs of farm animals and a hand-cranked coffee grinder that decorate the tent.

The company required the Marsiglios to provide plumbing for the tents and to build a shower house with hot water. The couple also had to construct a paddock so guests can pet small farm animals and search for free eggs. They expanded their farm store so we wouldn’t have to visit the grocery store.

A pizza oven was the last of the required amenities. Every Saturday, each Feather Down farmer has to offer guests a make-your-own pizza night for $15 a person. We used thin slices of green tomatoes from the 60 plants they had to pull because of late blight.

In exchange for the tents and for booking them, Feather Down keeps about 65 to 75 percent of what guests pay. Extra charges, like the gardening package I bought, go into the farmers’ pocket.

“You’re staying on their farm and you can hang in the tent, but if you want to do more with them you have to pay for their time,” Ms. Disbrowe said.

Ms. Marsiglio was the one who pushed to sign up, even though some friends and neighbors worried for her.

“I grew up here and I think it’s crazy,” said Annie Avery, a close friend who buys chickens and produce from the farm. “But if people want to come be on a farm and they can afford to do it, more power to them. They need to see that meat starts with a little cow.”

It wasn’t an easy sell for Mr. Marsiglio. “My initial feeling was that this was some kind of cop-out,” he said. But he came to see that it would help his family and their agricultural cause. “We are asking people to put money into our coffers so we can stick to our guns about this new way of agriculture.”

Eventually, they hope to offer chicken-butchering sessions where guests can scald, pluck and gut their dinner.

“I love the gutting,” Ms. Marsiglio said. “It’s becoming a lost skill and I am so happy to do it well.”

The innkeeping skills she’s still learning. Of course, it’s not easy to deal with wired guests who have just huffed their way up a steep hill to their tent, complaining the whole way that the iPhone doesn’t work.

Uh, that would be me.

Just to be sure we had a soft landing after our drive from Brooklyn, I ordered the “turn down” service for $35. That meant that in between chores, Ms. Marsiglio had to light our wood-burning stove, make our beds and leave out eggs, goat cheese and vegetables so I could make an omelet for dinner. For good measure, she added a dense loaf of wheat bread and some muffins thick with zucchini.

The only problem was, our tent was filled with smoke from a malfunctioning stove. We had to grab the eggs and our bags and move to another tent. That night we slept great. Until 4 a.m. when the rooster started crowing.

The next day, after my private vegetable-picking session in the 80-degree heat, we went on a farm tour. Then we visited the shower house. Clean, we trudged back up to our tent to rest. This farm life was hard.

Just as the baby started napping and I cracked open a book, Ms. Marsiglio yelled up from the paddock, “Kim, we’re starting the hay in about an hour!”

The haying, which was optional and free, was actually fun. It felt good to do the kind of work that makes cool water in a metal cup taste like the best thing to ever go down your throat.

And no one can argue that food doesn’t taste better so close to the source, or that watching your child wander around after a chicken isn’t cool.

Just wear sturdy shoes. And take your checkbook.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Getting corny...

So, many of you may have been wondering if my corn was going to work since I grew it in my square foot garden with only two rows of four stalks. Well, the results are in...
It worked! We were heading over to some friends for a barbecue and decided to go out back and harvest our corn to take along. We were so happy to see that so much of it grew!

Now not every ear was as successful as others. We had several ears that looked like the one below...
And then several that looked great!
When we got over to our friends and steamed it up it was beautiful - having turned a bright yellow. It looked so delicious and we were all so anxious to sink our teeth into kernels that looked ready to burst with juiciness. Are you sensing the "but" because there is a big one...when we finally did sink out chompers in we discovered it was over ripe. What a bummer. In my fear that I would harvest too soon and miss out on all the natural sugars that heighten right before it achieves perfect ripeness(is that a word?) I waited too long and missed out all together. Oh well, lesson learned. It sure did look beautiful! Which reminds me, anyone know of any good tricks to tell when the corn is ready?


Friday, September 11, 2009

Zucchini Brownies-Eat the Seaons Friday

These brownies are to DIE FOR, and yes, they are made with zucchini. I have never in my life had success making brownies from scratch, but my 9 year old son made these by himself, so this recipe is a keeper. Recipe was found here


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If You Love Honeycrisps.....

My friend Tressa first turned me onto the Honeycrisp apple. I can't find them in my local grocery store, only at the farmers market. Often we would go together buying apples a bushel at a time. The vendor got to know us and when the farmers market season was over, he gave us his card. We were able to contact him and continue purchasing the Honeycrisps until his cold storage unit was empty. Now, if you are a huge fan of the Honeycrisp apple like I am, you would wonder how an apple could get even better...but read on. I can't wait to try the successor to the Honeycrisp.

By STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press Writer Steve Karnowski, Associated Press Writer – Thu Sep 3, 7:11 am ET

LAKE CITY, Minn. – Tim Byrne picked an apple from the spindly tree, sliced it and popped a chunk into his mouth. He couldn't have been more pleased as he chomped and got a juicy blast of sweet-tart flavor.
"This is what's got us excited," Byrne said as he shared samples from a perfectly ripe SweeTango apple, which he and other growers are about to introduce as the successor to the incredibly successful Honeycrisp.
Honeycrisp was a phenomenon in the apple industry because its taste and texture were so good it sold for about $1 more per pound than other varieties. Those investing in SweeTango are banking on it commanding the same premium price, and they've formed a cooperative to grow and sell it nationwide.
SweeTango will start showing up in some Minnesota farmers markets Labor Day weekend and arrive in selected grocery stores around the Twin Cities, Seattle and Rochester, N.Y., a few days later. If all goes according to plan, the apple should be available nationwide in 2011 or 2012, said Byrne, who's president of the cooperative and vice president of sales and marketing for Pepin Heights Orchards in southeastern Minnesota.
SweeTango and Honeycrisp were developed at the University of Minnesota. The new apple has Honeycrisp's crispness and juice but kicks up the flavor and adds an intriguing note of fall spice. It was made by crossing Honeycrisp with Zestar!, another University of Minnesota variety.
"It inherited Honeycrisp's texture, and that's a rare commodity, and it actually has more flavor than Honeycrisp," said David Bedford, the university apple breeder who helped develop Honeycrisp and SweeTango.
Another asset is SweeTango is ready in early September. "Woefully few" premium apples come out then, when produce managers are eager for something new to start the fall season, Byrne said.
The university earned more than $8 million from Honeycrisp, mostly from a $1 per tree royalty paid by licensed nurseries before the patent expired in November.
The school will earn a similar royalty on the SweeTango patent. But it also licensed the SweeTango trademark to Byrne and a group of growers who audaciously named their cooperative the Next Big Thing, in the hope that SweeTango will prove as lucrative as Honeycrisp. The co-op will pay the school 4.5 percent of the apple's net wholesale sales in perpetuity.
Bedford said he expects the university to earn as much on the deal as it did from Honeycrisp, with the money supporting more research. But Byrne said he expects the school to do even better.
The arrangement creates a "managed variety," a relatively new concept for U.S. growers but more common abroad. The Jazz apple from New Zealand and Pink Lady from Australia are managed varieties sold in the U.S. Honeycrisp is a managed variety in Europe.
The deal gives Next Big Thing control over who can grow SweeTango and where, and how the apple is marketed and shipped. The co-op has about 72 growers in Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Washington, Wisconsin, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Any Minnesota grower can get licensed through Pepin Heights to grow and sell SweeTango at their farms, farmers markets or to local grocers. Byrne said 87 have signed up. They pay the $1 per tree royalty, but not the 4.5 percent of sales.
Growers outside Minnesota must join the co-op to get SweeTango. The trees likely won't be available to the general public until the patent expires in 2028, Byrne said.
Other major horticultural schools are developing managed varieties, too, including the apple programs at Cornell University and Washington State University. But only the top new varieties are likely to attract enough interest to merit becoming managed, said Bedford, who expects most to be released to everyone as before.
An important advantage of managed varieties is they allow growers to enforce high quality standards, Byrne said. An emerging problem with Honeycrisp, which debuted in 1991, is that anyone can grow it, so it's now planted at some sites that are too warm and the quality can suffer, he said.
And Byrne said quality is the key to getting Americans, particularly children, to eat more apples. Many kids have been turned off by the low-quality apples they often get at school, he said.
"We're fighting for that share of stomach," Byrne said, "and we firmly believe that we have to be able to provide a great eating experience so that when a kid is given a choice between a really good apple and something else snacky, that the apple will be the one they choose."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'll Show You Mine

Here is our spaghetti squash off just a few plants. They are very prolific. These squash store well after washing them in water with a couple of drops of chlorine to keep them from spoiling. We will be eating them for weeks. We cut them in half, remove the seeds, and then bake them in the oven or microwave cut side down against the cooking dish to preserve the moisture. We then spoon the pulp out of the shell and serve with butter, salt, and pepper. They have a tender yellow pulp that is stringy like spaghetti. Sometimes we put pasta sauce on it. When we start eating spaghetti squash we know autumn is close at hand in our backyard farm. We love it!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Nature Inspired Wallpapers

Check out this site, you can download free garden and nature inspired wall papers from Yoshihiro Moritake's online sketchbook. It is so hard to choose one, they are all so beautiful!If you don't have enough weeds in your garden, try this wallpaper:


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Steve Is Showing His

Love your blog! Here's a few pics of our produce so far this year, and some of our chickens and rabbits. We made both the coop and Hutch ourselves, too!

The kids are my nieces and nephew, who come over frequently to chase/harass/love the bunnies and chickens!

Thanks for sharing Steve. Great coop, I'm always impressed with peoples handy work, it looks beautiful. Cute bunny, chickens, nieces, and nephew as well!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Post Apocalyptic Zucchini and Corn Fritters-Eat the Seasons Friday

If the end of the world ever comes, the first seed I will plant in my post apocalyptic vegetable garden is going to be a Zucchini. It’s not my favorite vegetable but I have never had problems growing this magical squash. Not only do the Zucchini plants I plant live they thrive and I always end up with too much of it. I ask you, what better plant to try to sustain myself with when the superbug has been unleashed, or the nuclear bombs have been launched, or the asteroid has hit the planet.

I found a great recipe for Zucchini Fritters on this link. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/08/what-to-do-with-zucchini-and-corn-fritters-recipe.html

Here is the recipe from the article.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

- serves 4 -


4 cups shredded zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 ears corn
1 small onion, diced small
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
3/4 cup flour
A few good grinds of black pepper
Canola, grapeseed or other neutral oil, for pan-frying
Sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving


1. Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or with the shredding disc of a food processor. Place the shredded zucchini in a colander in the sink or over a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine. Let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and scramble lightly. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and add the kernels to the bowl along with the diced onion, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, flour and pepper.

3. Pick up the shredded zucchini in small handfuls and squeeze out and discard as much liquid as you can. Add the zucchini to the bowl. Mix well to combine.

4. Pour the oil into a large frying pan to a depth of about 1/4-inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop large, heaping spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the pan to form disc-shaped fritters. Cook in batches without crowding (about 3 or 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan) until golden brown on the underside (about 2 minutes) and then flip and cook until golden brown on the second side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Add a bit more oil between batches if necessary.

5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. The fritters should be crisp on the outside and slightly custardy on the inside.

I added some oregano and cut out the scallions. The result was amazing. I made two versions. The first was a smaller appetizer fritter that we served with some ranch (I hate ranch but I used it so the kids would eat it). It was wonderful. The outside was crisp and the inside was almost creamy. If I would have made more we would have ate more.

The second version was more of a dinner. I made larger fritters and covered them with some fresh overeasy eggs from our chickens. The yolk from the eggs and the fritters combined very well together. As you can see in the picture I added some hot sauce as well for some kick.

I know it’s not the healthiest recipe because of the oil but it didn’t seem like the fritters absorbed much oil so they weren’t too heavy. Besides, I won’t be worried about frying food when the world has ended. Sorry about the dark view of the future but I just finished reading The Canticle for Leibowitz which is a wonderful post apocolyptical book written in 1959 about what happens to the world after nuclear war. There weren’t any zucchini in the book but there should have been. They would have flourished.

Mike Johnson

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's National Honey Month

To celebrate we will be posting different honey recipes throughout the month.

But, for today here are some interesting facts I found from a website about honey:

Intersting Facts About Honey
1. Honey never spoils. No need to refrigerate it. It can be stored unopened, indefinitely, at room temperature in a dry cupboard.
2. Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence. It was found in the tomb of King Tut and was still edible since honey never spoils.
3. Due to the high level of fructose, honey is 25% sweeter than table sugar.
4. Honey is created when bees mix plant nectar, a sweet substance secreted by flowers, with their own bee enzymes.
5. To make honey, bees drop the collected nectar into the honeycomb and then evaporate it by fanning their wings.
6. Honey has different flavors and colors, depending on the location and kinds of flowers the bees visit. Climatic conditions of the area also influence its flavor and color.
7. To keep their hives strong, beekeepers must place them in locations that will provide abundant nectar sources as well as water.
8. In the days before biology and botany were understood, people thought it was a special kind of magic that turned flower nectar into honey.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paul Is Showing His

OK, I'll bite.
Here's one of our weekend harvests from a couple of weeks back. We've had a Great summer around our place.
I think we're at 550 lbs of veggies so far!


Click here to check out his blog.

Thanks for sharing Paul. The bounty looks beautiful, I'm jealous, 550 lbs???? Wow!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crack is wack...

My tomatoes have been a little late this year and so I have been waiting in earnest to harvest. Yesterday I was eying a particularly large tomato and was so excited to see it was ripe enough bring it in for lunch, but MUCH to my dismay I discovered CRACKS!
I had no idea what caused this so I had to do a little research. And it turns out, it's all my fault. Actually, it's all my husband's fault. Here's what I found:
Growth cracks occur as a result of the rapid growth stimulated by wet weather following a dry period. Two types of growth cracks affect the stem end of tomatoes: concentric and radial. Concentric cracking produces circular cracks around the stem end of the fruit. Radial cracks spread outward from the stem scar.*
See, a couple weeks ago a part of our yard was a mess. It was wet and soggy with tons of standing water. So my husband, without consulting me, decided to just turn off the sprinklers completely. Now, over watering tomatoes can cause lush foilage and and only a few tomatoes BUT cutting it off completely can push your fruit just a little too much and give it what is essentially stretch marks. Luckily, a few days ago I discovered that the water had been turned off and so it's back on. I hope that puts an end to the cracks because as the great Whitney Houston once said, "Crack is wack!"