Most of you are probably aware that the FDA has been cracking down recently on raw milk distribution across the country. I was pleased to read this article yesterday at naturalnews.com about various states that are actually going against the FDA's advice and easing restrictions on raw milk. This article says that "Texas, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin all have pending legislation to legalize raw milk sales, relax sale restrictions that make buying the product difficult, or for the first time decriminalize raw milk sales with restrictions."
We have talked about raw milk on our site in the past and one of our contributors, Dale Johnson, is a Farm Management Specialist and Master Gardener for the University of Maryland Extension. A lot of the work he does with the University of Maryland is with local Dairy Farmers so he has a great perspective on this debate. Read his series of articles on the Good, Bad, and the Ugly of raw milk for more of his perspective.
So what do you all think. Is the FDA right in restricting raw milk distribution, or are some of the above States right in relaxing restrictions. Let your voice be heard.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
|(After 2 months)|
We planted and toiled over our garden the last two months (well, we really didn't toil) and this is what we received. Some measly spinach leafs and a miniature radish. The plants are long and stringy and aren't filling out. According to the guy that gave us the box, he said we would have spinach within 3 weeks. This has been an INDOOR GARDEN BOX FAIL.
|One measly radish|
Do you all have any suggestions on what might have caused our failure. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
We received our seeds from the seed saver exchange in the mail this weekend. We have a lot of seeds that we have collected from our heirloom plants the last few years so we didn't have to buy all of our seeds. However, we are excited to expand our garden this year and so we ordered some new seeds that we have never tried before. Here are a couple of the new seeds we ordered.
Dr. Wyche's Yellow Tomatillos
We have never grown tomatillos before. From the research I have done, they grow very similar to tomatoes and there isn't a lot different you have to do. You may ask why we decided to do tomatillos. I love authentic mexican food and a large portion of our monthly grocery budget goes to green tomatillo salsas and sauces. I decided that rather than continue to spend money on store made sauces, we could grow our own tomatillos and can our own tomatillo salsa. The description for these tomatillos says they have a delicious sweet flavor, they are very prolific and easy to grow. I am so excited to try these and see how it works out.
Bloody Butcher Corn
As Marisa and I have considered what we can do to become more self sufficient we have thought about what we are going to do for flour and bread. We have a lot of wheat in our food storage but we would like to supplement this with flour we can grow on our property. Rather than try to grow wheat we decided to grow corn and use it to make cornmeal. We chose this corn because it is drought tolerant (we live in the high desert of Utah) and it's dried kernels can be used for making flour or corn meal. I look forward to making tamales next fall with cornmeal from our yard and smother them with green tomatillo sauce from our garden.
What are you planning to grow in your garden this year. Let us know, we are excited to hear what everyone else is doing.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
What plants are best planted next to each other? We are planting our 'spring' garden here in AZ using the square foot gardening method. Thanks! -Alison
Friday, February 18, 2011
So let's slice one open, shall we?
If you guessed cucumber, you're right on the money. "Lemon cucumber" to be exact, an heirloom variety dating back to the 1800s -- and we prize heirlooms here at Backyard Farming!
A lover of all things lemon-flavored, I plucked this seed packet from the store display just for the name. Even though I soon learned lemon has nothing to do with the cucumber's flavor, just its size and color, I will definitely plant it again this season. It is easy to grow and produces crisp, crisp, crisp flesh in abundance.
The cucumbers start pale green and mature to their namesake yellow when full size, about 3 to 4 inches. The picture of my bowl full of them represents one picking, and all this from one plant! I grew the plant on a trellis. At first I'd get a handful of cukes per harvest, then as summer continued I could get this many cucumbers at once, about every two weeks.
A cucumber variety this prolific is perfect for pickling, and that's just what I did. I picked up a bread and butter pickle mix from the canning aisle at my grocery store, and it was a breeze. The package directions were to slice, combine mix with vinegar and sugar, heat, then can. No peeling required in that recipe. If you venture into pickling this summer, have all your ingredients and supplies on hand, THEN head to the garden. Cucumbers can lose their freshness quickly, so for best results make pickles as soon after harvest as possible.
Follow your recipe precisely.
As eager (practically stir-crazy!) as I am to start my garden again this year, I actually appreciate the season of evalulation and planning that winter offers. I'd love to learn from all of you. So tell us, what are some of your favorite seed varieties?
Give me something else that will make people say, "What ARE those?" I get a kick out of that.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
- Get rid of the circular driveway and make it the animal pasture
- Line the straight driveway with trees (love this part)
- Keep the orchard to the north of the house
- Put the garden in the North West corner of the property (I worry a little about the wind)
- Fill the South West corner of the property with wild flowers, native grasses, and herbs
This is the birds eye view of our property, I have outlined it in red to make it easier to see. You will notice that a large portion of our property is in the front, and for right now we have to work around a circular driveway that takes up a large amount of space. So we have to be creative.
- Plant our "bee feed" wild flowers in the center of the circular drive.
- Grapes will go along the fence at the front of the property.
- Raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries will line the fence to the north.
- The south end of the property we have an easement that has to be unobstructed for bikes, 4 wheelers, and snowmobiles. We have enough space to either line the easement with trees or maybe it would be a good spot for rows of corn.
- The big tree in front is right over the poo tank, which is a HUGE "no no". So it will have to come down.
- Door will be painted
- Grass will be brought back to life
- Hopefully I will have some beautiful flowers growing in the front as well.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
A. Seeds. We prefer heirloom seeds. We like the variety that is available in heirloom seeds, as well as the fact that we can harvest seeds from our produce to use the following year. Packets of seeds you buy from a big box store will be hybrids and the seeds can not be harvested. In the long run, this saves money as you don't have to purchase seeds each year. We purchase a few packets each year to add more variety to our garden.
B. Containers. Something to hold the soil and seeds. Here are a few options.
Pellets: These start as a small hard disk, when added with water they pop right up and you can place a seed in them. These are nice because they are easy to use and small so they don't take up a lot of space.
You can place them right into the soil when you are ready, you do not need to peel off the netting around them. The disadvantage is that they are quite small and I always have to plant them in something else (like a plastic cup) before planting them outside.
Be creative. We save our yogurt containers and bring home plastic cups from parties for seed starting. It makes gardening more economical that way. For even more creative and frugal seed starting containers, check out this article. If you are recycling something like a cup, be sure to poke some holes in the bottom for drainage. About 5-6 with a thumb tack should do the trick.
If you didn't buy the disks, don't go out and buy a 50lb. bag of potting soil. Look for a seed starter mix. It will be very light and fluffy. You can now find this at major big box stores as well as garden nurseries.
I have found that it is easier if moisten your seed starter mix first because it has a tendency to shrink down the first time it gets wet. Get your mix wet, then put in whichever containers you choose. I like to write the name of the plant that will be going in the container before we put the mix in.
The packet of seeds will tell you how deep to put your seeds in the soil. For those of us that have harvested seeds from the previous year and no longer have a seed packet, a good guideline is to bury them down about 3 times the width of the seed.
We have a few different ways to water. For the disks and peat pots that we put in the plastic greenhouse containers, we bottom water. Bottom watering is when you fill the bottom of the tray with water, and the soil sucks up the water from the bottom. For containers that we can't bottom water (yogurt and plastic cups), we use a spray bottle like Mason (aka. Bubba) is demonstrating below.
If you bought a greenhouse container it is easy, just put the lid on and stick in a warm area. If you didn't, that is okay, just use a piece of plastic wrap to cover your seeds, this will help keep the humidity in. At this point, you don't need to stick them in the sun, you will want to keep them damp and warm (about 70 degrees). So maybe place them by a heating vent or the top of your fridge, or you can purchase heating mats. I have never used the heating mats and haven't had any problems getting my seeds to sprout.
Step 6: Stick Them in a Sunny Spot
Once your seeds have sprouted, you will want to move them to a sunny spot. In the early spring, our kitchen looks like a nursery, we have plants everywhere, and I love it.
Once your plants are big and beautiful, you just stick them in the ground and water them, right? Wrong.
Your plants up to this point have had a cushy life. The temperature, humidity, and moisture, has been closely monitored. They have not experienced full sun, wind, or changing temperatures. Hardening off is the process of slowly getting them used to the environment they are going to move to. A typical hardening off at our home may go like this:
Day 1: Move plants outside in the shade for 2-4 hours on a nice day.
Day 2-5: Move plants outside for 2-4 hours in the shade and one hour in the sun making sure the weather isn't too cold or snowy.
Day 6-7: Move plants outside for 2-4 hours in the shade and 2-4 hours in the sun.
Day 8-10: Move plants outside for 2 hours in the shade and 6 hours in the sun.
Day 11-12 Move plants outside for 8 hours in the sun.
Day 13-14 Leave plants outside all day and all night in the area they will be planted. Be sure that the weather overnight won't be too cold or windy.
Step 7: Plant
Once your plants are properly hardened off, you can plant them in the ground just like you would had you bought them from the nursery. Congrats!
There are some plants that you will not start indoors either because they won't transplant well, or because there is no need to. Some climates may be nice enough that you never have to start seeds indoors, that would be heaven! But, for Utah in order for us to get a full growing season, you have to start many plants indoors.
Some that you do not need to start indoors are, but not limited to: peas, beans, lettuces, beets, carrots, and onions.
Anyone have anything to add? Leave a comment!