Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SUMMER IS OFFICALLY HERE


Today, June 21st is the official first day of summer!!! Thank goodness it has finally arrived.
The fruit and vegetable gardens are doing well, even though it is a real struggle to keep up with the weeding and watering. The last bit of rain we had, caused another crop of weeds even though I have a thick layer of straw in between my vegetable rows. I just get the bean section weed free and then I look over to the tomato and pepper section and that needs tending. But that is the world of farming. Have you ever seen a hammock in the yard of a farmer?? Or should I say have you ever seen a farmer lying in a hammock?
The only time Frank and I sit down is when we are exhausted at the end of the day. We have two favorite spots to sit, in the last light before evening. We either sit in front of the garden shed to look at the fruit trees or we sit in front of the sorting shed and marvel at the vegetable gardens or just to listen to nature around us.
around us.
In early spring, Windmill Farm and Pick a Peck of Pickles went into a joint venture where we would grow beets and beans for them to be used in their jarred vegetables sold in the Bay Area. Our beets became ready this last week and Eileen came and picked them up. In a few weeks, our beans will be ready to be canned by Pick A Peck of Pickles. Check out their website and facebook at: http://www.pickapeckpickles.com/

We had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Our children and grand children came to stay the weekend. Celli had an idea to go for a nice drive to look at Forbestown, in Butte County. It was a wonderful, fairly short drive and we were so surprised to find the Forbestown Museum open. I would like to highly recommend this Museum to everyone!!! The tour guides were dressed up in period costume; there is a 3 story museum full of items donated by local families that were used by the families from Forbestown. And then in the back is a town built, replicating all the types of businesses that would be seen in a 1800s-to early 1900s working town. There was a Wells Fargo Bank; a Jail; a Cigar/Grocery Store; a laundry business, a blacksmith, a church a schoolhouse, complete with a working bell and many more buildings and mining and lumber artifacts. All the buildings had furniture, pictures, rugs, and items showing people what was used during that time. And in the center of the “town” a few of the museum guides prepared ice cream sundaes or cones for the visitors. It was a delightful place for all ages to enjoy and a place that we will go back many times to in the future.
When we got home from our little trip, for dinner, the grand kids helped me pick some fresh green beans; fresh squash, cut some basil, pulled up some carrots and onions, picked a few cabbages and picked peaches all from our garden. We cooked the squash with some butter, our onions and the fresh basil. In another pan we sautéed our onions with garlic and bacon and about 5 minutes before the meat was ready, we put in the fresh green beans, mixed them up with the bacon, garlic and onions and put a lid on it to cook. They weren’t cooked too soft, just crunchy enough. I shredded the cabbage, mixed some red wine and white vinegar, mayo, a little sugar into it, salt and pepper, celery salt, and made this old fashioned cabbage salad. Some people put shredded carrots in these types of salads too but I didn’t add them this time. Carli and Collin had eaten most of my carrots before we even got them back to the house. The peaches were sliced and we had such a wonderful dinner that had only been picked within 45 minutes before we ate them. The fathers, mothers and kids all had a great day.
Enjoying the fruits of our labor gives our soul the best rewards with the added bonus of having your grand kids participate and learn about how food is grown and the flavor it has when it is freshly picked.
Life is wonderful here at Windmill Farm.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Planting Vegetables with Flowers

Another great week of CSA delivers. I have the best members, they are so wonderful to email me how much they have enjoyed our produce. Some have mentioned how they prepared the items in the baskets and in the newsletter I have prepared for next week, I am including a recipe that one CSA member wants to share with the rest of our members.
This week in the baskets was kale, Swiss chard, French radishes, beets, snow peas, lettuce, cherries, apricots, basil, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Next week we will have pretty much the same items but the cabbage may be ready and I have some Rosa plums to add along with the other fruit.
Celli, our daughter made these adorable and practical basket liners out of the cutest fabrics. With the warmer weather coming, we thought the fabric liner will help keep the produce as fresh as possible and be able to keep the sun off of the items when they may be sitting on the member’s front porches. I tied the tops of the fabric with an old fashioned clothes pin so there was air circulating through the baskets delivered this week and it helped keep the moisture inside. Celli is so talented and she sewed a huge amount of them all within a few days so they would be ready for my deliveries. And they are reusable!!
While I was watering yesterday, I was looking at a few containers I have around my flower gardens near the house, and marveled at how much the plants had grown. This year, in the few places I normally plant annual flowers, I decided to plant vegetables. Like I don’t have enough land already planted in vegetables, but I wanted to provide a test, that it doesn’t take a lot of space, time or money to provide food for a family.
On the side of the garage, I have a squash plant ready to bloom planted right next to mum plants and a delphinium. In an old wheel barrow being thrown away, I planted lettuce and spinach. I took an idea from a friend of mine about using water troughs for large animals as planting containers. I found one recently at a farm sale where the bottom was rusting and had a few holes. Not good for watering horses, but excellent for drainage of soil and plants. I picked it up for $15.00, filled about 1/3 of it with broken clay pots, some potting mix and great Gridley soil and within less than an hour, it was planted as my herb garden. In some decorative pots by the back door that had inpatients in them last year, I planted kale and arugula. Right now the arugula has the most beautiful blossoms and most people coming to our door; don’t even realize that it is lettuce, not a plant. I have my most commonly used herbs planted next to the back door, along the house, under my rose bushes and butterfly bushes. It is great to have them so handy to go out and pick them as I am fixing dinner. The basil is always my favorite and I have that planted everyplace there is an opening in my flower beds. I believe you can never have enough basil and it can quickly make plain old pasta into a fabulous tasting dinner.
If you are going to have a spot where you are going to water, plant something you can eat AND the flowers, it will be a winning combination-food and beauty. Happy planting!!

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