Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sweet Peas Time and Turkey Time

Some years I remember, some I don't, but October and November are the months to plant your sweet peas to bloom in spring of 2014.  It is an investment of time now that you will be happy about later.  Some places that get very cold during winter would be best to be planted in early spring.  But here in Northern California, if we wait too long in early spring, then it starts getting too hot for them to bloom in June.
Cultivated sweet peas go back at least 300 years. In their native Sicily, these ornamental peas originally had weak stems and intense orange-jasmine-honey scent. Modern hybrids are stronger-stalked and have larger blooms.
  •   Sweet peas are happiest with their heads in the sun and their roots deep in cool, moist soil. When possible, plant low-growing annuals in front of them to shade their roots.
  • Choose a well-drained site. Alkaline soil is best; sprinkle some powdered lime on the surface if your soil tends to be acidic.
  • Prepare a rich soil by mixing in generous amounts of compost and well-rotted manure mixed to a depth of 2 feet.
  • Prior to planting, you're going to want to dig a nice deep trench of about 4 inches in depth.
  • After you dig the trench, make holes with a pencil, drop in the seeds, and press down on the soil to firm it and shut out any light.
  • Before planting, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. This helps getting them germinated right away.

Sweet peas need support similar to climbing beans or snow peas.  Each year I let my creative side go to town and plant them in different spots that may compliment something else growing, such as in between carrots and beets or next to beans.  I sometimes use bamboo poles in a tepee style; last year I did a row and used the nylon netting and that worked well.  This year my plan is to grow lots more so I have them available to possibly sell from our farm.  So my spot is a long row next to my greenhouse with a possible arch over to another row.  If my idea works, I will be able to walk through an arbor of sweet peas-heavenly scents!!!

I love Thanksgiving.  Mainly because it brings everyone together to spend some real quality time together, either all in the kitchen helping with the food, or even on the couch watching sports. Memories are made for the kids to remember when they are adults about the traditional family foods prepared; funny stories being told; seeing relatives you only see a few times a year; tons of foods you normally don't eat; decorations on a table in the dining room; having people over that would normally be alone on Thanksgiving.
Enjoy your day and we will be back after Thanksgiving. 
Oh-our wreath class is full, but am adding people to waiting list in case someone cancels.  I will have lots of photos and stories to tell on the next post about the fun filled class.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Time to Start your Indoors Narcissus-Paperwhite Bulbs; Make a Chicken Pot Pie

I haven't been out shopping in a long time to my usual stores-Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Lowe's, Joann's, Staples.  Boring isn't it.  Most of everything else I need, I do from home via computer; on-line as everyone is doing the free shipping and I am a coupon girl so have some %s off if they don't have free shipping.  I wanted to start my narcissus bulbs for the holidays, but had not seen any that were reasonable enough to purchase. Most that I saw came with their own containers, dirt and a few bulbs.  I like using my own containers and I needed at least 10-20 of them.
Have you ever smelled a paperwhite Narcissus bulb blooming?  It just knocks your senses over, fabulous!!!  They have great qualities -
  • Fast growing, fast flowering
  • Ideal for windowsills
  • Strong, rich fragrance
  • Super easy to plant and care for
  • Excellent gifts for gardeners and flower lovers everywhere
  • In a few weeks they will be ready to bloom, just in time for Christmas and after.
    The 2nd edition of our Windmill Farm-CSA business being featured in the Edible Shasta-Butte magazine will be out in a couple of weeks.  Earl was out last week taking photos so it will be fun to see which ones they selected.  As soon as it is printed and available, I will let you know!
    I have been feeling like baking lately, so I made a chicken pot pie.  They are not that hard to do.  I like to make my own crust, but using store purchased pie crust makes it even easier.  And you can get the pre-cooked chickens at the store to save time too.  I saute the onions, carrots, parsley, celery, chicken, broth, a little milk/1/2 & 1/2 in a big pot, when cooked, add a little flour to thicken up the broth; add frozen peas and put into a pre-cooked crust.  Then put a top crust on it; sprinkle some coarse salt on top, punch with fork to let steam out and cook at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes or until crust is brown.  Oh, and I whip up an egg and brush on egg over crust and that really gives it a golden brown.  Talk about home comfort food!!!
    Have a great week and hope you come back again to hear more about what is happening here at our little Windmill Farm.

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Planting Onions & Widening My Knowledge About Food

     I just can't stay inside with this wonderful warm weather.  That means, longer periods between blogs and postings on Facebook.  Sorry about that!!
    Yesterday morning, early was absolutely gorgeous!!!  When you have lots of trees around you, some from our yard but mostly orchards, you see almost every fall color that nature is creating.  I was born in Rhode Island and grew up partly in Connecticut, and then lived in Nevada County for over 30 years so I know fall when I see it.  Nothing can beat the New England states when it comes to fall, those reds and golds are breathtaking, you just stop at a base of a tree and look up in wonder. 
    Same thing is true in Nevada City.  They have so many liquid ambers and dog woods, that turn the same beautiful reds that are accentuated with the pines.  When I was working downtown Nevada City, I loved to walk up and down the streets just to feel and see the crispness of fall and all those leaves.  It wasn't until about 15 years ago that the Chamber started promoting Nevada City in the fall so more and more people would come downtown.  Then the people started coming on chartered buses to see the fall colors and pretty soon tourism almost stopped normal traffic and local shopping with the droves of tourists.  I would say most of them were decent, but so many felt like they owned the streets and us locals were just a burden to them.  Guess that isn't nice to say, but when the locals saw the buses come, we stayed away from town.
    Well, back to our little farm here in Gridley and our fall weather.  We needed to get our onions in the ground and were waiting for a little rain.  Thought it was going to happen on Tuesday, it was predicted but no rain.  So we decided to just get in there and do it anyways and just water by hand until it finally did rain.
    I love this picture, our girls (Annie & Bella) are watching the girls (the chickens) all waiting for our guy (Frank) disk the onion patch ready to plant onions.
    I have been selling persimmons these last few weeks.  The Huchiya persimmons are really liked by Frank's side of the family to use in fall and winter baking and assumed that is what everyone else does with them, occasionally people eat them raw too.
    But this last week, I received a telephone call from a very nice man wondering if I had at least 200-300 persimmons; and would I text pictures to him.  I said yes, and yes I did send him photos.  He and his lovely wife came out and purchased what they needed and shared what they were doing.  It is so interesting, I thought I would share it with you!
    The dried persimmons are called Hoshigaki.  They are considered a Japanese delicacy made by, believe it or not, gently massaging persimmons while they air dry.  The nice people provided me a link to how it is prepared and I am sharing it with you:
    The couple showed me how they prepare the persimmons; the tips about using heavy dental floss as the "string" that is tied to the stem of each persimmons.  In Japan, the persimmons are hung from the eaves of their houses in the fall.  I wondered about rodents or insects but I guess you can have screen over them but the idea is to sun dry them.  In this article, made me laugh because that person's persimmons were eaten by squirrels that came from the roof.  We dry the Fuyu variety of persimmons but never the Hachiyas so it really was interesting to see this technique.
    Enjoy these last few weeks of the beautiful colors, take a walk or drive and see nature getting ready to go to sleep for a few months.

    Sunday, November 3, 2013

    Fresh Holiday Wreath Making Class Coming Dec. 3rd

    We give all types of classes here at Windmill Farm.  They have been so rewarding and fun.  I started this a few years ago when I read about day spas at a farm in a Hobby Farm magazine.  The photos were so appealing, women sitting around together in a circle under an old tree; with their feet soaking in herbs in old granite tubs; drinking tea; just having a relaxing afternoon.
    I put one on myself that summer and it was a great success, but I added my own touches and had some very yummy desserts; had a friend who did hand and shoulder massages; used round rocks in the soaking tubs with herbal scents; did a tour of our farm; then presented them with some special home made bath salts and other gifts in a bag.
    That same summer I gave two canning classes using excess produce from our garden and from the comments of those that attended, a new trend started.  It seems to me that so many people are interested in learning these every day life skills; such as sewing, knitting, quilting, baking, canning, flower arranging; that used to be given either in school or handed down by grandmas or mothers but it stopped.  There is now a renewed interested from the young and all ages.  Since that first year, I now give classes all spring, summer and fall of all types.  If the craft or learning subject interests me, then maybe it will interest others.  The classes have been well received and we have met some wonderful people in the process.

    The newest class coming up here at the farm:

    Make Your Own Fresh Holiday Wreath
    DATE:  December 3, 2013
    TIME:  6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
    PLACE:  Here at Windmill Farm, Gridley
    PRICE: $25 for class and $5 for supplies = $30
    INSTRUCTOR:  Well Known Florist and Wedding Designer Lisa Hunter.

    Lisa has a wedding this weekend so we have not had a chance to talk about the costs for the supplies will be yet. Will post soon.  If interested, call or email soon as space is limited.  It is guaranteed you will meet some really great people, have some fun, go home with a beautiful fresh wreath and become a regular at our future Windmill Farm classes.