Winter Windowsill Gardens

About this time of year, I start yearning for some green growing food on the homestead, beyond the sprouts. I read an article about re-sprouting veggies, and decided to give it a try. I started with my onions from storage that had already sprouted – I just moved them up to a windowsill to get some light, and they’ve greened up nicely for cooking. Then I added a celery butt – I cut off the bottom, stuck in a few toothpicks to hold it up, and put it in water. It is growing new celery stalks, visible after only 9 days. Next I added a cabbage butt, no sprouts yet but it is showing signs of something about to happen. I’ll be added some beet tops today, for fresh beet greens. You’ll have to visit our Facebook page for photos, for some reason this template is no longer letting me post pictures!

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Seed Orders Sent!

So excited that our seed orders are done and sent out! We are growing some of our usual favorites, like Waltham Butternut squash and Provider green beans, along with some new items like Amythest Bush snap bean and others that have been shown to be more nutrient dense than other varieties. Jo Robinson’s book Eating on the Wild Side is a great resource for selecting the best varieties as well as how to cook and store the vegetables to maintain the greatest nutritional value. We’ll highlight some of these new varieties in our e-mails to our Full Basket Co-op customers this coming season.

If you’d like to receive a copy of our Weekly Market Items e-mail, please click here to subscribe to our e-mail list. We send out the e-mail on Sunday, you order on Tuesday, and pick up on Thursday. During the farmer’s market season pick up is at the market. During the the early spring season and the extended fall season we have pickups at Laconia Village Bakery.

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Better Together Annual Celebration on Dec 3

Minglewood Farm is proud to be a contributing farm for the Better Together Annual Celebration dinner on Tuesday, December 3. In addition to providing some veggies for the soups, Tom and I will be working with Aaron Lichtenberg, fellow farmer from Winnipesaukee Woods Farm, and former chef, to prepare 4 soups for the attendees. Kevin Halligan from Laconia Village Bakery and Laconia Local Eatery is also a supporter, by allowing us to use the bakery kitchen for prep and cooking! I have also assisted the Better Together folks in obtaining donations of great local produce from several local farms – as supporters of the Lakes Region Food Network, we see this kind of activity as a great way to promote our local farms and introduce people to some delicious, nutritious local food.

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Winding down the season

The peaches are all processed, tomatoes picked, squash harvested, potatoes dug up…..the end of the season is nigh! We still have ground cherries and tomatillos growing, along with hardy greens and some root crops, but the days are getting shorter and that killing frost must be right around the corner. It was a great season for most crops, though we did have some little critters eating our carrots underground.  The tomatoes in the front yard outperformed any tomatoes we’ve ever grown, and both butternut patches produced over 25 squashes. The biggest disappointment was the pumpkins – chewed to the ground by those pesky cucumber beetles. All in all, can’t complain!

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Three sisters are up!

Green beans, speckled cranberry beans, butternut squash, zucchini, summer squash, queensland blue, delicate, new England pie pumpkin, and flint corn all are up and growing fast in this heat! Now that summer has officially arrived we’re hoping the cool cloudy weather is behind us. The tomatoes are sure happy to have a little warmth!

Cucumber beetles out in force, though so far the Metro butternuts don’t seem to be attracting too many. They sure do love the Queensland Blues!

Sweet potatoes loving the heat! Daikon radishes up and off to a great start. Hilled potatoes this weekend, they are growing like mad. Garlic is scaping, peas are flowering, everything seems pretty good so far.

Lots of peaches this year, lots of apples, and even a decent crop of pears! Ate a few edible honeysuckle berries yesterday – they are blue, elongated cylindrical berries, sweet and taste like blueberries. We need to plant more of those!

 

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Straw bale gardening

Just finished a new book called Straw Bale Gardening by Joel Karsten. He explains exactly how to use straw bales like raised beds in order to grow all sorts of veggies, just about anywhere! It looks like a great option if you can’t put in a permanent garden bed, might be moving soon so don’t want to put in a bed, your only space is on asphalt or contaminated soil, or you want a cheaper (in the short-term) alternative to building raised beds. The book is available at Laconia Public library.  Straw bales are available at Winnisquam Agway for $10.99 a bale. Don’t use hay, you’ll be sorry! Hay will be full of weed seeds, whereas with straw there should be no weeds at all.

 

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A new twist on companion planting…

Companion planting...The avocado pit (avocado from my brother’s yard in Florida, thank you Missy!) sprouted and was planted in a smallish pot to grow out – a short time later a cucurbit showed up, apparently out of the potting soil. Following my “volunteers should be allowed to grow, at least for a while” philosophy, I persuaded Tom that we should let it be. It grew and grew, and one day there were two flowers. Shortly thereafter, a small fruit formed – looks like a butternut squash. So, transplanted into a larger pot, we are now hardening off the two plants! We might get a butternut squash, probably never an avocado unless we give the tree to someone with a greenhouse. Fun to watch!

Update June 7: the butternut dried up and fell off – I guess that’s what happens when a plant is out of sight, out of mind in the garage! Moved it all out into the garden but Tom is pretty sure we will NOT have any butternuts from this plant!

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What a weekend!

What a weekend! Bluebird sky, a light breeze, and lots of things accomplished! We started with hauling junk to free dump day on Saturday, followed by a total reorganization of the “bone pile” which somehow shrunk it by nearly a third! Sugar snap peas and greens are up, artichokes are in the ground, and I picked our first bunch of asparagus! Ran a few errands and dug some wild ramps and fiddleheads for transplanting. The cold Pemi Pale Ale sure tasted good.

Today I took the morning off and went hiking with my brother up Gunstock, just the way to start the day! Spent the afternoon extending the chicken play yard, setting up my new outdoor worm farm in the old bathtub, and generally tidying up. Just one problem – it is so dry, I could hardly find any worms! They don’t like dry soil as it scratches their skin, so they are burrowed away somewhere deep. Finally found a few in one of the mini-beds next to the clothesline pole. WE NEED RAIN!

One more exciting thing – a few shitakes sprouted on one of  the old logs that we inoculated years ago – even though it hasn’t rained, they probably soaked up a bit of water from Tom watering the bed next to the log. Sure didn’t expect to see any more of them, as those logs were inoculated at least 6 years ago! Their first fruiting was in 2009, and they don’t usually last 4 years. Asparagus, ramps and mushrooms in the eggs tomorrow!

 

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Chicken Play Yard is open!

Finally, something good to scratch!

Finally, something good to scratch!

Since the poultry netting went up, the chickens have been out on the grass but there really isn’t that much grass yet! They were obviously getting a little bored, as both Uno and Lyle have been hopping the fence in search of something more interesting at which to scratch and peck.

Thus, the Chicken Play Yard has returned! It is a non-electrified fence that is adjacent to the poultry netting, in an area that is full of weeds, leaf duff, and general forest detritus. I cleaned the area out today, pulled out miles of Virginia Creeper vines (OK, not miles but definitely yards!), and installed the fence.

The next question was how they would get in and out of the play yard, without getting shocked by the poultry netting. I noticed that one of the poles attached to the poultry netting was perfectly positioned to be pulled up and moved inward toward the run,  thus creating sufficient slack for the fence to be propped up. Hmmm, how to prop it up and still have the fence electrified…..I know, insert the pole into a 5 gallon bucket filled with dirt! Tried it, needed more height, but the bucket was too wobbly on the cinder block. So, since the bucket already had a crack in the bottom, I turned it over, positioned it over a big rock on top of the cinder block, jammed the bottom of the pole into the crack, and added a string tether tied to the run that keeps the pole in the upright position.

Electric fence? No problem!

Electric fence? No problem!

As you can see, the pole is upright, the fence is lifted
enough for the birds to go under it, and it is easy to
replace at the end of the day. Next challenge, get them  to go into the play yard! A few handfuls of feed scattered  just beyond the fence, and it didn’t take long for one  Golden Fletcher to find her way in. Uno soon followed,  and then the rest of the crowd. Much fun to be had,  including digging chickenbowls in the loose soil  and having a hen party!

Just another hen party!

Just another hen party!

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Brassicas are in the ground!

Four varieties of kale
Four varieties of kale

Last weekend we planted 24 mixed varieties of kale,
12 broccoli, 12 collards, and 12 sprouting broccoli.

Broccoli, collards and onions

Broccoli, collards and onions

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brassicas under remay

Brassicas and onions under remay

Since we’ve been seeing deer rather frequently,  and much too close to the garden, we  decided  we needed  to protect our young plants.  We had  enough remay to cover 3 beds, which as  it turns  out would not only protect our little plants  from  the deer, but from a fairly heavy frost that night!

Kale bed with protection from deer

Kale bed with chicken wire hoop covering

Sadly, the beautiful kale plants you see in the above photo were only protected by a chicken wire hoop covering, which means they took a rather severe hit from the frost. All of them still have small healthy leaves but those big ones in the picture were mostly fried to a crisp! Another lesson learned the hard way – pay attention to the sky!

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