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Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer rain affect on our produce

The summer of 2015 - a different one for sure. Midwesterners will remember this summer as one with lots of rain. Here in Northwest Indiana we got 21 inches of rain in 16 days. Crops sitting in standing water. Everywhere. At a critical part in the growing season also! Farmers have taken losses for sure.
Picking kale for CSAs after 4 inches of rain
As produce growers, we have gotten several questions asking "How has the rain affected your crops?"
At first, we really thought our produce field would be okay. It is in a sandier soil and wasn't sitting in standing water. A few dry days went by. The ground was still wet, but the vegetable plants still looked good. Then we got more rain, inches at a time, for several days. Even after the lengthy period of rain, it was too wet to get in to the fields to cultivate and take care of our plants. 

Getting a late start at planting due to the longer winter and so much rain really put a dent in our production. So much that we haven't attended our usual farmers markets this year. 

You take the challenges as they come. With the wet weather, we are thrilled that we have been able to still fulfill our weekly CSA deliveries, getting a nice assortment of produce, and still have enough for ourselves to enjoy each week and preserve for the winter. But just not a lot extra to have a good variety to take to the market.

The summer rain has also created an interesting harvesting schedule for our sweet corn. We planted 3 plantings of sweet corn, each two weeks apart. Due to the rainfall in June, our sweet corn will all be ready very soon.

Our biggest crop, pumpkins, had minimum wash out and are basically on schedule. We are looking forward to fall harvest. We will see closer to fall how things will look for our Fall Harvest Days.

Each year we don't know how the weather will be and we take each year as it comes. This year was just one of those years that created issues and we are working with what we have.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Zucchini Custard Pie

 Zucchini Custard Pie

If your garden is like mine, most summers, you have more zucchini than you know what to do with. Here is a recipe to enjoy this vegetable in a whole new way as a delicious dessert. Baking with zucchini is my favorite way to enjoy it. You will be pleasantly surprised with the deliciousness of this pie!

-2 medium zucchini
-Frozen pie crust - I use the Ritz Deep Dish Pie crust
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 tsp salt
-2 tsp cinnamon
-3/4 tsp ginger
-1/4 tsp allspice
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1 cup evaporated milk warmed
-2 eggs

1. Skin zucchini and cut into small pieces and place in a microwavable dish.
2. Microwave on high until the pieces are tender.
3. Pour out any water! This is important for the pie to set and not be runny, so drain as much as you can off the zucchini.
4. Place pieces in a blender and puree.
5. Mix dry ingredients with puree.
6. Warm milk and add it with the eggs to the mixture.
7. Mix well and pour into crust.
8. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. The center will be wobbly.
9. Cool for 2 hours then chill if desired. Serve.

Add a dab of Cool Whip to the top when serving to make extra yummy! I have been making this pie for years and always look forward to making it each growing season. You know those extra large zucchinis you stumble across in the garden and think, "wow that got big fast" or "how did I miss that one," this recipe is also great to use those large ones (I just use the meaty part and leave out the seeds). Enjoy!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fall Vegetable Garden...when to and what to plant?

Even with your garden being plentiful of summer vegetables, don't forget about planting to harvest vegetables in the fall. Extend your growing season and enjoy more homegrown produce in the cooler months. The fall months are quickly approaching and now is the time to start planning for that fall produce. So many vegetable plants grow well in the cooler temps, it is a great time to take advantage of growing your own food by really maximizing your garden's production. So don't put those garden tools away just yet...

For fall vegetable growing choose seeds for lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, carrots, radishes, turnips, and kohlrabi. For broccoli and cauliflower transplants work best.

Just like early garden planting, you pick your plant date around the frost date. Plan backwards from the average first frost date for your area.

For example:
Fall average first frost: Oct. 10th
Most of the leafy greens take 40 days for seed to table, but you can eat the smaller tender leaves anytime)
Come back 40 days = August 27th.
Then allow a few extra weeks for slower growing conditions in cooler climate. = August 13th
Then allow a few extra weeks to enjoy your produce, we usually start planting our fall vegetable crops around the end of July, beginning of August and this allows plenty of time to enjoy what you have grown.

Its so nice to enjoy those cool crop vegetables again during the growing season. Fall is my favorite time of the garden. Getting to enjoy my favorite cool crop vegetables along with the summer vegetables. Fresh lettuce and radish along with my summer tomatoes and peppers. Yum! It really is a great time to get the most out of your garden!

Now start planning your fall vegetable garden and enjoy those delicious cool crop vegetable later in the growing season! Happy gardening!!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Kids Craft: Straw Fireworks Painting

We are well into summer and sometimes to break up our day, the kids and I do a fun craft or activity. We have made a variety of things this summer and I thought something for the 4th of July would be appropriate this week.

What better thing to make this week than fireworks!

What you need:
bendable straws
paper to paint on - I used cardstock

Simply pull each straw to expand them all the way.
Gather up several and tape together, I did 6 straws in each.
Squirt some paint out on a paper plate.
Dab the straws in the paint and stamp them on the paper. Each straw doesn't transfer the paint all the way on the paper so you may have to push down each straw so the paint gets on the paper.

This made for a simple activity to go with the excitement of the 4th of July. Even my youngest had fun with it. We taped them to our chalkboard to display for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Travels 2015: Las Vegas

Last week I flew to Las Vegas with my grandma and cousin as she was having a family reunion with her siblings and cousins. Everyone is kind of scattered throughout the Midwest and the western states so Las Vegas was the city of choice.

One evening we traveled out of the city to Red Rock Canyon to watch a play at Spring Mountain Ranch. I have been out west before as a kid, but it was so neat to see the mountains again! I just wanted to share a few photos I took. 

 Breathtakingly beautiful!

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