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From The Farm Hop – March 27th 2015

Hey good morning guys.  It Friday again already!!  Time for another from the farm hop!  Here’s a look at the most exciting news that is happening around Stoney Acres!

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Yes those are peas!

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Warming the soil for a week and then covering the bed with row cover did the trick this year.  For the first time in a long time we have peas up before April 1st.

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That’s great news for the garden.

It’s time for another round of From The Farm where we love to see your ideas on how to garden, homestead, or any DIY tips and tricks. Last Week’s Top 5 Favorites, as chosen by YOU:

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Warmly,Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts: The Homesteading Hippy | Spring Mountain Living | Lil’ Suburban Homestead | The Homestead Lady | Urban Overalls | Once Upon A Time in A Bed of Wildflowers | Oh Sweet Mercy | Honey’s Life | Lone Star Farmstead |Stony Acres
|Lady and The Carpenter

 

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From the Farm Hop – March 20, 2015

Hey guys, another busy week is coming to an end!!  I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

My favorite post from last weeks hop was Seasonal Living by Angi at A Return to Simplicity:

Seasonal Living | areturntosimplicity.com

 

 

This is a great little post on going with the flow of the seasons, and eating what is locally available during the season.  Great post Angi!!

 

Now, let’s get on with the party! This week’s Favorites:

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|Lady and The Carpenter

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The Difference between Cool and Warm Season Veggies

Cool and Warm season veggies

I had the opportunity to speak on vegetable gardening basics recently at a local home and garden show.  The difference between cool and warm season veggies was one of the topics the show organizers asked me to address.  As a long time gardener I kind of thought that was an odd request, I mean we all know the difference between cool and warm season veggies, right?  But this is an important topic for any new gardener to understand!

At the simplest level the difference between cool and warm season veggies is the time of year you grow them.  Cool season veggies like the cooler weather of spring, fall and some times winter.  Warm season veggies like the heat of the summer!  But there is really a lot more to it, so let’s take a bit of time and talk about each type of veggie, the conditions they like and what veggies are considered cool season and what are warm season!

Cool Season Vegetables

As the name implies cool season veggies like cool temperatures.  A general rule of thumb is that you want to plant your cool season veggies so that they mature before your day time temperatures exceed 80° Fahrenheit.  Cool season veggies prefer temperatures between 55° and 75° F.  Additionally cool season vegetable seeds will germinate with much lower soil temperatures.  Seeds will come up with soil temps as low at 40°, but optimal soil temp for germination is around 70°F.

Cool and Warm season veggies harvest

Cool season vegetables can handle much colder temperatures; they can even handle a little frost without any major damage.  In fact the taste of crops like, kale, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi actually improves with a little frost to “sweeten” them up!

Hot weather is the enemy of your cool season crops.  Temperatures consistently over 80° will very quickly affect the quality of your cool season crops causing leafy veggies to go bitter and many others to bolt (send up flowers and set seeds).  So plan accordingly, get your cool season veggies in early in the spring so they are done before the summer heat.  For us here in zone 5b we target planting times between March 15th & April 30th so that the crops are mature no later than mid June.  Your planting times will vary based on what hardiness zone you live in.

Cool and Warm season veggies spinach

Keep in mind that cool season veggies can also be planted in the fall.  Target planting dates will be in mid to late summer.  Cool season veggies planted in mid summer for a fall harvest will need a little extra care during the hot times (extra water & maybe a shade cloth).  The idea with late summer plantings is to have the plants starting to mature when the weather cools off in the fall.  Keep in mind that the amount of sunlight is declining in the fall (as opposed to increasing in the spring) so your plants will mature slower in the fall.  Plan on adding about 10 days to your growing time in the fall.

Here’s the list of Cool Season Crops
Lettuce                     Spinach                    Carrots
Swiss Chard              Beets                       Radish
Turnips                    Chinese Greens          Broccoli
Cabbage                   Kale                        Kohlrabi
Peas                        Cauliflower               Green Onions
Leeks                       Scallions                  Mache
Most leafy greens

Warm Season Vegetables

These are the veggies of summer!  Warm season vegetables grow best in the long hot days of the summer time.  Cold weather actually shuts down the growth of warm season veggies.  Frost will always severely damage or kill a warm season crop.  For this reason we don’t plant our warm season veggies until later in the year when day time temperatures average between 65° and 95°.  Additionally warm season crops need a minimum soil temperature of 65° to germinate and they prefer soil temps much warmer than that!

Cool and Warm season veggies watermelon

Planting times for warm season veggies are usually mid to late spring.  For us in zone 5b that means early May is when we start planting and we are usually finished planting by late June.  Some cool season veggies can tolerate a little bit of shade but warm season veggies love the sun and will not do well without 12 to 14 hours of daylight.  So plant your warm season crops in the sunniest spots in your garden.

Watering and pests are also usually a much bigger concern with warm season vegetables.  Having a great drip irrigation system will help you to be able to water your warm season veggies deeply!  Mulching also helps hold in water and keep down weeds.  Pests and other problems are also much more prevalent in the warm summer temperatures so be sure to keep a close eye on all your warm season crops and act quickly to eliminate any pests!

Having a good indoor seed starting set up, can help immensely with your warm season crops.   You can get a huge head start on the season by planting your warm season crops early indoors and then transplanting your seedlings out to the garden later when the temperature have warmed.  This is 100% necessary for plants like tomatoes, peppers, and many herbs.  For other warm season crops like melons, cucumbers and squashes planting indoors can get you an extra 2 or 3 weeks but these seeds usually can also be planted directly in the garden and still be successful.

Here’s the list of warm season crops:
Corn                       Beans                   Tomatoes
Melons                    Potatoes                Summer Squash
Cucumbers              Eggplant                Most Herbs
Onions                    Mustard                 Squashes
Pumpkins                Peppers                 Sweet Potatoes

A few other things to know

It is possible to “cheat” a little bit with warm season crops.  Cloches, hoop houses, cold frames and wall-o-waters are all great ways to get an early start on your warm season crops.  Wall-o-waters will allow you to get your tomato plants in the garden up to two months before your last frost.  This can really increase your harvests.  Also a nice heavy fabric row cover used to protect warm season crops from frost in the fall can add up to a month to your harvest of tomatoes and other warm season crops.

There are some crops (both warm and cool season) that are more hardy than others.  Many herbs will tolerate some pretty cool temperatures in the spring and fall.  Corn holds up pretty well to cool temps and can be planted earlier than more tender crops like squashes and melons.  Broccoli holds up better against the heat than most other cool season crops and cabbage around our place really isn’t even ready till mid July.  So the rules I have laid out here do have a little flexibility.

In my opinion there are such things as COLD weather crops as well.  Some of the cool weather crops end up being very hardy and with just a little protection from a simple hoop house or cold frame you can stretch your harvest well into the winter months.  These plants include kale, spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, Mache and several other leafy greens.     You can learn more about winter gardening here.

So there you have it!  The difference between cool and warm season veggies!  Now get growing!!

Real Food Lunches

Real Food Lunches

It has really taken our family about a year to get to where we are now in our real food journey.  We have had ups and downs, not to mention the moans and groans from the teenagers, but I am happy we have got to this point.  There is still a lot I want to change but it will come slowly step by step.  As I started into this real food journey I had to take a step back and look at every meal of the day that I needed to clean up.  I have already written about breakfast and now I want to just give you some tips on how I cleaned up our real food lunches.   I had to stop buying some foods that were not clean and I will let you know what I replaced them with.  I am definitely not perfect at this meal, but it is coming slowly but surely.

So forever we have been a PB&J kind of family.  We sent sack lunches with the kids to school, because we wanted them to eat better than what the school was offering (our school district is actually listed in the 10 worst school lunches in the country) As I looked at what we were eating for lunch both at school and at home on the weekends, I realized there were still a lot of things that needed to change.  I stopped buying box Macaroni and cheese, Ramen, Raviolis, fruit snacks, most store bought crackers, sandwich meat, Spaghettios, canned chili and canned re-fried beans.  These items were just too processed and had way too many ingredients.  I also stopped making jam, because it is just so full of sugar and pectin; I couldn’t rationalize even my homemade kind.

My favorite blog and book on real food of course is 100 Days of Real Food, she has tons of great real food lunch ideas.  Lisa has a whole chapter on real food lunches.  She has great ideas for lunches to send to school with your kids.  Most of these lunches fit nicely into little separated plastic containers and are great for elementary aged kids.  My only problem is I have some teenagers that this will just not work for! UGH!   The teens do not want to take separated plastic containers to school, they only want sack lunches.  They have a reputation to keep up, (seriously) so it has been difficult to find real food that we can use for lunch.

Real Food Lunches chips

I have listed below what we used to eat for lunch and what I now replace it with.  I hope this helps you to take that big step of converting to real food lunches.  I have included links to many of my recipes and I will be posting some of the recipes below over the next few weeks.  Changing to real food lunches has been the hardest change we have made.  I don’t like lunch!  It’s just a pain in the neck in the middle of my day and I never know what to have!  I realized after I started making real food lunches that it was easy. With just a few extra steps and a little bit more time I could  make a much healthier lunch for my family!!  The bonus is, real food lunches taste so much better than the processed food!!  I promise after tasting real food you won’t want to go back to your old ways again.

 

Old Lunches Real Food Lunch
Kraft Macaroni & cheese Homemade Whole wheat Mac & cheese
Spaghettio’s I didn’t replace it.  The easiest lunches are leftovers from dinner.
PB & J sandwich Natural Peanut butter/Almond butter on Whole wheat bread with either honey or fresh strawberries or raspberries (this is so yummy!)
Wheat thins Homemade Wheat thins(so good)
Cheeze its Homemade  whole wheat cheese crackers
Chips Homemade whole wheat tortilla chips
Crackers Triscuits
Capri Sun/Gatorade/ Fruit drinks/soda Bottle of water- Water is so much better for you.
Processed deli meats/sandwich  meats I don’t want to be eating the nitrates that are added to this kind of meat.  We cook a whole chicken and cut it up in pieces once a month and store in the freezer.
Fruit Snacks I know they say they have a 100% vitamin c in them but they are just candy disguised in a fruit pouch.  I switched to organic/farmers market fresh fruit, whatever is in season.Strawberries, Raspberries, peaches, apples, applesauce, oranges, bananas, raisins, and grapes or pomegranates.
Vegetables This stayed the same except I don’t use canned veggies anymore and I buy organic/farmer’s market fresh veggies. I buy or use from our own garden whatever is in season, carrots, peas, zucchini, salad,  snap peas, cucumbers,
Bread/sandwiches Homemade whole wheat breadWhole wheat pitas or Whole wheat wraps.I make extra bread for dinner and use the leftovers for lunch.  It could be whole wheat  French bread, bread sticks, biscuits or muffins,
White flour tacos with canned refried beans My kids get tacos for lunch when they have the day off from school.  So I changed this by using only whole wheat tortillas and homemade refried beans and fresh veggie toppings.
Navajo Tacos-used White flour & canned chili Whole wheat Navajo Tacos with homemade quick chili and fresh veggie toppings.

 

From the Farm Hop – March 13, 2015

Welcome to another week of the From the Farm Hop here on Stoney Acres!!

I had a hard time choosing a favorite this week but I finally settled on this post by the Rural Economist:

Now, let’s get on with the party! This week’s Favorites:


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Early March in our Year Round Garden

Early March in our year round garden

Hi guys!   I love doing my Monday Harvest reports, but I always feel like they are just a brag session for what I’m harvesting.  So in an attempt to make my Monday Harvest reports a little more useful to our readers I’m going to try and add a little more “meat” to them!  So this week I want to show you what is happening in our “year round garden” in Early March.  I’m doing this to give you an idea what is possible if you set your mind to having a year round garden.

I spent some time working out in the garden this weekend.  While I was there I snapped some photos.  So here’s what is happening in our Zone 5b garden in March.

What’s Growing

Spinach Year Round Garden

After today’s work we really only have one cold frame that has crops that we can harvest.  That’s the spinach/Swiss Chard bed.  This is one of my favorite beds in the year round garden.  As you can see the bed is looking pretty good.  We have been harvesting like crazy for the last two weeks.  Any time we need some greens for a salad or soup all we need to do, is run out and cut something from this bed!

Swiss Chard Year Round Garden

Look how good the Swiss Chard is looking!

Aphids Year Round Garden

The overwintered lettuce bed is starting to burn out!  Most of what is left is looking pretty spent. We have been harvesting pretty heavy from this bed all winter (which was awesome!)  But now we are starting to have a real aphid problem in this bed.  Over the last two weeks the warm weather has brought an early infestation of aphids.  This bed was right next to a tomato bed last fall that was just swarming with aphids.  Some of them must have snuck over to this cold frame bed and survived the winter.  As bad as I hate to do it, I’m going to have to pull up what’s left of the smaller plants, leave the lids off this box for a few cold nights and see if the frost can kill off the aphids before they spread.  Then I will dig this bed up and plant potatoes in it next week.  I’ll have to move the spring lettuce somewhere else.  This means we will have about a month or so without lettuce, which is kind of a bummer!

Daffodills Year Round Garden

Here are a few other early signs of spring.  All the Daffodils & Tulips are up and growing!

Chives Year Round Garden

I also noticed that the chives have poked through the ground and are starting to grow again!  It will be nice to have a couple of year old plants that we can harvest from this year!

Garlic Year Round Garden

And look how great the garlic is looking, we should have an early crop this year!

What have we been Planting

On Saturday the weather was nice and the soil dry so I did a little planting!  This was the winter carrot bed.  I dug up what was left of the carrots and then planted a row of lettuce, 2 short rows of radishes, a few turnips and 4 rows of spring carrots!.  The balance of this cold frame bed will be planted to our spring lettuce!

Planting Year Round Garden

You will remember from my post on peas two weeks back that I’m trying to get the soil warmed up early this year to get my peas off to a quick start.  I covered the bed with clear plastic to keep it dry and to warm the soil up.  Well it’s working.  Two weeks ago the soil temp at 2 inches was 42 degrees.  Now that bed is sitting at 65 degrees, the perfect temperature for planting peas.  So I will be getting them in as soon as I can this week!

Soil Temp Year Round Garden

Also this week we will be planting our spring potatoes in the cold frame, where we are taking the lettuce out.  And if our onion order gets here we will get those in as well!

Lettuce Year Round Garden

The seedlings are looking great!  These 10 or so lettuce plants will go out this week after we get them a couple more good waterings with some fertilizer!

Seedlings Year Round Garden

The Cole crops are also starting to look really nice!  All of them have their first set of true leaves and are coming along well.  They should be ready to go out the first week of April.

Harvest for the Week

Harvest Year Round Garden

We are getting 1 or 2 nice harvests a week from the spinach/Swiss chard bed.  Each picking is about 1/2 pound so we have picked 1 1/2 pounds over the last 2 weeks.

Lettuce Harvest

This will be the last big harvest of lettuce for a while.  We had to do a lot of washing to get rid of all the aphids.  This picking was about a pound,  over the last two weeks we have harvested 2 pounds total.

Carrots

And we dug up the last of the winter carrots Saturday.  4 pounds total.  Our winter carrot harvest was pretty disappointing this year.  We had a super wet August last fall and that really affected the germination of our carrots.  Only 5 pounds for the winter is pitiful!  Oh well!  There’s always next year right?

So our totals for the last 2 weeks are:
Spinach/Chard – 1.5 lbs
Lettuce – 2 lbs
Carrots – 4 lbs
Total – 7.5 lbs

That brings our annual total to 12 pounds.  Not to shabby for March!

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I’m sharing this post on several blog hops this week including:
The Monday Harvest Report
Good Morning Mondays
The Tuesday Garden Party
The Homestead Blog Hop

From The Farm Hop – March 6, 2015

Hey guys,  Sorry it has been so quiet this week for me on the blog.  It has been a busy week.  And the busyness comes for a good reason!  I was invited to speak at our local Home & Garden Show today!  I’m giving 2 presentations on the Garden stage at the South Town Expo Center!  If you are here in Utah come by and see me, I’m speaking at 4 and 7 pm!  So I’ve spent all my free time this week getting ready for this speech!  I will get back to blogging tomorrow!

My featured post for this week comes to us from Mary at Back to the Basics.  It’s a fun little planting guide for March and covers the entire US.  According to Mary’s list I should have all my cool weather crops started!  Whew, I’m a head of the game for once!!  Now I just need to get some tomatoes started!!

 

Now, let’s get on with the party! This week’s Favorites:

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Warmly,Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts: The Homesteading Hippy | Spring Mountain Living | Lil’ Suburban Homestead | The Homestead Lady | Urban Overalls | Once Upon A Time in A Bed of Wildflowers | Oh Sweet Mercy | Honey’s Life | Lone Star Farmstead |Stony Acres
|Lady and The Carpenter

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