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Monday Harvest Report – August 3, 2015

After a week of heat in the mid 90’s we woke up this morning to rain and high 70’s.  We have been swamped with preparation for my in-laws 50th anniversary party all week and I hadn’t even noticed that rain was in the forecast so it was a very pleasant surprise!!


We are definitely in that “in between” time in the garden.  This weeks totals were pretty small over all but lots of variety!  Here’s the first Harvest basket for the week.  It included a very nice picking of basil and some chamomile, which are on the drying screen now.


Later in the week we had a nice picking of broccoli side shoots, about a 1/2 pound of berries and a bunch of cherry tomatoes!  The one Sun Sugar tomato plant is giving us a dependable harvest of around a pound of ripe cherries about every other day now.  And the second plant has started to produce as well.


Saturdays harvest included a few Early Girl tomatoes to go along with the cherries.  Also notice in the top right our first cucumber of the year.  It’s nothing spectacular as it looks like it had some pollination problems.  But it was small but tasty!  The broccoli side shoots have really slowed this week.  We had about 1/2 what we did last week.  The tomato plants are really starting to encroach on them and shade them so I think this coming week may be our last broccoli for a while.


I picked this mess of beets to give to a neighbor, it was a special request, small beets with lots of greens!  We have a bunch more beets to get harvested this week.  We just haven’t had the time to get them pickled so I’ve left them in the ground for now.

There were a few more tomatoes scattered though the week that I didn’t get pictures of and a couple of nice sized zucchini that almost got a way from me and were a little larger than we normally like.  But they got cut up and frozen before I could get pictures.  We also harvested a few leaves of kale.

Be sure to check back later in the week.  I spent the weekend building a very nice grape arbor in our side yard.  I’m excited to show you pictures of the finished product and to do a little tutorial on how I built it!

Here’s this weeks total:
Kale – .25 lbs
Broccoli – 1.25 lbs
Beets – 2.25 lbs
Tomatoes – 4 lbs
Zucchini – 3.75 lbs
Mix berries – 1 lbs
Herbs – .25 lbs
Total – 12.75 lbs

That brings our annual total to 178 pounds all from the home garden.  Next week should see the beginnings of the real summer harvests, with more cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, garlic, and maybe (just maybe) the first sweet corn from the borrowed garden!

I will be sharing this post on several blog hops this week, including the following:

The Monday Harvest Report
Good Morning Monday
Misadventure Monday
The Tuesday Garden Party

From The Farm Hop – July 31, 2015

Wow, where is the summer going!  July is over already.  I guess the one positive is we only have about 30 more days of hot weather!


The garden is doing great!  There will be lots to talk about on the Monday Harvest report.  So be sure to come back then.

Now on to the hop!!


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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Monday Harvest Report & Late July Garden Tour

The garden is humming along again this year.  Our annual total is still almost 30 pounds higher than last year which is awesome.  I thought this week I would do my harvest report and then give you a quick tour of both of the gardens!  Let’s start with what we harvest this week.


We had two very similar harvest baskets this week.  The first was full of broccoli side shoots, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini and even a few raspberries.


The second one harvested on Saturday had more of the same.  More zucchini this time and more broccoli.  And if you look close the first “real” tomato of the year!


This is a early girl tomato and really should have been the 3rd tomato of the year.  But we are really having a problem with Magpies, which is something I’ve never struggled with before.  We have a whole mess of them hanging out in the neighborhood and they seem to have zeroed in on my garden!!  They ate both of the first 2 tomatoes that were ready.  This is really late for us to be just getting our first tomato, but a weird spring along with some major damage that happened to this plant kind of set us back.  I expect we will start seeing a lot more tomatoes in just a week or two.


And the last harvest for the week was the last of the cold frame planted potatoes.  This little 8 x 4 patch did really well for us this year.  We were just a little bit shy of 40 pounds and the harvest lasted over 6 weeks.  We will have a few weeks without any potatoes, but we should be able to start harvesting the May planted potatoes around mid August.


In fact here’s a shot of the May planting.   They have already bloomed, so technically I could start harvesting any time, but I like to let them size up a bit!


Beets will be the next major harvest from the garden.



If we can find the time we will dig up most of this patch this week and pickle them!  Yum!


The onions are sizing up nicely!  You can see on these Candy onions the tops have already started to fall over.


It’s interesting to see the difference between the Candy & the Copra’s.  The Candies are sizing up and the tops have fallen where as these Copra’s still have a ways to go and the tops are holding strong!


The raspberries are starting to ripen with some consistency.  Another week and we will be picking every other day.


We planted this patch of Caroline Raspberries only last year.  Just look at how well this patch has filled in!  I can’t believe this patch is only 1 year old!


The pop corn is also doing well.  We have about 10 hills of corn like this, we are hoping for around 100 ears of corn this year!


Blossoms on the cucumbers mean it won’t be long now!


I’ve made a few changes to the trellis and I’m happier with how the plants are climbing this year.


We are still getting quite a few side shoots from the broccoli, but the tomato plants are crowding the plants so I don’t think I will be able to keep them in much longer.


Speaking of tomatoes!  Lots of Sun Sugars coming along, we get a hand full every other day.


The Early Girls are also doing well.


The other 14 plants were put in 6 weeks later than the others 2 so we are just now starting to see flowers.


And even a few fruit set!


The beans are doing well, this bed is a mix of a burgundy (bush) string bean and Blue Lake pole bean.  This bed was succession planted over about 5 weeks time, so that is why you see the vast difference in the size of the plants.


If you look close you can see a few of the pole beans are flowering!


These beans are new to our garden this year.  They are called Black Coco and although they can be eaten as a string bean, we are growing them as a dry black bean!


The always dependable Black Beauty zucchini is flowering like crazy.  We are getting 3 or 4 small fruit a week now!  So many that we can’t keep up with them fresh and have started to freeze some for the winter.


This is the only celery plant that really survived the 18 million inches of rain our garden got in May, and of course the only one to survive is too close to the zucchini so I’m not sure how it will do.


We have two kinds of kale growing right now that give us a few leaves each week.  This one is Vates.


This is Red Russian.  Both seem to be having some aphid issues that if I can’t control right away will cause me to rip these plants our so the aphids don’t spread.


We do have a few heads of summer crisp lettuce that are getting close to harvest, but I didn’t get nearly enough planted this spring.  Again those May rains are coming back to haunt us.


The strawberries are looking good.  This patch was a little stressed in June but seems to have bounced back now that the temperatures have moderated a bit.


And here’s one of the strawberries in the new patch.  The plants are well enough established now that I’m letting the blossoms stay!


And here’s a quick shot of the borrowed garden.  Everything here is just a little behind for this time of year.  Those dang May rains kept us from getting this garden planted until after June 1st.  So I’m worried our production here might be down a bit this year.  The first planting of corn (on the right) is just now starting to tassel, the second planting is still 3 or more weeks away.


The potatoes for the most part look really good.  But we did have some real germination issues in a few spots here this year.


These are more of the Black Coco beans.  Notice how much better these plants look.  It’s because the soil in this garden is so much healthier.


This is another new plant for us.  This is a pumpkin that has a hull-less seed.  We love pumpkin seeds and thought we would try these out this year.  Blossoms mean fruit will be on the way soon.


There are also blossoms on the Crenshaw melons.


The Watermelon.


And the Cantaloupe.  I’ve even seem some fruit set on the cantaloupe!

Well they you go!  A tour of the Stoney Acres gardens for late July.  Another 3 weeks or so and we will be drowning in produce!


Here’s this weeks totals:
Kale – .50 lbs
Potatoes – 9.75 lbs
Tomatoes – .65 lbs
Broccoli – 2.25 lbs (holy cow, all side shoots!)
Zucchini – 4.35 lbs (the neighbors better start locking their cars)
Strawberries – .35 lbs
Total – 17.85 lbs

Our annual total now stands at 165.50 pounds! All from the home garden!

I will be sharing this post on several blog hops this week, including the following:

The Monday Harvest Report
Good Morning Monday
Misadventure Monday
The Tuesday Garden Party

Monday Harvest Report – July 20, 2015

We had a very beautiful, cool week.  Highs were in the high 80’s or low 90’s and that is the forecast for the coming week as well!


This week was a pretty standard week.  We are again in that “in-between” time frame where there isn’t a ton coming out of the garden as we are waiting on all the warm season veggies to take off.  This is our harvest basket for Wednesday.  Yes that is our first zucchini for the year!!  Valerie and the kids were excited!  This one was cut up and eaten raw, which is currently our favorite way to eat zucchini!

Also in this basket is the first picking of the summer strawberries.  The patch is blooming pretty consistently now so we should start seeing berries again, they will last right up till the first snow!

We are also getting a handful of sun sugar tomatoes like that one about every other day now.  And we had several harvests like the one in the picture of both basil and chamomile this week.


This photo shows you most of Saturdays harvest,  another zucchini, more broccoli side shoots and a few potatoes that actually came from a volunteer plant in the tomato bed.  I forgot to take a photo of the last couple of kale harvests, but we got about a pound.  Also not pictured was the big bunch of potatoes I dug up Saturday afternoon.  Another 7 pounds from only 3 plants!  There are about 4 or 5 plants left from the early cold frame planting, so I’m hoping for around another 10 pounds!  It was a really good year for our small cold frame patch!

Now we are just in that waiting zone, we have blossoms on the cucumbers, peppers, beans and melons.  The beets are sizing up and should be ready this week.  The onion tops are dying back, the raspberries are in full bloom and best of all the tomatoes have started setting fruit!!  Soon we will be drowning in produce!

Here’s this weeks totals:
Kale – 1 lbs
Potatoes – 8 lbs
Broccoli – 1 lbs
Tomatoes – .50 lbs
Zucchini – 2.25 lbs
Strawberries – .25 lbs
Totals – 13 lbs

That makes our total for the year just shy of 148 pounds, for comparison that is about 40 pounds ahead of last year!

From the Farm Hop – July 17, 2015

We have had a beautiful week here in Utah with highs in the low 90’s all week.  Perfect tomato growing weather!!  And we are expecting a nice rain shower for the weekend!!

Enjoy this weeks From the Farm Hop!


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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Preserving Your Harvest – Freezing Broccoli

Freezing Broccoli

Broccoli is a garden favorite around our place. Here in Utah it is a little hard to grow. Our springs are short and we often get hot pretty quick, so when we have a good crop of broccoli we have to take advantage of it and get as much in the freezer as possible! Freezing Broccoli is really quite simple and only involves 6 steps.

This year was one of those good years! We had 16 perfect heads of broccoli each weighing in at about 1 1\4 pounds. So we have a lot of broccoli to preserve!

The preferred method for preserving broccoli is to freeze it. There really isn’t another way to do it. I’ve heard of people pickling it and I guess you could dry it, but really the only practical way to preserve broccoli is to freeze it!

There are 6 steps you need to follow when freezing broccoli:

1. Soaking in salt water

If you grow broccoli in your garden there is a pretty good chance it will have a few critters in it. Even the best organic gardener is going to have a few bugs in his broccoli. So you need to get the bugs out. The best method we have found to do this is to first soak the broccoli in a mild salt water solution.

Freezing Broccoli 1

Add a tablespoon of salt to about 2 gallons of warm water and let the broccoli soak in that solution for at least an hour. The salt water seems to draw out most of the bugs. You can then carefully pour them off.

2. Wash it good!

Next we rinse the broccoli very well to wash off any remaining bugs and dirt! Take a little time to inspect the broccoli to be sure the salt water removed all your little bug friends.

3. Cut in desired sized pieces.

I like to have a nice long piece of stem on each piece of broccoli. But many people don’t like the stems as much so you can cut them off how ever you please! Just be sure you cut them how you like to eat them so that you don’t have to do any thing but cook them when you take them from the freezer.

Freezing Broccoli 2

4. Blanch for three minutes.

The Ball Blue Book, our go to food preservation book, suggests you blanch (or pre-cook) the broccoli for three minutes. Blanching slows the decomposition process and kills most bacteria helping frozen food to last longer.

There are two methods to blanch; boil or steam.
To boil simply bring a pot of water to a boil, add the broccoli and let it cook for exactly 3 minutes. The disadvantage of the boiling method is that many of the nutrients cook out in the water.

Freezing Broccoli 3

That is why we prefer the steam method. Fewer nutrients are lost when steaming. We use our vegetable steamer and let the broccoli cook for exactly 3 minutes.

Freezing Broccoli 4

With either method remove the broccoli after 3 minutes and immediately put it in an ice water bath. We have a nice big bowl of water filled with ice sitting in the sink. You need to leave the broccoli in the ice water for 3 minutes. This stops the cooking process.

5. Freeze flat over night.

Once the broccoli has cooled, remove it from the water and let it sit on a towel to drain and dry a bit.

Freezing Broccoli 5

In my opinion the only way to freeze any veggie or fruit is to freeze it flat on a cookie sheet for at least 12 hours BEFORE you put it into what ever container you use. Freezing flat means each piece is frozen individually. That makes for a much better finished product. It keeps your broccoli from freezing together in one giant frozen chunk!

6. Put in freezer bags.

If you have one of those fancy bag sealers that pulls all the air out of the bag then use that! But if your like us you can simply use the zipper top freezer bags. We try to use a BPA free bag. We find ours at Target. We put our broccoli in gallon sized bags. But you could also use smaller bags to make them meal sized servings.

Freezing Broccoli 6

So far this year we have put away 9 bags of frozen broccoli. We are hoping with our fall crop we might have enough to last us all winter!

Most frozen veggies will last between 6 to 12 months in a good deep-freeze.

As with any food preserving post here on Stoney Acres I have to give you our little disclaimer. We are not the FDA and this post has not been evaluated by the FDA. Before preserving any food you should consult the FDA website or a current and reputable food preservation book, like The Ball Blue Book.

Monday Harvest Report – July 13, 2015

Monday Harvest - July 13 2015

Hey guys, welcome back for another quick Monday harvest report.  The weather for the last week has been beautiful!!  We were in the mid to high 80’s all week and it was nearly perfect!  It was a very welcome break after 10 days of 100 or better.  We also had afternoon thunder storms most days.  It was nice to not have to worry about watering the garden or the grass all week!  It’s been a couple of days since it rained but I was working out in the garden most of the day Saturday and every thing was still nice an moist!


We had quite a few firsts this week!  This is a shot of the first basil harvest for the year.  We used about half of this fresh in a couple of dishes!  The other half was cleaned and put on the drying rack to store up for the winter!  I really don’t know how to weigh these little light harvests of herbs, so I don’t think the totals will make it into our harvest total till the end of the year, when I can just estimate the total.


This shows a couple of other firsts for the garden.  The first very small handful of raspberries and the first harvest of chamomile.  The chamomile also ended up in the herb dryer, the raspberries barley made it though the door before the kids attacked them!


I also harvested the garlic between rain storms this week.  It stayed in a little longer than I would have liked but with all the rain I had a hard time finding a day dry enough to dig them out.  This is our biggest harvest ever!  I’m very happy with the size quality of the garlic.  It will need to dry here for a few weeks and then I will include them in the harvest count.


I also dug up a bunch more of the cold frame potatoes.  There was a little over 7 pounds here.  There is only one row left now that’s about 6 feet long.  I will probably dig them out this week to make room for a late planting of beans.  I have to admit it has been really nice to have potatoes again.  I was getting a little tired of pasta and rice.


This is Saturdays harvest.  Some broccoli side shoots (this was the second picking this week), the last kohlrabi and the last two cabbages.  I was a little bummed, all the rain made both these cabbages split.  Not too bad but enough that they probably won’t keep to long.

Here’s this weeks totals:
Kohlrabi – .75 lbs
Cabbage – 5 lbs
Broccoli – 1.50 lbs
Potatoes – 7.50 lbs
Total – 14.75 lbs

This weeks totals bring our year to date total to 134.75 lbs!  A great year so far!

I will be sharing this post on several blog hops this week, including the following:

The Monday Harvest Report
Good Morning Monday
Misadventure Monday
The Tuesday Garden Party

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