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Monday Harvest Report – June 29, 2015

Whew, it’s HOT!!  We are currently sitting right in the middle of a very August like heat wave and it’s still June!  The forecast has us scheduled for 5 days of over 100 degrees, followed by a slight cool down to the mid 90’s.  Man that’s hot for June!!  Add to that the lack of any rain for 3 weeks and we are in for a fun summer!

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Here is the one advantage to this kind of heat.  Our tomatoes are rocking!!  This is the first little picking of Sun Sugar tomatoes!  This is by far the earliest we have ever had tomatoes.  We beat our old record by a solid week.  This plant went out in the garden on April 15th under the protection of a Wall-O-Water.  It’s very nice to have a few fresh tomatoes, even if there are just little cherries!!

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We finished off the last of the main head broccoli harvest this week.  These 4 heads are from our Arcadia plants which were new to us this year.  We got the seeds from a blogging friend, Jami over at An Oregon Cottage.  She sent us a few last year to try out! The plants produced 4 nice sized heads that averaged 1.25 lbs each.  That is better than the PacMan plants we harvested last week.  Those plants averaged a little less that 1 pound each.  We will see how the side shoot production is from Arcadia before I make my final decision.

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Speaking of side shoots, the PacMan plants began their first production of side shoots, about a 1/2 a pound this week.

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I also harvested the first 2 of 3 kohlrabi.  We are not huge fans of this fun little plant, but a always put a few in, in the spring so we get a little taste!

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I also harvested the first of our 4 heads of cabbage.  It weighed in at 2.5 pounds and is in pretty good shape.  There is a little damage from cabbage loopers.  When the heat started in a few weeks back I had to take the fabric row cover off to keep the plants from being burned, this let those dang little guys in.  But the damage wasn’t too bad and was limited to the first few layers of leaves.

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I gave the cold frame planted potatoes another 10 days to add some growth and then dug these up.  They are getting bigger and these will make a nice meal!  I’m about 1/3 of the way through the patch so far.

Not pictured was the last of the spring lettuce.  When the 90’s hit last week the lettuce plants bolted almost over night.  So we are without lettuce for a few weeks while the summer crisp lettuces size up.

Here’s this weeks totals:
Broccoli – 5.10 lbs
Kohlrabi – 1.50 lbs
Cabbage – 2.50 lbs
Potatoes – 4.50 lbs
Lettuce – 1 lbs
Total – 14.60 pounds

That brings our annual total to 111 pounds we actually broke the 100 pound mark 3 weeks sooner this year than we did last year.  Let’s hope that’s a good sign for the rest of the year!!

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 – June 26, 2015

Hey guys!  Here’s 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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Monday Harvest Report – June 22, 2015

Monay June 22 2015

It was a hot week!  We had temps every day over 95 and even had one day at 100 this week.  Whew, that’s pretty hot for June.  We usually don’t see 100 till late July.  The hot weather is great for the warm season plants, but the cool season veggies aren’t liking it much.  All the lettuce bolted after only 2 days in the 90’s and many of the other cool season veggies look very stressed!  But the warm season plants are responding very well putting on a ton of growth in the last 7 days.  We even had our first sun sugar tomato this week, but of course I forgot to take a photo!

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We did have a fantastic harvest this week, and the star for the week was the broccoli.  We harvested 12 very nice sized heads of pacman broccoli.  This is by far the best year we have ever had for main head production on our broccoli.  This year I planted the broccoli 2 weeks earlier and I changed the spacing of the plants.  This year I planted all the broccoli in a row, instead of a “bed”.  This seems to have made all the difference in the world when it came to head production.  All but one of the heads came in right at one pound and it is really delicious, some of the best we have ever grown.  We ate about 1 head fresh and froze the rest for use in the winter.  We ended up with 6 gallon size bags of broccoli!!  We also still have 4 plants of Arcadia broccoli where the heads are not developed yet and the pacman plants are already starting to produce side shoots, so we will have a really good year for broccoli!

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We finished up all of the peas this week.  There are a few plants over in the shady part of the garden that will continue to produce for another week or so, but for the most part the peas are done for 2015.   Our total for the year between the 3 types we planted was just over 35 pounds.  That also represents our best year ever for peas!

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The first harvest of strawberries also finished up this week.  We grow everbearing strawberries so we will still have many harvests through the summer, but this first June rush of berries is over and we won’t see more blossoms for a few weeks.

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And we dug up the first of the cold frame planted potatoes.  This little basket totaled 3.5 pounds and were used to make cream peas and potatoes!  Yum!  I love this time of year.

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And to prove that a year round gardeners work is never done, here’s a shot of my fall broccoli that I planted over the weekend.  I’m trying something a little different this year.  My June planted seedlings are usually ready to go out around August 1st, but it seems like most years there isn’t a break in the hot August weather until the 15th.  By then the seedlings have been in the cell packs for 8 weeks and are getting a little root bound.  So this year I decided to plant all my fall seedlings in 3 inch pots to begin with, to give them more space.  So I planted 16 pots of two different types of broccoli, 4 pots of kale and 12 pots of summer crisp lettuces!  All of these should be ready for the garden in early August.

Here’s this weeks totals:

Broccoli – 11.75 lbs
Shelling Peas – 9.25 lbs
Snow Peas – 1.25 lbs
Strawberries – 1.65 lbs
Potatoes – 3.50 lbs
Total – 27.40 lbs

That brings our annual total to 96 pounds.  We should break the 100 pound mark next week!!

Freezing Strawberries to use in the winter

Freezing Strawberries

One of my favorite treats from our garden is fresh strawberries! We grow ever bearing strawberries, so we have a pretty steady supply of berries starting in June and not finishing up until late October. Of course we eat a lot of the berries fresh or use them as toppings for cereal or pancakes. But when they are coming on strong there is often no way even the 6 of us can keep up with them. So we had to come up with a way to preserve as many as we could. Freezing Strawberries is something we have been doing for many years now.  We used to make a lot of strawberry freezer jam, but in the last few years we have really cut back on our sugar intake and most strawberry jams take a ton of sugar. So now we just freeze them using the following quick and easy steps:

1. Clean the berries very well. We usually let the berries soak in water for a bit to loosen up and dirt. Then we rinse the berries to be sure they are very clean. Then we dry them by letting them sit for a while on a towel on the counter.

2. Make sure you choose only ripe berries when freezing strawberries. There’s nothing worse than digging into our frozen berry supply in January and biting into a sour berry!! So if the berries you are choosing to freeze are not quite ripe you can leave them out on the kitchen counter for a day or two so that they ripen up nicely.

3. Remove the tops. We have tried all the fancy top removers and all the pinterest ideas and when it comes right down to it, the best and quickest way to remove the tops of strawberries is with a knife. Yes there is a bit of waste some times , but it’s so much quicker to just cut the tops off. When you are dealing with 100’s of berries that’s the best way to go. While you are taking off the tops be sure to remove any bruised or damages spots as well.

Freezing Strawberries cut

4. Cut the berries in half. No matter what the size of the berry, when we are freezing strawberries we go ahead and slice them in at least 1/2. This gives us a nice bite sized berry and also makes mashing or processing easier if that is what we choose to do later when we use them in the winter. This also allows us to check for bugs and worms. Because we grow all of our garden organically there are times when a little bug or worm can get inside. Nothing turns a 9 year old off eating frozen strawberries on her pancakes more than finding a worm in them. So cutting them in half lets you take a look inside to be sure they are clear!! (We still can’t get that 9, now 11 year old to eat frozen strawberries without us first cutting each in half so she can see they are worm free!!) :)

Freezing Strawberries flat

5. Freeze them flat.  Any fruit or veggie that we freeze we do this first. Lay all of the fruit your are going to freeze out on a cookie sheet in one single layer. Try to keep the berries from touching each other. Then put the cookie sheets in the freezer over night. We do it this way so that we get a better finished product. If you stick the berries into a freezer bag or other container before they are frozen they will stick together in one giant clump of berries! Freezing them flat first means each berry is frozen individually so that as long as they stay frozen they will be easy to remove from the container. This extra step makes all the difference in the world in our finished product. Now we can just take how ever many berries we need from the bag instead of having to defrost the whole bag or chisel out the right amount from a frozen chunk!

Freezing Strawberries bag

6. Put them into the container of your choice – Once the berries are frozen simply put them in what ever container you choose. We try to use a plastic freezer bag that is BPA free (although we are not perfect about this). You can also store them in glass or metal containers. Be sure to label the container so you know which berries to use first. Frozen berries can last up to a year in your freezer, although ours usually don’t make it much past March (because we eat them all up!!)

7. Sacrifice some fresh berries now – We have a rule around our place. Any time we pick berries (other than just a small handful) we freeze 1/2 of them. Some times that is painful because we REALLY love fresh strawberries! But sacrificing some berries to the freezer now makes us very happy in January!!

Freezing Strawberries pancakes

What do we use these berries for? Thawed berries are mushy. So you are not going to be thawing them out and eating them whole. But they are perfect for toppings. We thaw out a handful and used them as toppings in oatmeal, hot cereal and as a mix in for plain Greek yogurt. They are also great for cobblers. And we used them for smoothies and in homemade ice cream!! Mashed up berries also make a fantastic sugar free topping for pan cakes, waffles and French toast!

Our 4 by 15 foot strawberry patch usually give us around 30 pounds a year. We will end up with 4 or 5 gallon sized bags of strawberries in the freezer by the end of the season (we would have more, but we are not very good at keeping our only eat 1/2 rule).

If you have questions for us about freezing strawberries, or even better, other ideas on how to use frozen strawberries please leave us a comment below!!

 

**Any canning or food preservation advice given on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA or USDA, you are encouraged to verify our food preservation advice on the USDA food preservation website or in your favorite food preservation book!

From the Farm Hop – June 19, 2015

Hot weather and lots of peas and broccoli around our place.

Broccoli Harvest

Three big beautiful heads of broccoli is just the tip of the iceberg for us this week.  I think by the end of the weekend we will have harvested 12 this size!!

 

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 – June 15, 2015

June 15, 2015

We had a beautiful & fairly mild week most of the week here in Utah.  But the temperatures are climbing as June progresses.  We were mostly in the 80’s last week but Sunday we saw our first 90 degree day of the year and low 90’s are forecast for most of the week.  That means the warm season veggies will take off like crazy but the cool season veggies will start to suffer.

This week we saw our largest harvest total of the year so far.  In fact we almost doubled our annual total this week.  We were just shy of 30 pounds and our annual total is now 69 pounds.  We went from being 10 pounds behind last years totals to 10 pounds a head this week!!

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And here’s why we had the big jump.  The peas are in!!  We picked 20 pounds of shelling peas and another 4 pounds of snow and sugar snap peas this week.  The whole family spent Friday evening sitting on the couch watching a movie while we shelled peas!

They then went into the freezer and are ready for winter storage!!  If you would like to learn our method for storing peas you can follow this link.

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Our snow pea harvest is also doing very well this year.  We will easily match last years total.  If you look really close you may see a few sugar snap peas in this basket.  We have never grow the sugar snap before so I just planted a few feet of them to see if we would like them.  Turns out we do!!  We can’t keep the kids out of them!  They are sweet and crispy so I think we will make them a bigger part of our total harvest next year.

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We are rushing to eat as much lettuce as we can before it starts to go bitter.  I have a shade cloth up to help slow the bitterness down, but we are running out of time.

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And the strawberries are still going strong.  About 3 pounds again this week.

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Around the garden there are some new things happening.  The popcorn is up and growing in several hills around the yard.

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Also the beans are starting to sprout.  These are a shelling bean that we are trying this year.  It is a black bean called Black Coco.  They grow on a bush and I’m kind of excited to try them.  This will be our first real try at a dried bean.

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Also all of the squash and cucumbers plants are getting their first set of true leaves so they will start making a lot of progress soon.

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And the tomatoes have added a lot of growth in the two weeks they have been in.

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Here’s what will be a big part of next weeks harvest.  The Pacman broccoli is ready to harvest!  There are already 6 or more heads this size with another 6 not far behind!

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And of course the early potatoes are ready to be dug!  Cream peas and potatoes are coming this week!!

Here’s this weeks harvest breakdown:
Lettuce – 1.50 lbs
Shelling Peas – 20 lbs
Snow Peas – 4 lbs
Strawberries – 2.90 lbs
Kale – .25 lbs
Total – 28.65 lbs
Our annual total is 69 pounds!

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 – June 12, 2015

We have had a great weather week this week.  That helped us to recover from that giant down pour of a storm we had on Saturday.  Everything has dried out and is back to normal for June in Utah.  The peas are on!!  More about that on Monday but just know that there has been a lot of shelling happening this week!!

 

 

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:

Congratulations! Grab your button and display it on your blog!

 

   

			
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Warmly,Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts: The Homesteading Hippy | Lil’ Suburban Homestead | The Homestead Lady | Once Upon A Time in A Bed of Wildflowers | Lone Star Farmstead |Stony Acres
|Lady and The Carpenter

 

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