Harvest Monday 9-5-2011

Late August and Early September is the big harvest time around Stoney Acres.

I’ve decided to participate in Daphne’s Monday Harvest  series.  Each Monday I will post a quick report on what we harvested the prior week around our place.  I’m not really big on weighting every little thing that comes out of the garden.  I tried it a few years ago and it was just too big of a pain.  But I do like to weigh some items including tomatoes, potatoes, onions and strawberries.  I’ll try to do a little better on the weighing so that you have an idea of how much we get.

Tomatoes were the big producer this week.  We picked 18 pounds of Celebrity and Beef Steak and almost a pound of cherry tomatoes.

We got about a dozen ears of corn this week, that was supplemented by corn we bought at the farmers market.









The ever-bearing strawberries are going crazy.  We pick them about every other day and we harvested almost 6 pounds for the second week in a row.









We had our first ripe water melon this week, it weighed in at 7 lbs and was delicious.









This weeks totals were rounded out with a zucchini, 4 or 5 crook neck squash, 2 peppers and a hand full of raspberries.

Early Potatoes

We love potatoes here at Stoney Acres.  Especially new red potatoes!!!  Every year we risk frost and muddy ground in March to be sure we have some potatoes in June to eat with our fresh peas.    Mrs. Stoney’s cream peas and potatoes are to die for!!!!

Early potatoes have never been a big producer for us, usually we get around 20 lbs. from the 8×12 foot spot I allocate for them.  But they are always welcome and they give us 4 or 5 meals worth of yummy new potatoes in June and early July.

BUT . . . this year I tried something different.  Our cold frame that we use for winter lettuce cleared out a little earlier than usual and was pretty much empty by the end of February.  I really didn’t have anything to go in that spot and the local garden store finally listened to my requests and got their seed potatoes in early.  So I decided to plant potatoes under the protection of the cold frame.

10.5 lbs. of potato seed yielded a whopping 52 lbs. of potatoes this year, more than double my normal production from the same square footage.  Needless to say we’re pretty excited.  I dug up what we hadn’t eaten about July 20th and that amounted to about 35 lbs., more than enough to keep us eating fresh potatoes until the main crop potatoes are done and ready to eat in September or early October.

I cleaned these baby’s up and sorted them by size and stuck them in the extra fridge downstairs.  Normally you want to let the potatoes sit for a while before you clean them off and put them away.  This helps the skins harden up a bit and helps them last longer in storage.  But this is another advantage of early potatoes.  The 35 lbs. I dug in July don’t need to last well into the winter, they will be eaten up in the next month or so, this means I can just clean them off and put them in the fridge, much quicker than the process in the fall.

Main crop potatoes usually go in around the last frost date or just a little before.  For us here in zone 6 Utah that means May 15th.  But if you are willing to allocate a little space and offer some protection from the frost you can plant potatoes as early as March 15 th.  Usually we are able to start eating the early potatoes around June 20th although you could probably start sooner; you would just have smaller spuds.  As you can see these early spring potatoes are never as big as my main crop but they make a welcome addition to summer meals.  In fact we just ate some yesterday, we cut up the last of the small potatoes, added some carrots, onions and a hamburger patty and cooked them in tin foil on the grill!!

Do you make space in your garden for early potatoes?  What have your experiences been?

September Garden Tour

Time for a garden tour.  I will try to give my readers a look at what’s happening in our year round garden at least once a month.  September 1st is about half way through the really overwhelming time in our garden.  Right now we are being flooded with fresh produce, a lot more that we can eat, so it means we are trying to preserve what we can for winter eating.  The big producers right now are the summer squash, Strawberries and tomatoes. 

We planted a few extra Zucchini and yellow crook neck squash plants this year thinking we could feed the excess to the chickens.  The Zucchini hasn’t done really well because it got such a slow start in our wet spring and it turns out that chickens really don’t like crook neck squash all that well.  So we are a little buried right now.  We already have all of both that we need for the winter put way in the freezer so we might need to resort to leaving bags of squash in unlocked cars and on door steps in the neighborhood.


The tomatoes have really started coming on strong this week.  We have already picked 9 lbs this week and we will have about twice that much to pick over the weekend.  It looks like we will be canning tomatoes over the Labor Day weekend!!  The netting you see in this picture is to protect the tomatoes from birds, not the wild kind but our freeloading chickens who seem to treat our garden as their personal salad bar.


We picked our first ears of sweet corn this week with quite a bit more to come.  We only have two small patches of corn for fresh eating.  Corn takes up so much space that we really only plant enough for 5 or 6 meals worth. 


We did try an experiment this year with corn.  We planted several hills of corn in a long flower bed we have.  It was planted a little later than our other corn but seems to be coming along well.  The corn being planted closely in hills allows the plants to still be pollinated, each plant seems to be growing at least 1 ear so it  may not be a huge success but we will get a few extras meals out of it.


Our peppers are doing okay this year.  The wet spring really seemed to set them back and they never recovered, but we will get enough off our spindly plants to put some away for winter cooking.

This years potato crop is coming along well.  You can see that the vines are really starting to die back.  This is a sure sign they are ready to eat.  We are still eating the last of our spring potatoes right now so we will probably leave the fall crop in the ground for an other month till it cools off and we have a cool place to store them in the garage.


We have a few pumpkins coming along well.  They should still size up and ripen assuming the frost stays away for another month or so.


This is our one and only cabbage for the year.  Last year we were giving it way we had so much.   This years wet spring really brought out the slugs and snails.  The bed our cabbage and broccoli were planted in this year was attacked by our slimy friends and they caused a lot of damage before we got them under control. 


We also planted a little patch of popcorn.  This is our first attempt with popcorn, it is tucked away in a corner far from the sweet corn to prevent cross pollination.  We have quite a few ears on the plants so we will see how they do. 


Fruit is the only thing we are really lacking here at Stoney acres.  Of course the strawberries are doing well.  We also noticed the first ripe raspberries today.  The coming weeks will bring a lot of them to eat and freeze. 

Our melon patch was also slowed down by the wet cold spring, but they are finally sizing up.  The first sugar baby watermelon will be picked in a day or two.  And there are several cantaloupes that will be ready before the frost.  I will have to do a separate post some time about the benefits of home grown melons.  The taste is so much better than at the grocery store that you may never buy there again.


The winter garden is also coming along well but I will save those pictures for another post.  Of coarse produce is not the only thing we grow around here, it’s prime time for sun flowers.  If you look close in one of the flowers you’ll see a bee that must have had too much pollen and decide to make the sunflower it’s final resting place.

Everbearing Strawberries

If you love strawberries, why not grow your own?  Everbearing strawberries produce a continuous harvest of sweet medium sized berries from late spring until the first freeze of winter!  They are a great option for every home gardener!

Everbearing Strawberries

Strawberries are everyone’s favorite spring fruit.

Everbearing strawberries

However, this picture was actually taken August 29th.  So how did we get this giant harvest of strawberries in August? By growing everbearing strawberries.  Everbearing Strawberries have been a fantastic addition to our garden.

Why we grow our own Strawberries

We have grown strawberries on and off over the last 20 years, usually just a small patch tucked in a corner somewhere.  A few years ago we learned that strawberries are number 3 on the dirty dozen list.  This list was created by the USDA and tells us which produce carries the most pesticide exposure.  Strawberries come in third to celery and peaches as the produce items with the most chemical residue.  Sometime I’ll post the complete list, you’ll be surprised what’s on it.

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We eat a bunch of strawberries around Stoney Acres.  Between jam, pies, and fresh eating we put away a lot.  So we decided we needed to up our strawberry production instead of trying to buy organic which is just crazy expensive.

Everbearing Strawberries

We bought two varieties of everbearing strawberries from an online plant company.  We decided to go with bare root plants.  We planted 50 plants each of Ozark Beauty and Tribute the first of April.  The total cost for the plants was around $29.00.  The first year we picked a total of  25 lbs of strawberries from the two patches.

If you figure the cost at the store for regular strawberries averages about $2.00 a pound then they paid for themselves the first year.  If you throw in the fact that our berries are 100% organic the cost at the store would be more like $4 a pound so we are way ahead now.  So far this year we are at about 30 lbs.  Right now we are averaging about 6 lbs a week so there is a good chance we could double last year’s production.  We have two beds using about 100 square feet of total garden space.

Care of everbearing strawberries

Strawberries should ALWAYS be planted in the early spring (think March).  Getting them in early in the spring gives the plants plenty of time to get their root system established before summers heat comes along.  I wouldn’t recommend planting any other time of the year.

The first spring after planting you should remove all the blossoms until mid summer.  This gives the plants a chance to focus on growth instead of berry production.  Just like regular strawberries, everbearing strawberries bloom in May and are ready to start picking in early June.  We have found that the June berries are a little smaller and more tart.  The plants usually take most of the month of July off and berries are ready again the first of August.  The summer and fall berries are over all sweeter and larger than the spring berries.

Everbearing Strawberries

If you want to you can plan on offering the berries a little protection as the fall progresses.  Some falls are warm for us but we still cover the berries after it finally cools off.  Just use a piece of fabric row cover at night and remove it during the day.  Doing this meant we were still picking strawberries on Halloween last year.   We have found that quality of the berries really dropped off after about the 15th of October.  The late October berries weren’t as good for fresh eating but we freeze them and use them for jam and smoothies all winter long.

Everbearing Strawberries F

Winter Protection

When the really cold weather arrives in late October or early November you should cover your strawberries to protect them from the bitter winter cold.  A layer of leaves or straw will do or you may want to cover them with a heavy row cover fabric if you don’t have a lot of snow.

Everbearing Strawberries

Renewing Your Patch

Plan on replanting your everbearing strawberries in a new location about every 5 years.  Strawberries are really rough on the soil they are planted in and draw out a lot of nutrients.  After the fourth or fifth season they need to be removed and a new crop planted somewhere else in the garden.  This takes a little advanced planning so think it through before you decide where to plant.

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If you don’t want to buy new starts to replant you can always pot up and move the daughter plants that grow in the last year of your current patch.  Simply bury a small pot under the daughter plant, when it is established with a good root system you can sever it from the mother plant and move it to the new bed.

Overall we have been really pleased with the addition of a big patch of everbearing strawberries to our garden.  Even if you don’t eat as many as we do they are worth some space in your garden.  You will be happy with even a 4 by 4 foot plot.  Enjoy!!

Here are a couple of other posts that will help you with your strawberry growing adventure:

Planting Bare-root Strawberries

Make your Bird Netting Glide!

Everbearing Strawberries F

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Welcome to Stoney Acres

 Welcome to what we hope will become the worlds greatest web site dedicated to helping others become more self sufficient.  OK maybe the world’s greatest web site is a little ambitious, but we’ll try.  Stoney Acres is our little piece of heaven (or more like our weedy piece of heaven) located in Zone 6 northernUtah. 

The staff consists of one lucky guy, one fantastically beautiful girl, four great kids, six chickens, one cat and a gold fish.  Together we are doing our best to be self sufficient and grow as much food as we possibly can. 

This blog will be a work in progress for the next few months as we decide on themes, build content, upload pictures and add categories.  The blog will be dedicated to providing information and advice on many topics.  You will see posts on traditional vegetable gardening, raising chickens, bread baking and our current specialty four season gardening.  We hope to show you how to provide a lot of food for your family along with how to posts on many “do it yourself” projects that will save your family money and make you more self sufficient.

Up front we should say that we hope to “monetize” this blog.  Meaning very soon you will see some relevant advertising and affiliate programs that will generate some revenue for us.  Rest assured it will never be annoying and any products advertized will be good stuff we have tried and we will always disclose any time we are being sponsored.  We also hope to be able to sell some hand built cold frames to the “locals”.

We always welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.  Welcome aboard and please tell your friends about us.