Saturday, November 21, 2009

Minnesota winter hardy plants

We all know that Kale is hardy and ours has survived well into the freezing days of November. This is the plant from last year that I let grow again this spring and provided us with leaves in spring and seeds in the fall.

We also discovered last year that chard is also quite hardy. It is hard to believe that these plants have already been completely frozen a number of times.

Some of the new discoveries this fall have been...

Carrots, I guess that makes sense and probably applies to all root crops.

Parsley is also quite hardy which I was surprised to find out. I figured it as a warm weather crop like cilantro but man was I wrong.

For greens we really like how late in the season Mizuna lets us have spicy salads. I think it is a brassica so I guess that makes good sense.

Well that is a few of the things still growing in our garden as of today.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

We had one heck of a lovely weekend here. Sunny and highs in the 60's. Which while a little concerning was at least helpful in getting things done. I finally got most of the leaves gathered up and put into a new leaf bin. I still have a number of leaf piles to gather up and add to the bin. I also picked up a number of sticks from the yard and added them to a growing stick pile I hope to burn soon. I also got a bunch of room made in the garage by taking things to the pole barn.
Jess was a wizard on the home front as well. She made a nice ragu of Callister chicken with home grown carrots and herbs. She also added some of our home made tomato sauce and cooked it down until the meat fell off the bone. We also made a batch of home made pasta and served it over that. All that and managed to bake a loaf of no need bread as well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Overdue Update

Well not a lot has gone on here as of late. We had one of the coldest and wettest Octobers on record and that has slowed down happenings in the yard and garden, not to mention sapping much of my usual fall enthusiasm. I usually go into "bear mode" some time in mid November but this year I have had to fight it off much sooner.
I did get the chance to clean up the spent tomatoe vines and the bean trellises last weekend. I also recently acquired 3 waste packing crates from work. So far they are destined to be a duck house next spring, a possible fish house this winter and a garden shed next summer. I really hate to see decent materials go into the waste stream and I was glad of the opportunity to divert these to re-use. Currently they are in a state of partial reassembly in the pole barn. I hope to have them finished soon.
It has been too wet to deal with the leaves yet. I am hoping to gather them for use as bedding in the chicken coop this winter. The chickens shred the leaves for me and along with their waste it makes a great addition to the compost pile. You can also make such great soil amendments and mulches out of leaves and so many bags of them have been residing by the curb up near work that it is a good thing we don't have a truck yet or I think I would have brought home half a ton already.
Also I got a wonderful care package from Jo over at 14 Acres. We had talked about trading seeds so Jo sent me a bunch of seeds. I can't wait for the opportunity to sit down and go through my seeds and send her a bunch as well. Well lots to do and preciouse little energy to do it. I guess I should get to it .

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall Festival

Well last weekend we had a little celebration of the fall season here at the farm. It was so great to see so many wonderful people and gather around the fire with them. We roasted a pig and had tons of great side dishes as well. There was a canned goods swap and a pumpkin pie contest. I think a great time was had by all. My lovely wife wrote all about it over at Lefse and Kimchee so I won't go on too much about it. But it was a lot of work and bit of an extravagance financially but we will still be doing it again next year.


Saturday, October 10, 2009


In a place like Minnesota snow is inevitable. But it still always fills me with a bit of sadness to see it happen. This year it has been made worse by the fact that it happened so soon. Usually at this time of year we can get by with covering the tomatoes against a light frost. But this year it seems we will be losing most of the non freeze hardy perennials today. Hopefully it will warm up a bit soon as now I will have plenty of space to put in my garlic.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ted talk on food and how it shapes the world

This is a great talk about food systems and also a vision of how they shape the world we live in. I love and recommend the TED talks to anyone who wants to know more about the world. I particularly like her vision for Sitopia.

In other news it is raining here and has been for the last six days or so. I am beginning to think if it goes on much longer I may have need of an ark.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well it has been a while since I have written. The combination of so much to finish and the diminishing daylight both conspire to keep me from the blog. We have been involved in a few new adventures around here. First Jess has started a blog about food, life and song over at Lefse and Kimchee: A life in Meals and Song. My wife is a much better writer than I will ever be, so I urge you to give her blog a read if you have the time.
Also it is now hunting season here in Minnesota and I have spent a few days in the fields looking for some high quality protein. There is an ancient native american word for the type of hunter I am and it is "Vegetarian." Truth be told I have had to press upon my friends to teach me to hunt and they have graciously obliged. But I can't always prevail upon them to take me hunting and so I have had to learn much of it on my own. I think it will be a craft that I will continue to improve upon for years to come. I have had some successes over the years, there were a few white tailed deer, a coot and a goose or two. This week I have been to a game farm and came home with 10 pheasants for the freezer but duck opener success alluded me this year. I also spent an afternoon last week walking the woods and looking for squirrels, they must have had other plans that day.
In addition to all this we have had a near frost and had to spend an afternoon/evening trying to gather it all in. We gathered quite a bit of raspberries and beans as well as the last of the tomatoes.
Now just to finish getting ready for our harvest festival in the barn.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Well we are busy gathering the seeds for next years garden. We have so far saved dill, coriander, scarlet runner beans, some white pole bean, dragon tongue beans, 4 kinds of tomato and seeds from our Red Russian kale.

More posts this weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Late summer insect plague

I get these insects every year. I think they are some sort of cucumber beetle but not sure which one.

This year they seem to be more prolific and more voracious. I am sure if I could let my chickens free range a bit more they would be less of a problem. I am also thinking about growing no curcubits for a year but that would be pretty extreme and besides they seem to be willing to eat anything.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Siding and my crystal ball.

Well we are just about complete with all our siding upgrades. We have significantly upgraded the weather tightness of our house by adding sheathing under all our siding. We also upgraded some of the insulation on the south side of the house as well. This combined with the work done for us by TCSP earlier this summer really has us excited about our energy bills this winter. I am kind of amazed that I am saying that.
Around here we believe in a coming energy crunch. I am sure that at some point soon oil will be less available at anything near the prices we have gotten used to. The truth is that on a pure energy per dollar basis it looks like we will be unlikely to see anything else come along that is even remotely close to oil.
So what to do? First and foremost we as individuals need to cut our demand while we still have the resources to invest in the changes necessary. If we are still overly dependent on oil when it begins to get scarce most of us will be too busy looking for extra shifts to make energy upgrades around the home front. If we wait untill it is painfull to continue we will have missed our opportunity to make a significant change in our fortunes. Like in personal finance the time to start saving is before you need it. Once you are up against the wall it is too late to look for places to cut back. Also like in personal finnance reducing your investments made during a time of plenty will pay you back many times when things get tight. So my advice to my readers is simple, find ways to cut back on your energy usage now before you have to.