Thursday, May 27, 2010

Farm Report: A Reminder That We're Amateur Farmers

The bush beans are doing great!

Things are really sprouting here on The Little Farm! It's so exciting! We've has some very unseasonably warm and humid (big yuck!) weather here the past few days. The thermometer actually hit 90 degrees which is crazy for May. Heck - we've had whole calendar years where 90 was the high for the year. While this weather isn't so great for Farmer Ron and Young'uns (I don't mind it really), it is great weather for getting our garden off to a fast start. It seems everything grew a ton this week! So, we're being thankful for it and moving on without too much complaining.

The peas have grown about a foot in the past 5 days or so. That's Ellie doing some watering.

We've got about 75% of the garden planted - lettuces, swiss chard, spinach, peas, green beans, calypso beans, a few types of peppers, broccoli, eggplant and TOMATOES. We've also got some herbs planted in a flower bed near our back door (and close to the kitchen) and some pole beans planted in another flower bed in the back yard.

Why is the word tomato bolded above, you ask? Well, remember all those heirloom tomato seeds we planted and had growing in our basement? When Farmer Ron put them in the garden, it seemed like they weren't going to make it. So, we bought more tomatoes when we were at Fleet Farm. Hold this thought.

The littlest Young'un helping with the watering. She loves those boots!

For those unfamiliar with Fleet Farm, aka "The Man's Mall", it is a staple store in Northern Wisconsin. It's a store like none I'd seen before moving here that's for sure. They sell everything from clothing to nuts and baking supplies to building materials to guns to shoes to garden supplies to small appliances to tires. Plus, you can pick up whatever you need for your farm animals everything from chicken feed to salt licks to, um, the necessary tools to change your boy calf to a steer...enough said. It's a pretty remarkable place and the people watching there is top notch, too. But back to those tomato plants...

The watering crew.

We picked up some tomato plants to replace the dying ones. However, it seems those little buggers weren't actually dying. Most of them are still alive and kicking. This is great, but a bit overwhelming, as it seems we may have about 35-38 tomato plants in the garden this year. I canned a ton of tomato products last year off of only 12 tomato plants. I see lots of steamy afternoons in my future later this year. I've got a goal to can enough tomato stuff to last the whole year. Time will tell. I have a feeling my will power may give out before our plants do.
Amateur Farmer Lesson #1 - wait to see if plants are really going to make it or not before going out and buying new ones

Now, remember that we let the Gals roam around the unplanted garden for a few weeks after they first arrived? The idea was to have them eat all the weed seeds and sprouts which would save us some work later. While the Gals were weeding for us, they'd also be laying down a bit of fertilizer, if you know what I mean. It seemed like a great plan, but we've hit a bit of a snag.

While they Gals were living in the garden, we threw some chicken scratch out for them every couple of days. Chicken scratch isn't their main feed, just a little treat of sorts. Anyway, it's made of different grains. If you are even a little bit of a scientist, you have figured out what our #2 lesson learned is already.

Yep, we were throwing unsprouted grains into our garden plots. This would not have been a problem if they Gals were not picky eaters. However, it appears they did not care for one of the grains in the scratch mix. These grain seeds have now sprouted and are creating a pretty green grassy haze in many of our garden plots. Sigh. It seemed like a good idea.

Can you see all the chicken scratch growing amongst the lettuce and beans?

Amateur Farmer Lesson #2 - throwing unsprouted grains into your dirt will give you plants which require weeding

Sharing these lessons is a bit embarrassing, but I thought you should know if only to encourage you in your "farming." Just when we think we know what we're doing, we receive a reminder (or two) that there is much to learn. Don't let the mistakes keep you from throwing some seeds/plants in the ground - just make sure those seeds/plants don't violate Lesson #2.


  1. Wendy, If I bring over my camp stove (the one I like better than my indoor one) could you can outside? It might be cooler... Or you could sell your tomatoes to those of us who probably didn't plant enough.

  2. You Lesson Number 2 sounds like a good sermon title to me, but I can't quite figure out what the lesson would be. I'll leave that to Farmer Ron.
    Plus, your tomato story reminded me of the year we planted 48 broccoli plants, not realizing that they keep producing after the main head is picked. What a lot of broccoli that was! (Complete with tiny green caterpillars that were NOT easy to get out!)

  3. Mary Jo, I would rather preach on #1- never leave for dead what God will bring to life.

  4. kari- I might just take you up on that!

    MJ - that would be a LOT of broccoli and broccoli would be hard to keep up with in terms of eating. I've never seen any canned broccoli. ;)

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