May 2011

Catherine Davis

Home Farming Challenge – Cooking with Fresh Herbs

If you’ve been following along with my home farming journey, you may remember that just a few weeks ago we began planting our cool weather vegetables. Fortunately, our spring weather has been a nice mix of cooler than average temperatures with plenty of rain to give our vegetables a nice start. In fact, they’ve grown so tremendously the raised bed farm is almost unrecognizable since my last home farming update.

Watch as I give you a quick walk through our vegetable farm to see how our plants have grown.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib1Xu4lNQz4

Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Over the past several weeks I’ve begun exploring new flavors with the help of my herb farm which are not only adding low calorie flavors to my dishes but are allowing me to experiment with herbs I’ve never tried before. I started with a summertime favorite, Herb Deviled Eggs, and kicked up the old recipe with a fresh burst of earthy flavors using fresh chives, flat leaf parsley and cilantro. The best part was being able to step out my backdoor and pluck the herbs right from the raised bed farm. My kids especially loved the updated chicken-n-dumpling dish that I kicked up a notch with fresh rosemary dumplings.

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I have to say, as much as love to eat the herbs, I love the way they make my hands smell after cutting them even more. The earthy fragrances quickly fill up a kitchen with such wonderful smells. This of course won’t be the last you hear of our herb adventures because as more of our crop continues to grow I’ll be using the Triscuit Home Farming Recipe Collection to try out some of the fresh recipes available. The moment my tomatoes begin to ripen I’ll be diving right into the Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe from Kraft.

Home Farming Blogger Challenge Journeys


Annie M.

Helpful Home Farming Tools

Here it is, mid-May and my home farm is starting to sprout little baby plants! I do believe that in-ground home farming is the most difficult – but we also made it the most difficult by planting so much! Just check out the photo below, do you think we went a little overboard?

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I totally suggest that people keep it simple. Plant a small, manageable home farm, especially if you are embarking on this adventure for the first time. HomeFarming.com has some really valuable resources – how to plan your plot and experts to answer questions.  My favorite feature of the Home Farming site is the social feature. I love chatting with other home farmers about our progress and frustrations. Plus, you can connect your Facebook account to this site so you can share your progress with your close circle that way!

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Despite the late season frost my plants endured recently, they are growing! I am so excited and looking forward to harvesting a bountiful crop in late summer! We planted a very wide variety of things this year, but I think I am most looking forward to fresh salad! We have arugula, kale, lots of lettuces, cucumbers and tomatoes!

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Last year we learned our lesson. We purchased some products this year that have really made life and home farming much easier. The first one is Weed Block. It is a black tarp that keeps random weed seeds from blowing and planting themselves near my seeds.  As you can see, our plants are growing through the holes we cut for them, it makes weeding so much easier!

The other product we adore right now is the leaker hose. I can just turn on the hose and let it spray a fine mist on my entire home farm, without me having to go down with a hose and do it myself.

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A perfect plant for children and beginners is the radish.  It flowers so quickly that it gives you a quick return on your investment of hard work. The leaves bloom very full too. Our radish leaves last year were huge compared to our other plants. That being said, I don’t like to eat radishes one bit. I’ll be giving away quite a bit of radishes at church this year!

Here is another fun video! I take you through a walk in my home farm, let you see my buds up close and share my thoughts about the Deer situation.

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Peabody Rudd

Contain This: Beautification of Farm

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It’s time once again to check in and see how my container farm is coming along. I must say it was pretty cool when realizing I forgot fresh parsley at the grocery store for my Bolognese sauce, that I had some just outside. And with a couple of snips, I had the amount needed for the recipe. There is something extremely satisfying about using food that you grew yourself.

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The weather is still my main issue around here, as we tend to not get above 50F on average…it’s May! But the peas and Swiss chard don’t seem to notice at all, they are growing nicely. The broccoli and lettuces are also responding well to the weather. What doesn’t seem to be growing all that well so far is the spinach (which I am a little sad about) and some of the herbs, especially the dill. I’m not giving up on them of course, I know they wish they had more sun (5-6 hours ideally), but they will just have to work with what the Pacific Northwest is giving them.

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Now that most of my produce is planted (I’m going to try a couple more things…more on that later on), the next thing I have been working on is giving my farm character. Because of my small space, my farm not only acts as a viable source of food, it acts as beautification for my patio. Which is why when choosing my pots, I went for bolder colors since the majority of the plants I am growing are all green. One thing I knew I wanted was to make markers. I had just planned on making them out of Popsicle sticks, but my friend Jill was quick to find a much cuter idea for me. I have no crafting ability whatsoever, so she was kind enough to make them for me. She found vintage graphics and what she couldn’t find she made using clip art. We used spoons, forks, and even a pie server, which were all found quite cheaply at the local Goodwill. You definitely don’t need them to match. If you have any interest in making them for your farm, here is a link that shows you how to do it. For those wondering how they hold up in rainy weather, so far so good! I also felt that my farm needed a sign to make it my own. I found someone to make me a funky sign using old license plates. I think it fits nicely into the theme of my farm, don’t you?

One of my big concerns was watering. I am the girl after all who killed a cactus by over watering it. So it was really important to me to learn when and how much I should be watering my farm. Triscuit Home Farming website has a great instructional video about watering that was very helpful. If you are growing a farm and haven’t checked out the videos yet, you should. Lots of good information in those videos.

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I have one more idea I want to try out. I found a pallet garden a couple weeks back and loved the idea. The original idea was for flowers, so I am not sure how it will do with herbs and veggies, but I think it is worth the try. I am also tossing around the idea of edible flowers. As you can see from the photo, the pallet is still in the process of being built. So stay tuned to see how that project will be turning out.

How is your farm coming? If you don’t have one, it’s still not too late. It doesn’t have to be a container garden either. If you are interested in seeing other ideas, please visit the other bloggers who are participating in the Home Farming Movement which you can find at the Better Homes and Gardens Home Farming Challenge Page.

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Catherine Davis

Home Farming Challenge | Cool Weather Vegetable Planting

Having spent the majority of my life living in Illinois, I know how unpredictable spring weather can be. As eager as I was to begin planting all of my vegetables after constructing our raised bed farm, I quickly learned that our drastic weather changes in the past few weeks were not going to cooperate with my tomato planting plans. Instead, I used the Home Farming Vegetable & Herb Guide to learn about which vegetables would grow best during these cooler weeks.

There are three vegetables I discovered that thrive in this cooler weather and they just happen to be three of my absolute favorite vegetables to cook – broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Looking at the HomeFarming.com Planting Guide I discovered that these vegetables will do well in our cool Spring months and likely won’t be ready to harvest until late summer, at which time I’ll be making good use of the cabbage for my mother’s stuffed cabbage rolls recipe.

Having divided our raised bed farm into 3 sections, I used one of the legs of our L-shaped farm bed for planting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and two rows of red and yellow onions.


One the opposite end of my raised bed farm, I created an area just for fresh herbs to use throughout the summer to add fresh flavors into our family meals. In fact, I started using the rosemary last week when I sprinkled some of the fresh leaves on top of our broccoli cheddar chicken crescent braid.

You may have noticed that our herbs have grown far beyond what would have been expected from the seeds I started weeks ago. Well, living the life of “3 Kids and Us”, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of our toddlers got into the seeds and pulled all of the new sprouts. Knowing it would be nearly impossible to keep the delicate seedlings away from our curious toddlers, I decided to purchase more mature herbs that were ready for planting.


Unfortunately, our seedlings weren’t the only casualty in the past weeks. Due to heavy rains and winds, my sweet basil plant died as well. Thankfully, my wonderful mother brought over some of her mint to transplant into my farm.

In the coming weeks I’ll start working on filling the rest of our farm space which will include bell peppers and my personal favorite, tomatoes! Until then, I hope you’ll take a moment to join the Triscuit Home Farming Community where you can track your farming progress, ask farming questions and use the plethora of farming resources at your fingertips.

Also, if you’ve started a home farm whether it is in containers, a ground plot or a raised bed like mine, I’d love to hear about the progress you’re making!

Home Farming Blogger Challenge Journeys


Annie M.

Setting Seeds for a Home Farm

Josh’s dream is coming true! I am 100% on board with his home farm and eager to get in there and help him make it grow.  He has put countless hours of planning and research into home farming – namely of the square foot variety – and when I shared with him that I wanted to learn he couldn’t wait to get out there and show me.

I am joining two other wonderful bloggers as we participate in the Triscuit and Better Homes & Gardens’ Home Farming Challenge. Cat from 3 Kids and Us is doing a raised bed, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody is doing container gardening, and I will dig into the earth as I plant an in-ground plot.  All three of us will be posting from now until August about our home farms – the sore backs, the cute buds and the frustrations – on our individual blogs and here on Better Homes & Gardens.

Here we are, at the beginning of home farming season!  We planted the hardy root plants in the ground and started the more wussy – err, “not frost tolerant” – plants indoors in small containers until all dangers of frost have past.  We have started planting all our plants outdoors and I can’t wait to see them grow! (Good bye frost, you will not be missed)

While some people start their home farms with a hoe or tiller, we have a tractor. We live on 20 acres of land, so we are going to plant almost every kind of plant we can and share our experiences (and hopefully success stories) with you.  Josh and David mowed a plot that is roughly 100 ft x 50 ft.  Then, Josh used a rototiller on a spot that is 1/4 of the plot for our root plants.


Since Josh is all about the square foot gardening, he took some scrap wood from his shop and constructed 1ftx1ft squares to divide up our ground plot.  Then, we took a magic marker and wrote on the board what we planted in that spot.

I got my hands into the dirt and planted the seeds! This is the first time I have ever planted anything. Josh is the farmer but I am quickly learning.

I started out with carrot seeds, and dang those are some small seeds! It was really difficult to keep only 2 seeds from falling into each little hole. I have a feeling the plots I planted will be a tad overgrown compared to the ones Josh planted. He is so much more careful.

I will admit, Josh got a lot more seeds planted than I did. We both agreed that since Josh is more particular about home farming, as soon as the kids needed one of us, it would be me that attended to them.


Lucy watched me plant the carrots. I only got one square foot of carrots planted before she announced she was not having fun anymore. When it was cooler out we came back out and she let me get another 5 minutes of planting done. Josh sweetly took her inside so I could plant at least 5 more square feet.

While I planted, Lizzie and David had their tiny watering pots out and watered my new seeds. Lizzie loved watering them more than David did.  He got distracted by a long stick and dug into the dirt with it.

By the end of the day we finally planted seeds in 1/4 of our plot.  We have carrots, lots of varieties of lettuce, cabbage, and different varieties of onions in the ground.  Josh has many more plants in containers indoors and has even started a few herbs for an herb farm for me.

I can’t wait to see them start to sprout! I hope I can keep them weeded and watered. Josh bought some hoses that should make watering easier for me. I have a short video I made introducing you to our plot, sharing a few tips and my own thoughts on home farming:



Tips & Thoughts I share in the video

We are stagger planting: This means we are not putting all our seeds in the ground on the same week. We will plant a few carrots this week and a few more next week. This way they will grow in batches and we can harvest them for many more weeks.

I hate pre-planning: I’m not very good at hashing out minute details to plans.  So having Josh sit down with me and go over exactly where each plant would be and how many to put in each little square foot plot just frustrated me. I want to just put the seeds in the ground and watch them grow. This will be a good learning experience for me. I’m going out of my comfort zone and planning out the small details.

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