BHG Home Farming

Three bloggers took on the Home Farming Challenge brought to you by Triscuit and chronicled their journey of growing vegetables for the first time in hopes of winning your vote for the best home farm.

July 2011

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Written on July 26, 2011 at 1:00 am , by

When I planted my home farm, I had big dreams. With a huge plot of land as my home farm, I thought I would be harvesting bushels of produce, more than my family could ever eat! We planted a large variety of vegetables – carrots, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, okra, tomatillo, peas, green beans, kohlrabi, beets, broccoli, cauliflower and radishes – just to name a few.

This was my first venture into home farming, and it was a learning experience for me. I lost quite a few plants and will take this wisdom with me into next year when I plant my home farm again.

Weather is a variable out of my control, and it affected many of my plants. My cilantro bolted for the extremely high temperatures and I had to replant my cucumbers that died in the late frost. Bugs were another plant-killer. Caterpillars ate clear through all my broccoli and cauliflower leaves. I should have read the pesticide free tips from HomeFarming.com. Cat did and her plants grew big and healthy! At least our fence kept the deer out, so we had a fighting chance.

Despite my lack of carrots and onions, my home farm is bushing up nicely. Go on a walk with me through my home farm! I’ll show off how we are doing!

I was not kidding – we have loads of tomato plants! They are tall and thick too. We have all sorts of tomato plants – from cherry tomatoes to giant ones. I check on them daily, ready to pluck the first, juicy, red tomato I find! So far they are all still green. I can just taste the BLT now!

My tomatillos are almost ready to be harvested! You know a tomatillo is ready when the husk is paper thin and almost a brown color. Tomatillos are excellent in homemade salsa and other mexican dishes. I am so excited to try them!

My corn is almost ready too! Josh and I planted two different types of sweet corn in two areas of the home farm. We spaced the planting of the corn far enough apart hoping to prevent cross pollination during tasseling. Unfortunately, the first corn we planted took too long to shoot up and now they are at about the same stage of growth. I am sure they will still be sweet & tasty.

One thing a home farm is good for is improving your sense of humor! Volunteer squash plants surprise us every year. This year we have more than normal because we had a 4 year old and a 2 year old helping us plant the seeds, and they dropped a few along the way. I am anxious to see these bear fruit so I can know what they are!

I had a cute chuckle from this poor little zucchini! The fruit was smooshed under the vine, but it grew around it! I have to admit, I have never seen a crooked zucchini before!

And these are my favorites! I actually nabbed a photo of a bunch of beans together before the kids ate them all. Every time the kids go to the home farm with us, they pick a green bean and eat it. This leaves very few beans for me to actually harvest, but I don’t mind, since they are actually eating their veggies! Isn’t the purple one gorgeous? It is called ‘Royal Burgandy’. The outside has a slightly more velvety texture and it tastes a tiny bit sweeter than the green ones. It is the one the kids eat the most of, since it is so pretty and tastes better, so I was lucky to get one in the picture!

How is your home farm growing? What learning experiences happened this year to your plants?

Contain This: Setbacks

Written on July 19, 2011 at 1:00 am , by

homefarm7-11-3

Well, I am 3 months into my Home Farm project and even with some recent setbacks I can say that I am still overjoyed with what my Home Farm has taught me (and produced) this summer. Setbacks you say? Yep.

homefarm7-11-1

My first setback was one I didn’t account for as I always assumed that sun and warmth would be a good thing. And while they are to some degree, we had one really warm day which produced me a TON of snap peas (peas for Peabody!!!) but also caused my broccoli to form flowers. Once the broccoli grows flowers you can’t eat it. As you can see from the picture I got flowers. Luckily for me though I still had quite a few other stalks, though I panicked at the idea of not getting to use them. So I probably prematurely chopped some of them to make soup. But I wasn’t missing my chance to make Broccoli Cheddar Soup with broccoli from my very own patio! So even though many of my plants when planted said that they needed 5-6 hours of sun, they seem to like the rainy overcast weather better.

HomeFarmJuly11

Setback number two I definitely did NOT account for was that my Home Farm is doing SO well that I am running out of space. Things are growing much faster than I can eat them or the plant is getting so large and mingling over with other plants. While I love the growth I only have so much space to work with, especially now that I own a grill that is out there as well.

Setback number three is that the majority of my plants that were planted in small pots have reached their demise (moment of silence please). The only survivors were the mint, because mint I believe is the cockroach of the herb world, you have to work hard to kill it off. So I bought another big pot (this was before I got a BBQ) and plan on planting something new. Suggestions? What do you all think? What would you like to see me try and grow?

Despite my few setbacks I am not giving up. This is after all an experiment of sorts and you are going to have the good with the bad and you learn from all of it! How about you? How is your Home Farm coming along? If you don’t have one, summer is only half way done, if you did plants and not seeds, you could still join the Triscuit Home Farm movement!

broccolicheesesoup1

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup flour

2 cups half-and-half cream

2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 lb. fresh broccoli

1 cup carrots, julienned

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (use GOOD quality cheese)

salt and pepper

Sauté onion in 1 TBSP butter. Set aside.

Cook 1/4 cup melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the half & half.

Add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.

Add salt and pepper. Can be puréed in a blender but I don’t. Return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg.

Recipe adapted from Panera Bread Company

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 here at the Better Homes and Gardens Home Farming Challenge Page.



Home Farming Challenge – Training Vertical Vegetable Plants

Written on July 12, 2011 at 1:00 am , by

Two months ago I began my home farming journey with the expectation that if I was lucky, I’d make it through the summer with a few fresh herbs and possibly some cherry tomatoes. At the very least, I was thinking if I failed at everything else, I’d be happy if I came out of this with some fresh salad toppings. What I hadn’t expected was my home farm to not only survive the unpredictable spring weather but to truly thrive.

Tomato plants that went in the ground just a few inches tall have now grown to monstrous bushes producing dozens of tomatoes. The grape tomato plant even has large bell shaped tomatoes just days away from being fully ripe.

Orange-Grape-Tomatoes-Garden

Our larger Better Boy and Big Boy tomatoes have begun to grow in abundance. Each tomato plant already has over a dozen tomatoes growing and we’ve got five eager mouths ready to eat them. Unfortunately, we have a few more weeks to go before they’ll fully ripen.

Green-Big-Boy-Tomatoes-Garden

You may have noticed that we have large sticks poking up through our raised bed farm. We’ve been training the tomato plants to grow vertically so we can maximize our garden space. According to the Home Farming 101 resource you can use stakes with soft ties or a store bought trellis. We decided to take a budget friendly route by using cheap lumber, hand sawing the end to create a point and old pillow cases torn up in thin strips. Heavy branches of the tomato plants are gently tied to the stakes to encourage the plants to grow vertically rather than outwards.

Vertical-tomato-plants-raised-garden

In addition to our vertical plants, our underground vegetables are doing quite well. The onions are beginning to emerge through the soil with large healthy bulbs. Even the turnips I planted a few weeks ago are beginning to mature.

Garden-Yellow-Onions

Keep an eye out later this week for my herb farm update where I’ll be sharing how I’ll be storing fresh herbs and drying ones to add to my spice rack.

Home Farming Blogger Challenge Journeys

DisclosureThis is a compensated, sponsored post for Triscuit. All ideas, thoughts, experiences are my own. Be sure to check out my posts as well as the other bloggers participating in this challenge on Better Homes and Garden’s Home Farming Challenge page.

Oven roasted kohlrabi, fresh from the home farm

Written on July 5, 2011 at 1:00 am , by

My favorite time of day to go check on my home farm is early in the morning. The kids are still sleeping, the birds are chirping cheerily, and the grass is wet with fresh dew. Everything seems so new, so clean. Peacefully, I walk through the rows of my home farm. I giggle as I glance at what we are growing.

I do not know how to cook half of it!

Thankfully there are plenty of recipe ideas at homefarming.com.  It is my go-to resource, since not once have I purchased or prepared fennel, kohlrabi, cabbage, or tomatillos.  Below, I will share how I prepared the kohlrabi – and I bet you will love it!

When I took Lizzie and David out to see the home farm progress, they measured the success and learned the names of all the plants.

I am slightly disappointed with the lack of progress some plants are making – namely my broccoli, cauliflower and cilantro.  The cilantro already went to seed and the broccoli and cauliflower are not blossoming at all.

Our carrots are still itty bitty! Look how cute this one is in Lizzie’s hand! According to Home Farming, the carrots will probably take another month or so to mature. I cannot wait!

We found a kohlrabi bulb that was fully matured and picked it! The leaves are very large, and we discard them into our compost bin. Lizzie was ecstatic with her job of carrying this odd vegetable back to the house.

Once inside, I read that oven roasting Kohlrabi with seasoning salt and parmesan cheese is a popular way to prepare it.

Small slices cook faster! And we have some hungry kids

Toss the slices in olive oil and seasoning salt! Others suggested salt, pepper, paprika and garlic. This brand of seasoning salt has those ingredients and a few others in it.

Bake for 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees.  Take it out, turn the slices, sprinkle the parmesan cheese and bake for another 5 minutes.

My kids ate them up! I was thrilled because kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium.

Now I am dying for my other veggies to grow! I cannot wait to pick fresh green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes!