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.

Peabody

Contain This: Celebrate!

Written on August 9, 2011 at 1:00 am , by

Hard to believe that my Home Farm project is coming to an end (well, not really, I still plan to keep my farm up but the posts are coming to an end) and on August 15th I will be telling you how you can go and vote for my farm as your favorite (which I hope it is!). As you can see Crazy Cocker Spaniel is all too happy to celebrate the crops that my little patio home farm produced. She loves to go out with me every day when I water and try and steal snap peas when I am not looking. She is begging for one in the picture (and yes, she in on her hind legs).

Obviously my dog is not the only one celebrating my harvest. My friends have more than benefitted from my home farm project. I have kept my friends (as well as myself) fully supplied in pretty much all the romaine lettuce, parsley, chives, and arugula one could possibly want. Seriously, I swear it grows as I am cutting it down.

One thing that I don’t have yet are strawberries, you can see from the picture though that they want to come out for me, just not quite yet. But my friend C already got hers and so we traded some of her produce from her farm to mine. So she gave me a few of her strawberries (she didn’t have a ton) and I gave her some red leaf lettuce. Which we then turned into a salad with the lettuce, her strawberries, some pecans, and a lemon thyme (also from my farm) and Blue Cheese Dressing. Quite tasty.

My broccoli seems to have slowed down production, as has my Swiss chard and peas. Right now I am just holding out for the strawberries and plan on planting sage this coming week because I love it in fall foods. I will never buy romaine lettuce in the summer again as I have learned that my little plant that cost me a whopping $1.50 has kept me in lettuce since April. And I eat a salad almost every day. Same for my spinach which I use in my smoothies every morning. Four months’ worth of food for $3.00 is pretty amazing!

Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, starting in just a few weeks (8-15 through 8-30) you will be able to vote for my farm. I will be competing with two other bloggers for your favorite farm. For those of you who always say you wish you could help me out financially but don’t have the money yourself, this will be a great way for you to help me! And when you vote you will be entered into a sweepstakes. It’s win-win.

Hopefully those of you with a home farm of your own are having as much success as I am. And if you are celebrate that! If you don’t have a home farm, hopefully my little adventure can be inspiring to you! I know it’s been an inspiring journey for me.

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.

Contain This: Setbacks

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.



Contain This: Using What You Grow

Written on June 7, 2011 at 1:00 am , by


I must admit that when all this started on April 12th I kind of had it in my mind that this little adventure might end up being more of a disaster than a success. I thought I could get a few things to grow but am just in awe of how my little farm has taken off! Just look at the difference since my last post!!!!


Just like kids, it seems like my plants store up and almost overnight grow while I am sleeping. I walk out some mornings just amazed. As most of you know I was down and out for almost two weeks and am just now recovering which is kind of the topic of today’s post. No, not about me being sick, but about how plants are living things and if you are going to be gone or do get sick, you will need to find a caretaker for your plants.


For almost a week, I was unable to get up and move around and so I had to have someone every day (because that week we actually got sun) come over and water my farm. They also needed to come and move my containers around (I still have to have someone do this as they are too heavy and I am still recovering) in order to get maximum sunlight. I was actually sad that I wasn’t getting to interact with the farm, but it was kind of cool to see how much everything had grown in just the week I was out of commission.

Sadly because I was out of commission the palate farm I wanted to try didn’t happen. And might not, since I currently am not supposed to be lifting anything over 5 pounds and soil bags and what not all are over 5 pounds. I’m not giving up hope yet, there is still plenty of time and Seattle really hasn’t had summer weather yet (it’s currently cloudy and 51F at noon).


Since everything has been growing so nicely, with the exception of my Lemon verbena which is dying (I read up and found out that my pot size is way too small for it) I figured I need to start doing things with it. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m so proud and happy that everything is growing that I almost don’t want to use any of it. But that is silly since the whole point of growing your own farm is to have your own fruits and veggies right there. Yet in some ways my home farm and plants feel like my babies. I decided to start small and make something with herbs. I had already used my parsley and its growing back just fine, so I am hoping my dill will be doing the same.


This is a Cottage Cheese and Dill Bread. When I used to teach cooking lessons it was one of the recipes I liked to teach because, though it was yeast bread, it was one that even basic scared of yeast cooks could find success with. If you aren’t quite ready to dive into the world of bread baking, Triscuit Home Farming website has some great and easy recipes to try. This New Potatoes in Creamy Dill Sauce looks good, and would make a great side for any upcoming BBQ’s you might be hosting or going to.


How about you? How is your farm coming along? What are you finding to be your biggest challenge? Remember 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.

Cottage Cheese and Dill Bread

2 TBSP active dry yeast

½ cup warm water (110F)

1 cup cottage cheese (can be full-fat or reduced), at room temperature

2 TBSP granulated sugar

1 heaping TBSP fresh onion, minced

1 ½ TBSP fresh dill, minced

1 TBSP salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

2 tsp. olive oil

5-6 ½ cups Better for Bread Flour (or all-purpose)

Dissolve yeast in the warm water at the bottom of the mixing bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes until it becomes creamy in color.

Add all the ingredients except the flour and mix well.

Attach the dough hook to the mixer. Add flour 1 cup at a time until you have soft dough…it’s pretty sticky too. Knead bread for 5 minutes. If you are doing it by hand, knead for about 8 minutes.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let rise until dough has doubled, about 1 ½ hours.

When dough has doubled, punch it down and shape into a log shape the size of your loaf pan. Place into a greased 9-inch loaf pan.

Cover loaf with plastic wrap and again place in a warm place. Let rise again for about an hour.

When loaf has risen, preheat oven to 350F.

Bake loaf for 30 minutes, and then cover with aluminum foil to prevent over browning and bake another 15-20 minutes longer. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pan and continue to cool on a rack

Contain This: Beautification of Farm

Written on May 17, 2011 at 1:00 am , by

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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.

Follow 3 Kids and Us Raised Bed Farm updates and @3kidsandus on Twitter

Follow Mama Dweeb Plot Farm Updates and @mamadweeb on Twitter

Follow Culinary Concoctions by Peabody Container Garden updates and @bakerpeabody on Twitter

Contain This: Starting My Home Farm

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

And so it begins…my home farm that is.


I was fortunate enough that in my previous house I tried to do a container garden with both flowers and herbs, so I had some containers to start with. I went and bought a few more at the nursery where I first got them. Lucky for me that day they were buy one get one free! So far the containers are certainly what cost the most in this adventure. Though they don’t need to be. If I had not already had some of the pots and was starting from scratch I would have just found random items to use. As it stands right now I also plan on trying to do a pallet farm. I am also on the lookout for a couple of dresser drawers that I can modify and plant some herbs in. I’ve been looking at the thrift stores but haven’t found one that totally works yet.  Picking your containers is very important as it will decide on what you can plant. Some veggies can grow shallow (like lettuce) but some need much more room (like my broccoli). So these are all things to consider before starting, especially if you have some veggies you really want to plant.

The next thing I had to decide on was soil. One of the great things about container farming is the fact that you just start with good soil. You don’t have to dig up your yard and assess your soil and figure out what you need to do. You just get soil and dump it in. I decided that since these veggies were hopefully going in my mouth (grow plants grow) that I would go organic. My mother wanted me to use a product that would enhance the size of my veggies and fruit, but I live in the Seattle area where we are all about local and organic produce. So I chose both an organic soil and fertilizer (which also needs to be added to your soil). But other than that you are good to plant. In case you are wondering, I used Gardner & Bloome BLUE RIBBON BLEND Premium Potting Soil: Natural & Organic Premium All-Purpose Indoor or Outdoor Container Mix and Dr. Earth Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer).


Next came figuring out what to plant. I read books, talked with my friends who grow fruits and veggies, and then talked to the experts at my local nursery (Molbak’s for those that are in the area), as well as consulted the Vegetable and Herb guide on the Triscuit Home Farming website. Given the time frame I have to work with I chose to start with small plants instead of seeds (but did you know you can get seeds for your very own farm right in your Triscuit box). I learned that leafy greens, broccoli, peas (sugar snap grown best in colder climates) would be good for my area. So I chose a variety of lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, snap peas, and broccoli for my veggies and am giving a variety of strawberries a try that I had never heard of but wanted to try. And of course I have a large variety of herbs. I still plan on adding more but have to wait until the weather warms up. I must say that weather has been the biggest obstacle so far. I’ve had snow twice this week in the morning. Now granted, it was mixed snow/rain but still, not ideal weather at all. It’s funny, I normally prefer the gray skies and rainy weather, but now that I have a farm on my patio I am always mumbling about where is the sun! :)


As you can see by the photos, I did have a couple helpers on the project, the furry one was especially helpful.  I do have more space on my patio, but not totally sure how much more I want to add. It is only sunny on part of my patio and so covering the whole patio with a farm makes little sense.


What about you? How is your planting coming? Have you joined the movement yet? If not, it’s not too late to start a home farm! The more the merrier…and well fed.

Introducing Triscuit’s Home Farming Blogger Challenge!

Written on April 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm , by

It’s the year to grow your own grub! And if you’ve never harvested your own vegetables, you’re in good company. We’ve recruited three bloggers for our Home Farming Triscuit Challenge to share with us their journey in gardening with vegetables for the first time.  Follow along here weekly to stay up-to-date on their gardening tricks and techniques or find advice on Better Homes and Gardens.

Meet Our Home Farming Bloggers

Catherine

Catherine Davis

Catherine Davis is a 28 year old work at home mother to three children living in the rural town of Chatham, IL – in the heart of farming country. Together, Jonathan (husband) and Catherine are raising their 9 year old son Mattison, 4 year old daughter Kaydence and 2 year old daughter Emmaleigh to enjoy small town living and experience home farming as a way to provide fresh vegetables for the family meals. Although Catherine grew up with parents that grew tomatoes every summer, she has little home farming experience herself. Catherine hopes to be able to provide fresh, organic vegetables that can be brought from the garden to the family dinner table.

As a social media mom, Catherine is the author of 3KidsandUs.com, a personal blog where she shares her love of parenting, home-style cooking and great product finds for families.

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Peabody Rudd

Peabody Rudd has run the baking and pastry blog, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody since June 2005.

She is a former math and science teacher who now substitute teaches and runs her blog. For fun she plays ice hockey and is captain of her Men’s (yes, she plays with guys) league hockey team.

Peabody lives north of Seattle, WA in a two bedroom apartment with her lovable goofball cocker spaniel.

Peabody has a self proclaimed black thumb, even killing a cactus that someone once gave her. She has grown some herbs successfully before but is out to prove that you can have a usable garden in even the smallest of patios and spaces.

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AnnieShultz

Annie Shultz

Annie Shultz is a small town Kansas girl, living on 20 acres in the Kansas woods with her carpenter husband.  She graduated with a journalism degree and decided to stay home with her 3 young children – Lizzie (4 yrs), David (2 yrs) and Lucy (4 months).  She blogs from her small town home near Wamego, Kansas, about life with such young children so close in age.  Her passion has always been writing and connecting with others and she found the perfect marriage in her blog, Mama Dweeb.  Last year was her first year gardening and she learned quickly what pigs deer can be. This year her carpenter husband will be building a tall fence!

Peabody Joined the Home Farming Movement

Written on April 9, 2011 at 1:00 am , by

Did you know that Home Farming Day is today, April 12th? Up until a couple weeks ago, neither did I. I was asked if I had any interest in growing my own home farm. At first I chuckled to myself. I have a black thumb. And if there were a color darker than black than that would be the color of my thumb. I have successfully killed every houseplant I have ever owned with the exception of bamboo that a student once gave me. And that lived because the students were in charge of it, not me. I have even killed a cactus. I over watered it and gave it mold, who knew? Apparently not me. I have contact dermatitis to dirt and of course there is the glaring obvious part…I live in an apartment that gets little sunlight. So at first I was like….umm?

But truthfully, I have always wanted a home farm so I wrote back (I picture me in baggy overalls and a big hat). I hit send waiting for a rejection the minute I pointed out that I lived in an apartment. To my surprise, Triscuit was more than happy that they I lived in an apartment. They want to show people that you can have a farm wherever you are…even in apartments. So I will be spending my summer doing my best to turn my black thumb into a green one and turning that blank patio into a flourishing patio home farm using containers. I’m calling it Pea’s Patch. Has a nice ring to it, eh?

I have grown some herbs in the past in containers with some success and some major failures and plan to have many an herb on that patio. I also want to grow lettuce (because I love me some salad…for real) kale (because I put it in my smoothies often) and peas (because well, that’s my name).  I’m pretty much up for trying to grow anything I think will actually grow given my conditions. Right now I am doing all that I can to research what grows best here in the Pacific Northwest. What grows best with limited sun light (I only get about 4-5 hours max…if it is sunny that day)? And to find the worlds’ longest gardening gloves so I can have as little dirt contact as possible. :)

As well as using the tools that are on the homefarming.com website. The website has a great tool that is helping me plan out my plot, as well as great videos that I have been watching. Because I really don’t know what I am doing….what else is new? :P Do you want join me on my little home farming adventure? I wish you would. I think it would be more than fun to see what we can grow, especially those of you who are space challenged like me. Container home farmers of the world unite? Or maybe you are lucky and already have a home farm?

You could join too, your expertise would be greatly appreciated on the Home Farming Community Boards I’m sure. If you do join not only will you have fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs but Triscuit is having a sweepstakes so that you will have the chance to win $1000 toward building the Ultimate Home Farm. Imagine the farm you could come up with if you had $1000 to put it together! Go here to sign up! -Peabody