Written on September 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm , by Katie Ketelsen
Congratulations on your successful season and the win for Better Home and Gardens readers’ favorite home farm!
the 2nd and 3rd place runners-up, who also did a fabulous job on their home farms this year!
Written on August 15, 2011 at 10:00 am , by Katie Ketelsen
This April-Better Homes and Gardens and Triscuit challenged three bloggers to grow their own home farm this year–for the first time–and let us tag along through their struggles and successes.
We watched as Peabody efficiently used the small space on her balcony to supply a meal throughout the season.
Catherine wisely enlisted the help from her family to build a raised bed for her residential home farm.
And Annie learned quickly how to out-smart her surrounding wildlife within her rural setting.
From now until August 31st we’d like you to vote for your favorite home farm! Here’s a look back at each blogger’s home farm:
Written on August 9, 2011 at 1:00 am , by Peabody Rudd
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.
Written on July 26, 2011 at 1:00 am , by Annie M.
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?
Written on July 19, 2011 at 1:00 am , by Peabody Rudd
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.
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.
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!
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.
Written on June 28, 2011 at 1:00 am , by Peabody Rudd
First off I want to say that who needs a traditional flower garden when you can have a Home Farm? Not only has having a Home Farm on my patio brought lush green to gaze upon (as well as all the salad greens I need), but many of those herbs and plants also produce flowers. Some of those flowers, like the one pictured above, are even edible as well. In fact, every flowering plant I chose for my Home Farm is edible.
In case you are wondering what the lovely yellow flowers above are, they come from arugula, also called rocket in the UK…my former neighbor is from Britain and she was more than excited to learn they were the same thing as she was wondering why there was no rocket here in the states. My particular flowers are yellow, but I am told they are often white. I’m happy to get the yellow as they add a pop to my lovely farm. Normally you want to remove the flowers but I am trying to promote bees to come on by since my strawberries don’t seem to want to produce any fruit and my local garden store guy suggested promoting bees. The arugula flowers go nicely in salads and add a beautiful and summery touch, perfect to serve at a dinner party. Though keep in mind, that just like arugula itself, the flowers also have a spicy, peppery flavor.
The other two flowers that are adding beauty to my Home Farm are chive blossoms, which I have had for some time now and pea blossoms. The chive blossoms produce a gorgeous purple color and can be used basically where you would put onion, for just like the arugula flowers take on the flavor of the arugula, the chive blossom takes on the flavor of the chive, though slightly less pungent. I personally like to scramble them into my eggs. Looks a little odd, but tastes really good. You want to take your chive blossoms off as they grow, if left on the plant they will go to seed and stop producing chives.
Pea blossoms, though edible (note that flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous so do not eat if that is the kind you have) I won’t be using them, for if you take away your pea blossoms you will diminish your pea harvest and I don’t want that.
And while all of the flowers are pretty, it was one, not so pretty flower that had me the most excited of all…my broccoli. That’s right, broccoli is a flower…kind of. The broccoli parts that we eat are called florets. Each floret has the potential of opening a tiny flower. When broccoli goes to flowering, it has bolted and is not edible. Bolting means the plant has finished its reproductive cycle and is now going to make seeds (just like the chives). This I think is going to be the hard part for me. I am not sure totally how large my broccoli is going to get before I harvest it. According to the Triscuit Home Farming website (crop guide), broccoli takes 112 days till harvest, but I have a slightly different variety, one that is more forgiving to the Pacific Northwest Weather. For right now I will just play it by ear. No matter what, I was mostly just excited that for the first time ever I got a vegetable to grow! No, like really excited. Called my mom excited, yes I am a nerd.
Written on June 14, 2011 at 1:00 am , by Annie M.
Here we are in the beginning of June and my in-ground home farm is starting to really blossom (finally!). Since we endured a late frost, we lost a few plants we started from seeds, like my cucumbers and pepper plants. But we just bought some pepper plants and planted more cucumber seeds and now we are back in business!
We live in the woods in Kansas and our biggest pest is the deer. We have photos of trampled plants with deer hooves next to it and I really want to eat my food, not just feed those animals. I went on HomeFarming.com and read some really creative and helpful tips from the Home Farming community. Some people suggested spraying the plants, others suggested tying old CDs/DVDs shiny side-out and hanging them up around the farm. Another suggestion was to plant really hot pepper plants around the outside. I liked the motion sense sprinkler idea too! That site is so very helpful, the community really joins together to provide support and tips.
Josh installed an electric fence around the outside of our home farm. It was easiest for us to do it that way because we already had the supplies from when we owned goats. So far it is working well, but only time will tell!
Here are some photos of our little sprouts! I am really getting excited about the cucumbers, tomatoes and sweet corn. I can’t wait for those to bloom and grow. I’m researching and learning how to use kohlrabi, anise, fennel and beets. Those are a few plants I have never grown before, nor have I ever prepared.
Tomatillo with flower buds
Sweet corn stagger planted
I learned a whole lot about food since I started to grow my own. I learned that not picking the arugula when it was small and young means it now tastes burnt. I also learned that some plants (like cucumbers) are a lot more “wimpy” when it comes to cold temps. Triscuit’s creation of the HomeFarming site and community is a huge help for beginners like me. Being able to use those experienced farmers as resources is priceless!
Would you like to take a walk with me through my home farm? Here I am on an early Sunday morning!
I will be back in two weeks! Hopefully by then I can show off a few teeny tiny tomatoes or peppers! I hope your home farms are sprouting and growing too. What are you growing? Are they bigger or doing better than mine?
- 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
Written on June 7, 2011 at 1:00 am , by Peabody Rudd
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
Written on May 31, 2011 at 1:00 am , by Catherine Davis
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.
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.
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
- 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
Written on May 24, 2011 at 10:09 am , by Annie M.
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?
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!
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!
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.
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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