Triscuits Home Farming
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:
A little over three months ago I began the process of creating a home farm for my family using raised beds. At that moment, I knew there would be challenges, setbacks and the possibility of failure. What I hadn’t realized at the time is how amazing it would feel to not only learn how to avoid home farming problems but actually overcome those challenges. Yet, I did, all thanks to the Triscuit Home Farming website. Through videos, community questions with expert answers and crop guides, I was able to build, grow and harvest an incredible assortment of vegetables and herbs. While not all of my crop is ready for picking, I want to share with you what has developed in our little backyard oasis.
First, let’s look back at how our home farm began …
And now, our home farm today …
As I mentioned in the video, we’ve had such incredible growth with the tomatoes that I wanted to share with our friends and family to avoid letting any go to waste. This past week my parents stopped by to pick a few handfuls of the grape tomatoes for a pasta salad. Next week I’ll be harvesting the onions, carrots, drying herbs and sharing some of our favorite recipes from the farm.
You might also like to know that on August 15th my home farming will be part of a contest where YOU get to vote for your favorite farm. You can visit http://www.bhg.com/blogs/home-farming/ to vote for your favorite very soon, which I of course hope will be mine.
We are almost at the end of my posts. It makes me slightly sad that my home farm posts are coming to an end so early in the summer. I still have lots of food growing – including honeydew and watermelons!
We had so much fun watching the plants grow from seeds to large plants to delicious vegetables! I am still floored at the bushiness of our tomato plants! We are picking handfuls of tomatoes every single day. I am so glad Josh planted a variety of tomato plants – from sugary cherry tomatoes to yellow pear tomatoes to heritage ones. Having a variety of them makes them much more fun to eat (and pick).
A few things I learned:
- Do you know how to tell when your corn is ready to be harvested? The raccoons knock the plants down and eat them!
- Just because bugs didn’t eat your plants last year, does not mean you don’t have to take preventative steps this year. Many of my veggie plants suffered at the ravenous appetite of some “very hungry caterpillars.”
- It is possible to over-water cucumbers.
- The weather can render useless all your hard work.
These are all wonderful lessons that I will put into practice next year. And here I was thinking the deer was my most difficult pest! Despite these disappointments, we harvested buckets of tomatoes, peppers, and beans. And we were able to harvest about five ears of corn before that underhanded raccoon thief got to them.
Did you learn any lessons you will be putting into practice next year?
This series of home farm posts was part of me joining Triscuit and Better Homes and Gardens blogger home farming challenge. On August 15th, I will be asking for your votes so I can win the challenge. First place wins $1,000 and a Better Homes and Gardens farming tools set – I’d love to win, please vote on 8/15!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
Disclosure – This 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.