I heard about the “Seeds of the Month Club” a few weeks ago, and was really intrigued by the concept. I just love looking through seed catalogs, but with all the choices today, I’m always conflicted about what new seed varieties to try. So I was excited to learn that for just $3.09 per month, the Seeds of the Month Club would send me eight packets of seed the first month and four packets of seeds for the next 11 months. For a garden lover like me, it’s a perfect monthly treat – and I don’t even have to agonize [...]
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This is our annual list of vegetable seeds for Bramblestone Farm, and updating the list has again made me anxious for spring. As always, I dream of a perfect garden – no weeds, abundant yields, no pests, and perfect produce – well it’s good to dream.
Many of the vegetable seeds on the list are left-over from previous years because seeds stay viable for several years (if carefully stored), and saving seeds from year to year cuts seed costs dramatically. If you scroll to the bottom of the list, you’ll see that our seed will cost under $40.00, even though we [...]
Continue reading Vegetable Seeds for the 2013 Garden
2012 was again a good year on the farm, sometimes I forget all the great things that happened, so it’s nice to pause and look back.
Kauai, Hawaii – The year started off with a two-week vacation in late January to Kauai. We celebrated our 30th anniversary, rented/shared a gorgeous home on the ocean with family, and went swimming, snorkeling, golfing, horseback riding, and ziplining. While there, we also toured a small dairy goat farm that produces local cheese and honey for the island - it was very farm inspirational. And, of course, we enjoyed all the wild chickens!
Goats – Springtime brought [...]
Continue reading 2012 – A Very Good Farm Year!
The snow’s been falling here today, and to me that means it’s time for garden seed catalogs again. I don’t want most of the catalogs we get in the mail, but the yearly garden seed catalogs are different. I love looking through them; and spend hours studying and plotting next years perfect garden (well, it is in my imagination).
Unfortunately, many companies are choosing to put their catalogs on the Internet instead of making print catalogs. I understand that it costs less and is greener; but I still like having a catalog in my hand for studying the different varieties, descriptions, and pictures. The Internet just doesn’t offer the same experience.
Continue reading Free Garden Seed Catalogs
Fall is the best time to divide spring and summer blooming perennials – they’re finished putting energy into blooming, and new divisions will re-establish quickly during the cooler, wetter fall weather. Dividing helps control the size of plants, rejuvenates them, and increases the number of plants for your garden.
For fall blooming perennials, it’s generally better to wait until spring to divide. By dividing plants when they’re not blooming, they can put all their energy into root and leaf growth.
What Plants to Divide
Most perennials should be divided every three to five years. It’s best to divide plants when they still look good, [...]
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I can remember when you went to your local feed & seed supply store to buy garden seeds; and your choices were limited to a few – how things have changed! Today there are numerous seed catalogs available with hundreds of offerings, and you can also order from thousands of varieties online – but the choices can be confusing. What’s the difference between GE, GMO, OP, Heirloom, Hybrid, Organic, Pelleted, and Treated seed? Here’s the explanation:
OP (Open Pollinated) – open pollinated seeds are those that are produced by pollination from wind, insects, or self-pollination. You can save seed from open-pollinated varieties and [...]
Continue reading Garden Seeds – GMO, GE, OP, Heirloom, Hybrid – What’s It All Mean?
The propane torch shown below is the best $29.99 I’ve ever spent for weeding (I found it at Harbor Freight) - it’s awesome what I was able to accomplish in very little time.
This is what it looked like as I started using it to remove the weeks on the bank above our new rock wall (see Bramblestone Wall).
And this is what the bank looked like less than an hour later – weeds eradicated! It would have been difficult and time-consuming to do this using other methods.
After torching, we were able to immediately plant with Ivy to start getting a ground cover established. We got the torch with the electric [...]
Continue reading Best Weeding Investment
It’s the time of year when there are usually excess vegetables in the garden that need to be taken in before frost destroys them. Many of these vegetables can successfully be stored for months if the right storage conditions are provided. Even without a garden, buying quantities of these vegetables while they’re fresh and “in season” and storing them for later winter use can make sense. Both of these approaches provide fresh vegetables more economically than buying from the supermarket in the winter when it’s most expensive. In addition, vegetables picked and stored at their peak maturity usually have better [...]
Continue reading Long Term (Winter) Vegetable Storage
We had a great potato season in the garden this year; so we get to try lots of new recipes using potatoes. I wasn’t very familiar with the taste of tarragon; but like dill in potato salads so tried this recipe from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That” and loved it – it’s a potato salad with lots of flavor! I’ve made it now with both Prairie Blush and Yukon Gold potatoes; and it’s been very good both times.
2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (6 to 8 potatoes)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons tarragon or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly [...]
Continue reading Dill & Tarragon Potato Salad
I like to make lists so I don’t have to hunt things up repeatedly – and so made lists of hatcheries, garden seed and animal health suppliers that are posted here (presumedly so I and anyone else interested could find them). However, I can’t remember (this is bad) what I’ve filed them under in post categories sometimes, and have to hunt around. Therefore, I decided to make a page for sources, it’s in the menu bar above (as illustrated below when you click on it):
Hopefully, this will make it more convenient for finding the links to suppliers, and also for updating those links when they [...]
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Green pole beans can be great for the backyard garden because they produce all season long (no need to succession plant like bush beans), you don’t have to bend over to pick them, and they’re super productive; however, the taste and texture often aren’t as “refined” as bush green beans. So, for the past several years we’ve trialed a couple of different pole beans each year, looking for the ”perfect” bean – one that combines the growing convenience of a pole bean with the tenderness and taste of a bush bean.
Coming into 2011, the only pole bean that came close to our “perfect” bean so far was Blue Lake; and althought I prefer to use [...]
Continue reading 2011 Garden Results – Pole Beans
I really admire beautiful mixed flower and foliage borders like the photo here (confession - none of mine look like this), but have difficulty creating borders like this around our home. As the seasons progress; there’s either too little foliage, too few flowers, the colors don’t mix, or the textures don’t work together. To combat the problem, last year I started examining the borders I was trying to improve at the beginning of each month; isolating the areas seeming to need the most help at that time, and determining what the missing or wrong element was (flower, foliage, color, or texture).
Once I’ve figured out the biggest problem, I review all the perennials in our other [...]
Continue reading Building Beautiful Garden Borders
Tinker Bell Eating Pea Vines
Each time I work in the garden and consider bringing back some garden trimmings for the goats and chickens; I have to stop and look through my reference books – to determine whether that particular plant is safe for them to eat. So, I decided to make a list of garden plants that are safe for goats or chickens, and that they’ll benefit from eating. That way, I can just refer back to this list, rather than dragging out a bunch of books.
This is what I know about today that they can eat (chickens may [...]
Continue reading Garden Greens for Goats & Chickens
Giant Yellow Eckendorf
This year, we’re adding a new vegetable mainstay to the garden – not for us, but for the chickens. Mangel beets used to be grown extensively as a livestock feed on small farms; however, usage dwindled in the US as large farms became the norm. Today, it’s being rediscovered on small farmsteads as a great feed for livestock, particularly chickens.
The beets are highly nutritious and have been cultivated as livestock feed for over 1000 years. They’re very easy to produce, grow to immense sizes (10 – 20 lbs.), and store well; making them a good stand-in for fresh [...]
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Spring finally seems to be here, so in the first semi-dry weekend, we cleaned and inspected the year-old chicken coop. We use the “deep-litter” method for managing coop sanitation, which basically means putting down a 4” layer of pine shavings (the “litter”) mixed with a little diatomaceous earth, adding more pine shavings as the ratio of droppings to shavings gets too large, and cleaning in the spring and fall (see Deep Litter & Healthy Chickens). For the health of the birds, it’s important not to let ammonia levels get too high, so it’s a good idea to clean before spring [...]
Continue reading Semi-Annual Chicken Coop Cleaning & Evaluation