Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Cauliflower has always been one of my favorites. Coming upon the snowy heads peeking out of their leaves is always a delight! Last week instead of a white heads, there were bright orange cheddar cauliflower heads and this week there were green spiral heads! What a treat to take to the market tomorrow along side my old favorites in white.
Beets also come in new colors. This week I harvested the yellow Goldens and the light red Chiogas. They are so pretty alongside the deep red traditionals and what a lovely beet salad they will make when I combine them.
Tomatoes when ripe should always be red, unless of course they are pink or yellow or even green! I especially love the Lemon Boys. Not only do they taste wonderful, they make a colorful splash along with the reds in salsas or salads. Tiny golden tomatoes are a fun change from the red cherry tomatoes.
I have had fun with potatoes in other colors for several years. I love the Magic Mollies that are purple clear through. I might correct that statement and say that I love growing them. I still have a hard time eating purple mashed potatoes and my family will not eat potato salad that's purple. I do love the bright red Norwegian Fingerlings. They are marbled with red in their white flesh and add color in addition to flavor to any plate.
Lettuce too comes in more colors than the old fashioned green. This year we are growing lettuce tat is red tipped, read and green, all red and some so read that it is nearly black and named Blackjack!
All these new colors in vegetables makes gardening even more fun that it already was! It is so fun to take new things to the market that people have never seen before and to know that my customers will have such colorful food on their plates!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Having the tour here Friday meant that this week I was busy--very busy! As luck would have it, Rachel and Sara and Irene, our helpers, were all three gone to a church youth conference this week and I was on my own to do the harvesting, the markets and prepare for the tour. It's a good thing I have three married daughters and a mom and dad who live close at hand. They love me and are willing to help me out rather than let me have a heart attack from working too hard. Nevertheless, even with all their help, I put in long days all week trying to keep up with markets and still have everything neat and tidy for the tour. That meant a lot of weeding, weeding, weeding! Don't feel sorry for me though, I loved every minute of it! I truly enjoy every aspect of gardening and I love being able to be in my gardens and greenhouse fourteen hours a day. It was a perfect week!
The markets this week were very busy! My daughter Rita helped me in Anchorage Wednesday and we were swamped with customers even before we were set up. I have vowed to get set up earlier this week! Celery and carrots made their debut for the year at our stand and they were so good and in such demand that they sold out by noon. This week we'll be bringing twice as much. Green beans were also a hot item.
Speaking of green beans, we are finding them not so easy to grow. We have a small greenhouse dedicated to pole beans and this is our third year trying to grow them there. Something is wrong with our system as we get beautiful plants and few beans. The first year we wrote off to inexperience, last year we blamed the cold wet weather and this year we are out of excuses. We are ready to give up on them, convert the bean house to cherry tomatoes and leave the bean growing to others. That is hard for me to say because I really want to be able to grow everything!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Early last week I looked at the flowers, especially the dahlias, which were heavy with foliage and buds and said to myself, "It is time you staked those flowers up." I put the sting and even a pair of sciccors to cut it with on the porch. Every day this week I walked by that bag of string and thought, "I will stake the flowers right after I _____(fill in the blank with plant the onions, pick the cucumbers, weed the lettuce, dead head the flowers or any number of any chores)". Saturday morning was a perfect morning to do the job but my husband began working on a greenhouse expansion project and although he didn't need my help, I thought it might be nice if I were near enough for him to call for me. I started weeding in the garden. The wind started to blow in the afternoon and so I told myself to quit weeding and go tie up the flowers. I went to the greenhouse and suckered tomatoes. That needed done too. I promised to babysit my grand children that evening and at 5:00 they arrived so I had to come in from the garden. As I walked up the hill to the house, I saw that the wind had done what wind does. It blows over and breaks off flowering plants. I quickly grabbed that bag of sting and with grandchildren in tow we frantically started tying up all of the flowers to my carefully placed stakes. I told the kids that we were on a rescue mission to save all of grandma's flowers. They thought that was neat and were respectfully sad when we discovered broken stems. All the while I was cursing my procrastination and wondering how I could once again have let this happen. In the end, only one dahlia was completely broken off and two others lost some major branches, but if I just would have tied them up earlier I would have lost none. Now I will never know what 'Heather Feather' would have looked like and the big dahlia in the wine barrel in front of the garage is half the size it was. I hope that I have learned my lesson and that next year I will not repeat this year's mistake, but then again I think I fit the insanity definition.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Another garden surprise that I always look forward to is the opening of the dahlias. I do carefully label each plant with it's name, but I have over sixty different dahlias planted. I never remember what Midnight Moon or Firepot or anything else looks like and so I am always delighted to see the blossoms open up. Right now there are hundreds of buds on the dahlias and only a few have opened. Each day a new one blooms and I greet them like old friends. I order most of my dahlia tubers from Swan Island Dahlias and they always have the best tubers I have ever seen and a nearly endless variety to choose from. Dahlias are my favorite flowers to use in arrangements and so I am always anxious for them to come into full bloom.
This was harvest day and although I just love these days, they do exhaust me. I need to get some sleep for tomorrow is market day and if there is one day I love more than harvest day it's market day!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Another thing we did today was harvest Swiss Chard like crazy. That really needed done, especially since a lot of it went to seed. We sold 75 bundles to Arthur Keyes for his Glacier Valley CSA boxes.
Okay, what I really wanted to post about today was rhubarb. I get so sick of people wrinkling their nose at rhubarb! It is so delicious. I like it plain, but for those of you who don't, here is an excellent recipe for Rhubarb Cookies. My mom hasn't made these in a few years, but I am dying to have them again, so I think I will make some myself after I log off here. They freeze well and are really sweet and delicious. Give them a try! Here's the recipe:
Frosted Rhubarb Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups fresh diced rhubarb
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In mixing bowl cream shortening and brown sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in rhubarb and coconut. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. In separate mixing bowl beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Spread over cooled cookies.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I hope you like the new look to the blog. It has taken me a little while to learn how to be so tech-savvy, but I really like the way it looks now. Watch out for new improvements including recipes, pictures, polls, etc. And don't forget to comment, we love to hear from you.
Now for some updates. My mom, dad, and I travelled to Washington, D.C. June 24th for the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards Luncheon. We had a great time there, and I enjoyed meeting the other five winners from across the nation. You may have seen articles about the scholarship in The Frontiersman or the Anchorage Daily News. If you missed them, you can check them out under the "In the News" section to the left. Winning this scholarship was a truly amazing experience for me, but I want to thank all of you, my customers, for making it possible. No business can be successful without customers!
I haven't written much on this blog, but I'm hoping the new look will atone for that. So that you get used to my writing style, I'll point out a few differences between myself and my mother. She will tell you about how much she loves the vegetables and how she likes to saunter through the garden to see the progress of the vegetables at 5 am. Don't get me wrong, I love growing vegetables and I really love agriculture. I just enjoy cruising by the vegetables on our ATV at a whopping speed of 4 miles per hour and checking them out on the fly. I think my mother might actually cry when she eats our produce sometimes, because she feels like she is devouring her babies. Not so with me. I love eating our produce. Check out what I ate for dinner tonight:
I'm excited to say that everything you see is Alaska Grown! We had excellent halibut that my dad caught, a green salad, green beans, cucumber salad, zucchini and tomato gratin (get the recipe here, courtesy of South Anchorage Farmer's Market), and of course, a glass of rhubarb lemonade.
This was my dessert. It was supposed to be strawberry ice cream, but it turned out more like strawberries and cream. Still very delicious though, thanks to Arthur Keyes and his homegrown Alaskan strawberries!
The vegetables are growing well, and we're very excited about how well they've been selling! At the Friday Market in Palmer my cousin Sara and I were kept very busy helping customers, and that's the way we like it. Everything is coming along well, and the only thing we really don't enjoy is weeding. My employees and I were joking that we even learn a little science at work as we tried to start a siphon to water the vast amounts of rhubarb my mother has planted. Everything is growing quickly, and we're having fun harvesting.
Well, I must go and feed my animals now. I hope to post again soon and start sharing some of our favorite family recipes and uploading pictures, but for now, I hope to see you all at the Market!
Friday, July 10, 2009
I'm really not complaining about the watering. After last summer, I was dying to have to water! Watering keeps me in touch with everything in the garden. As I move the hose for the sprinkler, I inspect the carrots and discover that they may be big enough to pull for next week's markets. As I hook up the drip tape in the corn patch to my amazement there are corn silks already! Hooking up the weep hose on the peas I discover the first fat pods, open them and pop those sweet morsels in my mouth. As I water the flower beds I marvel at the variety of dahlias that are almost ready to bloom--eye candy to go with the tasty peas. What could be better? I would love to write more, but I just got home from the Friday market in Palmer and guess what? I have been gone all day and there is watering to be done, a lot of it.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The weather at Lake Louise was hot and sunny and when I got home Sunday evening, it was obvious that it had been the same here!
Everything in the gardens had grown like it was on steroids! I spent about three hours Sunday evening watering a little here and there, but mostly just marveling at the growth in the garden! There were some sweet surprises! Peeking at me on the hillside garden were snowy heads of cauliflower! Where did they come from? They weren't due for at least another week! The large onions were bulbing up enough to make an appearance at this week's markets and flat pods of peas are promising to fill out in time for next week's. The biggest treat of all was finding corn silks in the corn patch--a promise that this year will indeed be a corn year!
Leaving the garden for a few days makes me reallize how quickly things can grow with 22 hours of daylight! Do I love gardening in Alaska or what?