Eating Out Of the Gutter?

Scavenging around the farm again. I do that a lot. Eyes from the main farmhouse are following my movements. The tune from Mission Impossible is playing in my head. Catchy tune huh? So I continue my hunt. I’ve got a packet of lettuce seed, a yard full of slugs that love lettuce, and autumn’s frost is nearing. I’m looking for a planter. It’s got to be shallow, portable, slug proof and lightweight. Still humming the tune, I find what I’m looking for! A  half round plastic gutter piece from a recent farm project. It’s shallow, check. It’s portable, check. It can be slug proof, check.  It’s lightweight, check. It’s going with me! CHECK!

 

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The gutter planter on a warm sunny day.

 

After a good wash and rinse, I was ready to drill  drainage holes in the bottom of the half round gutter. This piece measures about five feet, and had I added drainage holes I would have spaced them about every seven inches. But, the drill was back in the machine shop and I wasn’t. To solve the drainage issue, I planed to sit the planter on a slight angle, ( an old ladder that I use to trellis tomatoes) allowing the excess water to drain out one end. To prevent the soil from draining out, I inverted  a  four inch pot at each end. You can purchase gutter caps if you want a more finished look.

 

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Time to fill the gutter planter with a moistened time released potting soil.

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Just about then, the wind picked up and sprinkling the lettuce seeds was quite a challenge!

 

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After covering the seeds with  1/4 inch of potting soil, it was time to lightly water. I really like the shower setting. It gently waters without disturbing the soil and seeds.

 

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Only a couple weeks and  the lettuce blend is growing nicely. Yes, those are leaves that haven’t been munched! It’s  free of snails and slugs. Most years we have a tremendous amount of slugs in the gardens. Rabbits, woodchucks and other  munchers aren’t able to dine on the tender leaves with the planter sitting about five feet above the ground.

 

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How great do these plants look! The temperatures are getting cooler and soon I’ll bring the gutter planter inside to a south facing window. I like how portable this is and how many plants can grow in such a small space.  Perhaps it’s a good thing that drainage holes weren’t added to this planter. I plan to purchase end caps, it will be less messy when watering. Have you tried planting in a gutter? Comment and link below. Gardening year round is a goal of mine. In addition to covered raised beds during the winter, eating out of the gutter may be our next favorite way to grow food in cooler temperatures year round!

From our farm, to your home-

Susanne 

 

 

 

It’s All About The Squash!

Look at these!” I happily exclaimed when showing my  Farmer the mini mountain of summer squash heaped on the plate ready for my chopping skills. I received a “look.” Now  if you are a gardener living with non-gardeners, well then, let’s say you have experienced the “look” too. But that didn’t matter, this was exciting and unexpected after such a long rainless early summer.  Hours of watering the raised beds and larger garden, while keeping the plants alive, had done little to gain an abundance of fruits and veggies. I was  wondering as others posted pictures of their garden bounty on Twitter and INstagram if we would have anything to show. The dirt was parched and  a tug-of-war  was going on  between plants and earth, with water being the rope.  Sadly the plants were on the loosing end.

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Then it happened! The moderate drought we’ve had in July welcomed  nice soaking rains mid August.  The past two weeks, we’ve had rain showers with temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s. Hello humidity and the growing season! Most if not all of the garden plants are now kicking into overdrive and look healthy!

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Black Beauty  and a surprise Cocozelle zucchini were the first squash to get picked.

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So many blooms on all the Crookneck Early summer squash plants.

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Waltham butternut squash are about the size of a cantaloupe.  And all the  pumpkin varieties  are staring to turn orange. Many of the plants shown Vine Borer damage, and required  larvae removal. Squash bugs have been few and confused by the tall grasses growing around the perimeter of the large  garden.

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You never really know what will thrive in your garden from year to year. Summer 2016 is all about the squash. Some a bit early, some a tad late,  and  most to be enjoyed over the winter months to come. This batch now in the freezer  will go into soups. And while my Farmer may not get excited about the bounty of squash on my plate, he will be very happy when supper is served.

From our farm to your home,

Susanne

August’s Garden

There’s something so special about August’s garden. Tender transplants of June are well past the vulnerable stage and have taken firm root. All of Julys weeding and care see plants  produce and thrive. Time in the gardens stretch from morning to night with every trip into them resulting in gifts from each plant.

“In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it.
–  Frank McKinney Hubbard

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Tomatoes are ripening! This year we welcomed several new varieties. The first I’ll show is Primo Red  (pictured left)  a flavorful variety, with small to medium fruits, that are great in salads and sandwiches. With only the occasional watering, these plants still set many tomatoes for us. Random downpours didn’t crack the fruit and with minimal support  this determinant variety doesn’t fall over easily.

 

 

 

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 Zucchini in the garden!!!  We are a family that can’t get enough zucchini… in breads, soups, casseroles, sauces, cakes. It’s such a versatile vegetable. The Bush zucchini has surprisingly thrived with our low precipitation.

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Jack Be Little is one of four pumpkin varieties growing in our large garden this year. These cuties will stay small, and used as roasted soup bowls this fall!

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Our gardens are never complete without sunflowers. These happy flowers serve a dual purpose in the gardens. First they bring  so many pollinators into the vegetable gardens. From honey bees to solitary bees, wasps to flies. They all stop at the sunflowers while buzzing from tomatoes, squash, peppers and other flowers planted. Secondly, the seeds will help to feed our winter bird friends.

From our farm to your home.

Susanne

Sunday’s Sauce

I grew up in a family who gathered for Sunday supper. Multiple generations reconnecting as a new week started. Baking and cooking skills were compared. Recipes were shared. Almost always the featured entree was pasta. It was economical and filling, ingredients were found in the pantry or garden,  and could be made to feed more if needed, ensuring no one would leave the farm table hungry for food or fellowship.

Sunday’s sauce was never the same. As the seasons changed, so did the sauce.

Summer would  welcome  a lightened sauce of fresh tomatoes, tossed with grilled sweet onions,  chicken and summer squash. Cubes of cheese dressed with olive oil, vinegar and fresh herbs.

Perhaps a rich ragu in the fall made of porcini mushrooms, end of season zucchini and peppers picked from the garden moments before being sauteed in flavorful olive oil.  The colors of the peppers were like falls bright colored leaves, some sweet, others spicy.

Winter would find an assortment of meat,  legumes or both  simmered in fragrant garlicky, chili spiked tomato sauce with a drizzle of olive oil.

Spring has always been my favorite.  After winters chill, the prospect of newly gathered chard, spinach or lamb’s quarters, spring onions, and garlic chives sauteed in olive oil and a bit of sweet cream butter. Tossing the pasta with spring greens, parmesan cheese, sea salt and black pepper. Oh  and, of course a little more olive oil. All combined making a light yet filling dish.

Did you catch the common ingredient? Well yes, besides the pasta… It’s olive oil!

Olive oil adds a fruity, flavorful note to all the pasta dishes. Even family members who said, “I don’t  like olive oil,”  would have second helpings not knowing that was the ingredient that made the sauce taste better.  That certain something that rounded the flavor of the sauce. Olive oil gives the sauce a rich finish.

*Recently I was given a chance to test  Filippo Berio, Gold Selection, Robusto Extra Virgin Olive Oil.   http://filippoberio.com/ourproducts/detail/robusto

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It was exciting to receive a complementary bottle. The Robusto variety  was perfect for the spicy sauce I was cooking.  The sauce had sweet peppers, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, herbs and spices,  hot Italian sausages,  (vegetarian or your choice.)   I cooked the sausages and  veggies,  in a little olive oil. Next I  added the herbs, spices and   tomato sauce, simmering  on low heat while the pasta was cooked.

Just before  serving,  a little more Robusto olive oil was stirred into the sauce. The hearty fruity olive flavor finished the sauce to my delight.

From our farm to your home,

Susanne

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.