Monday, December 29, 2014

Coleslaw - Southern Style Creamy

This cole slaw goes well with smoked meats. I made some great baby back ribs in the smoker and this supplied the vegetable balance for easy digestion and a light side dish.

We still have all the ingredients to make this delectable dish at the farmers market.
Enjoy.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Coleslaw - Old Fashioned Country

This old fashioned cole slaw recipe goes well with holiday meals. It is the creamy style that our kids perferred growing up.

The nice thing about this recipe is you can still get all the vegetables at the farmers market.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Coleslaw - Sweet'n'Sour

I have a friend that is considering starting a business when he retires doing catering with smoked and BBQ meats as his specialty. He has been experimenting with various side dishes that go with this type of food. I asked him for his cole slaw recipe and have made a few modifications for my taste.

He does a great job on the meat side of things too.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Coleslaw - The Waldorf Version

The classic Waldorf salad uses lettuce, but this version uses cabbage. Like the original invented by Oscar Tschirky, the dining room manager at the renowned Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York city, is has apples, walnuts and it is addictive in its crisp, delicate, crunchy, sweet and sour form.

History lesson aside, this is a great slaw.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Coleslaw - Curried

I like curry, which is a little out of place in Minnesota, given its Scandinavian roots. This slaw combines winter vegetables and the tastes of SE Asia.

It features a sweet curry from Penzey's Spices located Wauwatoa, WI. Bill Pensey blends spices from all over the world and has stores all over the US. I just mail order most of what we use. Pensy spices are the freshest and boldest I have found.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coleslaw from the Pine Island Catholic Church

When our children were young our neighbors the Regniers would invite us to the fall festival at the Pine Island Catholic Church. Pat Regnier was able to share the recipe for the delicious cole slaw they served year after year.

Enjoy this traditional slaw passed down from generation to generation.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Market Menu for November 22, 2014

Candy carrots with great flavor and sweetness. Just before the great freeze-up we had several hard frosts and that is just what the doctor ordered to turn normally sweet carrots into something magical. We will have a few bags of juicing carrots each week during the late fall and winter.

We will have 10 large European pie pumpkins and a bunch of smaller pie pumpkins at market this week.

The squash varieties available this week:  Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Confetti, Spaghetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha, Honey Nut and Pie Pumpkins. We have about a 50 pie pumpkins left, but they are going fast.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula,  Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale and lettuce. A new bed of cilantro too.

Gralic. Best harvest this year. Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
Wonderful Garlic Crop This Year
Reed took this picture of garlic a few weeks ago, and it's one of the best tasting crops we've had! I guess those minerals in the compost bring out the exceptional flavor and quality. The heads are nice and big, with cloves about the size of your thumb. As always, organic and fresh. Reed planted the garlic for next year during MEA break.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, November 22, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)


Brussels Sprouts

Chipolini Onions
Sweet Spanish Onions
Red Onions
Leeks

Candy Carrots

Cabbage - Fresh Green, good for slaw, kraut or kimchi

Shallots
Cipotle Smoked Peppers
Smoked Sun Dried Tomatoes
Sun Dried Tomatoes

Fresh Spinach
Arugula
Spring Mix
Red Russian Kale
Baby Kale

Kale Bunches - regular, Dinosaur and Red Russian

Cilantro
Garlic

Monday, November 17, 2014

Coleslaw with Roasted Cabbage

I was experimenting with some different methods for cabbage preparation. Roasting is a delightful process for cabbage that leaves the cabbage edges toasted with a smokey sweet flavor and crunchy texture. Just right for a cole slaw to go with barbque or grill.

Here is the unique slaw I made.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Market Menu for November 1, 2014

Candy carrots with great flavor and sweetness. We have had several hard frosts and that is just what the doctor ordered to turn normally sweet carrots into something magical. We will have a few bags of juicing carrots each week during the late fall and winter.

The watermelon have been late this year so we still have several left.

We will have 10 large European pie pumpkins and a bunch of smaller pumpkins at market this week.

The squash varieties available this week:  Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Confetti, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha, Honey Nut and Pie Pumpkins. We have about a 70 pie pumpkins left, but they are going fast.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula,  Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale and lettuce. A new bed of cilantro too.

Gralic. Best harvest this year. Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
Wonderful Garlic Crop This Year
Reed took this picture of garlic a few weeks ago, and it's one of the best tasting crops we've had! I guess those minerals in the compost bring out the exceptional flavor and quality. The heads are nice and big, with cloves about the size of your thumb. As always, organic and fresh. Reed planted the garlic for next year during MEA break. If you haven't planted your's yet there is still time.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, November 1, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Market Menu for October 25, 2014

Candy carrots with great flavor and sweetness. We have had several hard frosts and that is just what the doctor ordered to turn normally sweet carrots into something magical. We will have a few bags of juicing carrots each week during the late fall and winter.

The watermelon have been late this year so we still have lots left.  We have 6 different varieties.


We will have 10 large 50 + pound pumpkins and a bunch of smaller pumpkins at market this week. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

The squash varieties available this week:  Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Confetti, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha, Honey Nut and Pie Pumpkins. We have about a hundred pie pumpkins left, but they are going fast.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula,  Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale and lettuce. A new bed of cilantro too.

Gralic. Best harvest this year. Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
Wonderful Garlic Crop This Year
Reed took this picture of garlic a few weeks ago, and it's one of the best tasting crops we've had! I guess those minerals in the compost bring out the exceptional flavor and quality. The heads are nice and big, with cloves about the size of your thumb. As always, organic and fresh. Reed planted the garlic for next year during MEA break. If you haven't planted your's yet there is still time.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, October 25, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Storage Cabbage

Reed picked 120 heads of storage cabbage after school yesterday. We had been picking about 8-10 per week for the last month but with the extreme cold predicted for Halloween we decided to get them inside.

Here is how you store cabbage...


Friday, October 17, 2014

Market Menu October 18, 2014

The watermelon have been late this year so we still have lots left. Check them out at our stand. We have 6 different varities.


We will have 20 large 50 + pound pumpkins at market this week. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

The squash varieties available this week:  Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Confetti, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha, Honey Nut and Pie Pumpkins.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula, wild arugula, Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, lettuce, and beet greens. A new bed of cilantro too.


Reed took this picture of our Onion display at market last week. We will have baskets of Red, Sweet Spanish, Cipollini, and maybe some Walla Walla Sweet left. They make a great soup and Caramelize very well.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, October 18, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Exotic Cheesy Acorn Squash and Leek Dip

Lisa created a great dip for using acorn squash (or the squash of your choice) and leeks. The ingredients can be used with chips or grilled baguette slices.

I normally suggest people cook their squash whole, but in this case it is beneficial to cut then in half and remove the seeds.

We served this when we had company the other night to rave reviews.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Market Menu for October 11, 2014

The watermelon have been late this year so we still have lots left. Check them out at our stand. We have 6 different varities.

I made some really good pepper relish this week. Making your own is amazing in terms of the flavor. I did everything with organic ingredients and spices.

Here is the recipe for pickles.

We will have 20 large 50 + pound pumpkins at market this week. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

The squash varieties available this week:  Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Confetti, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha, Honey Nut and Pie Pumpkins.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula, wild arugula, Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, lettuce, and beet greens. A new bed of cilantro too.


Reed took this picture of our Onion display at market last week. We will have baskets of Red, Sweet Spanish, Cipollini, and maybe some Walla Walla Sweet left. They make a great soup and Caramelize very well.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, October 11, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Healthy Mac 'n' Cheese with Butternut Squash and Spinach

The flavors of fall can be blended in many ways. Macaroni and Cheese is a perennial favorite. The addition of squash and spinach adds a delightful twist to this old standby.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Market Menu for October 4, 2014

We picked about 20 baskets of not quite perfect tomatoes for canning this week. I have been canning some salsa my self and have about 70 pints so far. The recipe is on our web site.

I made some really good bread and butter sweet pickles last week. I like B&B Pickles from the store. Making your own is amazing in terms of the flavor. I did everything with organic ingredients and spices.

Here is the recipe for pickles.

I picked 50 large 50 + pound pumpkins this week. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

The squash varieties available this week:  Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Confetti, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha, Honey Nut and Pie Pumpkins.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula, wild arugula, Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, lettuce, and beet greens. A new bed of cilantro too.

Cherry Tomatoes, Fre$h! Credit: Reed Petersen

Reed took this picture of our cherry tomato display at market last week. We will have about a hundred boxes of cherry tomatoes this week. Sun Gold, Grape, Black Cherry, and Yellow Pear. Reed and Christopher pick a whole bunch after school.

If you like tomatillos, I picked three bushels this week.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, October 4, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

The title of this post is the line from a children's nursery rhyme, Both of our daughters were home for the beautiful weather last weekend. We had a mini-family reunion at the farmers market. With everyone converging there around 10:00.

Both girls gathered up a pile of fresh vegetables to take back to school. Winter squash and carrots were the favorites.

Andrea is studying Music Education at Northwestern University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Jenna is studying Kinesiology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Honey Nut Squash

It was the strangest thing. I had been harvesting squash from the middle of the field and I switched to the other side. There was a new variety that I hadn't found in a month of harvesting.

It was a miniature sized butter nut squash that was a beautiful gold and green. They were 1 to 1.5 pound size.

My daughter Andrea had planted the squash and I wasn't even sure what she had planted. I finally found it in one of my seed catalogs.

We had two for supper tonight and they are very smooth and flavorful.

They are good for eating but I think they would make excellent pie as well.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Squash Blossom Farm Fall Festival

With wall to wall beautiful weather on Sunday we exhibited our pumpkins and squash at Squash Blossom Farm's fall festival. The event was a great success.

Susan and Roger are friends and neighbors with similar commitments to the farm and rural life.

If you didn't get a chance to attend, put the last Sunday in September on your list for next fall.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Easy Dill Pickles

Making pickles is not difficult no matter what you choose. Dill pickles are especially easy.

The key to good pickles is fresh crisp cucumbers from your local farmers market. They don't have to be pickling cucumbers. Small slicing cucumbers will do just fine.

Here is the recipe...

The ABCs of The Fall Garden - Winter Squash

This has been a delightful year for winter squash. The quality and flavor is some of the best I have seen. We have 12 different varieties at the farmer's market.

I have also included cooking instructions. I know many folks cut their squash in half before they cook them. I never do. They take a little longer if you leave them whole but they will not dry out as much and are very tender.

See below for the list in alphabetical order.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Market Menu for September 27, 2014

I picked about 25 baskets of not quite perfect tomatoes for canning this week. I have been canning some salsa my self and have about 70 pints so far. The recipe is on our web site.

I made some really good bread and butter sweet pickles this week. I like B&B Pickles from the store. Making your own is amazing in terms of the flavor. I did everything with organic ingredients and spices.

Here is the recipe for pickles.

I picked 10 large 50 + pound pumpkins this week. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

The squash varieties available this week:  Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Confetti, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha and Pie Pumpkins.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula, wild arugula, Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, lettuce, and beet greens. A new bed of cilantro too.

Cherry Tomatoes, Fre$h! Credit: Reed Petersen

Reed took this picture of our cherry tomato display at market last week. We will have about a hundred boxes of cherry tomatoes this week. Sun Gold, Grape, Black Cherry, and Yellow Pear. Reed and Christopher pick a whole bunch after school.

If you like tomatillos, I picked three bushels this week.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, September 27, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Relish the Thought

I made these bread and butter pickles a few weeks ago and I have been eating them on sandwiches. I mixed some peppers, onions and garlic into the pickles and I like this "relish" just as much as the pickles.

I've made the pickled relish separately, which is also a great addition to sandwiches, I have been fine tuning the approach and seasonings. 

You can make these two different ways, one is without canning called refrigerator relish and the second by using a water bath to heat and seal the jars. You can also salt the relish for a more crispy relish or use them unsalted if you want a low salt alternative.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Market Menu for September 20, 2014

I picked about 30 basket of not quite perfect tomatoes for canning this week. I have been canning some salsa my self and have about 70 pints so far. The recipe is on our web site.

I made some really good bread and butter sweet pickles this week. I like B&B Pickles from the store. Making your own is amazing in terms of the flavor. I did everything with organic ingredients and spices.

Here is the recipe for pickles.

I picked 15 large 50 + pound pumpkins today. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

I picked some of all of the squash varieties we planted. Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, Kubotcha and Pie Pumpkins.

The fall greens are wonderful. We are picking from new beds of spinach, arugula, wild arugula, Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, lettuce, and beet greens

Cherry Tomatoes, Fre$h! Credit: Reed Petersen

Reed took this picture of our cherry tomato display at market last week. We will have about a hundred boxes of cherry tomatoes this week. Sun Gold, Grape, Black Cherry, and Yellow Pear. Reed and Christopher pick a whole bunch after school.

If you like tomatillos, I picked three bushels this week.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, September 20, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Financial Peace Univeristy

Lisa and I are hosting a class on personal finances called Financial Peace University. The teaching is done by Dave Ramsey via DVD. We have had over 350 people from the church and community go through this class and the results have been amazing. Just during the 9 week class our class members have report a reduction in debt of over $800,000. Some of our class have reported later that they have paid off their homes or are completely out of debt. We cover topics like budgeting, saving, investing, insurance and giving.

If you are interested, you can register and get materials at the Dave Ramsey web site.

The class is starting Saturday night September 13, 2014 (yes tonight). It goes for 9 weeks.

It will be held at Autumn Ridge Church, in Rochester, Minnesota, from 7-9:00 pm.

We have a Saturday evening contemporary worship service from 5:30-6:30. The class is after that.

If you can't make it this week but would still like to come. Just come next week.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Market Menu for September 13, 2014

500 heirloom tomato plants are in full production as are 300 Roma tomato plants. I picked about 30 basket of not quite perfect tomatoes for canning this week. I have been canning some salsa my self and have about 70 pints so far. The recipe is on our web site.

I made some really good bread and butter sweet pickles this week. I like B&B Pickles from the store. Making your own is amazing in terms of the flavor. I did everything with organic ingredients and spices.

Here is the recipe for pickles.

We had several 50 + pound pumpkins last week. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. We have about 50 pumpkins this size. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

I picked some of all of the squash varieties we planted. Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicatta, Spagetti, Orange Hubbard, and Pie Pumpkins.

The fall greens are wonderful. We will have spinach, arugula, wild arugula, Kale, Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, lettuce, and beet greens

Cherry Tomatoes, Fre$h! Credit: Reed Petersen

Reed took this picture of our cherry tomato display at market last week. We will have about a hundred boxes of cherry tomatoes this week. Sun Gold, Grape, Black Cherry, and Yellow Pear. Reed and Christopher pick a whole bunch after school.

If you like tomatillos, I picked three bushels this week.

The fall greens are also exceptional. I'm starting a new bed of Arugula this week...no holes.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, September 13, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Extraordinary Chicken Salad

I'm sure the tried and true chicken salad recipe has an infinite amount of variations. I developed a recipe that I really like based on the basic recipe and a little curry with a twist.

Read on...


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tomato Seed Saving

Tomato harvest is in high gear. Even the longest season open pollinated heirloom plants are ready. The words open pollinated, means you can save seeds from these varieties. (If a tomato is a hybrid, typically designated by F1. Then if you saved the seed it would not come true to the original plant, but would revert back to the traits of the parents. This is a complicated topic and one for another post.)

Saving seed from an OP variety of tomato is relatively easy, but why would you want to? One reason is to preserve an older variety. Another would be to select for traits favorable to your local climate and needs. If you are selling commercially like we are, maybe cosmetics and flavor are important. If you are just cutting the tomatoes up for canning, then maybe juiciness, flavor, or color is key.

OP varieties I like are Brandywine and Pruden's Purple, but there are hundreds of other varieties in each category of slicers, Roma's or cherry tomatoes. Assuming you have chosen the variety you want, if you haven't grown any this year you can go down to the local farmer's market and get a wide variety there. Select several tomatoes for seed from different plants if you can to keep the genetic base as wide as possible. Tomatoes are typically self fertile so having fruit from several plants is not critical like it would be from a corn population (again a topic for another post).

So here we go, how to save seeds.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Market Menu for September 6, 2014

500 heirloom tomato plants are in full production as are 300 Roma tomato plants. I picked about 30 basket of not quite perfect tomatoes for canning this week. I have been canning some salsa my self and have about 70 pints so far. The recipe is on our web site.

I made some really good bread and butter sweet pickles this week. I like B&B Pickles from the store. Making your own is amazing in terms of the flavor. I did everything with organic ingredients and spices.

Here is the recipe for pickles.

I picked several 50 + pound pumpkins today. They are gorgeous with heavy duty handles. We have about 50 pumpkins this size. If you are decorating your porch these would make a great center piece.

If the pumpkins are ready then the squash have to be too, right?  Yep, we picked several bushel of squash.

This will likely be our last week of sweet corn. It has been delicious. I didn't loose a single ear to the racoons due to another of Reed's e-fence projects. We also had no worms in the ears, which was great.

Cherry Tomatoes, Fre$h! Credit: Reed Petersen

Reed took this picture of our cherry tomato display at market last week. We will have about a hundred boxes of cherry tomatoes this week. Sun Gold, Grape, Black Cherry, and Yellow Pear. Reed and Christopher pick a whole bunch after school.

If you like tomatillos, I picked two bushels this week.

The fall greens are also exceptional. I'm starting a new bed of Arugula this week...no holes.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, September 6, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sweet Pickles - Bread & Butter

I have often wondered why those nice crunchy sweet pickle slices are called bread and butter pickles. Maybe it is obvious to everyone else, bread and butter has the connotation of sandwiches, so I guess it is a sandwich pickle vs. a hamburger pickle.

So I did a little research on this.

Turns out the sandwich part is a good guess. These pickles were developed during the Great Depression when food was scarce and cucumbers were plentiful. The pickles could be preserved for a time of winter scarcity. Cucumber sandwiches were a frequent healthy meal during the off season when garden vegetables were not available but bread and butter were plentiful.

Here is a great recipe that I have made several times and have been fine tuning the approach and seasonings. The first time I made it we ate two jars in the first day.

You can make these two different ways one is without canning call refrigerator pickles and the second by using a water bath to heat and seal the jars. You can also salt the cucumbers for a more crispy pickle or use them unsalted if you want a low salt alternative.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Market Menu for August 30

500 heirloom tomato plants are in full production this week. They are beauties. We will start offering tomatoes for canning this week

Our goal is a bushel of candy carrots every week until spring. We have a double electric fence around all the carrot patches to keep out the deer. It is kinda like guarding Fort Knox. Reed is the e-fence expert. He puts in the fence posts will the i-post driver.

This will likely be our last week of sweet corn. It is delicious.

Baby Zucchini available throughout the summer. Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
Baby Zucchini available throughout the summer. Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
Reed took this colorful picture of our table of baby zucchini this last week. It was a patchwork quilt of green and gold. We will have hundreds of boxes of these delightful baby vegetables every week.

On Friday we carefully remove the squash blossoms from the zucchini. Squash blossoms remain a favorite at our market stand. Brian's post on 10 ways to use squash blossoms is the ultimate guide to this delicate taste of summer. You will never find these in the grocery store because they must be harvested and used fresh.


We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, August 23, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Baby Zucchini Squash with Salmon in Alfredo Rosa

Salmon is our favorite fish. We has some left over from the meal we had the evening before Jenna left for college. We combined the left over fish with Alfredo sauce, heirloom tomatoes and baby yellow zucchini. Add pasta to combionnation.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Market Menu for Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sweeeeeet Corn and Candy Carrots the twin pillars of our summer table. We had a few hundred ears last week that sold out quickly. We had a family that buy 6 dozen ears directly from the farm to do some freezing. The wife said they didn't find a single bug in the whole batch, which is pretty good for corn grown organically with no sprays. We move the corn to a different field every year, which keeps the insects guessing. This coupled with a very severe winter means no bugs, we also had no Colorado potato beetles this year.

Our goal is a bushel of candy carrots every week until spring. We have a double electric fence around all the carrot patches to keep out the deer. It is kinda like guarding Fort Knox. Reed is the e-fence expert. He puts in the fence posts will the i-post driver.

Beautiful heirloom tomatoes are ripening at an accelerating rate. We have all been waiting with great anticipation for the field grown, vine ripened, and delicious gems of August.  We will have about 50 pounds this week and more to come.
Baby Zucchini available throughout the summer. Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
Baby Zucchini available throughout the summer. Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
Reed took this colorful picture of our table of baby zucchini this last week. It was a patchwork quilt of green and gold. We will have hundreds of boxes of these delightful baby vegetables every week.

On Friday we carefully remove the squash blossoms from the zucchini. Squash blossoms remain a favorite at our market stand. Brian's post on 10 ways to use squash blossoms is the ultimate guide to this delicate taste of summer. You will never find these in the grocery store because they must be harvested and used fresh.

The basil is really doing well and we have been offering the gallon bags for the same price as lettuce this week.  Here is a post on 10 ways to use fresh basil.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, August 23, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Green Beans, Patty Pan Squash and Rotini Pasta

Green beans and patty pan squash might seem like an unlikely combination but they are great when combined with pasta.

Here is the recipe...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Rainy Day Playground

In honor of all the rain this week, here is a story from when we were young.

A haymow is a place in the barn where the hay is stored. Hay is well... hay. A mow is a cavern or open space in the barn. On a rainy day most any time of the year when I was growing up we would often seek refuge from the weather by playing in the attic of the barn called a haymow.

There were ooodles of things you could do. One of my favorite was...


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Super Soil, Super Food - A Land Stewardship Project Guest Post

 I recently wrote a guest post for the Land Stewardship Project. Lisa and I took a course from them 12 years ago called Farm Beginnings. If you are looking to engage in farming at any level I would highly recommend it. We have maintained a relationship the Land Stewardship Project team over the last decade and appreciate the chance to give back to them for the investment they made in our farming endeavors. Brian will write occasional articles about our farm journey.

The post follows or you can find more information on their web site.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Market Menu for August 16, 2014

We are starting our late summer carrots this week. Yes, you guessed it. These are amazing CANDY CARROTS. We will have a bushel this week and every week. If you haven't tried these you don't know what real carrots taste like. Check it out.

Beautiful heirloom tomatoes are ripening at an accelerating rate. We have all been waiting with great anticipation for the field grown, vine ripened, and delicious gems of August. Well they are here, we will steadily build our tomato repertoire over the next few weeks. We planted some heirloom tomatoes about 8 weeks before the cherry tomatoes so we are leading with those for the season. The cheery cherries are also starting this week. 
Beautiful raspberries! Credit: Reed Petersen
Beautiful raspberries! Credit: Reed Petersen
Tomatillos are gaining momentum. We will have about 15 pounds this week and more to come.

Time to freeze or can beans. We will have 4 bushels of the amazing french fillet beans this week. See Brian's post on how to freeze beans.

Our second crop of baby red and Yukon gold potatoes is in full swing.

Squash blossoms remain a favorite at our market stand. Brian's post on 10 ways to use squash blossoms remains a perennial favorite.

The basil is really doing well and we will start to offer the gallon bags for the same price as lettuce this week.  Here is a post on 10 ways to use fresh basil.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, August 16, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mentonymy

It has been a while since we have explored an uncommon vocabulary word. Mentonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept.

For example, "Wall Street" is used as a metonymously to describe the US financial and corporate sector and "Hollywood" is used as a metonym for the US film industry.

Let's look at some mentonymy examples from the farm.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Date Night Movie -The Hundred-Foot Journey

Lisa and I went to a movie for our date night this week. We don't usually pick that venue for date night as we find it is better to do something where we can talk. I also don't usually do movie reviews on our blog. But I'm going to make an exception for this one.

I had seen a trailer at another movie a month or so ago and this looked like something Lisa and I would both enjoy. Turns out it was an excellent movie. Great themes. Very uplifting. No profanity. No violence. No sex.

Here are five reasons you might like this movie...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Diversity on the Farm

We grow over 75 varieties of vegetables on our farm. From an agricultural stand point that is diversity at its finest. Is that the real diversity on our farm or does diversity run much deeper?

Lets explore true diversity on our farm.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Market Menu for August 9, 2014

Tomatoes rule the later part of the summer. We have all been waiting with great anticipation for the field grown, vine ripened, and delicious gems of August. Well they are here, we will steadily build our tomato repertoire over the next few weeks. We planted some heirloom tomatoes about 8 weeks before the cherry tomatoes so we are leading with those for the season. The cheery cherries will be along soon. 
Beautiful raspberries! Credit: Reed Petersen
Beautiful raspberries! Credit: Reed Petersen

I have been experimenting with some gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches using local ingredients these past few weeks. The approach is simple, but the results are far from ordinary. These are not you mothers grilled cheese sandwiches. For more information on the retro grilled cheese remade for the new millennium click on the link.

Time to freeze or can beans. We will have 4 bushels of the amazing french fillet beans. See Brian's post last week on how to freeze beans.

Our second crop of baby red and Yukon gold potatoes is starting this week. I've been experimenting with potato salad recipes with arugula. I made up a combination I think you'll enjoy.

Squash blossoms remain a favorite at our market stand. Brian's post on 10 ways to use squash blossoms remains a perennial favorite.

The basil is really doing well and we will start to offer the gallon bags for the same price as lettuce this week.  Here is a post on 10 ways to use fresh basil.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, August 9, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rites of Passage on Our Farm

Wikipedia says, "a rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's transition from one status to another".

We have lost many of our traditional farming rites of passage as we have move from an agrarian society to an urban society. We see value in many of our agricultural traditions that mark a transition from a child on the farm to a full contributing member of the farming tribe.

Here are a few of these rites of passage...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Changing Oil - A Lost Art and a Rite of Passage

For you guys out there (and maybe a few of the ladies) do you remember when you changed oil with your dad for the first time?
Removed Oil Goes into the old container. Credit: Reed Petersen

Well as a society we hardly do that for ourselves anymore. I like to do hands on projects and know how to fix stuff and it has been years since I have done an oil change.

Well the farm truck needed an oil change and so I decided I would show Reed how to do it.

Here is how it went...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Baby Potato Salad with Arugula

We are starting into our second crop of the year for baby potatoes. We find that Yukon Gold and Red Norland do well and are very early in our cool Minnesota spring conditions, yet do well in the warmer summer months as well.

I like to experiment with recipes and I have been trying variation of the lowly potato salad. These baby potatoes work will for making potato salad as they have a waxy texture and hold together well.

The subtle flavor of potatoes jacked up with arugula is an amazing combination. I've combined the flavor of roasted and seasoned browned and crisped potatoes with a zesty mustard vinaigrette. This simple recipe is easy to construct, see recipe below.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Horray for Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Local Ingredients

I have been experimenting with making grilled cheese sandwiches these last few weeks.  The grilled cheese is kind of a lost art. My mother used to use velveta cheese on white bread (not so healthy). But many upscale restuarants have redicovered the grilled cheese as a multi-faceted comfort food with unlimited possibilites and a full spectrum of local foods options.

Here are some ideas for putting a zip in your grill.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Market Menu August 2, 2014

Did you know that salsa has recently passed ketchup as the condiment of choice? We are starting to get a blush of red on a few tomatoes and should have some  fully ripe by next week. We have a few tomatillos, jalapeños and lots of cilantro. Can you
spell salsa?
Beautiful raspberries! Credit: Reed Petersen
Beautiful raspberries! Credit: Reed Petersen

Congratulations to Reed for his "best of show' at the Olmsted county fair last week with his Walla Walla Sweet onions. They are beautiful, and have amazing mild flavor. For those that like things a little zippier, we have Chipolini onions and sweet red onions.

Time to freeze or can beans. We will have 5 bushels of these amazing french filet beans. See Brian's post this week on how to freeze beans.

Our second crop of baby red and Yukon gold potatoes is starting this week. With the severe winter we managed to avoid Colorado potatoe beetles completely, so the potatoes this year are beautiful.

Andrea finished harvesting all the garlic this week so it is in the process of curing. We will bring some of the first heads again this week. Nothing like fresh garlic to note the peak of summer's fresh flavors.

The basil is really doing well and we will start to offer the gallon bags for the same price as lettuce this week.  Here is a post on 10 ways to use fresh basil.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, August 2, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Freeze French Fillet Green Beans

There is nothing more delicious than freshly frozen green beans on a frosty winter day (except maybe the fresh ones). I especially like the french fillet bean variety we use, which are long, pencil thin and never have any strings.
These are the beautiful Beans we freeze. Credit: Reed Petersen

This post is about how to freeze these delicious morsels. It is really quite easy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Make Your Community One of the Most Fertile Places in the World

In yesterday's post we said fertility from a home perspective is the ability to sustain life, to prosper, to achieve and to be a place of refuge. We can all work towards these goals in our families, but it is only when we make them part of the communities we live in that our communities become a "fertile place".
Compost Bed. Photo cred: Reed Petersen

Here is a list of 10 things that make our communities a fertile place...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Home, One of the Most Fertile Places in the World

Compost Bed. Photo cred: Reed Petersen
The idea of fertility is the ability to reproduce and sustain life. Being able to produce abundant growth or crops. The home on our farm has been a good place to grow children. Fertile places support strong families and grow strong children.

Here are 10 ideas for how your home can grow a strong family and strong children.


Monday, July 28, 2014

The Most Fertile Place in the World

When you think about the most fertile place in the world you might think of:
  1. The Amazon Rain Forest.
  2. The Mississippi river delta.
  3. A virgin prairie.
  4. The Garden of Eden
All would be a good guess and would make my top ten list.

But when I think about the most fertile place in the world I think of...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Focus on Being Your Farmer

You know the organization with the name and radio show called "Focus on the Family". Whether you agreed with everything they do or not, you at least know their focus. Farming is like that, you need to know your focus.

About 90 percent of farmers today have no idea who their customer is. Even the language they use supports this. Listen to the lingo, "Farmer Jim sells his commodity corn to the local elevator who piles it in a million bushel pile until it is loaded on trains and then barges to go to a bulk processing plant run by computers who belong to a faceless mega corporation. They turn his corn into feed stock for making plastic bags, or ethanol or one of 1000 other things." Farmer Jim is doing a great job for who? Who knows.

Our slogan is "We want to be your farmer!"

You mean you want to be everyone in the whole world's farmer? I wish that were possible, I would definitely do some things differently, but that is not what our slogan says. Let me explain...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Willing to be Weird...No Fear, Only Wonder

I have talked about being weird in our previous posts. A worldview of principled non-conformity is essential to advancing the leading edge of any field.

Agriculture is replete with farmers that conform to the status quo. They never achieve any more than their farmer buddies that drink coffee at the "round table" in the town cafe every morning. There is nothing wrong about that, except you will not stand out, you will never leave the boundaries of the tribe, you will not be weird!

Here are 10 principles for being weird, whether you are a farmer or not.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Market Menu July, 26, 2014

After a nice shower last night it was a nice morning to get our market prep started. The garlic is starting, finally, it is about three weeks later, than normal.

 
Jenna's guest post on chocolate mint hints, tips and recipes can be seen to the right.

We sold out an hour early on Walla Walla onions last week so we are going to bring another 100 lb mores this week. Reed won "best of show' at the Olmsted county fair this week with these same onions. They are beautiful, and have amazing mild flavor. For those that like things a little zippier, we have chipolini onnions and sweet red onions.

Time to freeze or can beans. We will have seven bushels of these amazing french filet beans.

We will have raspberries for freezing or jam this week too.

Reed has been diligently making charcoal from waste wood around the farm. We will have 50 pounds available. I wrote a series of posts this week for an explanation of why we are making charcoal and the exciting possibilities for the farm.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, July 26, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Servant's Heart

Service is at the core of our farm and business philosophy.

Service permeates all that we do.

It gets a little personal, but here is our top ten list of how we serve:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Commitment to Quality

Quality on our vegetable farm starts with the soil.

When we moved to our farm about 12 years ago the farm had been farmed conventionally with corn and beans. Nothing unusual about that, the farm had not been abused, it wasn't over grown to weeds or highly eroded. I'm sure they had been using the typical agricultural chemicals, fertilizers and GMO corn and bean varieties. We had good soil types to work with. The soil types were, way better in fact than at our previous home where the top soil had been sold and all that was left was red clay (we rebuilt this soil with compost over 7 years and when we were done it was some of the best soil I have ever seen).

However, the soil on our new farm was "biologically DEAD". Maybe It would be more politically correct to say the soil was biologically suppressed, the biology was there it was just sleeping and had to be awakened.

So what to do?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Value to Our Customers

I think of customer value as the ability to delight our customers with everything we do.

The value proposition for great vegetables goes far beyond price.

Value embraces nutrition, flavor, convenience, purity and how our customers feel about their market experience, and more.

Let's explore some of the attributes of value...

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Passion for Farming

Our passion is farming and we love to grow great vegetables for our customers. You cannot be a leader in your field without a passion for that activity, its technologies, and the result. Passion causes us to move towards our goals and it creates leverage or a force multiplier to our efforts. It keep us going when the days are long.

We care deeply about what we grow, how we grow it and who we grow it for. For example:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Vegetable Freak Playbook

The Vegetable Freak playbook has developed over many years of trying new ideas, following our passions and bringing value to our customers. You see the end product when you come to our market stand at the Rochester, Minnesota, Downtown Farmers Market.

But behind each item we bring to market there is a philosophy of implementation developed over nearly two decades of passion, commitment and hard work by our family.

There are six core elements to our playbook, which permeate everything we do...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Market Menu for Saturday, July 19, 2014

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood after a week of uncommonly cool weather. Good for weeding, planting and harvest. All of which were seen in abundance at the Petersen's this week.

 
Jenna's guest post on chocolate mint hints, tips and recipes can be seen to the right.

We now have a good supply of baby zucchini and patty pan squash.. We also have a maxi-big quantity of squash blossoms (and some good tips on the blog for how to prepare them).

The Walla Walla Sweet onions looked so nice last week that several of our customers wondered if they were "real".  Yep, very real and full of flavor. Who says onions have to be grungy looking.

Radishes are one of the highlight of this week. Andrea gets the honor of picking the crunchy sweet beauties.

We picked 5 bushels of french fillet green beans this week. Come and get them.

Reed has been diligently making charcoal all week from waste wood around the farm. We will have 40 pounds available. I wrote a series of posts this week for an explanation of why we are making charcoal and the exciting possibilities for the farm.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, July 19, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Baby Kale - Quatro Kale

We have been going bonkers with baby kale in our market garden this year. We started variety experimentation last year and have refined our selections to the best of the best. We are growing four different varieties and will be putting together a mix I am calling "Quattro Kale" for the summer and fall.

The four baby kale varieties are...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Biochar - Cation Exchange Capacity

Without getting into the chemistry of Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). CEC is effectively the measure of how big the bucket is for the soil to hold nutrients.

The amount of clay in a soil is typically directly related to the CEC capacity of the agricultural soils. The other significant contribution is organic matter, humus and pyrolized carbon, or bio char.

So what is the typical CEC of a good soil near Rochester, Minnesota?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Biochar in Your Soil

Did you know that there is pyrolytic carbon or biochar in all of the temperate soils of earth. I had heard of the Terra Preta a black, anthropogenic soil found in South America in the Amazon Basin. This was a soil made by the Amazons from a combination of charcoal, bone and compost. Terra Preta is persistant for thousands of years.

But did you know there is a significant amount of biochar in your soil. Here is how it works...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Biochar - Creating A Coral Reef In Your Garden

One of the cool characteristics of a tropical coral reef is the huge surface area that hosts many living sea creatures and a whole ecosystem.

Did you know you can build a coral reef "like" structure in your garden by using pyrogenic carbon.

What is pyrogenic carbon?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

1491 - America Before Columbus

Last week we had several history lessons, we are transitioning from the history of several world changing plants to considering how several civilizations "bio-engineered" their soils. Charles Mann in his book 1491 talks about what America was like before Columbus. It is a very interesting read and has much food for thought. He says the Native American populations were vast. To feed their civilization they were able to grow massive crops through highly advanced agriculture.

At the same time that the North American Natives were building their civilization with temperate soils the cultures of the central Amazon were building their civilization in rain forest soils with extremely low fertility. Thousands of years later the soils they engineered are some of the most fertile in the world. These soils are so persistent that they actually grow back when the top layer is removed.

Both civilizations sustained hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions with their ancient growing techniques. I think there is a lot to learn from what they did.

So how does this apply to Market Gardening in Minnesota?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Watermelon Was Developed in South Africa

There is nothing better than watermelon in the heat of summer. Watermelon thrive in hot dry climates and like to grow in loose sandy soil. We had an amazing crop last summer and have an encore planned for this year.

Did you know that watermelon originated in southern Africa, where it grow wild. We all know the stories of the Israelites lamenting the eating of watermelon from the Nile Valley when they were wandering in the wilderness. The delightful melon migrated quickly to China, Europe and the Americas in the 16th Century.

Many of our modern watermelons grown commercially have the variety called...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Market Menu for July 12, 2014

After a rainy Friday morning we are just finishing up the harvesting for the Saturday market. With just a few boxes of French Filet green beans last week, Andrea and Reed picked two bushels this morning and they are "dewy fresh"!

 
Jenna's guest post on chocolate mint hints, tips and recipes in last Thursday's blog post has been very popular and is on our Popular Posts list in th right side of the front page on our blog. You might want to check it out.

We sold out of baby zucchini and patty pan squash last Saturday, but we have another row starting this week so we will have many more of these little beauties this week. We also have a great supply of squash blossoms (and some good tips on the blog for how to prepare them).

We have more baby potatoes and Walla Walla Sweet onions, both of these crops love the summer warmth and showers, so are responding with abundance.
Our customers sometimes assume great radishes are only available in the spring. Reed picked a whole bushel of the nicest radishes this afternoon. Reed is our root expert and he says they are the best of the season so far.
Reed has been diligently making charcoal all week from waste wood around the farm, so we will bring some to market this week. I will have a series of posts next week for an explanation of why we are making charcoal and the exciting possibilities for the farm.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, July 12, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Three Sisters

When Europeans came to America the local peoples were growing corn, squash and beans together. These became known as the "three sisters".

They had plenty of space and resources, so why did they do this?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Sweet Corn and the Aztec Empire

Did you know we owe the delights of modern sweet corn to Aztec Empire about a thousand years ago. They developed a wild grass species with an ear on top into the modern multi-ears maize stalk we have today.

Corn was a staple of the Aztec people located in central Mexico and is still popular with peoples in this region today.

So why did corn get such a prominent place in the Aztec empire instead of watermelon, cabbage, or broccoli?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My New Baby Potatoes and the Ancient Incas

This week we are talking about some historical events that affect the plants we grow in our gardens today. So it might feel like a bit of a time warp for the next few posts. But I think you'll be interested in a bit of historic facts and how they affect us today.

"Whooo Doggie", we dug some new baby potatoes this week and they were amazing. I think it is the compost we plant them in but those spuds always taste way better than the commercially grown ones. I wonder if the ancient Incas looked forward with anticipation to their first harvest as much as we do.

The potato in all of its hundreds of varieties originated in the Andes mountains and was bred and refined by the Incas. The ancestors of these peoples in the Peruvian Anes still grow them today.

So why did the Incas grow potatoes and why is that significant to us.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Have You Considered Music Camp for Your Student?

Like other skills, a student's music theory and training can loose their edge over the summer. To keep these skills honed razor sharp, Honors Choirs of SE Minnesota is offer a series of summer work shops for skill level appropriate music theory training. The seminars would be appropriate for choral singers, orchestral musicians or students taking music lessons.

Andrea Petersen our oldest daughter is the teacher. She is a music education major at Northwestern University in St.Paul, Minnesota.

Through fun exercise and activities your student will develop a deeper understanding of the rules and structure of music. This knowledge will help them be a better performer and build their musical foundation.

The seminar is sponsored by Honors Choirs, but is open to grade school, middle school and high school students from across the region.

Contact Honors Choirs for the time and place.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Schrodinger's Carrot

While we are thinking about paradoxes, there is a famous thought experiment in quantum mechanics called Schrodinger's cat, in which a cat is sealed in a steel box and through a random atomic decay is either killed or spared. In this theoretical experience the cat is purported to be simultaneously alive and dead. Not to worry, no cats are killed, this is just a hypothetical discussion that very smart atomic physicists have.

Well I think there is a garden phenomenon that is equally as random to think about. I call it Schrodinger's Carrot. It goes like this..

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Zucchini Paradox

A paradox is a statement which apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true.

For example, consider the circumstance in which a father and son are driving down the highway. The car leaves the road and crashes into a tree and the father is killed. The boy is rushed to the nearest hospital where he is prepared for emergency surgery. On entering the surgery suite, the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy. He is my son."  Think about this for a minute and we will come back to the resolution at the end of this post.

One paradox we all know in the garden is the fact that summer squash or zucchini is one of the most productive of the garden plants and just a few plants can produce hundreds of pounds of zucchini in just a few days. Yet we plant several rows 300 feet long, roughly 1000 row feet of zucchini (enough to fill my pick-up several times a week) and we sometimes barely have enough to serve our customers. and this week ran out about half way through the farmers market. That is the paradox.

I will explain the paradox by first telling a story.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Market Menu for July 5, 2014

Happy July 4th!  Reed says the Walla Walla onions are experiencing explosive growth and we will be bringing 50% more of these babies to market this week than last. Walla Walla, wonderful.

 
Jenna wrote a great guest post on chocolate mint hints, tips and recipes in yesterday's blog post.

Jenna and Amberle picked 20 pounds of baby zucchini and patty pan this week. One of the first signs of summer in our garden. Don't forget the blossums.

Brian and Reed dug some great baby potatoes today and will have them at market for the first time this week. Nothing like fresh baby potatoes.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, July 5, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

What is the 4th of July All About?

Did you know that 65% of fourth graders have no idea why we celebrate the 4th of July. When asked by a polling organization they gave answers like:

  1. We have fireworks or go to fireworks.
  2. We have picnics and friends or family visit.
  3. Mom and Dad don't have to go to work.
All of these things are true, so they were accurate as far as they knew.

So if July 4th isn't about these things, what is it all about?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Little Love for Chocolate Mint - Guest Post by Jenna Petersen


Hello, VegetableFreak community! I hope to be able to give you some tips for incorporating fresh herbs into your cooking, since my Dad affectionately calls me the “herb expert” of the family. I wasn’t always such a foliage specialist, but I do remember the day that I wandered over to Dad and found him picking something green and incredibly fragrant in the field. I quickly learned that this was an herb called basil, and that if I wanted to join him in picking it, I needed to carefully pinch off the leaves to avoid bruising them. This was the beginning of a long relationship of herb cultivation that has only flourished in recent years. While basil remains a staple in our garden and at our Farmer’s Market booth, we have added a variety of other culinary plants. These include parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and many others, one being mint. We sell seven (!) varieties of it as plants: Spearmint, Peppermint, Mint Julep, Mojito Mint, Orange Mint, Chocolate Mint, and Pineapple Mint. Of these, my favorite by far is Chocolate Mint. It has a unique taste, beautiful purple stem, and smooth leaves. Compared to the typical spearmint, I think it has a cooler, stronger taste. It also grows vigorously, a stereotypical trait of most mints. Chocolate mint is amazing, and I have a few suggestions for using this tasty plant.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Last Night I Planted Spinach, Swiss Chard and Beets

As an example of a summer planting for fall, last night I planted Spinach, Swiss Chard and Beets. Each has its own characteristics for successful germination.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to get Lettuce and Spinach to Germinate in the Summer

Lettuce Bed are very difficult to germinate in the summer. Find out how to here! Photo: Reed Petersen
I have had many people tell me they have tried to start a second crop of lettuce or spinach in the hot summer soils of June, July and August. But have had a crop failure.

What happens is the seeds go dormant in the soil temps above 85 degrees and only a few seeds or no seeds germinate.

Here is a solution...

Monday, June 30, 2014

What seeds can I plant for a fall garden?

What We're Planting From Seed Now On Our Organic Farm; #11 Cilantro. Credit: RJP
Along about the first of July the garden centers box up all their remaining seeds and send them back to the seed companies. But you know as a educated and well informed gardener that the season is far from over. In fact some of the best vegetables come from the fall garden.

I just got my fall seed order from Johnny's seeds in Maine. Let's talk about what you can plant from seed that will thrive in the fall.  Here is my top 10 list.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What Transplants Are We Planting Now?

I get asked occasionally if you can still plant the things we bring to market as transplants. At this time of year this would be things like broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, peas, beans, cilantro, kale and herbs. The answer is emphatically yes. We are planting what we bring.
These Are The Plants We're Currently Planting On Our Fully Organic Farm Credit: RJP

So you may ask, why don't the local garden centers still offer these same transplants. The answer is...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

10 Ways to Use Fresh Basil

Credit: RJP 10 of Our Best Uses for the Lucious Basils We Grow.There is nothing better than fresh basil. Even non-Mediterranean Minnesotans are highly attracted to this very healthy food. We sell basil during the main growing season for the same price as lettuce. What a great deal. Like many things that are good for us we love the taste of basil. Here are 10 ways to use basil:
  1. Pesto, one of the most popular. See our post on how to make your own fresh pesto.
  2. Layer a few leaves on your hamburger as you grill or serve. Also looks great.
  3. Pizza sauce. chop finely and add 1/2 cup to your favorite sauce. Also is good with a white sauce.
  4. Pasta sauce. Add 1 cup finely chopped to your favorite sauce.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Market Menu for June 28, 2014

With the July 4th Holiday next week we will have lots of folks stocking up for their holiday entertaining needs. Reed says the Walla Walla onions are going to be ready and we will bring the first harvest of many weeks to come. Yum, I can't wait.

Jenna picked two tubs of beautiful baby Kale this week. We have been running out towards the end of the market the last few weeks, we hope to have that remedied this week. As a fun side note, I planted a bed to Lacino (dinosaur) Kale a couple of week ago. We are going to try this as a baby cut Kale and it will be ready by next weekend. This is one of the more tender kale leaves and should be really amazing as a baby cut green.

As we pass through the longest days of the year, the garden plants are working overtime and many are doubling in size weekly. Jenna says we will have some fresh basil and mint this week. We just transplanted it to the field two weeks ago and the nearly ideal conditions of warmth, rain and long days mean we can start harvesting already.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, June 21, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Should You Use a Scale?

How Is The Scale Weighing In? Good or Bad? Photo Credit: Reed Petersen
It almost seems like we have always sold certain crops like garlic, shallots and onions by weight, but there was a time before we got our scale when we sold by volume only.

It seems more equitable for both parties to sell by weight, especially when various vegetables vary a lot in size.

The effect on sales was...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Favorite Tomato

The Vegetable Freak Staff's Favorite Tomato Varities. Photo Credit: Reed J Petersen.
My favorite tomato is the heirloom Brandywine followed closely by the shorter season Pruden's Purple.

As a farmer you might think I am partial to these two tomatoes because of their superior disease resistance (I pick many varieties because of this). Or maybe outstanding yields, that is another selection criteria for some of our vegetables.

But these are my favorite tomatoes because of only one thing. It is...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Happens When It Rains 4 Inches in Three Days

We had 4 inches of rain in three days last week and had another 1/2 inch of rain this afternoon. I have had quite a few people ask me if we have had a lot of erosion, standing water or flooding. Well frankly we have had none of these issue and here is why:
With All Of This Persistent Rain, We Had To Explain... Photo Credit: RJ Petersen.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Three Dimensional Growing Vegetables in Pots

Did you know there is an easy way to grow garden plants in pots in a space saving three dimensions...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Growing Great Garlic

Growing Great Garlic is the definitive source of organic garlic wisdom. The author Ron England is the owner of Filaree Garlic Farm in Okanogan, Washington. I got some of my early garlic starts from Filaree and they have been adapted to the Minnesota climate over several seasons.

Next week we will start our garlic season with...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Market Menu for Saturday, June 21, 2014

After some much needed rain earlier in the week we have a great menu for this week. With the June warmth and rain things are really popping in the garden. Many of the garden plants are doubling in size every week. We are getting close to the end of June and the longest days of the year.

The onions and garlic are starting to bulb. We will have garlic scrapes for the first time this week. Check out Jenna's great selection of mints.

We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, June 21, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Techinques for Watering Vegetable Plants in Pots

Learn how exactly we water our plants and keep them looking healthy. Photo Credit: Reed.
There are several approaches for watering plants in pots depending on the number and size...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What is the Optimum Amount of Sunlight for Vegetables in Pots

Part sun or full sun for plants in pots? Find out in this post... Photo Credit: Reed
The amount of day light available to your potted vegetables will determine the growth rate. What is the ideal amount?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Plants That Do Well Together in Pots

This post covers which plants go well in a pot together! Photo Credit: Reed Petersen.There are a number of combinations of garden plants that do well together in pots. Here are 10 combinations:
  1. Sunflower, squash and peas. Similar to the three sisters that were planted by the native Americas when the Europeans first settled in America.
  2. Two peppers do well in pots. They also do well planted together in the garden.
  3. Combinations of herbs, such as Basil, Rosemary and Thyme.
  4. Edible flowers such as pansies work well with shorter herbs.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Characteristics of a Good Farm Father

A good farm father has some unique characteristics that most of us could learn from. In honor of all those farm fathers here is my top ten list...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How to Grow Peppers in Pots

Peppers work well in pots. They are more appropriately sized to 3-5 gallon pots. One of the secrets to great yields is...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Market Menu for Saturday, June 14, 2014

Welcome to June of the 2014 out door market season. We are well beyond the last frost date and it is time to get those last tomato and pepper plants in the ground. Basil, Tomatoes and Peppers love this weather. Worm farms are back for the second week.  We will have the following items at the Farmers Market for Saturday, June 14, 2014 (New items are in Bold Print)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots

Patio Tomatoes: These tomatoes can grow in the pot all season. Photo: Reed PetersenTomatoes are one of the most frequent vegetables to be grown in pots. There are a number of factors to consider in selection of the type of tomatoes, pots and growing medium. An essential ingredient...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Enrichment of Adversity

Adversity, difficulty, failure, stress are typically viewed by our culture as negative. If  I take a tomato plant when it has just its first set of true leaves and put it outside in the Minnesota spring weather where it is exposed to the sun, wind and rain. We end up with this wonderful stocky plant that is almost bullet proof to the weather and wind.
A job doesn't detract from an eduction, it adds!
In the same way, if our education system, creates a challenging environment for our students where they are caused to overcome failure, grow, and handle an appropriate amount of stress. Then we end of with a resilient, sturdy and nearly bullet proof citizen, who is ready to be a productive member of society.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hunting for Truth, Beauty and Goodness

The elusive Morel mushroom is the gem of the spring forest floor. There is nothing better than Morels sauted in butter. You can't cultivate them. they just show up. But there is a time and place where they can be found. The experience forager knows where to look to increase the odds of finding these delectable treasures.
Elusive Morel Mushroom. Reed Petersen.
Elusive Morel Mushroom. Reed Petersen.

In the same way the High School graduate from Schaffer Academy has been trained to know where to look for...;