Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Holidays!

It's been awhile! Just a brief update about the garden:

1. We tarped the garden this fall which will hopefully get rid of the blight

2. Our chickens got themselves a pet! Apparently there is a field mouse living in the hen house in the hay with them.

3. Not much else happening in the garden. Just day dreaming about fresh produce:

We had our annual Christmas cookie baking on Saturday. We beat last year's total again! And this year we upgraded to an industrial kitchen. This is getting out of control!

Up next...revealing the infamous Christmas card!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Perfect Summer Weekend

You don't have to grow all your own food to take advantage of all the great produce in your area. This weekend I went up to Lake Michigan and stopped to pick some of their sweet cherries...amazing!

The farm we stopped at lets you pick all types of fruit: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches. I could get in trouble in a place like that!

When we got home, we had a great dinner with all the produce from our own garden. It was a feast!

The cucumber salad had cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions from our garden. We also had our green beans (we spent the weekend canning!), potatoes, and yellow squash. The fruit salad and dessert included blueberries picked at a local farm.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Let's start with the good news! Our blueberry plants are doing great and we've had our first few berries!!! Look how pretty

Now for the bad news :( A fungus called blight has infected our tomatoes again. There are two types of blight:

"Early Blight can affect the foliage, stems and fruit of tomatoes. Symptoms: Dark spots with concentric rings develop on older leaves first. The surrounding leaf area may turn yellow. Affected leaves may die prematurely, exposing the fruits to sun scald."

"Late blight affects both the leaves and fruit of tomatoes. Late Blight is the disease responsible for the Irish Potato Famine. Late Blight spreads rapidly. Cool, wet weather encourages the development of the fungus. If you suspect you have Late Blight, contact your Local Extension Service for definite ID. Symptoms: Greasy looking, irregularly shaped gray spots appear on leaves. A ring of white mold can develop around the spots, especially in wet weather. The spots eventually turn dry and papery. Blackened areas may appear on the stems. The fruit also develop large, irregularly shaped, greasy gray spots."

There isn't really a good way to get rid of blight once it's infected the plants. The best thing to do is remove the infected plant. Do not try to compost it! Make sure it is completely removed from the garden area. If the blight doesn't seem to be too bad yet, you can try removing the infected areas of the plant first. This fall we're going to need to treat the soil to try to completely remove the blight and prevent it from occurring again next year. Not sure how we do that yet...I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


After two incredible weeks, I'm back from Italy! It was an amazing trip! The first week mom and I traveled to Rome, Venice, Verona, and Bologna. My favorites from the first week were Verona (such a cute "Italian-feeling" town) and Murano Island in Venice (I'm obsessed with all the glass work!). Here are a few pictures:

The second week we were joined in Tuscany by my sister-in-law, her mom, my aunt, and my cousin. We had an indescribably great week cooking, site seeing, drinking vino, relaxing, and laughing!

Here's the whole group:

Melissa and Liz making biscotti

The villa

Our view from the villa

What an amazing experience!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring Update

I know I've been MIA for awhile. Sorry! No excuses! But here's what's going on...

Our blueberry bushes are doing great. Look at our first berries!

The chickens are laying eggs like crazy! We actually keep getting double yolk eggs that are twice as big as the normal eggs.

We are also now in the process of training them to be "free ranging" and they love their time grazing.

The garden is planted! We've started eating lettuces and radishes.

And this weekend we planted sweet potatoes and cleaned up the other potatoes.

I leave for Italy in 5 DAYS! I'll post pictures when I get back!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prepping the Fruit Trees for Spring

It's time to start getting ready for growing season and our apples trees needed some serious TLC!

Here's a good website that provides some suggestions

Here's what we started with....

It's hard to tell in the photo but the tree is very overgrown and has way too many branches. The last few years we struggled with fungus on our apples. The fruit needs air and light to grow healthy and to help prevent disease. As you can see, our apples were not getting much air or light!
This is a picture of one of our trees at the end of last season.

Step one--get the right tools. "For smaller trees and detailed pruning, they use pruning loppers, hand shears, and a hand saw" CHECK!

Step two--Start cutting
1. Always start with the big cuts first and then move to more detailed pruning
2. You want the bottom branches to be longer than the top branches
3. And you don't want any branches growing straight up or down, which can create structural issues
4. You want the branches at a 45 degree angle off of the trunk, which will be strong
5. Eliminate the little suckers
6. Remove dead limbs
7. Don't take out more than 30% of the live growth. This will hurt production!
8. Step back and assess your work to determine if your done.

The website also had a helpful video

Step three--Clean up

Final product
Hopefully you can see the difference!

Much more airy!

Look at all the branches we removed!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The birds have landed!

We picked up the gals on Saturday morning at the farmers market! Meet Rosita, Angie, Maxwell Smart, and Barbara Walters...

Within two hours Maxwell Smart had figured out how to climb into the hen house and she laid our first egg in the nesting box! Good thing she got the last name Smart!

By the end of the first day, all the ladies had laid an egg. Although none of the other ones figured out the hen house. We have some training to do!

We've had nine eggs already! I poached the first egg for Sunday morning breakfast. Mom also used our eggs in her chocolate chip cookies, which were amazing (thanks to the eggs!).

Here are some more pictures:

And our uninvited poultry visitors: