Monday, July 31, 2006

Instead of "pulling" weeds last night I tried "cutting" weeds - that's right, I took a pair of scissors right out into the garden. I was able to clear away a lot of that hairy galinsoga and some pigweed too - just cut the plant right at ground level. This way it doesn't disturb the roots of the vegetable plants, but I get the seed-bearing part of the weed out of the garden. I made three big bundles of weeds before the mosquitos got mad and chased me out of the garden. The weeds will probably grow back from the roots but at least I can see where my vegetables are now - I found several ripe tomatoes that I didn't even know I had. Maybe I can take the tiller out and rip up the roots later this week.

Heat index here today is supposed to be over 100 degrees. Of course "it's not the heat it's the humidity!" It hasn't rained for at least 3 days, although the water table is still pretty high. If I water the garden it is sure to bring on a thunderstorm!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Instead of doing the farmer's market this morning we went to the West Side Market in Cleveland, one of the oldest, biggest, and busiest farmer's markets in Ohio. Quite a difference between this indoor market in a historic building (with marble floors and a brick ceiling, I might add) and our little farmer's market in Bellville.

All in all, I am glad that we don't have to fight the traffic and the crowds. Granted we do not have quite the variety, but I think with the internet we can probably deal with that as long as we're willing to pay the freight, and be patient, to buy those few special items we can't get locally. I bought some chorizo from Spain, some Manchego cheese, and a pound of lamb chops, as well as garam marsala, which I didn't know where to find around here. Now I have to find that recipe again that called for it! I saw a couple of the butcher's stands that had rabbit, for approximately $4.00 a pound, which I thought was quite a deal.

E and his brothers bought some pepperoni sticks and I don't know what all else! After the market we had lunch at the Great Lakes Brewery just across the street. Interesting menu, I had a Barcelona pizza (Serrano ham and manchego cheese along with cantelope, of all things!) and a sip or two of E's Edmund Fitzgerald port - a little bitter for my taste, but probably that's how it's supposed to be.

I got some ideas from the market I hope to use in my stand at our local market. Mostly for the signage, I noticed each stall had a cable across and they were using binder clips to hang their signs above the produce. I will have to think about how to replicate that with my folding table under my shade canopy. The signs were either laminated or just an 8.5 x 11" sheet of paper inside a page protector. Also the bins of produce mostly had a block of styrofoam or something inside them so that the fruit/produce could be displayed looking like a much larger display of fruit than was actually there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

FIRST TOMATO! I picked it yesterday - the Pixie Hybrid grape tomato was the first ripe one, well, perhaps it was not quite "ripe" but it was orange. It is somewhere between a cherry and a salad tomato - I was able to pick 5 or 6 of them. I also picked one of the Beaverlodge tomatoes, it had a yellow cast to it and I want the plant to keep on bearing more. It is turning orange on the table on my patio. I picked "up" a green one that had fallen off the vine, too. Hope it ripens.

Last night I spent a lot of time weeding. I found one of my cabbage plants had completely rotted away under the weeds. I will need to research whether this is some kind of fungus, whether it was an insect or a rodent that got to it. There are tiny little cabbage heads sprouting from the stem, should I pull the entire stem out and get rid of the rotted vegetation, or keep the plant and hope for a harvest from the little buds?

I also picked six cucumbers - they were not entirely filled out but certainly "big enough" for a salad, and two green peppers, and one entire Swiss chard plant. E says "No swiss chard -throw it on the compost" but I happen to like it.

Looks like we are going to miss both the blackberries at the farm and the farm market this weekend - my brother-in-law is coming to town and has plans that include the West Side Market in Cleveland and the Great Lakes Brewery. Should be fun.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

We picked some Yellow Transparent apples at the farm, too. Yellow Transparents are a fairly old variety, you hardly ever see them anymore. They are a little on the small side, but they are the first apple I know of ready in the summer, and they are the absolute best for pie. The tart flavor blends with brown sugar.

You have to cut them by hand, the apple peeler/corer just takes out too much of the middle of the apple. E says I'm crazy for even picking them. Looking at the tree I estimated 4-5 bushels - I was WAY off. We brought home one bushel. E says they always look bigger on the tree, from far away. When you get up close you realize that one is rotten, and another has bug bites, and the third is split, so you only put one out of four in the basket. And since our trees are the standard variety, not dwarf, we don't go all the way to the top in ladders, so we don't harvest the whole tree.

The deer will enjoy them.
Blackberries are just not quite ready at the farm.

My husband and I spent 10 hours travelling to/from our farm Thursday and today. He had actual company business to do in the city, and I can do most of my job from anywhere, so rode along with him. With the price of gas hovering around $3.00 a gallon, it is getting harder to justify a weekend trip at our own expense to the farm just to get away from it all, or to pick berries. So it is convenient that he manages the location only 30 miles from the farm. The company is glad they don't have to pay his hotel bill, and we are glad not to pay the gasoline. It all works out to the good.

We arrived at 11:30 pm, and the next day after work went out to the orchard with TWO big berry baskets to gather up my berries. The picture above, on the left, shows what I found. There were two or three berries in some of the patches that were ready, but more of them looked like this picture below on the right. Thousands of berries, but very few of them ready. I picked 3/4 of a pint of blackberries and about 1 1/2 pints of black raspberries that were still coming on. I am SO GLAD that we did not have to pay for the trip by picking berries! It would have been a disaster. As it is, I think they will be ready next weekend. We will probably go back, I will miss another farmer's market Saturday morning. But eating that berry pie in January is worth it!

It seems we missed the pie cherries this year. Last year the neighbors asked us to go with them to pick at their cousin's orchard - after the "shakers" had already gone through. There were a few trees that are just too weak to use mechanical shakers on, so we picked a couple of gallons. This year, when we were there last week, the shakers had not been through the orchard yet. When we asked yesterday, they said there just weren't enough good cherries left on his trees due to bad weather and hailstorms. So on the way home we stopped at another farm, and they said all their pie cherries (or "tart" cherries, or "sour" cherries) were gone - they picked the first week of July. Oh well. There's always next year.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I stayed inside and baked pies today, since it was too hot to spend time outdoors! One strawberry-rhubarb, one apple, and one mixed berry pie. The apples were Lodi. I asked at the local orchard for Yellow Transparents, supposedly best for pie-making, and they said all they had were Lodi. My husband says that Lodi is an improved Transparent, so I guess it's OK. He liked the pie.

The mixed berries were a combination of last year's frozen black raspberries and cherries, some fresh strawberries, and frozen commercial berry mix containing raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. I added extra tapioca for thickening, I hope it sets up.

Old-fashioned strawberry-rhubarb pie:

Roll out your favorite pie dough recipe and put bottom crust in plate.


2 cups strawberries, quartered and hulled
2 cups rhubard cut in 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Watkins brand)

and put in bottom crust. Roll out top crust, place on pie, and crimp edges. Cut steam vents and sprinkle with 1-2 tsp sugar. Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes. Check after 20 minutes, if outer crust is getting too crisp top with aluminum pie ring to prevent burning.

Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.
Friday night it stormed again, thunder and lightning. We took a ride during the storm to Bellville to see if the town square was under water - I didn't want to lug all my equipment to the farmer's market if it was flooded. Luckily it appeared that there hasn't been a flood yet.

I didn't have too much in the way of vegetables since it has been raining all week, and the time I have spent in the garden has mostly been to pull weeds. The beets are still too small, and the lettuce has mostly bolted although there are some buttercrunch heads that are small but still tender. The 90-degree heat has been murder on the lettuce.

Traffic was light at the market, but the surprise of the day was that my mother-in-law came to see me! She drove down to have my husband repair the window mechanism in the car, but it apparently fixed itself on the way. So they decided to visit the farmer's market for entertainment. She loaded up on vegetables at the Amish farmer's table across from me (does he buy his produce wholesale? It seems way too early to have such big squash and cabbages, but the bee man said he's been to his farm and he does have early produce...) and she also bought some of my soap - I tried to give it to her but she insisted on paying.

The other highlight of the day was that I took my spinning wheel along to occupy me if it wasn't too busy - The Amish teenagers are very interested in the spinning wheel, which surprises me since their wardrobes don't seem to have much place for knitted or crocheted goods. Maybe they are taking notes so they can build spinning wheels to sell to the English! I wish I had a photo of me demonstrating spinning to the Amish!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Found some posters to print for the farmer's market - reasons to buy local:

Buy locally grown- it's thousands of miles fresher -

10 Good Reasons to Buy locally grown -

14 Reasons to Buy local food and products and Break the Chains -

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Today I mailed the entry form for the county fair. I entered 9 pies, 1 machine-knitted apron, a handmade purse, a grapevine wreath, honey quick bread, honey muffins, black raspberry jam, and a collection of handmade soap.

Now I've got a deadline to get those things made! The apron is already done, and I've got the grapevine part of the wreath done. I've got a few soaps made (honey and goat's milk) but I will probably need to think about the variation in shapes and sizes of what I have already done and maybe make some different "flavors" in the same molds.

I've got the black raspberries for the jam picked and frozen, and two of the pies are to be black raspberries, too. I can do the jam this weekend. I can't believe how quickly fair is coming up! Traditionally it signals the end of summer, and I don't feel like summer has even really arrived yet, since it has been so cool.

Last night after filling out the entry form, I got inspired to start cutting and sewing a table skirt for the farmer's market. I started at 10:00 and finished after 12:30... So much for my intentions to go into work early today.

It is still raining. I am sure we got another 2 inches, or more, today. I am resting up after my labors last night. Can't pull the weeds when it is pouring down! I did go out and look - saw that the green beans are ready. I picked a handful but was getting soaked so let the rest go until tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's raining again! We had 5 inches last night and it has been raining off and on all afternoon today, right now it seems to be pouring.

I was so frustrated after work today I went out to the garden and pulled weeds, even though it was still drizzling down. My wonderful husband could see how upset I was and he even came out to help - even though he dislikes gardening (having been used for forced labor in the pea-patch when he was small....)

I have hairy galinsoga. No, it's not a disease, it's a weed.
Ugh. Each plant makes 7800 seeds, and there's no dormancy requirement, so there can be several generations in each season. I started doing the math but I think it's more than a google. Every time it rains another generation of the dastardly thing germinates.

We pulled out an oversized wheelbarrow of just this weed and redroot pigweed in an hour. Then I picked some peas for our dinner, and tied up a few tomato plants on the trellis. Since it's pouring now, I will have to wait until tomorrow to pull some more.

I think the weeds are winning.
Vacation went well.

I picked and froze 29 pints of black raspberries, and made 30 or so grapevine wreaths from grape vines that are strangling the apple trees in the orchard. Lesson learned: Wear long sleeves and gloves when pulling down grapevines. I got a nice case of poison ivy on my right forearm for my trouble.

I have been getting lots of advice on how to treat the poison ivy. "See a doctor." "Wait three weeks and it will go away on its own." "Use a diphenhydramine cream to reduce the itching." I have noticed that when I take ibuprofen (broken foot is still healing) the redness and itching is reduced quite a bit - but nobody has mentioned that as a cure.

This week I am back at work. It is flooding here, we got 5-7 inches of rain in the area last night, and more expected this afternoon. I keep looking longingly at my garden - being away at the farm for a week and then having the rain, I have not done any weeding - and the weeds are getting taller.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I found this 1923 Chevrolet ad on the internet.
It shows a town woman purchasing vegetables from a farm woman at a roadside stand. I liked it so much I sent the ad to an on-line photo shop and had it printed.

Here's the text:

I can't believe how little things have changed! It still makes sense to buy fresh vegetables at the farmer's market.... I love the phrase, "in time and money saved, and health and happiness gained" all from the farmer's market!

Of course I may be prejudiced since Chevrolet has always been a big part of my life, and now you can find me at the Bellville Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.

USDA - Latest News Releases

The Ohio State University Extension News Releases - RSS feeds


USDA Agricultural Research Service

Purdue Agriculture News - Agricultural News

MSU Extension Emergency Management Updates

Geek.Farm.Life Podcast