Archive for the ‘Garden 2017’ Category

Week 19 – October 18, 2017

Well we made it to 19 weeks of shares.  Thank you to all of our members and to everyone else that has helped and support us.  It was a very good year.  The last share included:  greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, peppers, tomatoes, winter squash, eggplant, basil, and mint.

The pictures of the share this week also include some of the garden at this end of the season.

I am writing this post a week after the share on the 27th of October.  We just had our first hard freeze last night. We picked the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes (red and green) and all of the basil and lemon grass over the last two days.  I just started about 2 gallons of sliced peppers fermenting.  We should have plenty of spicy pickled pepper rings for the winter.

This year we did not have good luck with Brussels Sprouts.  It is the third year we have tried them and we have not picked any yet.  The broccoli romanesco  also did not really produce.  We did not have any to share with members but did get a few small sprouts in the last few weeks.  If the weather holds maybe we will get something from them.  Growing sweet potatoes in big pots was a really good idea.  They produced fairly well and I know that I was able to find all of them when I emptied the pot.  I will do that again next year.

Both the summer and winter squashes did very well this year.  I’m not sure we will waste the space on sweet corn next year.  It just didn’t produce as much as I would like and I wasn’t happy with the quality.  Many others do it much better than we do so maybe we will save the garden space for something else.  I think we planted the right amount of potatoes.  We had them for several shares during the year and we have some for us as well.

It is time to get out and plant garlic so we will have it again next year.  We also have walking onions that have been added as perennial.  We have 1 more cherry tree, 2 plums and 2 pears that were added this season. My Dad (Richard) transplanted a couple more peach trees; we will see if they survive.

One of the best things we had this year was dill.  My Dad planted a bunch of dill seed back by the bees and wild flowers.  It did very well there and we weren’t sure what we were going to do with it all.  We included it in shares to our members but were also able to sell almost $100 worth to Hy-Vee.  Next year we may plant more and space it out so we have it for a longer period and fresh green dill during pickling season.

The early cabbages were a big hit and we will do them again.  We cut them off and they grew little ones that were ready for fall shares.  The fielderkraut did not produce enough to share but I used it to make sauerkraut (that should be about done fermenting).

We planted 21 varieties of tomatoes and I think I took pictures of all of those for a different post.  Of all of those tomatoes the only ones I wouldn’t grow again are the green verisage and the atomic grape.  All of the others were good producers and worth the time and effort.  We used landscape cloth under the tomatoes and peppers this year.  I don’t know if I will ever plant them without landscape cloth again.  It was a huge labor saver in terms of time spent weeding.  They took a little longer to plant but it was well worth it.  I have already purchased landscape cloth for next year and am trying to figure out how to use it between row crops.  It was that good for our little operation.

We still have the one active beehive.  Hopefully they will overwinter well.  We have 12 hens and 6 rabbits as well.  We have found local suppliers for beef, pork and lamb.  If you are looking for local meats let me know and I can put you in touch with some great suppliers.  It is really amazing how good meat can taste compared to what you get in the store.  I still buy some at the store, the prices can be hard to beat but I also want to support our smaller local farms.  They spend their money right here in Grand Island and benefit the whole community.

Our plan is to continue with GI Acres next year in a very similar format.  We will offer 10 shares.  Those will be offered first to our member from 2017 then to our 2016 members that may have missed us last year.  If we have any left we will offer them to the general public so if you have friends or family that are interested tell them to follow us on Facebook @urbanfarmadventures or on twitter @giacres and to watch this website.  We don’t know the pricing for next year yet but will let you know as soon as we determine what we need to charge to come out ahead or even on this venture.  Last year new shares were $300, it is likely that price will increase for 2018.  We may offer a short season share in July and August with a weekend pickup but haven’t decided on that yet.  If you would be interested in the short season of summer foods (green beans, Swiss Chard, summer squash, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers) let me know.  This would help us keep thing picked and insure that we have a market for the produce.

Our pantry and freezer are full of the produce from this season and we will be able to enjoy the fruits of this summer all winter long.  I am already starting to see catalogs for next year….

Week 18, October 8, 2017

Our last share of the year should have been on September 27 with any bonus shares, because of good weather beginning in October.  But we needed a vacation and had the opportunity to visit Kathy’s sister in Atlanta at the end of September and beginning of October so we moved the final pickup from the 27 of September to the 8th of October.  The first week of October was very rainy.  We got more than 6 inches of rain.  While that meant that Keith and Joanne (Kathy’s parents who were staying at the house and caring for the animals and collecting eggs) did not have to worry about watering the garden it also meant that the tomatoes got too big too fast and were splitting by the time we picked them.  They were not really pretty this week.  We did pull carrots though (the carrots came out really easily in the damp soil) and harvest spaghetti squash for everyone. We also through in half a dozen eggs.  The chickens have been producing well and we were starting to get over run.

We are hoping to have one final (bonus) pickup on October 18th if the weather holds.  The night of October 10 the temps dropped to about 32 degrees but we kept the water on all night and the basil did not even get kissed with frost.

This has been a really good year.  The response from our members has been very positive.  I have had a couple of people contact me about starting CSA’s in the area, one of them hopes to include a meat share.  I think there is plenty of market for the CSA model in our area right now.  We are planning to continue with the CSA next year, though many long term CSA’s across the country are beginning to fold up.  Most of those are people that are doing it full time and have reached the point where they can no longer continue to afford the CSA lifestyle.  I say lifestyle because for many of them they would have made more money working a minimum wage job than they did producing healthy food for their communities.  We are in a fortunate situation.  Our CSA is not a vocation it is an avocation.  We are not really looking to expand.  We want to limit the number of members to what we can handle; at this time that is 10.  We have talked about adding a short season during the high production time with pickup on a different day.  This would hopefully give us a market for tomatoes, greens, green beans, etc… a second time during the week.  We wouldn’t have to add to the garden but would be able to pick a couple of times a week and the veggies do just keep coming.

Week 16, September 13, 2017

Tomatoes, Potatoes, Green Beans and Herbs

The season is almost done.  Just a couple of more weeks.  We had a nice share this week.

Thing have been a little tough this last week.  Chad had surgery last week to repair an umbilical hernia that he did not know that he had.  No lifting for the end of the season.

Week 15, September 6, 2017

What do you think is the biggest advantage of growing your own food or supporting a local grower?

For me, I think this picture sums it up.

Real Spices?

When you buy real food you know that it is real. It is obvious.  When your advertising hook for your food  is that it has real spices it makes me think there must be some unreal things in that product as well.  I hate to spend real money on unreal food.  Kathy took this picture at a local grocery store.

Week 15 of real food included:

Tomatoes

Green beans

Cucamelons

Collard Greens

Swiss Chard

Onions

Summer squash/zucchini

Potatoes

Basil

Choice of Beets, Okra, Tomatillos, Cabbage

As an added bonus everyone had the opportunity to get a dozen eggs by bringing us an egg carton.

The weather is getting colder, the nights are coming faster and the sun is not up as early.  The season is winding to an end.  We have just 3 more pick up days scheduled for the year and it will be over.

We have been canning, freezing and dehydrating so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labors all winter.  The larder is filling up with all kinds of good things.

Over the last few weeks Chad discovered that he had an umbilical hernia.  A trip to the emergency room and a follow up trip to the surgery center have cured that but the next few weeks will not involve much lifting.  Hard to do when even moving the hose for irrigation is beyond the limitations.  Some of the winter squash might even be too heavy.  The little honey nut butternut squash won’t be too heavy though.

Week 13, August 23, 2017

Monday we celebrated the eclipse.  It was incredible to be in the path and we had 52 people at GI Acres celebrating with us.  Thank you to everyone that was able to be here.  Kathy and I also took our State Fair entries into the fair.  I entered dehydrated grated zucchini and dehydrated tomatoes,  Kathy entered 4 spaghetti sauces, hot pepper jelly and green tomato curry.  GI Acres produce hopes to take some ribbons in these competitions.

Our guests, friends, family and friends of friends and family. Thank you all for coming to GI Acres for this once in a life time experience!

We are full into summer production and this week’s share shows that.  We did skip the summer squash this week and no one seemed to care.  It means there are plenty for the chickens.  The weather has been great.  We got over 3 inches of rain one night.  August has been particularly wet this year.

 

Week 12, August 16, 2017

Tomatoes, Green Beans, Eggplant and Summer Squash.  We are in the heart of summer production and the garden is treating us well.  The weather has cooperated and we haven’t had major issues with bugs. Keep your fingers crossed.  The hardest thing is getting all of these posted.  I am posting this almost 2 weeks late but I will blame the Eclipse since we had to clean the house and had 52 people at GI Acres for the eclipse.  Competing interests can be an issue.  The other factor is that we don’t have lots of similar things in the shares now.  Summer provides diversity of product.  In my mind the difference between Roma and Early Girl tomatoes is not as important as the difference between Kale and Swiss Chard.  If you disagree please provide feedback to that end.  The shares are getting really big and people are taking 3 bags home.  That is really fun to see and very satisfying.

Week 11 August 9, 2017

Our veggies were not as blemish free this week.  We got a bit of hail on Friday night last week and it dented up a bunch of things.  The tomatoes are coming in strong and the beans and cucumbers are slowing down. Some of the summer squash and zucchini plants are on their last legs.  We need to replant so we have some for the end of the season.  The winter squash are starting to get ready and we have a bunch of pumpkins that volunteered this year.  This week we had: sweet corn, tomatoes (more than 12), a cucumber, kale, eggplant, summer squash/zucchini (3 each), spaghetti squash or Lakota squash, choice of okra or beans and basil.  We cut open a water melon to share but it was under ripe so we fed it to the chickens and rabbits.  The colors of summer are strong in the share this week.  Over the last tow week we have also included a dozen eggs for each member as a bonus.  Half our members got a dozen last week and half got a dozen this week.

Week 10, August 2, 2017

We are on the down hill side of the season.  Only 8 weeks left until the end of September.  If the weather holds we may get a couple of weeks into October.  Tomatoes are starting to turn.  We are getting some of the fun ones we planted.  Mostly it is early girls and the solar flare with a few other reds mixed in.  The color of this weeks share is incredible. reds, oranges, greens, purples and yellows.  So much different from those first shares of the spring that were mostly green.  This week the share included: Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Leeks, Basil, Garlic, Summer Squash/Zucchini, Eggplant, Green Beans, Beets, Lettuce, Thai chilis, Serrano chilis, chives and nasturtium blossoms.  Also included was choice of Swiss Chard, Okra or Cucamelons.  The okra and cucamelons are not pictured.

Week 06, July 5, 2017

Week six we are starting to move into the summer veggies.  We had both cabbage and summer squash/zucchini in this share along with Collards, Turnip Greens, Dill, Purslane, Cabbage, Potatoes, lettuce, Bok Choy and Rhubarb.   Hopefully next week we will have green beans.  The early Contender, and Roma are blooming a lot.  The blue lake pole beans and Chinese long beans are starting to bloom too.  The cool leafy crops are bolting so they are done but the tomatoes are setting on heavily and there are lots of flowers on the egg plant.  We ate one of the cabbages in a cream can for Will’s birthday and it was very good.

Week 4 Pickup June 21, 2017

We were hoping to have strawberries this last week but the heat and the fact that half of our berries are June bearing meant we did not have enough.  We did have radishes from the second planting.  Kathy thinned the turnips and gave out turnip greens as a choice.  The pictures below a full accounting of what we had for the week.  We included a recipe for using peas, potatoes and dill.

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Cooking-Methods/new-potatoes-peas-dill-sauce

Week 2 Pickup June 07 2017

This was a green share.  Lots of herbs and spring greens.  Mustard, Spring Rapini, Flat Leaf Parsley, Oregano, Dill, Mint, Radishes, Green Onions, Green Garlic, Mixed Salad Greens, and Garlic Scapes.

First new plants of the Year

Palm Sunday weekend we began to plant.  The weather was great and the soil was getting warm.  We planted Carrots (Royal Chantenay, Rainbow Hybrid, Cosmic Purple and Purple Haze), Chard (Rainbow, Ruby  Red and Rhubarb), Spinach (Giant Noble, Escalade Hard), Peas (Oregon Giant Snowpea, Garden Pea Now and Later, Dwarf Grey Sugar), Onions (red and white), Potatoes (white, pink and purple fingerlings)  and Mustard (Florida Broadleaf, Southern Giant Curled). Two weeks later that are all looking great.  We have plants growing where we planted seeds.

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Asparagus
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In the last couple of weeks we have added leeks, onions, lettuce (Butter Crunch, Black Seeded Simpson, Grand Rapids, Ithica Head Lettuce), Kale (Red Russian, Winter Wonderland Mix), Pok Choy (Toy Choy), and Chinese Cabbage (Hilton)

A Week of Cold Wet Weather and a Sunny Sunday

Biggest News for the Week:

We have sold all 10 CSA shares this year.  We have several new customers and some returning ones.  At least 3 of the new customers are from posting a classified ad on the Nextdoor Neighborhood App.  It is a great communication tool for neighbors and it really helped sell our last few shares and at no cost to us.

A Bit of Work in the Garden:

After a week of cold wet and rainy weather (not at all unusual for the end of March), we had a beautiful Sunday.  Kathy and I planned ahead and went to church last night so we could work on the garden and other projects today.  We did not get anything planted yet.  I want to run the tiller through the garden one more time before planting.  The weeds are starting to pop up and the tiller will make short work of them.  Of course that means I need to get it back from Sears repair first.  It should be done tomorrow.  They got the part in on Tuesday last week.  I did get some work done in the garden though.  I got the fences put up for the pole beans (blue lake and Asian long beans) and for the sweet peas (Now and Later, and a couple of other kinds).  We were hoping to get some of the greens planted today but ran out of time.

Other Projects:

We put bird netting over part of the chicken run today.  This is where we will put the young chickens.  We have 12 more of them (6 hens and 6 straight run) Cuckoo Maran, Silver Leghorns, Barred Rock, and Silver Laced Wyandotte.  Hopefully it will protect them from the hawk that has been patrolling the neighborhood.  We also need to plant potatoes and greens this week and maybe some broccoli rabe.

 

 

The Garden is Marching On

Lots of activity at GI Acres.  We took seeds to Barb’s Greenhouse in St. Libory this weekend.  Bard will be starting all of our plants.  They have a great setup and hopefully this works out better than what we did last year.  Barb will be starting more than 400 plants for us.   Tomatoes, Peppers, Melons, Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Broccoli, Fennel and Egg Plant.  We will have a wide variety of shapes and colors of tomatoes this year.  If you need some plants this year look her up either at the green house or at the farmers market at Orschelns.

 

The newest of our chickens are getting big.  We have 12 new chicks this year.  At least 6 of them are guaranteed to be pullets.  We are hoping for 9 pullets.  They will be moving outside to temporary quarters next to the others soon.

In a couple of days we will have been at this place for 2 years.  We knew we wanted to grow a variety of perennials, including asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb. All of those are coming up and looking good.

Asparagus

Garlic

Rhubarb

Strawberries

In the next week we will be planting potatoes and peas.  We bought 20 lbs of seed potatoes and have left overs of fingerlings from last  year’s stock.

As of today March 19th we have sold 7 shares for 2017.  We still have 3 shares left for the next year and are still hopeful that we will sell all of them.

 

 

 

Seeds and Other Stuff Ordered

What does anyone need with 1000 corn seeds? Kathy and I have been combing through seed catalogs since they started arriving in late November.  Today we sat down and placed our orders.  We ordered from 6 different companies (I think we have catalogs from 12+).

Only those catalogs we ordered from.

We ordered from Burpee, Gurneys, Farmer Seed and Nursery, Jung Seeds & Plants, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Sow True Seeds.  If all goes according to plan this year we will have 20 different kinds of tomatoes 12+ peppers, 11 summer squash and 11 winter squash, 4 kinds of sweet corn, a variety of beets, radishes, turnips and carrots,  Several kinds of lettuce, along with Swiss chard, collards, and mustard greens.  Four kinds of sweet corn that we plan to stagger with 2 or 3 plantings so we have corn for at least 6 weeks.  Green beans, spotted beans, long beans, peas, cucumbers, melons, and more.

In addition to the seeds we ordered a variety of fruit and nut trees to add to the orchard.  This year we also added grapes.  I haven’t pulled the trigger on hops though.  Our perennials production plants and trees are expanded every year.

We still need to get onion sets and potatoes but will likely buy those locally to save on shipping costs, especially the potatoes.  Those things are heavy.

 

Less than a Week Until CSA Day 2017

Kathy planting for the first time in our cold frame.

The weather has been perfect for cleaning up the garden and getting things ready for next year.  We planted the first things on February 12.  Okay, we planted lettuce, mustard and bok choy in the cold frame I built last year but we did get to plant.  This weekend with 70+ weather I tilled the garden.  I think we need to call for service on the tiller though, the tines don’t spin in reverse, I think something slipped or broke.  Glad it is under warranty.  We decided that we needed to add one more strip of garden at the southwest side of the garden closer to the big pine tree and that we should eliminate the grass strip between two of the strips toward the northeast side of the garden like we did in the middle last year.  This allows us to have several rows that

Freshly tilled garden looking to the northwest

are about 12 foot long that run from northeast to southwest instead of just long rows running from the northwest to southeast.  Hopefully the combination works.

 

You can see the new layout here.  We are trying an online garden planner (Grow Veg).  So far I really like it.  Hopefully it will stick around so that we can continue to use it in future years so we can manage our crop rotations.

Freshly tilled garden looking to the north (mostly)

 

This year we plan to have rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus early in the year.  Our first pickup should be in late May.

We think we may have found a source for wholesale plants this year and it looks like they will plant our seed so we will even have the varieties we are hoping for.

 

You can view our CSA member agreement here: GI Acres CSA Member Agreement 2017.  Please return this with your order.

If you want to update your 2016 membership and claim your 2017 membership or if you want to join up today for the 2017 season click HERE!  Below you can see pictures of our 2017 shares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About GI Acres CSA

GI Acres is located on the western edge of Grand Island, Nebraska. The garden takes up about half of an acre. We also have chickens, rabbits and bees

Our farm is not USDA Certified Organic and we do not anticipate applying for such status. We strive to produce healthy vegetables using natural methods of fertilizing, building soil, and controlling pests such as insects and weeds. Those healthy vegetables will begin in mid to late May with herbs, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. During the season you can expect a variety of greens, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn and potatoes along with tips about how to cook and preserve your weekly share. The season will conclude in late September or early October. We aim for a 20-week season.

We did not grow up on farms but we did grow up in families with large gardens, eating a variety of fresh produce and canning/freezing the excess. We have maintained the tradition of growing and preserving food for our family for the past 20+ years. GI Acres is our attempt to share that passion for good food with our community.