L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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The Sweetest Rain!!

It has been a very busy week and as I prepare for tomorrow at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Lincoln, Nebraska to say I am a motivated seller is an understatement.  The colors and textures are changing a little this week.  I have A LOT of tomatoes and cucumbers. 

New offerings will include two items I am especially proud of:  The first is my edamame soy beans and the second is my little finger eggplant…  I have had a few each week but this week I am finally starting to get some volume. I will also have 1 honey dew melon and sadly I think it will be the only one I have this season. I will also have an entire rainbow of tomatoes.  You really owe it to yourself to try our Great White Beefsteak or maybe a Nebraska Wedding Tomato. There is also my Black Krim, my orange Moon Glow, and my pink Raspberry Lyeanna and a few Japanese Black Trieffle.  The cherry tomatoes are still going strong, but I see the end of the road ahead… at the most I will have three more weeks.  Other items will include large and small black beauty eggplant, green bell peppers, dulche peppers, jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, okra, Tabouli kits, mint, parsley, sweet corn and a few cantaloupes.  I will also have red and yellow onions and I am down to about 10 pounds of potatoes.  I almost forgot the cucumbers, and a few assorted summer squash and eggs.   I had someone stop by last Sunday looking for cucumbers to pickle.  If you are still looking, please visit me tomorrow. 

I am trying something new this week.  I will bring with me a recipe card for a one-skillet dish my family enjoys that goes from fresh to Yum in about 30 minutes.  It is called Cowboy Stir-fry.   It is one that is great as a vegetarian dish.  It also jumps to life with about any meat option.  It will feature many of the items I will have for sale.  If I have time I will put together a second dish we like a lot that has more of an Italian flair.  I have lots of 30 minute meal options so when you visit me me ask and I will offer how this busy mom finds time to cook fresh and please the hungry natives at my house! :)  

The water ban was put into effect and since God has given us 4 inches of rain.  If you ever wonder who you should put your faith in … government or God… I have unmistakable evidence to support the later.  We are a long way from the drought being over but we will take what has been given and say THANK YOU.   

I still have some big decisions to make regarding my fall and winter gardens and we are also setting up our game plan for 2013.  We need to make some big changes for next yearand we hope we will learn what you would like to have available. In order for my business to ever get to a point that it provides income for my family it has to have MORE customers so we are pretty willing to consider your needs as we make our decisions.

I have some huge news...  The week of August 14, my produce will be featured on the menu of one of the most upscale restaurants in all of Lincoln.  I will share more about this in the near future.  The Lincoln Journal Star has also talked about my produce in one of their feature stories covering the Lincoln farmers markets.  Both have made that decision based upon my quality, my selection and my price… despite what has been an extremely difficult growing year.  The North Central Kansas Regional Planning Commission featured me in their newsletter this summer and I have heard from several of my customers that I provided them with their BEST tomato plants AND that I sell the BEST tomatoes at OCFM. I have had visitors to my farm from Salina, Colby and Missouri because they have been told I am a MUST visit farm.  I am thrilled, honored, PROUD, and GREATEFUL but in order for my business to survive I need YOU!  

Livie is now riding her bike without training wheels.  She actually removed them herself.  My Autie has decided she wants to learn how to tie her shoes.  She is not yet 4, but she does not want to be outdone by her sister.  We also spent the week getting Livie’s immunization records up to date for kindergarten and getting some of the necessary doctor visits out of the way. 

Next week we have a few fun days planned.  We have back to school shopping and a trip to the Lincoln Zoo and the Lincoln Children’s Museum scheduled.  Because we are making the back to school scramble we WILL NOT DELIVER THIS week and the following week Livie starts Kindergarten.  I have decided that week will be devoted to my girls and getting our house ready for back to school.  We will be available for on-farm sales by appointment.  You will also find us covering our Sunday market at Old Cheney.   I hope everyone can understand the Mom in me needs to invest in my girls as this summer draws to a close. 

My thoughts of gratitude for the week are focused on the sweet rain and the cooler temperatures.  We will be headed to church in a few hours and I will generously offer my prayers of gratitude.  I am grateful for my farmer hubby who to date is my best handy man, and best customer.  I am also grateful for my two giggly girls who stole what few strawberries I had to pick and put them in their PLAY refrigerator.  I am also grateful that I was able to find the amusement offered by the discovery of the mess created.  Finally I am grateful for my loyal customers who visit or order from me each week.  I have two gentlemen whose tomatoes will be waiting for them tomorrow morning because I know they will be there first thing!  GRATITUDE.  J

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Ears and Ears of Sweet Corn!

We have sweet corn running out our ears… literally.  It is cross-pollinated between Peaches & Cream and Ambrosia and it is so good.  There is a lot of sweet corn out there but do not be fooled.  Ours is better.  Livie and I spent the morning and most of the afternoon pedaling sweet corn and we will have gobs of it for sale Thursday.  You should have seen my Livie today!  She stood near the turn off for our spot and held our sign and waived customers in.  She was a little half-hearted until the first car pulled in then she kicked it into high gear.  I paid her a quarter per car.  I am out of quarters.  LOL.  We were so hot on the ride home that neither of us felt too well but we had corn so we had to make several stops on the way home to off-load the rest.  It must be really hard to tell her know because she sold A LOT of corn today.   I am excited because I had several people express interest in my online store and I hope they will place orders for Thursday.  One already has!!!!  This year has been slow to build, but hopefully it will continue.  I made my first delivery to the Haddam café with some of my farm market Sunday leftovers and my tomatoes will be a part of their taco night tonight!!!! 

We were so hot when we finally came home; we just sat in the living room for a bit.  It was so hot out there today, but that is part of the joy of living in Kansas.  I will take the heat, but we are in still great need of rain.  Your continued prayers are again requested. 

While at the market we had a lot of time to talk and I faced some difficult questions about death and when I will die.  My daughter is worried she may lose me before she is finished being a little girl.  All I could say was that God was in charge of that decision and that I pray it is his plan that I die a very old lady.  She seemed comforted, but I wonder why she worries about such a thing.  There are plenty of other things for a five-year-old little girl to worry about.  It is moments like these that make me feel completely incompetent as a parent. 

Autie spent the day with Daddy and the girls who were good as gold the entire day by themselves were fighting within minutes of coming home.  I think they missed each other.  LOL

Because we have so much corn, I have added new increments for sweet corn to our online store.  I have it by the ear, half dozen and five dozen.   I also forgot to mention I will have a few cantaloupe this week.  They will sell FAST so JUMP in if you want one!!!! 

Tonight for dinner we enjoyed yet another one-pan meal that was pulled together based on our farm market extras.   It was a little bit of ground hamburger, a few sliced okra a few snap peas, a small amount of corn and macaroni with mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoning.  We also enjoyed another Great White tomato.  You have no idea what you are missing out on.  These tomatoes are so sweet you should probably consider them dessert.  Both of my girls LOVE them.  We had a huge plate of tomatoes… some were pink, others brown… some were white and then there were orange and yellow.  Each one has a different flavor but because they are heirloom varieties ALL had flavor.  We are eating a lot of tomatoes right now and it makes it more fun when we offer several colors at each meal.  There are even a few left over for my lunch tomorrow. 

The L’Ecuyer Gardens online store is open until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.  Ordering is easy all you need to do is go to  http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net.  I will deliver to your home an office on Thursday.  I hope you had a fresh and fabulous Tuesday and I also hope to visit you with a bursting bag of fresh produce on Thursday.  Take care. 

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Fresh & Fabulous Monday!

It is Monday Morning and the rain missed us!  Neighboring counties to the east received way too much and we received barely a sprinkle.  It is cooler and for that I am grateful.  Yesterday was a very good day at the market for me and everyone seemed to enjoy the cooler temperatures. 

T-ball has come to an end for the summer and now we begin preparing for the first day of kindergarten.  The eye exam is scheduled for next week. 

This week the garden is full bloom and WOW do we have a great selection.  Beautiful peppers of all shapes, sizes and colors.  We also have black beauty, and miniature eggplant in green and black.  Despite the heat our green beans don’t look too bad.  For those wanting to SAVE some money talk to me about our u-pick opportunities to where you can get your beans for as low as a $1.00 a pound.  We also have sweet corn and touchstone gold beets this week.  If you love greens then you will also need to check out our Swiss chard and collard greens.  The okra is starting to kick in and then there is the entire rainbow of tomatoes.  We also have some onions and a few potatoes and sweet potatoes left too! 

This week we are also featuring a new food option.  We call is fresh – fabulous & FAST.  Each week we will offer a take and bake item that will be fully cooked and only needing reheated.  This week we are using a terrific dish straight from the test kitchens of Taste of Home called yellow squash quiche.  It is a great one-dish meal that is perfect for a late night or a good hot meal in a hurry.  Starting this week we are also adding some easy and time-saving recipes to our website to give you some ideas on how to fully take advantage of summer’s goodness. 

In the garden this week we are busy weeding our bean patch and our fall squash bed.  I also hope to start planting some of my fall tomato plants, dykon radishes and turnips.  I also and order seeds for my fall and winter garden.  This year we plan to harvest something ALL 12 months.  Our big expansion for next year will include a nice assortment of raspberries, black berries, gooseberries and currants.  Most will be in production for the spring.  I need determine how many of each and select my varieties.  I am also going to add some June-bearing strawberries this fall and hopefully will have a crop in April and then again in June. 

At home the girls and I are getting back into our routine. We hope to end the week with a visit to the pool on Friday.  To earn this reward they will have to keep their rooms clean and complete their chore chart posted on our refrigerator.  The chores are simple and appropriate for their age, but also useful to running a busy house and farm.    Tom and I are also getting back into another rhythm.  Starting this Friday we are reopening our back yard Friday night for a taste of Fresh from the grill.  You will be able to try things like grilled eggplant, okra kabobs, and so much more.  You are welcome to stop by and sample.  I will let you know later in the week as to the full featured menu but for Father’s Day the girls and I gave Tom some new heavy duty skewers and I am guessing he will start with kabobs.  Why not? The produce will suit them perfectly.  Our Friday night grills are open to anyone and our FAMILY friendly.  We only ask you let us know are stopping by!    We are pretty laid back and only suggest that you may want to bring your own lawn chair. 

The online store is now open.  Please go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net. To place your order by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday and you order will be delivered Thursday.  Remember when you buy local and support a business like MINE you are buying from a business houses their purchasing power in YOUR community.  Whether it is a tank of gas, a new pair of shoes or a refrigerator we buy from our customers first, our collection of communities second and then elsewhere as needed.  Have a fresh and fabulous week!
 
 

See You at Old Cheney!!

It is just past midnight and everything except for a few very last minute picks everything has been picked, washed, bagged tagged and packed.  I don’t think my car has ever been fuller.  We are still looking for a van that is within our price range so for now our family mid-sized car remains part family car and part truck.  I am still unsure how I managed to get everything in but TA DAA!!!  It fit.  I have always enjoyed puzzles and in school I struggled in math but found geometry easy.  Who knew that I would put the skills developed to use in my mid-life career change!!!  LOL

Seriously¸ tomorrow I will be at the Old Cheney Road Farmer’s Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  I will have with me sugar snap peas, green beans, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, blackberries, parsley bunches, mint bunches, Tabouli kits ,onions, hard red winter wheat berries and the farm market queen SWEET CORN!!!  I almost forgot I will also have a few crabapples. 

Tom is in charge of the sweet corn and I am not sure I have shared this with you before but when it comes to his crops Tom is a perfectionist.  He was born a farmer and growing the best possible crop is deep within his DNA.  He babies our sweet corn from seed selection to harvest.  The end result is a beautiful, bug-free ear of corn with tender sweet kernels that all but melt in your mouth.  We do not grow A LOT of sweet corn, but I have never had better… please do not share that part with my grandma.  After church we took the girls out for a bite to eat and made it home by 8:00 p.m.  Tom picked it, cleaned it and packed it in coolers so that tomorrow you will have the opportunity to enjoy his absolute best.

On the rest I tried something new this week in attempt to bring a better product to you with the rest of my availability.  With my berries, cherry tomatoes, green beans and peas instead of just rinsing them in water as normal, I mixed a water and vinegar solution as a final rinse.  The rinse should not distort the taste but should help the produce hold up better in the heat of the day.  My friend Sandi Johnson from Filley, NE shared this tip with me.  Tom is not the only person on a farm who works hard to bring you our very best. 

This week was yet another whirlwind.  This was the last week of swim lessons and both girls passed to the next level.  We had a t-ball practice Wednesday and a game Friday night.  Grandma Carol from St. Joseph came to the game and then we all went out for pizza.  My girls enjoyed their visit so much they are now planning their next trip to go see her!!!  Thursday deliveries increased a bunch this week and I am really glad about that!  I meet so many interesting a nd wonderful people on my route and at the market.  I enjoy gardening but I have to admit I enjoy visiting with everyone MORE. 

When I get home tomorrow night we are taking the girls to go see BRAVE.  I hope this is a good one.  It is not very often you find shows featuring princesses with red hard.  As the mother of two princesses with red hair IT IS ABOUT TIME!!!! 

I hope you will come by tomorrow.  We have a lot of great produce and I think you will find our prices are reasonable.   See you in the morning!

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Saturday

It rained and they say more is coming.  Tom is relieved … so am I.  It came softly and the clouds moved in and so most of it is soaking in.  We still need more but this was as close to a perfect rain as it probably gets.  For now the stress over our fall crops has subsided. 

The last few days have been busy.  Wednesday and Thursday was spent making deliveries and on my way home Thursday I bought a whicker desk from a customer having a moving sale.  Livie is starting kindergarten this fall and I thought it was a perfect gift.  She had a small one and she gave it to Autie.  Livie has filled the drawer with crayons and paper and moved her lamp to the desk.  She has a place to work on her drawings and in time her homework.  She is very smart and I want her to WANT to do well.  Her life path is her own, but experience has taught me very well you never really know when you will need to reinvent yourself.  A solid education and a love for learning are more than a little helpful in that situation.

I have a young man helping me this summer who came out for the first time Friday.  He is taking Drivers Ed at school and in a few weeks will have his learners permit.  In past years he has walked milo fields for Tom so I know he will work hard.  He spent the day helping me trim back my tomato plants and fertilize them.  I picked blackberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. 

Last night the girls and I took Tom to see Madagascar III.  WE ALL LOVED IT.  As an early Father’s Day we also gave him his new BBQ U guide and some new grill tools then celebrated with Chinese food.  Sunday the girls will grill hot dogs and take Tom fishing while I am at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:0 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

This morning Tom and the girls planted the last of my fall squash and pumpkins and I cleaned out my lettuce bed and planted strawberries, leeks, lavender, basil and sorrel.  I also weeded my strawberry beds and picked beets and radishes for tomorrow.  After lunch I will sow another cilantro bed and plant some late tomatoes.  I will also check on my peppers to see if anything is ready.  We are at least close.  Tonight is church followed by a frenzied last dash until dark to pick what I can… likely the kale, Swiss chard, onions and possibly strawberries.  With the rain has come WEEDS and next week promises to keep us all very busy.  For the first time in several weeks we will need to mow.  We mowed three times and April and not once in May.  Strange year…

With the rain came what is likely the end of the wild fruit.  Most of my best roads will not be passable in our car for several days and by then will likely over ripened.  That is the ecstasy and agony of wild fruit.  The fruit is free to those who crave it, but it sometimes it can be just out of reach.  Don’t worry as soon as the roads are good I will at least go check.  On some of my roads I found another truly coveted find… elderberries.  I love it all, but I do not have ANY picked and I am compelled to at least try.  If we miss the elderberries we still need to come back for sand plums later this fall and then there is always the possibility of wild grapes. 

The good news is this week will likely be my bumper crop of blackberries here at the farm.  I have picked a bunch and they will be waiting for you along with cabbage, hopefully some green beans, potatoes, tabouli kits, tomatoes, kale, collard greens and still some more things yet to be found.  It will be a late night I am sure, but I am glad there is finally enough to pick.  Come by and visit my booth tomorrow and let me know what you think.   For those who cannot make to Old Cheney tomorrow, you also have the option for a mid-week delivery by using my online store at http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/.  The store will be update Monday and in the weeks to come there will be lots of changes and additions to the store.   

My statement of gratitude is for the wonderful rain and for a husband who in my opinion is the WORLD’S BEST DADDY. 

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Sweet Rain!!!

It rained last night.  It is still raining.  For those who offered a a prayer for rain, THANK YOU. 
 
 

The Connectedness of Wheat and Blackberries

I know you are probably wondering what I am drinking, but the two have beautiful relationship on our farm.  We are usually offering predictions for the first day of wheat harvest beginning in early June and don’t start cutting until the end of the month.  If we are lucky we are finished in time to enjoy the Fourth of July.  The black berries begin to flower about the same time we are making our first predictions and usually have ripened and run their course by the end of harvest.  This holds true not only for the berries we raise commercially but also the berries we find in the wild.  Every year wheat harvest may be off by a week or more one way or the other and every year the blackberries seem to know. 

This year is no exception and it is one worth pausing for, you see it is May 13 and we have been offering wheat harvest predictions for nearly three weeks and my bushes are loaded with flowers and green berries.  Today I noticed some of them are slightly red.  I will be picking blackberries in two weeks.  The fields of wheat have been beautiful seas of green and last night on my way to my pasture picnic, I noticed it is starting to turn a light golden color.  I predict we will start harvest on or before June 1 (almost an entire month early).  Even this year the wheat and blackberries have synchronized their internal clocks. 

Blackberry cobbler is heavenly and my reasoning is because they are so closely connected and to me this relationship is the story of hubby and me.  Other than a short stint in college, Tom has lived his entire life on this farm.  He is a true country boy in every way.  Tom farms conventionally.  He is the type of farmer too many try to cast in an ugly light because he has worked hard and figured out how make farming his career.  He raises cattle and corn, wheat and soy beans.  He is an honest man and if you were ever stranded in a dark alley late at night he is the guy you hope will come by.  He has a gentle smile and a voice that always manages to calm my inner worries.  He knows who he his only want is for a happy and healthy family.  It is very easy to please him. 

I am a city gal and as a young child and again later in my early adult years I moved a lot.  My dad hit the bricks when I was young and I was in my teens before there was an adult man in my life who treated me as a daughter.  That gap created an insecure person.  I always assume that there is something about me that is repulsive to the world.  I have always had major trust issues with all people, but men especially.  I know at times I am a difficult person to want to love, but Tom makes it look easy.  For that I am grateful.  I used to live in an urban/ suburban area and enjoyed a career and a life that did not involve dirt, cows, or the late night four-legged visitor.  I enjoyed the frequent purchase of new clothes and new shoes and my idea of farming was 5 tomato plants and a honeysuckle bush.  Since moving to Kansas I have tried to be a farmer.  I love playing in the dirt but must confess I don’t always know what I am doing.  Tom is the one who helps me figure things out and at times does the work I am physically unable to do.    He makes it look easy. 

At first glance you could assume that Tom and I could not possibly have any common ground and yet the only thing that has made since in my life since we first met was making sure I am next to him.  There has been a connectedness between us that is hard to put into words, but somehow belongs together.  We are wheat and blackberries.  For that I am grateful. 

Today I cleaned all bedding plants from my tunnel and I hope within the next few weeks most will find new homes.  If not, they will end up in my compost pile.  Today we put down mulch eight new rows and tomorrow I will begin planting… bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplant, artichokes, Asian cucumbers, okra, cabbage, and lettuce.  Tom also planted a few rows of cannellini beans.  Wednesday is t-ball practice for Livie, grocery store and drop box deliveries and my farmer’s market night in Manhattan.  Thursday, I will make deliveries to Beatrice and will help my girl’s preschool plant their summer garden.   Friday the girls and I will go check for mulberries and hopefully will SCORE.  There is lots of good stuff that will come from L’Ecuyer Gardens.  Check back with us to find out what type of goodness is waiting for you. 

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