L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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The Bounty

We ENJOYED our first beefsteak tomato of the season.  It was big enough one tomato was all we needed.  It was good, full of flavor and just the right amount of acidity.  I have several more that are available now and several more that will be ready by the weekend.  If you are one who has lost a little faith in the flavor of tomatoes – this one will give you hope.    

Also available this week … the sweetest snap peas I think I have ever eaten and I have A LOT of them.  If you have not had a chance to make creamed peas and potatoes, I have everything you need.  My green beans are also starting to kick in and the beans are tender, stingless and full of flavor.  Of course the zucchini and yellow squash are coming on in full force and my cucumbers while only starting are off to a prolific start.  I have a few heads of cabbage and am patiently waiting for the next round.  This week I have touchstone gold beets and they are beautiful.  I love the touchstone because they are so sweet and yet don’t taste like dirt.  I have a few red baby beets and am hoping to roast some one night this week. By the weekend I will have the first of the sweet corn and the peppers are starting to go to town.   There are more things on their way so the colors, flavors and textures will continue to change.   The produce has kicked in.  You could shop me for a new and very different flavor for every night this week.  This is my favorite time of the year, when there are so many tasty options that making a decision can prove impossible.  We work so hard for this brief moment when the garden becomes our grocery store and we would just love it, if our garden could become yours.  I also have canning tomatoes available.  If you want these, please call me directly.  They will not be listed in our online store. 

There is still time to reserve your order for Thursday delivery.  The store will close tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.  Simply go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ and select your favorites.   The online store is easy to use and helps both of us keep track of availability.  I hope you will give us a try. 

Autie had her last blast ball game of the season Sunday and Livie has practice tomorrow and her last regular game Friday.  We are hoping Grandma Carol will be able to come watch it.  This week has been a busy one with the second week of swim lessons and a feeble attempt to get caught up on weeding. 

Yesterday we had some visitors from Salina stop by to tour the farm and my girls loved it.  While I visited with the adults, the girls gave their son the full tour which included baby kitties, snake skins and a little hide-n-seek.  We love on farm visitors and from now until the end of the season we are opening our doors by appointment on Mondays and Tuesday for those who want to save some money.  Farm market leftovers from Sunday will be half price to ALL on-farm visitors.  The produce is just as good as it was the day before, but we need to make room for the bounty for the week ahead.   We are adult and kid friendly and so make it a family outing.  We promise are more than a little weedy, but the produce is fresh and fabulous.  The view is breathtaking and we offer you a chance to enjoy a little simplicity in the midst of a hectic world.  That is what our farm is for us anyway… a small oasis from the world’s insanity. 

 In the morning I am going to go out to see what wild fruit is still available and I will spend part of the day picking peas and green beans for my Thursday deliveries.  v
 
 

Caught in a Whirlwind!

This week has been a whirlwind.  We forgot that swim lessons started this week so there has been a mad dash to modify our schedule.  I nearly drowned when I was Autie’s age so for me swim lessons are mandatory.  At the pool I was able to make about a dozen phone calls and visit with some of the other moms.  We all had stories that I am sure you can relate to too about how we want our kids to be involved BUT they/ we are also overloaded.  None of us know how to navigate that water.  I for one am of the opinion that time at home working on family priorities NEEDS to be inked into the schedule.  I say that and admit this week is not proof of that belief.  We are ALL overloaded.  Despite that we owe it to ourselves to find ways to bring back some simple pleasure and in my opinion a nice meal made from fresh ingredients is a GREAT way to start. 

We enjoyed BLTs last night with zucchini chips and coleslaw.  After dinner, Livie went to plant soybeans with Tom last night and Autie spent the evening with me.  We took a bubble bath, cleaned the kitchen and washed our game uniforms.  Liv was so tired that she curled up with our puppy Reba and they both napped in the tractor.  Autie was so tired she couldn’t sleep and talked like a freight train ALL night.  She has the gift of gab!!!  

It was so windy it was too hard to work outside so I decided it was time to focus on things inside.  We have enjoyed very strong, hot, dry winds for several days and everyone is crabby and exhausted.  Kansas is upholding its reputation.  For those who are not close the feeling of this wind is like a blow dryer powered by a jet engine blowing straight into your face… non-stop.  Every so often the blow dryer blows sand or dirt into your face and you only hope you were not smiling or yawning in that moment.  I do not enjoy being sand blasted.    

After I dropped the girls off I made a mad dash to the grocery store and then came home with a full to do list.  I spent the morning picking blackberries and tomatoes and my surprises for the day are that my YELLOW beefsteak and my WHITE slicing tomatoes are starting to turn.  I also found a few more Juane Flemme’ orange plum tomatoes and my NEW Indigo Rose tomato is nearly ready to pick.  The Indigo Rose is a blue tomato and I will keep you posted.  BLUE!!!

I had a customer ask why I grew so many weird tomatoes/ things.  I LOVE tomatoes.  I love them so much that I am a SNOB.  I want them MY way and will do without unless that can be.  I also know there are a LOT of tomato snobs out there and they want them THEIR way.  I UNDERSTAND and I try to accommodate everyone.   My girls are young and most kids their age will not eat fresh veggies, BUT mine do willingly… most of the time.  Livie can’t decide if her favorite veggie is kale or broccoli and I am just so happy to know that I willingly fix both so she can continue to fine tune her list of favorites.  Autie is pickier and I have to work harder.  For HER I grow a lot of things that are ORANGE because it is her favorite color.  SHE always likes it when she can eat her favorite color.  She also likes yellow.  My girls eat eggplant not the big black ugly ones as Livie puts it but the little purple ones.  She eats the others too, but only after trying the others.  They also eat okra, cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, beet greens, zucchini and squash.  Sometimes it is all in the marketing.  When you buy from me you will find an awful lot of kid friendly choices.   My kids also know the difference between fresh and store bought and they prefer fresh.  It will be interesting to see how many times Livie wants to pack her lunch next year.   

Here in a bit I will pick squash, peas and maybe some green beans and then we will begin the mad dash for tonight.  Livie has t-ball tonight and we are expecting rain.  We do not look forward to rescheduling another game BUT bring it on!!!!  We have another game Friday night and I have A LOT to get ready for Sunday’s market.  We could all handle a night watching our current favorite movie Chestnut and a big bowl of popcorn.  Bring on the rain!!!!  J

Swim lessons are forcing me to alter my schedule slightly for the next two weeks.  I will make ALL of my deliveries on Thursday.  Hopefully that will work for everyone.  The plus side is that I was able to give everyone more time to place their orders.  Please go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ to place yours. The store closes at 5:00 p.m. today and I will begin my deliveries first thing in the morning.  I still have plenty of squash, cucumbers, zucchini, slicing and cherry tomatoes.  I also have cabbage, Swiss chard, Tabouli kits, potatoes, black berries and collard greens.

My statement of gratitude is focused on the promise of rain and an end to our wind storm. 

v
 
 

The Waiting Game & The Frustrations of Modern Technology

I am frustrated this afternoon.  I have found a handy and inexpensive way to create an online ordering system and the system does not like my name.  I understand, but it is still my name.  I have sent my questions and or comments and I am waiting.  Frustrated!  Technology is a blessing and at the moment I want to throw my computer out the window.  There are more ways than ever to communicate to people and I am trying to use all of them and I cannot afford a smart phone which have been told will simplify my life.  I was told that about email too.  Frustrated.  J

Yesterday was a BIG day and today I am tired.  It started with my market at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE and my tobouli kits were popular.  I sold out and I even sold extra parsley and mint which are typically not easy to sell.  I came very close to selling out of everything which is a good feeling.  Now I just need to bring more. 

My friend Sandi from Filley, NE.  I asked Sandi to design and make a pick apron for me.  She delivered it to the market on Sunday and it is so cool.  It has a set of three pockets that will allow for large picks and prevent crushing.  It also has a wide and padded neck.  I am still fighting my cameras and will post pictures soon, but to my fellow growers who want something that will simply the harvest you will be more than interested.  She also designs purses and is a true whiz at the sewing machine.  She is now offering sewing classes too!

Tom and his brother Joe have been attempting to cut wheat…a little each day but my blackberries simply insist it is not time.  I have one berry starting to slightly turn purple.  My prediction is they will be able to begin cutting Thursday and I will likely begin picking berries the same day.  Tom is amused by my predictions but not convinced.  That’s okay.  I will remind him of my prediction on Thursday. 

Autie had her second blast ball game and she was a little timid and unsure of herself this time.  Usually her big sister is right there bossing her around and she is figuring things out on her own.  She is doing just fine.  Livie had a makeup game and we did not skip around the base line last night, but we casually jogged.  I think some things were said by her team mates because as she fell asleep last night she said she was sorry and would run faster next time.  My heart hurt a little for her.  I know being the big sister hard.  You have to figure out everything yourself.  Livie is like me in that she has to mess it up before she figures things out.  I need to remember how hard that was for me at times.  I will say she has an awesome swing and she knows how to keep the shortstop VERY busy.   That ball is fast and JUST barely inside the line.  She is doing just fine. 

Today I watered everything and began planting a new round of onion sets.  I have sold a lot of onions and would have sold a lot more at this point if more were in the ground.  I also need to find time to get some basil plants in the ground.

The tomatoes are still taking their time, but I am now picking my new red fig which is a cherry-sized heirloom that resembles to yellow pear.   I also see some chocolate cherry cherries starting to blush a little.  My Italian tree tomatoes are starting to ripen too and those are looking like nice tomatoes.  They are bigger than my Stupica tomatoes but still not huge.  I personally think smaller tomatoes have more flavor.  I also see my beefsteak tomatoes are getting close to size and will soon start to blush.  I have gobs of yellow beefsteak, but no signs of ripening so whenever they hit I will have A LOT.  My white, orange, pink and black tomatoes will take a little longer, but will be for sale before you know it.   I also notice my chili peppers are starting to fruit and with a little luck will be ready for Father’s Day weekend.  YEAH!!!!  I will have bell peppers soon after that.  My colored bells, and other peppers will take a little longer. 

If I do not have squash and cucumbers for sale by Wednesday I will definitely have some for sale next Sunday and I am ready.  The green beans are about to flower and my leeks are huge. 

Tonight I will plant a few more strawberry plants for fall fruit and some more leeks, and the last of the eggplant for the season.  I have a short row that at this point is empty and I am looking for some fun new things to try.  I am still looking. 

Wheat harvest is all but here so I plan to cut a few bundles of wheat in its stalks to sell as dried flowers for my markets this week.  I love wheat.  It is so pretty when it is green but as it ripens it is breathtaking.  The colors range from like gold/ almost white to dark bronze.  I fell in love with Tom and the life he offered me as a farm wife during wheat harvest.  Nearly nine years later I still love wheat harvest… and Tom.  We have brothers, cousins, friends, sometimes strangers… they all want to pitch in.  Some take vacation time to come work for free.   We are talking some seriously long hours.  There is something truly romantic about this time of the year.   I think it is partly the beauty but also the camaraderie.  The banter and yes sometimes the episodes of Tom and Joe rolling around in the parking lot biting each other’s ear because neither has slept much in days and are a little crabby.  I am not making any of that up.  At 42 and 45 they still fight like kid brothers.  Anybody who has ever worked closely with family instinctively understands how animated these fights can be.  They also understand there is only one rule.  Be mad if you like but get over it because you will sit across from that ugly mug at the next family gathering.    

In the morning I will pick peas and mulberries and the girls and I will likely pick more mulberries tomorrow night.  I have several large orders to fill for the week and it takes A LOT of mulberries to get anywhere.  Mulberries remain a very popular item. 

My words of gratitude focus on the importance of family.  My brother in law is a maddening person to be around, but he has also pulled me out of a ditch, repaired multiple flat tires and is good with my girls …so maybe he is not so bad.  I am also grateful for patient customers who are also waiting for the tomato bumper crop.v
 
 

It is Now June

This post is a little long, but it has beena good week.   [Read More]
 
 

The Lost Tooth and Fresh Produce

So my Livie lost her tooth and now we must all wait to see if the Toothy Fairy lives up to her promise.  Tomorrow she goes for kindergarten round-up.  It does not seem possible that my baby will start school this fall.  Her birthday is just eight short days past the start deadline and last year I was so convinced she should GO NOW.  Now that the time is drawing close, I just want more time.  Autie is looking forward to having Grandma all to herself in the morning.  Next year Autie will be in preschool without herself.  It will be interesting to see how much they miss each other. 

Today was a pretty good day at the market, but I sure would love for the produce to kick in!  So far it is limping along, but it is on its way.  I had a friend of mine stop by for a visit and it was a very nice surprise.  She showed me her newest creation.  It was a handbag she had made and it was cool.  You should have seen the pockets!!!!  Sandi Johnson in Beatrice will soon offer sewing classes and it is time Tom and I dust off the sewing machine we bought when first married and actually learn how to use it.  If you are interested in learning more about her classes, let me know and I will give you her contact information.  I always admire someone who can turn unemployment into a new business venture!!!  Go Sandi!

Tonight we are having and odd dinner perhaps, but YUMO.  Some of our farm market left-overs will be featured… leeks and yellow snow peas with sweet potato fries and alligator.  No the gator was not local and it is a very long story, but YUMO! We will also enjoy tomatoes numbered two and three!  I am very close to having tomatoes for sale.  :)

Tomorrow I will finally get the artichokes in the ground along with starting about a dozen different summer squash, tomatillos, red okra plants and etc.  Tom spent the day staking my tomatoes and at some point, we will have vines app 10 feet in the air.  It will be a sight to be seen for sure. 

I am also going to work on my new compost pile.  Have I mentioned that at L’Ecuyer Gardens we make our own compost?  We are working hard to be more environmentally responsible and it takes a lot of highly fertile soil to keep L’Ecuyer Gardens going. 

The rest of the night will be spent hanging out with Tom and the girls.  Mulberry season is here and this week we will have to sneak in not just one but two mulberry picking parties.  We LOVE picking mulberries.  Stay tuned!

 

Late Nights & Early Mornings

here is to busy days, late nights and early mornings! See you at the market in the morning!!!!   [Read More]
 
 

An Anticipated Visit From the Tooth Fairy and Great Produce Too!

Great produce at great prices and yes we still have bedding plants and hanging baskets.   [Read More]
 
 

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. 

v
 
 

Mother's Day Sale - Come Check Us Out!

It is a beautiful day! You need to come see us. The birds are singing and the sky is blue. The weather promises a mild day. The flowers are freshly watered and the tomato, pepper, eggplant and Swiss chard plants are all needing new homes. Your mother if like me has always loved growing things...that is why she took such good care of you over the years. Treat her to a bar of hand-crafted soap, a beautiful hanging basket or a nice supply of bedding plants. While you are here find something for yourself too! Tom has been busy planting a few more rows of green beans and I think there are plans for a few early watermelons.

My girls and I will be her until 4:00 p.m. today when we leave for t-ball practice but Tom will be her, just give a call on his cell phone so he will be looking for you! 785-527-0178.

We will be open with Saturday with two locations. We will be open on farm from 9:00 am. - 2:00 p.m. Tom and the girls will show you what we have for sale and just ask Livie about our stevia plants!!! You will also find us are the Manhattan Farmers Market at 5th & Humboldt in Manhattan Kansas from 8:00 am. - Noon.

On Sunday you will find us at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. I bet if you called Tom he would meet you at the farm then too!

Regardless of the day you come out I will warn you that Autie's new fun thing is to wear two socks that do not match and she is an ace at finding the best dirt spots on the farm. She is a crazy little thing. Livie is now combing her own hair and it is a little wild. My girls are too funny!

I have to share one more thing.  Our wild Momma Cat had her kittens in the chicken coup in one of the nesters…everybody gets along.  They are up and walking now and my girls were concerned for the kittens’ safety.  Chickens can be quite aggressive.  They had to “save” them last night and put them in a pet carrier for their WILD mother to raise them in.  Last night when the girls went to bed I returned them to their mother and while she is still very wild she seems to know I am looking out for her girls too! She will not let me pet her, but she will bring her babies to me if she thinks they need help.  Good Momma Cat. 

My statement of gratitude for the day is for the sunshine and cool breeze. I am thankful for two little girls who are a little grumpy this morning but able to hang out with me today! I am thankful for the smiles I cannot hide every time I see Autie with her green boots, dirty face and miss matched socks. Livie makes me smile with her wild and crazy hair and her ability to look at the simplest of things on this farm with complete wonderment.

I am also thankful for the customers who will stop by this weekend and thankful for a mother who as we speak is on her way to Graceland. I trip I wish I could have made with her. Happy Mother's Day Mom.

 
 

They Are Calling for Rain

In the morning I am headed to the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market and they are calling for rain.  It might rain all day and it might just rain for a little bit… 60%.  If it rains it could be torrential downpours.  It is moment s like these that can bedevil the farm marketer.  The lettuce is picked, prepped, bagged and tagged along with the cilantro, parsley, green onions and chocolate mint.  The worry none of it freezes and my family cannot possible eat it all before it turns… and then there are the Mother’s Day baskets that will keep, but… Mother’s Day is next Sunday.  Oh did I metioned it also rained through last week's market too.  I hope this is not the season's trend to come. 

I am not complaining so much a worrying out loud.  My only choices are A.) let the worry deprive me of what could be 5 whole hours of sleep before morning OR B.) I can give it to God.  I was up at 3:00 a.m. this morning headed for the farmers market in Manhattan and so I choose B.  The car is loaded with tables and plants, produce and display materials and as I doze off to sleep tonight my prayer will be that the rain subsides between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  Let’s see what the morning brings. 

v
 
 

Cinco De Mayo

Cinco De Mayo is a day to celebrate with L'Ecuyer Gardens.  Get your bedding plants and hanging baskets.  On farm visitors will SAVE BIG TIME!!!!!

 

 

  [Read More]
 
 

The Farm Market Season is Now Underway!!!!

We are super excited that the farm market season isfinally here!  We are busy getting things ready for what will prove to be a hectic season to be sure!   Tomorrow we are headed to the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and that is just the beginning. 

  [Read More]
 
 

Flowers, Herbs, & Vegetable Plants on Sale Now!

Take a drive in the country and take home and entire growing season of keepsakes.   [Read More]
 
 

Tomato Plants, Pepper Plants, Herbs Plants, & Petunias Oh My!

Let's create a little Tomatomania in North Central Kansas  [Read More]
 
 

Great Tomato Plant Sale Days - Day 3

We sold A LOT of plants yesterday but we still have plenty left. Some varieties are becoming limited. If you are ready to get a jumpstart on spring and love unique varieties and flavors then you owe it to yourself to stop by today and check out our availability.  If you would like to meet my sales staff check out our Facebook page at L’Ecuyer Gardens. 

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