Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Poinsettia in summer

This summer hasn't seemed much like summer.  I'm an observer for the NOAA and the average high temperature for August so far this month is only 77 and July was 79!  Night before last it was 52 degrees here--barely warm enough to ripen a good tomato.

Many years ago I saw a flower that I had to have.  You gardeners know what I'm talking about--that obsession to FIND THAT PLANT!  It was during my "I'm only going to plant native plants" phase and the plant is called Euphorbia heterophylla, or Summer Poinsettia.  I don't think it is actually native to my area of the world, but it is native to the US.

One of my customers was at the nursery one day and asked if I would like seeds for a plant that she couldn't grow at her house because she had too much shade.  She said it was a native poinsettia.  I was excited and said "yes!"  I planted and shared and it spread and I saved seeds and for some reason or another, last year I didn't collect seed and I was sad that it might have been lost.

While picking green beans the other day, I came upon this in the bean patch.....

euphorbia

Yay!  All is not lost.  I shall collect seeds this year.

 

 
 

Okra and Grits

Okay, what comes to mind when you hear the words "okra" and "grits".  Why, the South, of course!  Many of the Wild Things Farm CSA members are transplanted Northerners, so on the "Veggie Rating List" each season, okra is one of the most noted veggies on the "Do Not Want" list.  One year a lady told me she didn't even want okra to touch her box!  Hmmmmmm.  Maybe it is an acquired taste, but I LOVE okra.

It's very pretty too, a member of the hibiscus family:

okra

 

I really don't mind if some folks don't like it.  That means more for me :-)

Grits--that's another probably acquired taste, but I love grits as well.  A "health blog" (shall remain nameless) the other day mentioned 10 foods that you should never eat; grits was on the list.  Needless to say there were several negative comments regarding the author's choice of foods.  Some of them like refined sugar, were valid, but some were kind of "eh", not that unhealthy in the amounts a normal person would consume.

Anyway, my ramblings bring me to the subject of polenta.  I only heard of polenta about 9 years ago on a camping trip to Ossabaw Island (NC).  One of the campers had brought polenta in a plastic tube that you just slice off and fry up in the pan.  Hmmmm, cold grits in a tube.  How interesting.

Then I started looking in the stores.  Seems like polenta was a trendy sort of food.  I found a recipe and made my own--it is very good, and sort of like pasta or rice, a good neutral base for all sorts of yummy toppings.  I even did a blog about polenta several years ago.  http://www.wildthingscsafarm.com/blog/2010/01/22/playing-with-polenta

A few days ago I was discussing food trends with my mom and dad, and my dad, who turned 80 this year, said his mother used to make polenta when he was a kid--huh?  I asked him what she put on top and he said whatever was in the fridge that needed to be eaten.

There really is nothing new under the sun, now is there?

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Open Farm day at Wild Things

I tried to capture the essence of the day in photos, but of course parts of it are blank :-)

Started out finishing up four CSA boxes for pickup today and the lettuce is still doing great

lettuceaugust2013

 

Some of the varieties are starting to bolt and taste bitter, but there is a new bed of seeds germinating, a bed of transplants, and several flats of plants ready to transplant in a couple of weeks, so we should be good on lettuce for a while longer.  One of the advantages of living "in a holler" is that it's cooler here so crops like lettuce, kale, and chard will continue to grow during the summer (most of the time).

Today was Open Farm day for the CSA members.  Several families were off on vacation and the threat for rain was REAL, like it thundered all around most of the time we were outside, but the rain held off.  One of the members and I set up a croquet court thinking maybe someone might play, but it was just too hot and humid to play.  BTW I found the croquet set at a yard sale for $3.00.  It was missing the red ball, which has been replaced, and today we discovered that one of the stakes and 2 wickets are missing--oh well, those are easily substituted.

Back to the farm.....we had good eats.  I love it when you say "pot luck" with no rules--well, the only rule I had was it had to be finger food and we cheated a little by scooping the beet and pea salad with chips, but all the food was great and the CSA members got to meet and visit with each other AND see where their food comes from.

inorchardWe worked our way from the house, through the orchard, down to the high tunnel

gregireneritajoelois

 

where I explained how the peppers are doing really well and the tomatoes are doing really crappy--well, tomatoes are doing crappy everywhere from what I here.  The awesome organic salad tomatoes are starting to make a showing though.....

The chickens showed everyone how much they love their new "chunnel" for "chunnelling" back and forth between their portable yard and their happy hen empire

chickensinchunnel

and one of the members was explaining about how large the rose hips are on the rosa rugosa shrubs in the new border along the walkway to the chicken area.

Future plans are for an arbor to support the kiwi vines I purchased very very early in the spring.  I read somewhere that it is best to leave them in the pots the first year until they become established.  They were purchased from one of those catalogs where you can buy 10 plants and get 10 more for a penny or something like that.  Four female and one male plants made it to my place and are doing great in their gallon pots.  It will be in the area between the two beds in the photo below.....

rosehips

 

I also explained to the group how I'm slowing killing all the lawn area in the yard by mulching with newspapers, cardboard, compost, rotating the chickens through an area for a time, and using bagged leaves from the enormous leaf pile.  I have sprayed a few really weedy areas prior to mulching, but I'd rather experiment more with sheet mulching and leave the spray for the fence rows.  So far I've planted rugosa roses, raspberries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and Echium vulgare (bee plant) in these newly created beds.  Everything is doing really well, so I'm slowly expanding "the kill zone". 

One thing that we did collectively do was everyone brought a coffee cup or plastic drink cup to use  today and then leave them at the farm.  I'm going to keep the cups in a "party box" to use instead of throwaway cups.  We'll get to the plates next . 

All in all it was a great day.  As you can see, the dogs Hattie and Lucy are in most of the photos, and the newly rescued kitty cats "Smokey" and "Bandit" got their share of attention as well!

michelleandpattyandkitty

It's fun to share this little corner of the world with folks that appreciate knowing where their food comes from!  And thanks, Kim for being the photographer :-)

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Summer is in full swing

Wow, it's amazing how fast this summer is moving!  The rain has finally slowed down, although there are still puddles here and there on the farm where it used to be dry during "normal" weather. This year kind of reminds me of a trip to Vermont that my family made back in 1990 during the middle of August.  We were camping in a tent and while I was packing for the trip it was like 90 degrees so I was packing shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits,  that sort of stuff, but I did throw in one pair of pants per person just in case.  Well, turns out that we wore the pair of pants most of the week, picked blackberries in long sleeves and the folks in Vermont hadn't even seen a ripe tomato yet.

Hello!.....just a few days ago it was 49 degrees here and I'm picking blackberries and I can still say that there hasn't been a peck of tomatoes harvested from the 400 plants I have planted, including the ones in the high tunnel!  It's just been too cloudy for a tomato to get ripe.

The sunflowers are starting to open.....

sunflowers

 

I took a bunch of them to the farmer's market last Wednesday and they were a hit!

A friend of mine dropped by for some kale and took a picture of the booth......

20130731_102805

 

Most of the produce grown on the farm goes to fill the CSA shares each week, but sometimes there is extra to sell at the market, like the ever popular "Fresh Eggs from the Happy Hens".  This particular day I was sold out of eggs before I got to the market!

The broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts plants all succumbed to the deluges that we've experienced this year so they've been removed from the garden, devoured by the chickens, and have probably already returned to the earth in the form of fertilizer.   We're less than 10 inches away from our yearly average rainfall in this area and a lot of gardeners have given up on the season, but when one does this for a living, you can't give up.

Fall crops are being sown both in the gardens and in flats for transplanting--what's that saying....."no rest for the weary?"

 

 
 
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