Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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A Real Treat

Another day is here and it is getting closer and closer to the busy season. Today I will be working in the shop on several pieces of equipment and I will be doing some more seeding this morning. I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but I am having some trouble with my back. I fell on the ice last week and I am in a little pain. I did not sleep very well last night and it is difficult to move around this morning. Usually, once I get going, it does not feel so bad. I am hoping that is the case today. There is so much to get done, and a bad back is not going to help things any. 

I mentioned the other day that we will be growing about 28 varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year. Some people have asked me why heirlooms. Heirloom tomatoes are not as productive as hybrid plants, but the variety, color and taste are unmatched. Heirloom tomatoes come in colors such as salmon pink, yellow, purple, red, orange and even green. Some are striped and others grow in unusual shapes. A few of the more popular Heirloom varieties rated for flavor include Brandywine, Black Krim and Hillbilly. Heirloom tomatoes also have a tendency to produce tomatoes continuously throughout the season. Heirloom tomato growing is not any different than growing hybrids. I have already been getting emails and phone calls asking me whether we will have heirlooms again this year. It all about taste! Many people have never tasted “real” tomatoes — if you’ve only eaten supermarket or other commercially produced tomatoes, you’re in for a delicious surprise. Stop out this summer for a real treat!

 

 
 

Heirloom Vegetables - A Little Bit of Our Heritage

What draws many of my customers to heirlooms is flavor. They want a tomato that tastes like a real tomato, not a plastic one. They long for corn that tastes like it did when they were a kid. They search for a sweet, juicy muskmelon, and wonder why cantaloupes are crisp and dry. After trying varieties that look good on the pages of seed catalogs but just don't taste like much, they turn to heirlooms.

What they find may well be something of a mixed bag. The best of the heirlooms really are wonderful. They have it all. They taste wonderful and look beautiful. No doubt about it, these varieties are terrific. There are, however, varieties that take a more experienced hand to grow well. Some are local or regional varieties that may or may not be suited to conditions in your back yard. Others are susceptible to problems unknown to earlier gardeners. Today, certain plant problems are much more common than ever before, and new, resistant cultivars may be the only ones suited to areas where certain diseases and pests are entrenched. Most of this is because since 1932, the American farmer has depleted the soil of it's major nutrients. Everything introduced to the soil is chemically enhanced or man-made. This is not good. Micro-nutrients are no longer available in the final product. Only through building up the soil naturally, will we bring those micro-nutrients back into our diet. These micro-nutrients feed the living cells in our bodies and we need them! Building the soil and heirloom varieties are a great start to a healthy renewal.

Nonetheless, heirloom vegetables can be quirky. Seeds may germinate slower than their modern counterparts, or they may straggle in erratically. Some may pop up after you've given up on them. As they grow, some heirlooms have traits that are downright odd. Other old varieties will do weird things. Unfortunately, information about such traits is difficult to find. About all growers can do is wait to see what happens, relying on their best instincts and experience.

With all of that considered, I really enjoy growing heirlooms because I actually have something that my ancestors grew. This it what makes it so exciting for me. Now, after many years, I actually have my hands in the soil my grandfathers worked. I have a piece of my own heritage. This is what makes my job so much fun and so rewarding!

 
 

Heirloom Peppers and a Long Day

Today was another productive day. Although, I wish I could have attended worship this morning. Nonetheless, I was able to complete the manure detail. It is all spread and ready for the ground to be worked down this spring. I worked on the seed room and seedling rack again today. It is almost done. I spent an hour or so on my seed planning chart and this afternoon my wife and I picked up a few things at the lumber yard to complete the seedling rack. We then went to the funeral visitation for my great uncle and tomorrow is his funeral. I am very honored to play taps on my trumpet at the funeral with my son. Later on this afternoon and evening, I washed the tractor and cleaned the manure spreader so it can be lubricated and put away until the next time I need to use it. Now it is time for supper and a little relaxation before heading off to bed. It's been a long day. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been receiving some of seeds in the mail and from UPS. It won't long and everything will be here. Some of the peppers we will be offering this year are list here:

  • Beaver Dam    
  • Datil
  • Bull Nose Large
  • Fish
  • Hinkelhatz Hot
  • Jimmy Nardello's
  • New Mexico Native Chile
  • Sheepnose Pimento
  • Wenks Yellow
  • Key Largo Cubanelle
  • Yellow Crest Longhorn
  • Cayenne – Long Thin
  • Jalapeno – Mucho Nacho
  • Habanero
  • Ghost Pepper
Last year we had a lot of requests for ghost peppers. I am not sure I understand the fascination of eating something so hot, but I thought we would try them this year. The Key Largo Cubanelle was real popular last year and of course we will have an assortment of red, yellow and green bell peppers. My dad is planning on have signs made so people know the background of all our heirloom varieties. I think it is so interesting to read the history of some of these seeds. I hope our customers will enjoy it as well. So now its time to eat! Just thinking about all these yummy vegetables is making me real hungry!
 
 

An Exciting Season Just Around the Corner

Well another day without being able to spread manure. Maybe tomorrow if it remains frozen in the field. I certainly do not want to make a big mess out of the ground by driving over it and packing it all down because it is too muddy. I am going to try it this in the morning and see what happens. I stopped by Rick's tonight and let him know I would be there around seven. Everything is green light go! This whole manure thing has been plaguing me for a week. Hopefully, today we can put it in the past!

Tomorrow afternoon I am going work on the seed room and seed rack. I will start sowing seeds next week. The bulk of my seed order will be here on Tuesday. I have to pick it up at the warehouse. I will also be picking up the seed potatoes and onion sets. It is a little scary getting 200 pounds of seed potatoes and over 130 pounds of onion sets. That works out to about 20000 onions! Of course some of these will be for bunching, but many will be bulb onions for cooking, etc. In Illinois, we have to use long-day varieties. Short-day varieties do not do well here.

Here are the tomato varieties we will be planting this year. We will have a nice assortment of heirloom varieties, and some hybrids.

  • Hillbilly
  • Roma
  • German Johnson
  • Black Krim
  • Aunt Molly’s Husk Tomato (Ground cherry)
  • Aunt Ruby’s German
  • Burbank Tomato
  • Chalk’s Early Jewel
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Djena Lee’s Golden Girl
  • German Pink
  • Livingston’s Globe
  • Livingston’s Golden Queen
  • Orange Oxheart
  • Mortgage Lifter – Radiator Charlie's
  • Red Fig
  • Sheboygan
  • Valencia
  • Chocolate Stripes
  • Earl of Edgecombe
  • Cherokee Chocolate
  • Black Sea Man
  • Copia
  • Brandywine
  • Green Zebra
  • White Queen
  • Primo Red
  • Red Deuce
  • Mountain Fresh Plus
  • Florida 91
  • Sweet Hearts
  • Sugar Plum

 

I am getting so anxious to get started. This is what I really enjoy doing; planting and growing these wonderful vegetables. It won't be long now!

 
 

What Happened to Winter???

I have been wondering what happened to winter? It has been so warm here in Northern Illinois the last two weeks, I am not sure I ever remember it being this warm. It makes me a little nervous about what the later part of March will look like. I have heard when winter comes in like a lamb, many times it goes out like a lion. I hope not! I would like to be in the field by the last week of March or earlier getting the ground ready for those early plantings. Well, I guess it is in the Lord's hands. I trust that all will go well. I have about two more days of intense planning to finish and then I will be able to order the balance of my seed. My intent is to have the orders in on Monday. It is amazing how much seed is needed to plant 20 some acres of vegetables and sweet corn. I do a lot of research and look over the sales and demands from last year. I also look at trends and look over the requests we get for different varieties. Then I try to project what we will need for the season. We are expanding our heirloom coverage to meet the demand.

Last night a group of interested people met to discuss the Hinckley Farmer's Market for 2012. I am excited that there is so much enthusiasm. The market will open on June 23rd and run every Saturday through September from 9:00am to noon. If you are interested in participating as a vender, please follow the links on the Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce website or use the search engine on the home page of the Local Harvest website. Contact numbers and information about the market is listed. We are looking for farmers, crafters and the like from the local area to join us.

Progress is being made around the farm as we prepare for the spring. Our high tunnel house is just about ready and we are working on the hot bed and cold frame. I am anticipating lettuce, greens, beets and bunch onions early in June or possibly even in May. Our tomatoes should start coming on sometime in July. This will be much earlier than last year. There will be lots of veggies ready to supply our CSA subscribers. I cannot wait to see those first vegetables and enjoy them myself as well! What an exciting year this is going to be; another year of God's Bountiful Blessings!

 
 
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