Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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Onion Seeding

The last two days I have been seeding onions. Like most growers, I started out growing onions from sets, which are small, immature onion bulbs. They were easy to grow, but now I want to expand my variety horizons, but with onion sets, choices were limited. So this year I turned to seeds. Growing from seed lets me pick varieties to suit the needs of our customers—such as the desire for an early-season sweet onion or a late-season keeper. Colors range from dashing purple to pure white and numerous shades of yellow. Shapes and sizes vary, too, from the bottle-shaped ‘Italian Torpedo’ to the plump perfection of ‘Ailsa Craig Exhibition’.

Most onion experts agree that, diversity aside, onions grown from seed perform better than those grown from sets. They are less prone to disease, they store better, and they bulb up faster, and there is less double bulb heads.

Onion varieties differ in the length of daylight and the temperature required to make a bulb. Short-day types are ideal for the South, where they grow through cool southern fall and winter months. They’re triggered to bulb by the 12 hours of sunlight that come with the return of warm, early summer weather.

Long-day onions are best grown in the North, where the summer daylight period is longer. These onions require at least 14 hours of light to bulb up. The plant grows foliage in cool spring weather, then forms bulbs during warm summer weather, triggered by the long days. Our farm is located in the north, so long day onions are the type we will be growing.

 I sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in flats filled with soil-less potting mix. I place the flats on the seeding rack in our seed room. Onions germinate in just a week at around 70°F.  Once they have produced 3-5 leaves I move the flats to to a low rack near the floor in the seed room where it is cooler. They remain under fluorescent lights, one warm white and one cool white bulb per fixture. I keep the lights just above the leaves, adjusting the lights as the plants grow. I feed the seedlings with a water-soluble fertilizer at half strength every other time I water, being careful not to keep them too wet. Once the weather gets a little warmer outside, I move them to the cold frame. They remain there until they are transplanted into the field.

 
 

Seeding!!!

Another day was spent seeding at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. I worked on onions and lettuce today. This is a very exciting time of the year. I love seeing the little seedlings start popping through the soil. Once the seeding was done today, I cleaned up the tool room, cleaned tools and put things away from weekend work around the farm. I want to make it a goal to keep things picked up and put away where they belong. In the busy season, things do not always get back to where they belong. We try real hard, but the busyness sometimes wins. I am hoping to encourage everyone helping us at the farm to put things back - and put them back clean. In the long run it will be more efficient. Moving all of my tools from the office building to the tool room should be a big help. We do most of our spring work in the main produce building, so having the tools over there should save time. 

Tomorrow we are supposed to get hit with up to 12 inches of snow. This is good for the moisture levels in the ground, but it will slow the process of building the seedling greenhouse. I was planning to work on that this week, but will most likely have to shift to something else. There is plenty to do in preparation for this season, so I am not worried about not having anything to do.

I filled out the paperwork today for two farmer's markets and got them in the mail. More information on that to follow. Now, for supper! Blessings!

 
 

Don and Eileen's Borscht

I love beets, however, I love them pickled! Nonetheless, after trying them in our friend's Don and Eileen Albinger's Borscht recipe, I love beets cooked this way as well. This is a wonderful winter soup. We try to enjoy it several times over the winter.

Don and Eileen’s Borscht

8 cups beef broth

1 pound ground beef (cooked)

1 large onion, peeled, quartered

4 large beets, peeled, chopped (boil in advance)

4 carrots, peeled, chopped

1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

¼  cup chopped fresh dill

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Brown ground beef in skillet, drain and allow to cool. In a large sauce pan bring 4 cups of the beef broth, ground beef and onion to boil in large pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Spoon fat from top of chilled broth and discard. Add remaining 4 cups broth, beets, carrots, and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in cabbage and 1/8 cup dill; cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in vinegar. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining 1/8 cup dill. The flavors may be enhanced by refrigerating overnight and reheating the next day.

 

Serves 6.

 
 

More Onions!

More onions! My wife said if she sees another onion, she is going to hit me! Onions were a good seller last year and we ran out, so this year we are planting more. Today, we planted more sets and seedlings. The look great! I am hoping for rain tonight and it looks promising. We got in from work and had pizza with our neighbors. It has been a long day. I am tired and so is Kim. Tomorrow we are going to the volunteer fire department's pancake breakfast and then it is back in th saddle again. I have tomatoes and peppers to transplant. There are a few cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli to transplant also. It seems to never end. It's off to bed for me! I'm pooped! Goodnight and God bless!

Busy Week!

The last few days have been very busy at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce. We have been planting like crazy; trying to get as much in before the upcoming rain. Thursday, I planted onions, beets, peas, arugula, spinach and other cool weather crops. My dad worked on an exhaust fan for the high tunnel. He also built another shelf on the seedling rack which was desperately needed. Most everything is doing well in the field, other than it is very, very dry. We really need rain! I guess it is supposed the rain this evening.

Today, I am going to be seeding and transplanting. I also have some things to plant in the field. Andy is coming out today to help, so we should be able to get a lot done. Yesterday, my wife and I planted onions almost all day long. Early in the morning we planted the last of the asparagus. It was my sister’s birthday yesterday, so we went out to eat with her. It was nice both my siblings and mom and dad were there. I’m not sure when the last time all of us were together. After lunch, we planted more onions. Last night, Kim and I went to see the “Three Stooges” with my sister and her family. It was very funny and had a good plot. Well its time for me to get out to the field. I hope all of you have a great weekend and may God richly bless you this weekend!

 
 

Garlic and Onions

Today we started to plant garlic. Garlic can be planted either in the early spring or late fall or early winter. With that being said, I did not plant any this past fall or winter so I am planting it now. Poor weather conditions often mean that spring planted garlic produces smaller bulbs. In addition the seed garlic must be chilled before planting in order to cause it to break out of its dormancy. Nonetheless, spring garlic planting can produce good results in the warmer areas where it is often planted in late February or March. It also removes any possibility of the plant being damaged by the winter cold.

Andy, my wife and I planted a couple of rows of garlic and three rows of onion. We would have been able to get more finished, but we happened to have a little problem with our tiller. I hit a piece of metal that apparently was buried in the field from an old piece of equipment. I actually had to use the torch to cut it out of the rototiller. It took almost an hour. By then Andy had to leave for a doctor's appointment. This year we are using California soft-neck garlic. Soft-neck garlic does not send up a woody stalk. Instead it sends up strapy leaves. The absence of a stalk growing from the center of the bulb allows several smaller cloves to grow at the center of each head and larger cloves on the outside layer. Because of the layers of cloves, soft-neck garlic is plump looking. Soft-neck garlic also are referred to as braidable varieties because their soft-stems dry almost grass-like and can be tied or braided together into long chains. Soft-necked garlic is strong flavored and stores well because it has several protective outer layers of papery skin. I am really looking forward to growing this crop and seeing the results. Moreover, I love garlic!

 

 
 
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