Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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Spring Preparations 2014

We have been working diligently at the Bountiful Blessings Farm getting everything ready for another season. Kim and I have gone through the seed catalogs and selected the varieties we will be growing this year. In my last post I listed the peppers we will be featuring this year. We have received numerous requests to expand our pepper variety so we listened and did just that. This week I have been working on seed planting schedules, tractors and our wagons. The weather here has been very cold with lots of snow. We are all getting a bit tired of it! 

Last weekend we were to attend the DeKalb Winter Farmer's market, but ut was canceled due the weather. We will be present at the one scheduled in January. 

Please be sure to look at our CSA subscriptions on our website if you are interested in participating this year. We have held our prices despite the increase in labor and fuel expenses. Please consider joining us.

 
 

Pepper Preparation

Here is a list of some of the speciality and heirloom peppers we will be growing this year:

 

 

     Sport Peppers

     Giant Aconcagua Sweet Pepper

     Bhut Jolokia (Ghost) Pepper

     Naga Viper Pepper

     Trinidad Scorpion (Butch T Strain)    Hot Pepper

     Key Largo Cubanelle

     Tiburon – Poblano

     Large Red Cherry Hot

     Cayenne – Large Thick

     Cayenne – Long Slim

     Jalapeno – Telica F1

     Jalapeno – Suribachi F1

     Habanero

     Chocolate Habanero

     Ghost Pepper Bhut Jolokia

     Belcanto

     Oranos

     Xanthi

 

Heirloom Peppers

     Chervena Chushka Pepper

     Tequila Sunrise Pepper

     Wenk's Yellow Hots Pepper

     Jimmy Nardello's Pepper

     Hinkelhatz Pepper

     Fish Pepper

     Ancho Gigantea Pepper

 
 

First Seeding of the Season - Beets and a Recipe

Today officially marks the first day of our season. If you are looking for me, I will be here on the farm from now until November. Things are really going to get busy. I started sowing seeds today. The first batch is beets.  Beets are the only root crop that I know of, that you CAN start indoors and transplant. I have heard transplanted beets always do better than direct seeded beets. I experimented with a few last year and it worked. The beet “seed” is a cluster of seeds in a dried fruit. Several seedlings grow from each seed. I am going to plant one seed per cell and then thin to the one strongest seedling per cell. Then I will transplant the entire cell, without disturbing the starter mix, into it's planting hole. Beets are one of my favorite veggies. Here is a great recipe using beets:

Marinated Beets
Makes 6 servings
2 bunches beets
2 Tbsp water
1/4 c vinegar
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp minced onion
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
5 Tbsp vegetable oil

1. Wash beets, trim off greens, place in medium saucepan with salted water to cover; bring to a boil then simmer until tender, about 40 minutes.
2. When cool enough to handle, peel, slice, and place in glass or ceramic
bowl.
3. Whisk together water, vinegar, sugar, onion, horseradish, cloves, salt, pepper and oil until sugar and salt dissolve.
4. Pour over beets and let stand several hours, stirring occasionally, before serving.

 
 

Gearing Up for Another Season

We are gearing up for the upcoming growing season at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. With the addition of a new high tunnel this year, we will once again be able to provide local customers with top quality, fresh produce earlier, without the loss of flavor. High tunnels are season-extension technology used for producing a diversity of horticulture crops including vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. Specifically, high tunnels are passively vented, solar greenhouses covered with 1-2 layers of greenhouse plastic. Crops are grown directly in the soil beneath the high tunnel, and the only external connection is the drip irrigation system. In addition to accelerating crop growth and maturity, high tunnels protect the crop from an erratic environment where extremes in temperature, wind, rainfall, pests and light intensity can severely reduce marketable yield and quality.

Tomorrow we start seeding for the new season! It's excting!

 
 

Getting Ready for Spring - Leek and Potato Soup

This past week at the Bountiful Blessings Farm has been filled with preparation for Spring. We finished the construction of our new high tunnel. All we have left to do is hang the doors and backfill. It is exciting to see the progress as we anticipate seeding and growing for this year’s produce season. The seeds have all been ordered; the soil has been prepared; the seed room erected; flats ready; many seeds have arrived; most everything is ready to go! The days are getting longer and the work is multiplying. Once again, the folks at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce are ready to grow a wonderful crop and to serve our local friends and neighbors with fresh veggies! In the meantime, here is a wonderful recipe for Leek and Potato Soup:

 

Leek and Potato Soup

4 Tbsp. – unsalted butter

1lb - leeks, trimmed and finely sliced

1 ½ lb - potatoes, roughly chopped

1 ½ pt - vegetable stock

4 - Sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 ½ cups – Whole milk

2 Tbsp. - chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp. – Heavy whipping cream

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and sweat gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, stock, rosemary and milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 20–25 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Discard the rosemary, then pour into a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Return to a clean pan, and stir in the parsley and cream. Season to taste. Reheat gently and serve.

 

Serves 4

 
 

Continuing on Schedule

Been very busy these last few days. We planted more sweet corn, cultivated sweet corn, cultivated squash and gourds, weeded beans and tomatoes, weeded other areas of the farm. watered, watered, watered... Such is our schedule. Besides all of that we are starting to pick a few things for our customers. Our CSA accounts will be getting their first batch of veggies this upcoming week, providing we get some rain. And did I mention, we are continuing our planting schedule on other veggies, like onions, beans and seeding cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage for fall. 

The tomatoes in the high tunnel are coming along very nicely and those in the field look good despite the drought. We have been watering stuff, but things really look pretty good overall, considering. There is still some moisture in the ground and a chance of rain tonight and tomorrow morning. I am praying we get some! I just keep trusting the Lord. Hope you have a good evening. God bless!

 
 

More to Do

The past few days have been very productive. Yesterday we completed our pumpkin planting. Peter came out in the afternoon and helped weed. It is so dry and now today is going to be even hotter. I am praying for rain!! We really could use an inch or more. That would make things so much easier. Today we are going to continue to weed and then possibly plant the remainder of the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Once that is completed, I can rest a little easier knowing that all the transplanted items have been planted. I do have a few melons to plant, but that will be a week. There are also a few peppers that need to go in the ground, but again, very few compared to what has already been planted. Hope you have a great weekend! God's blessings!
 
 

Pumpkin Planting

This photo below is a shot of the pumpkin planter we use at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. Yesterday and today we planted squash, pumpkins and gourds. Last year it too several days and many hours to plant not even half of what we planted this year. Randy Wilkening built this planter this winter out of an older John Deere corn planter. It worked great for planting the cucurbits! Tomorrow we have just a few more pumpkins to plant and we will be finished. Our third planting of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower goes in the ground this weekend. We also have plenty of weeding to finish. So, you know what my weekend looks like. Hope you are having a great week. God bless!


 
 

More Sweet Corn - More Tomatoes - More Work!

We have just finished planting our last tomato!!! Yippie! I think we have about 2000 in the ground - maybe more. Many of these are heirloom varieties including:

  • Aunt Ruby's German Green
  • Aunt Molly's Husk
  • Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomato
  • Burbank Tomato
  • Chalk’s Early Jewel Tomato
  • Cherokee Purple Tomato
  • Djena Lee’s Golden Girl Tomato
  • German Pink Tomato
  • Livingston’s Globe Tomato
  • Livingston’s Golden Queen Tomato
  • Orange Oxheart Tomato
  • Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato
  • Sheboygan Tomato
  • Pink Brandywine Tomato
  • German Johnson
  • Black Krim
  • Black Sea Man
  • Green Zebra
  • Chocolate Stripes
  • Cherokee Chocolate
  • Hillbilly
  • Roma
  • Copia
  • Yellow Oxheart
  • Red Fig
  • And MORE!!!
This is going to be an exciting year! I cannot wait to see it all unfold. Our CSA customers are in for some good eating this summer. This morning, we also planted twelve more rows of sweet corn. If it is anything like last years, it will be great! Hope you all have a great week! May God bless you and grand you His peace!
 
 

Never a Dull Moment

I am sorry that I have been out of touch lately, but things have been just a bit hectic. Last week it was the dry weather and planting and watering and watering, and now its weeds!! There is never a dull moment here at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. today we transplanted the last of the peppers. Then it was out to the field to weed. Andy and Dad worked in the preparation area, wiring and getting things ready to put in the stainless steel sink and counter. It will be so nice to have new area for preparing the vegetables for market. Our CSA subscriber numbers continue to grow, which is good and we anticipate a great year. Tomorrow we are planting more sweet corn and then its back to weeding. As I said, there is never a dull moment. 
 
 

The Biz

It you ever want to hear a million opinions on how to do something, start a farm produce business. It seems now matter where I go or whom I speak with, everyone has an opinion about how to grow vegetables. When I tell someone what I do, it seems like they either have a better way of doing it, or they want to let me know how they have done it for years. It is all well and good, and I listen, and many times I learn something new, but until a person gets into growing vegetables on a fairly large scale, they will never really understand the dynamics of this business. I am sure that sounds somewhat arrogant, but having a garden of almost twenty acres is a whole bunch different than a backyard ten by ten patch. I can actually say that growing is something I have been involved with for quite a few years, however, I feel I am a green-horn when it comes to knowing the produce business. I can grow almost anything, but there is a lot more to this. I have to have product for the entire season and that is no easy task. Just the shear dimensions of growing this many vegetables is at times overwhelming. It takes me over an hour each day day to scout the field for problems. Then I have to monitor the greenhouses and make sure everything is watered. With the weather being so dry, that takes a lot of time and effort. Beleive me, I am not complaining, but just letting you know, it is not a walk in the park. Anyone in the business can tell you, growing vegetables for market is very labor intensive. Nonetheless, I love it and would not have it any other way. My suggestion to anyone interested in knowing where their food comes from is to visit your local vegetable farmer. It could make for an interesting day. May God bless you in this upcoming week. 
 
 

Hinckley Farmer's Market - June 23rd

The Hinckley Farmer's Market group met once again last evening to discuss plans for this season's market. The first market will be held on Saturday, June 23rd from nine to noon at the Hinckley Fresh Market parking lot. The market is located at 710 James Street in Hinckley, Illinois. This year everyone is excited as we have several new venders joining us. The market will feature fresh locally grown vegetables, crafts, jellies and jams, flowers, honey, eggs, granola, baked goods, and much more. We are really hoping for a big turnout and anticipate a wonderful year. The market is open each Saturday through September. 

At Bountiful Blessings Farm, we are still planting and maintain the crops already in the field. Dad ran the cultivator yesterday while I planted beans. Today we plan to plant more sweet corn, so it will be a very busy day. The end of the week looks promissing for more planting. I would like to get the balance of the large tomatoes in the field. I will most likely start planting zucchini today. Hope you have a wonderful day. May God richly bless you in Christ Jesus.

 
 

A Productive Day - Sweet - - - - Corn!!!!

Another day in the field at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. We planted another twelve rows of sweet corn this morning. Dad cultivated sweet corn, onions and potatoes. I had to pick up a few supplies from our local fertilizer dealer this afternoon. Once that was complete, I had to water tomatoes in the field. The wind today dried the ground out real fast. I could barely tell they were watered last night. Dad mowed lawn this afternoon while I was watering. Once Kim came home from work, we continued to plant cauliflower and broccoli. I guess we planted about 300 plants before it started to storm. It came up quick and only lasted a few minutes, but the lightning was fierce and we had to come in from the field. I wanted to get the rest of the cole crops planted, but still have about four flats left to go. I guess tomorrow is another day. I don't think we got enough rain to slow us down. I am going to have to planted some mid-season sweet corn in the next day or so. We are moving along almost perfectly on schedule. We have to keep to our plan in order for this to run smooth. If we break away from our plan, things could get very hectic. I am really learning that planning is probably the most important thing a person can do in this business. I am also learning that I should have done even more planning. But as for now, I plan to eat and relax a bit before another productive day tomorrow. Hope you have a great evening and God Bless!!
 
 

Mother's Day 2012

Once again, it has been very busy at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. We have been working ground and planting. Today it will be repeated again. My dad worked ground down for us to plant today, so I should not have to do any more preparation; just get out there and plant. Right now we have over seven hundred tomatoes planted. About 2/3 of them are heirloom varieties and most of those are list in the Ark of Taste. We are very excited to be able to offer our customers these wonderful, unique and rare vegetables. Once you get a taste of an heirloom tomato, you will never want to eat the general market varieties available elsewhere. 

Today is Mother's Day and I wish I could spend some time with my mom, but I am going to have to be in the field. My sisters and their families came out to the farm yesterday for lunch with mom. It was nice. We ate in the Bountiful Blessings office and had food from our local drive-in. It was great to take a little break from the hecticness of this spring to spend time with those we love. We will be planting tomatoes and cole crops today. I want to also get some seed in the ground. I will most likely plant some beans today. Well, its time to get out to the field. Hope you have a wonderful day and God Bless you!

 
 

The Greatest Job in the World!

Peter Criss the famous drummer for Kiss once stated, “As busy as I claim to be, I've still got the greatest job in the world.”  Even though I am not a drummer, I feel I have the best job in the world. Growing vegetables is a very rewarding and interesting job; and I really do not consider it a job; it’s and opportunity. More than an opportunity, it is a blessing. Everyday I get to witness a little of God’s wonderful creation and see His hand in the little miracles of each individual plant. Then in the end, I get to provide wonderful, tasty vegetables to my customers. What a fantastic blessing!

In the last few days, we have received almost two inches of rain. It was dry and we needed the rain, however, I hope it stops soon. I’d like to get back into the field to plant. The tomatoes are jumping out of their pots and the cole crops are busting out of their containers. I am moving peppers and tomatoes up so they will continue to grow. It is not really a problem, but it would be much easier to go straight into the field; and cheaper! Dad has been working in the produce building this week. We are taking out a wall and revamping our washing area. Last year things were very primitive. This year I purchased a stainless steel sink and preparation counter which will be well suited to our operation. Dad took the wall out today and it looks great. He also cleaned an area where we can store equipment and other items we use over the season. Things are moving along real well. It is busy, but I have the greatest job in the world. Have a great week! God bless!

 
 

A Very Brief Post

The last few days have been very hectic. We have been transplanting, planting in the field, planting tomatoes in the high tunnel and working around the farm. Dad built another hay rack to be used for selling our produce in town. Kim has been planting her little heart out and I have been trying to keep up with all of it! I will post more later tonight or in the morning. Hope you are have a great weekend! God Bless!
 
 

Mice and Men

Have you ever heard the phrase, "such are the best laid plans of mice and men"? That was kind of how my day went. It started out well with a trip to a friend's to move a refrigerator and shade cloth. We will be using the frig on the farm at the stand to put lettuce and other items in for the customers. The shade cloth will be used on the high tunnel and hoop houses in the future. Once that was finished, I thought I would plant tomatoes in the high tunnel, however, with more thought I realized that since I was by myself, it made more sense to transplant. That way tomorrow, I could work with Kim and maybe the grand babies in the high tunnel. So, with that decision made, I began to transplant tomatoes. Then I came to the realization that I was almost out of soil for the flats. So dad and I went to Maple Park to pick up more soil. We got back around two and I had to get a P.A. system out for my nephew's wedding. They came to pick it up and by now it was almost three. My dad then asked me to help him move some things from the produce building to the shop. I helped him and then it was almost four. I teach on Thursday evenings, so there was not much time to get anymore transplanting done. The day was almost over and I did not have very much accomplished. My plans had changed and I guess it did not work as well as I had wanted it to. So tomorrow, we will be planting in the high tunnel and then transplanting. If we do not get rain, I am going to make an effort to get back into the field. The wedding is Friday evening, so again it will be a fairly short day. I hope all is well for you! May God richly bless you!
 
 

Do Not Worry

Today has been another busy day. In fact, I just got inside. I picked up some lumber and cement blocks this morning from a friend. Dad met me over there and helped me get loaded. I hauled the stuff home and we unloaded it and put it away. I took the truck and trailer back and ate lunch and then began another afternoon of transplanting. Dad painted some equipment and finished up a few things he had been working on. I put all of the equipment away and closed up the high tunnel and hot house. I moved a few flats from the seed room to the cold frames and some from the hot house to the hoop house. The tomatoes look excellent. They have bounced back after the cold snap and really look good. I am hoping to get them into the field this upcoming week. I guess it all depends on the weather. I try not to let the weather worry me too much. God is in control. I do what is necessary on my end and let Him handle the BIG stuff. Faith is a big part of this business; I call it FROG - Fully Relying on God. The Bible tells us not to worry. In fact, Philippians 4:6-7 says this: "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life" This is quoted from The Message, a contemporary translation. I figure if I worry, I am not letting God do His thing. This Spring has been one of those seasons that could cause a person to go nuts if they were to continue worrying about everything. I will continue to work as hard as I can to do what I know is best and allow God to handle the BIG stuff.

My son and his family will be in tomorrow for a family wedding. That means the grand children will be here! I am very excited about that. I hope they can spend some time at the farm. My daughter and her boy friend will also be here. I can't wait to see them. Tomorrow is another big day. I am going to try to get the balance of the tomatoes planted in the high tunnel after I move a refrigerator in the morning. Kim just brought me supper, so I guess I better eat. After all it is 8:30pm. Such is the life on the farm during planting season. I hope you all have a wonderful night. May God richly bless you!

 
 

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Finally getting some rain! Today Andy and I painted boards for signs. It seems like we never have enough come market season. We moved all the tomatoes out of the hoop house and into a safe, warm, building for tonight in case it gets too cold. I am a little gun shy since the last episode! My buddy let me know today that an article was written for Farm World Newspaper about Bountiful Blessings. Here is a link to the article:

  http://www.farmworldonline.com/News/NewsArticle.asp?newsid=14547

Tomorrow is worship and then some transplanting. We just got back in tonight after attending the Hinckley Historical Society dinner and auction. Bountiful Blessings donated two items for the benefit. It was a fun evening and I hope they were able to raise some funds to benefit the society. They have a nice little museum in the middle of town. Stop in a have a look. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend. God Bless!

 
 

A Peaceful Easy Feeling

Wind can really make a difference in whether a day is nice or whether it is pleasant. Today has been a very nice day - it was not too warm, but the wind was somewhat calm and it made it so much nicer being outside. Dad worked on the sprayer some more today. We had to return some parts and get replacements, which took almost all morning. Once we got back to the farm, I was able to transplant more tomatoes and work in the hoop house. Things are beginning to shape up as we get towards the end of April. I anticipate more cool weather; hoping for a more normal May. Even thought I wanted to get the tomatoes planted in the high tunnel, I have shifted my plans until next week and warmer weather. I think we are still early enough to have a jump on the season without risking to much.

Tomorrow I will be seeding and transplanting again. It looks like we will be getting some rain, so that will be great. Supper is almost ready and I am tired, so I am making my blog entry short. I hope you have a peaceful evening. God Bless!!

 
 
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