Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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The "To-Do" List

How many of you have a "To-Do" list? I am really not much of a list person, but in the effort to become more organized, I have created a "To-Do" list for the immediate time. These are some things I will be concentrating in the upcoming days and weeks:

  • Move more soil to transplanting area 
  • Bend hoops for low tunnels and row covers
  • Erect seedling house
  • Prepare transplanting flats
  • Back-fill around High Tunnel #2
  • Fix tire on hay rack
  • Put all produce boxes upstairs in building #3
  • Finish bean harvest
  • Package more popcorn
  • Put up small greenhouse for transplants
  • Change oil in my van
  • Take down old hoop houses
  • Cut wood for office wood burner
  • Organize tool room and storage area
  • Haul greenhouse tables
  • Prepare soil in high tunnels
  • Assemble drip tubes for High Tunnels
  • Measure plastic for low tunnels and row cover
This is just an abbreviated list. The work of a farmer never ends. When it is not fit to be out in the field or even outside, there is plenty of bookwork, planning and construction to do inside. So, you know I will be busy!!! Have a great day! Blessings!
 
 

Leeks - Cold Frame - Hot Bed

One of our main goals at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce is to produce a top quality vegetable, and make it available over a long period of time. This means finding ways to extend the normal growing season. One avenue we have used the past year is high tunnel farming. This year we actually expanded by adding a second high tunnel. We also have several smaller cold frames and heat beds. Once our seeds have germinated, they are hardened off in either the cold frame, cool house (has some supplemental heat) or the hot bed. The hot bed is basically a cold frame with heated soil. We placed heat coils beneath the soil in the bottom of the cold frame to make a hot bed. Years ago, farmers used fresh manure beneath the soil in a hot bed to heat the soil as the manure composted. We are a little more tech savvy.

 

I am getting the hot bed ready to use in the next few days, as I will be planting leeks. Leeks are a member of the onion family.  The edible part of the leek plant is a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths which is sometimes called a stem or stalk. As the leek grows in height, soil is pulled around the base of the plant, blanching the stem- making it white and tender. I will be starting the seed indoors in our seed room, and then when they are large enough, I will move them to the hotbed in the plug trays in which they were seeded. Once the field is ready and weather stabilized, I will move them to the field and transplant. Leeks are fairly hardy and can be planted several weeks prior to the last frost date, so I will move them out as soon as it is fit. The variety we are growing is Lancelot.

 

 

 

Here is a great recipe for Leeks:

 

Leeks Au Gratin

Makes 8 servings

 

2 lbs leeks

1/4 c butter, plus about 1 Tbsp

2 Tbsp flour

3/4 c milk

1 Tbsp white wine

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 c grated baby Swiss cheese

1/4 tsp Tabasco or similar hot sauce

1. Cut white and tender portion of green leek leaves lengthwise, and then into 1-inch pieces.

2. Boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; place in buttered casserole.

3. In saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 c butter; stir in flour. Whisk in milk and wine. Stir and cook until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and Tabasco; pour over leeks. Sprinkle with cheese.

4. Bake at 400 degrees 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly. Dot with remaining butter, and brown under broiler, 3-5 minutes.

 

 
 

Scouting

This morning I spent at least two hours scouting the fields for any potential problems. I really only noticed one problem, weeds. Even though we spend a lot of time weeding and cultivating, those pesky little buggers seem to always haunt us. Nevertheless, one neighbor farmer told me that shows that the soil is healthy. I am not sure if that is an indicator of healthy soil or not, but I do know that weeds rob the vegetable plants of water, nutrients and sunlight. So, noting the weeds, we will be doing some clean up this week. In fact, dad was out on the cultivator must of the afternoon. The preparation area is coming along well and our stage area is almost complete. Thanks, Dad! 

Andy and I spent the afternoon replanting popcorn that did not germinate. Once that was complete, we planted more beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, carrots, radishes and kale. This upcoming week I will need to plant the second batch of green beans and several other plantings. It is exciting to see this all come together. I am still trusting God to give us favorable weather to produce and harvest a bountiful crop. I thank Him for the opportunity to see His wonderful creation each and every day - little seeds eventually turning into edible vegetables to sustain our lives. It is incredible! Again, may God richly bless you this week!

 
 

Popcorn

Well, tonight sets the first record of the season; it is 9:30pm and I just got in. It has been a very productive day and I feel good about the way things went. Dad worked on equipment most of the day and then came out to the field to give me a hand planting. I put in all of the ornamental corn, broom corn and popcorn. That took most of the day. I had to work down some ground, then lay out the plot. Nonetheless, it was a big task. I am looking forward to the popcorn this fall. We planted popcorn last year, but only for our own use. This year we planted popcorn with the intent of selling it in the winter. Last year's popcorn was awesome. 

Kim just finished making supper, so its time for me to eat. I hope you all have a great week! We will be planting more tomorrow. I will keep you up to date! 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!

 
 

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!

 
 

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!!

 
 

Sweet Corn Time!

Tuesday and Wednesday were very busy days at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. We continued our transplanting and seeding. My dad worked on equipment and the high tunnel. He had a few last minute things to accomplish before we begin to plant. The tomatoes in the hot house look excellent and those that were hit by the freeze last week are looking better. I should be able to save over half. Some of them were protected and not effected at all. Yesterday we planted our first sweet corn. We put in three varieties; an early, mid-season and late. We should have corn for the fourth of July if everything goes as planned. 

It sprinkled a little last night, but not enough to keep us out of the field. I am going to plant kohlrabi and more peas today. I might even set out some cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. I'll just have to see how the weather holds. They are calling for rain. Tonight I teach at the church and tomorrow Kim will be home, so hopefully we can get a lot more accomplished. I hope you all have a wonderful day blessed with God's grace and goodness!

 
 

Thankful for the Rain

Today has been kind of slow as I am not feeling the best. I have a terrible cold and chest cough. I guess getting wet and being out in the hot then cold weather got the best of me, I planted more seeds this morning and kept up with the sowing schedule. I do not want to get behind as it is very difficult to get caught up again. Everything looks great after the rain. Our onions are up about two inches and the potatoes are nicely sprouting. It won't be too long and things will be rolling real fast. I want to plant the tomatoes in the high tunnel towards the end of the week or the first part of next week. I am waiting on the weather to stabilize a bit before I gamble again. The same goes for the sweet corn, I want to see what the weather is going to do before I start putting it in the ground. 

After seeding this morning, I cleaned up the garage and pulled some equipment outside. I then did a bunch of paperwork and organization. I am going in the house now to lie down for a little while. The medicine I took is working, making me drowsy. I am very thankful for the rain we received over night and yesterday. This really helped our plantings. May God grant you a wonderful afternoon and evening!

 
 

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!

 
 

Colder Temperatures

Today was a very busy day at the farm. Andy, dad and I went over to a friend's greenhouse to salvage some greenhouse benches. The wood was not in very good condition, so we took what would work for us and left the rest. It was kind of disappointing, but very time consuming. Unfortunately, it would not work out for us to take anymore. Andy and I unloaded the trailer and stacked the wood in the shed for later use. After running Andy home, I began to transplant and move flats from one greenhouse to the other. I have about twenty flats in the unheated greenhouse. This will be a good test to see how well the house hold the generated daily heat. I checked it about twenty minutes ago and it is about 12 degrees warmer inside than out. I think it will be alright. My dad is concerned that it will not be warm enough and that we will have have problems. I think we will be okay. I guess we will see. I have placed a maximum/minimum thermometer in the house so we will know exactly what the temperature drops down to. I trust it will be just fine. 

Tomorrow i have more transplanting and seeding to complete. We are right on schedule and things are going well. I pray that each of you will have a peaceful evening. May God richly bless you!

 
 

Planting Taters!

Once again, yesterday was a very busy day. I met with an agricultural adviser in the morning to determine some up coming plans. The meeting went well. My mom and dad cut and prepared more seed potatoes for planting today. They also went through the canna roots and cleaned them and sorted them. I transplanted several flats of cabbage and cauliflower. I am a little nervous about putting them outside as the weather is getting colder. Today it is only supposed to get up to 54 degrees with 15-20 mph winds! A little chilly! Moreover, tonight we have a freeze warning. It is going to get into the upper twenties! What a change. I think I am going to move the cabbage inside for the night. I do not want to take a chance on losing them. Cabbage will stand a frost, but these are pretty tender. 

 Yesterday afternoon my dad and I went to look at a cultivator tractor. It was a 1948 International Harvester Super A. It is a beautiful tractor and we both beleive it will work for the farm. Dad told me that he started driving tractors at a young age and his dad had a B. This tractor is similar. Nonetheless, this tractor will be great for many tasks here at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce; especially weed control without spray herbicides!

Later in the day my sister called and told me that I was in the paper. One of our local papers did an article on the farm. I was very humbled. Here is a link to the article:

 

http://www.midweeknews.com/articles/2012/04/03/18887693/index.xml

Well, its off to another busy and cold day planting potatoes in the field. I pray that your day goes well.

 
 

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!

 

 
 

What a Beautiful Day!!!

I could not believe it! Another beautiful day and basically a day without a hitch! Andy came out to help again today. He is such a good worker. He never complains and never argues; he just works! What a wonderful blessing he has been to me! We were able to get a lot of things done today. We planted our first onions into the field. We set out over 750 sets in three long rows. I seeded some more items today and prepared flats for tomorrow. Andy mowed the lawn and I mowed the ditches. 

This morning I was interviewed by a very nice woman who freelances for a couple of publications.I am anxious to see the articles about our business. She said they would be out in a couple of weeks. When they are published, I will post links to the articles. I am very tired tonight and heading off to bed. May God grant you a peaceful night!

 
 

A Mary Poppins Day - Practically Perfect!

Have you ever had a day when everything seems to really come together perfectly? Well almost? Today at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce things went almost perfectly! Other than one mess up on my part, everything flowed very nicely. My nephew, Andy was here today helping get some of the things done that needed to be done. We worked on preparing flats for transplanting and a few other things that were one my list to be done. We finished up a little surprise for my dad as he will be coming home on Friday or Saturday. Once he sees the surprise, I will post a picture, but I don't want to spoil it!

Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce will be handling many jams, jellies, salsas, peanut butter and other wonderful products for our customers this year. I will be posting some of them online at our store very soon. Please keep looking for an update in the next couple of weeks. We will also have popcorn available soon as well.

Tomorrow we will be preparing the soil for our high tunnel and tilling the ground. The tomatoes will be planted around the fifteenth of April. I am getting very excited! Stay posted to hear more about our upcoming plans. May God richly bless you!

 
 

A Beautiful Day in Hinckley

Another beautiful day in Hinckley, Illinois at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce. Unfortunately we were unable to attend worship today, but we were able to get a lot accomplished at the farm. I finished pruning and spraying the fruit trees with dormant oil, just in time as they are starting to leaf out. One can spray the trees with oil after they leaf out, however, the solution needs to be diluted. The oil basically smothers any over-wintering insects before they emerge in the spring. 

I went out into the field today and worked down some of the vegetable ground so I can get planting onions, garlic and potatoes. The ground was very mellow and worked down really well. I was very impressed with our new rototiller, a seven foot King Kutter from Rural King. It was easy to mount on the tractor and easy to adjust. I am very happy with the way it all worked out. 

My uncle and I also worked on cleaning the shop. We moved some of the stuff around and cleaned out from around the machinery. When my dad gets home, he will be able to weld and cut metal for some of the projects we have to complete much easier.

This week I want to get started with planting asparagus. We have some 500 crowns to get planted VERY soon. I worked the ground where they are going. The asparagus that is there is already coming up! Compared to last year, things are happening about a month early. I really hope we do not get a killing frost or our fruit trees will be in trouble.

Our tomatoes are doing well and some more of them will need to be transplanted this week. The cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are almost ready to transplant. And time is moving very fast!!! So as I have said before, early to bed early to rise.... Have a wonderful week and may God richly bless you in Christ Jesus.

 
 

Saturday at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

The weather has changed a bit here in DeKalb County, Illinois. We received some rain yesterday and last night. I am guessing about two-tenths. I have not put the rain gauge out yet this spring out of fear of it freezing and cracking the glass. Today I have more seeding and transplanting to accomplish. Andy was here yesterday to help me mount the rototiller. We are able to get it mounted and adjusted. It works great. I can't wait to use it for tilling rather than just a simple test. 

The tomatoes in our greenhouse are looking very nice. A few had a little yellow leaf after transplanting but that is fairly normal. A little fish emulsion and they are all better now. Well it's time to go fill some flats for transplanting and get some work done. Have a wonderful day! God Bless!

 
 

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Today's Update

How can one complain when the weather is so nice? Yesterday was a gorgeous day! It was also a very productive day. I was able to get the tractor repaired. It was, as I suspected, a plugged fuel line. I used the air compressor and blew the line out and it worked just fine. Once that was done, it was back to seeding and transplanting. There is plenty of transplanting to do right now. Many of the seedlings are growing very rapidly because of the weather. It would be nice to slow them down, but then I think they would be gangly and weak. Having them outside in the greenhouse gives them ample light even though it is a bit warm. Nonetheless, the long-range weather forecast is predicting a drop in temperatures by the middle of next week. They are saying it will only be in the forties during the day. This is a little more normal for this time of year. My cole crops will be happy!

Today is more of the same. I have seeding to do and more to transplant. I need to move some things around in the garage to make room for dad's car. He is coming home next week. There really is not a lot to move, so it should only take me a few minutes. I just want to get it finished. Well, its off to another busy day. May God richly bless you! Have a wonderful day!

 
 
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