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

 
 

Yet More Peppers Grown at the Bountiful Blessings Farm

 

 Here are some more of the peppers we grow at the farm

 

Cayenne – Long Thin Pepper

The cayenne pepper—also known as the Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, aleva, bird pepper, or, especially in its powdered form, red pepper—is a red, hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes and for medicinal purposes. Named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, it is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, and others. The Capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice of the same name.

Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Korean, Sichuan and other Asian cuisine), or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units. It is also used as an herbal supplement, and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his 17th century book Complete Herbal.

 

Jalapeños – Mucho Nacho

Most people think of the jalapeño as being very hot, but it actually varies from mild to hot depending on how it was grown and how it was prepared. The heat is concentrated in the seeds and the veins, so if you want it on the milder end of its scale, remove those parts.

Jalapeños are sold canned, sliced, and pickled. Canned jalapeños may be milder than fresh because they are usually peeled and the seeds removed. Pickled jalapeños are always hot.

A chipotle (pronounced: chi poat lay) is a jalapeño that has been smoked. The jalapeño rates between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville units on the heat index.

Habanero Pepper

The habanero's heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavor, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods. Habaneros are sometimes placed in tequila or mezcal bottles, particularly in Mexico, for a period ranging from several days to several weeks, to make a spiced version of the drink. Most habaneros rate 200,000 to 300,000 Scoville heat units. Yee ha!! That's hot!! HANDLE WITH CARE!!!!!

 

 
 

More Peppers at Bountiful Blessings Farm

 More Peppers We Grow at the Bountiful Blessings Farm

 

Wenk’s Yellow Pepper

The Wenk’s Yellow hot pepper is originally the Albuquerque’s South Valley, where it is incorporated into the local cuisine.  In terms of spice, this variety produces medium to hot peppers with a full flavor of citrus.  Because these waxy yellow fruits are very fleshy, they are often used for pickling.

Key Largo Cubanelle Pepper

Key Largo Cubanelle peppers are similar to Anaheim peppers but slightly less flavorful. They are considered a sweet pepper. Cubanelles can be stuffed or used in salads and casseroles. Also good on pizzas or subs. These thin-walled, long, tapered peppers have more flavor and a lower water content than bell peppers and are the perfect pepper for roasting and frying.

Cubanelle peppers are long and tapered, and either red or pale green or yellow. They can be substituted in recipes calling for Anaheim peppers. The Cubanelle should be firm, smooth and glossy.

Cayenne – Long Thin Pepper

The cayenne pepper—also known as the Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, aleva, bird pepper, or, especially in its powdered form, red pepper—is a red, hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes and for medicinal purposes. Named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, it is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, and others. The Capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice of the same name.

Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Korean, Sichuan and other Asian cuisine), or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units. It is also used as an herbal supplement, and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his 17th century book Complete Herbal.

Ghost Pepper

The Bhut Jolokia — also known as Ghost Pepper has been around for many centuries and it is believed to have originated in Assam, India. The word Bhut, given from the Bhutias people, means "ghost" and was probably given the name because of the way the heat sneaks up on the one who eats it.

It was only introduced to the western world in 2000. In that same year, a report was published stating it's level of heat as almost double that of a Red Savina Habanero which was believed to be the world's hottest pepper.

In 2007 The Ghost Pepper was certified as the hottest Chili Pepper on the planet in The Guinness Book of World Records. Over 1,000,000 on the Scoville Scale.

 

 
 

Peppers at the Bountiful Blessings Farm

 These are a few of the peppers we are growing at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. Seeding under way!! It won't be long!!

Fish Pepper

 

This pepper is an African-American heirloom that predates the 1870s; the Fish Pepper is bright in color and crunchy, with a hot and bold flavor.  In the late 1800s, the Fish Pepper was widely grown in the Philadelphia and Baltimore area. Fish Pepper plants have beautiful green and white variegated foliage with pendant fruits that are 2-3 inches long.  When the fruits ripen, they change in color from cream with green stripes to orange with brown stripes, and then eventually to an all red eating pepper. Traditionally, the fish pepper was used in oyster and crab houses around the Chesapeake Bay. Rated as 3 on a heat scale of 1-5, the Fish Pepper is also perfect for mild-medium salsas.

 

Hinkelhatz Hot Pepper

 

Named by its Pennsylvania Dutch growers, the ‘Hinkelhatz’ is a rare heirloom pepper which translates to “chicken heart,” a description of its size and shape. The variety is one of the oldest preserved by this group of Mennonites, cultivated for well over 150 years.  It was illustrated in Charles L’Ecluse’s 1611 Curae Posteriores, though without a mentioned origin (presumed to be Mexico).  The peppers are usually red or yellow, though a very rare orange variant exists preserved among a small group of Mennonite farmers in Maxatawy, Pennsylvania and is slightly more top-like in shape.  Its flavor is described as “stocky” and it is considered to be quite hot.  The Hinkelhatz is traditionally used exclusively for pickling.  The Pennsylvania Dutch cooked and pureed it to make a pepper vinegar, a condiment often sprinkled on sauerkraut.  A recipe appears in 1848 in Die Geschickte Hausfrau. 

 

Jimmy Nardello’s Sweet Italian Frying Pepper

 

This variety of pepper was originally from Basilicata, a southern region of Italy.  It takes its name from seed saver Jimmy Nardello, who brought the seeds from Italy while immigrating to Connecticut in 1887. The Jimmy Nardello’s pepper is sweet and light when eaten raw.  It is considered one of the very best frying peppers as its fruity raw flavor becomes perfectly creamy and soft when fried.

 

 
 

Another Busy Week

This past week was a whirlwind. We have been busy sowing seeds, from tomatoes and peppers to lettuce and cabbage. As the Whitfield Farm mentioned in their blog post, our town lost a good friend and neighbor farmer. Our sympathy to the Danekas family and friends. Today we put brakes on the delivery van we use over the summer. It is all complete and ready for the season. Tonight the wind is blowing like crazy and it makes me really anxious for some warm days in the near future. Last year at this time we were planting potatoes and onions in the field. I think it is going to be a little while before we are able to get into the field. The soil in the high tunnels is drying out and looking favorable for planting in a couple of weeks. I am getting cabin fever and want Spring now! Anyhow, we are ready for another week of seeding and preparation for the upcoming season. Blessings on your week!!

 
 

A New Seedling House

We got the framework erected today for the new seedling house. Snow is predicted for tomorrow, so I will be seeding. I am a day behind. Then on Friday, we will finish the base frame, cover and install doors. If it would clear off tomorrow, I will finish the base frame. Thank you for helping Jorge Lopez!!! Great day's work. BTW - seedlings are looking great. They need more light, but that will be remedied soon.

 

 
 

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.

 
 

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Today we started to sow some of our hot pepper seeds. We have a small seed room with artificial lighting on racks made for seeding flats. We also have a seeding table which keeps the soil temperature at 80 degrees F. This remains stable throughout the season for consistent germination of most vegetable plants. For varieties that require lower temperatures we adjust the table accordingly. Anyhow, we plated some hot peppers today of several varieties.

     

We grow a dozen or more variety of chiles – hot peppers – each year.  One mild chile that we are growing this year is Pasilla Bajio, also known as chile negro. Pasilla Bajio is a mild chile with a smoky flavor. It is slightly less hot than a jalapeno and is often used to enhance the flavor in mole sauces. It can also be used to make salsas. These 8 to 10 inch long cylindrical peppers are thin walled and start off dark green before ripening to dark brown.

The Pasilla pepper should not be confused with the ancho.  The Ancho is the dried version of the Poblano pepper that growers and grocers frequently mislabel as the Pasilla in the United States.  The darker Anchos are also sometimes known as chile negro - thus generating much confusion - but they are not the same as the Pasilla peppers. The Pasilla can even create an interesting twist in the flavor and appearance of the standard red-chile enchilada sauce.  It is also a favorite in combination with fruits or accompanying duck, seafood, lamb, mushrooms, garlic, fennel, honey or oregano.

Another hot pepper we seeded today is the Red Scotch Bonnet. This pepper is a cultivar of the Habanero and is among the hottest peppers anywhere. Its name derives from its resemblance to the Scottish Tam o' Shanter hat, though it appears primarily in the Caribbean and in Guyana and the Maldives. Other names for these chili peppers include Bahamian, Bahama Mama, Jamaican Hot or Martinique Pepper, as well as booney peppers, bonney peppers, Boab’s Bonnet, Scotty Bons and goat peppers.

The Scotch bonnet pepper is usually red or yellow at maturity. It typically features with jerk dishes including pork and chicken. Its apple-and-cherry-tomato flavor also pops up with other dishes in Grenadian, Trinidadian, Jamaican, Barbadian, Guyanese, Surinamese, Haitian and Caymanian cuisine.

The hottest pepper sown today was the Ghost Pepper or Bhut Jolokia Chili Peppers. These babies are officially the hottest peppers around, toping the Red Savina Habanero. It was awarded the distinction of World's Hottest of All Spices by the Guinness World Records in 2006. Use the Bhut Jolokia as you'd use a habanero, but remember that they are much hotter, up to 5 times the heat level. Use caution when cooking with them. Wear gloves and protect your eyes.

Bhut Jolokia belongs to the Capsicum Chinense family, like the Habanero, Scotch Bonnet and Red Savina. They originate in Northern India. It is also known as Naga Jolokia, Naga Morich, Ghost Pepper or Ghost Chili. Note: "Naga" mean "Cobra Snake" in Sanskrit.

Lastly, we planted some Red and Yellow Peter Peppers. This one here is becoming popular as a novelty. This very interesting little chili makes a great conversation piece in the garden or in the kitchen due to its distinctively phallic shape, hence its name. It grows to about 3-4 inches long and 1-1.5 inches wide, and matures to a bright red or yellow. Originally from Texas and Louisiana, they are grown commercially and seeds are obtained through private companies. We have heard they are great for salsas! (and a few laughs!)

 

 
 

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

 
 

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!

 
 

A Pain in the Back

Unfortunately, I am not doing so well today. Two weeks ago tonight, I slipped on the ice and wrenched my back. I thought it was getting better, but today I am in a lot of pain. Usually, when I get up and get moving it feels much better, but not today. As I writing this, I am sitting in the recliner with a heating pad on my back. The heat seems to be soothing my back and alleviating the pain. I hope it heals and soon; I have a lot of things to accomplish in the next few weeks.

The seeds I have sown in the last week or so are starting to emerge through the soil. They are looking great. Yesterday, I picked up some materials to expand the seed room so there is enough space for all of the seedlings. Later today, I have several varieties seeds to plant. I know I have mentioned it before, but seeing these seeds germinate is really exciting. This is really incredible to see. There is life in that little “dead” seed that is placed in the soil. One little seed that will end up yielding so much! How great is God’s creation!

 
 

Cold in Illinois

Another cold and blustery day here in Illinois. However, it is supposed to warm up. Yesterday was very productive. Due to a snow day, my nephew, Andy came out and helped me most of the day. The day started with my daughter going into the ditch with her car and daddy attempting to rescue her. By the time I was able to get there, someone else pulled her out. That was so nice of them! When I got back to the farm, I started seeding tomatoes, onions and cauliflower. The season has officially begun! Andy worked on a few projects I had lined up for him and he did such a great job! I am blessed to have such a super family! There is still a lot more preparation work to be completed, but things are moving right along.

Today is the Grundy county auction. I'm not sure yet if I am going or not. My back is bothering me and I am not sure I can stand around in the cold for fear it would just agitate my back even more. My wife went to town for her normal Saturday morning coffee at her brother's house, so I will probably work in the seed room and get somewhat more organized. It was so wonderful to walk into the seed room this morning and smell the damp soil and feel the warmth when it is only 17 degrees outside. It won't be too long and seeds will start popping through the top layer of soil. How exciting is that? Another miracle! Bountiful Blessings is growing once again! Thank you God!

 
 

A Late February Blizzard

Well I knew it was coming, but somehow I had hoped the weatherman was wrong. I woke up this morning to about 5 inches of snow and strong, gusty winds. It even took sometime to get out the front door due to a drift. Then when I got to the farm office, the door was also blocked by a large drift. Now don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, but just sharing with you how my morning is going so far. I realized that I had very little wood for the office stove, so I had to cut a little wood to get me through the day. Fortunately, I put some inside last night so it would be dry. I was also surprised at how warm the office was this morning; it was 56 degrees. This is great; the insulation we put in this past fall has really helped the temperature in this old shop and now farm office.

As I stated in yesterday's blog, I went to the FSA office yesterday and registered the farm. I had to fill out about 5 or six pages of information only to find out that vegetable crops do not qualify for the program. Nonetheless, the farm is registered and the paperwork is complete. I can mark another item off of my "to do list".

I will be seeding in the seed room today; some tomatoes and cauliflower. It is so exciting getting back into what I really love, working in the soil. I have always loved growing things; whether it be ornamentals or vegetables. The seed room is about 75 degrees and moist. It is a perfect environment for starting seeds. The only thing I am not looking forward to, is going back out in the blizzard to get to the seed room! Wish me luck - here I go!

 
 

Another Exciting and Productive Day

I am so excited! Today was awesome! I was able to get another couple of loads of manure spread on our vegetable ground. It is amazing to be out in the field getting ready for the upcoming planting season. I had to clean a little manure off of the road from yesterday, but otherwise no major concerns. The ground was firm and the tractor did not make any ruts in the ground, however, around nine this morning, the ground was to greasy to continue. I will have to haul a couple of loads in the morning. If everything goes well, I should be able to attend church. I hate not being able to make church on Sunday morning, but it is supposed to rain next week, so I want to get this done. 

Several of my seed orders came in today. Wow! Who ordered all this seed? I have to admit, it was me! Having near twenty acres this year, requires a lot of seed. It is so exciting to see the seed coming in and soon, in just a few months, these seeds will be plants that will produce food; food that will be enjoyed not only by me, but by those who stop in an buy these wonderful "Bountiful Blessings". We still have CSA subscriptions available for those of you who are interested. Shoot me an email or take a look at our website at: http://bountifulblessingsfarm.weebly.com/index.html

The seed room is almost done and our seedling rack is bear three-quarters finished. I will start seeding next week. I still have lots of things to get completed for the season and time is getting shorter and shorter. Interestingly, the weather has been so mild. I wonder when we will actually be able to work the ground. Sometimes when it is this nice in January and February, we end up with lots of snow in March. I really hope this does not happen. I'd like to get in the field in a timely fashion. This would help me out a great deal. I know it is in God's hands and I trust Him! Tomorrow is a new day to see God's blessings once again. Each and every day is a miracle and I try to live each day in a way that would bring glory to Him.

 
 

Yesterday, All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

Have you ever had a day that really did not go the way you thought it should go, but later turned out very productive? Well that is how yesterday went! It started out with finding out the manure was too sloppy to haul. If I was to put it in the spreader, it would have made as mess of the roads. I really did not want to be responsible for an accident caused by manure on the road. I came back to the farm and spent some more time on the seed orders - GOT THEM IN!! Yahoo!! Then I worked on the seed room and rack. I'm not quite done but getting closer. After I slipped and fell on the ice the other day, my back has been hurting so I decided to work on the planting schedule. I was able to get a lot of that done. As I mentioned the other day, there is a lot of work that goes into getting ready for planting season. I feel that yesterday was very productive. I even organized the seed catalogs, receipts, orders, and planning calendars! Yesterday, it's gone and today is here - time to keep on moving!

Today, I am planning to spread manure if it is not too sloppy. There is manure from an inside lot that the rain has not got into. That might work. However, I have to see what the temperature will be around nine. If it is still frozen, I should be able to get a couple of loads in. Unfortunately, It looks like it is going to warm up too fast. If I am unable to spread manure today, I will work on the seed room and rack. Thursday night I teach, so I will need to look over my lesson this afternoon. There is always something to do. So, time for me to go and tackle my day. This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

 
 

Manure - I Am Excited!

I never thought the would come that I would be excited to haul manure, but I can honestly say that I am pumped! It is really going to be a lot of fun getting out in the field today. I will probably freeze and it won't be the most pleasant smell, but I really can't wait to build this soil up to its fullest potential. I was able to get all of my seed orders in yesterday and should have the seeds by the end of the week and the first of next week. I was not able to get the seed room finished today, but I am hoping that by Friday it will be completed so I can seed next week.

The cold frame and the hotbed are still under construction. Again, I hope to get these done very soon.It involves hauling soil and shoveling it into both frames. Then I will be able to get some of the cold tolerant crops planted for an earlier market. Nonetheless, it is very exciting seeing all of this come together. Besides all of that, tonight I get to have one of my favorite meals, Chicken and Biscuits. Here is my recipe:

 

Chicken and Biscuits

½ cup butter

1/3 cup flour

1½ cup chicken stock

¾cup milk

1 tsp salt

few grindings pepper

1/16 tsp garlic powder or garlic salt

½ tsp poultry seasoning

2 cups diced chicken

1 cup diced carrots (cooked)

1 cup peas (cooked)

biscuits

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Melt butter in a large frying pan.

2. Blend in flour, stirring with a fork.

3. Slowly add stock and milk, stirring.

4. Add seasonings.

5. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until slightly thick.

6. Add remaining ingredients.

7. Cook until heated thoroughly.

8. Slice biscuits in two & place both halves on plates.

9. Pour a generous amount of chicken mixture over the biscuits and serve.

 
 

The Miracle of New Life

Today is another exciting day of planning and prepartation for the upcoming season. I will be getting the seed room ready this week and finishing the cold frame and hotbed. On Wednesday and Thursday I will be spreading manure. I am so exicited to get back out in the field! It will be fun! Seed orders will be completed today and by next week sometime, I will be planting the first batch of tomatoes and peppers for the High Tunnel. What could be more fun than seeing the miracle of a seed sprouting forth new growth and life! It is still amazing to me that so many Bountiful Blessings come from a small little seed. WOW! At Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce, we pray you too, will see the miracle of life this spring as God unwraps another wonderful gift to us in nature.
 
 

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!

 
 

Growing Rack

Another warm day in Illinois. This winter has been so mild! It is amazing! However, I expect when winter comes in like a lamb it will go out like a lion. Yesterday I applied for our sales permit for the spring. I anticipate a great year at our stands with tasty vegetables all season long. Today I am getting the materials I need to build a growing rack for my seedlings. I will be starting seeds on a heat bed with grow lights. Once they sprout they will be moved to this rack until they are ready to be transplanted into packs. My dad designed a rack build from PVC pipe. It will have six shelves, each of them with grow lights. The rack will be placed in a warm grow room. I can monitor the growth of the plants and maintain them very easily.

Yesterday, I loaded the manure I mentioned in the earlier blog. The manure turned out o be composted, so there is a very low chance of it burning the plants. If anyone has used chicken manure before, please let me know how it all worked out. I certainly do not want to cause any damage to the new plants. Again, it is such a pleasure working in the soil getting ready to see the Bountiful Blessings God has in store for this season!

 
 
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