Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

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

 
 

Cabbage

Today has been a long day. First we harvested snap bean samples for a customer; then we weeded. This afternoon was spent planting cabbage. Andy, Peter and I put in about 900 today. I was just out and weeded some more. It is very dry and the rain we thought we were going to get does not look like it will make it. I guess that is why we have irrigation. 

Some of the things to remember about planting cabbage came to mind today as I was planting.  One of the basic things when planting cabbage is not to plant it where you planted it the year before. If you do, the results may not be all that satisfactory, as the plants will often be much more susceptible to disease. It's best to plant them elsewhere in the garden. In fact, you should not plant cabbage where any other members of the Crucifer family have been planted. We rotate our crops to avoid this issue.

Like most vegetables, cabbage is a sun loving plant and will usually not do well if planted in a shady area. Being a cool season plant, it will benefit somewhat from partial shade, especially in the afternoon, in areas where the summer temperatures are quite high. The warmer weather we are experiencing is causing some issues with our crucifer crops.

The rewards from giving the plant sufficient water will soon be evident. The right combination of fertilizer and water can result in some giant-sized heads, if that is what you want, although heads of 9 or 10 inches in diameter will sell better at the market. I think tomorrow I will start irrigating my cabbage!!! Have a great evening! God bless!

 
 

Windy Cold Day

The wind is blowing; the sun is shinning and the soil is drying out rapidly at Bountiful Blessings Farm. The weather is really working on my nerves as this season is off to another different kind of a year! No matter what, I have faith that God will provide the needed weather at the correct time. However, it is getting a little annoying not to have rain and the colder temperatures are difficult to deal with. Today, I worked on transplanting more tomatoes and moving them in to the hoop house. Some of the larger tomatoes really look nice and I hope the weather is appropriate very soon to get them into the field. Nonetheless, we are way ahead of last year. I did not have any seed in the ground at this point last year. I have over an acre planted already! Of course there is a lot more to accomplish. 

Dad is still working on the some of our equipment. At Bountiful Blessings we do not use chemicals unless it is absolutely necessary. We apply pesticides only we when have a problem and are unable to solve it with organic methods. We try diligently to use sustainable practices in our farming. Nonetheless, even when we use organic methods, we occasionally need a sprayer. Dad has been working very hard to build a sprayer from gathered parts and equipment that others have discarded. He is doing an excellent job. He took an old sprayer and completely revamped it; including removing the old tank and replacing it with a used polyethylene tank that was discarded. It looks great! I am not sure what I would do without his help. He really makes things so much easier for me. I really do not have time to work on the machinery. My time is spent planning and growing. Of course I have to spend time on marketing and management; which also take a lot of effort and time. We strive to give our customers the best possible product at a reasonable price. This takes hours of research. My wife just let me know that supper is ready. It is almost 8:30pm and we are finally able to sit down and eat. Such is the life of a produce farmer in the spring season. May God richly bless you and may you enjoy His grace and mercy in Christ Jesus! Have a wonderful evening!

 
 

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!

 
 

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!

 
 

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.
 
 

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!

 
 

Stinky Gold

Today I am heading out with one of my best friends to get a load of cow and chicken manure. This stuff is like black gold for the garden! Chicken manure is the richest animal manure in N-P-K. One has to be a little careful with chicken manure as it is "hot" and needs to be composted before applying it to the soil. Otherwise, it will burn any plants it comes in contact with. Chicken manure for vegetable garden fertilizing will produce excellent soil for  vegetables to grow in. The vegetables will grow bigger, tastier and healthier through the use of chicken manure fertilizer.

Cow manure is probably one of the best soil-builders around; it is great for garden use; and it can be used as a topdressing and for soil improvement, I like to use well-rotted cow manure in the garden. Cow manure fertilizer in all forms are a good addition to the vegetable garden. However the nutrient value does differ greatly. If one obtains manure that has been heaped up and permitted to heat up, a lot of its nitrogen may already have dissipated as ammonia. However, you can still gain organic material in the soil. Much of the valuable digestive enzymes will also have been destroyed by the high temperatures at the heap's core. Again, I prefer manure that has composted as not to burn the plants.

Today is just the first step in the soil building process. Some of the manure I am getting today is older and almost completely composted. I will pile it and allow it to compost more before I apply it to the ground. I will then work it into the soil when the ground is ready. All I have to do today is load it and haul it. I compare this to gold prospecting! The manure being rich in value to my future crop! I'm getting excited!!!

 
 

Seed Orders

Getting Ready

Well it's that time of year at the farm where I look over last year's records and plan for the upcoming season. Actually, I have been planning for weeks, but I am finally mapping out the ground and preparing seed orders. I never realized there is so much work involved with a produce business! One cannot imagine the amount of planning that it takes to get everything in order. So, with my pile of catalogs, records and projections, I am making a master plan for this season's crop. I enjoy looking through the catalogs and seeing what is new, but it is just as exciting to see some of the heirloom varieties that look so inviting and interesting. I think of how it was back in the day and how much more work it took to grow a crop. Nonetheless, when a person bites into a Black Krim tomato or tries their first Moon and Stars watermelon, they get a sense of that old timey pleasure of eating something that folks enjoyed many, many years ago. I am also working on a hotbed and cold frame to extend the season; trying to provide locally grown vegetables earlier in the season. Many people are already asking me when they can get their first tomato! Well, it's still a bit early! Back to the seed order!

 
 
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