Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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Red Deuce in the High Tunnel

Today has been a very busy day. We were going to head out to the church, but realized that there was too much to accomplish. Unfortunately, we were not able to attend. I really hate missing worship. Anyhow, we were going to transplant, but decided to work in the high tunnel and transplant the tomatoes directly into the ground. I needed to do some tilling and we had to lay down the weed control fabric. Once that was complete, we planted about 65 plants. We are using "Red Deuce" tomatoes in the high tunnel. I may place a few heirloom varieties in there as an experiment. Andy was out this afternoon to help us. He cut the fabric and dug the holes, while Kim planted and I watered. We will eventually have a drip tube irrigation system to water the plants, however, I have to get a few more things together before I can install the tubing.

We are getting rain this evening. This is much needed and it is coming down very nicely. We could use an inch real easy. Tomorrow I will be transplanting and seeding. I have several varieties to sow in the morning. I want to move some of the tomatoes up into four inch pots. Some of the fours I have now, are very nice. They have really taken off and will be placed into the field by May 10th. I am hoping to get them in the ground a little sooner than last year's plantings. 

Supper is almost ready here, so I will sign off for tonight. May God richly bless you in this upcoming week.

 
 

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 Real Treat

Another day is here and it is getting closer and closer to the busy season. Today I will be working in the shop on several pieces of equipment and I will be doing some more seeding this morning. I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but I am having some trouble with my back. I fell on the ice last week and I am in a little pain. I did not sleep very well last night and it is difficult to move around this morning. Usually, once I get going, it does not feel so bad. I am hoping that is the case today. There is so much to get done, and a bad back is not going to help things any. 

I mentioned the other day that we will be growing about 28 varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year. Some people have asked me why heirlooms. Heirloom tomatoes are not as productive as hybrid plants, but the variety, color and taste are unmatched. Heirloom tomatoes come in colors such as salmon pink, yellow, purple, red, orange and even green. Some are striped and others grow in unusual shapes. A few of the more popular Heirloom varieties rated for flavor include Brandywine, Black Krim and Hillbilly. Heirloom tomatoes also have a tendency to produce tomatoes continuously throughout the season. Heirloom tomato growing is not any different than growing hybrids. I have already been getting emails and phone calls asking me whether we will have heirlooms again this year. It all about taste! Many people have never tasted “real” tomatoes — if you’ve only eaten supermarket or other commercially produced tomatoes, you’re in for a delicious surprise. Stop out this summer for a real treat!

 

 
 

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!

 
 

Heirloom Vegetables - A Little Bit of Our Heritage

What draws many of my customers to heirlooms is flavor. They want a tomato that tastes like a real tomato, not a plastic one. They long for corn that tastes like it did when they were a kid. They search for a sweet, juicy muskmelon, and wonder why cantaloupes are crisp and dry. After trying varieties that look good on the pages of seed catalogs but just don't taste like much, they turn to heirlooms.

What they find may well be something of a mixed bag. The best of the heirlooms really are wonderful. They have it all. They taste wonderful and look beautiful. No doubt about it, these varieties are terrific. There are, however, varieties that take a more experienced hand to grow well. Some are local or regional varieties that may or may not be suited to conditions in your back yard. Others are susceptible to problems unknown to earlier gardeners. Today, certain plant problems are much more common than ever before, and new, resistant cultivars may be the only ones suited to areas where certain diseases and pests are entrenched. Most of this is because since 1932, the American farmer has depleted the soil of it's major nutrients. Everything introduced to the soil is chemically enhanced or man-made. This is not good. Micro-nutrients are no longer available in the final product. Only through building up the soil naturally, will we bring those micro-nutrients back into our diet. These micro-nutrients feed the living cells in our bodies and we need them! Building the soil and heirloom varieties are a great start to a healthy renewal.

Nonetheless, heirloom vegetables can be quirky. Seeds may germinate slower than their modern counterparts, or they may straggle in erratically. Some may pop up after you've given up on them. As they grow, some heirlooms have traits that are downright odd. Other old varieties will do weird things. Unfortunately, information about such traits is difficult to find. About all growers can do is wait to see what happens, relying on their best instincts and experience.

With all of that considered, I really enjoy growing heirlooms because I actually have something that my ancestors grew. This it what makes it so exciting for me. Now, after many years, I actually have my hands in the soil my grandfathers worked. I have a piece of my own heritage. This is what makes my job so much fun and so rewarding!

 
 

An Exciting Season Just Around the Corner

Well another day without being able to spread manure. Maybe tomorrow if it remains frozen in the field. I certainly do not want to make a big mess out of the ground by driving over it and packing it all down because it is too muddy. I am going to try it this in the morning and see what happens. I stopped by Rick's tonight and let him know I would be there around seven. Everything is green light go! This whole manure thing has been plaguing me for a week. Hopefully, today we can put it in the past!

Tomorrow afternoon I am going work on the seed room and seed rack. I will start sowing seeds next week. The bulk of my seed order will be here on Tuesday. I have to pick it up at the warehouse. I will also be picking up the seed potatoes and onion sets. It is a little scary getting 200 pounds of seed potatoes and over 130 pounds of onion sets. That works out to about 20000 onions! Of course some of these will be for bunching, but many will be bulb onions for cooking, etc. In Illinois, we have to use long-day varieties. Short-day varieties do not do well here.

Here are the tomato varieties we will be planting this year. We will have a nice assortment of heirloom varieties, and some hybrids.

  • Hillbilly
  • Roma
  • German Johnson
  • Black Krim
  • Aunt Molly’s Husk Tomato (Ground cherry)
  • Aunt Ruby’s German
  • Burbank Tomato
  • Chalk’s Early Jewel
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Djena Lee’s Golden Girl
  • German Pink
  • Livingston’s Globe
  • Livingston’s Golden Queen
  • Orange Oxheart
  • Mortgage Lifter – Radiator Charlie's
  • Red Fig
  • Sheboygan
  • Valencia
  • Chocolate Stripes
  • Earl of Edgecombe
  • Cherokee Chocolate
  • Black Sea Man
  • Copia
  • Brandywine
  • Green Zebra
  • White Queen
  • Primo Red
  • Red Deuce
  • Mountain Fresh Plus
  • Florida 91
  • Sweet Hearts
  • Sugar Plum

 

I am getting so anxious to get started. This is what I really enjoy doing; planting and growing these wonderful vegetables. It won't be long now!

 
 

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!

 
 

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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