Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
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Last Frost Dates for West Michigan

Wondering when it will be safe to transplant your seedlings out into the garden? Here’s a handy chart to give you a guideline for the Last Frost Date in your area.

The Last Frost Date is the date after which it is generally safe to plant outdoors without fear of frost. Some plants can handle (and maybe even benefit from) a smidge of frost, such as broccoli, peas and chard. Warm season plants such as tomatoes, squash and peppers will be damaged, possibly beyond recovery, by frost.

If you live in Michigan you already know that the weather can be fickle, so treat these dates as a guideline only and be sure to check the weather forecast before transplanting your precious plants out into the wide world!

 

Last Frost Dates West Michigan Last Frost Dates for West Michigan

 

 

 
 

2014 Maple Syrup Season Part 1

wpid CYMERA 20140313 153110 2014 Maple Syrup Season Part 1

It’s maple sugarin’ season in Michigan! If I had been on my toes I would have tapped my trees on Thursday, March 6 as the weather conditions were just right for running sap – cold nights and above-freezing, sunny days. But alas, I’m a busy mom and I didn’t get to it until Tuesday, March 11. It was a beautiful, relatively warm, sunny day… and then that evening our lovely Michigan weather crashed from 40 degrees and sun to windchills below zero. (Hey, Old Man Winter – take your prozac, ok!?) Today the temperature has climbed to 22 degrees and tomorrow’s forecast currently calls for a high near 50. All of this up and down cold creates some serious weather-whiplash for us humans, butt the cold nights and warm days are great weather for collecting maple sap.

I won’t go into a ton of detail about how, when and why to collect maple sap because I wrote a pretty comprehensive post about it last year. (Click here to check it out!). This year I just wanted to give you quick update and to let you know that we’re trying something a wee bit different.

Click here to read the rest of this article.
 
 

7 Reasons to Appreciate Winter

Reasons to appreciate winter

I’m a Michigan girl, which means not only am I used to four seasons but dramatic, often vacillating transitions between those seasons. In the spring and fall it is not uncommon to have sunny, 80-degree weather and windy, perhaps rainy 40-degree weather shortly after (sometimes in the same day). Until recently, I always remember winter being abysmally cold and sustained with ample snow. The last few winters in Michigan have been very mild, even if they were sprinkled by some bad storms here and there. In fact last winter, I was still digging in dirt not long before Christmas!

This winter is making up for all the mildness we’ve recently experienced. We’ve had a record-breaking cold snap with day after day in subzero temperatures (not to mention the deep wind chill). I now have a new definition of abysmally cold.  And I should know – I’m an expert in hating highly disliking cold. I can’t stand being cold. I’m not really a fan of snow. I appreciate a white Christmas and then it can all go away as far as I’m concerned. Give me liberty summer or give me death the furnace set at 75!

I’ve never understood why people love winter so much. I especially dislike it when the weather starts just baaarrrrley turning cold in the fall (say, the first 60-degree day of September) and Facebook is alight with “Oh, fall is here!” and “Cold weather is coming!” and “I just broke out the Christmas music!” Really? Really?!? I get so annoyed with folks who drag Christmas into Thanksgiving and Halloween.

I’ve always thought of myself as a champion of holiday sanctification; a seasonal purist. Please – no Christmas trees before pumpkins, thank you! But then as December rolled into January and I started blogging about garden plans and seed starting and “Spring is almost here!” I realized… I’m one of them. I wish away winter just like the Christmas-music-in-September-Nazis fancy truncating summer.

Then I had another strange epiphany… trapped in my house for days on end by sub-zero windchills, I’ve spent a lot of time looking out. And contemplating what I see… and thinking about the bright side. And I realized… winter’s not all that bad. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to actually be thankful for winter. Here are a few…

Some Plants Need Cold Weather

Some of our favorite garden plants actually benefit from a cold snap. For example, according to Grey Duck Garlic, “garlic requires vernalization (exposed to cold) before or after planting. Cold temperatures stimulate garlic to sprout and develop a bulb.” Also many fruit trees – including Apple and Cherry – have a chilling time requirement. Here’s an explanation from The Housing Forum:  “Fruit trees require a period of time called chill time which accumulates throughout cold weather seasons. Chill time begins as soon as the leaves fall off of the tree and extends to the first bloom. Cherry trees require between 600 and 700 hours of chill time to produce ample and healthy blossoms.”

Cold Weather Diminishes Pest Populations

I’ve heard more-experienced gardeners talk before about the fact that winter weather helps to reduce pest populations, namely bugs. A deep freeze like we’re experiencing is likely to have a deeper impact. For example, a tiger mosquito’s eggs are destroyed below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to garden pests, a deep freeze is hard on moth populations as well. Apparently adult moths mate at night when temperatures are above freezing, and since those days have been few and far between so far this winter, we might be in luck.

Snow Replenishes Waterways

Water is an important natural resources, especially in Michigan. During the summer drought two years ago some waterways were very low and dry. Since snowfall eventually replenishes tributaries and aquifers, it also replenishes our lakes, ponds and streams in time. National Geographic reports that “the recent Arctic blast that gripped much of the nation will likely contribute to a healthy rise in Great Lakes water levels in 2014.”

Winter Wonderlands are Beautiful

Have you looked outside? My yard looks like this – isn’t it beautiful? From within a warm house with a warm cup of tea in my hand, all that white stuff’s not so bad. (P.S. The pictures just don’t do it justice!)

reasons to appreciate winter

Reasons to appreciate winter

Reasons to appreciate winter

Reasons to appreciate winter

Reasons to appreciate winter

Cabin Fever and Quiet Time

No one likes cabin fever, especially when you’re really trapped inside and not just staying home to be road-wise. But if we’re honest, most of us could benefit from a day or two of quiet together-time at home with family. Our family has broken out books and games and crafts during the last few snow days that haven’t seen the light of day in a while.

Winter-Related Sports and Commerce

Not all of us are stuck inside during snowy weather. Some crazy people live for the day when there’s enough snowfall to ski, snowmobile or go sledding. For yet others getting out into the elements is less about choice and more about employment. We’re so indebted to the men and women who make their living by clearing roadways, parking lots and driveways so that the rest of us can go about our business safely. All of these activities have an impact on our economy by creating seasonal jobs and income.

Spring Really Is Coming

Ironically, one of the benefits of winter is that it helps us appreciate warmer weather. Close friends of ours from Malaysia often commented on how much they loved the change in seasons, with winter ranking as their favorite time of year. They came from a climate of warm, warm, warm day after day. That sounds pretty tempting when I’m lugging water out to the chicken coop with a -30 degree wind smacking my face. But if Michigan was always warm, warm, warm day after day I would never get to experience that euphoric feeling when the days suddenly turn substantially warmer and the sun on my face reminds me of how much vitamin D I’ve been missing (and how great it makes me feel)! Or when I awake (physically and otherwise) to the realization that songbirds brought me out of slumber. Or when the trees explode with green seemingly overnight and I remember how full of life the world is. I plod through the winter and do my best to be thankful for what we receive. But when songbirds and sunshine and green things remind me of just how cold and stark and quiet the winter has been, I appreciate these things all the more. Spring really is coming… and that hope would be meaningless if it weren’t for winter.

Did you enjoy this article? Visit www.arcadia-farms.net for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally. 

 
 

Local Peach Sources

{Image Credit} Aloha Organic Fruit

{Image Credit}
Aloha Organic Fruit

Another fruit season is underway – it’s time for Michigan peaches! I’ve spent some time looking for pesticide-free peach sources and I’m having a rough time. Molter Family Orchards has organic peaches, but only in limited quantity due to losing some to a May frost. Their CSA members get first dibs (rightly so) and they did delivery a few to the People’s Food Co-Op in downtown Kalamazoo last week.

In essence, that means my efforts to turn up other natural peaches in the area have turned up ‘fruitless’. For those of you who have fervently set your mind to buy only pesticide-free, local produce, I’ve listed an of out-of-the-way source. (Also, I commend you!). For those who are willing to settle for merely local, I’ve also listed some sources for peaches that may have been sprayed but are on the less expensive side. If you happen to know of any local sources for pesticide-free peaches, please please please share with us!

Naturally-Grown Peaches

KlineKrest USDA Certified Organic Produce Farm

U-pick by appointment; Already-picked fruit available at market

1067 Somer Road

Lyons, Michigan 48851

$1 for 3 Samplers
$4 per quart Pre-Picked
$3 per quart U-Pick
$5 per Peck
$20 per Bushel

Conventionally-Grown Peaches

Schultz Fruit Ridge Farms

Call Ahead for U-Pick Hours & Availability

60139 County Road 652

Mattawan, MI 49071

269-668-3724

http://www.schultzfruitridgefarm.com/peaches.php

Price: Estimated at $32/bushel – won’t set price until picking starts

Fruit Acres Farm Market & U-Pick

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Saturday and Sunday

3390 Friday Road

Coloma, MI 49038

Farm Market Phone 269-468-3668

Farm Phone 269-468-5076

http://www.fruitacresfarms.com/

$0.99/pound up to 40 pounds and $0.89/pound above 40

Crane’s U-Pick

Hours: MON-SAT 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM; SUN 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

NOTE: Closed for peach picking until August 9 - always call ahead to make sure they haven't been picked clean!

6017 124th Avenue

Fennville, MI 49408

269 561-5126

http://www.cranesupick.com/index.htmv

$0.75/pound

They also have nectarines and plums ($0.85/pound)

 
 

Baby, it's (almost) cold outside!

It’s fall. Big time. Temperatures are dropping along with brown and orange leaves. The tomato plants are bending beneath the weight of green fruit hoping for enough time. (I’ll be picking them before we get frost.) The zucchini, cucumbers and beans are all distant memories. And all I can think about is sowing seeds. Yes, that’s right, sowing seeds. Today I planted seeds in the main garden and before the weekend is over, I’ll have planted many more. Why? Because I’m experimenting with four-season growing!  [Read More]
 
 
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