Farm Name Selected

We have finally decided on a name for our place that carries meaning for us from our past, present and future business ideals.   Growing Phases Farm is our new name and although we haven’t  started officially doing business the name is in place!

 I have set up a Facebook page and another blog where I will be writing about happenings on the Farm and I am keeping my fingers crossed we can find a good internet connection here.   We are pretty remote and most carriers don’t reach us.

We were busy the last few weeks harvesting all the garlic and now this task is finally complete.   The 5 types of garlic grown this past season include Chrysalis Purple, Chesnok Red, Persian Star, Inchelium Red and Chet’s Italian.   The garlic will cure for a month before it is up for sale and many of the cloves will be saved for our planting for 2012 which will take place in October.   I also ordered 2 additional varieties – Music and Siberian, along with Lorz Italian and Broadleaf Czech to be started.   Overall, the growth and harvest went well, although much more organic compost needs to be added to the hard clay soil for better results.

The cucumbers have been plentiful allowing us to can enough to keep us pickle happy until next season.   I left the vines to grow a little longer since the chickens love cucumbers and will enjoy their refreshing taste on these hot, hot summer days!

I noticed more baby birds out and about and made sure to keep the feeders full for them.   If you sit and watch you can see the difference between the babies and the adults – besides the physical appearance, they are slower to move and they tend to observe what is going on around them.

Top picture is a baby House Wren – the nest is built behind a piece of wood we placed up against sliding glass doors.   The wood was picked up and placed there for no reason, but once the nest-building began – we didn’t dare move it.   The lower picture is a baby American Goldfinch watching the world go by.

Garlic past its prime

Some of the garlic I have from last season is starting to sprout and it makes sense since the garlic out in the ground is sprouting also.    It must sense that it’s time to grow!   At this point, the garlic is still very edible but it has lost its youthfulness and freshness.   I decided to dry some up in the Excalibur dehydrator and save it this way.   I will take it a step further and powder it for simple sprinkling into recipes.

This garlic press/slicer I found and purchased over the summer has been a true time saver!    Previous to buying it, I would cut each individual clove into slices and it did take forever.   Now I just pop the clove in the garlic slicer and presto …. nicely sliced garlic!

Patiently awaiting their time in the Excalibur

Here we have the garlic sprouting outside …

Planted in October to be harvested in July!

Make sure to add your recipe to Munchie Monday tomorrow.   I will be adding Garlic Herb Croutons … easy, easy!

Press those Flowers!

~ Now is the  time to bring a little summer sunshine into your surroundings ~  and I will show you how!

With temperatures dipping well below zero and winds gusting outside with a high pitch screech and lasting echo, it’s hardly time to think hot summer days.   Let’s … for a moment … forget the current outdoor conditions and relish in the past … the hot days spent lounging poolside, gathering flowers to adorn the table and taking a few sprigs here and there and “pressing them” to save for later.   As we gaze into the fire as we sip our hot cocoa, we can envision the swaying sunflowers dancing in the breeze.     Let’s talk flowers!

Using pressed flowers is not a new idea … earlier this year I created this post and it is an easy art to conquer.   I think we simply overlook all the possibilities to save those moments of celebration.   Saving our corsages, bouquets or even a bundle of  flowers picked up from the market will extend the memory and bring joy long after the event has passed.

My stash of saved pressed foliage has a variety of flowers, ferns and even herbs that were picked and pressed in heavy phone books for several weeks to several months.   I always thought the flower had to be small and flat to press successfully, but I have had great success with bigger and thicker flowers as well.   The trick is using heavier weights and longer drying time.

Working out your design and what you intend to create using your pressed flowers should be fun and care taken to handle the flowers carefully since they are now rather fragile.   Tweezers are ideal for handling and if petals or stems break off, you can glue right back into place.   The recommended glue to use for placement and also sealing is a product called Mod Podge.   It can be found at craft stores – most supermarkets also carry this product.

A favorite design I enjoy is using the flowers on cards for special occasions and special people.   There are many ways to use your precious flowers and there is no limit on what your imagination can create.

As you browse through the gardening catalogs on these cold snowy days, envision the colorful, fragrant fields of flowers you can grow or better yet… Jump in the car and head to the store for a bundle of beauty!   Enjoy them now and save some for later!

Garden Goodies in the Winter

Preserving garden produce by means of canning is an excellent way to enjoy your garden during the cold winter months.   Along with this, another way to keep summer harvest coming is by dehydrating.   Here is a Post from a few months back showing my dehydrator doing a wonderful job drying garlic and tomatoes.   Now as a thick layer of snow covers the ground I can still enjoy the summer harvest!

Dried garlic, tomatoes and cayenne peppers – the peppers I simply let air dry and they can also be used in your crafty floral decorating.   The tomatoes are excellent and have a sweet flavor.   Having these ingredients within easy reach makes meal planning a little easier and quite a bit tastier!   I would definitely recommend an Excalibur Dehydrator for gift giving this Christmas or add to your own wish list.   Mine has paid for itself many times and is still cranking away drying more Chet’s Italian garlic which I will have listed in my shop selling in individual 2 oz. packettes some time this week.

I spotted this Spaghetti Bread recipe in an old recipe book, made some revisions and decided to bake up a loaf since I have the dried garlic and tomatoes ready for a recipe.   The dried garlic can easily be ground up in a blender (for coarse pieces) or a coffee grinder will powder the garlic for your own homemade garlic powder.   The bread does call for spaghetti as one of the actual ingredients so even though it sounds somewhat off the wall it actually tasted pretty good.   The dried tomatoes added the perfect taste.  A nice side bowl of marinara sauce for dipping and you have a totally unique appetizer, meal or even a gift!

HomeGrown Holidays and Giveaway

As each year passes I find myself growing, preserving and giving more Homegrown presents to family and friends and they Love them!  

The garlic harvest this year was excellent and gifts already have been given – fresh garlic, pickled scapes and garlic cloves … more garlic gifts will be given for Christmas.   I have only one more jar of the pickled garlic scapes left and those are mine … I really have enjoyed them and posted the recipe back when I discovered it.   In the Garden Online is the place I first learned about these wonderful garlic scapes and the blog writer, Colleen, also has a book out “Edible Gardening for the Midwest” which will be added to my Christmas wish list this year.

Since we are on the subject of Canning and books, I want to also mention “Canning & Preserving for Dummies”.   The author of this book, Amy, was actually the winner of the Garlic Giveaway I held not to long ago.   She hosts a blog over at The Farming Wife – check her out too!   I highly recommend both of these sources for your cooking and gardening interests!   Great gifts for others on your list too!

I made up labels to add to my canned goods this year in hopes of receiving the empty jars back.   Most people will forget (except my parents, they always return the jars) 🙂 and if they see this little reminder on the bottom of the jar when the goods are all finished up, odds are they will return the jar to you!

It’s has been a while since the Garlic Giveaway and since this is the week of giving thanks……. time to show appreciation to my friendly readers, I worked on some gift tags as a new giveaway this weekend.

These are actually stickers which were hand stamped – so you can peel off the back and place on your gift!

It is rather difficult to see the detail on the tags …. the stamped images are heat embossed which gives them a raised glossy look – pretty neat!   So leave a comment and the winner will be announced next Tuesday after the holiday and in time for adding to your holiday gifts.   Also the newest Linky starts today!!   The theme is Stocking Stuffers so make sure to head on over and add your listing – also on the same page I added a Linky to add your facebook fanpage.

Wishing Everyone a Safe, Fun and Enjoyable Thanksgiving!   Thanks All!

Create Tradition Today!

Most of us grow up and follow certain traditions or rituals together as a family.   It may be the Christmas cookies we bake or the weekly visit to Grandma’s house – whatever it may be, it has deep meaning and purpose.   Traditions are the cement that unifies a family and bonds the members together from generation to generation.

As technology expands and life becomes more computerized, we speed along with the daily trends and rush to keep up.   A lot of tradition and family togetherness is becoming lost in the ever increasing wires that whirl throughout the airwaves.   Older generations are jumping aboard and staying connected with the younger generations who are miles ahead in the electronic world of today.

I was asked recently “How has social media changed the way I communicate?”   I have to say it has changed my communications drastically; in a good way, but also in a way that may leave future generations wondering about days long ago and only having the computer to flip on for answers.   The diaries, recipe books and homespun crafts of yester year are disappearing as the new world of technology makes its mark.   This realization hit home now that the 2 kids are off at college – I have considerably more time to reflect.   What memories will they always hold dear to them?   Will they carry on tradition to their children?   In a 100 years will the future generations even know I existed?   Sobering thoughts indeed, but will they? 

As I was working on my latest creation, I decided each child will receive one of these Recipe books as a Christmas gift and I will send them recipes throughout the year.

I also plan to start one of my own.   I can add cookies, cakes along with my healthy gardening dishes and this will serve as my link to my future family.    They can experience life in the past through my writings and shared thoughts.   Some time ago I wrote this Grow a Garden piece for my website and it reinforces the thoughts of leaving something for future generations.   Now is the time to start (if we haven’t already), a time to create tradition and leave it for future generations so they can experience life as we lived it.

Create Tradition Today!   Share yourself with the future.