2 acre farm: June 2010

2 acre farm

The experiences, trials, and lives on a small farm in rural Illinois.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Putting Up Beans

I guess producing more than you can consume runs in the family. My dad picked a huge mess of green beans the other day from his family garden and ask me if I would take the extras. This season he has already canned over 20 quarts for both he and my mom. Since they have also been eating snap beans on a daily basis we get to reap the benefits and can keep this weeks 2 acre farm pickings soley for market instead of holding some of the beans back for ourselves.
This morning I canned seven quarts of his green beans for winter and still had two quarts left over to cook up for dinner tonight. My goal is to can at least thirty quarts of snap (green) beans for winter.  This shouldn't be too hard condsidering I just planted another 120 feet of beans today and will plant another 120 feet at the end of July.

So far this market season I have canned 7 quarts of beans, 4 pints of carrots, 8 pints of blueberry syrup, 6 half pints of strawberry jam,  and 2 pints of black raspberry jam. I can't even begin to list off everything we will have put up before the season ends but here is a sampling if anyone is curious: apple sauce, apple butter, peach jam, cabbage soup, vegetable soup, salsa, tomato juice, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato and chile sauce... to name a few.  Perhaps I should start a running canning list to accompany the harvest list...


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Worth the Effort

My dad has always said that the goal is to have tomatoes by July 4th and of course it rarely ever happens, if you buy your plants from the store that is. I started my tomatoes from seed in our basement the first week of March. By the first week of April they were in the ground, a solid month before our last date of frost. During that time we had two frost scares that had me outside covering 2000 square feet of tomatoes with plastic.

Yesterday, June 23rd, I picked two ripe tomatoes. My dad, who got his plants from me, picked his first tomato a week before I picked these. We wont have enough for market but once they start coming on they come quick. Hopefully we will have them for next week... fingers crossed.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Garlic Time!

Yesterday we dug all the garlic and got it curing. We opted for drying it on old window screens instead of tying and hanging it. Since I've already cut the stems, once the garlic dries it will be done. If I had chose to hang the garlic I would have used the stems to tie the garlic together in bunches and removed the stems later. I would rather have that step done with now.  Also, I have read in several sources that cutting the roots down & cutting the stems off will actually help speed the drying process.  
I have to warn anyone reading this blog that also visits us at the market, you shouldn’t get too excited yet, garlic takes a minimum of two weeks to cure. For now all I can offer are some pictures to gawk at.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sustainability Through the Consumption of Things Conserved

[Note: The following post was written for 2 Acre Farm viewers by guest blogger, Dan Grifen, whose brief biography follows this article.]

"In other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage," - US Ecologist Gary Nabham

Since the beginning of the green movement, there has been a rise in the number of organizations and businesses that are doing their part in the promotion of sustainability through conservation. As human beings, we're told to reduce our carbon footprint, consume less unhealthy foods, and spend less time in the shower! But let's take a minute to step back and look at this from a different perspective; one that Gary Nabham strongly suggests.

Gary Paul Nabham, phD., is a Arab-American writer/conservationist who's extensive farming work in the U.S./Mexico borderlands region has made him world renown. Specifically speaking, Nabham is known for his work in biodiversity as an ethnobotanist. His uplifting messages and attitude towards life and culture has granted us access to multiple beneficial theories including his latest of eat what you conserve.

[pictured above] Dragon Tongue Beans, an heirloom variety, are grown here at 2 Acre Farm. Photo by 2AF.

According to The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, about three quarters of the genetic diversity of crops been vanishing over the last century and that a dozen species now gives 90% of the animal protein eaten globally. In accordance, just 4 crop species supply half of plant based calories in the human diet.

Nabham claims that by eating the fruits and vegetables that we are attempting to conserve/save, we're promoting the granular dissemination of various plant species. But this goes beyond what we typically buy in supermarkets, particularly because of price and abundance. We must remember to try new things and immerse ourselves in the very concept of diversity. Keep in mind; the benefits of splurging for that costly fruit/vegetable supremely outweigh the cons. Not only are you promoting biodiversity and further eliminating the needs of farmers to remove rare, less purchased crops off their agenda, but you're also effectively encouraging healthier lifestyles.

Agriculturist Marco Contiero mentioned that "biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change."[1] With sustainable crop efforts being lead by the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) and the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) the duo plans to provide a more sustainable crop, untouched by natural disasters, much like the ones experience in Haiti and neighboring areas. Contiero goes on to state "We need to ensure this is the basis for the future…" – This is exactly what Doug Band, the CGI, and the IRRI are doing by engaging in sustainability efforts.

So remember, next time you're in the supermarket picking out navel oranges or strawberries, turn your attention to something that's a bit more "out of season," or exotic in nature. The same goes for salads/salad ingredients; shop outside the norm, picking spices and vegetables that you wouldn't normally incorporate into your everyday diet. During such economic downtime it isn't always easy to maintain the same level of grocery shopping intrigue, but we must also not forget that in this sundry of foods we can find fun!

--Dan Grifen, Supporter of all things green and progressive.


Dan is a web engineer in Upstate NY with a passion for political blogging in his free time. As of late, he has been enjoying writing about hot topics in conservation, sustainability, and the environment.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beans to Market

Monday we did the first picking of the provider bush beans and picked about a third of a bushel, which isn't too bad for a first picking. Since the beans grow so quickly we had to get them picked because if they are left on the plant too long they will get tough and inedible.

 I wasn't sure on the procedure for picking and keeping beans any amount of time because the usual procedure is to eat them or can them. So I had to consult the resources. I followed the USDA's book, The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks, recommendations on harvesting, post harvest treatment, and storage.

We scaled it all down to 2 Acre Farm size. This meant picking into buckets of water, straining through a window screen and storing them in wet bags in the fridge. Pretty simple stuff but it’s the difference between snap beans and green noodles at the market. We will get another picking before market day for sure, maybe two if the weather cooperates.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Homegrown Pottery

Have I mentioned I am a potter?

Amongst all the chaos of this growing season I have finally found the time to make a few pots. My ultimate goal is to make pots in the winter, when gardening chores slow down, however it didn't quite work out as planned this past winter.  The idea is to introduce pots seasonally with the produce i.e. berry bowls sold with berries, asparagus dishes with asparagus, and well you get the idea. If you’re wondering all my pottery is stoneware. It is also dishwasher, microwave, oven, and food safe. So as they say "without further ado" ...