Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A blast from the Summer Past

       This past summer we had a harvest of beautiful peppers. They are very easy to grow and don't take a lot of care. We put them in the ground and they took off growing. Peppers like a rich soil with lots of organic matter. They looked great growing in the garden. Pepper plants also make a nice addition to your flower beds. They blend nicely with brightly colored flowers. We did have to keep them watered late in the summer because the rain stopped for a while. We only added fertilizer one time in the spring. Most peppers start to produce in about seventy days, some a few days more some less. Once they get started making peppers, and they produced tons of peppers. We planted four kinds of peppers Corno Di Torro Rosso, Marconi Red, Small Purple Bell Peppers, and a Yellow Bell Pepper. We loved the bright colors of all of these wonderful peppers. We enjoyed them all summer long and into the fall. Grand also put jar after jar in the freezer. Some she chopped into small bits, some she sliced into strips and others she put up as whole peppers. There are many things you can make with peppers such as casseroles, soups and stews, tacos, pepper steak, and even stuffed peppers. But the recipe we are going to focus on today is Tacos!!!
                               Grand's Awesome Tacos
1. A pound of Ground Beef
2 A cup of chopped onion
3. A cup of chopped bell peppers
4. 1 14 ounce cans of tomato
5. 3 cans of different kinds of beans, your choice (garbanzo beans, black beans, great northern beans  whatever kind of beans you like )
6. About a cup of canned or frozen corn
7. 2 tsp of garlic powder
8. 2 tsp of cumin
9. 2 tsp of chili powder
10. salt and pepper to taste
Brown ground beef add onion and bell peppers cook till soft. Then stir in tomatoes, beans, and corn. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Cook over low heat about 10 min. or longer. The longer you let it simmer that better the flavors will blend. We have used this recipe for tacos, enchiladas, nachos and even topping for taco salad.  

                                                       Hints from Grand

 If you like you may use an envelope of taco mix. We like to use dried beans in this recipe. Grand cooks up a package of beans and then freezes them in jars. If you want more meat use two pounds of meat and cut back on beans. Taste this as you cook, some canned beans have more salt than others. We don't like hot foods but you can spice this up with jalapeno peppers or hot sauce. There are no rules here add whatever you like green onions or add some leftover rice or maybe throw in some summer squash.  
Our delicious taco delight
A close up of our peppers
Beautiful colorful peppers

Monday, January 2, 2017

Low tunnel fail

     We have had a major fail on the farm. This fall we decided to invest in a low tunnel hoop bender and then used the bender to bend electrical conduit into low tunnel hoops.We also ordered one of their frost covers. When we started forming the low tunnels using our new bender we were thrilled. The bender worked great and we plan on ordering different sizes. We mounted the bender to an old wooden shipping crate that we found in a shed. Making the hoops went really fast and they turned out perfect. We were hoping to use the hoops with the frost cover to extend the growing season at the farm. We used ten-foot electrical conduit to make hoops about four feet tall and used these to cover over our Brussel sprouts. We used five-foot conduit to make a tunnel about two and a half feet tall.

This size we used over our broccoli plants. The tunnels worked well and the plants did great under them. We wired our hoops to fence posts we had driven into the ground and we will try wooden boards next time. Then, we covered the hoops with our frost cover.

We then lined the sides with our many rocks to hold the frost cover in place. It all looked so good and we were very happy with our work. Then, Mother Nature showed out with rain and high winds. The next morning we found out that one of our frost covers had blown over. Well, blown might be and understatement, the cover over the Brussel sprouts had blown completely over, hoops and all, only the rocks had kept the frost cover from blowing into the next county. Our farm is in a valley between the mountains and the valley acts like a wind tunnel. The cover that blew over was facing sideways with the side taking the wind full force and was about 4' tall. We decided to take down this cover so that it didn't blow over again.
We hope the Brussel sprouts can take the cold. The frost cover that didn't blow over was facing into the wind and was only about 2' tall. We didn't stick the hoops to far in the ground because we knew we would take them up, but we thought we had them deep enough to resist the wind. We were obviously wrong.
We will keep you updated on how the uncovered Brussel sprouts do. We are going to use our hoops to grow earlier in the spring. We are going to work with mother nature and line up our tunnels differently next time. We have learned a lot.  If you use low tunnels please let us know how you anchor them to the ground. We ordered our bender from a company called Build My Own We were very happy with this company and will continue to order from them. They also sell greenhouse supplies. We hope we will soon be able to build a greenhouse.