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Welcome to Paonia Farm and Home Supply

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Paonia Farm and Home Supply, also known as Paonia’s do-it-yourself center, wants to show your project(s) with pictures to inspire our community to get started with their project.  Please come into the store and share your before, during, and after pictures of your projects, gardens, remodeling efforts, and farm animals.

Creamed New Potaotes and Peas

A Delicious, Traditional Springtime Recipe!

A Delicious, Traditional Springtime Recipe!

Sunday marks the first day of Summer with very high predicted daytime temperatures.  If you have some delicious fresh homegrown peas you will be especially excited to prepare this dish.

Add a little diced ham to turn this recipe into a main dish.

Whether you have fresh new potatoes and fresh peas or not, make this delicious, traditional Springtime dish!

12 new potatoes (or 2-3 large potatoes cubed in 1 1/2” cubes)

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 cup cream

1 cup milk  (or 2 cups milk if you don’t have fresh cream)

3 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 tsp salt

dash pepper to taste

If you are using new potatoes you just boil them in water until tender. If you are using regular potatoes, peel them and cut them into large, 1 1/2 inch cubes. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a basic white sauce by melting the butter in a 2 qt saucepan. Whisk in the flour, salt, pepper and then the cream and milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking until thick and smooth. With a wooden spoon, stir in the fresh or frozen peas and cook until heated through. Don’t overcook the peas! You want the peas to remain crisp and not get soggy like canned peas

By this time your potatoes are pretty close to being done, Drain the potatoes and add them to the white sauce. Stir in pepper if desired. Do not over cook. (Yuck!!)

Introducing Cedar Keshet

IMG_4240Introducing Cedar Keshet, a FarmHome Organics Store employee, who will welcome you into the store by name, with a warm, friendly smile and a  sincere desire to help you find the best product for your application.   Her cornucopia of knowledge about organic and biodynamic gardening has been acquired through life-long study and personal experiences since the young age of four.

Cedar began learning the art of painting and African violet plant propagation, from an elderly neighbor, with whom she bonded as a preschooler in Ohio.   Throughout her childhood, her family encouraged Cedar to garden by giving her, her own garden spot where she honed her skills on hearty plants not-likely-to-fail like tomatoes, peppers, marigolds and other fool proof vegetation.  (Likewise, parents you can encourage your children to garden this way also.)

By high school her family had moved to El Paso, Texas  where Cedar pursued her passions of horticulture through FFA (Future Farmer’s of America) as well as art and equine science.

Her formal educational credentials include studying horticulture to become a plant pathologist at Texas A & M, followed  by acquisition of a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Elementary Education, and Master’s of Education in Computer Science.

Sprinkled into the formal education and professional teaching experience has been a passion for painting and other arts, Organic gardening, and years of self-study in bio-dynamic gardening under the tutelage of  local North Fork gardeners Pat Frazier and Caren vonGontard.

Her philosophy of successful plant growth can be summed up by the following statement:  “Customize the food for your plants based on the stage of the plant’s growth and its particular needs.”

For example:  Organic sources of phosphorus, which is essential for root development and

OrganicPhosphorusbloom production includes, Bat Guano, Bone Meal, Fish Bone Meal, and Seabird Guano.
Organic sources of Nitrogen include Chicken manure, bat

Guanao, Worm Castings, Alfalfa meal, Fish Meal or Fish emulsion, etc.  The Organics store is literally wall wall-papered with 8 1/2 X 11 posters of information on

Liquid Molasses

Liquid Molasses

Organic Gardening, uses for products in the store such has horticultural vinegar and molasses or Compost Tea.

Novice gardeners and experienced organic gardeners will all learn something pertaining to their own needs or circumstances that they didn’t already know about horticulture, organic gardening, and plant supplements by walking into the store reading the informative posters and visiting with Cedar.

bio-liveHer favorite all-around product, BioLive available in bulk or 50# bags, contains an evenly balanced assortment of microbes fungi, as well as a 5-4-2 blend of organic sources of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus which makes it the best all-purpose fertilizer promoting root development for enhanced nutrient uptake, increased crop yields and fruit quality.

From Cedar I have learned that OMRI stands for Organic Materials Review Institute, an omri-logoorganization who provides organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production.  She has explained to me the very rudimentary basics of horticultural application of Compost Tea, Kelp, Vinegar, Molasses, Bat Guano, Worm Castings and which organic supplements provide, Nitrogen, Potassium, and/or Phosphorus, how to promote and enhance soil microbes, naturally formulated bug repellants, and so much more.

Cedar#2When Cedar is not working at the Farm and Home Organics store she can be found producing fine art, cultivating numerous types of lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, both dry and string bean varieties, snap peas and other organic vegetables.

If Cedar does not already know you by name, be sure to introduce yourself next time you visit the store.

Top Tomato Growing Tips

Mature tomato plants are well- mulched

Mature tomato plants are well- mulched

Cultivating fruitful tomatoes, of course, is subject to weather and other environmental factors.   Experienced tomato growers know they need to nurture and cultivate their plants at least weekly using some of the following principles.  Here are some tips from experienced growers.

Tomatoes and basil are an ideal companion plants

Tomatoes and basil are an ideal companion plants

  1. Add lots of compost or well-rotted manure to the soil you will be planting them in.
  2.  Companion planting works wonderfully with tomatoes. Sow basil underneath the tomato plants, or nasturtiums which help to repel aphids and other pests.
  3. Use canes, cages and/ or stakes to support your plants and help them to be strong.
  4. Water the soil, not the plant – tomato leaves and stems hate getting wet.
  5.  Every week or so from when flowering starts, give your plant a feed of your favorite plant food for tomatoes.  Developing fruit loves potassium. Compost Tea mixed with kelp,  and/or mycorrhizae is like giving your tomato plants a boost of pro-biotics and key minerals.
  6.  Water little and often to encourage continuous growth.  This also helps to avoid split fruit.emerging sucker
  7. Pinch out any shoots that develop between stem and main branches – they take up valuable energy from the developing fruit.
  8. Cut off the top of plants when six trusses of fruit set – this helps to focus the plant’s energies.
  9. Bring any tomatoes that are still shy of ripeness at the end of the summer indoors and put a banana with them – the ethylene given off by the banana helps them ripen.
  10. If you are a novice,  you will probably pick a few  disappointingly poor tasting tomatoes. Tomatoes are notoriously sensitive to place and weather.  Did you know there are countless numbers of sugars, acids and volatile chemicals that mingle together to produce the unique tomato taste.  Some factors may be beyond your control.  There is always next year.

What tried and true tomato growing tips would you add to this list?

How to Use Compost Tea

aerated compost tea

Aerated compost tea

Compost tea is a liquid produced by extracting bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes from compost.  Compost tea production is a simple brewing process that can be made at home like a “home brew” or purchased at the Farm and Home Organics store.

The top two reasons to use compost tea are:

  1. To impart microbial life into the soil or onto the foliage of plants
  2. Add soluble nutrients to the foliage or to the soil to feed the organisms and the plants present.

Other benefits of using a compost tea that contains ALL the food web organisms are:

  • Improved plant growth as a result of using beneficial organisms to protect the plant surfaces.
  • The tea improves the nutrient retention of the soil thus stimulating plant growth.  If your soil can retain its nutrients it helps minimize the need to use fertilizer.
  • Increasing the nutrients available to the root system leads to a stronger healthier plant.  T
  • Compost tea assists in reducing the negative impact that chemical-based pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers have on beneficial micro-organisms in the ecosystem.
  • Improves the intake of nutrients by increasing foliar uptake.
  • Reduces water loss and improves the water retention of the soil thereby reducing the need for frequent watering.
  • Improves tillage by building a better soil structure.  Only the biological components in your soil can build its structure, and ALL the organism groups in the food web are required in order to have this occur.  m benefit from compost tea.
  • Aerated compost tea should be used quickly, since it contains living organisms. Ideally, the tea will be used within 4-6 hours of decanting from the brewer.

Recommendations for using compost tea:

Sprinkle compost tea over plants according to the 1:2 ratio of tea to water

Sprinkle compost tea over outdoor plants according to the 1:2 ratio of tea to water

Keeping it cool, out of the sunlight and in an open-top container, can prolong the useful life of the tea. Periodic stirring or continued aeration will prolong its life even longer. Eventually, however, the organisms in the compost tea will consume all of the food and air available to them, causing their populations to rapidly decline.

Any tea that is left over or “expired” can be added to the compost pile or to the soil.

Compost tea can be applied to the soil or directly to the plant as a foliar spray. For a foliar spray, cover leaves using a fine mist. As a soil drench, compost tea should be applied so that it moves into the root zone.

This can be accomplished by following the tea application with additional water. Dilute Farm & Home Organic’s compost tea1:1 (tea to water) for indoor houseplant and garden plants.

Drenching a medium size plant requires about 2 cups of tea plus enough water to get the solution down to the roots. Compost tea can be diluted (up to 1:3 tea to water) to cover a larger area like a lawn. When applying to lawns, apply the tea either just before or just after watering.

Apply once or twice a month throughout the growing season. While it can contain some nutrients and micronutrients, compost tea should not be thought of as a fertilizer.

Compost tea is more accurately described as a soil or foliar inoculant to be used in combination with other good organic gardening practices and inputs.

Seed Starting Hurdles

Plant tender plants such as squash, basil, and zinnias after the overnight temperatures are 50-55 degrees

Plant tender plants such as squash, basil, and zinnias after the overnight temperatures are 50-55 degrees

We appreciate hearing from anyone who has a problem with their garden, but early in the season we know that when “my peas and lettuce are up fine, but the cucumber seeds must be bad because they didn’t germinate,” it’s a good indication that the outdoor night garden temperatures are simply too cool for the heat loving seeds like cucumbers.

Especially this past cool, moist May in Colorado, avid gardeners must be strong and resist the temptation to sow seeds of heat loving varieties of seeds into your garden until the soil has warmed up and spring weather conditions have warmed and settled with outdoor night temperatures consistently in the 50-55° F (10-13° C)  range.  In our area that will probably be sometime next week.

Be confident that seeds planted directly into the garden when conditions are warm enough will catch up and surpass stressed seedlings that were planted too early. Don’t be fooled by a long warm weekend – wait until the weather has truly warmed up for several days in a row.

When temperatures are warm enough, seeds will germinate quickly and won’t languish or risk rotting in the soil waiting to emerge. Fast growing plants that don’t get set back by cold weather are less likely have disease problems and will grow past insect or bird damage much easier than seedlings stunted by difficult beginnings.

Basil will succeed best when started in the garden

Basil will succeed best when started in the garden

This includes sowing seeds for summer flower favorites like zinnias, sunflowers, morning glories marigolds, nasturtiams and cosmos.  It’s best to direct sow your favorite heat loving herbs like basils, parsley, oregano and thyme, and all the many fruiting summer vegetables including cucumbers, pole and bush beans, summer and winter squashes, corn, melons, wqtermelons, and pumpkins.

The larger seeds started in indoor seed starting trays really don’t have enough space for root growth and will do better when planted directly into the soil.
The only exceptions would be plants such as

Ripe and ripening sweet 100' on the vine

Ripe and ripening sweet 100′ on the vine

tomatoes and peppers that won’t have enough time to mature to fruit unless started indoors.