Author Archives: Paonia Farm & Home

Time to Plant Peas, Potatoes, and Onions

March 17 is the traditional time to plant peas, potatoes, and onions.

 

peaseeds

Peas are a cool-season crop, now coming in three separate varieties to suit your garden and cooking needs. They are: (sweet pea, inedible pod) and snow peas (edible flat pod with small peas inside) and snap peas (edible pod with full-size peas). They are easy to grow, but with a very limited growing season. Furthermore, they do not stay fresh long after harvest, so enjoy them while you can!

plantingpeasPlanting Peas

  • To get the best head start, turn over your pea planting beds in the fall, add manure to the soil, and mulch well.
  • As with other legumes, pea roots will fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants.
  • Peas will appreciate a good sprinkling of wood ashes to the soil before planting.
  • Sow seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F.
  • Plant 1 inch deep (deeper if soil is dry) and 2 inches apart.
  • Get them in the ground while the soil is still cool but do not have them sit too long in wet soil. It’s a delicate balance of proper timing and weather conditions. For soil that stays wet longer, invest in raised beds.
  • A blanket of snow won’t hurt emerging pea plants, but several days with temperatures in the teens could. Be prepared to plant again.
  • Peas are best grown in temperatures below 70 degrees F.

Care of Pea Plants

  • Make sure that you have well-drained, humus-rich soil.
  • Poke in any seeds that wash out. (A chopstick is an ideal tool for this.)
  • Be sure, too, that you don’t fertilize the soil too much. Peas are especially sensitive to too much nitrogen, but they may like a little bonemeal, for the phosphorus content.
  • Though adding compost or manure to the soil won’t hurt, peas don’t need heavy doses of fertilizer. They like phosphorus and potassium.
  • Water sparsely unless the plants are wilting. Do not let plants dry out, or no pods will be produced.
  • For tall and vine varieties, establish poles or a trellis at time of planting.
  • Do not hoe around plants to avoid disturbing fragile roots.
  • It’s best to rotate pea crops every year or two to avoid a buildup of soil-borne diseases.

plantingpotatoes_lPlanting Potatoes

  • Plant seed potatoes (pieces of whole potato or a small whole potato, with at least 2 eyes per piece).
  • If you are cutting up potato pieces for planting, do so a 1-2 days ahead of time. This will give them the chance to form a protective layer, both for moisture retention and rot resistance.
  • Old Timers say Good Friday or under the full moon is the best time to plant root crops.  Potatoes can be planted as soon as soil can be worked, but be aware that some crops could be ruined by a frost.
  • Spread and mix in rotted manure or organic compost in the bottom of the trench before planting.
  • Plant seed potatoes one foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench, eye side up.
  • Practice yearly crop rotation.

Care of Potatoes

  • Potatoes thrive in well-drained, loose soil.
  • Potatoes need consistent moisture, so water regularly when tubers start to form.
  • Hilling should be done before the potato plants bloom, when the plant is about 6 inches tall. Hoe the dirt up around the base of the plant in order to cover the root as well as to support the plant. Bury them in loose soil. The idea is to keep the potato from getting sunburned, in which case they turn green and will taste bitter.
  • You will need to hill potatoes every couple of weeks to protect your crop.

Planting Onions

Candy, yellow, red, and white onion sets are now in the store.

Candy onion plants, yellow, red, and white onion sets are now in the store.  Get started now!

Onions are a cold season crop, easy to grow because of their hardiness. We recommend using onion sets, which can be planted without worry of frost damage and have a higher success rate than direct seed or transplants.

  • Till in aged manure or fertilizer the fall before planting.
  • Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before transplanting. Move transplants into the garden as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Plant the transplants about three inches apart.
  • Plant sets directly outdoors mid March and early April. Make sure temperature doesn’t go below 20 degrees F.
  • When planting onion sets, don’t bury them completely under the soil; if more than the bottom third of the bulb is underground, growth can be restricted. Set five inches apart.

Care

  • Fertilize when bulbs begin to swell, and again when plants are one foot tall
  • Make sure soil is well-drained. Mulch will help retain moisture and stifle weeds.

Candy onion plants, white, yellow, red onion sets are now in stock.  Come in and visit!

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Putting the Garden to Bed

Putthegardentobed

Cooler temperatures tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins

Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.

Homemade Applesauce- Frugal to the Core

Homemade Applesauce put up for the winter

Homemade Applesauce put up for the winter

With an abundance of apples to harvest this year consider making some homemade applesauce!  Super easy to make,  the taste is delicious, simply amazingly superior to the commercially available sauces.

Making applesauce at home requires no special equipment, just  apples, cinnamon, and sugar is optional.  Preparing the tangy sauce at home is a fun, frugal, practical and a realistic activity for the whole family and all levels of cooking ability.  Use #2, or slightly blemished apples to save money and simply cut-away the bad spots.

how-to-make-applesauce-3952

For my family, applesauce making has been a fall tradition transcending more than thirty years, ideal for our cooler Fall days.  By utilizing our abundant North Fork apple crop, you can use up the less than perfect apples inexpensively.  If you use at least three different varieties of sweet apples such as Gala, Red Delicious, Golden delicious, Fuji, Honeycrips,  or Romes you will eliminate the need for sugar.  Picking apples yourself makes the process really inexpensive and gives you the added sense of satisfaction of using up what otherwise might go to waste.

For a detailed, illustrated step-by-step PDF for making homemade applesauce, Click Here.

Basic Steps to Homemade Applesauce:

1.  The first step is to collect the equipment you will need if you are making enough to freeze or can.  Small batches can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

  • Large Stockpot
  • Knifecanningsupplies
  • Pint or quart canning jars
  • Jar lids or Tattler reuseable jar lids
  • Jar Funnel, optional
  • Foley Food Mill, Norpro or other Saucemaster, Food Processor or potato masher, optional
  • Water Bath Canner (if freezing the sauce the Canner won’t be needed)

apples-in-wheelbarrow2.  To make 7 quarts applesauce to freeze or can you will need about twenty pounds or more of a variety of different apples for the best tasting sauce.  If you only have one tart variety, the applesauce will still be yummy.  If your apples are bland, you can enhance the flavor substantially by using lemon juice to taste.

3.  Wash the jars in hot soapy water and then rinse in hot water, or better yet, let the dishwasher do the job and keep the jars warm.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA4.  Then wash, peel if desired,  and chop the apples up.  If you have a Saucemaster or Foley food mill, you can leave the skins and seeds in the apples, and the food mill will remove the waste for you.  I also like to leave the skins on for the added pectin in the sauce and the pinkish color to the sauce imparted by red skins.

5.  Fill your stockpot to the top with apples, and add about an inch of water and once the pot is boiling adjust the heat to medium high to steam the apples for about 30 minutes or until the apples are soft throughout the pot.  Stir occasionally.images

6.  Run the apples through the food mill or mash them up by hand with a potato masher.  Add cinnamon to taste.  I use about 1 Tbsp of cinnamon per 3-4 quarts of sauce.  (I also mix the cinnamon with a little sugar so it mixes into the sauce smoothly.)

Fill the jars to 1/2” for pints to within 1” for quarts or 1 1/2 inch for jars of sauce to be frozen (to allow plenty of room for expansion).  Plastic containers are also a great inexpensive way to preserve the sauce if you don’t have a Water Bath Canner.

7.  Process the Jars according to the following chart based on your elevation.

sauceprocessing

8.  Remove the processed jars with a jar lifter and place them on a dish towel covered wooden cutting board or other heat-safe surface.  Check the jars for sound seals after 24 hours and store the jars in a cool, dark place.

applesauce-jars

For a detailed, illustrated step-by-step PDF for making homemade applesauce, Click Here.

Creamed New Potaotes and Peas

A Delicious, Traditional Springtime Recipe!

A Delicious, Traditional Springtime Recipe!

If you have some delicious fresh homegrown peas from your garden you will be especially excited to prepare this classic, old-fashioned 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!!)

Cherry Cream Coffee Cake

cherry-cream-cake-text

Summertime in the North Fork is good, well like a bowl full of cherries.  Before the harvest of sweet and sour cherries comes to a close this season, you might want to bake some mouthwatering, scrumptious Cherry Cream Coffee Cake for the someone(s) special in your life using fresh cherries.

Fresh  cherries are  available at local Paonia farm markets. Sparky’s Farm Market on Roger’s and Stahl’s Market will have fresh, pitted, and frozen pie cherries later in the season, so call ahead for availability.

 Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, softened
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/4 tsp baking powder

FILLING

4 cups pitted red cherries (cherry pitters are available at the Paonia Farm and Home store)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

ICING

1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3-5 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

  • Instructionscherryplate

    1. Preheat oven to 350°
    2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.
    3. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut softened butter into the flour mixture (will be crumbly). Reserve one cup of this mixture to save for topping.
    4. Mix eggs and cream. Slowly add to the flour mixture and blend until well incorporated. Add salt and baking powder and mix until smooth.
    5. Pour batter into greased spring form pan.
    6. Meanwhile, place cherries and lemon juice into a saucepan over medium heat. Cover and heat cherries until they release their juice and come to a simmer, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir often.
    7. In a small bowl, whisk granulated sugar with cornstarch; pour the mixture into the hot cherries and juice, and thoroughly combine. Return to low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until the filling is thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes; remove from heat.
    8. Pour cherry pie filling over batter in the spring form pan.
    9. Top pie filling with the 1 cup of reserved flour mixture, spreading evenly to cover.
    10. Bake for 55 minutes or until brown and toothpick in the center comes out clean.
    11. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then remove cake from the spring form.
    12. *For the Icing:*Mix together melted butter and vanilla. Slowly stir in powdered sugar and cinnamon.
    13. Add 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Stir until creamy and smooth.
    14. Add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.
    15. Drizzle over coffee cake and serve. Enjoy!

    The recipe and photos are courtesy of dineanddish.net, a food and lifestyle photography blog where you’ll find family friendly recipes and tips to simplify your life.