Archive for ‘Farmers Markets’

March 20, 2013

16 Things to Do Now to Make it Feel Like Spring

It’s here!  It’s here!  Spring is here!

Yes, I know, you wouldn’t know it if you were to walk out your front door in Minnesota today.  In fact, you might think it were the middle of January.  I awoke this morning to the weather update of wah-wah, wah-wah, wah, wah with an -18 degree windchill.  Yikes!

If you look at Facebook at all today you’ll see a lot of whining, particularly here in Minnesota.  Unfortunately all of the meteorologists have been touting the weather we had this week last year at 70 and 80 degrees above zero making all of the complaining even worse.  The problem is, last year was NOT THE NORM.  The norm this time of the year in Minnesota is 35 to 40 degrees, which while a high of 18 today isn’t exactly tropical, if you compare it to being 20 degrees off the norm instead of 60 degrees off a record, it’s a little easier to chew.

Weather aside, or maybe because of the weather, I thought it was about time we all got excited for spring so I came up with a few things you can do to get by until the weather catches up with our eagerness.  Some of these things are specific to the Twin Cities area, but similar events are happening across the country.

  1. Force branches. Cut branches off of spring blooming trees and shrubs that need pruning, bring them in and put them in water.  In a few days you’ll have spring inside regardless of the weather outside. Learn more about which kinds of trees and shrubs and how-to here.
  2. Plant an indoor bulb garden.  Many nurseries and garden centers are now carrying bulb gardens that you can watch grow, or better yet, buy bulbs and make your own.
  3. Plan your garden.  Grab plans, pictures and notes from your garden journal and plot out your plan for this season.
  4. Build a plant stand with grow lights and start seeds indoors.
  5. Plant edible spring planters.
  6. Buy yourself some cut flowers.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, even $5 can bring a nice burst of color and a smile to your face.
  7. Go to a flower show.  Macy’s Flower Show is traveling the country.  Check here to see when they’ll be in a city near you.
  8. Make a fairy garden. Need inspiration?  The MN Landscape Arboretum is hosting Tiny Treasures: Fairies and Gnomes through March 31st.
  9. Visit a Farmer’s Market!  This Saturday, March 23, 2013, the Bachman’s on Lyndale will be hosting Fresh From the Freeze the Kingfield and Fulton Farmers Markets in the Greenhouse from 9am – 2pm.  There will be music, entertainment, beer, wine and hard cider too.  A vendor list is posted on their site.
  10. Looking to add some spring to your home?  Check out the Bachman’s Spring Ideas House 2013 from April 4th – April 28th.
  11. Visit the Como Park Conservatory. Can’t get there?  Check out the 360 degree view of The Sunken Gardens and The Palm Dome.
  12. Get baby chicks! Our chickens have brought so much sunshine and joy to some of the coldest days.  Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply has chicks arriving on a weekly basis.  Order yours now. (I also know of a possible source if you’re local, contact me and I’ll connect you.) You can build your coop while they grow!  Not ready for your own?  Stop by and visit them.
  13. Start a windowsill garden.
  14. Plant grass in egg shells or a basket.  You’ll be ready for Easter.
  15. Take a trip down South.  No, actually I don’t mean on a plane or in a car.  Grab your jacket, don your hat, slip on those boots and head to the South side of your house, apartment building, what have you.  The South side of buildings gets the best sun and typically retains heat making that area a little micro-climate where the ground thaws early and plants emerge first.  A friend told me just yesterday that her tulips are “up” (poking through the ground) on the South side of her house.  Take a trip and report back on what you find!
  16. Feed the birds!  According to the birds spring is definitely here.  Don’t believe me?  Shut everything off, radio, TV, your kids 😉 and listen.  The birds a singing their sweet little heads off.  Want to hear them more clearly?  Hang a feeder in your yard (or fill-up that empty one), they’ll be singing songs of glory for you!

If all else fails, call me!  I’d be happy to chat about and help you plan your yard and garden for the upcoming season!

Happy Spring everyone!

Kate

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July 11, 2012

And… we’re back!

Wow!  It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  Ages!

How have you been?  This summer sure has been busy, hasn’t it?  But don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you.  In fact, I’ve thought about you a lot.  I have lots of pictures to show you as to what I’ve been up to when I haven’t been working, but just haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write.  Hopefully your summer is equally busy, so you totally understand. 😉

 

Chickens at Linden Hills Farmers Market

 

So where did I leave off?  Ah, yes.  Chickens!  The chicken class was awesome.  Loved it!  If you live in the Twin Cities and are thinking about getting chickens, I definitely recommend taking the Backyard Chicken Basics class at EGG|PLANT Urban Farm Supply before you jump in and get those cute and cuddly chicks.  The class is filled with good information to prepare you for raising chickens.  I thought I’d take the class, order my chicks while I was there and be raising them this week.  I still want to get chickens but, thanks to the class, realized that I have a little more preparation to do before bringing these feathered friends into our backyard.

And speaking of the backyard, this spring was so busy that I didn’t get my garden planted until just a couple of weeks ago.  Holy lateness!  Thankfully, most of it is coming along nicely so far, although something or someone did manage to sneak in and dine on my sunflower and pea shoots, but it could be worse!  Now that things are growing its obvious that my garden could definitely use a little more sun.  I finally contacted an arborist to “take care of” my overgrown volunteer trees so my plants can grow a little stronger.  He’s scheduled to be out in the next couple of days to check everything out so hopefully the balance of the summer my garden will have full sun exposure instead of just part sun!

Peas to please

Greens in the garden

Radish ready for picking

As some of you may know, I spend a good deal of time volunteering at my son’s school.  I help some of the teachers with the Botany unit and coordinate the school garden with a couple of friends.  Even though my home garden got a late start, the garden at school is doing great!  Last year about this time we were just getting the raised beds built and the arbor/pergola constructed.  This year the kids were able to plant before school was out and the children taking summer school classes are now reaping the benefits in their school lunches!  It’s truly awesome to see how much the kids enjoy the garden and trying the food that comes out of it.

 

And since we’re on the subject of food, I’ve also visited a few more Farmers Markets.  Some small, some simple, some large, some with excellent presentation and even visited some in the rain.  I’ll do write-ups on those in the very near future so you can get a taste and see if you want to check them out.

What else?  Insects and diseases.  You can’t have plants without running across those.  Let’s start with Dutch Elm Disease.  While Emerald Ash Borer is getting lots of press these days (as well it should) Dutch Elm disease is still going strong and continuing to make its way around the Twin Cities (along with the rest of the country).  A couple of years ago we lost two large Elm trees in the front yard.  They were big old Elms, they had survived the initial wave of Dutch Elm Disease back in the 70s so I figured they would be okay.  I was wrong.  They left a huge hole in the yard and burnt out lawn, not to mention the habitat that disappeared for the birds and critters.  Well, not wanting to lose the last large Elm in our yard, I decided it’s time to bite the bullet and spend the money to protect it.  Treatment for this tree isn’t cheap, but it is guaranteed for three years and is still cheaper than the cost to remove the tree if it died.  So in addition to protecting a tree that would take 70 years to replace, it was kind of like getting a three-year insurance policy on the tree.  It’s worth it to me.

Japanese Beetles

And while we’re talking insects, guess who’s back?!  The Japanese Beetles.  They have been rearing their iridescent heads again.  While the population hasn’t been anywhere near what it was last year (at least not yet), it seems to be growing by the day.  At first I saw one, then a couple more, and so on.  Many mornings and evenings you’ll find me in the garden with my peanut butter jar of warm soapy water trying to flick off as many as I can find and leave them to, well, drown.

Red-femured Milkweed Borer

Ooo… and speaking of insects, I had a new (to me) insect sighting this year too.  The Red-femured Milkweed Borer.  Have you seen them?  Their coloring is quite stunning.  I found them, ironically enough, on my milkweed. 🙂  Unfortunately I don’t know a lot about these guys.  They seem to be migrating our way due to the climate change and warmer temperatures.  The closest information I could find on them came out of Missouri and as far as I can tell they are neither a “good bug” or a “bad bug”.  They are just there.  If you know anything different, please share!

Snapping Turtle

There have been a couple of other neat non-insect related sightings in our yard this year too.  The first one took place on Memorial weekend.  The dogs were barking out the front door and when I went to see what they were barking at I saw a fairly decent sized snapping turtle on the front sidewalk.  “OH!” I thought to myself, “That’s what you’re barking at.”  After a couple of days of hanging out around the house she burrowed into one of my flower beds and then after a day or two, she disappeared.  Neighbors are pretty certain she probably laid eggs but we won’t know for sure for a few more weeks.  I’ll let you know if there are suddenly little snapper babies everywhere.

Robin

We also had a pair of robins nest under the grape vines on the pergola in the back yard and give birth to three babies.  It was fun watching the nest, waiting for them to hatch and watching the parents feed them.  I was even lucky enough to witness the first attempted flight of one of the babies!  So amazing and so funny!

Garter Snake #2

What else?  Snakes.  Have we had snakes! One of our dogs is very good at catching snakes. (I really wish this wasn’t one of her talents!)  Thankfully we only have garter snakes, so she’s not chasing anything really nasty, but man, these are some of the longest and fattest garter snakes I’ve seen in a long time!  Got a snake problem?  Call me.  I’ll send her over.

I’ve picked up some cool new books too.  A chicken book, gardening book, sustainable living book and of course some cook books.  I tried out a number of new recipes out of the cook books and from a couple of blogs too.  I’ll share some of them later this week.

 

Loaded Raspberry Canes

Oh my, I nearly forgot!  Even though my veggie garden got a slow start there has been no shortage of stuff to eat.  As my Mom would say, we’ve had “a bumper crop” of raspberries this year.  Each year I think I’ll “make stuff” with them, but this year, like most other years, I find myself eating them before I can really make anything.  (Unless you consider a yogurt parfait “making something”.)

Beginning of the blueberries

I’ve also gotten a handful of blueberries, quite a few golden raspberries and the grape vines are loaded, although not ready to eat yet.

The pear trees have a handful of pears on them again too so hopefully I’ll be able to snag one before the squirrels get to them!  Sadly, no fruit on the apple trees again this year.  It appeared as though they were invaded by leaf rollers.  Once things slow down a little I plan on planting a few companion plants in the vicinity of the apple trees to see if I can improve things for them.

The Yurt

Oh, and one more thing to share with you.  I helped build a Yurt!  If you already know what a Yurt is, excellent!  If you’re like me, you’d say, “A what?”  A Yurt.  Basically, it’s like a semi-permanent, round tent.  I’ll go into more detail on that later.

So there’s a glimpse as to what I’ve been up to.  I’m planning on writing more and filling in the gaps as the week progresses.

In the meantime I hope you’re able to get outside and enjoy the summer weather even if temps have been in the 90s and 100s like it has been here.

Until next time…. happy summer and happy gardening!

Kate

June 23, 2012

New Hope Community Farmers Market

Last week I promised more Farmers Market reviews.  Saturday is a big market day so I figured I’d better hop to it.

Let’s chat about the New Hope Community Farmers Market.  Let me start by saying I was pleasantly surprised with what I found at this market.

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For starters it was quite a bit bigger than I’d anticipated, quite large in fact. (This picture only captures half of the market!)

The selection and the produce was beautiful. The vendors were all very friendly and welcoming.

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Above is a picture of Amaranth nestled between onions and Swiss Chard.  Having never cooked with it before I was told to eat it like you would spinach, but they say it is best sauteed.

 

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The lettuce in every booth was beautiful.  It was hard to decide who to buy from and definitely too good to pass up!

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And the Swiss Chard, in all of its colorful glory needed a home too.

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I’m not sure where these are grown, but if you have the munchies while at the New Hope Farmers Market, you’ll find a couple of food trucks with everything from Mini-Donuts to Strawberry Spinach Salad (and Corn Dogs too).

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And if you need to rest your feet while you eat, they offer live music as well.

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Say you’re looking for a new scent or handcrafted soap?  New Hope’s got it.

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And herbs, and pickles…

 

 

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And yes, even eggs.

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There are a number of artists and crafters at the New Hope Market including Sue Robinson at Suzy’z Jewelz.  If you’re looking for unique, handmade jewelry made with precious or semi precious gemstones, see Sue. She does beautiful work and will even make custom designs upon request.

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Parking is a breeze.  (Plenty and free.)  The location is easy to get to.  The only drawback for me was that there was a very limited number of organic producers, but that aside the produce was beautiful and local.

Definitely worth the trip.  Even if you aren’t from New Hope you’ll feel at home.

Kate

June 5, 2012

Farmer’s Market Season is Here! (With Reviews)

Winter hits me hard.  The days are short, the darkness is long, the cold keeps me in and fresh fruit and veggies are a distant memory.  That’s when I dream of days like today and yesterday and this past Saturday.

Let’s go back to Saturday, shall we? 6:14am  I arise.  Check on my son.  Hmm… he’s already up.  I venture downstairs with two dogs in tow to find him on the couch watching TV.  Normally I have to ask him to shut-off the TV.  Not today.  Before I even had my cup out of the cupboard to heat up some day-old coffee he wanted to strike up a game of Uno.  I had barely comprehended everything that happened since I left my bed.  My gears really don’t start clicking until I’ve had at least a couple sips (okay, a cup) of coffee, which means I was in no condition to play Uno.  Of course, come to think of it, maybe he knew that and that’s why he asked me to play right away.

Anyway, after I finagled my way out of the game (which, when I’m awake, is a game I love), I was proposed with the next question: “Can we go to Caribou?  You said we could go to Caribou before we go to the Market.”  I smiled.  My insides smiled.  Everything about me smiled.  He had the bug.  It’s definitely genetic.  Okay, he’s obviously too young to drink coffee, but he digs a good piece of coffee cake and juice.  And me?  Yeah, I was ready for some fresh hot coffee and a raspberry white chocolate scone to boot.  After all, there were merely hours left until I start my next challenge, I’d better make them worth it!  But what really made me smile is that he remembered the Market and wanted to go!  I LOVE this child!

“Okay, it’s a deal.” I told him.  But before we did anything I needed to figure out which market we were going to.  You see, last year I’d planned to hit as many Farmers Markets as I could.  I think I made it to three.  Not that I went three times, but only made it to three locations.  This year I want to hit all of them.  It might be a stretch, but I’ll see what I can do.   So after texting my friend (way too early in the morning) who just happens to write Woo-hoo Tofu!, a wonderful, down to earth food blog, we strategically coordinated a plan and I called my mom.  I gave her strict instructions.  “Get up, get ready as fast as possible and get to our house.”  My friend, two of her boys, her mom, my mom, my son and I were all hitting the market.  It was like the movies… the intense sound track, the beat thumping, my heart beat quickened and I could practically hear my mom’s do the same.  She accepted the mission.  Okay, I’d delivered the message.  Time for a quick shower and then to Caribou with my buddy (my son).

The morning was perfect.  The sun was shining, the breeze was cool but the sun was warm. My son and I headed for our coffee run chatting the entire way.  His excitement and my excitement fed off of each other. Again, we talked all the way home.  Once we arrived, we enjoyed our Saturday morning treats on the front steps.  Mere moments after finishing, the rest of the key players on the mission arrived.

We saddled up and headed out.  Destination: Mill City Farmers Market.  I meant to get to this Market all of last year and never made it, so I set my sights on this for location #2.  (I had already hit Richfield for location #1 last week.  More on that market another day.)

Mill City Farmers Market

Mill City.  All I can say is, “Oh, my goodness.  What’s not to love?”.  With about 70 vendors it’s just about perfect.  Not too big, not too small.  They have lots of organic veggie vendors, live music, food trucks, just enough local artisans and of course the view.  It sits right on the bank of the Mississippi River, in the heart of the old flour mill district in downtown Minneapolis.

A Market that makes people and pets happy!

Music for the morning.

Mill City is a Saturday Market.  Excellent location.  Excellent across the board.  Whoever runs this one definitely “gets it”.  Okay, you can’t go to the Market and not talk about food, so here’s what I got:  a boat-load of sugar snap peas (which my son and I ate half of for lunch), a fun sprout mix including sunflower sprouts and others which I’ve already forgotten (which I’ll use for stir fry and sandwiches), arugula for my cousin’s Bleu Rocket Pizza recipe and kale (just because I love it).  While there I spoke with a wonderful woman from Mhonpaj’s Organic Garden who told me to use lemon grass and a mystery plant (she didn’t know the English name) in homemade chicken soup for health because it cleanses the blood, and for compresses on sprains and other injuries.  Since I have a son who loves sports I couldn’t leave without buying one of each for the garden!

I know its early in the Farmers Market tour, but I give Mill City Farmers Market a double thumbs up!  The only downside for me was trying to figure out how on earth to plug the new parking meters.  I will definitely be coming back here!

My friend and author of Woo-hoo Tofu! and I will be sharing many of the Market adventures together this summer so you can get feedback and input on our “Market Perspective”.  Follow us both to keep tabs on the markets and join in the fun!

Have a favorite “can’t miss” market?  Let us know!

Kate