Category Archives: garlic

October 2018 Highlights

It seems that October just flew by. There are several things that I intended to write about but just didn’t get the posts finished, so I decided condense them into this not-so-short but sweet post.

Little by little my blog is acquiring new readers, so I want to start by welcoming newcomers to my blog. Feel free to look around and explore previous posts. Please leave me a comment if you find something you like or just to let me know you were here. I always enjoy hearing from readers.

October 2018 Highlights

The Garlic Is Planted!

October is the month for planting garlic in Michigan. The objective is to plant the garlic 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes in order to give the garlic time to establish roots. If you would like to more about our garlic planting process you can check out these two posts from our 2016-2017 growing season.

https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/10/13/a-year-in-growing-garlic-part-ii/

https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/10/18/a-year-in-growing-garlic-part-iii/

This year our wet weather and mostly below normal temperatures in October made for less than ideal planting conditions.  We watched the weather forecasts for our best opportunity and the week beginning October 21st, with several dry days predicted, seemed to be it.

Early that week my husband began preparing the garlic for planting (separating the bulbs into cloves). We, but mostly he, worked on this on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday while we gave the ground time to dry out. By Thursday we could wait no longer – the garlic had to be planted because there was rain in the forecast beginning late Friday.

Despite the ground not being as dry as we hoped, Thursday morning my husband got an early start and planted garlic until nearly dark. For several reason we decided to use a divide and conquer approach so while I attended to other projects my husband worked diligently in the garlic field. Friday morning he again got an early start. When I took the boys (dogs) to the farm for their midday walk he asked if I had checked the radar. Not having done so I couldn’t offer him any idea how long it would be before the rains came. It was late afternoon when he called me. “I just got the last clove planted he said – then the first raindrop fell.” “God is good!” we agreed.

Coincidently, or perhaps by God’s design, we ended up planting during the full moon. We have talked about experimenting with planting by the phases of the moon in past years, but weather and soil conditions have always been more of a priority.

We did scale back on our garlic planting this year. We still planted enough to meet the demands of the markets we currently supply and have seed for the following year. We hope in scaling back on garlic we can put more time and effort into areas where we have not been able to meet demands, namely honey and strawberries.

An Apple A Day

This year we had our best apple crop thus far. While not all of our eight trees produced well, two trees produced more than their fair share. The branches on these young trees were so heavily laden with apples that my husband built posts to brace the branches so they did not break due to their heavy load.

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We harvested 4 milk crates nearly full (we didn’t weigh them). Here’s what I’ve done with them –

Apple Sauce – I’ve canned 22 pints of apple sauce.

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Apple Peeler

When I told my sister I was making apple sauce she asked if I had an apple peeler/corer/ slicer. I laughed and said “Yep, it’s called a paring knife.” LOL. Then as I started peeling all those apples I remembered this antique that I had tucked away on a shelf and had never used. I decided why not give it a try.

One of the problems I have with this and some similar kitchen tools that I have is that they are designed to clamp onto a counter. My kitchen counters were not designed for such uses as they have about a two inch lip that the clamp will not fit over. To accommodate these tools I use a stand alone shelf, but since I don’t often use these tools that shelf is also used to store things. I first had to clear off the shelf and move it to an accessible area. I rinsed the dust off the old apple peeler then clamped it to the shelf. I placed an apple on the prongs of the peeler and began turning the crank. As I turned the crank the blade removed a thin layer of peel from the nice round apple. When it got to the end the apple was pushed off the prongs and popped into the pan I had placed on the shelf to catch the peels. The second apple I tried was not perfectly round and the blade did not touch the flatter areas, so it left strips of peel behind. Considering this, and that I still had to use the paring knife to core and slice the apples, I cleaned up this antique and put it back and the shelf. Lesson learned: My paring knife seemed the better way to go.

Apple Chips – Last year, when we had our first decent apple crop, was the first time I made apple chips (dehydrated apples). We discovered that apple chips make a wonderful snack.

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This year I have filled up my 9 tray dehydrator twice. Each tray holds 3-4 apples and it takes about 20 hours to dehydrate them. When they are finished I store them in small sealable bags usually putting one tray (about three or four servings) per bag. When eating apple chips it is important to consider portion size because they are so good it would be easy to eat too many. It is also important to drink lots of water because they still contain lots of fiber.

Apple Vinegar – This is something I have been reading about and wanting to try for a while. I have seen recipes posted on several blogs and had bookmarked Home and Harrow to return to when I was ready.  My vinegar is still fermenting so I’ll let you know how it turns out in a future post.

Apple Pie – Yesterday I made our third apple pie from this crop. There is just nothing better than homemade apple pie, except maybe homemade pumpkin pie, or homemade blueberry pie or homemade  cherry… well you get the point. It is just so good. I also froze enough pie filling to make six more pies.

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Coffee Cake –  Even with all of that I was still looking for ways to use apples so when I made this coffee cake, which is a recipe that we really enjoy, I decided to add apples. I peeled, cored, and diced three apples and added a layer of apples on top of the streusel in the cake. It turned out fabulous.

I think we are now down to our last 7 or 8 pounds of apples and our plan for those in the next few days is to start a batch of apple wine. Cheers!

Making Soap – You may remember from this post that I consider this time of year soap making season. I haven’t yet come up with any new recipes but I did upgrade a couple of recipes that I have previously made. Perhaps I should add “version 2.0” to their names. :)Let me tell you what I did.

Cocoa Soap – My cocoa soap is made with olive oil and coconut oil as the base oils and coco powder, powdered milk and sugar as additives (just like a cup of hot cocoa might be made). When I first decided to make cocoa soap it was really just for fun. I mean how many of you would love to just bathe yourselves in chocolate? or maybe have dreamt about swimming in the chocolate river on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Fun eh? According to this article cocoa may actually have some benefits for the skin, but when it is made into soap I am skeptical as to whether any of those benefits remain. It does however make the soap a deep brown color. The milk adds a creaminess and sugar makes for an extra bubbly lather. What more could you want right?

Actually there was one other ingredient that I use in another soap recipe that just needed to go into this soap, because what goes better in a cup of hot cocoa than ——————————marshmallow. In case you are thinking that I have totally lost my mind – no, I don’t use those sweet little sugary puffs that we all know as marshmallows. What I use is marshmallow root from the marshmallow plants that we grow.

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If you would like to learn more about the heath benefits of marshmallow you can check out this link. https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-marshmallow.html .

I have been using this herb in my hair care soap for several years now. The marshmallow root is said to add conditioning properties. For the past four years I have exclusively used my homemade soaps (usually hair care or coffee) when washing my hair and in all honesty my hair is healthier than it has ever been.  Don’t Eat It! Cocoa Soap (2.0 🙂 ) should be finished curing around November 23rd, so we will have to wait to find out how it turns out.

Coconut Soap – Like my Cocoa Soap the base oils used in this soap are olive oil and coconut oil.  The additive in this case, however, is shredded coconut. The coconut, while gentle on the skin, adds a little extra scrubbing power. It really is a nice soap, but I decided to make it even nicer this time around by adding yogurt. In the past year I have discovered that adding yogurt to soap gives it a super rich creamy lather and who doesn’t love that?

Incidentally, I once had a lady ask me “Doesn’t the coconut clog up the drain?” and you might be wondering the same thing. The answer is No – nor do the coffee grounds in the coffee soap or the oatmeal in the breakfast bar soap. What does clogs up the drain is hair.  Being the mother of 4 daughters, and all of us having long hair at various times in our lives, I can attest to the fact that hair is what clogs drains.

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Coconut Soap and Cocoa Soap

I also decided to stamp all the bars of these two batches. What do you think?

Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

 

 

Yesterday

Yesterday the weather was perfect for working outdoors, so we decided to get busy cleaning the rest of the garlic.

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Cleaning the garlic requires cutting the dried (top) leaves off and trimming the roots. (An interesting fact – to be sold in the United States garlic that is grown in the U.S. is not required to have the roots totally removed, while garlic that is imported into the U.S must have all of the roots removed.) After removing the tops and trimming the roots we then use a scrub brush to remove the dried dirt that is still clinging to the bulb. We also sort the bulbs at this time – the largest will be saved for seed, any bulbs that have a damaged clove or are too small to be sold are set aside and will be used to make garlic powder or sold as seconds to a customer who does the same, and the rest will be sold as culinary garlic either to individual customers or to the retail locations that are selling our garlic.

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The beautiful weather motivated us to do other fall activities like airing out the beach umbrellas so that they can be stored for the winter. The wasps had begun building their nests inside the umbrellas.

After a few hours of cleaning garlic my husband and I both decided to shift gears, so with about 500 bulbs still hanging in the barn we packed up our garlic cleaning project and moved on. I spent the next couple of hours cutting grass while he cut up some fire wood for last nights fire then dragged downed trees to the wood lot where they will be cut into fire wood.

Quite honestly the best part about working out doors yesterday was the beautiful sky. It was as blue as I’ve ever seen it yet filled with fluffy white clouds. I couldn’t help snapping photos to share with all of you.

 

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I hope you enjoyed this. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

Where To Buy Our Garlic – 2018 Update

As of yesterday our fresh garlic is now being sold at four local retail locations. In addition to Neiman’s and Water To Go which I mentioned in this post , it is also available at Pure Michigan Country Market http://www.puremichigancountrymarket.com/ on 10th Avenue in Port Huron, Michigan and Fronney’s Foods http://www.fronneysfoods.com/ in Capac, Michigan.

We are very appreciative to be working with all of these retailers again this year. We have learned in working with them in past years that all of these businesses’ are eager to work with other local, small,  businesses in order to support the local economy and bring quality products to their customers.

While this post is about where to find  our garlic I would be remiss if I did not mention that if you stop into Pure Michigan Country Market or Water To Go you can also pick up a bar of my handcrafted “Don’t Eat It!” Soap.

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Where To Buy Our Garlic – 2018

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We are pleased to tell you that our 2018 garlic crop is now available at a couple of local retailers.

As of today you can find our garlic at Neiman’s Family Market in Saint Clair, Michigan as well as Purified Water To Go, in Richmond, Michigan. If you shop at these local retailers please be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them supporting local farmers by offering locally grown produce.

I do expect to be adding two more locations to this list later this week so be sure to follow this blog for updates.

 

 

 

Spring Has Sprung and The Chicks are On The Move

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This was what I saw when I looked out the window in the morning last Sunday, April 15. Ice coated the all of the windows on the East side of the house.

IMG_3901 When I looked out the North window I could see that most of the precipitation that had fallen was in the form of sleet and freezing rain. It felt very discouraging since we should be three weeks into spring by now. Thankfully the power was still on. We had prepared for a power outage by bringing extra firewood inside, making sure that there was oil in the oil lamps, checking flashlight batteries and making sure the freezers were full so that foods would stay frozen longer. When the freezers are only partially full of food I freeze blocks of ice in cardboard milk containers to fill the empty space. When warm weather comes, and we are spending days at the farm, we will use these blocks of ice in a cooler at the farm to keep drinks and food cold. Buying bags of ice everyday can get quite expensive.

My husband also added extra weight to the back of the van, for added traction, in anticipation of driving on icy roads.  We use to buy bags of sand every year to keep in the back of the van during winter driving season. Then last year we began taking a different approach – instead of buying bags of sand, that we really didn’t need, we began using things that we did need. Having several bags of chicken feed or a load of firewood in the back of the van can provide that extra traction just as well as sand bags.

Temperatures warmed slightly throughout the day, so even though it continued to rain the ice on the windows melted. We were fortunate that we were not among the 350,000 in South East Michigan that lost power due to this storm.

The rest of the week seemed to be a slow transition into spring. While daytime temperatures were above freezing most days the winds out of the North kept the chill in the air. It wasn’t until Friday that it felt like Spring had arrived. The day was partly sunny and it was comfortable to go outside with just a hooded sweatshirt rather than a heavy coat.

Saturday’s weather along with the rest of the 10 day forecast confirmed it. Spring has Sprung!!! We began doing the spring happy dance yesterday. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I find that garden and leaf rakes, pruning shears and a wheelbarrow make great dance partners when it comes to the spring happy dance, and popular dance moves involve raking last years leaves from the lawn and flower beds, and pruning dead foliage from perennial plants. My husband made a very bold move yesterday as he stored the snow shovel away for the season. He also discovered the very first dandelion of the year. There was only one but I am sure that in a week or so there will be yellow blossoms everywhere.

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The garlic has been slow to emerge but is now about three inches above ground.

The pond is pretty much as full as it gets. Very little of the beach is not under water.

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At this level it is seeping over the edge in a couple of places. This is a good starting point for spring, as we will use the pond for irrigating crops as needed.

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The chicks have moved to their stage-two brooder. They had begun getting their feathers and had become very curious about the world beyond the stock tank brooder. Flying up to the rim of the stock tank had become a fun adventure for them. Here is their new set up.

IMG_3885After assembling the hutch and putting in straw for bedding we use a zip tie to anchor the heat lamp in place.

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We put in food and water and a roost. Then put the chicks in their new home. They can now see the outside, and they can’t fly out of the brooder.

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We cover the hutch with a large piece of canvass. The canvass keeps water out and warmth in. The chicks regulate their body temperature by move closer or farther from the heat lamp as needed. We lift or lower the sides of the canvass as the weather gets warmer or cooler as well.

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Last night it was warm enough to watch a little chicken TV. As the chicks get the rest of their feathers and the temperatures continue to warm we will be transitioning them to stage three – at the farm. I’ll post about that soon.

In the mean time I hope that, if you too have been waiting on spring, your Spring has Sprung. Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day.