Tag Archives: Garden

Strawberry & Caneberry Season- An easy method to Freeze those luscious berries

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Strawberry Harvest

Berry season is upon us. Berries are wonderful eaten fresh with their juice flowing down your chin. You can make preserves, add them to just about anything for breakfast or create a wonderful dessert. But the season is over quickly so why not freeze some for later when berries are a mere memory of a season past.

Freezing strawberries is super simple. (As well are many caneberries, such as Raspberries,  Marionberries, Boysenberries etc.) Start with freshly picked berries. Ripe strawberries (or caneberries) from your yard or garden are perfect. Or find a local u-pick farm, farm stand or farmers market. Organically grown is best as commercially grown strawberries (and caneberries) are heavily sprayed with a variety of chemicals. Their seasons are short so don’t delay.

No need for any fancy equipment. I bet you have most everything you need right in your home. Freshly picked berries; a clean sink with cold water (for strawberries, not delicate caneberries); a colander of some sort to drain the berries; an old bath towel to absorb the last droplets or remove any debris; a teaspoon for removing any stray caps; a cookie sheet for freezing the berries on; zip-loc freezer bags or containers & a freezer.

Pick the berries. With or without caps is fine.

Carefully rinse a few boxes at a time in a sink of cold water. Swish about gently. (I only rinse strawberries as they sometimes come in contact with the soil. Caneberries are usually clean straight from the canes.)

Place clean berries in a colander to drain excess water. (Strawberries only)

Gently pour berries out onto a clean old bath towel. For strawberries this is to blot off the last droplets of water. For caneberries this step will allow any stems, leaves or stray bugs to be removed.

Remove any stray caps & place berries on a heavy cookie sheet.

When the sheet is filled place in the freezer for several hours to freeze hard.

Remove berries from the cookie sheet and place in freezer bags or containers.

Back in the freezer they go and you are done.

No mess, no fuss, no juicy smashed berries!

6 pint boxes of strawberries or caneberries will make approximately 1 gallon bag of frozen whole berries.

ENJOY!!!

Farm Meanderings- Change… Adapt… Rejoice

morning sun
morning sun

The summer of 2015 was long & hot & dry. It was a demanding season to be a farmer in the Pacific Northwest. We were challenged at every turn by the relentless weather and the cavalcade of effects it had on the farm and it’s farmers. We also welcomed a major change into our lives in the form of my husbands retirement from a lifelong career.  But in the end we simply rejoiced everyday in the beauty of this place.
Life at its finest- Change… Adapt… Rejoice

 

Sunday Summer Showers

summer showers
summer showers

It has been hot here lately. Well hot for here anyways! Mighty early in the season for this many days of prolonged heat. So dry. It is June not August! Days that heat up quickly, nights that fail to cool, dry. Hard on the plants, hard on the animals, hard on the humans. Then this morning- Gray skies, a breeze, big fat raindrops, thunder in the distance. Time to do a barnyard dance!!! It feels SO good! The plants rejoice, the animals rejoice, the human rejoices. It will not last… the forecast tells us the heat will ramp up another notch in the coming week.

But to celebrate a garden tour was in order. Come join me.

Here the Bumble Bees in the Lavender. Check the egg filled nest hidden in the gooseberries. Listen to the buzz of Honey Bees beginning their workday. Pollinators on flowers, flowers glowing to attract them. Cane berries ripening. An early morning harvest. The first Dahlia bloom. A buck deer bedded down at the edge of the woods. The scent of  flowers & rain spattered soil in the air.   Beauty surrounds. Beauty abounds.

June 20th- The Last Day of Spring

wedding day-  6/20/81
wedding day- 6/20/81

On this day in 1981 Bob & I were married. 34 years. The beginning of dreams becoming reality. It continues today.  34 years of dreaming & doing. Best Friends. Sharing. Love & laughter, tears & heartache. Working side by side, blisters & backaches. Slowly growing a home, a family, a farm.

Now the kids are grown & gone, pursuing  their own lives & dreams. Bob has recently retired from a long career as a firefighter/paramedic and now is a full timer on the farm. Our lives continue to change & evolve. The dreams are the reality. The constant is us.

Here is a snapshot of the last days of Spring 2015 here at FullCircle Farm.

Dreams Do Come True!

Retirement day-  3/15
Retirement day- March 2015

Farm Meanderings- Spring Unfurling

apple blossoms
apple blossoms

All about the farm life is unfurling to greet the lengthening days. The tasks are many & varied. Life changes along with the seasons. Come take a walk-about the farm with me…

Farm Meanderings- Winter Ends… Spring Begins

grape hyacinth
grape hyacinth

Let me start by saying- Condolences to all of you who have had, and in some cases are still having, a brutal Winter.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, 2015 was the Winter that never was. It feels like Spring & has for awhile now. Though the calendar, and experience, says not quite yet. Restraint. There is a palpable stirring of life on the farm. Sweet scents in the air, a pop of color here and there. An awakening.  Come take a walk-about the farm with me… Eye candy for you beleaguered sufferers of Winter.

Getting Started- Soil Testing

summer garden
summer garden

Whether you are a backyard gardener, a market gardener or a farmer, one of the first and most important steps is to start your season with a soil test. An analytical laboratory testing of your soils PH, Organic matter content, and various major, minor & micro nutrients can greatly increase your growing success as well as improve the nutritional quality of the food grown.
One of the smartest things I did to improve our farm was to soil test and then to get an analysis of those tests so I could use organic amendments in the correct amounts to improve my soil. The benefits have been Enormous! The quality of the soil tilth has improved, the quality and the flavor of the crops has improved & pressure from insects and disease is minimal at most. Being an organic grower, I was given specific recipes using organic amendments, to customize fertilizer blends for different areas of our farm. The size of the plot doesn’t matter, as they determine which amendments to use & in what quantities that are needed, based on the size of your operation. From square feet to acres it is calculated for you.

If it isn’t in the soil, it isn’t in your food.
If it isn’t in your food, it isn’t in you.

Lets get started-

Several years ago I noticed a decline in the quality and health of my garden & was seeing problems that had not occurred before. This inspired an in-depth research into soil and soil nutrients. Many books, articles and web sites later I discovered this invaluable book written by Steve Solomon, who began the Territorial Seed Company, and who is the author of multiple gardening books.

Steve Solomon's great book
Steve Solomon’s great book

I was convinced I was on the right track- Improve my soil and crop quality by improving the soil that grew the crops that provided a majority of our nutrition. It was time to test our soil and see what was needed.
I decided to utilize the testing facilities recommended in Mr Solomon’s book The Intelligent Gardener, Logan Labs LLC in Lakeview Ohio.

Their site is filled with great information, simply laid out and easy to navigate. For our testing I chose their Standard Soil Test @ a cost of $25 per test.  Follow these guidelines on Logan Labs site- soil sampling instructions.

I took soil samples from several distinctly different areas of our garden. with a separate test for each area.
I then packaged them up & sent them off. Within a week I was emailed the lab results.

After receiving the lab results I then turned to a company that provides computer analysis of lab tests and recommends organic amendments for each area tested. You can find their services at Grow Abundant Gardens.
A subscription to their OrganiCalc is a mere $9.50 per year for unlimited usage.

Armed with this information and by applying the correct nutrients in the calculated amounts I have watched the health of our garden/farm increase each year since. Soil testing definitely has been a great investment in the health of our farm, the health of our crops and in turn the health of the families that our crops and animals nourish. You should try it too!

Farm Meanderings- Winter

Welcome Home
Welcome Home

It has been a very mild winter in our corner of the Pacific Northwest this year. No snow. Rain & wind events, fog that sometimes lingered for the entire day, and glorious revitalizing sun.  Always enough variation to keep it interesting. Even in the starkness of a winter landscape there is beauty to be found. This is where we live and what we have been up to this winter of 2015. Enjoy the meanderings…

FullCircle Farm 2014- A Photo Retrospective

It has been quite a year at FullCircle farm. I hope you enjoy the photo tour thru all the beautiful seasons of 2014.

Happy New Year everyone!