Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Zucchini is really tasty and super easy to grow. As a matter of fact, it is often said that, "friends don't give friends zucchini." With that in mind, remember that yields are often high with zucchini.  One plant goes a long way!

  • If you have a short season, or just want fruits sooner then start in 4" pots 4-6 weeks before last frost.
  • Be careful when transplanting to not disturb the roots.
  • You can start with direct seeding 2-4 seeds on a nice 24" mound.
  • Soils should not have too much clay and drain fairly well.
  • If planting a  lot of plants you can place them 24" apart.  This will make them dense to close to choke out the weeds.
  • Add manure to holes when prepping site.

  • Zucchinis like it hot, so letting them dry out before watering them can really get them going. 
  • Keep weeds down while they are being established. 
  • Once established they will choke everything else out.
  • Once Zucchinis begin flowering you should get in the habit of visiting them daily. 
  • Inspect the plant thoroughly so as not to miss fruits. 

  • Harvest fruits when tiny for canning or just because they are so delicious at 3 inches.
  • Be sure to harvest for eating in stir-fries and steamed before they are 8 inches long.  If you are growing zucchini there is no reason to eat fibrous, too big fruits!
  • Use giant zucchinis to make breads or as livestock feed.  My chickens love them.
  • I love harvesting these when just the height of a pint jar for canning Spicy Zucchini Pickles.  They look amazing in the jars and fun to eat during football season.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Psalm 72:3
The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the hills, through righteousness.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Making Yogurt in the Dehydrator

Making yogurt is fun and tasty. It really isn't very hard at all. The best thing is that you can get the exact flavor you like and use the dairy products that is of the quality you desire.
Ingredients and Equipment
  • Milk (raw or not ultra-pasteurized)
  • Your favorite flavor of plain yogurt (small container)  Your yogurt will taste like your starter so buy the product you wish to recreate! 
  • Stainless steel or non-reactive pot
  • Sterilized jars and lids to hold volume of yogurt you are preparing
  • Candy thermometer
  • Cheesecloth if you plan to make Greek style yogurt
  • Strainer
  1. Heat your milk in the pan slowly, stirring frequently. Pasteurized milk will need to be "scalded" and taken to 160 degrees fahrenheit. If you are using raw milk you will only need to bring it to 110.  Use your candy thermometer to monitor the temp of the milk.  I have an electric one that clips on so that I can watch the temp.  It was $25, but worth the expense because I like to do cheese as well.  A simple candy thermometer will do, but don't let it touch the metal of the pan.
  2. Cool milk to 110.  At this point I like to take a cup out and add my starter plain yogurt, 1 tsp per pint you are creating.  I like to whisk the cup of milk with the starter until really blended.  you will find adding the starter to a large amount of milk is difficult.  It tends to clump.
  3. Add your whisked starter and milk back to your milk at 110. Mix well.
  4. Pour your milk mixture into sterilized jars.  I use my canning funnel for ease of pouring.
  5. Cap your jars and place in your dehydrator at 110.  Leave for 4-6 hours.  The longer you leave it the tangier it will become.
  6. For Greek yogurt place cheesecloth in a strainer.  Place strainer in larger bowl.  Pour yogurt in cheesecloth and allow to drain in fridge for 1-4 hours--until desired thickness is reached.  Give the drained whey to plant or animals for high nutrition.
Eat over cereal.  Use as a sour cream substitute. Use your canned jellies and mix for fruit flavored yogurt.  Great in smoothies!  You will find all sorts of uses.  I frequently add to soups for a creamier texture.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


  • Plant strawberries in well drained fertile soil in early spring when ground can be worked.
  • Buy bare root plants for best results.
  • Make sure to crown is just below dirt with leaves and stems above soil. (plantlets usually have but a few leaves). 
  • Purchase varieties growers will be happy to help you select a variety that suits your needs and climate.appropriate for your area. Usually
  • Plant in small hills for easier care and amending.
  • Spacing-   14- 16"
  • Add some readily available nitrogen like  feather meal, some well rounded long term amendment like bone mean, and calcium in the for of oyster shell to each plant upon planting.
  • Chose a sunny location.
  • Side dress with high nitrogen manure like chicken poop after the first spring weeding.
  • You can water with fish before the flowering.  Once flowering begins stop.
  • Keep on top of weeds! Strawberries get shaded quick by weeds.  Weeds steal nutrients.
  • Water when soil gets dry.  A nice chance to dry a little and feel the heat makes strawberries push. This puts on growth.
  • Wet conditions too often can create an environment for disease. Watch for signs of distress.  Purchase varieties appropriate for your area.
  • Remember that plump strawberries require water.  But overhead water too close to harvest is not good.  Strawberries should be harvested dry--especially if you are marketing them!  Wet strawberries rot! Drip tape is preferable.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Sweet Squash Soup with Quinoa

This is one of my all time favorite soups, especially in winter.  With its apricot nectar it really is a sweet treat.  I love quinoa and squash.  While most soups take a few hours to develop this is done in an hour from prep to table.  I suggest serving with a savory bread or dehydrated crackers. Use any squash you like; Delicata for a less sweet outcome and butternut for sweetness.  In Summer I add summer squashes and in winter I add greens.


  • 1/3 c finely chopped shallot or onion
  • 2 tsp oil of choice
  • 32 oz broth
  • 1 can apricot nectar
  • 1 lb winter squash peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 3/4 c rinsed quinoa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • large handful of chopped greens or 2 little zucchinis cubed (optional)
  1. In medium saucepan cook onion in oil until soft (stir frequently).
  2. Add squash, cumin, broth, quinoa and nectar. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Add greens or zucchini and simmer for another 10 minutes covered or just simmer additional time to develop flavors and cook quinoa.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dealing With Flea Beatles

Flea beetles are nasty little creatures!  Everything is going along just fine in your garden when you head out one day to see your leaves bit to heck!  There are some things you can do to stop the cycle organically, but you will need to be diligent.

Flea Beetle Description
You can see the tiny Flea Beetle to the right and the typical damage they cause. They are about 1/10 of an inch in size and will jump like fleas if you hit the leaf. The larvae are in the soil so you don't see them. Flea beetle larvae can overwinter and often emerge in spring.
Flea beetle damage
Signs of Flea Beetle Damage
  • Flea Beetles attack young plants.
  • They create a shotgun type damage on leaves.
  • Essentially they suck your plants dry.
  • They like Brassicas such as broccoli.
  • Seedlings are mysteriously shriveling and dying.
Treatments and Prevention for Flea Beetles
Because Flea Beetles like young plants it is best to cover crops with row cover when setting seedlings out.  Once your plants are established the beetles really are inconsequential. If you are worried about them from a previous year you should drench the soil with parasitic nematodes to devour the larvae.  You can buy these at your garden store or online. Be sure to do when temperatures are at the suggested level.

To get rid of an infestation use Spinosad.  Spray the leaves as the day is warming up, but not when plants are cooking in the sun.  I like to water one day, as droughts encourage them, and then spray the next morning about 11 am.  They tend to come out from the soil when it's warmer.  You will need to repeat probably every 5 days- with three treatments total.  This should break the cycle, but watch to see if any reappear in 14 days.   Make sure to time this around your watering as you do not want to go to the trouble of spraying the beasties and then wash it off.

If your seedlings are being attacked you can be almost sure if they make it to a certain growth point (3 sets of true leaves) the Flea Beetles will not effect them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dehydrated Beet Chips

Sliced beets for Beet chips Heron's Nest Farm
Beet chips are really tasty. They are super easy to make and can satisfy that munch urge.  I like to use white beets.  If you are unfamiliar with them, I highly recommend them for their sweet flavor and the fact that they don't stain your hands when you work with them. Of course, the darker the beet the greater the nutrients.

  1. Peal beets.
  2. Slice as thin as possible with a mandolin or food processor.  This is important because they need to dry evenly and at the same time.
  3. Combine beets in a bowl with enough apple cider vinegar to lightly coat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Place on Dehydrator screens and dehydrate at 105 until crisp (about 4 hours).