The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Tag: lettuce

Spring Ahead

Spring has arrived about 6 weeks early in Minnesota this year. That’s not to say winter won’t stop by again, but today is the 3rd day in a row of 60+ temps and will be the last day snow can be seen on our property. Even the grass is starting to green up!

Spring is always welcome here. However, Spring on a Hobby Farm means lots of work! And I’m not fully ready to come out of hibernation yet.

The seedlings are planted and growing well: tomatoes, broccoli (which Becca says she wants every week of the summer), lettuce, and a variety of flowers.

tomato seedlings

The chickens are laying abundantly, after about a 5-month hiatus during the coldest months.

Chickens enjoying the warm weather

All the maple trees are tapped and flowing a full 3 weeks ahead of season. I just hauled in 5 more gallons of sap after taking this picture. 30 gallons collected so far, waiting to be evaporated.

Collecting maple sap in buckets

Tapping maple trees started early this year

Since the sap is flowing, it is also the best time of year to graft trees. I made my first attempt, grafting a branch from a HoneyGold apple tree onto the MacIntosh nearby. The yellow HoneyGold was one of a few trees we planted without ever knowing how the fruit would taste. It turned out be delicious! Like a cross between a pear and an apple, but the texture of a HoneyCrisp. Needless to say, we want more HoneyGold and a simple way to expand the supply is to graft onto another tree.

Graft of apple tree

If successful, the MacIntosh will be bearing both red and yellow apples!


Garden bounty

Cucumber harvest

Harvest has begun at the Grovestead. The early season crops are prime for picking. Past prime, actually. Our cucumbers were actually too big so we had to cut out the middle before pickling. This is our first year pickling anything, and so far I’d say its going great. Becca has taken the lead, looking up recipes on the Internet and stocking up on supplies. I’m so proud of her willingness to try new things.

Becca making pickles

We went out to the garden after dinner one night this week and collected 2 gallons of sweet peas in about 20 minutes. This after  weeks of eating them fresh off the vine, and there are still plenty more to be picked. Some were pickled, some were shelled and frozen, plenty were kept for fresh eating. Fresh-picked peas are incredibly sweet.

Ivar and Elsie picking sweet peas

Shelling sweet peas

Ivar eating fresh sweet peas

For garden salads we find it easier to just uproot a whole head of lettuce rather than clipping off leaves. If we had been succession planting every two weeks, we’d have fresh lettuce like this all summer. As it stands, we’ve got about 12 or so heads left. The kale was hot pink, red, orange and neon yellow.

Kale, cucumber, and lettuce harvested for salad greens

Cabbage and broccoli growing in our raised beds

The wild blackberries have also started ripening. We have pockets of these throughout our property, and its a labor-intensive task to gather them, but there’s nothing better in the middle of January than wild blackberry jam.

It’s shaping up to be a busy month, with lots more veggies ripening soon. But it’s also a fun one (and tasty).

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