Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We Heart Local Farmers

In the early morning hours, I headed out to my garden to harvest produce to sell at the Hope Farmer's Market.

With the bees and flea beetles already hard at work, I began evaluating my vegetables.

I looked over my vegetables, scrutinizing them in a way that I have never done before.  This was my first farmer's market and I want to bring the best produce with me.

This Italian silver rib chard has possibilities.

But, wow, the scarlet Charlotte chard is sure to please the market goers with it's sexy, red veining.

These little bibb lettuce could be harvested now and bagged up to sell young.

But, these prize head lettuce are ready to go.

Wow, look at the new growth on this dinosaur kale. The older leaves look great.  There's very minimal insect damage, but any of the leaves that don't pass muster will go to the chickens.

I'm a little too late for this broccoli. When the temperatures start to rise, my broccoli, including this purple variety, start to flower. It's interesting that it has the same yellow flowers as the green broccoli.  I guess I was expecting purple.

These Brussels sprouts won't make it to market.  I love these little guys and eat them as fast as I can harvest them.  My favorite method is to stir fry in a shallow pan with a little olive oil and garlic until they are well caramelized. Yum! 

With my vegetable selections made, I loaded up the car and posed for a photo op.

I'm excited. This is my first farmers market.

The Hope Farmer's Market is a lovely venue designed like a little Mexican plaza. I absolutely love this fountain.

The market is located in east Austin at 5th and Comal.  Parking is free and the atmosphere is relaxed and super friendly.

Farmer's markets are like little neighborhood fairs and this one is no exception. The market has so much to offer from clothing and jewelry to some of the best eats in town. I even saw gourmet dog food.  I bet my pups would love that. 

The Yard to Market Co-op doesn't have their own farm stand yet, so today we will be selling via the consignment stand.

Look! Someone's buying my dinosaur kale.  How fun!

The next step is to offer my eggs for sale via the Yard to Market online store.  These eggs are almost too pretty to eat.  I bet they taste even better when they're boxed up in their spiffy new egg cartons.  

It's official.  I'm a "backyard" farmer.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Veggies

So, what's the word out in the veggie garden? The word is BRRRR!

This winter is shaping up to be one of the coldest I can remember in a long time.  Thanks to my heavy weight row covers, my veggies are bundled up and still producing plenty of food.

Do you see the dog kennel with the blue tarp roof in the background?  Well, we've had some new additions. Meet Bailey (left) and Bandit (right). 

The outdoor kennel is for temporary use to ensure the pups safety until they get bigger. Our 2 acre lot is fully fenced, but puppies under 20 pounds are a potential meal for a hungry hawk. The pups are gaining weight everyday, so it shouldn't be much longer. It's been way too cold to spend much time outside anyway, but when they do...let's just say they have a lot of energy.

The puppies are Australian Shepherds. I'm hoping to train them to herd and guard the chickens. Bailey seems to be very interested in watching the chickens eat their yummy treats from the garden.

The chickens are munching on leaves from this fabulous Romanesco cauliflower.  There's also cabbage leaves, rutabaga leaves and kale for a great winter treat.

I didn't cover the carrots or the rutabagas during the hard freezes and the leaves have really taken a beating. The carrots toward the front of the photo (below) barely have any remaining foliage.

Carrots are more difficult to harvest with minimal foliage, but they taste great when allowed to develop their sugars in the cold night time air.  Below Round Romeo is pictured on the left and Scarlett Nantes on the right.

When winter is at it's worst, it's good to know that all the hard work was done during the warmer weather of fall. Now, it's time to just relax and enjoy the harvest.