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MonthOldBaby

Hard to believe this baby is only a month old. “Am I big enough yet”?

I just returned from the Washington State Farmers Market Association conference in Vancouver Washington. It was a great opportunity to talk to other farmers and market managers, find out what the latest Department of Ag rule changes are (take home message: don’t put anything in a clam shell or a sealed bag, including twist ties – unless you have a food processor license, because doing so makes it “ready to eat”), and most importantly, get away from the farm for a few days. Bless my husband for feeding everyone (including the Bean), collecting eggs, and generally holding down the fort. Read the rest of this entry »

MapleFallGnats

A new Japanese maple, planted this summer. The little light dots all over? I call them the blue fuzzy butt gnats. There are about a million of them around right now.

Well, we had the final killing frost on Tuesday the 15th. Tomatoes (which were already cracked from the rain), done. Peppers, done. Summer and winter squash plants, done. Cucumbers, done. Melons, done. Farmer, done.

So here’s the warm season crops I planted this year and how they did (minus the squash and gourds, which I cover in this post, in more detail than you could ever want). Read the rest of this entry »

EarlySquashHarvest

Pie pumpkins, Spaghetti squash, and a few Sunshine kabocha.

Alternative title – More about Squash than you EVER wanted to know.

Well, we got our first kiss of frost the other night. Just enough to take out the squash vines and make the tops of the pepper plants a little upset. The season really IS almost over. The frost prompted us to pick all of the remaining winter squash, (planted May 13th – hello 4 1/2 month growing season). Frost on the pumpkin might be the romantic image of fall’s arrival, but in reality, more than a light frost can damage the crop you’ve spent the last 4+ months growing. Better safe than sorry.

Read the rest of this entry »

After living in a climate where I was lucky if I got 100 frost free days, it’s such a strange thing to have an entire extra MONTH of growing season here in Walla Walla. And that’s just frost free days. Of course, there’s at least an additional month of growing cool season crops like lettuce and spinach that can take a light frost. Which means that when we do finally get a frost sometime in early October, rather than running around covering everything and trying to eek out a few more days, I just let it come, say “phew” and breathe a sign of relief. Let’s face it, after starting onions from seed indoors around March 1st, I pretty much just keep gardening and after 8 months, I’m bloody tired. Read the rest of this entry »

Wait, there was a Soap Making 101 post?

ChristmasForestSoapNo, there wasn’t. (Actually, now there is. I wrote it AFTER I wrote this post).  There are LOTS of great resources on the web to learn how to make soap. I learned primarily from the Miller’s Homemade Soap pages. It’s a clunky website, compared to how sites are put together now, and is not regularly updated anymore, but it’s still a great resource. I also highly recommend the About.com info on soap making, and tons of great resources on SoapQueenTV  put together by Brambleberry, a soapmaking supplier that I’ve been ordering from for years. Read the rest of this entry »

fallleavesrockYears ago, I helped train volunteers to guide kids on outdoor educational nature walks. It was an intense 17 hour, three day training. Accompanying this hands-on information overload was a large three ringed binder. Volunteers were expected to understand and be able to replicate the information it contained. To lessen the pressure, interspersed throughout were funny or inspiring quotes and sayings. Things like “first you pee, then you see” to remind volunteers that if their charges hadn’t had their basic needs met, they were not going to pay much attention on the trail. Read the rest of this entry »

Well, summer is in full swing. I’m doing two farmers markets a week. The garden is coming on strong. The weeds and grass are high. It’s getting hard to tell the chickens born this spring apart from the older hens. The ducks are starting to molt into their final adult plumage. And the turkey…well, he’s just funny looking.

CharliePortrait Read the rest of this entry »

SquashBaby

You really CAN have too much summer squash. Because when you have it, EVERYONE has it. I go easy on this one, and try to harvest young and grow unusual varieties.

Now that I have one year of market gardening under my belt, I am determined to do a better job of record keeping this year. Last year, I used one of those free wall calendars that came in the mail and wrote down whatever I was doing in the garden (planting, first harvest, last harvest, gopher issues etc.) in the little squares (this is not a bad method, but makes future planning a pain because you need to flip through the months to figure out when you planted, sprayed or harvested a particular crop). In some cases (green beans, peas, potatoes, cucumbers, an estimate on carrots) I kept track of the number of pounds I was able to harvest.

But a lot went unrecorded. How much lettuce did I actually plant? How many pounds did I harvest as small greens and how much as full heads? You get the idea. What I did have a good grasp of was what I wish I had planted more of (carrots, green onions) and what I planted too much of (kale, lettuce). This year, I’ve discovered a lot more resources for use when planning. (See a list of resources at the end of this post). Read the rest of this entry »

DayLillyUpIt’s been a busy January/February so far here at Miles Away Farm. On overcast foggy cold days, I’m indoors planning the garden, ordering seeds, researching fruit varieties for the perennial garden, paying my business taxes (Washington bases their business tax on gross, not net. What’s up with that!), and researching new personal care products (vanilla sugar scrub anyone?).

I’m also trying to line up product liability insurance, which is proving to be difficult because I want to be so diversified. Some are scared off by eggs, some by fragrance in toiletry products, some by the foot traffic for classes I might teach in the commercial kitchen. I’m starting to feel like Joel Salatin in his book “Everything I Want To Do is Illegal”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fancy

I’ve got a few things to tell you, so you had better listen up. (We farmers market vendors tend to be an independent somewhat bossy lot.)

When I did my first farmers market on June 1st of this year, I as so excited and so so nervous. There was so much I couldn’t plan for. When I was researching becoming a vendor, I had a lot of questions that I don’t know how to answer.

As the season winds down, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned over the last 4 months.  So here are the top 10 things I learned as a newbie vendor at a farmers market. Hopefully it will help some other farmers market vendor hopeful. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Kleffner

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