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Greetings,

We were teased into thinking that spring was around the corner……..and then snow!  Along with rain, and lots of rain.  Rest assured that spring weather will be here & planting will begin.

Oma and Gibson inspect the onions.

Here at Dutch Masters the seeds have been ordered and and have arrived.  Oma says that opening those seed packages is kinda like Christmas.  Opa says it’s more like Labor Day.  I’m a bit of a glass half empty at times.  Planting in the basement is well underway.   We’ve been busy reassembling the growing racks, hanging lights, plugging in the heat mats, and making soil blocks.  Germination, went well this year and soon our little seedlings were taking off, demanding more light and water.  It’s kinda like having children in that way, but nothing like having grandchildren, which is way more fun even than gardening!   (Unless the grandchildren are helping in the garden, which is fun.)

Several varieties of shallots, leeks, onions, lettuce greens, spinach, swiss chard, squashes, and basils are now close to being ready for transplanting into the garden, but we don’t want to jump the gun, what with the crazy weather we can get here in Michigan.  We don’t want another tomato massacre like the one we had back in 2010.  (That’s a little father/son humor)  Speaking of tomatoes, we’ve a dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes, those bright and beautiful and delicious garden gems.  I owe my love of these beauties to my son Chris, who first introduced them to me about five years ago.  I never knew that a tomato could be such a wonderful thing.  They’re so good fresh, canned and sauced.  This past year, we had more than we could sell at one point, I tried dehydrating them.  Whoa, if you’ve a dehydrator, you should try drying your tomatoes.  Home-made sun dried tomatoes, wonderful!

Gibson--growing faster than our garden.

Lumber and soil have been ordered for more raised strawberry and raspberry beds.  The current nine beds are all weeded and looking very promising and we’re hoping to be able to sell even more this year.  (I admit to being a bit of a hoarder last year.)

We are looking forward to getting our hands dirty in the garden.  More than that we’re looking forward to the luscious tastes of fresh produce.  How I long for a salad of mixed greens picked, washed and spun dry that day.  We hope that you , too, are looking forward to the summer sun & activities, the sweet and savory tastes of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Our desire is to share the blessing of our harvest with you-our family, friends, fans and Gleaners.

Boys in a Deere.

We will update our webpage & facebook status’ as the season progresses and the fruit of our labors grow.  We anticipate salad greens, spinach and swiss chard to be available by late may.  Please follow us on Facebook (Dutch Masters Artisan Farms), dutchmastersfarms@gmail.com, and here at the blog.  We’re look forward to sharing the bounty and goodness of the garden with you.

Until then, Dig deep

The Marlinks

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Ode to Autumn

‘Fore winter winds come sweep the ground

pallid making stalk and limb

There lights a kindly soul, golden countenance

Ablaze between worlds, and never tarrying

Hello and farewell in a word: Autumn.

Happy October everyone! With weather now definitely trending in a fall-ish direction, it’s time to get cozy and enjoy a pantry full of produce. Opa and Oma invested in another dehydrator this summer and put away a good amount of “sun dried” heirloom tomatoes–in addition to the usual salsa, marinara, pesto, raspberry jam and pear butter. How about you? Any summer treasures you’re looking forward to digging out of the pantry in the weeks and months ahead?

We’re thoroughly looking forward to a few of our favorite fall dishes: Rigatoni with Butternut Squash and Sausage (see recipe at bottom) & Meatloaf-stuffed Blue Hubbard. Becky also makes a killer butternut squash and sweet corn soup. And yes, I will be asking for a size up in my jeans for Christmas.

While the weather is definitely trending in a fall-ish direction, we’ve still got several cold hardy vegetables coming out of the garden: lettuce mix – $3.5/gal, kale and Swiss Chard – $3/gal, potatoes – $2/pt, beets, carrots, parsnips all $1/lb, basil – $.5/bunch, onions (red/white/sweet) & shallots – $.5/pc, leeks – $1/bunch. When the frost hits, we’ll lose the lettuce, but the kale and Brussels sprouts will be better than ever, so please plan our orders accordingly. As always the orders are processed on a first come first served basis. Send your orders in via email (dutchmastersfarms@gmail.com), Twitter @DMartisanfarms or Facebook.

Thanks for growing along with us, and enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons! Until next time…

Dig deep.

The Marlinks

  • 8 oz rigatoni pasta
  • 3lb butternut squash (microwave until soft, 5-10 min, peel, then seed and cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp grated orange zest
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 yellow onion chopped (we like our copra onions)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1.5 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (asiago, pecorino, or parmesan all work well)
  • parsley for garnish (optional)
Directions: preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine squash, oil, zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper & cinnamon. Spread on baking sheet; roast until tender (about 15-20 minutes).
Meanwhile, saute sausage and onion in pan, stirring occasionally until browned.  Add wine, sage and 1/2 cup water reserved from pasta. Stir in butter and roasted squash.
Cook rigatoni according to package directions.
Toss cooked pasta with squash and sausage, sprinkle with parsley, coarsely ground pepper, and cheese to your liking.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…

As the weather begins to cool off, we begin to wind things down on the farm. That’s not to say there’s less work to be done (as Oma and Opa can attest), but most crops are past the vigorous growth stage and have either given of their bounty, or are preparing to do so in the coming days. The season of uprooting is upon us once again.

It’s been a very good year for us on the farm. We’ve eaten and canned to our hearts’ content, sold much produce to our growing list of friends, fans and devotees, and we’ve had produce enough to share with those in need through Gleaners. Thank you to all who’ve enjoyed the tastes of the seasons along with us.

Before we uproot, till, and sow the winter rye, we’ve got a few items left for you. In no particular order, they are:

  • Tomatoes – heirloom varieties $3.5/lb, and grape tomatoes by the pint for $2.5.
  • Eggplant – $1/lb
  • Beets (red), Carrots, Parsnips – all $1/lb
  • Raspberries – $2.5/pt, $4/qt
  • Onions, Shallots, Scallions – $.5/pc
  • Potatoes (mix)- $2/pt
  • Leeks – $1.5/bunch
  • Kale – $3/gal
  • Swiss chard – $3/gal
  • Peppers – jalapenos and Anaheim – $.5 or 3 for 1$
  • Herbs – tarragon, basil, sage – $.5/bunch

Feel free to send your orders to us via email (dutchmastersfarms@gmail.com), Twitter (@DMArtisanFarms) or Facebook. Thanks again, and until next time…

Dig deep.

Sweet Summertime

Wow. That must have been the world’s fastest summer! Granted,  it’s only August and there are plenty of dog days left to soak up the sun. But what a rush. Mercifully, August presents a good opportunity to slow down and enjoy the edible blessings that gardening brings. Like bruschetta made from our own heirloom tomatoes and sweet onions. Out of this world. And don’t even get us started on the vegetable soup with tarragon or the grilled zucchini and summer squash that accompany nearly every barbecue. (Mouth watering? We’re happy to share our favorite recipes, just ask!)

So that’s it then. I guess we garden because we love to eat. And August is some mighty good eating.

Here’s what we’re enjoying now, in no particular order:

  • Tomatoes – both saucing and heirloom varieties – $2.50 and $3.50 per lb respectively
  • Eggplants – $1/lb
  • Pole beans – we’ve decided these are the steak of beans – $2.50/lb
  • Zucchini and Summer Squash – $1/lb
  • Carrots – $1/lb
  • Beets – $1/lb
  • Bulb fennel – $1/bulb
  • Kale – $3/gal bag
  • Swiss Chard – $3/gal bag
  • Peppers: Green bell peppers, jalapenos, and Anaheim peppers (great for roasting) – 3 for $1 or $.50/piece
  • Green onions (scallions) – $1/bunch
  • Bulb onions (red, white, yellow and sweet) – $.5/piece
  • Shallots – this staple in French kitchens is a cross between garlic and onion – $.5/piece
  • Herbs – basil, tarragon, oregano, thyme, mint – $.50/bunch
  • Raspberries – $2.50/pt or $4/qt
  • Fresh dug potatoes – several varieties $2/pt
  • On the horizon – leeks, winter squash, Brussels Sprouts, tomatillos and pears.

In family related news, we welcomed the first grand-daughter, Campbell Marie VanSlooten, into the family this summer and found out that we’re expecting grand child number 6 in January. The VanSlooten boys certainly love their new sister, but our boys are quite convinced they’re having another brother. Gibson assures us he will also be named Crew. Or cookie. Depending on his mood. Oh, and did we mention Opa almost burned up the canner…whose job was it to add the water anyway? What a mess! Thankfully, all was not lost and the canning of salsa, pizza sauce, and tomatoes continues. Thanks to Mason and Ball, we’ll be enjoying the fruit of summer all year long.

We’re always tinkering, trying new varieties of vegetables, new methods of weed control and we’re learning as we go. Case in point, don’t put your tomatoes out before Memorial Day, and do monitor your grandsons intake of raspberries–or suffer the consequences! If you’ve got suggestions on vegetables you’d like to see us grow, want to share your recipes with us, or have questions about best practices for your own garden, drop us a note: dutchmastersfarms@gmail.com.

As we wrote back in May, our family continues to support Gleaners once a month with whatever item we have in abundance. If you’re looking for a practical way to serve your community, we’d encourage you to consider becoming involved in this great ministry in some way. Growing anything you can give away, or have an hour or two to carry groceries? Then you can help make a lasting difference for an individual or family in need.

And when it gets hot this month and you feel like throwing in the towel on your garden, just remember, nothing goes better with an afternoon of gardening than an ice cream sundae. With fresh raspberries if you can get them…bon apetit! Until next time.

Dig deep.

It’s officially summer–if not by the calendar, then at least by the thermometer.

It looks like the hot weather is finally here to stay. That’s good news for the heat loving crops like tomatoes and peppers that we still need to transplant (and replant in some cases). We got a little over-ambitious this spring and lost some tomatoes to frost, but not to worry, there’s plenty more on the way!

Meanwhile, our cool season crops have been growing happily out in the garden for weeks. We’ve added (please contain your excitement) Brussels sprouts, flowering kale, and several new onion and leek varieties to our repertoire. We’re also happy to report that spinach and lettuce are now available for purchase. We’ve got several great varieties for you to try and we’ll be happy to mix and rinse a gallon bag for you: $3.5/gal. We can do a smaller size if you’d like, but this is your best value and our most popular mix.

You are welcome to arrange to pick up your produce at the farm at your convenience, or we can deliver it at work on Mondays and Wednesdays and at church on Sundays. Please email your orders to: dutchmastersfarms@gmail.com.

Giving the Gleanings

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 23:21-23

Finally, we wanted to let you know that our family has committed to setting aside a portion of our fresh produce this year for distribution at Gleaners on the fourth Wednesday of each month. If you’re not familiar with this great ministry, you can learn more about how they are meeting the physical and spiritual needs in our community here.

In this difficult economic cycle, the need is particularly great and we’re excited to be able to do our small part. If you’re interested in lending a hand either at the distribution site or in collecting the produce on the farm, let us know. We’ll be happy to serve with you.

Thanks for your interest and support, and here’s to a hot Michigan summer! And until next time…

Dig deep.

The Marlinks

You can’t get too mad at a mold for doing what it’s supposed to do–that is–decompose stuff. Unless of course the stuff that mold is decomposing happens to be the heirloom tomatoes you’ve waited all season to enjoy.

Such was the case for us last summer, and in fact, for many gardeners through out the Midwest and Northeast. After a few brief weeks of good production and tomato bliss, we lost well over 100 tomato plants in about two weeks. Of course, last year was the perfect storm for mold: wet and cool for nearly the entire summer.  So we took our lumps, but hopefully we learned some lessons too.

I’ve had a few people ask about late blight since then, and having just stumbled across the following videos from Growing Wisdom (Johnny’s Select Seeds, Winslow ME), I thought I’d share them. If you want to learn to better identify, prevent, or treat late blight, watch and learn.
[blip.tv ?posts_id=3346905&dest=-1]
[blip.tv ?posts_id=3346905&dest=-1]
There you have it. Prevention and identification are key for organic growers, and you can bet your butter beans we’ll be prepared this year. Until next time friends…

Dig deep.

Few things can brighten a sunless winter day like browsing the seed catalogs that roll in the first week of January. They’re a welcome reminder that it will not always be 20 degrees outside. You will not always feel like turning in for the night at 7pm. There will be a time when you reach for the sunscreen and not the hand lotion; a time to jump in the cool of Lake Michigan instead of soaking in a hot bath. Oh for a warmer day.

*************

Well, after rummaging through seed catalogs and looking over our the various crop yields and sales from last year, we believe we’ve made some smart adjustments to our garden, and we’re excited to get growing. New seeds have all been ordered, and we plan to start our onions and brassicas indoors in just a few short weeks. We’re excited about several new varieties that we’ll be trying out this year. And after selling out of several items last summer, we’ve tweaked things a bit. We’ll be growing more beans, peas and raspberries this year. So for those of you still waiting on green beans…thanks for your patience. We’ve got you covered.

In case you were wondering, we are still eating from our garden. Becky recently made one of my favorite hearty pasta dishes with our vegetables: rigatoni with butternut squash and sausage. We’ve posted the recipe on the What’s Cookin’ page. The onions and squash have kept in our root cellar for about 4 months now, and they should go for a month or two more. It’s nice to go downstairs and snag some potatoes, onions or shallots when a dish calls for it, and know that this produce came from our own garden. Thrifty feels good.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Opa got a chainsaw for Christmas. So on warmer days he’s been clearing scrub and trimming trees, getting in touch with his inner Paul Bunyan. It’s still amazing to think that this land was probably cleared by hand only a few generations ago. For his part, Opa prefers the Stihl.

So wish for summer, but remember to enjoy the moment.

Until next time friends,

Dig deep.