June 28, 2013 @ 11:45 AM

When these tomatoes were planted, I expected a zebra striped roma would be small. Imagine my surprise when they kept growing larger and larger, a nice green with light green stripes. Suddenly I find one that's ripened over night and was so excited that I had to come in for my daily late breakfast and make my special favorite BLT sandwich.

After decades of practice, there's only one correct way to make a BLT. I demand white bread, but have changed over to a "white wheat" that has more fiber and low carbs - there's only 23 carbs in 2 slices, or half what I'm allowed in a meal. Please tell my endocrinologist how well I'm doing with that.

Then you need mayonaise on both slices of bread. You need it on one side of...

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June 26, 2013 @ 12:32 PM

I've become totally immersed in gardening, and rarely think to wear gloves or find that certain tasks just require bare hands. Have you ever tried to pinch a tomato sucker with gloves on? Impossible. Ever tried to really scrub tomato plant juice off of your hands and from under your fingernails? Also, nearly impossible.

Yesterday morning I pinched suckers for 5 hours and my hands were totally green and disgusting. I had baking to do, so simply knowing they were as clean as I could get them wouldn't do, they had to LOOK CLEAN as well as BEING clean. In looking over the ingredients for tarts and zucchini bread I was going to be using a fair amount of lemons. I actually needed more zest than I did lemon juice, so I went for my old ...

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June 23, 2013 @ 3:41 PM

Another nice Sunday morning at Daisy Duke Farm! I picked a nice size bowl of fresh raspberries this morning - here's my catch of the day (less those that I grazed on while picking). This is the first time I've actually accumulated a bowl full!

I did some weeding, and buried a gallon sized plastic vinegar jug in one of the raised beds. I cut slits in the sides and cut out the bottom and top, then dug a large hole and set it in place. This will allow me to compost weeds right inside that jug... handy since that bed grows a lot of weeds and grass for some reason!

I tied up a few tomato plants AGAIN. The tomatoes are getting big and the plants are huge and beautiful. It won't be long now before I'll really be enjoying some of ...

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June 22, 2013 @ 11:42 AM

Hanover tomatoes are the most sought after vegetable in central Virginia. Hanover county has very sandy soil that's perfect for growing tomatoes. A luscious Hanover tomato is not a particular variety, but any tomato grown in the county. Couple our optimum soil with the century-old adage that "Hanover farmers sell the best, and eat the rest", and the stars simply align for the best tomato in all the world; just ask any Hanover farmer and he'll swear it's true!

My sister-in-law Cheryl says I'm a tomato snob. It's absolutely true. I refuse to eat those soul-less, mealy pinkish things they sell in the grocery stores that come from God knows where all year. I'd simply rather do without because THAT is not a ...

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June 19, 2013 @ 12:28 PM

With our long, cool and rainy spring, lots of flowers should be blooming for me now. But unlike in past years, they're not. This week I'll be at the HARDYWOOD PARK BREWERY'S Farmer Market (6-19-13) from 4pm to 8pm with this week's offerings:

  • Larkspur
  • Cannas
  • Asian Day Lilies
  • Hydrangeas
  • Roses
  • Snapdragons
  • Herbal bouquets (including mint, lavender, lemon verbena, eucalyptus)

If you've never thought of it, cut fresh sprigs of assorted herb stems and flowers and set the vase in your kitchen or powder room for a lovely and naturally pleasing scent. They stay looking great for days, and you'll even find that many will root right in the jar or vase, including mints, basil, rosemary and lavender. A cut ...

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June 17, 2013 @ 9:30 AM

I happen to grow all these ingredients and thought I'd share this recipe.

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June 17, 2013 @ 8:50 AM

When we got our poultry in March of this year, the fella at Tractor Supply said it's a good idea to have ducks in your flock as they help protect the chickens when they're free ranging. Of course, since we don't want to raise poultry but only want eggs, we asked for only females. However, as many farmers know, you often get some unexpected male birds.

We have 14 chickens and 6 ducks. Three of the ducks are white Pekin ducks and the other 3 are Khaki Campbells. We figured out this week that the biggest Pekin duck (named Aflac) is male when he started jumping on the back of the other ducks. He grabs their necks in his bill to keep them from getting away. He has a special desire to rape them when they're in their kiddie pool...

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June 15, 2013 @ 1:34 PM

A chicken tractor is a portable cage or coop that you can move around the yard so chickens are safely confined and yet able to work up the soil in a defined area. Ours have wheels so they're easy to move around, and they have no bottoms so the chickens are able to fully dig up the dirt where they're parked. If you simply want your chickens to graze in the yard then you can put wire fencing on the bottom that keeps them off the ground.

Mike built our first 2 chicken tractors out of boxy pallets that were just right by simply adding wire, wheels and a door; they measure roughly 48" x 30" x 48" tall. They were the PERFECT size to house 14 chickens that were a week old. That didn't last long as they grew, so he built...

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June 15, 2013 @ 2:48 AM

Being in the fireplace business, we get lots of products in on wood pallets. I use these as much as possible in the garden, but was challenged at first by  how to use these pallets that have a center upright; glass doors arrive to us on these because the doors must ship upright. After looking at them laying by the driveway for weeks longer than necessary, it occurred to me to stand them on their sides and put two of them together to make a trellis because I had some free tomato plants come to me unexpectedly.

We used a couple of boards to connect them to each other for stability and after leveling them covered them with a few inches of dirt. Now 10 new tomato plants have a new home. Since this little support trellis system did prove ...

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June 14, 2013 @ 5:15 PM

My 14 chickens and 6 ducks arrived in mid-March. Ranging from 1 day old to 5 days old, they were adorable little fluff balls. Since they have to be kept warm, they started off in a medium sized box in our garage, showered in light by a red heat bulb to keep them at approximately 95 degrees.

Then we had to split up the ducks into their own box, then they went in cages, then Mike built them chicken tractors that were still housed in the garage as we lowered their environmental temperature by 5 degrees per week for 5 or 6 weeks.

By this time we were letting them out, fully supervised, to play in the yard for a few minutes at a time. Mike converted one stall of the barn into a chicken coop and built them an outdoor run about 15' x 20'...

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