Friday, May 29, 2009

Quick Notes.........

There is not a lot of time to blog right now and I seem to have blogger's block. But I do have a couple of quick thoughts to pass along.

I have discovered that publicity is a double-edged sword. Last weekend, we had car after car, pulling into the lane. (Note ..... we have a lane, not a driveway!) People from Des Moines, Dubuque, Nichols, Cedar Rapids. All at least an hour away. Des Moines is three hours away!! GREAT!!!!

But the unfortunate thing is ........... I have no flowers!!! We had a frost warning less than a week ago. I know its a shock -- but flowers don't grow at 30 degrees. This is why we don't have daisies in November in Iowa. Nor do they grow overnight. Yes -- it is now 70 degrees but they need a little time to get used to that. I don't even discuss soil temps!!!!

One woman said "But you were in a magazine. You have to have flowers!" I love the logic. I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. So does that mean I will have money???? Might work!!!!

It could be worse........ I was discussing my weekend with my friend, the Pumpkin Man. They got a phone call last week asking about their corn maze and if it was open. Hmmmm????

I'm thinking agriculture education needs to be a requirement before you can get a high school diploma!!!!

Most of our flowers are planted.... they seem to be hiding in the weeds that have suddenly gone POP!!! Flowers don't grow overnight but it is a botanical fact that weeds do!!! So the hoe and the knee pads have come out! Unfortunately, that means the dust rag and vacuum can not be out at the same time!

Another botanical fact ---- large gardens create dirty houses.

In other news -- Sheepie Neighbor and I hoarded some more chickens. Hey --they met the requirements. They were free. They were pretty. They lay pretty eggs! Only two apiece. Not bad for us. I did get a gold-laced Polish hen named Ava. Picture will follow in a few days. She is very sweet and is settling in nicely but so far, no great pictures.

And one more tidbit ......... canning season is about to begin. (OH NO!! Not nearly-naked-canning!!!!) No -- I will keep my clothes on for these. First jam making class at the Freight House Farmers Market will be June 13th. We will be making strawberry jam a couple of different ways including a freezer jam. And to promote it -- Miss Effie will be on Paula Sands Live on June 11th at 4:30pm. Yea ..... I'm doin' my best to make jammin' hip and cool again!!!

All for now -- some ill-placed lambs quarters are calling me!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trying to think Straight.........

Just so my dear readers don't think I have fallen from the face of the earth ...... we are alive and well. As well as a 50+ year old woman can be when she is on her hands and knees for 10 hours a day!!! I have no idea who invented Advil -- but at this moment, I worship them!!!!

My friend Jill sent me some wonderful gloves. And they even fit my little Mickey Mouse-sized hands!!!!! So I'm figuring with lots of soap and water -- my hands might look presentable by mid-June!!!!

And we are having problems with planes circling our gardens. Seems the planes are mistaking my sunburned nose for the beacons at the local airport!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend........

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interviewing with the Wall Street Journal........

Who would have thunk it????

Well -- definitely not my mother!!! But I digress!

It started with my friend Ed. Ed had been contacted by Roger Thurow, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Thurow was interested in the use of EBT cards (formerly known as food stamps) at Iowa farmers markets.

He was curious to see why the increase in EBT card use and what markets were doing to promote and help the consumer. It was to start as a brief phone interview. Well -- give Ed a chance with a reporter!!!!! Ed is extremely knowledgeable and has all his facts (unlike my ducks!) in a row!!!

So it wasn't long before Mr. Thurow was on a roadtrip to Iowa!

After a tour of Nostalgia Farms, a walk-through the Tuesday night market, and a couple of other interviews...... he was ready to talk to Miss Effie.

I was included because of the canning and preserving classes that I have been lucky enough to teach at the market. We talked about the need to educate and to encourage home preservation. The fact that anyone still canned was almost inconceivable to him!!! I tried to explain to him about my corner of the world where Greenhouse Gwen, Sheepie Neighbor and I are always sweating it out in the kitchen in August!!!

But also, we discussed that we have two generations that haven't learned to cook. Spaghetti sauce is in a jar labeled "Ragu" and macaroni and cheese only comes in a blue box! So besides teaching how to can and preserve the foods consumers buy at the market -- we need to teach ease in preparation and how to use what you have preserved. Many of us can the fun things ....... jams, chutneys, salsas. But when you are trying to feed a family -- you need the basics.

We also talked about our up-coming homemade baby food class and how a young mother could stretch her EBT and WIC payments by using products available at the market to feed her infant.

Hunger in America is something we don't want to see. But its there. And its on the face of many children. And there is nothing more American, than our local farmers feeding the hungry.

So if you have been blessed with a full pantry and would like to help with our local cause at the Freight House Farmers Market, this is what you can do........

1) We are looking for canning supplies. We have lots of jars to donate but we need new lids and rings. We are looking for used canners, juicers and jar lifters.

2) We would love donations so that we can purchase the current Ball Blue Books for participants.

3) We are also raising money for baby food grinders. Or if you have one in a box or in the back of a cabinet..... we will make sure it goes to good use.

We won't feed the world......... but maybe we can help with our corner.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Top 10 Ways You Can Tell You Are a Market Farmer

10. You wear a stocking cap and long underwear in May.

9. You consider putting them away in June.

8. Your nose has been mistaken for a beacon.

7. You have live poultry living inside your house......... and you don't care.

6. If someone would bring you a cookie while you were working in the garden, you would wipe your hands on your jeans and eat away!!

5.Your hands could be used to re-finish furniture as they feel like 160 grit sandpaper.

4. Your bedtime is 10 minutes after you walk into the house.

3. You measure your plants in feet ..... not number of plants.

2. You haven't heard from the friends that last spring insisted it would be fun to spend a day gardening with you.

And the Number One way to tell that you are a market farmer ..................

1. You have worn a push-up bra to garden cuz its the only thing clean in the drawer!


A couple of posts ago -- I talked about my need for a bay tree to match the plate that I had found at the thrift store. A few days later .... I receive an email from my friend Linda Tuftee. She had a surprise for me....... she grows bay trees. So I was gifted with this wonderful bay tree.

I have never cooked with fresh bay. (Hey! I live in Iowa .... not the south of France!!) Linda told me that the flavor is so superior to dried bay. One sniff and I am certain of that!!! So I am waiting for time to cook something wonderful with it!!

But at this point -- I am not praying for a rainy day to do it!! I will happily wait out the dry spell!!
It is a 3 year old plant. Doesn't it look pretty tucked in among the chives??

And a quick .......ahhhhhh! moment. George and her 3 kittens. We are pretty certain that Dad is Right .... or Left.... or it could be both!!! So the kittens were named after Quarks. Up, Down and Charmed. At this point -- I have no idea what a quark is. I will leave that to Honey.

I just think they are cute.

Miss Effie is busy in the garden. Hopefully, we will be opening soon. I will try to stay in touch!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Peep .... peep....peep!!!

A little after 7 this morning, I got a phone call. Without saying "Hello", I asked if I had children at the post office. James, our postmaster, said "Want to talk to the kids?" And all I heard was the sound of very hungry and thirsty babies.

Yep .... the 25 chicks arrived. Actually, 26 but one had not survived the trip from Missouri. And then there were 5 ducklings.

I love ducklings. They are messy!! They slosh water everywhere!!! They spill food!! And they poop constantly. I still love them. We have 2 Anconas, 2 Runners and one crested duck. So if I get lucky -- I could possibly have a crested-runner (Walter clone) in the future. I've been working with them already. This little one can lay on his back quite comfortably!
The chicks this year are just the garden variety of chicks. Nothing very fancy -- just good heavy layers with pretty colors. We have 5 White Brahmas, 5 Barred-Rocks, 5 Buff Orpingtons, 5 Australorps and 5 Aracuanas. So a nice mix of good layers. I love the temperment of the Australorps and the Barred Rocks. Always such easy going hens.

More pictures will follow in the next few days. And we will see how well Honey can train 5 ducklings. Its fun to have them follow you around the kitchen ........ As Honey says, its just little poop!!!

Oh well .......... back to scrubbing the kitchen floor on this rainy day!!!

Miss Effie's .............

Miss Effie's has her very own fan page on Facebook now. So pop in -- say hi!! Hopefully, Miss Effie will keep the news flowing both here and there.

Isn't technology cool??? OK -- I still hate cell phones. Kind of a peace-and-quiet type girl. But this typing and talking is a big improvement over the tin cans and string ....... and I kind of liked those.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Herbies, Herby!!

This is part of my herb garden. I really like the garden. Its about 40 feet long and 8 feet deep. It backs up to our neighbors' privacy fence.

Now you know how I hate privacy fences. Personally, I think they destroy the sense of community. Secondly, if you want a division of property lines, a picket fence or split rail fence is much more inviting. I wasn't given the choice.

But in the end, the Great Wall of China -- as I call it -- has become a great backdrop to some new gardens. And I will accept it as that.

Back to the herb garden --- its on year number 3. And as always in gardening. I've learned a lot.
Notice the border. I wanted a border of lamb's ears.... stachys. It has always been very well-behaved in my garden.........till now!! WOW!!! It is one happy little plant. It would take over the whole garden if I would let it.
It's hard to find vertical elements sometimes. And even though we have several shrubs in the herb garden -- it needs other things to soften the fence. One day -- along our gravel road -- some one dumped the remains of an wooden swing set. The ladder is now a trellis for this fast growing clemetis. We will see how fast it grows this year.
Another great find were these William-Sonoma cocktail plates. I found them at a thrift store -- this one is tarragon. Its now a plant marker. I have thyme and bay also. But I need a bay plant!!!!!!
Chives are some of my favorite herbs. Well -- that and the fact that when the chives bloom, I can plant my zinnias!!! I think there is good variety ... calendula, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon verbena, oregano, tarragon,parsley, caraway and dill. I just know there are more things to plant!!!!

And finally -- one of my sensational lilacs. Appropriately named Sensation. Not as heavy scented as the wonderful old lilacs in the garden but ......... oh so pretty!!!!!! Not an herb --- but worth having there!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Planting Mother's Day Greetings.....

It's been a long day with lots of sun, lots of flowers and lots of dirt. I have loved every moment of it!! But the sun has gone to my brain and it is impossible to be clever. So let me leave you with some pictures from the weekend.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to work with children, planting flowers for their mother's for a gift. Flowers and pots were donated by Blossom Farms in Fulton, IL and the soil was donated by Allens Grove Greenhouse. This was part of our Mother's Day Tea event at the Freight House Farmers Market.

I had a ball! The kids were so delightful. The little boy above is Oliver...... isn't he serious about planting?

And these two cool dudes were planting flowers on the sly for their moms.

I loved the smiles!!!!
Happy Mothers Day to all moms. And I'll see all my friends at the Freight House on Tuesday evening (3-6pm on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi!!!) And yes Ed, I want some strawberries (Fresh, local, and sweet! The best!!!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Addiction ............ part one. Tuftee's Garden

Ok -- As every one knows by now, I have a bit of a problem. I love plants. Lots and lots of plants. You know that I plant about 6000 annuals every year in the gardens. But I also plant lots of containers to sit throughout the gardens. I'm down a bit this year but one year, I planted over 90. I haven't counted this year.

And to buy my container plants ..... I go to little family-owned rural greenhouses. Cuz I'm little and rural!! No -- those neighborhood greenhouses have better service, people that know their plants and their products and my dollars stay here locally to help another family.

So you are getting a tour of some of my favorite rural greenhouses. Today's its Tuftee's Greenhouse in rural McCausland, IA. McCausland is a little town on the northeast corner of Scott County IA. You can get to McCausland from old Rt. 61 or from Rt. 67. And just a little note of history -- William Cody (aka Buffalo Bill) was born down the road from the greenhouse.

Linda and Dan Tuftee also sell their products at the Freight House Farmers Market and the new East Moline Farmers Market. So here are some pictures of their greenhouse. They have a great selection of annuals. And they are one of the few people that I know that raise calla lilies in pots for home gardeners. They have a wonderful variety of colors.

At my latest venture -- I bought a citrus supertunia from Proven Winners. Look at this deep rich yellow color.So take a leisurely drive to McCausland and go to 510 N Cody Ave. Not sure if you can findMcCausland? Call 563-225-2352 and they will walk you through the directions. Tell Linda that Miss Effie sent you.

And just to entice you just a little bit more..........................
Pretty, yes??????

Monday, May 4, 2009

New public facilities.............

Our new men's restroom was installed today. And seriously, I don't get it. I try to understand the standing up part. I try to understand the public urinal part. But to the day I die, I will never understand the "cornfield" part.
I'll put the sign out after Mike finishes planting. Oh -- he does have the greenest corn in the county ....... in one row!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pandemic flu fashion tips.............

Don't you love it when good people take the seriousness of the potential pandemic and do their best to educate us????

One of my favorite LYS in Muscatine, Iowa City and Cedar Falls has done just that. They know that H1N1 virus could be serious. So to protect us, they have created classic pandemic attire. A good knitter knows that a pair of knitting needles can save us in any crisis!

Yea ........... the name fits ........... Crazy Girl Yarn Shop. I do hope they have the pattern on PDF.

Friday, May 1, 2009