26 Jun

Garden News – June 26, 2017

After months of seed starting, transplanting, preparing and weeding, the garden is starting to strut her stuff!  It has been a little challenging keeping up with Mother Nature’s whims, but things are looking quite nice out there. 

I will have organic, free range eggs available this year. My friend Marlene, who lives on Independent Lane, has the best eggs I have ever tasted. She takes such good care of her girls. The eggs will sell for $4 per dozen. I will have 10-12 dozen the first week to see how they go. I don’t want her to bring more than I can sell for her. You can always call or email me and let me know if you want me to hold some for you, otherwise it will be first come, first serve!

I am excited to tell you that Bonnie Martinell from Boja Farms in Bridger is offering fruit, garlic and winter squash shares through Kate’s Garden as an additional service to you! I know how challenging it is to find organic fruit and produce that I may not grow, or grow enough of for preserving or storing for the winter. It is so important that  small producers like Bonnie and I are allowed to continue doing what we do!

How Pick Up Days Work

For those of you who purchased full shares, you will come every Thursday until the final share date of October 5th.

I have divided the half share group into two parts, and some of you will pick up the first week, and the others on the second week. From then on, you will come every other week for the duration of the season. This makes it easier for me, as I will have the same # of boxes to prepare every week.

Bodie and I are anxiously awaiting seeing some of our past subscribers and greeting our new members!
Your CSA full share subscription will be ready for pickup this week on Thursday between the hours of 4pm and 6pm at Kate’s Garden in Billings Heights (2055 Andromeda Ln). The gate will be open for you, so just walk down the gravel driveway. Be sure to bring your boxes, bags, or coolers to place your produce in. I welcome your quart and larger clamshells, grape sacks, egg crates, and items that you would normally throw away, as I can use them for packaging produce. No take-out food containers, please. If you have questions about what I can use, just ask. I don’t want to be a recycling business, but some of these items come in handy and then they are not being put into the landfill!
25 May

We’ve got cucumbers, greens, broccoli, carrots, peas, onions, radishes, strawberries, and more. Every bed is full! We’ve even started harvesting some of the lettuce and mustard greens already for our restarurant sales. By the end of June the plants will be so big you won’t even be able to see the ground. Springtime is hard work, but we are full of anticipation. There’s nothing like being so connected to your food, you are literally watching it grow.

 

26 Apr

Garden News – April 26, 2017

Hello everyone,

Congratulations! You are all officially part of the Kate’s Garden 2017 CSA. I look forward to getting to know each of you better this summer – and for those of you who are new subscribers, meeting you for the first time. If you haven’t made your final payment yet, remember to please do so by Monday, May 1.

This newsletter is the first of many you’ll receive throughout through the CSA season. I like to keep my clients in the know about what’s going on the garden. Last week we finished transplanting many of our cool-weather crops: scallions, onions, spinach, lettuce, kale, mustards, tatsoi, sugar snap peas, and beets. We also seeded carrots and radishes. You can look forward to getting these veggies during the first few weeks of the garden season. I’m also growing pea shoots for the first time ever this year for Kalvin, owner and executive chef at J P Kitchen. If all goes well, the CSA clients might could get some pea shoots too!

If you’ve been looking around for local eggs, I am trying to have some here this summer from Marlene Wildin, a good friend of mine. Depending on how many her chickens produce, they’ll be available to buy for $4 a dozen each week when you pick up your CSA. I’m always looking for ways to use my garden to strengthen the community, and providing a space for other producers to sell their products is one way I live that value. I want to continue to provide other things I don’t grow to my CSA clients later down the road as well, like potatoes, garlic, apples and other fruits, which will all come from local producers.

One final, important note: When you pick up your CSA, one thing I ask of all my clients is to bring recycled containers. Start saving your plastic clam shells, like strawberry or tomato containers (no messy-food containers please). Grape pouches or other bags with zip ties are great for packaging produce too. I also use wine bottles around the garden to cover posts that stick out of the ground, so save those if you have them! The Earth gives so much to us, and it’s important that we give back to the Earth. Let’s take initiative and work together to keep trash out of the landfill.

So far, season 2017 is promising to be a good one. I’m looking forward to what’s to come, and as always, thank you for your support of Kate’s Garden!

All the best,
Kate

04 Apr

Garden News – April 4, 2017

Hello everyone,

The growing season is getting closer and closer, and it shows! This month I pruned all of the fruit trees and sprayed them with dormant oil spray, a natural insecticide, and liquid seaweed, a natural fertilizer. We always try to spray before the first buds break to catch the bugs while they’re hibernating. The greenhouse is also full of seedlings ready to be transplanted, and just last week I started outside with some pink lettuce and ruby streaks. These little plants are what will eventually be in your CSA. Don’t worry, they’re receiving plenty of tender love and care!

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for a CSA so far. When you buy from Kate’s Garden, not only are you supporting a small farmer, but you are helping bring Eastern Montana’s local food system back to life. So far I’ve sold 11 half shares and 4 full shares. I’m almost to my goal of 20, but I still have a ways to go. If you’re considering purchasing a share, act quickly – I need to know how many subscribers to grow for, and I’m starting seeds now!

Finally, I wanted to update you on the progress I’ve made getting my produce into local restaurants. Already, eight different restaurants in Billings have decided to source from Kate’s Garden: Lilac, The Fieldhouse, Walker’s, Juliano’s, J P Kitchen, Ember Cooking Company, Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill, and Seva Kitchen. Cooperation between restaurants and farmers is a huge step to building a stronger local food culture, and I’m so grateful to have this kind of support. You, too, can continue to support me by patronizing these restaurants. Let’s show them how grateful we are that they chose Kate’s Garden over Sysco!

It’s been a busy year, and this summer promises even more potential for us. I’ve decided to do a couple things in 2017 I’ve never done before. I’ve hired on a full-time intern, and together we’ll be participating in the Yellowstone Valley Farmers’ Market. Look out for my May newsletter for more updates on these exciting new changes.

 

All the best,

Kate

06 Jul

Garden News – June 2016

There’s been a whirlwind of activity here in Kate’s Garden  since my last newsletter.  I’m am finally feeling like I can come up for air!  I feel blessed to have found two wonderful young women, Raechl and Sherry, to help me this season and we  have been working around the crazy weather  as best as possible.   The transplants that were started in the greenhouse during the winter months are now outside firmly planted in the ground.  The majority of direct seeding into the garden beds is done with the exception of some more carrots and  I will be starting new seeds in the greenhouse for second plantings  of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and scallions for fall harvest.

The timing for seeding,( whether that be in the greenhouse or outside in the garden),  is so important when you are planning production for the CSA.  It’s not like a home garden where you plant once and eat what grows when it is ready.  In a production garden you must make sure that you always have certain crops that grow fast always available, like radishes and greens for instance.  So you are re-seeding every few weeks for a continuous supply.  We call that succession planting.  Some plants like the greens and brassicas do not do well in the heat of summer, so you must get those crops in the ground early in the spring so they are ready before the heat comes on, and then there are the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and squash that thrive in the heat. Second plantings of beets, kale, spinach and other greens usually go in now, as the first plantings have been harvested for my wholesale accounts or will be ready soon for the beginning weeks of the CSA.   It was so warm in April that those heat loving plants that were in the greenhouse grew rapidly and were ready to put outside way too early.  I had to get them in the ground so they have been just sitting there not doing much because of the temperature fluctuations and the cool nights.  Every year in the garden is an adventure!  You just think you finally kinda know what you are doing as a grower and then Mother Nature throws you a curve ball and has a good laugh on you!  I am constantly challenged and always learning.

The majority of culinary herbs are harvested in the Spring and early Summer. The essential oils in the plants are at their highest in the cool of the mornings and before the plants flower.  So, we are out in the gardens at that time harvesting.  We have been sending lots of herbs to the restaurants,because the chefs here in Billings and Bozeman use them.  It is great to be able to find people who appreciate them and it brings in extra income and gives me such a sense of support right here in our own community.  There are lots of chive blossoms right now, so if you happen to have them growing in your own gardens, here is a recipe from my website for making chive blossom vinegar that is delightful in salad dressings and splashed over poultry and fish.

The beehive that my friend, Tony Seitz, installed last month is already humming!  He is building hand crafted  chicken coops and beehives and they are exquisite.  The honey bees are returning to the hive  heavy with yellow pollen collected on their hind legs which will help feed the queen and create a thriving hive.  There is a plethora of flowering plants in the gardens right now, as the roses, peonies and poppies are all blooming. The bees are happy and busy!

I sometimes find it challenging not to worry and stress myself out with anxiety over the gardens.  I beat myself up thinking that the they are not perfect, not producing as I expect, and there are always things that go wrong.  I don’t want to disappoint my clients and want them to be happy with the food and energy that is produced here and have wonderful experiences with everything that Kate’s Garden has to offer.  But this morning, as I sat outside in my daily meditation, I realized that everything is perfect just the way it is.  Just the experience of being blessed with the beauty the surrounds me and being able to do what I love to do,  is enough….I am enough!  We are all perfection and enough!  Being in gratitude for everything that life brings us evokes a sense of peace.  We are worthy and deserving.  It is a discipline that we must practice in every moment.    What is that song?   No worries!  Be Happy!

The snap peas are starting to climb!  That is usually an indication that the CSA  will be beginning soon.  June 23rd will be the first pick up day.  You can come between 4 and 6 PM.  Be sure and bring a box,  cooler or bags to carry your produce home, as I do not provide boxes.  The gate will be open, so just walk down the gravel driveway  to the shop.  You will be greeted by my German Shepherd, Bodie, who can sometimes be boisterous, but a big friendly baby!  I am so happy that the majority of this year’s subscribers purchased full shares, so that I don’t have to figure out who picks up which week.  It can sometimes be a little confusing.  I will be in touch by email with the half share subscribers to let you know when your first pick up day will be.

Bodie and I are looking forward to meeting you here in the gardens.  You are welcome to come by for a visit anytime, just let me know when you are coming.  You don’t have to wait until the CSA starts.  The gardens are in a constant stage of change so it is always so beautiful to see.  I will be in touch again in a couple of weeks!

Before I close, I wanted to mention that there is a pre-buy of Colorado peaches being offered as a fundraiser for the Shepherd-Warrior Martial Arts Scholarship Program for at-Risk & Underprivileged Kids.  I have purchased organic peaches from them for serveral years now and have never been disappointed.  They come in ripe, juicy and ready to eat or preserve.  It’s always a challenge finding organic fruit….especially peaches.

Rocky MT Freestone Peaches
from Palisade Colorado
Coming in Early to Mid August 2016!
Order NOW! Limited Quantity!
Call Sherry at 406-671-2933
This is a fundraiser for Shepherd-Warrior Martial Arts   Scholarship Program for at risk & Underprivileged Kids
Certified Organic Peaches $46.00 per 18lbs
Non-Organic Peaches $38.00 per 18lbs
18 Mar

Garden News – March 2016

Welcome to my first newsletter for 2016! I’ve missed seeing friends and clients come to visit the gardens these last few months. Bodie has been bored to death, too, since he hasn’t been able to welcome everyone with his rowdy hello.

Every year by the end of the garden season, I swear I am going to quit farming! However, when the sun starts to shine again and the days begin to lengthen, I am bitten by the bug! It’s in my blood and I am on a mission to grow luscious vibrant food, educate others on the importance of eating well, and do everything humanly possible to pass on to my grandchildren a sustainable environment.

It seems winter is already winding down. It’s hard to believe that it’s only February, but here we are with bare earth showing her face and yearning for some moisture to quench her thirst. I know my skin is feeling the same way, too! I hope we receive some more heavy wet snow, or if we are going to have an early Spring, which is what the Farmers Almanac and the Groundhog say, we at least have lots of spring rain.

What’s Happening on the Farm

I have been trying to get outside to start pruning my fruit trees and clean up the perennial beds, but the wind has been howling. Makes it a little challenging to say the least, and it fluffs my aura to the point that my brain gets scrambled! Will continue to try, but I have lots more seeding to do in the greenhouse, so that should keep me inside until the weather shifts.

I have had some visitors this week, too! Roxanne and Lee Dunn from White Deer Ranchin Fishtail came by and we spent a lovely afternoon sharing our ideas for growing our businesses. They have been growing micro greens, wild-crafting native plants on their land, and raising cattle, goats, chickens, and bees; homesteading is in their blood. Roxanne and I both share a love of herbs. It’s always so nice to have someone to talk to who knows the challenges of farming, as well! As I always say, “Misery loves company!” 

My “go-to, jack of all trades” friend, John, helped me install three new T5 light fixtures in the greenhouse so I can get the seedlings started more quickly. They cost a pretty penny but put out way more light than the old florescent fixtures that I have been using. Hopefully they will be worth it!

CSA News

Seed catalogs have been piled up all over the house for months now, orders have been placed and delivered and I am already starting seeds in the greenhouse. Just this past week I planted 300 organic heirloom tomatoes, some for the gardens here and the rest for the Good Earth Market. They will begin  accepting pre-orders for these plants at the store at the the end of February and you will be able to pick them up the beginning of May. So, if you are wanting to plant some in your own garden, stop by the store to place an order.

I updated my website with all of the new information on Kate’s Garden’s 2016 CSA. I really wrestled with the pricing this year. After talking to my accountant at length and being told I can’t continue to do this any longer without making a profit, I made the decision to put my prices back up to where they were two years ago. This will hopefully allow me to hire more help, purchase some much needed equipment, and pay myself. My only help in the gardens for the last couple of years has been Barbara, and we are both in our 70s! It’s my hope you will continue to value the importance of supporting Kate’s Garden. Not only are we working together to build a strong community but the impact of eating fresh organic food on our health and well-being is vital! When you serve your families fresh organic veggies and herbs grown here in my garden, you can be confident that the land, birds, insects, and, yes, even the weeds have been blessed and honored for their role in serving the gardens. There is a symbiotic relationship between all of these energies and I continue to learn to work with them in creating a chaotic, wild natural beauty, and luscious-tasting, vibrantly-healthy food. It is so much fun! The food that is grown this way just tastes so darn good!

This is the time of year when financial expenditures are heavy for us farmers.  We purchase new tools, equipment, seeds, soil amendments, sharpen tools and service power equipment so that everything is ready for the new season. That’s why it is so important to make sure our CSA’s are marketed well and the deposits and payments come in early. We also need to determine how much we should grow of each crop. How many CSA subscribers will we have? My transplants are normally started in the greenhouse beginning early February because it is not financially feasible to purchase them and it is also impossible to find organic, heirloom plants, which is what I grow. If I don’t have a pretty good idea of how many CSA subscribers and wholesale clients I will be growing for, it is difficult to plan production. So, you can see the importance of signing up early! There is always a little “flying by the seat of your pants” going on, but some semblance of order makes it a lot easier.

I’m also looking for individuals to help in the garden this season. If you enjoy being out in Mother Nature and playing in the dirt, I would love to share her gifts with you. It’s always nice to have people around who have gardening experience, but if you are willing to work hard and are anxious to learn, I am sure we can make some kind of arrangement so that we each get our needs met. Call me at 406-245-9182 and we can discuss it further.

This is all for now, but I invite you to join me this year in reaping the bounty of fresh, organic, local veggies by signing up soon for the 2016 Kate’s Garden CSA season. I encourage you to forward this newsletter on to your family and friends, too! If you have questions, please give me a shout or you’re always welcome to come by to see the greenhouse and gardens.

~Garden Blessings~  Kate

22 Oct

Garden News – October 22, 2015

The final week for the CSA half shares is here.  The following subscribers will pick up their last box today, Thursday the 22nd.  Susan Baak, Jessie Browning, Annika Charter Williams, Steve Charter, David Duke, Pamela Gustafson, James Haney, Halcyon LaPoint, Paula & Tom Larsen, Vanessa McNeill, Nanette Kuhl.  If you cannot be here, please let me know ahead of time.

Your share this week will include red cabbage, beautiful peppers, beets, dry onions, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, eggplant, French pumpkin (Galeaux de Parisienne), winter squash (several choices) cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and a few cucumbers and summer squash.

Barb and I will be making sauerkraut today, too,  with the Late Dutch White cabbages that are still out in the gardens.  If any of you are wanting to make kraut or cabbage rolls this is the best cabbage to use.  These cabbages will be available to purchase over the next week or so as well as the late plantings of lettuces and oriental greens.   I have to harvest them before it get really cold.  I also have an abundant supply of eggplant and several varieties of peppers, from mild to hot, if you are wanting to make conserves, relishes, or casseroles to freeze.  Stuffed peppers anyone?

I am honored and excited to have been invited to provide my garden veggies for this upcoming harvest dinner at The Fieldhouse.   ‘http://www.thefieldhousemt.com/#!home/mainPage   The food and wine will be sensational.  I might even get to help out in the kitchen!  You  all know how I love to cook. Won’t you join us and show your support for a local restaurant that is doing it right!

I will be getting the garden ready for next year over the next few weeks.  Just brought in 9 yards of compost and will be hauling sheep manure from Barb’s farm.  The manure and compost along with dried leaves, grass clippings and feather meal will be layered over each bed and planting area and then lightly tilled in.   The 4 compost bins are filled to the tops with all of the garden waste that we have cleaned out of the beds.  They will slowly breakdown over the winter.  Once everything is done, I will be spending time getting my house back in order from the summer neglect, planning next years garden and maybe find time to read some good books!  My body is needing a break from all of the heavy garden work!

I will be sending out the information on next year’s CSA sometime after the first of the year.  I hope you will be joining us again.  I am always interested in your feedback regarding your experience with the CSA.  Not everyone is suited for the CSA business model.  It works for some…and not for others.  Your input will help me determine what needs to be improved and the ways to make the CSA work better for it’s members. Constructive critique is always good!

I am including some recipes using some of the veggies in your final box.

Walnut Raisin Pumpkin Bread


Two loaves….one to eat and one to share

Ingredients:

4 eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 cup oil
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 can of pumpkin (15 oz.) or your own puree made from baked fresh pumpkin
I cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease two loaf pans.

Step 2:  Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together.

Step 3:  In a separate bowl mix together eggs, sugar and oil.
Add vanilla.
Add pumpkin.
Then slowly add flour mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
Lastly, stir in raisins and walnuts.

Step 4:  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to an hour.

Let cool.  Then slice and serve.

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Peppers

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Good quality cooking oil or olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • salt + pepper
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
  • ½ cup chopped parsley, more for garnish
  • 1 cup short grain rice, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes, drained
  • ½ tsp hot paprika
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2¼ cup water
  • 6 bell peppers, any colors, tops removed, cored
  • ¾ cup chicken broth (or water)

Instructions

  1. In a medium heavy pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil. Sauté the chopped onions until golden. Now add the meat and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned. Season with salt, pepper, allspice and garlic powder. Stir in the chickpeas and cook briefly.
  2. To the same pot, now add the parsley, rice, paprika and tomato sauce; stir to combine. Add the water and bring to a high simmer until liquid has reduced by one half.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and no longer hard nor too chewy.
  4. While the rice is cooking, heat a gas grill to medium-high. Grill the bell peppers for 10-15 minutes, covered. Be sure to turn the peppers occasionally so that all sides get charred. Remove from the grill and let cool briefly.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Assemble the bell peppers, open-side up, in a baking dish filled with ¾ cup broth or water. Spoon in the cooked rice mixture to stuff each of the peppers to the very top.
  7. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place it in the 350 degree F heated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley, if you like. Serve immediately with your favorite salad and a side of Greek yogurt.

Loaded Eggplant Rounds

Love loaded potato skins? Enjoy all that cheesy bacon flavor on top of these nutritious and delicious eggplant rounds!

Serves: 4Ingredients

1 large eggplant
Olive oil spray
Garlic salt
1 and ½ cups shredded Mexican blend cheese or Mozzarella
¾ cup real bacon crumbles
6 scallions, chopped
Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice eggplant into round discs, about ¼ – ½ inch thick (thinner rounds will get crispier).
Place the eggplant rounds on a baking sheet, spray both sides of each with a light coating of olive oil spray, and sprinkle with small amount of garlic salt.
Place the rounds in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until rounds are getting brown and crispy.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Top each round with the shredded cheese and the bacon crumbles.
Return the baking sheet to the over for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Sprinkle the scallions over the rounds and serve.

These could also be served as an appetizer for your next party!

I will be sending out newsletters throughout the winter when there are interesting things happening here at Kate’s Garden and Scents of Balance.  I know that some of you don’t really read my musings, so if you would prefer to not receive them, please let me know and I will remove you from my list.  I will, however, contact you next year when I determine the structure of the 2016 (Yikes!) CSA.  I have enjoyed visiting with you all during this veggie season and would love for you  to stay in touch.  I wish you well!