Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A little rain goes a long way...

The little bit of rain we had last week was a much-needed blessing. I was worried some of the plants on both farms that weren't set up for drip irrigation or overhead irrigation wouldn't make it. And to top it all off, the deer... I am really not liking them. They've eaten a lot of my pea plants and some of the chard too! I'm glad Daddy and Troll Bridge (Joe Wayton) helped me out last week in putting up 3 addtional strands of barbed wire on top of the existing hog wire, or all my beans would all be devoured by now!

We have spread approximately 60 tons of chicken litter over the last two weeks. That has been an interesting, slightly stinky adventure. Although the smell is bad at first, we have discovered that you pretty much become immune to it and don't even notice much more... unless the wind catches it and blasts you away with it! Fortunately, we had a gentlemen from Orchard Hills come and spread several tons for us recently and it was an amazing sight to see.

There are several items which still came up without rain, thankfully. The beans look great, as do the potatoes. My tomatoes have been blooming and I'm thrilled! The squash and zucchini may be ready for this week at the market. The sugar snap peas (the ones not eaten by the deer) are producing little by little. And the onions look and smell beautiful. Other things ready are the Shanghai Baby Bak Choy as well as some of the wild Arugula.

Several things have been planted in the last couple of weeks. There are a couple varieties of radishes, several varieties of beans (rattlesnake and black, to name a few), carrots, watermelons, and muskmelons. Luckily, most of these are under plastic mulch, so they are set up for drip irrigation. There's also okra (Clemson Spineless), an heirloom variety of beans (HG/MF specialty!) various varieties of cucumbers (both pickling and slicing), green and yellow zucchini and more. Daddy planted 1,000 sweet corn seeds for me Saturday after the market and rain as well.  I can't wait to put my other tomatoes, eggplants and peppers in the ground. They seem to be taking their time in the beginning seed-starting stages! Apparently, patience is one of those virtures I need to re-learn...


I'm really looking into starting a CSA program for the fall/winter months and continuing it into the next year. What I'd really love to do is offer the option to add meats and other items to the boxes. For example, Welton Bettis, who owns Happy Hogs LLC of Double Hill Farms in Meriwether County, sells wonderful pork and would be a great addition to a CSA box. Even adding goat cheese and farm-fresh eggs would be great. Chickens are something we would love to add to the farm and are getting closer to accomplishing. I will, this week and weekend as well as in the near future, conduct a survey of what customers are interested in seeing at the markets and in their homes (realistically, of course) and also seeing who would be interested in participating in a CSA program for naturally grown produce and other items.

Well, it's beyond time to get out in the fields and get to work! Check back soon... You know there's always something going on here at the farm!

Friday, April 20, 2012


It's official! Homegrown Girl LLC (fancy huh?) is officially selling produce tomorrow at the Peachtree City Farmers Market. It's located behind the Bank of America on Hwy 54 near Partner's Pizza and is going on from 9AM till 1PM. Come by and check it out. I'll be set up at the Minter's Farm tent since I only have a couple of things ready now. Mom and I cut all the spinach that was ready (over 2 bushels) and one heavy bushel of wild arugula. I'm pumped to be heading to the market for the first time with my own stuff!

Now about the farm... Things have been a little crazy at the farm these last few weeks. We've been planting for both farms and getting a deer fence up (the hubby is extremely upset about that one). I now have, in addition to all the other things, over 100 tomatoes planted, 6 rows of okra, 2 rows of beans, about 40 cucumber plants, 15 squash plants and 30 zucchini plants (15 green and 15 yellow). Everything but the tomatoes are what I started in the greenhouse last month. I had a little bit of problems with the tomatoes but they're on the mend and there are several more started again.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me and given me moral support along the way. It's a little scary and a ton of fun at the same time. I hope to succeed and make Homegrown Girl be something truly amazing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Long time... No see

It has been forever... but I'm back in full force! Things have been a little crazy here at the farm. We've been busy plowing, planting, putting up fences and more.

Since I've been gone, the potatoes (the ones I thought were goners and plowed them up) have come up as did some of the others planted. Then I planted a couple of other varieties: red and French organic fingerling. So far, so good. I also had to replant the sweet peas so they didn't come up well. About 30 or so of the original 375 came up... very frustrating, but it was a gamble with the weather like it was.

The spinach and wild arugula are looking great and I'm excited to see them looking so pretty. Mama ended up planting those for me when I was off on vacation for my birthday. She's new to the push planter and it was getting dark, so a couple of the rows kinda cross... but that's ok!

A few new items have been planted recently as well. There are a few rows of Ruby Chard, Silverado Chard, Bull's Blood Beets, and Shanghai Green Pac Choy. My first experience with the greenhouse has been somewhat successful (so far... and I'm crossing my fingers that it will last). I have some beautiful zucchini coming up as well as squash, muskmelons and even watermelons. I think I only have one tomato out of about 60 that have come up, but that's better than none! Everything is organic special thanks to Walmart now carrying small packets of OMRI Listed organic seed. It seems crazy to think that Wally World now carries organic seeds and starting soils too.

Yesterday, I plowed some more in the field we call Arrowhead Field. It will be totally organic and something Daddy and I will do together. It is starting off as a cleared field, so it will be easy to get certified. It was wonderful smelling the honeysuckles out in the treeline, but they had to go.

We have a big weekend coming up in my household... My wonderful mother's birthday is this Friday (don't ask how old she'll be... she'll just say old) and Abigail's 2nd birthday is Sunday. We're celebrating both Taylor and Abigail's birthdays this weekend in addition to celebrating Easter with our families! Busy, busy, busy...

Well, I'm off to help Daddy do some weeding in the berries and then, once it dries out, plowing in one of my fields and laying off some plastic rows to plant some more. I definitely need to get my early beans in the ground soon!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Peas, potatoes, and leeks... Oh my!

This week was a little different than most... Dad was in Daytona (working/goofing off. Haha! I'm still jealous he got to talk to Travis Pastrana...) so that left me to my own defenses for both farms. Next time he's gone, I really hope it's not when rain is quickly closing in and we need to plant potatoes and several thousand leeks. That's a little scary since we've never planted them before and I'm not familiar with planting them.

Luckily we got in 15 bundles for Dad on Thursday afternoon, thanks to Ducky since Mama had her Spanish class serving dinner to their parents. It was rough (I was attacked by ants) and an interesting learning experience.

Now, HG has planted in the ground some organic sugar snap peas and, what will be naturally-grown Yukon Gold potatoes. Dad is planting about 1,000 leeks for me today since I'm at Day 2 of the Georgia Organics Convention in Columbus. This convention has been very informative and another wonderful learning experience. My only dilemma is that it's 10:00 AM, my stomach is growling and I only have a tangerine in my bag i saved for Abigail. They're not my favorite. Oh well... My stomach has quieted a little now and I'm not as embarrassed.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and check back soon for next week's adventures.


Note: oranges don't make your stomach stop growling.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

There's no turning back now...

Last week was BUSY! We worked hard on both farms and really accomplished a lot. Daddy and I met with a guy from UGA in Griffin and discussed some of the questions we had about naturally-grown products as well as organic products. We even drove out to Cummings and picked up a load of 30+ year old chicken manure to spread on one of the fields. (Thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Walls!)

I even received a great phone call from a long-time family friend on Tuesday about possibly using some additional land for organic farming. He and his mother were both excited to hear what I was trying to get started and are interested in doing a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture), and I really love the idea. [A CSA program allows families to receive a variety of vegetables, fruit, eggs and even meat weekly over a given period of time. Each family pays the farmer ahead of time so that he or she can purchase seed and cover the expenses of growing the crops. HG's CSA program will consist of produce and eggs.] It's old land that hasn't been farmed since his father (Mr. Frank) passed away over 10 years ago. Mr. Frank always used chicken manure from his own chicken houses and that is a great foundation to start on. The location offers great road-frontage for HG and I am really looking forward to meeting with the family to discuss more details on the adventure that awaits us all!

Friday was my point-of-no-return... After planting close to 1500 onions and 300 blackberries for Minter's Farm, Mama, Daddy and Duck helped me to spread 270 pounds of bone meal. Then, Mama jumped on the tractor (something she doesn't get to do too often, but loves) and plowed in the bone meal. Next we laid out rows of plastic with drip-tape, and Mama, Daddy and I planted about 600 onions (white bunching and red). Onions are pretty and fairly easy to plant if the ground is properly plowed and not wet. Unfortunately, the ground was still a little wet and it made the plastic laying and planting slightly difficult.

After the onions were in the ground, Daddy and I spread the truckload of chicken manure by hand. This is not the most fun project since the manure is mostly dust after 3 decades. Spreading manure by hand is difficult work and I can see how well the manure spreader from Uncle Bill will come in handy.
*Note to future naturally-grown and/or organic farmers: NEVER put on lip balm or chap stick before tackling this project.

Even on Saturday morning, Mama and Daddy planted two more bundles of onions (Vidalia-type) for me that Mr. Lester Bray had extra.

Several hours after starting the project, I have my first crop in the ground and Homegrown Girls has officially started! I am very excited and want to thank my parents, Ducky and all those who have helped and answered my crazy questions. And there's also a special thank you to my husband for supporting my effort to start something on my own.

On a side note... Valentine's Day produced a wonderful new addition to the Minter family. A calf was born (thanks to the efforts by Mama, Daddy and Ducky) and he's cute as a button. Kinda a big fella, but he loves the attention he's been receiving from us all. I've named him Valentine, but who knows if that will stick!

Sunday, I attended a baby shower for my cousin's new wife. I made her and Baby Cooper a few items I saw on Pinterest this past week. I made a fleece blanket with his name embroidered on the corner, two burpcloths made with flannel and cloth diapers, two bibs and a special set of linen bags that held all sorts of goodies for them to use in place of a big bulky diaper bag. One held items for changing diapers and the other held snacks and a bib for feeding time. I really enjoyed making these things and hope they enjoy them too!

Check back Friday to see what else I have posted. I'm attending the Georgia Organic's Convention in Columbus Friday and Saturday and know I'll have plenty of valuable information to share.

- Steph

Monday, January 30, 2012

Operation: Going Organic ... Week 2

Almost 11 years ago, to the month, my grandparents deeded over a small tract of land to me. Nothing, I mean nothing, but hunting has taken place on this property and I figured it was the perfect opportunity for me to do something different and hopefully make a living out of it.

I made my decision to start up a small organic farm the other day while plowing one of the new Christmas tree field. For those of you who don't know, you will solve the world's problems and your own (several times over) while driving a tractor. I couldn't shake the idea from my head and I mentioned it to my father. He loved the idea (and was probably secretly glad to see that I am interested in doing this on my own) and I went about doing some research.

I've already ordered some of the seeds for this year's crop and am anxiously awaiting the many trials and tribulations I will encounter with this new venture. I will sell my "naturally grown" produce at local farmers' markets (depending on how much is harvested). I say "naturally grown" because I am not certified organic yet (a timely and costly process).

For those of you who are near the Fayette County area, look for me this spring, summer and fall (and possibly some winter markets too). I'd like to get some product in some of the local restaurants as well... Who knows?! But I am really excited about this new adventure.

Last week, we brought to the family farm an antique John Deere manure spreader my cousin Uncle Bill gave me. It's a wonderful find and will be another fun project for my father and me! It was covered in briars and there were a couple trees about 6" wide growing through parts... but it's a necessity and a great find too!

Keep checking back to see how Homegrown Girl is doing and the farming adventures I will encounter. I'm sure there will be many!

Take care,

On a side note, my father and I were closing in a part of one of the barns on his property for my office (I also work on their farm too) and we saw sandhill cranes already flying north! How CRAZY is that??? My prediction is that winter will happen sometime in March, so we farmers need to be prepared!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My first wood project

About 2 weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me of I could come up with something for her soon-to-be niece's birthday. I'd already made her a sign and her mama was requesting either something to hang coats on or a toy box. Well, you know how much I love Pinterest... And I happened to have just pinned a toy box on one of my boards so I said WHY NOT?? Haha! I'm not much of a woodworker but I gave it my best effort.

So I had a local hardware store cut the MDF board to the measurements on the plan (I ended up having to recut the wood myself!) and went to putting it together.

It was fun and interesting since it has been fairly cold here lately. So working in a cold barn was pretty tough. But it was still fun learning how to do it.

The finished product is actually different than the picture below... I took the purple flowers off and replaced them with single hot pink flowers. The finished toy box was much better looking! I hope they were all pleased with it... I really enjoyed doing it and would really do more soon. I need to think of different designs and paint themes.