Summer gardening in Texas may be challenging, but with a little effort (OK a LOT of effort, and even more water) you can pull fabulous vegetables out of the garden even when the thermometer tips 100 degrees. Here are a few pictures of the summer crops now available at Gaddy’s. The large cantaloupe is Hale’s Best variety and the small melons are a ‘personal size’ variety called Lilliput. Watermelon doesn’t normally enjoy our black clay soil but the mini-love and sugar baby melons I tried worked out well. I love the color of the pink eye pea hulls. Although it takes a bit of work to shell them, the flavorful pay-off is well worth it. Okra is always a sure bet when the weather gets unbearably hot. We even have had great luck with the cut flowers despite the climbing temperatures.
The little chicks we started raising in February started laying just this week. Each day I collect 6-10 pullet eggs and expect to find more and more as the weeks pass. Soon we will have fresh eggs to sell at the store. You can even visit the girls while you’re here. They like the attention. Most mornings the hens go outside for a little stroll in the garden but are back in the coop by noon when it gets too hot for exercise.
Frank just brought us a freezer-ful of beef. The packages have a Westphalia labels, but that’s just because the meat is processed by Westphalia. All the beef in the freezer was raised completely on Frank’s ranch and lives the life of riley. The steaks may look a bit smaller than what you find at the grocery because Frank butchers his calves when they weigh about 600lbs. It makes for the best tasting beef we’ve ever eaten. Click here for a price list.
Even though we are still getting good produce out of the garden, it won’t be too long before we take a little garden break for the worst dog days of the summer. Don’t give up on us though, we are already getting ready for Fall. We have pumpkin plants in the ground and in flats just waiting to go into the field. We’re rooting out our favorite tomato varieties and planning our Fall sunflower planting. We hope to have a great pumpkin patch this year complete with a sunflower backdrop for family photos. We’ll let you know how it goes.
Hope everybody has a safe summer! Now get out there an enjoy yourself!
My father in law’s guineas regularly show up in my front yard just around the time I’m drinking my morning coffee. They work their way across the grass, eating bugs as they go. (I took the picture above as Mark and I were leaving the house this morning.) If you have the space for them, guineas are the perfect yard bird. While chickens need shelter and protection, guineas tend to be hardy and self-sufficient. They provide excellent bug control as well as offer their service as guard birds. I am particularly fond of guineas after watching three of them make quick work of a snake.
Frank likes his guineas so much he wanted more. So I ordered him some–and I ordered extra to sell at the store. Until they are gone, I’ve got 12 cute little pearl guinea chicks looking for a home. If interested, you can call before you come to make sure they are still here (512-251-4428).
A note about guineas: Frank’s little heard of guineas started years ago when Mark and I lived on a little piece of property off Old Gregg Ln. Mark and I kept a few free range hens who happily roamed the Old Gregg place until my little group of guinea chicks grew up and formed a rather mean spirited girl-gang. When they weren’t harassing the chickens, the guineas were perched on the roof of our neighbor’s back porch noisily announcing their presence. To keep the peace with our neighbors and with our laying hens, we gave our guineas to Frank. Over the years they have provided Frank with excellent bug control, some yard aeration, and lots of comedic relief. In return, the guineas have required very little. They roost in the trees, forage for their food and prefer to be left alone.
I won’t lie. Mark and I have been looking for a reason to get a demo pellet grill for the store for a long time. We finally bit the bullet and ordered one. Help us break in our Louisiana Grill tomorrow and stop by for a slice of brisket. We’re looking forward to showing you how easy it is to grill a great piece of meat on a pellet smoker.
I have also modified the pricing on our produce. But price is the only thing I’ve changed. All our vegetables are still grown on site and grown using organic gardening methods.
Tomatoes $2.50/lb, Onions $2.00/lb, Squash $1.50/lb, Spaghetti squash $1.50/lb, Cucumbers $1.50/lb, Green Beans $4.00/lb, Fordhook Lima Beans $2.00/lb, Bell Peppers $1.00 each, Tomatillos $2.50/lb
Many of you ask after Frank. He is doing well and keeping very busy running cattle on his place just outside of Pflugerville. Instead of retiring, he and his second wife, Dolly, have full-time jobs looking after a growing herd of cattle. Frank and Dolly know each calf by name and tell you about their history and personality. I joke that Frank’s calves only have one really bad day in their entire life.
We are so proud to sell Frank’s beef at Gaddy’s. It is simply the best beef I’ve ever tasted –plus I can feel comfortable eating it knowing how well cared for the animals are.
When we had kids at home, Mark and I would get half a calf from Frank that would keep our freezer well stocked for several months. These days I just get meat from the freezer at Gaddy’s , but if you would like to butcher a whole or half-calf, I happen to know that Frank has a few extra calves that will go to the butcher in mid-June.
Here’s how it works:
You contact Frank (his contact information is here) and reserve a half or whole calf. He will need a deposit before the calf is taken to the butcher. You can also talk to Mark or me (Kim) the next time you’re in Gaddy’s.
Decide how you want your calf processed and fill out a cut sheet for the butcher. You get to tell the butcher things like how thick you want your steaks, what type of steaks you want cut, what you want ground into hamburger meat, if you want round steaks and if so do you want them tenderized–you get the idea. You also get to tell the butcher how to package the meat and in what pound increments. (I recommend vacuum packaging.) I can get you a cut sheet at Gaddy’s if you need one.
Fax the cut sheet to Westphalia Meat Market where Frank will deliver the Calves. I can also fax this for you if you bring it to Gaddy’s.
Frank will take the calf to the butcher in Westphalia.
The butcher will give Frank a ‘hanging weight’ of the calf. You will pay Frank based on the hanging weight (minus your deposit of course).
The butcher will process and package the calf. It takes about two to three weeks.
Unless you want to drive out to Westphalia to pick up your meat, have the meat sent to the Westphalia Meat Market in Hutto. They will call you when it’s ready to be picked up. You will pay the processing fee when you pick up the meat.
Mark and I took advantage of a day off and decided to take ourselves on a field trip up to McGregor, TX where Derksen Portable Buildings are constructed. We toured the Derksen facility and watched as buildings were framed, sided, painted and finished out. Because we’ve been impressed with the overall quality of the Derksen buildings, we weren’t surprised to find the Derksen facility clean, organized and extremely busy. In the photo above, Mark is standing outside a cabin painted in one of Derksen’s new color options. The buyers of this cabin chose to have the electric package installed as well as an air conditioner. As you can see, we interrupted the carpenter as he was finishing up the porch.
Here are a couple pictures taken inside of the Derksen facility. The buildings pretty much go from frame to finish in here. It was fun to walk through and see all the different options people had chosen for their buildings.
I thought this was a charming cottage shed. It features a new style door with small transom windows and a fabulous dormer window above the doors to let in extra natural lighting.
I’m fascinated by the tiny-house movement and have often thought a Derksen cabin would make a good tiny house shell. Turns out there are a lot of folks thinking the same thing. Derksen can frame out walls, add electric and A/C, frame for a commode and shower, spray in insulation, and finish walls and ceilings. Pretty impressive.
Many thanks go out to Dave for showing us around the facility. W had a great time and feel like we know a lot more about how the buildings are constructed and all the options our customers have in designing their own storage shed, cabin or barn.
I’m trying something new in the hopes of boosting our vegetable and flower sales at Gaddy’s. I’m opening parts of the garden up for a U-Pick Day at the feed store. If you’d like to pick some green beans, corn, carrots, onions or beautiful sunflowers, drop by the store tomorrow and I’ll guide you through the picking process. Not all parts of the garden are open for U-Pick but we have a bunch of fun things to pick. Prices for U-Pick are 10% off regular price. Supervised children are welcome.
Look at all the beautiful sunflowers I planted that are just looking for a table top to decorate. Come pick a bouquet tomorrow. These sunflowers are a cut flower variety called Pro-Cut. They are pollen-free (no yellow dust on the table) and have a very long vase-life.
I’ll still be doing a ‘big pick’ of the garden in the morning to stock the store’s vegetables. In the store we will have tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, eggplant and more available. All produce is grown right here on our lot using organic growing practices.
Update – Saturday. Too rainy for U-Pick. As soon as the garden dries out, we will open it for U-Pick, 5 days a week. Stay tuned for the U-Pick schedule.
I am proud to announce that Gaddy’s now carries Coyote Creek Farm’s certified organic chicken feed. Not only is Coyote Creek a Texas based business, Coyote Creek is located just down the road in Elgin. Coyote Creek is a champion of sustainable agriculture as well as a supporter of backyard birders. If you haven’t heard about them, check out this little video (right here) from the Coyote Creek website.
Gaddy’s stocks Coyote Creek’s organic chick grower, scratch, layer crumbles and pellets, all in either 20# or 50# bags. Coyote Creek also makes organic goat feed. If you are interested in organic goat feed, please let me know and I’ll add it to our order. (Kim)
What’s not to like about zinnias? Zinnias tolerate Texas heat and summer sun. They provide bright pops of color out in the garden and can even be brought indoors as cut flowers. Plus, zinnias grow easily from seed, making them a very economical addition to your landscape.
I grew this long row of zinnias from a couple of seed packets. My total cost for seed was only $3.78. (Zinnias are sometimes sold as bedding plants in 6 packs, however I fin zinnias do best in the landscape when direct seeded in the soil.)
Zinnia seeds are thin little slivers of a seed and should be planted just under the soil, less than 1/4″ deep. I sew the seeds about 4 inches apart and thin to 8 inches apart, although you could allow up to 12″ between plants. Zinnias often germinate quickly and I look for little plants in 3-4 days or so. Keep the soil nice and moist until the seeds germinate.
Once the zinnia plants are about 4-6″ tall and have at least two tiers of leaves, I pinch off the center group of leaves. This will encourage the zinnia plant to branch out and produce more flower-bearing stems.
Keep young plants watered and fed. I water ever other day and occasionally spray with fish emulsion and liquid seaweed. It will take about 60-70 days for a seedling to produce the first flower. When your plants start to form blooms you may wish to fertilize with a root and bloom type fertilizer.
Zinnias will bloom throughout the summer. Remove spent flowers from the plant to promote continued blooming. Zinnias also make great cut flowers for indoor arrangements. To get the longest vase life from your zinnias, cut zinnias right before the blooms fully open. Also place a few drops of bleach in your flower water to help keep the water clean.
Since Zinnias will die off when the weather gets cold, zinnias seeded after July may not have enough time to fully flower before the cold weather sets in.
I’ve been spending more time out in the garden lately than in front of my computer. Mark and I have been saying that this is our market garden ‘learning year,’ and we are busy learning just how labor intensive managing an acre of garden can be. Here is a little photo update on what’s going on in the garden.
The onions were one of the first crops we planted, starting in mid January. They looked so puny when we first planted them. Now they are nearing harvest.
The tomatoes we started from seed are loaded with beautiful fruit. The abnormally warm spring helped get our crop off a good start.
We have plenty of peppers almost ready and even a tomatillo or two.
Melons, beans and corn are a bit farther behind, but look great so far.
It’s always fun to try something new out in the garden. This year I’m trying to grow some cut flowers to sell alongside our vegetables. I’m experimenting with heat-loving annuals this year and if all goes well, I’ll branch out into more challenging flowers in the fall. Here’s a couple pics of my sunflowers. Even the foliage is lovely. I can’t wait to see the blooms.
Please stop by the store and see what’s going on in the garden yourself. You’re always welcome to take a stroll down the road that divides the garden, just watch your step and let us know up at the store that you’re headed back there. One last before and after.
It’s challenging to keep any size garden weeded. Mark and I are barely managing to stay one step ahead of the weeds in our market garden. For plants that are not grown in groundcover, the hula hoe has been a godsend. The hula hoe goes by several names. It’s also called a stirrup hoe because it’s blade is in the shape of a stirrup or a scuffle hoe because it scuffles back and forth in the soil.
Mark does a little demonstration (below) of how we use the hula hoe in our garden. It’s good for clearing up walkways or even in between plants. The hoe sweeps the weed’s feet right out from under them, slicing the roots below the soil line. The hoe’s blade cuts on both the pull and the push strokes. (Note: you can tell that Mark prefers the ‘pull’ stroke in the video.)
The hoe works best with a nice sharp blade. Use a file to sharpen the blade once it feels dull.
We carry this hoe at Gaddy’s. It retails for $19.99.
It is best to use the hula hoe on young tender weeds. I prefer to weed early in the morning on a hot day so the sun can bake any exposed root system. Clear the weed debris from you garden and put it in the compost pile.