Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Organic" Gnat Trap

This time of year, every year, the gnats show up at our house.  Every year I plan to be sure all food scraps are disposed of immediately, all food is refrigerated quickly, and no food is left out, uncovered.  No matter how meticulous I am, it seems we still have an influx of gnats.  I thought, perhaps, it was just a side effect of living on a farm.  Apparently, all of that has nothing to do with the gnat visits each year.

This week on one of the Kansas City TV stations, they were showing solutions for getting rid of gnats.  I was a bit relieved because that means this must be a wide-spread problem, at least in the mid-west, if it's being addressed on TV.

I tried one of the gnat traps discussed, and it works.  It's so simple.  Start with a jar or plastic/paper cup.  I chose a plastic cup so I could just throw the whole thing out when I've caught the gnats.  Put something in the container to attract the gnats.  I chose some cantaloupe seeds and juice because I was cutting up a cantaloupe at the time.  Fruit juice or fruit scraps of any kind would probably work well.

Make a funnel out of a piece of paper, leaving a tiny whole at the point.  Tape the funnel to hold it in shape.  Then, place the funnel in the top of the container and tape it to the top of the cup all the way around to seal it shut so the gnats cannot escape.  The gnats fly down to get to the fruit scraps and cannot find their way back out.  All the dark spots in the picture are gnats.  It works perfectly!

Gnats are aggravating, but I'd rather have them trapped in a container that I can get rid of easily than flying around all over the house, especially in the kitchen.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Easy Bacon

The tomatoes on our plants are finally ripening now, so it's time for BLTs.  Cooking bacon is generally a time-consuming mess, so when I stumbled on this method, I decided it was worth sharing.  Perhaps the rest of the world already cooks bacon like this, but if you don't, you may want to give this a try.

It's cooked completely in the oven and it doesn't splatter all over everything.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  The oven rack should be one space up from the bottom.  Use a cookie sheet that has short sides on it (2 pans if you want to cook 1 lb. of bacon).  Line the pan(s) with aluminum foil for an easy clean-up.  Lay the bacon strips side by side on the pan without overlapping.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Pour off the grease half-way through the cooking time.  The bacon will be perfectly cooked with little or no mess.

The 15 minutes works for regular-cut bacon.  If you are cooking thick-sliced bacon, you'll need to cook it longer.

The BLTs were delicious!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Peach Crisp

In keeping with the current peach season, I tried a peach crisp recipe.  It's much faster to make than a pie.  It is a lovely dessert and it is also tasty with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  The sliced almonds add a nice crunch.


5 cups peeled, sliced, fresh peaches
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup regular oatmeal
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup butter
¼ cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together the sugar and the 3 tablespoons of flour.  Pour this mixture over the sliced peaches and stir.  When peaches are coated, turn mixture into a 2-quart square baking dish.

For topping, combine the oatmeal, brown sugar, ¼ cup flour, and nutmeg.  Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the sliced almonds.  Sprinkle topping over sliced peach mixture.

Bake for 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden.  Cool slightly.  If desired, serve warm with ice cream.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Peaches are in Season!

Fresh peaches are so delicious this time of year.  Yesterday I spent the day making peach jam.  Today we worked on peeling, pitting, slicing and bagging peaches for the freezer.  This evening we celebrated with a fresh peach daiquiri.  I had never had one of those before.  It was so tasty; I decided I should share the recipe.


3 large fresh peaches (peeled, pitted and halved)
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup light rum
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cups crushed ice

Place first 4 ingredients in an electric blender; process at high speed until smooth.  Add ice, and process until slushy.

Summer of Rain

So far, we have had over 30 inches of rain this summer at Harvest Hill Farm.  Even at that, our totals are not as high as some parts of Missouri to the east and the south.  Some of our vegetable crops have suffered due to too much rain.  Our sweet corn was in a low area.  The ears were quite small and didn't amount to much.  Our green beans did well until the hot weather hit; then they quit producing.  Our later plantings of green beans are coming on now, so maybe they will do well.

The major problem has been days when it's too wet to pick and days when it's too wet to put in successive plantings.  So, we've had to skip a few times at farmers' markets due to shortage of produce to sell.  We've been trying to keep our local orders filled.  The tomatoes are ripening now, but they are slow.

The first two pictures are a shelf cloud that rolled through from the south to the north one morning.  The first picture is the east end of the cloud and the second picture is the west end of the cloud.

This is the south half of a rainbow from a couple of weeks ago.  The entire rainbow could be seen, but I couldn't get a picture of it with my camera because there were trees obstructing the view.
 This was a "cloud show" in the western sky near evening.  These clouds, or some of their relatives, brought us another two inches of rain, this time from the northwest.
Our last planting of green beans is coming up now as well as our turnips and radishes.  We've also planted beets, lettuce and spinach.  We have all the onions out and Dylan is still digging potatoes.  Hopefully, we'll have some sweet potatoes too.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Time to Take a Break!

I spent an hour in the strawberry patch and picked 8 1/2 pounds of berries.  They are beautiful, but my back is tired so I'm taking a break until after lunch.  Strawberry picking is my exercise routine now.  I call it "strawberry yoga."
It rained an inch here last night.  It was pretty gentle for the most part.  It's good for the strawberries and everything else we have planted.  The yard grows so fast that we're mowing some almost every day.  I can't begin to describe how fast the weeds are growing!

The rain held off yesterday morning so it was a good day for farmers' market.  We took strawberries, asparagus, radishes and eggs and sold everything.  I sold the last 2 birdhouse gourds I had painted and a dozen jams and jellies.  We always enjoy visiting with the customers and other vendors.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


This columbine plant greets me every time I go out the north door.  I lived in Colorado years ago and the blue columbine is the state flower; it grows wild there.  I bought this last year as a very small plant.  I think it's trying to tell me that it is so happy with this location.  I'm happy too, because it makes me smile!

We've been getting lots of rain, which is wonderful for the vegetables we have planted.  It has been a little tricky to get additional seeds and plants in the ground.  We're hoping to get the tomato and pepper plants in the ground this week.  The sweet potato plants are in.  The first plantings of green beans and sweet corn are up.  Lettuce will be ready soon; radishes and green onions are big enough now.  Dylan and Tom got cucumber, cantaloupe, zucchini, and winter squash seeds in the ground Saturday.

We took asparagus, rhubarb, eggs, jams, jellies and painted birdhouse gourds to the market in St. Joseph on Saturday.  The weather was lovely and the customers were too!  We sold nearly everything.  Thanks to all our wonderful customers!