Monday, June 19, 2017

Strawberry farms in Southeast Michigan

It's strawberry season in Michigan, but don't blink, it usually only lasts three weeks. Hopefully the storms don't damage the precious berries.

Here's a list of farms in the area that offer fresh strawberries:

• Middleton Berry Farm, 4790 Oakwood Road, Ortonville, 248-831-1004, www.middletonberryfarm.com

• Blake Orchard & Cider Mill,17985 Armada Center Road, Armada, 586-784-5343, blakefarms.com.
• Miller’s Big Red Farms, 4900 32 Mile Road, Washington Township, 586-752-7888, millersbigred.com.
• Verellen Orchards & Cider Mill, 63260 Van Dyke, Washington Township, 586-752-2989, www.verellenorchards.com.
• Westview Orchards, 65075 Van Dyke, Washington Township, 586-752-3123, www.westvieworchards.com.
• Spicer Orchards, 10411 Clyde Road, Fenton, 810-632-7692, www.spicerorchards.com.

Monday, June 12, 2017

It's strawberry season in Southeast Michigan

It's strawberry time in Southeast Michigan. Today marked the official starting date for Middleton Berry Farm U-Pick Farm, of Ortonville. Hours vary due to quantities and weather, so check before driving out. Call (248) 831-1004 or find them on Facebook, Middleton Berry Farm.

Strawberries are $2 per pound. It is recommended to bring your own container and have it weighed before picking, although they have boxes to purchase.
Also, be sure to bring cash or check, because they cannot accept credit cards.
"When the berries are ripe, they will nearly fall off when you pick them," Stacy Janiga said
She and her sister Carrie Janiga, the owners, recommend washing the berries with the stem on, this prevents water from getting inside the berries, which loses the flavor.

Middleton Berry Farm
Address: 4790 Oakwood Rd, Ortonville, MI 48462
Phone: (248) 831-1004
Directions: Go five miles east of Ortonville Road between M-15 and M-24. From I-75 take Exit 84 (Baldwin Road). Go north on Baldwin Road 10 miles to Oakwood Road, turn left. Farm is one mile on the left.
Website: www.middletonberryfarm.com

Monday, May 29, 2017

Asparagus and rhubarb recipes are in season

Grilled or baked asparagus
Rub olive oil on spears, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or grill for 5-10 minutes, depending on temperature and thickness of asparagus.

Freezing asparagus for later
When there's an abundance of asparagus, wash and bake or grill it all. Take out some for dinner and shock the rest in cold water, drain, place in freezer bags and freeze. The whole spears, baked or grilled, have a better consistency than blanched asparagus.

Ham and Swiss, asparagus spirals
Pre-fry asparagus spears in olive oil, then lay on a slice of ham and cheese, dollop with Dijon mustard and roll up with the asparagus in the middle. Slice into spirals 1-1/2 inches wide. Dip in seasoned bread crumbs, insert toothpick to hold each spiral together, and fry in oil.

Rhubarb Bars
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cup water
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1 ½ cup rolled oats
1 ½ cup rolled flour
1 cup brown sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup butter
½ cup nuts
Combine rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and water. Cook on stove until thick, cool slightly. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, soda, butter and nuts. Mix until crumbly. Put ¾ of mixture into 15 1/3 x 10 ½ jelly roll pan. Spread rhubarb mixture on top. Cover with remaining crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.


Rhubarb Cheesecake
¼ cup corn starch
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup water
2-1/2 cups rhubarb, cut in ½ inch pieces
1 unbaked pie crust, regular or graham cracker

Topping
1 package 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
In a saucepan, combine first 3 ingredients, then the water and rhubarb. Bring to boil, stirring often until mixture thickens. Pour into pie shell and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Protect edges of crust with aluminum foil. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Meanwhile beat topping ingredients until smooth. Pour on top of pie. Bake for 35 minutes in 325 oven or until set. Chill and garnish with whipped cream, and sliced almonds or strawberries.

Freezing rhubarb
Rhubarb and berries don't need to be cooked before freezing. For rhubarb, just wash, chop and bag in recipe-size servings. Strawberries can be frozen whole without sugar, rinsed and drained, or sliced with sugar and bagged.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The seeds have been sown

I'm looking forward to a nice serving of
fresh green beans.
Our annual ritual on Mother's Day, (in Southeast Michigan), is to plant beans. So my husband and I planted three rows of tender string-less beans. We also planted more peas and spinach to fill the empty spots where nothing came up from the first planting. We originally planted the peas and spinach as well as the Swiss chard and lettuce, a little late, in mid April. We planted the broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage on April 22.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Winter is over, but it could still frost

Although the weather is warm during the day, it could still get cold enough to frost at night. Most annuals should be kept indoors until Memorial Weekend unless you want to build a cold frame or cover the plants at night. The end of May seems to be the best time to set out transplants in Southeast Michigan, especially for tomatoes and peppers. You may get them in the ground early, but the little plants have a hard time out there in the cold night, and they grow slower.
All is not lost if it does indeed frost. If you have plants or flowering trees that are frost sensitive and you didn't get them covered before a frost, go outside before the sun shines on the plants and spray water on them, rinsing off the frost. This works for a light to moderate frost, but not for a hard frost or freeze.
The forecast is for temperatures above 36 degrees in Pontiac during the next 10 days, so it should be frost free, but keep an eye on the weather report, National Weather Service.
There are many frost resistant vegetable plants: broccoli,  kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, spinach, parsley, radishes and carrots.
Flowers that are frost hardy include pansies, primrose and violets.
Vegetables that are NOT frost resistant, include beans, corn, pumpkin, squash, watermelon, cucumbers, okra, and of course tomatoes and peppers.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Finding the right seed

In Southeast Michigan, it is time, actually past time, to plant peas, potatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes and parsley, and of course the greens: spinach, Swiss chard, kale, etc...
Finding the right seed can be a challenge, especially if you have scruples about organic and non- genetically modified.

There are many different types of seeds available. Not only are there different varieties of the same plant, there are different ways the seeds are produced. There are cultivar (cultivated variety which can be a hybrid or open-pollinated); genetically engineered; genetically modified; open-pollinated; hybrid; heirloom and of course organic. For more information on this, visit www.ezfromseed.org.

Here's some of the top seed and nursery catalog companies:
www.gurneys.com seed and nursery
www.seedsavers.org nonprofit heirloom seeds
www.burpee.com since 1881 seed and nursery
www.jungseed.com since 1907


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tree pruning workshop to be held in Novi

Pruning Trees and Shrubs with Janet Macunovich is April 15 at MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center, 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, 248-347-0269 x229, tollgate.msu.edu, Morning class is 9-11 a.m. and afternoon workshop is 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sign up for the first class only, or both, $20 per class.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Get ready to enjoy your garden with these events

• Raised bed gardening workshop is 10 a.m. April 8 at Wojo’s Greenhouse, 2570 Oakwood Road, Ortonville, cost is $10 each, register at 248-627-6498. Attendees receive a $10 Wojo’s gift card, www.wojos.com.


• Spring Fair is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 8 at Detroit Garden Works, 1794 Pontiac Drive, Sylvan Lake, 248-335-8089, detroitgardenworks.com.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Waterford Garden Club set to meet April 6

The Waterford Garden Club’s next meeting is 9:30 a.m.-noon April 6 at Waterford Senior Center, 3621 Pontiac Lake Road, Activity Room One, Waterford Township, new members welcome.

Monday, March 27, 2017

'Gardening with Children' workshop to be held at MSU center in Novi

Dr. Norm Lownds is presenting at Evenings in the Garden, “Gardening with Children-Finding Magic in Your Garden” is 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 30 at MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center, 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, register at events.anr.msu.edu/evenings17win, 248-347-0269 x229, tollgate.msu.edu, $20 per class.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

6 steps to growing indoors

1. The best containers are wood pulp pots or peat pots. You can also use plastic cell containers with covers or egg cartons with holes poked in the bottom and saran wrap on top. (Or reuse the annual flats from last year.) Whatever you use, make sure it has drainage.
2. Fill with potting soil, preferably a mix with sphagnum peat moss. Moisten the soil. 
3.Plant a few seeds, not many, about 1/8 inch deep and pat the soil lightly. Then cover with plastic and place in a very warm place, out of direct sunlight.
4. Keep watered. Once the seeds sprout, move the pots to a bright spot, a south-facing window is best. Water often, but not too much or too fast. The plants are fragile. If they get too big for their containers, move them to bigger pots. 
5. When it gets close to planting time, it's time to harden them by placing them outside during the day, to get used to it, but not in direct sunlight at first. Bring them in every night.
6. When it's warm enough at night, transplant to the garden. Dig a hole slightly deeper than the pot and put the plant in, supporting it with your fingers. Firm the soil gently around the stem. Water carefully.

For tomatoes, it takes 6-8 weeks before they'll be ready to transplant outside. For Southeast Michigan, wait until Memorial Day to put tomatoes and peppers outside, because they are very frost sensitive and will grow much better when it's warmer at night. Occasionally, there is frost after Memorial Day, so watch the weather and cover plants when there's a frost forecast.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Annual orchid show is March 25-26 in Madison Heights

63rd annual Michigan Orchid Society Show is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. March 25, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. March 26 at United Food Workers Bldg., 876 Horace Brown Drive, Madison Heights, miorchids.com, free admission.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sugar Maple trees are on tap for syrup season

We are tapping maple trees to collect sap and make maple syrup.
The process is pretty straightforward, but you need a little bit of equipment and clean buckets or milk jugs to collect the sap.
Then strain the sap with a mesh strainer before boiling it down to syrup. It takes a lot of sap to make a little syrup, but it's delicious. The ratio is: roughly 40 gallons of sap boil down to just one gallon of syrup.
Here's a link with step-by-step instructions, maple syrup.