Order Online

In order to maintain distances as required by the state of South Dakota, Falls Park Farmers Market is offering on-line ordering and drive-by pick-up. Learn more and order at https://www.localline.ca/fpfm 

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Eye Candy

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Apple Of My Eye

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Give It A Whirl

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Pump It Up

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Hot Potato

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Room For Shrooms

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Pep Up

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Can Do Attitude

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Petal Pushers

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Priceless Heirloom

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Fresh Since 1912

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Nice Melons

Make Falls Park Farmer’s Market your go to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and delicious food. Open this Saturday from 8am to 1pm!

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Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Spin Doctor

Make Falls Park Farmer’s Market your go to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and delicious food. Open this Saturday from 8am to 1pm!

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Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Foodie Call

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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We Got The Beets

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Spring Stalkings

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Something massacred my trellised peas this week, just bit them off about mid-way up and took a bite out of every pod. The oddity is that they only went after the regular shelling variety–never touched the sugar snaps. My only thought is that it had to have been a squirrel running along the chain link, then down the trellis inside and at the top line of the protective poultry wire. The scene was pretty ugly, gnawed pods strewn here and there, and the vines thrown in all directions. Rabbits wouldn’t be so untidy. I’ve observed their eating habits, and they appear to just sit and chew, moving from plant to plant, keeping a low profile.

In fact, it looks like a bad year for my pea crop in general. Just harvested about a quart-sized bag full of the sugar snap peas, but they were all at the very top. Additional harvesting seems unlikely from the look of the vines, so I’ll pull them up and plant some Heavenly Blue morning glories.  At least I’ll have something nice to look at.   It appears that as with last year the Market will be my backup plan.  

Squirrels have become more of a nuisance than I remember. I’ve noticed bites out of things that rabbits just can’t get to, like the pot of basil on the patio table, and holes dug in pots of annuals around the yard. I have used rocks to discourage their digging with some success, and recently saw an idea that recommended using larger pieces of broken pots for this same purpose. I’ve actually had a hard time getting petunias to take off the past few seasons, and now wonder if it isn’t squirrels there also, digging them loose in the planters. They don’t actually uproot them, but they dry up and die all the same. I’m going to try the broken pottery trick and hope for better results.

The clover I seeded in last year seems to be working at keeping rabbits away. I now have three large patches, and am happy to say that I’ve seen bees there, as well. Although I’ve been going after weeds with every tool at my disposal, the clover patches aren’t unsightly at all. To me, they just look like large areas of ground cover.  Of course, I still protect my beans and peppers with poultry wire (why throw caution to the wind?), but I’ve observed rabbits gravitating to the clover and not hanging around the garden.

For a week or more I’ve also noticed yellowing daylily foliage in my own yard and in others around town. I’m going to access the county website to see if I can learn what may be causing this. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, mine really need dividing, but I don’t think that’s the issue. I hope to have the answer to share next week.

As for the ducks, they’ve left me. Last Saturday was their “due” date. I checked on momma duck around noon, and then went indoors to escape last Saturday’s heat and humidity. When I returned several hours later, they were gone.  At first I feared the crows had heard them and run the mother off the nest, but after contacting the Outdoor Campus staff again, I learned that ducks will leave with their new brood right away. There was nothing left but a pile of downy feathers and ten perfectly opened shells. It’s pretty amazing that a newly hatched creature could just get up and walk off like that, and so far! But apparently in the world of ducks, it’s the norm. I’m fairly certain they made it to their destination as Marion road was under construction all last week, and so the traffic was slow-moving, making it safer to cross, I hope. No duck disasters were reported in the media, so it appears that all went well.

FPFM joins Sioux Falls Chamber

By fallspark, June 13th, 2012 | Comments Off on FPFM joins Sioux Falls Chamber

The Falls Park Farmers Market is now a member of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. As the leading Sioux Falls area business advocate, the Sioux Falls Chamber represents its members by advancing and promoting
the economic health and quality of life of the region. For more information, visit http://www.siouxfallschamber.com/

6AM today felt like rising in the tropics as I readied myself for work.  I had awakened earlier around 2AM, opened the window to see if the humidity had abated, then very quickly closed it. We have moist, unstable air pushing up from Nebraska it seems, one of those days when no amount of extra-hold hairspray will help; in fact, I’m already looking pretty wild and fuzzy. Keeping an eye on the weather for later on; let’s hope we don’t get hail!

The rain has been great for the garden, of course.  Beans are well up and ready to be thinned and the asparagus starts I thought might be duds finally sent up some ferny shoots.  The potted peppers and tomatoes are at least looking sturdy, if not quite taking off yet, much in part to the cool nights we’ve had, no doubt.  I also appear to have a good supply of rhubarb to freeze for jam and baking.   

The market is jumping and has lots of seasonal produce to offer and plants for sale, as well, not to mention some really excellent locally grown perennials, which of course can be planted any time before the fall weather becomes prohibitive.  With the night time temps just settling in to where they should be, there is still plenty of time to get those warm weather crops in the ground.  The soil in my pots was never cold and so planting them early was a gamble I took this year. In fact, I’m just getting my cucumbers planted by one of the trellises, and will get the ochre seeded in this week.  

Since my last entry here, I have lost a large friend; the hackberry tree mentioned in my last entry had to be taken out of my yard.  It had grown so tall and top heavy that I was fearful it would split in the wind.  It was brought home by my youngest as a sapling in a Dixie cup in 1985, so of course I had an emotional attachment.  In our ignorance of trees at that time we just planted it too close to the house, and the arborist I hired assured me that if it did come down or split, my home would be heavily damaged and that of my neighbor’s as well.  Although I have other large trees on my property, this one had begun to sway substantially in our frequent gusting winds, unlike the other maples, ashes and aspen that seem to have sturdier trunks. I would find myself checking it from the back window with a flashlight when the wind would wake me–nervous.

Although I was at work when the arborists came, several neighbors reported they heard the crash when it came down, falling angled across the length of my back yard.  By the time I arrived, all that remained was the soft area where the trunk had been removed.  The play set I kept beneath it had been returned to its place and not one hosta or daylily was damaged.  I asked the tree people to leave me some of the mulch after they had run it through the chipper, and this will go around the new river birch I planted farther back in the yard.

I am surprised at how emotional this event still feels for me, even causing me to tear up a bit at this writing.  Most of us have serious losses in life, and some of these smaller constants have a way of becoming a balm. Upsetting that continuance is never welcome. The sentimental edge is there, naturally, but there is more to losing a tree. As a friend reminded me over coffee a few days back, it’s a shame to lose a mature hackberry, as they are one of the trees that do well in our poor soil and will still be around after the emerald ash-borer has depleted our boulevard shade.  Additionally, that tree was outside my office window all those years, and although it was really too tall to give any real shade, I spent many mornings watching nuthatches and downy woodpeckers work up and down its sides.  One year, the robins got drunk on its fermenting berries and put on quite a comic show, and on a very frigid New Years Day in 1998, a red-tailed hawk went eye to eye with me from one of its lower branches. Last summer, when my neighbor’s adjacent tree split, that hackberry prevented it from falling onto my roof. 

In a way, I liken this event to putting down a pet that has gone past the point of having any quality of life.  One always questions if it was the right thing to do, if another solution might have postponed the inevitable, a very emotional time.  Well, like the photos we all have of those family pets, past and present, I have some photos of that tree from over the years, and will simply add one to the area I call my Good Dog Wall of Fame (and now a tree) that I keep in my office.  

Finally, here’s a quick update on Mama Duck, still happily ensconced in the somewhat wild outback of my yard.  She flies off about dusk each evening to forage I assume, leaving the ten eggs well camouflaged with her pile of downy feathers, and by my near estimation, has a good two weeks to go.  She has proven to be very tolerant of my movement in the yard, and I am mindful of her presence and just work around her quietly, giving her wide girth.  I keep the fence gates latched against stray dogs, but not much more to add, just a nesting duck for now. We are trying not to get attached; after all, she’s a wild creature, and the perils of the wild exist, even in one’s back yard.  Although I am treating her as simply a point of interest, I can’t help but care for her a little. My son commented that it seemed a sweet mother’s day gift, as I discovered her that weekend. With luck, she’ll hatch her ducklings and leave me for a better area with due haste. I just hope to get a look before she heads out with her fuzzy brood.     

 And here is a happy development.  If you have Midcontinent cable service and a digital television, you can see re-runs of Garden Line at 6PM on Saturdays on PBS channel 2.3, called the Create channel.  Although the shows won’t be weather or growing condition current, they are still a rich source of garden information, and the familiar faces make the loss of that additional constant a bit easier to bear.  I have to add here that I had a bitter-sweet moment when the first question on the first re-broadcast was one I had emailed them in 2010 about my leaning mulberry tree, now straightened up and thriving.  Life just circles around us.  

Early last Sunday morning I saw a pair of mallard ducks in my back yard. Although I had heard them around the neighboring houses, quacking and flying overhead, I’d not actually seen them until then. At that hour it was still a little wet from the previous day’s rain, and the pair seemed to be enjoying the lawn. Well, sure enough, yesterday as granddaughter Piper and I descended the rear deck stairs to plant a few tomatoes the female made quite the flapping display as she flew up and over our heads. Piper screamed in alarm and I yelled “duck!” Then I saw them, nine perfect eggs in the indentation left by one of my failed attempts at starting a clematis vine located between the deck stairs and the garage.

I called the Outdoor Campus and spoke with Lynn Purdy, as I was a concerned that my house is a good distance from the river (as the duck waddles, at least). Lynn told me they didn’t necessarily have to be close to water, and just advised me to try and stay away from the nest as best I could. She also informed me that my neighborhood used to be wetland and that the duck may have responded to some remembered instinct as a reason for nesting in the area–interesting. I also learned that mallards are a federally protected species, not that I would knowingly harm a duck of course, but still, it’s good to know. I alerted the neighbors, who offered to keep their cat, Elvis indoors until the ducklings are either gone or big enough to be safe from his wandering. He’s a fairly old feline, but cats are cats, and a duckling would easy game.

Now while I agree this is a great learning opportunity for me and my visiting grandchildren, it is also apparent that it may be a bit of trouble. It is immediately clear that we will have to be very cautious to avoid disturbing the female, and the nest is only about ten feet from my newly planted garden. She is right where I have stored my tomato cages, so no idea if I’ll be able to access them when they are needed. Additionally, I’ve no idea how aggressive a nesting pair might be. Other concerns are if I will be able to mow the lawn or water and weed the garden boxes? I guess only time will tell. I had also arranged to have a large hackberry removed that is really too near both my house and my neighbor’s new addition, but now feel I should put that off. Not such a terrible inconvenience, providing summer storms stay away!

Piper and I watched from a safe distance all afternoon to see if the mother duck would return. She wandered around the yard for awhile, but then disappeared. I contacted the Campus staff again, and they assured me that she would not abandon the nest, and that the eggs would be all right for some time without her. To my relief, she was back on the nest this morning. I’ll not use the back steps, but walk around the far side of the garage for the duration, and hope if I keep my quiet distance and ignore her she will become accustomed and accepting of my presence in the yard. With luck, I hope to post a photo of that eventual new family.

On a sadder note, we have lost that wonderful show Garden Line. After almost thirty years, the extension has opted to end its production. At first, I thought it was a decision made by PBS because it airs on that station, but learned that it is a decision made by the extension. I don’t know a lot of details, of course, but it would appear it is a funding issue and decided during their recent reorganization. For the record, both PBS and the county educator I emailed responded promptly and very courteously to my inquiries.

This is a sad day for those of us who were devoted to the show. I know I’ve not missed an airing in at least fifteen years. The first time I viewed it, I was hooked. Although there are other good gardening shows on PBS, entertaining and informative in their way, they do not offer the local information that Garden Line provided. That show’s format was based on mostly question and answers from local homeowners and gardeners, with county educators addressing issues with pests or insects, weather, anything that might affect the yard or garden and offering information on new plants and plant varieties. I learned more from watching Garden Line over the years than from any other source. It will be missed for the great service and education it provided. If you are as disappointed as I am in this development, contacting the county extension with your concern might help to bring it back; it’s hard to say. It certainly couldn’t hurt to let them know your thoughts.

For now, here are several web sites offered by the extension to help with yard and garden questions. These appear to be university based through SDSU. They are: igrow.org. and http://www.sdstate.edu/sdces/resources/lawn/index.cfm

And as a word of follow up to my moth posting several weeks back, last weekend I learned that these are called gypsy moths, and I actually had them lay eggs on my ceiling by my patio door! The areas will look about the size of a quarter, and gray/blue in appearance. My go-get-em and stalwart daughter accepted the task of ridding me of the larvae, and was I ever grateful! I have to admit the incident had me off my usual appetite for several days. So be cautioned, and rid your home of these moths at any every opportunity–either trap and release or smack them and return them to the soil from which they came. Smack and return works for me.

And finally, the market is off to a predictable great start. Opening day was a little wet and windy, but my visiting kids were impressed all the same with the quality of the vendors. I picked up several of my hard to find Anaheim pepper plants, and of course there are still lots of other plants for sale. The good thing about purchasing these from the market is you know they are local varieties that will do well in our growing conditions. Thank you, Falls Park Farmers Market!

As soon as I turned on the light this morning somewhere around 6AM, a short but frenetic battle scene took place in my upstairs bathroom, as I tried to dissuade no less than four large moths from feverishly batting into my face, the mirror, the walls and all.  I’ve seen them on my car in the morning this week as well, and they must be what are hitting me on the head when I walk out onto my deck in the evenings.  There I was, whipping a large bath towel about, knocking down decorative stuff, having little effect.  Two of the offenders eventually went into the sink, but the others took flight out the door and are now who knows where, likely holding up in my bedroom.

All a part of the season, I guess, although I don’t recall having such trouble with them in previous years.  I asked a few co-workers today if they are having similar experience with the moths, and they concurred.  I hope it’s not a sign of lots of insect trouble after the unusually mild winter.  If so, we may be in for a long battle. On a better note, I’ve not seen any earwigs yet, but on completing a bi-annual vacuuming of my under stairs storage area, I found what looked like either skeletal or calcified remains of the biggest centipede ever documented this far north of Missouri or Nebraska.  It literally gave me a shiver.  I couldn’t even bear to vacuum it, but got out the dustpan and broom instead. 

While I hold fast to keeping my lawn and garden pesticide free, I do spray my lower level interior and around the foundation several times a year to keep bugs out of my home.  I didn’t always take this measure until a visiting daughter found an odious bug on her toothbrush, alerting me to the situation.  Now, I very judiciously use a light insecticide around the unfinished areas, the laundry room, under those same stairs, in the window wells and under sink areas, a small concession to a cleaner, more comfortable home.  Even that monster centipede didn’t last very long, and he sure was a big one. 

That brings me to a story of one of my granddaughters and an interior infestation I had to battle some years back. I guess she was about three at the time, and was afraid of bugs in general, especially the large black ants that would turn up alarmingly in unexpected places.  Well, we noticed that was about the same time that when speaking of her extended family, she began to refer to her uncles as uncle this and that, but her aunts were always called by their first names only.  This went on for some months, until her mother finally asked her why she did this. She responded with the predictable alacrity of a three-year-old, “I don’t like ants!”  Well, that made sense. 

This is also the time of year when the yard can quickly overwhelm. Grass is growing enough to need mowing at least once a week if not every ten days, dandelions are in full force and weeds are beginning to cover un-planted garden beds.  The trusty garden hoe is still a great tool to simply uproot small, light surface weeds in open areas, and I have something that looks like a hoe, but is more an opened triangle on the business end, with a soft blade  that works equally as well; it kind of wiggles back and forth as it works through the top of the soil.

And here is a home remedy weed killer offered to me this week by Rebecca Tews from Crooks.  It’s a little scary to use, so a word of strong caution; be careful not to spray it on anything you want to keep.  Like the product Roundup, it will take out anything, but unlike Roundup, it has a long residual life in the soil (Roundup has only a 24-hour residual effect in the soil), making it unsuitable for use in the garden.  But for broadleaf weeds in those difficult places to clear by hand, careful use can work as well as a general herbicide, and if you are critically exacting in the yard, it can take care of your thistle and dandelions. 

Herbicide-Free Weed Killer (not for use in garden beds or around flowers!)  It is non-selective and will destroy any plant life that it contacts.  

1 gallon of white vinegar
1 cup of table salt
1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap
Mix everything together making sure the salt is completely dissolved (I have seen similar mixtures that you heat on the stove top then cool to dissolve the salt, then add the liquid soap). You can then pour this into a one of those sprayers you can get at any garden center.  Spray this solution directly onto the weeds you want to get rid of, preferably on a hot, windless day.  Store any seasonal leftovers indoors so it does not freeze).

I may try it behind my fence, just the small line under the chain link by the landscape timbers that is so difficult to reach behind. 

Finally, This coming Saturday, May 5th marks the opening day of the market!  This season also marks the market’s 100th year–quite the celebratory season.  

Look for the following and hope for fair weather, my friends.

Flowers, both as cut flowers and bedding plants.
Flowering baskets.
Bedding plants such as tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs.
  micro mix
Hand made candies
Home canned goodies
Wood fired pizza
Natural beef
Poultry, eggs

We’re off and running.

Clearly, we had a faux spring this year.  Almost everything is up and lilacs are blooming, but aside from that, or at least for gardening purpose, the season is right on track.  Although some early peas and other cold weather crops may be able to withstand the current freezing dips in temperature (and possibly a bit of snow overnight and into tomorrow) it is much too early to put out flowering annuals or warm weather vegetables.  Although I did cover my early emerging carpet roses and some tender-looking perennial shrubs with large upturned pots a few evenings, I think they would have withstood the cold just fine; still, better safe than sorry.   Although it’s 72 degrees outdoors at this writing, I’ll likely take that precaution again tonight.

In the yard, it has been a perfect time to get winter debris work out of the way, get the lawnmower in working order.  Long evenings and cool temps with nice breezes make it a comfortable time, and each year I feel a sense of urgency to get as much done during these days as possible before we are socked with doldrums of humidity and heat we asthmatics dread.  I also see the die-hard lawn enthusiasts around town keeping busy with their de-thatching rakes, and although I have one, this year I will opt for the labor-saving lawn-mower attachment. It’s a bumpy ride, but they work pretty well.

I said hello to a near ninety-year-old neighbor yesterday who was digging dandelions with the best looking weeding tool I’ve ever seen, as it had a long comfortable handle and good eight inches of a below the ground tine, but as it was obviously an antique, I didn’t bother to ask where she had bought it.  I did offer to help dig them, of course, but she wasn’t about to let me have her digger. I hope I’m doing as well at her age. 

It’s also a good time to divide certain plants, and I have an abundance of daylilies this year that need this action. As the area in the back of fence is getting too much for me to handle, co-workers and neighbors will benefit, even casual passers by will see those divisions marked “free” at my curbside in a week or so. I always save the containers my plants come in for this re-use and recommend the practice. I’ll keep a few here and there in my beds, of course, along with some Stella Doro lilies and a few sweet little red varieties, but most of them are destined for give-a-way.  As lilies require fairly frequent division for good blooms (especially the Stella Doro’s), it’s time for this aging gardener to have a few less of them in the yard. 

Here’s something I’ll share that worked for me last fall. We all know it’s a bit of a quandary, trying to save hardy chrysanthemums that late into the year.  One likes to have them in containers and on the door step for decoration, but by the time that season passes, in most years it is way too late to get them rooted for over-wintering in the yard.  Well, I used several of those portable greenhouses (I had bought one on clearance a few years back, one at a yard sale, I think), and honestly, at first considered them something of a white elephant purchase, but have finally found a good use. 

I secured them by taking off the bottom crossbar and shoving them a good six inches deep around my planted mums as well as a few additional late season purchases, then put on the zippered plastic covering and kept the plants well watered until the ground froze.  It was a long shot, but apparently created enough of a greenhouse effect to save them, keeping them (and possibly the immediate soil below) just warm enough to allow the plants to establish in the new area.  I am pleased to say I was able to keep several mums, a small lily and a Limelight hydrangea in this way that may now be transplanted into the yard. 

One other thing I’ve done is to get my pots ready, pots for the peppers and tomatoes, trellises in place, potato containers ready, and fill them with a lightweight planting mix. I find the lighter the bag the better. One can always add in a little compost, and it certainly makes the lifting and pouring a back-saving operation.  Now, when those warm weather plants arrive, I’ll be ready to tuck in a few along with the spikes, herbs and flowering annuals and just enjoy that process.  

The Market opening is rapidly approaching, so mark Saturday, May 5th on your Calendar.  I’ll be there on opening day with my Minneapolis daughter and her family and look forward to showing it off. 

Well, the calendar says it’s barely April, and cool temps are surely still out there for our area, but it’s pretty much accepted that spring is here and the time has come to do a bit of planting. 

I just read a vendor’s newsletter on line (Harriet Kattenberg of Seedtime and Harvest), and it sounds like she’s had a good supply of cold weather crops for most of the winter from her protected hoop house.  That spurred me to get out my own cold-weather seed packets (the ones I ordered in January) and check out what might be started now.  I’ve got sugar snap peas, regular peas (never tried them before, and so have no idea how to cook or can raw peas, but I’ll figure it out with my Ball canning book) spinach, kale and two different kinds of lettuce.  So here we go for another year, hoping nature will be kinder than it was to my backyard efforts in the prior growing season.  

This is the year to take the chance and just do it all earlier than usual, I believe.  So this afternoon, my weekend helper (almost 8-year-old granddaughter Piper, a year older and wiser in the ways of the yard) will help me get those seeds in the new beds I had built last fall.

I actually saw tomato plants for sale at Lowes this last week, big plants with big prices, of course.  Tempting as that is, it is actually a bit too early. Temperatures look to be moderating to closer to normal for some time—not nearly hot enough for peppers or tomatoes yet, not even in containers, but I’ll be ready.  I did buy some potted hyacinth for Easter, however, and Lowes has these ready to bloom at a very reasonable cost of around $2 each, then one can then put them in the ground for next spring. 

Not much to write about except anticipation so will mention a new cookbook I just bought. It is Seasonal Recipes from the Garden, by P. Allen Smith.  I always enjoy watching him on PBS (I have Friday’s off from work, and he is on the PBS digital channel, Create) and found this book online for a good price ($17.99 + tax for a nicely illustrated hardback).  I like the way it is organized by the seasons, and most of the recipes look very fresh and simple, very good.  He has some old standards like Lemon Meringue Pie as well as fresh soup and sandwich ideas, and lots of good vegetable selections, like broccoli with lemon and hazelnuts.  Of course, as he is a Southerner, there are some good ochre and cornbread selections, too.  There’s one for Savory Grit Cakes with Oven-Smoked Tomatoes that looks tempting.  I know grits aren’t a northern plains ingredient, but I’ll try anything once.  The Poached Egg and Spinach salad with black pepper and a vinaigrette dressing looks good, as well.   

At a recent family funeral in Indiana, I had the opportunity to sit and visit for some time with a farmer from my hometown.  He and his wife have six children and eighteen grandchildren, and they are very involved in growing and promoting family farming in the area. They had just returned from a recent gift getaway to Hawaii, and so naturally, he had lots of flora and fauna stories to share.  Then the talk turned to growing potatoes  above the ground in containers, and away I went.  I have two brown, plastic garbage cans that lost their tops some years back, and have taken the bottoms off and cut then both into two pieces, each about 18 inches tall. The idea is to use these as the sides for the potato containers, put clean newspaper on the ground, and potato eyes atop that, then slowly fill with clean soil or other planting medium as the vines grow upward.  When mature, the plan is to simply to pull up the container, allowing the soil to fall away, and there are your potatoes—no digging!   If potato bugs and blight leave my crop worry free, I’m anxious to try my hand at canning potatoes on the recommendation of a HyVee cashier, who said this is just the best pantry staple ever to have on hand.

I asked my farmer acquaintance if he thought growing the potatoes in clean mulch would work, as I had read about doing this in another gardening book. That book recommended using straw or dried grass clippings (untreated by herbicides, of course) and then I asked him if leaf mulch might also do the trick, as I have about half a dozen large brown bags full that I saved from last fall.  He thought that mold might be an issue with the leaves, and so I will take him at his word and just invest in some good, clean planting mixture, then simply incorporate it into the beds this fall.  I’ll use the leaves for mulch atop the ground around the vegetables and my perennials instead.  I’ve been saving crushed eggshells all year too, and am hoping they will discourage any slug or earwig activity under the leaf mulch.   

It surprises me how much anticipation the start of the Falls Park Farmers Market spurs in me, especially this year, our year with almost no winter.  I can already smell the bakery fresh bread and see bright jars of winter jam and tomato sauce and chutney, rows of local honey and homemade pastas.  With the temps so warm for so long this late winter and into spring, I’m hoping for a few surprises, maybe some early hothouse lettuce or asparagus, who knows?  Just read a recipe for radish pie, and so here we go again.  Fresh eggs, lovely chickens!  I can’t wait.  Chomping at the bit with everyone for  opening date for the market, and hoping to see all there before May!

Recipes to End the Season-G. Totten

By fallspark, October 19th, 2011 | No Comments »

Gosh, end of the Market already.  For anyone who may have been reading these random thoughts throughout the season, my thank you for your very kind indulgence.  It has been a pleasure sharing my thoughts and failures with you.  I look forward to supporting the Market again next season. 

Here are two really good recipes to tie up the end.

Pumpkin Spice or Apple Bread ~ Georgia Totten

 1-2/3 c. all-purpose flour; 1 tsp baking soda; ¾ tsp cinnamon; ¼ tsp ginger; ¼ tsp ground cloves; ¼ plus 1/8 tsp kosher salt; 1-1/3 c granulated sugar; 1/3 cup canola or other good vegetable oil; 1 cup plus 1-½ TBS canned unsweetened pumpkin; 1 large egg and ¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans.

 Mix oil, egg and pumpkin with an electric mixer until well blended, then add the egg and blend.  Stir the dry ingredients together then combine with the wet until combined.  Do not over beat.  Add nuts and bake at 350 degrees for one hour, 5 minutes for a standard loaf pan or 35 minutes for mini-loaves.  **Note-I find the mini loaf pans work best.  The standard loaf size doesn’t bake in the top middle as well as the smaller size. 

For the apple cake, use the same ingredients, but substitute a pint of homemade or canned apple pie filling and reduce the sugar to ¾ cup, breaking up any large pieces of the homemade apple pieces with a fork or a knife.  If the pie filling has a good amount of liquid, you may want to increase the flour to 2 cups.  A streusel topping made from rubbing ¼ cup sugar with 2 TBS of butter sprinkled over the top before baking makes a nice presentation.  Omit the nuts and bake the same as the pumpkin loaves.   

The October Market-G. Totten, Sioux Falls

By fallspark, October 2nd, 2011 | No Comments »

Instead of winding down for the season, the Market will be in its heyday these next few weeks, promising to be as colorful as the foliage at Falls Park.  Look for the late season veggies like broccoli and potatoes, garlic and still lots of greens, winter squashes, a good selection of onions, dazzling chrysanthemums and yes, eventually pumpkins.  I like to view their various colors as equivalent to the autumn blast of energy we all feel after the oppressive heat and humidity of summer, experienced in robust array; vegetables (and flowers, of course) as art. Along with the cobalt blue and salmon-colored sunsets of October, the deep colors of fall veggies seem a perfect fit.  In fact, while re-reading a book this afternoon about the Galveston hurricane in 1900 (Isaac’s Storm, a non-fiction read I highly recommend) I happened upon a description that also seemed somehow connected; frigate birds wheeling through a cantaloupe sky.  We all wait to be dazzled! 

With our long run of cool, dry days, now is naturally the prime time to get the yard and garden cleaned up and ready for next year, time to think about putting in more daffodil bulbs, or even a few new plants (who can pass up flowering vines on clearance?). The extended forecast appears to be favorable, so there is probably still time to get them established if one plants in the next few days.  Water consistently until we get a hard freeze, then mulch and hope they have ample time to set roots and survive the winter.  It’s always a gamble, but the odds appear to be in their favor this year.

 This is also a good time of year to dry or press any flowers you might want to save.  Just about any fresh, non-fleshy flower can be dried for use over the winter for use as indoor arrangements, or pressed for crafts.  Many will dry right on the plant, such as hydrangea, rose hips, yarrow and astilbe, while others may be lain carefully on a bed of powdered borax (yep, old 20-Mule Team; look for it in the detergent booster isle) then covered completely with more borax and left for several weeks (a disposable roasting pan is a good and inexpensive container to use and re-use for this purpose, and the borax can be re-used, as well).  Pressed flowers, leaves and thin twigs look nice arranged on the sides of plain or colored pillar candles (rub the back of a heated spoon (careful, as the handle will also be hot-foam pencil holders help here, as does keeping them sitting atop a electric skillet on low) to slightly melt the area where you want to attach the piece so it will stick. It will cool quickly and your decoration will stay in place.  Once the candle is completed, dip it into melted paraffin to set (melt the paraffin in a 1-lb coffee can in a pot of simmering water. A pair of pliers to clasp the wick is handy for the process).  This is obviously not a craft for children!   However, children will most certainly enjoy creating their own landscapes or greeting cards with pressed leaves and flowers, and good old white school glue works just great for these.  Simply remove the stems and press leaves and petals whole or separately in a book or magazine and add weights until dry, usually a month or so.  This is an especially fun craft for those cold indoor months when children are looking for something out of the ordinary to do. Older children may enjoy working with the more delicate petals with the use of a pair of tweezers for careful placement.  Young children will have fun with simple, easy to handle fall leaves.

Here are a few additional quick decorating ideas to enhance the autumn season:  Hollow out a pumpkin (poke a few drainage holes in the bottom) and set a pot of mums inside, tip the top decoratively near the base and accent with gourds and autumn berries.  And don’t forget the clear twinkle lights!  One can drill some around the pumpkin and put the lights inside the holes around the plant for added fun (my daughter did this for her October wedding (ten years on the 20th—happy anniversary!).  I recently kept a smoky blue pumpkin I found at the Market over the entire winter placed on a tray with miniature lights and just changed the fall foliage to evergreen and pinecones as the season progressed.

Finally, I just have to add how proud I am of Sioux Falls, and especially of the great improvements over the past decade to Falls Park.  Last week I showed this off to my sister and brother-in-law, visiting from Indiana, and I could not have been prouder.  The beautiful weather was a bonus, of course, and the falls were running well despite our lack of rain.  We took the trolley, snapped a photo for a visiting European couple, rode the trolley and visited some shops downtown; one can so easily overlook that which is right in the backyard, and I recommend a trip to the Falls Park if it’s been awhile.  You will come away pleased, especially if you combine it with a trip to the Market in these last few weeks.

Cooler Temps-by G. Totten, Sioux Falls

By fallspark, September 11th, 2011 | No Comments »

With the nighttime temperatures beginning to stay steadily in the mid-fifties (keep an eye on mid-week, which is predicted to dip to a low of forty-four; one report had temps dipping into the thirties!) it is clear our 2011 growing season will soon come to its predicable end.  Already, the first yellowed leaves are beginning to show up across the lawn, cricket season has been upon us for several weeks now, and in the dryer areas, grasshoppers are everywhere.  Soon Japanese beetles will be coasting through the warm afternoons, looking for nooks and crannies to use as house entryways.  

The Colorado peaches were delicious this year, as always, juicy and so sweet.  I bought my usual lug and quickly canned them, as they were at the peak of their ripeness.  This caused a bit of a problem in that I couldn’t fill the jars as full as needed without smashing and bruising the fruit, so they are half way up the quart jars floating in pinkish liquid, but they are yellow and lovely—none the worse for the easy handling.  However, a neighbor bought hers at HyVee on sale and had better luck with the process, as hers were not as ripe.  Each year we learn a little something to take forward, and next year I may pick out my own as opposed to ordering ahead of time.  No control there, although for fresh eating, my peaches were unsurpassed in natural sweetness and will be perfect for a Thanksgiving cobbler (good time-tested recipe to follow).

 This brings us to apple season, although I’ve heard apples are their sweetest when picked after a light frost.  I don’t know how much truth is in that adage.  Either way, I won’t have time to do applesauce for several weeks yet, so will likely find out for myself  (apple pudding follows, as well).   

 To many, fall means butternut and stuffed acorn squashes (these should be available soon), and at our house it often meant “breakfast for dinner” during those busy nights of soccer practice, trying to get everything cleaned up while the weather held, and covering plants to protect them from frost; nights of quick sausage and pancakes with lovely maple syrup.  My youngest daughter used to call these Red Sky Suppers, for the time of day and the setting sun igniting our western view. 

Potatoes are still plentiful and will be to the end of the season.  Some years ago my late husband and I attended a fish boil at an inn in northern Wisconsin that featured Lake Michigan white fish and potatoes all cooked in a huge pot outdoors, served with gilled sweet corn and slaw.  Perhaps it was the atmosphere; everyone outdoors on a stone patio, a frosty September night, sparks from the cook pot floating upward and the fire keeping us warm.  Those potatoes, along with the salty fish and grilled cobs were the best I’ve ever tasted.  Oh, to recreate those flavors locally without burning down the neighborhood. 

The following peach cobbler recipe is one I found years ago in a magazine and have made often.   The apple pudding recipe is one my great aunt gave me about forty years ago, and is a nice old time dessert.

Upside Down Peach Cobbler

1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tso salt, 1/2 cup milk, water, 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 – 16 oz can sliced peaches-drained (reserve syrup).

Mix dry ingredients together, then combine with the milk until just blended.  Add water to juice to make 1 1/2 cups and heat just to a simmer. Add butter and brown sugar and cook just until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Spread batter in a greased 9″ pan and pour peaches and syrup on top.  the syrup will be thin, and seem like a lot, but will be absorbed.  Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes. 

Apple Pudding

1 quart jar of chunky homemade applesauce, 1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca, small pearl size, 1/4 cup water.

Cook all together slowly until thickened and serve slightly warm with a scoop of vanila ice cream on top.