Thursday, June 20, 2013

Smoking Dells, Crazy Dill and Austrian Delight

2012 On the plains in Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

This has been quite a week.

The first signs of the fire
Near Prescott, which is about thirty miles south of us, a forest fire broke out. From here it looked like it was in the dells, but no. This area is so dry. We had a little snow in January and that's been the extent of our precipitation. A couple of mornings ago, we saw a strange cloud rise up over the property across the street. We realized it was smoke. The smoke turned the  whole sky gray until the wind changed. On Wednesday, we went to a baseball game in
Wednesday going toward Chino Valley
Phoenix and although the sky looked smoke free toward Prescott, one mountain closer to us (but still a long ways off) had flames near the bottom. It looked pretty small. As we came back into the area that evening, we could see the fire had gained speed again.

Rote Riesen carrots
We finished the first major pull-the-weeds-fest. The veggies seemed to love it. You could practically watch them grow - especially the
Austrian carrots and Austrian garden peas. Our good friends, the Rainers, sent Lance and Christie a box of various seeds as a wedding gift. The peas and carrots
Wonderfully sweet garden peas
are out-growing the American varieties.

The greenhouse is practically overrun with greens. We're doing salads every night. The dill is really going crazy but  we like that. We need a lot of seed for canning. Most of the dill will be left to go to seed but we'll pinch some for cooking now and then. Like tonight we had lemon and dill covered catfish. I'll also dry some to get us through the winter.

"My" garlic
We harvested our first ever crop of garlic. We didn't grow any last year. This was my one crop that I planted last October. They like to go in the ground and chill over the winter. Now that I know how easy it is, I plan to grow more next time.

A better netting system this year for the blackberries
Greenhouse from the dill end

Greenhouse from the broccoli end

We leave on our first RV trip on Monday. I'll probably not have any firsthand news from Tortuga Flats Farm to report so I'm taking a couple of weeks off.
If you follow me on Facebook, I'm sure I'll have reports and pictures from the road.

Everyone have a safe and fun 4th!


  1. Hi Brenda, I've been following your Tortuga story for quite awhile now (it is very interesting), and I don't know if I missed it/forgot/or if you haven't said but... What are you doing with the produce of this farm? It seems more than the 4 of you would need, but less than what a full say "corn farm" would produce. (And hence less $$). What is the ultimate goal?

    1. Hi Charlotte. Last year, our first, what we didn't eat or give to family and friends, we donated to the local food bank. We did a couple of small farmers markets in Phoenix. We planted too much of some stuff and not enough of others and some crazy stuff not normally even seen in markets. This year, we're much more organized as to what we've planted. We do plan to sell some. But we're still experimenting and not sure where or how much. We hope to market our pickles. It is our ultimate goal to make a living from this farm. Thanks for asking and for following!

  2. Brenda, I'm so impressed with your farming efforts! I also share your concern about fires. This is our first summer in fire country. So far nothing around here, but the Fire Service has done everything they can to scare us. Have a wonderful trip in your new RV!

    1. Thanks, Alison. We were out earlier and the mountain is still burning. They're hoping for no wind tomorrow. So far, no homes lost.

  3. My goodness what a difference a first year makes in learning the way of farming! You guys are doing fantastic and it all looks delicious! Stay safe and look forward to seeing you!

  4. Looking good!
    In your greenhouse do I see something growing in cinderblocks? What is it and how is it working out? I'd like to make a little cinderblock garden piece on my patio next summer, but not sure what to plant in it. Curious to see what you're finding works!

    This is my first year of having a veggie garden (or any garden!!!) and I'm finding I learn something new every week. Already I'm planning on MOVING my garden to a new location next year due to too much shade.

    Anyway, keep blogging about your farming adventures, I love reading about it. :)

    1. He has a couple of things planted in the cinder blocks - peppers for one. I would think anything would work that doesn't get too big and doesn't spread out like squash. Just google whatever veggie you're interested in and see if it does well in containers. I thought it was a pretty cool idea. Gardening and farming are a constant learning experience. A local farmer who's been at it 20 years told my son he learns something new every year.