Debbie's Blog

Van Till Family Farm & Winery


Leave a comment

Farm to Table or is it: Tower to Table!

The mild weather of the fall season  creates ideal conditions for the lettuce, arugula, mizuna and other

greens that are growing in the “Towers” in the greenhouse for the Garden Salad that we serve here at the winery.

Here are a few pictures to show you how this humble, but very necessary and nutritious part of our diet

has a very cool place here on the farm.

Pots ready to be filled with great compost made right on the farm.
See the mizuna growing on the edge of the grass. It is a volunteer,but we could pick it and eat it too!

Here , we start filling the pots that make up the grow towers, with potting mix that is decomposed strawberry roots, leaves and stems that were taken out of the towers in August.  Here, in the compost pile, the warm air, sunshine and the rains have created an idea condition for decomposition of this plant material, and now, in just a few short months,

it is ready to be recycled back into the pots to grow the greens.

After these pots are filled, we stack them in the greenhouse.

These lettuce plants are about 3 weeks old and are ready to be transplanted into the

tower.

Here is a tower, with just planted lettuce. In a few weeks these will be ready to start harvesting. They love this cool weather.

  Here the towers are filled with new seedlings that will be happy in the greenhouse, away from the

wind and enjoying the sun.

Lettuce, arugula, mizuna are ready to harvest for the farmstead salad served on The Patio Pavilion.

Here are the two towers with plants ready to harvest.  These greens are very young and just the outer leaves

are picked off, thus leaving the small leaves to get a little larger for the next pick.  In fact, these towers

were just picked 4 days ago and they have so much growth that they are ready to harvest again.

And here we are on a very comfortable  Patio Pavilion, in October, with our  farmstead salad, ready to eat, with

a glass of award winning Strawberry Festival Wine.

Farm to Table, or was that, Tower to Table!

Those chairs are empty, come join us!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Storm That Took Out the Strawberry Towers

Last month, my brother Lonnie Scott,  Bobcat Properties Farm,  wrote about his experience in an unexpected storm that came through the Farmer’s Market in the parking lot of Gen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Joseph Canyon,  California.   He sells honey from the farm and has a “mascot bee”, Hanna.  This blog is a response to his story with a similar story of our own about a storm coming through Rayville, where our winery is, just 2 days before his storm!  I am just having some fun as  our mascot, Strawberry Shortcake is being re-introduced!  Life has been so full this summer with wine, pizza and the experience at the winery, that we are  just have a little fun here!

Hi Lonnie, this is Strawberry Shortcake.  I live at the Van Till Family Farm & Winery.  I am the Senior strawberry plant.  Since Farm to Table is the theme around here, the community of strawberry plants in the towers are responsible for producing the strawberries for the Strawberry Salad and Strawberry Shortcake for the Patio Dining and strawberries for the Farmstead Strawberry Spread that is sold at Christmas in the Wine Shop.  Though we can’t produce all the strawberries for the Strawberry Festival Wine that is made here also, we do play an important role around here in the greenhouse.  We help out during the tours, showing the guests how happy we are growing in the towers in the greenhouse!

All the plants are pulled at the end of the season, which is around this time of the year, but I always hide and overwinter somewhere and then get back into the strawberry towers  (we don’t have ‘runners’ for nothing!) just in time for the beginning of the next growing season in February. I live a secret life here!  It is amazing what you can do with phones these days, as I have secretly posted on The Van Till Farms and Winery  Facebook page  as far back as 2010.  I kept a bit of a journal from a plant’s point of view and posted on Facebook.  I made a lot of friends.  I have since retired from strawberry production, but I am still

around and keep an eye on things.

Hanna, the Honey Bee, probably has made a lot of friends at the farmers market too, and who knows, maybe she has a blog somewhere or she is on Facebook,  or both!

It sounds like you had an experience just like we had out here.  The Wednesday night, before your Saturday morning experience, Cliff and Brian  were coming back from Ladoga Ridge Winery, which is a winery in our Great Northwest Missouri Wine Trail Association and it is located about 45 minutes west of us. They had been helping at the winery and were on their way home in the evening.  As they were heading back, a storm with near straight line winds and rain  was moving fast, right toward Rayville.  They called Debbie and told her to get ready!  She took down the farmers market umbrella that was over the pool, so  the wind wouldn’t pick it up and sail it over the house.  Even though that did  happen quite a few years ago and it was found, undamaged,  in the front yard upside down the morning after a wild storm,   she didn’t want to  risk it this time.

Then, Debbie ran to the shop to close the big roll up door so the bags of cement that were being used to finish The Secret Garden wouldn’t get wet, as the winds now were blowing like mad.

Me, I was in the greenhouse when the winds kicked up.  Cliff forgot to tell her to roll up the sides  of the greenhouse, so the wind just blew right through, and took out the 2 rows of strawberry towers!

I wasn’t hurt, I could see it coming. Just like you I tried to warn the others, but all I could do was get to safety.  I had remembered the  “stop, drop and roll” in the literature for training when Cliff was a Wood Heights Fire Department Volunteer.  I needed something to read during those lonely winter nights that I was in hiding!  Yes, Cliff had great foresight when he built the greenhouse, it has lights!

Strawberry Towers on the ground after the storm!

As you can see in the before and after picture, the greenhouse isn’t the same!

But, as I mentioned in the beginning, the strawberries were just about finished.  Last week the boys took the soil and plants to the compost pile and refilled the towers and got everything swept up.

You wouldn’t have even known that this was home to 500 strawberry plants!

Well, it is time to go.  We have another tour coming through this Friday and I need to supervise the changing of the guard in the greenhouse.  The cucumbers, though they have been sharing space this summer,  are acquiring more space and the strawberry towers are now being converted to Tomato Towers, so the grape tomatoes can garnish the salads served on the Patio. These guys, the cucumber and tomaotes,  do a good job in showing people how their food comes from a farm, but I act in an advisory capacity to them, helping them do a great job!.

The winery is busy today too!  The grape harvest is on and there is juice running through a stemmer crusher, 2 pumps and a big bladdar press. Cliff is having a grand time!  He loves the stainless steel tanks and valves.  Last year, when the tanks were full and harvest was finished, he had so much fun, that he wanted to get more grapes and tanks so he could keep working with his equipment!

He is a happy man these days!

I would like to meet Hanna the Honey Bee someday, she sounds like she is a great asset to your farmers market experience!  Maybe I could learn some people skills from her, since she hangs out at a spa and  goes to the farmers market every week.   I have tasted your honey and used your lip balm, they are both good.

Well, good-bye from Van Till Family Farm & Winery, where you will find

Wine, Pizza and The Experience.

Sincerely,

Strawberry Shortcake


7 Comments

Harvesting Ghost Peppers

The Ghost Peppers or Bhut Jolokia, look great!  The plants are loaded right now

 

Ghost Peppers ready for harvest. Now what do I do!

 

with green, orange and yes, red fruit.  As the pepper ripen they change

colors from green to orange to red.    I have been watching the plants

all summer  with a healthy respect for the unusual crop they bear.

This is the hottest pepper in the world and I have been eyeing them

from a distance,  they seem to carry a mystery about them!

I am just not sure what to do with these peppers!

Jalapenos can be as hot as 8,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units), habaneros

can be as hot as 350,000 SHU, with Ghost Peppers checking in at 1,000,000 SHU,

the hottest pepper in the world!

We have 2 Chipotle Peppers Sauces  and 3 Pepper Jams that we make here at the

winery with the jalapeno peppers that we grow on the farm. And those sauces range from

mildly hot to hot!  I use my habanero peppers in a tonic that ages with garlic, horseradish,

onions and vinegar that builds the immune system!  Wow, is it hot, but really good!

So what am I going to do with these Ghost Peppers?  They are ready for harvest.

Has anyone every used them?  I would be interested in hearing how you have used these peppers.


3 Comments

Relaxing Dinner on the Patio with Farm Crafted Cuisine

Cliff and I had an impromptu dinner on the patio a few weeks ago.  We took two pot pies out of the freezer and

put them in the wood fired oven and waited on the patio with a glass of wine.  This was a great combination!

Just a hint of smoke from the remains of a hot pizza baking fire and plenty of bubbling juice

oozing out of the whole wheat crust, made this a wine pairing experience!  Cliff had the

beef and I had the chicken pot pie  and the Chardonnel was a perfect match.

Farm Crafted Pot Pies baked in the Wood Fired Oven

As you can see, it was such a relaxing dinner, with some tomatoes from our container tomatoes, Tumbling Tom.  This tomato only needs a 1 gallon size container, and it produces!

We have a Tomato Tower with 30 container tomato plants growing on it.  The tower looks like a Christmas tree with green plants and little

red balls.  These tomato plants can be grown in a 12″ container, so they do well in this tower.  We already picked the first flush, and they were great

in a tomato, cucumber, basil and onion salad with an olive oil dressing.  I will get a picture of the tower with  the second flush of yellow blossoms out in the next blog.

These plants  love this heat we have been having and do very well with regular watering in the towers.  They are indeterminate

and will produce until frost.  I like that!