A Few of My Favorite Things

Here is a post of some of my favorite things relating to the farm.  They have helped my workflow in big ways and may inspire you.  A nice way to end the year.

  1. Plastic Colanders.  I have about a dozen and could use more at the height of picking season.  We use these to gather and store eggs, to pick berries, and to pick, sort, wash, and store veggies.  Open my fridge in summer and they are everywhere.  Very cheap.  I have a variety of sizes, but nothing too big.  I use half bushel baskets for harvesting the big stuff, but take 2-3 of these out with me for picking so I can pick the smaller items (berries, mini cukes, cherry tomatoes, etc.) and keep them from getting turned into jam by the time they get to the house. At the height of the season, I may take a larger plastic bucket with me–using the colander to pick and then emptying it into the bucket.
  2. <em>Half Bushel</em> Picking <em>Basket</em> With Handle - Quantity of 12 - Color ... Half bushel baskets with a handle.  My dad gifted me a dozen of these and I love them.  I can fill them with tomatoes, cukes, summer squash, etc. and bring them up to the house.  I also use them to store veggies and fruit until I get it processed (frozen, canned, or dried).  I also send these baskets full of produce to the restaurant.  Invaluable.  Don’t get the kind without a handle! For me, half bushel is perfect.  A full bushel is hard to maneuver and lift.
  3. Canning Jars. This is a no-brainer.  If you grow it, you need to use it, store it, or gift it.  I can a lot.  Canning is not hard, and I think everyone should do it.  Try this: somehow, get your hands on some fresh canned peaches.  Compare the taste to grocery store canned peaches.  Hard to believe they are even the same fruit.  Home canned food is summer in a jar.  Besides canning produce, I use the jars for storing dehydrated food, flours, leftovers, and on and on.  The possibilities are endless. I try to use jars in most contexts where I would reach for plastic bags or containers.
  4. Wagon.  I use my daughter’s red flyer wagon, because that is what we already had.  If you garden in a big way and your garden is not near the house, you are going to need something to move baskets of produce back and forth.  I use this all the time whether I am carrying plants, tools, baskets, etc..  There are many good garden carts out there, but, if you can, re-purpose something you already have.  At the height of the harvest, I may have 2 half bushel baskets in the wagon, smaller colanders nestled inside, and another full half bushel in my hand.
  5. Stirrup hoe.   Also called a loop hoe.  Can be hard to find in local stores.  This hoe glides under the top of soil, taking out weeds and aerating slightly.  It is much easier to maneuver than a traditional hoe. I use it for weeding and also for preparing beds for planting.
  6. Food Dehydrator.  I am lucky enough to have this bad boy–the Excalibur, but other models work fine too.  The dehydrator is the savior when your counters are covered in produce.  I love to dehydrate green peppers, apples, pears, tomatoes, greens like kale, and some berries.   I also use it for herbs.  Sort of chopping and throwing into a freezer bag, dehydrating is as easy as it gets.
  7. Atlas Nitrile Gloves.  These are amazing.  They fit like a second skin (my stubby, chubby hands wear a small), are dipped in latex to protect hands, and they can be purchased online for under $4 a pair (worth 5 times as much to me).  I own about 8 pairs and always have them handy.  I wear them all the time in the garden and for farm chores.  I love the form-fitting dexterity they offer.  They are never in the way.  I can even use my iPhone while wearing them.

There is no end to this list, but these are the the ones that jump to the front in my mind.

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