So here are some tips for organic, preventative pest control:
1) The War of Ladybeetles and Aphids
Everyone loves ladybeetles (also called ladybird beetles). Children pick them up in awe, and some cultures associate the beetle with good luck. However, seeing ladybugs also mean that aphids--their main food source--are in the area. Thin white filaments on budding leaves or flowers also mean aphids, and they are often called plant lice because they live in hoards and are hard to completely remove.
For a short-term solution, aphids can be washed off with water. Another way of removing them is simply to get rid of any infested leaves and care for lacewing and lady beetle populations. Preventative measures include planting chives or garlic close to the plant you want to protect, or even planting banana peels in between the desired plants. Some websites recommend using an oil-and-water mix spray in the place of pesticides, such as orange oil mixtures.
2) Leaffooted Bugs can rasp the life out of your plants.
3) Mealybugs can cause plant wilting.
Know how pests consume produce.
The three insects listed in this article are all bad because of their mouth apparatuses. They all have a proboscis that is harder than a butterfly's or a moth's, made for piercing leaves. Aphids, Leaffooted Bugs and mealybugs all cause some damage because of the way they eat produce, by digging in and sucking away nutrients. In some cases the damage is only superficial, like the discoloration caused by the leaffooted bug. However, mealybugs and aphids both cause significant damage by swarming in large numbers onto leaves and drying them up, preventing the plant from thriving. Using flowers to attract natural enemies, like marigold for lacewings, can be another help to protect what you grow.
The Howdy Farm is focusing on winter crops, such as kale, chard, and cabbage. These plants do better in the cooler months of Fall, and continue to grow throughout Texas' winter. Current crops include cucumber, pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, and okra, all of which are either on the market or will be soon.
Howdy Farm is back and ready for volunteers and consumers alike.
Volunteer hours are from 1-5 pm every MWF.
Upcoming events include:
September 11: After volunteer hours end at 5:00 pm, Howdy Farm will head over for a bite at Blackwater Draw.
September 17th: At 6:00 pm, Howdy Farm is throwing a Welcome Back Cookout, and hopes to provide information to new and old students at the farm.
September 20th: Volunteers and members meet for breakfast at Hullabaloo Diner and then head to Millican Reserve's "Market On The Green" for shopping and entertainment.
Howdy Farm hosted its first ever official "Gig 'Em Week" event at the Northgate Juice Joint this past Wednesday evening. We had no idea just how many new Aggies were in town. 300+ people attended the event with lines down Northgate to squeeze through the door! Lisa Bradway, owner of the juice joint, and her staff were in a frenzy making non stop juice orders ($1 off!) and announcing them ready over a PA system. The outdoor urban garden, the backyard of the juice joint, was busy with students eating local, visiting the member informational booth and farmers market table as well as the "raffle bar" to enter our three giveaway baskets.
Students who patiently spoke with us at our member info booth got a free potted herb to take home! We gave away 100 herbs: a combination of basil, lemon basil, parsley, and cilantro. People were also able to sign up to receive howdy farm updates through our newsletters and take to current officers.
We also announced a social media contest. Attendees could post about the event and tag @HowdyFarm as well as use the hashtag #gigemhowdyfarm over either facebook, twitter, or instagram for a chance to win a $25 howdy farm market gift card and t-shirt of choice! Winner Maddi received an organic green cotton "Can you dig it?" shirt and gift card. Her instagram picture at the juice joint won the contest!
As for the giveaways, two lucky freshman living in dorms on north campus won our "foodie" and "chef" themed baskets. Will got his hands on our foodie basket full of Blackwater Draw merchandise, What's the Buzz Coffee and more. Merylin won the chef basket complete with ready-to-eat foods and and cooking supplies. Finally, Sam is the proud owner of a mini kitchen herb tray and potted chrysanthemum as winner of our "gardener" crate. A whopping 291 students entered to win our raffle prizes!
At the farmers market booth, we sported our brand new Howdy Farm tanks that were popular with the gals. We gave away free Howdy Farm decals and produce. Many students living on campus didn't want to bring home fresh produce without a kitchen to cook it in, but others snatched our free okra and peppers without a second thought!
The last hour of the event the crowds finally calmed down and we could all relax and appreciate Katy Crocker on the ukulele.
by Jessica Newman
Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 26th from 4-7pm Howdy Farm is hosting a gig 'em week social at Northgate Juice Joint. We'll be giving away free herb transplants as well as hosting a raffle for THREE giveaway goodie baskets with themes! Enter to win the gardener, the foodie, or the chef basket! We'll also tell guests about a social media contest to win a farm gift card and T-shirt! Lots of free goodies. Come socialize with the howdy farmers!
The gardener will need a lovely crate filled with…
The foodie will love…
The chef must have…
Join us tomorrow to find out about our social media contest and how to win a HOWDY FARM $25 gift certificate + a Howdy Farm T-SHIRT of your choice!!!
A big thank you to our lovely, local sponsors & donors!
by Jessica Newman
The farmers market is a special place for Howdy Farm to be a part of. It's a community. When we go each week we see the same friendly faces and chat with the same vendors beside us, our neighbors. When all we have is a ton of peppers and okra so we stop going to market (like right now) it gives us a warm feeling to hear from other farmers that we were asked about at the market. "Where are those two girls with all the peppers!?" To get a sense of the special people that make the market home, read about other farmers and vendors from part 1 and part 2 below.
Amy Decker: Jammin’ Granny Jams & Jellies
Robert & Ann Forsthoff, produce and such
Jennifer Windham, David Gibbs & Nancy Williams: Harvest Moon Canning Co.
Kenny Closs and Spencer Temple: Ag Farm aquatic greens farm
Roger and Donna Burton: 2 Brothers Salsa & baked, canned, and fresh goods
ET Ash: “ET’s Bees”
Richard Schubert: “The Egg Man”
Dave Hall: Lonesome Pine
-Photos and blog written by Jessica Newman
Summer time at Howdy Farm means a whole lot of preparing for the school year: weeding, cleaning, organizing, planting cover crops and then planting fall crops. The summer interns have seeded out trays in the greenhouse full of flowers, peppers, and corn as well as sowing seed straight into the dirt. After a few weeks the crops were transplanted to the fields.
In the field there are gold acorn squash, queen bush squash, squash delicate, zucchini, winter spaghetti squash, and eggplant. The majority were started from seeds planted directly on the field, while the eggplant transplants were added later.
In our front keyhole garden there are early white bush scallop squash, cucumber, and zucchini. In our smaller, colorful keyhole, interns planted patty pan squash that didn’t sprout. So, instead pepper transplants were used.
The farm also has an area full of purple tomatillos growing strong and sturdy thanks to a lot of attention and watering during the summer heat.
Over in the corn bed, the interns planted Bi-licious hybrid corn seeds. However, a mold took hold and the seeds wouldn’t sprout. As a result, the same seed was started in trays in the greenhouse. Once they grew successfully, the corn was transplanted making for an idealistic farm view.
Howdy Farm interns have tried starting other corn seeds in the greenhouse to fill the rest of the corn bed, however, there have been many Texas wood rats calling the farm home and eating the seed. When the trays have been checked on in the greenhouse, seeds are missing and the dirt is a mess. But the baby rats sure are cute!
Photos and blog by Jessica Newman
Howdy Farm has a Nesco Pro Food Dehydrator that interns used last semester to dry herbs. It hasn’t gotten much use this summer, so I decided to pick what we had available and get drying. Monday morning I walked the farm with my clippers and harvested fresh herbs. Early in the day is the best time to harvest for drying purposes so that all of the essential oils are still concentrated and haven’t been dried from the sun yet.
Basil is everywhere on the farm. I filled three and a half dehydrator trays with fresh leaves. We have a few sage plants. I grabbed some leaves to fill half a tray. Then rosemary got a half and marjoram the other. Marjoram is a variety of oregano, thus the two have similarities in taste, though they are different. My intention was to make an Italian herb mix but that will have to wait until we have plenty of oregano, thyme, and parsley growing on the farm to go along with the rest of the herbs I chose to dry.
The dehydrator should be set to a temperature of 95 degrees F, as recommended on the Nesco for herbs and spices. Every 24 hours I checked on the leaves and rotated the trays. Day after day I’d see if the leaves were completely crunchy to the touch so that they would easily crumble. After awhile, the majority of the basil was crunchy but some was still not completely dry. Finally, after five days, every single herb was completely dry.
I chose to lie out pieces of paper for each herb and start crumbling them by hand. I ended up with about ½ cup basil flakes, 3 tbsp rosemary leaves, 2 tbsp marjoram, and 1 tbsp crumbled sage leaves. Next, I used a spice grinder (Hamilton Beach Coffee Grinder to be exact!) to grind the herbs into a coarse powder.
In the near future, Howdy Farm should have all the herbs necessary to make our very own Italian spice blend. For now though, I played around with the herbs we had, mixing and matching to find something tasty.
Photos and blog by Jessica Newman
There's something special about market that only those who are there every (or almost every) Saturday can understand. Farmers markets are meaningful because they are the intersection of local, home grown & made food and the farmers who deliver. The Brazos Valley Farmers Market in particular has my heart.
Unlike major cities where interns or part time workers tend to the markets, here in Bryan you're actually talking to the farmer directly. These people are the most down to earth, friendliest, humble people. They care for their land, raise animals, make home goods in their kitchens, and drive from surrounding cities to give us all the finest in local food. While I do love the food - the home baked breads and fresh, organic produce - I'm really a sucker for the people.
I find myself at home with one too many squash, okra on the verge of going bad, a full supply of jams, and a leftover cinnamon roll. It's the people, the lovely faces behind the product, that I like to support. I eat those morning sourdough cinnamon rolls because besides being delicious, Beth is too sweet to resist in the morning. And I have patty pan squash needing to be cooked because I'm drawn to Johnny's calming voice at market. Yes, I splurge at market because the wonderful farmers there are deserving of my time and dollar. The Brazos Valley Farmers Market is something special. For those who can't make it or maybe haven't found the time to talk to their sweet farmers (which you should), here's a glimpse at some of those who can be spotted. (More to come in a future post!)
Beth & Ed Hadden: Twisted Bakery
Johnny Mason: Johnny’s Produce
Virginia Cox & Sean Cox: Virginia Cox
David Elsik: Dog-Run Farm
Ed & Emma Fowler: Fowler Farm
Wilton & Carolyn Wilton: Astera Meadows Ranch
Melissa McCoury: home garden
[See PART 2 of "Meet your farmers" here!]
-by Jessica Newman
> Harvesting fresh purple-hulled peas:
While purple-hulled peas and okra are in season, Howdy Farmers spend their summer weekday mornings harvesting the two crops. The reason for harvesting each day is because the crops mature quickly. If not paid attention to, you’ll miss your peas’ prime and end up with oversized okra.
When pea pods are green and look like string beans, they aren’t ready - although they can be picked early and eaten like green beans if you’d like. But to cook the peas, wait for purple pods. Soon, the color will start to turn and become a mixture of green and purple. The pods should start feeling full and crisp, with visible lumps where the peas and forming inside. Each day you wait to harvest, the peas will quickly change color. If they look 50 percent purple one day, wait another until they look 75 percent purple. Perfect peas are a nice, deep purple – but we don’t always go for perfection! Once the peas turn purple, you only have a few days to harvest before they become soft or dried out. For fresh purple-hulled peas, harvest the crisp, full, mostly-purple pods. When shelled, the fresh peas will have a color ranging from green to greenish-white with a pinkish-purple dot or “eye.”
Hence why these purple-hulled peas are also called “pink eye” rather than “black eye” peas. Black-eyed peas and pink-eyed peas are all part of a group of peas called Southern Peas. Each is simply named based on the color of the “eye” of the pea.
See those white flowers on your pea plant? Those are edible, too! Harvest for a little extra garnish for dinner parties. The flowers have a slight, raw bean taste. Be cautious not to harvest too many pea flowers or else you will diminish the plants pea producing capabilities.
> Collecting purple-hulled pea seed:
If your plants were forgotten and the pods are drying out – let them. You can harvest the seed for next year. Pick out pods that feel crunchy to the touch and look dried, losing color and turning brown. Each day come back to see if more pods are ready. Collect the dried out pods. Sit down over a big container and peel the pod apart to reveal the peas. Dried out peas will look green-ish. Save the good ones, tossed the shriveled ugly ducklings. Store them in a paper bag until next season.
> Harvesting okra
Currently at the farm we have two varieties of okra growing. Hill Country Red okra is a combination of red and green. When mature, our okra appears mostly green with some hints of red. What is unique about this variety is the width of the okra. Unlike most, the fruit is very thick. Though they may look fat, the pod is still very tender. Keep an eye on the okra plants because as fast as the purple hulls change color, your okra will be growing big in no time.
At Howdy Farm, we’ve seen the Hill Country Red variety produce big, fat, green okra. Our other variety we have growing, Bowling Red, produces long, slender, red okra. We are playing around with different varieties to find out what grows best and what our customers and we find most delicious!
Most people prefer to harvest okra when young and smaller as they tend to be more tender. Okra is best when about two to three inches long, before it becomes tough. Find the okra that fits your desires and use shears to cut the stem just below where the okra starts to form. You may want to use gloves as okra leaves your hands feeling forever slimy. Sleeves come in handy, too, as okra leaves tend to scratch and itch the skin.
Do the okra flowers look familiar? The plant is in the same family as hibiscus. You can use the flowers as part of an edible arrangement. They make a pretty garnish but aren’t so yummy to the taste.
Photos and blog by Jessica Newman
Our farm manager Corey said “just like snowflakes” when talking about how each of the Chippendale Daisy variety (Zinnia haageana) of Zinnia flowers look individualized. No two seem to be the exact same. Some are orange with yellow tips. Some have two rows of petals not one. Others are yellow with red dots. One flower will look full while another has minimal petals. This kind of variation is what I admire in zinnias, instead of expecting the same cookie-cutter visual to repeat itself.
Zinnias are one type of flower but the varieties are endless. The big, rounded pom-pom like heads catch my attention first. They have endless rows of petals, or ray flowers, piling the flower taller to reach its ideal thickness. The Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds package explains this Lilliput Mix of zinnias (Zinnia elegan) are “cute beehive-shaped double flowers.”
Many of the zinnias, though are flat and project outward. Some have small centers and others with huge centers surrounded by a ring of vibrant yellow “disc flowers.” At the farm there are yellow, red, and purple rounded zinnias in one bed. In another bed are big pink flowers and small peach ones. The Lilac Emperor Cactus Flowered variety (Zinnia elegan) stands out as having crazy octopus-like petals. All of the zinnias look slightly different but together fall under the genus Zinnia of the family Asteraceae.
What makes the zinnia so beautiful is the dense arrangement of petals forming a larger flower. In fact, zinnias are an inflorescence, meaning each of those “petals” is actually its own flower. Inflorescence is defined as a flower formed by many small flowers. The type of inflorescence depends on how the smaller flowers are arranged to form the larger one. Zinnias are called a “composite head” due to how the flowers are arranged by separate ray flowers that appear to be the petals and disk flowers that look like smaller yellow flowers in the center of the head.
With a heat wave hitting college station, the beautiful yellow zinnias quickly became a sickly yellow the next day. To salvage the beauty and spread it around the town, we harvested fresh, howdy farm “organic” flowers to arrange handheld bouquets to sell at market. The outcome is vibrant, summer-y, and makes me happy.
Taylor Paine, Program Coordinator of Benz School of Floral Design, harvested the flowers and shared her floral design knowledge. I thought I had it down, as I am the only one in the family who arranges the flowers in a vase. However, she taught me the tricks and the proper way of making a bouquet. I learned to crisscross the stems and swirl them in the same direction. We made a bunch of “roundy moundy” bouquets in which the shape of the bouquet is round and forms a dome. Taylor gave me a quick design 101 about other styles, too, like the Flemish style.
Taylor harvested many zinnias, a few wild sunflowers and “brocade mix” of marigolds. She took off the leaves of the cut flowers and immediately put them in water to keep them hydrated, fresh, and turgid.
Outside, I harvested rosemary and chocolate mint (some of which was flowering for an added detail to the bouquets) to add as our “greens” to the bouquets. We peeled away all the leaves from the bottom half of the herbs for easy arranging. Then, we let the creative genius flow!
With so much variation in the zinnias, many of our arrangements were made of entirely the one flower. But they don’t lack in originality! In other pieces we added orange marigolds and a few sunflowers here and there. The Chippendale Daisy zinnias made the perfect base to a warm colored bouquet – my personal favorite.
Come Saturday’s Brazos Valley Farmers Market, we sold our bouquets to spread the color around College Station .
Photos and blog by Jessica Newman
Howdy Farm has had an abundance of purple hulled peas (related to black eyed peas) lately. People go nuts over them at market wanting to shell peas as a family past time. One customer requested a whole bushel - 25 pounds of purple hulled peas! All these peas made me search for a recipe that really represented the farm and gave the beans a lead role.
In Julie Morris' cookbook Superfood Kitchen: Cooking with Natures Most Amazing Foods she presents plant based dishes that happen to be vegan (meat and dairy free), focusing on "superfoods." Morris defines superfoods as "a natural food containing an exceptionally high nutrient density, as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants."
In her smokey kale and black-eyed pea stew, Morris uses fresh oregano and thyme, wakame flakes, kale, and a garnish of parsley as her superfoods of choice. Wakame, Morris explains, is a sea vegetable, or green to be exact. It is an edible seaweed sold dried and when added to a soup, will expand. It can be purchased at a health foods store or found on the international aisle.
If you're making some of Howdy Farm’s purple-hulled peas ahead of time, set aside 3 cups cooked to add to this flavorful soup. Or, use any other southern pea like black-eyed peas.
Kale & Black-Eyed Pea Stew
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 cups diced white onions (about 1 medium onion)
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
2 Tbsp. wakame flakes, ground or crushed into fine pieces
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
1 head kale, stems discarded and leaves chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
By Jessica Newman
Howdy Farm had a color wheel of peppers at last Saturday’s Brazos Valley Farmers Market. Our customers all appreciated the beautiful pepper arrangement full of green and red bell peppers; yellow, orange, and red habaneros, green and red serranos; big and small red cayenne peppers; and green jalapeños.
While many recipes call for a smidgen of spicy peppers, maybe one jalapeno or so, some of our shoppers were buying peppers by the box! Another farmer used our goods to make orange habanero salsa with no tomatoes for a chunky Tabasco-like condiment. One woman stocked up on serrano peppers to use in everything she cooks – eggs, soups, pot roast and the like. Another lady had the great idea of creating a colorful and kicking with flavor pizza. Jammin’ Granny, a local jam maker and vendor, bought up a mix of habaneros and jalapenos for her fruity and spicy jams.
The wealth of peppers we had inspired me to make something hot. Howdy Farm had an entire cooler alive with peppers and half was due to the habaneros. With a bowl full of habaneros and a farm stand across the way at the farmers market with crates of tomatoes, I set out to make spicy salsa.
I dared to try the tips of the peppers to settle on which kind of spice I wanted. The serrano and small cayenne were incredibly hot so I didn’t even touch the red habanero. Yellow habaneros have a wonderful flavor with little spice (relatively speaking). I went home with five yellow habaneros, one orange habanero for a spice booster and 6 small heirloom tomatoes. The salsa I concocted from market purchases and the help of the Internet is a tangy habanero tomato salsa great on everything.
-By Jessica Newman
Organic matter, what is it and why is it important? Organic matter may only make up a small percentage of soil, but it is a crucial part of having healthy soils for plants. Organic matter is made up of mostly decomposing plant material. This can come from many sources such as leaves as they fall from the trees or even the grass as you mow your lawn.
What does organic matter do for the soil and what are the effects? Once the various leaves, bits of grass, and other plant parts come in contact with the soil's biology, work begins. The various microbes and animals, such as earthworms, begin to consume the fallen plant matter and slowly turn it into a dark rich material called humus. Humus is the ultimate prize in your soil! One could see it as black gold for your garden, lawn, or pastures. Humus and organic matter performs various roles. It helps to retain soil moisture (those who have any outdoor plants can see the benefit of that in the summer!), helps to keep soil light and aerated, helps to insulate the soil from high and low temperatures, and it provides food for the microbes and earthworms who add nutrients to the soil in the process of breaking down the organic matter.
Left: Buckwheat grown as a summer cover crop not only increases soil health but also attracts pollinators with its flowers and various song birds with the seeds it produces. After allowed to seed out, the buck wheat can be incorporated into the soil to be broken down into soil organic matter Right: Wheat planted in a raised bed or garden in fall can latter be pressed down to create a surface mulch that suppresses weed seed germination and helps to retain soil moisture. In the end the wheat will break down into organic matter
Left: This area once could be compared to a sand box. After a few years of cover cropping one can see the increasing health of the soil from the increase in organic matter and soil coverage. Right: The increased organic matter attracted earthworms by the hundreds! Earthworms help the soil by adding nutrients and increasing aeration.
How can you add organic matter to your soil? It is easier than thou think! For those who garden, planting cover crops or growing a top much is simple and can even be a beautiful addition to the surroundings! There are many plants available to use as a cover crop; depending on the species they can bring additional benefits on top of adding organic matter, such as adding nitrogen to the soil and attract beneficial wildlife. To read more on cover crops you can read about few in our last blog post written by Alexis Long. When adding cover crops there are a few options. One easy way to add organic matter is to add leaves(be sure the leaves haven't been sprayed with herbicide) as they drop in the fall to garden rows where they will hold onto soil moisture. There is the method known as green manure where you can simply chop, drop, and till in the cover crop, thereby incorporating the plant material into the soil where is will be broken down by the microbes and earthworms. Another option is to cover mulch the cover crop on top of the soil. To do this the cover crop is simply pressed down on top of the soil in a sheet. The benefit of doing this is the layer of mulch will help to suppress weed seeds from germinating, shade the soil, and hold on to soil moisture - this method works best if you are going to be planting started transplants rather than seeds. A great way to grow a cover mulch is to plant wheat seed into the garden in fall. It is an easy crop to grow and provides a uniform sheet when flattened. When it is time for summer plants, take the garden tool of your choice and flatten the wheat stalks to the ground where they are all laying the in the same direction. Once flattened, spread the flattened wheat apart to access the soil and plant your plant as you would normally. After the plant is in the soil simply cover the exposed soil with the surrounding stubble. Other fall planting options for this method are oats, barley, and rye.
Organic matter not only benefits the plants by adding nutrients and ground cover but it also helps people time and money by having to water and fertilize less, therefore work less and enjoy more!
It's getting hot outside and you might be wondering what to do with some of your empty garden space during the summer. During the time when we aren't using all of our beds or our field we like to plant cover crops to maintain the quality of our soil. Cover crops play a large role in agriculture by suppressing weeds, building up soil productivity, nitrogen fixation, and controlling plant diseases. Two of the main cover crops that the Howdy Farm is utilizing this summer are cowpeas (black-eyed peas) and buckwheat.
Cowpeas are a drought-tolerant, warm-weather food legume. One of its main benefits is nitrogen fixation for succeeding crops. Nitrogen is a major component in chlorophyll (which is used to convert sunlight energy to produce sugars form water and carbon dioxide) and proteins, and helps plants grow . The atmosphere consists of roughly 80% nitrogen in the form of N2. Unfortunately, plants cannot utilize this form of nitrogen and it has to be converted into another form NH3 (ammonia). The process of atmospheric nitrogen being converted to ammonia is known as nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen fixation occurs when certain types of bacteria form root nodules on the roots of the plant. The bacteria fix the atmospheric nitrogen into a form the plant can use, and in return the bacteria get to feed on some of the sugars found in the plants roots. To gain the full benefit of the nitrogen-fixation, turn under your cover crops back into the soil when they begin to flower. The plants will break down and add organic matter, as well as a slow release of nitrogen for your next crop.
Buckwheat’s main benefit is weed suppression. It has a fibrous root system that establishes quickly giving it the ability to prevent weed growth. Buckwheat is commonly used for ground cover and bringing idle land to production. An added benefit of planting buckwheat is its ability to scavenge for phosphorus and calcium in low-fertility soils, making it accessible for later crops.
As well as being good for soil fertility, cowpeas and buckwheat have several other uses. Cowpeas can be cooked as legumes (black-eyed peas) with high levels of protein, used for stomach and pancreas aliments, and helps control cholesterol levels. Buckwheat is utilized for bird feed, improving vision, lowering the risk of diabetes, and gluten free baking.
Try growing some cover crops in your garden this summer to help you build amazing soils for the fall!
Sprouted Buckwheat Waffles (Courtesy of the Worktop)
Story by Alexis Long
The Howdy Farm is home to many varieties of plants. Many of these plants are not recognizable to many individuals because they are not grown in modern large-scale agriculture. Before the Agricultural Revolution, a wider variety of plants were used for human consumption. In today’s agriculture, most crops are grown in large monocultures. These modern crops are used in little variety in order to maintain consistency, produce high yields, withstand transportation, and drought. Gardening that utilizes heirloom plants is the reaction to this “trend”. An heirloom plant is defined many ways but is commonly known as a plant that is open-pollinated and grown in a previous era. The advantages of growing these heirlooms are that they have a wider variety, they may have better flavor, and they encompass a larger genetic diversity.
The heirlooms that we purchase here on the farm are bought from Baker Creek Seeds which can be found online at rareseeds.com. The company was founded in 1998 by Jere Gettle. This family owned company carries one the largest collections of seeds from the 19th century, and with 1900 varieties from 75 countries you will certainly find something fun to grow from their catalog. All the seeds used by Baker Creek Seeds are non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated, and non-patented. Some of the heirlooms that we purchase thru Baker Creek include the Chinese green noodle bean, giant red re-selection celery, and Red Rubin basil.
The Chinese green noodle bean is an import from China and gets up to 20” in length. It is a smooth, straight, bright green bean that does well in stir-fry.
Giant red re-selection celery is of the European red-stalk celery variety. It has a richer flavor than other green celery and was selected for its disease resistance.
Red Rubin is a fragrant basil which is best known for its spice and overwhelming aroma.
We recommend you try some heirlooms in your gardens at home - the results will be both attractive and delicious. You'll have some great conversation starters in your garden as well!
HEIRLOOM TOMATO BLT RECIPE (Courtesy of Whole Foods http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/heirloom-tomato-blts)
Lay bread out on a work surface. Combine mayonnaise and pesto; spread evenly over one side of each bread slice. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and layer onto half the bread slices. Top tomatoes with bacon and lettuce, and cover with remaining bread slices. Cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal and pile onto a platter.
Howdy Farm Summer Intern
Next, add the brown and white sugar and beat with a fork until the texture is not so grainy. Add your almond milk and flax seeds and beat some more - a classic vegan egg substitute.
Marrying rosemary and chocolate is a spectacular mix. I especially love the combination in Isa Chandra Moskowitz' vegan cookies. I started preparing this recipe for guests when I saw Isa's post on her vegan blog Post Punk Kitchen. When I learned she also authored a cookbook Isa Does It I ordered that thing on Amazon right away! The Rosemary Chocolate chip cookie recipe is found in the book, too.
Howdy Farm has some potent rosemary, as any good rosemary should be. I harvested some twigs off of our many bushes around the farm and got baking! Chandra's complete recipe is listed at the bottom of this post.
Mix the rosemary and coconut oil. You'll start to smell all of the herb oils being released!
There's nothing scary about making vegan cookies. It's as easy as any chocolate chip cookie recipe but without the egg and dairy milk! Instead, coconut oil gives these cookies a great texture and hint of flavor.
Poor on some vanilla. Add baking soda, salt, and half of the flour. Stir well. Then add the remaining flour and keep mixing until the dough looks like good 'ole cookie dough.
These cookies won't expand as much as traditional cookies, so make them just short of the size you're aiming for. Bake on 350F for 10-12 minutes and let cool. Voila!
Isa Chandra Moskowitz' Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies [Vegan]
Now, add your chocolate chips! I've used regular sized chips in the past but this time I opted for Ghirardelli mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Recipe is from Isa Chandra's cookbook Isa Does It and her vegan blog The Post Punk Kitchen.
Photos and blog post are by Jessica Newman.
Spring time is all about flowers - and not just on ornamental plants. It's the time of the year that vegetables, too, go to flower if left to their natural cycles. At the farm, we have left a variety of plant families go to flower: Allium, Brassica, Lamiaceae,
Apiaceae and so on.
When we stop harvesting greens, they continue to grow and produce flowers. If you desire to still eat the produce, you can prevent the plant from flowering by clipping the flowers. However, in our extreme heat, plants have a natural tendency this time of year to flower in order to spread their seed. When we let plants flower - besides creating a unique opportunity for people to see what produce looks like in this stage and enjoy the beauty of a variety of flowers - they produce their own seed to reproduce for the next season.
Many high end restaurants use these flowers to garnish plates because they come from edible plants and may garner the original taste. For example, cilantro flowers look like babies breath and are beautiful (and edible) on any dish. Chive flowers have an intense purple color and a sweet, onion flavor enjoyable for aesthetics and taste.
As a note, when edible plants go to flower the commonly eaten part usually, not always, no longer tastes so great since the plant is using all of its energy to shoot up flowers instead of produce tasty leaves. For example, basil flowers are gorgeous but the basil leaves on a flowering plant will become tart.
In addition to flowering, the Brassica family of plants - including cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and more - bolt. Bolting is a smiliar idea to flowering but instead of producing flowers, the plant "bolts" upward and produces seed. When lettuce is ready for harvest it produces a nice "head." When left to bolt, the lettuce can shoot up a few feet. At the very top, you can see the lettuce seeds.
Bolting and flowering are mechanisms of nature to re-seed and re-produce themselves without the help of humans. If you have a garden, let some of your produce flower or bolt to witness a unique stage of the plant. Test out eating the flowering parts!
See what's springing at the Howdy Farm...
By Jessica Newman
The Howdy Farm is proud to be hosting what we are calling “Sustainable Saturday at the farm”, which will take place on Saturday, April 25th from noon to 5pm. We are hosting this event as part of Earth Week and will open our farm for anyone and everyone to come take a tour, ask us questions, and find out how we are contributing to sustainable agriculture right here on the campus of Texas A&M. The Howdy Farm would not be where it is today without the help and support of our partners in sustainability, so we would like to take a minute to provide some background information about how we practice sustainability, while also thanking those who have helped us achieve these goals.
First and foremost we would like to thank the Department of Horticultural Sciences for supporting our vision and providing us with the land to fulfill our mission. As many of you know we were forced to relocate the farm when the construction of the new West Campus housing project began, but the department was gracious in letting us use the garden area and empty field behind the building. We have expanded our farm into the empty field, which in-time will mean we can provide even more fresh vegetables to our wonderful customers!
One of our newest additions to the farm, as you have seen if you have been to the farm since last August, is our sustainability building. This building is made from reclaimed and recycled materials including barn wood that is over 100 years old! It is equipped with solar panels, which provide us with electricity for lights, fans, and outlets for charging phones, laptops, and batteries for our power tools. We were able to purchase this building from a company called Reclaimed Space through the support of the Aggie Green Fund and the Office of Sustainability. The Office of Sustainability has been an integral part of our success and we can’t thank them enough for all they have provided us. Here are some pictures of the building, and the solar system that allows us to remain off-the-grid:
The landscape in front of our building was also paid for by the Aggie Green Fund/Office of Sustainability and was designed by Agrilife Extension program specialist, Tim Hartmann. Tim’s focus area is Earth-Kind landscaping, which is a sustainable approach to landscaping through proper plant selection, proper soil preparation, and water conservation. The landscape that Tim designed utilizes plants that are native to Texas, can tolerate drought conditions once established, and attract many beneficial pollinators like bees and monarch butterflies. The landscape is a beautiful addition to our farm and we would like to thank Tim for his time and efforts. Here is a picture of part of the landscape in full bloom:
Attached to our sustainability building is a rainwater harvesting system that was installed by an intern at the Howdy Farm, Chris Paulson. Chris is a huge advocate of maximizing efficiency and conserving natural resources, such as water. Chris also installed a 2nd rainwater tank to our tool shed, giving us the capacity to reserve 2,000 gallons of stored rainwater to be used at a later date when the temperatures begin to rise. One of the rainwater tanks was purchased through the Aggie Green Fund and the Office of Sustainability, giving us another reason to thank them immensely. Here are some pictures of our rainwater systems:
Finally, we have installed a large composting area on the farm to eliminate farm waste by turning it into compost rather than throwing it away. We have reduced the amount of compost we have to purchase by adding this large compost area to the farm, and we want to thank the Northgate Juice Joint on University for providing us with juicing pulp to help facilitate this process. We have built a great relationship with the Juice Joint and it is a great representation of community working together in mutual support. We sell a lot of our greens to them, they juice the greens, and we pick up the pulp to put into our compost pile. It’s a cycle that promotes local business, as well as waste reduction. If you haven’t been to the Northgate Juice Joint yet, we highly recommend that you go check them out. My personal favorite is the Coffee Cashew drink, which contains: cashew milk, espresso, cocoa nibs, and bananas. The drink isn’t overly sweetened, which makes it a healthy alternative to other coffee drinks that contain loads of sugar. Here is a picture of our compost pile:
These are just a few examples of how we at the Howdy Farm contribute to sustainability and the community. You can learn more about these aspects of the farm, as well as many others, by coming out for our “Sustainable Saturday at the Farm” event. We will be happy to show you around the farm and provide you with the educational tools so you can include some of these techniques in your garden at home. We will have fresh produce available for purchase, and we will provide a free bundle of herbs to all of our customers. That’s our way of saying thanks to you, our loyal customers, because without your support we wouldn’t be able to operate. All of the money we make from our produce sales goes right back into the farm so we can continue with our mission. We hope to see you at the farm!
*We obviously can’t thank each and every individual who has helped contribute to our success. The success of the Howdy Farm comes from many individuals and local businesses, and we appreciate each and every one of you.*
The Howdy Farm
Story written by the farm manager: Corey Wahl
Story inspired by the wonderful community of Bryan/College Station
Everyone should get with chives. Chives are perennials, which means they last many growing seasons. The first year, Howdy Farm harvested fresh chives for farmers markets. Now, during the second growing year, the farm is reaping the benefits of chive flowers. Chives are in the Allium family, which includes other bulbs like onions and garlics. Like all other Alliums, the flowers are perfectly edible. In fact, Allium bulbs are very drought tolerant and the flowers of these commonly eaten bulbs make great ornaments for a landscape.
Chive flowerings starting to bud. Photo by Erik King.
Chives in full bloom
Chives all over the farm began to flower in the spring and we have no intention of stopping are chives from spreading. The flower is made up of tiny individual flowers. These flowers are edible while they are in the soft, purple stage. Then, the flowers start to harden, turn slightly pink, and dry out when they begin to produce seeds. You don't want to harvest the edible flowers when they produce seed so that nature can take its course and the chives can keep planting themselves all over the garden.
Chive bouquet at the Howdy Farm with an orange Pot Marigold and edible Chamomille flowers. Bellisimo!
Look closely at bees playing their pollination game.
Howdy Farm Chive Flower Vinaigrette Salad
Chives in Howdy Farm's raised bed gardens.
By Jessica Newman
Every semester Howdy Farmers are happy to be back at the farm and look forward to what each new season brings. 2015 is going to be a great year for Howdy Farm as we implement new projects, plant a variety of heirloom vegetables and less heard of edible plants, and expand our student organization’s membership to include more creative, passionate, hardworking students propelled to better the farm.
The Howdy farmers walked the farm together and went over visions, dreams and projects to expand and revamp the farm. Some are ideas and some are definite plans in the works! Below are the details of what Howdy Farmers hope to begin this semester.
Raised beds in the Heritage Garden will soon be planted with perennials while vegetable production moves to our new field.
Our two-dozen or so raised beds in the heritage garden will become full of perennials, meaning plants that live for many years rather than annuals or biennials that have a shorter life span. We would like to do perennials because the raised beds are designed and set-up to be planted with a more permanent design. This will reduce the constant foot traffic and soil disturbance caused by growing annual vegetables in the beds.
Creeping thyme surrounding our keyhole garden.
This land will be used to grow a fruit tree garden.
An area of land around our chalkboard message board will be a walk-able fruit tree garden. Pathways can be lined in herbs so with each step, the smell are released. For example, creeping thyme makes a beautiful green carpet and smells wonderful! We will build up our soil so the fruit trees sit above ground level for excellent drainage. Maybe we’ll plant every fruit that starts with P for a P Tree garden: pomegranate, peach, pear, plum, persimmon, etc.
Example of a Zen garden or Japanese rock garden, photo courtesy of Live Outside Blog
Nearby are two existing trees. We’ve wanted to incorporate a Zen garden using lush greenery and various textures of rock and sand. A Zen garden incorporates a rake used to rake the sand into beautiful designs as a therapeutic exercise.
Howdy Farmers recently transplanted greens to a section of our field.
In the field, we are still building up the soil with cover crops. The cover crops we are using right now include hairy vetch, crimson clover, dwarf essex rape (that’s what it’s called!), oats and a combination of all four. The whole field should be in production by April. For now, we will plant a small section of the field to start producing vegetables! The reason we will plant vegetables in the field rather than the raised beds from now on is because the field is better suited for growing veggies. It is easier to work with the tractor, it lends itself better to cover crops and crop rotation, and it provides more space for larger vegetables like winter squash, melons, pumpkins, etc.
Black Triefel Tomatoes, photo courtesy of Seed Savers. Copia tomatoes, photo courtesy of Tomato Growers.
Next to the field is a plot of land we will use to grow tomatoes and peppers in a hoop house. We will be planting many more unique varieties of tomatoes including: Black Triefel, Copia, Sioux, Super Sioux, Super Sweet 100’s, Sunburst, and more! We will have a wide variety of cherry, grape, plum, slicing, and beefsteak types. Most of them are heirlooms, but not all of them.
Howdy Farm will trellis plants up the wooden structures and plant vegetables alongside the curb where the grass is.
In the existing wooden raised beds by our gazebo, we want to incorporate new edible plants and interesting designs. Up the patio structure we can trellis plants to form an edible wall. We also can use the extra grass alongside the road for more raised beds because in every plot of bare land we see room to grow more food!
Wicking bed design, photo courtesy of Gardening Australia
An existing wood-lined bed will be made into a wicking bed, inspired by Food is Free Project in Austin. A wicking bed lines the floor of a boxed bed structure with a pond liner to create an aquifer. The pond liner is place at the bottom to prevent water loss. Then, the bottom of the bed is lined with gravel and covered with landscape fabric. On top, the bed will be full of soil and plants will be seeded as usual. A pipe is inserted to reach down into the aquifer and protrude from the soil to be used as a filling chamber. The water fills the bottom of the bed where the gravel is and then wicks upward into the bottom layers of the soil forcing the plants to send roots down to access it. Wicking beds grow strong roots!
Greens nursed in our greenhouse and ready to be transplanted into the field.
In the greenhouse, we will prep seedlings. Like a nursery, students can go to the greenhouse, grab transplants, and plant them on the farm. Our greenhouse space currently houses many greens, which we can harvest young to sell as micro greens. We also have two fruit trees stored in there!
This year, we have bought many new seeds and heirloom varieties. We will plant dwarf bok choy only 2 to 3 inches tall. We’ll experiment with edible weeds like clover, sorrel, and purslane. Interns will plant more tea herb varieties for dehydrating and making herbal drinks. The farm will use amaranth, which provides a beautiful maroon and purple color, and is completely edible. A sister of cilantro, papalo will make an appearance on our farm and markets! This is just a glimpse of the unique plants we have to offer. Wait until you taste these surprising vegetables!
By Jessica Newman and Corey Wahl
Better Parking, Better Timing, Better be there starting October 21
Howdy Farm wishes to address two major issues with farmers markets in the BCS area: 1) where on earth to park and 2) why are farmers markets so early in the morning. We are in a college town after all and as students, we see the need for a market that is held at a convenient time for non-morning people and students in classes as well as provides enough space so that parking is not an obstacle.
The new Northgate Farmers Market will have its grand opening this Tuesday, October 21. The market will continually be held on Tuesday evenings from 4 pm until 7 pm at the A&M United Methodist Church parking lot. The lot is on the corner of Church Avenue and College Main behind Northgate. The market will occur on a weekly basis for now. We will take a short break over the Christmas holidays, and will therefor not hold a market on the 23rd and 30th of December. We hope to continue the market throughout the school year and even into summer if it does well.
This market will be different from the Blackwater Draw Northgate Market held last Spring 2014. We have addressed complaints about parking and now have a lot more space to work with. The market will be more easily accessible to customers as they can park directly in the A&M United Methodist Church lot where vendors will also be located. We also have room to expand in the future thanks to the large lot. With the space, vendors can be more spread out and customers will have more room to move freely from booth to booth, which will make their market experience more enjoyable.
With the new market opening, Howdy Farm will continue to hold Shop Hours (Howdy Farm’s on campus market) on Thursdays only, 1 to 5 pm. Tuesdays will be dedicated to the Northgate Farmers Market 4 to 7 pm featuring Howdy Farm and a wealth of other vendors to provide more variety to our customers. This will also address parking issues at the farm during shop hours due to the hassle of parking on campus.
We do not currently have a list of vendors to release. However, produce and goods available to customers may include organically grown veggies, eggs, jams and jellies, pickles, assorted ceramics, goat’s milk soaps, candles and more. Everything sold will be local, home grown and Texas-made.
While addressing parking issues and the inconvenience of an early morning market, Howdy Farm hopes to see an increase in the younger generation of customers. We want to get the youth of BCS more involved in local agriculture. The market’s goal is to reach a younger crowd and make it easier for students to eat healthy. Students often find eating fresh is difficult and expensive. At the market, we provide local, organic produce at a reasonable price.
The market goes until evening to allow our working customers and families to join the fun, too. Families can easily park and bring kids to the market. Working individuals can drive over after a hard day’s work and refresh with fresh goods. We want to keep our customer base while expanding to get more students involved in the local movement.
We would love to host entertainment at the market. If you or someone you know is interested in singing, strumming, drumming, or whatever else, send an inquiry to our Farm Manager to see how we can work together. If you are a local grower or craftsman interested in being a vendor, please reach out. For any entertainment or vendor inquiries, please contact the farmers’ market manager on the contact page. For any press inquiries, please contact the public relations officer listed on the contact page.
For updated information on the market, visit and like the Northgate Farmers Market Facebook event page (NGFarmersMarket) and stay tuned with the Howdy Farm Facebook page (TAMUHowdyFarm).
It’s going to be a great semester at the Howdy Farm! We have a new Farmhouse made completely out of reclaimed materials and run on solar power and a new Rainwater Collection Tank.
Some exciting things will be happening this semester! Some of the interns projects include rainwater conservation, food dehydrating, tea making, and several local markets. We are currently planting cool season plants and getting ready for fall.
Come out to the Howdy Farm and volunteer Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1-5 p.m. The Market is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-5 p.m. Join the Howdy Farm student organization for our monthly meetings as well!
By Christina Kocurek
Howdy! Farm Shop Hours Grand Opening
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
1-5 PM at the Howdy! Farm
Come help us welcome in the new season at our official opening of the Sustainability Building!
Our building will host:
Straight from the farm to you.
Also available – Howdy Farm Merchandise!!!
Free tours, herbs, and refreshments on grand opening day!