Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Who Cooks for You?

In many parts of the world, family units have one person whose full-time job is to prepare food for the family. This person rises early in the morning to make breakfast. After cleaning up, they head to the market to purchase food ingredients for the rest of the day's meals. It's not always a woman who does this work. We knew an exchange student from China who revealed that her retired grandfather did all the kitchen work.

By stark contrast, Americans have made an entire industry out of convenience foods. We've also seen an abrupt increase in obesity, diabetes, cancer, autism, allergies and more. Coincidence?

America's dependence on convenience food goes way beyond an occasional visit to a fast food restaurant. Food celebrities have published dozens of 30-minute meal cookbooks and they all include canned, packaged and pre-cooked items. How many of us make our own stock or boil our own legumes?  How easy is it to make salad dressing or popcorn? Yet even a 30-minute homemade meal is better than a frozen box of chicken pot pie or a can of soup.

So who cooks for you? Kraft? Pillsbury? Annie's Organics? And why does America no longer value the home cook?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Have you noticed that winters are warmer now than when we were kids? Does it concern you that we dump more salt on the winter roads in spite of warmer temperatures? Do you worry about chemical run-off in our local lakes? 

Do you worry that the Arctic ice caps are melting at an alarming rate? Do you think about polar bears with reducing habitat? Do you marvel at the increasing wildfires? Do you slather your skin with sunscreen in July because the ozone no longer protects you from the sun? 

Do you realize the banana you ate yesterday was shipped thousands of miles for your convenience? Do you consider the global effects of the third cup of coffee you drank this morning? Or the kiwi from New Zealand that is now routinely available and affordable? 

Do you stand in shocked awe when your neighbors heat their homes so warmly that they can wear summer clothes in January? Do you worry that the latest electronic devices are sucking energy? Are you stunned by the folks who routinely commute dozens of miles each day and justify it in their minds by driving a high mileage vehicle? Do you wonder how desert regions feel entitled to grassy green golf courses and the water pipelines to support them? 

Do you worry that our high consumer society is wearing blinders to the environmental damage we are causing? Do you worry that most people have decided they can't make a difference?  

Do you ever consider the poor souls that will walk this planet after we're gone?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Harvest Totals

I haven't posted about our successful harvests because I was afraid it would sound like bragging---and Heaven knows that bragging is one of the seven deadly sins. Nevertheless, I want to tell you about it as inspiration for your own gardens. Remember that Red Bucket Farm is just my backyard in an average 1970s neighborhood with less than a quarter acre property including the house. You can do this, too.

Harvesting began in June with a lovely supply of currants and strawberries. I made the currants into jam and sauce. Some of the strawberries became jam and others were frozen. In July we harvested cherries from three cherry trees. We made a few pies and have several bags of cherries in the freezer.

The summer raspberries produced nicely, too, some of which became jam, some frozen, and plenty of them enjoyed fresh. The blueberry bushes are coming along, and we were able to freeze a few for winter use. Our peach tree did very well---90 pounds of peaches! My freezer and canning shelves are full---jam, peach rum sauce, spiced honey peaches, peaches in light honey syrup, and plain frozen peach slices (for pie later on).

In July we harvested honey from our one surviving hive. We made mead and strawberry melomel (a fruity mead variation). Honey is shelf stable and will last the winter.

Vegetables in raised beds have also done well. I harvested 50 pounds of potatoes and 50 pounds of onions in early August, and immediately replanted those beds with spinach, arugula, Swiss chard and beets. We'll hoop those beds to stretch the growing season through November. The butternut squash have exceeded 60 pounds, and there are still more growing on the vines.

This year the tomatoes have outdone themselves. I grow only six Amish paste tomato plants and I have enough tomato products to keep us until next year----plain tomato sauce, pizza sauce, tomato paste, and two kinds of salsa. I'm not kidding---only six tomato plants and they're still producing. Green beans continue to produce into the fall. We have dilled beans and frozen beans to last the winter.

What have I forgotten? Lots of basil/pesto, herbs, carrots, beets, scallions, and garlic. Fall bearing raspberries are awesome!

You can do it, too. If there is a secret to successful gardening, it's not a very well-kept secret: sunshine and compost. Start planning for next year's garden!