This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!

My family and I are gardening this year, our first garden since 2006. We are beyond excited to be doing it again. But we wouldn’t be doing it at all if not for our friends Kerry and Beth Olson.

The Olsons run a local pastured poultry farm (B & K Natural Farm) and they always put in a big garden. They asked us if we would work for food. 😉 This will help them keep up with it all and together we’ll grow enough produce for both our families plus the Farmer’s Market. Of course we said yes!

The arrangement is loose so far — but I am determined that we’ll pull our weight! At this point, we’ve been making weekly trips out to spend more than a half day doing whatever needs to be done. In the last three weeks, we’ve:

  • raked in compost
  • planted seeds, seedlings, and young plants
  • weeded
  • watered
  • harvested lettuce and chard
  • thinned seedlings
  • and more!

Because they run a pastured poultry operation, certain chicken parts are in abundance — which means compost is in abundance, too. This soil is rich, I’m telling you. Kerry said that over the last year, they composted parts from 1000 chickens! It feels great knowing they will be returned to the soil to enrich our food.

The Olsons have a large deer-proof outside garden area plus full-size cold frames. They call them cold frames instead of greenhouses because there is no heating or cooling. After watching River Cottage episodes, the kids and I call them polytunnels. Anyway, these polytunnels are allowing us to plant well before the last frost, and we’ll be able to grow food almost all year round. Last year, Beth shared tomatoes with us in October and she harvested the last of them around Thanksgiving!

Over the last three weeks, we’ve filled two (of the eventual three) polytunnels with lettuces, spinach, beets, carrots, radishes, peas, beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, onions, and probably more things that I can’t remember! As soon as the last frost date passes, we’ll plant outside, too.

But even with the cold frames, the heat-loving tomatoes will still need extra insulation for awhile. A., B. and C. spent hours filling up the water tubes of the wall o’ waters to keep the tomatoes warm during the cold spring nights. Back breaking work for sure — but the tomatoes are doing well so it is worth it.

I’m so eager to harvest the spring veggies for making some recipes from Nourishing Days‘ new and lovely Simple Food {for spring} cookbook. I’ve already tested Shannon’s pickled radishes, and I can safely say they are C.’s new favorite food.

The next class at GNOWFGLINS eCourse will be closely tied to the seasonal harvests of this garden, too — be sure to watch for that!

The highlight of each day at the Olson’s farm is being able to eat our packed lunch by the creek. Thank you, Lord, for giving us this opportunity to grow GNOWFGLINS — God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season!

Are you growing GNOWFGLINS? What are your gardening plans this year? Please share!

I’m sharing this with Simple Lives Thursday.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    You know I loved this! Our boys love those radishes too. I can’t wait to hear about how much you’re growing. Will you be sharing yields?

    • says

      Shannon — Thanks! I’d like to share all along how it is going, yields included — so far as we keep track. 😉 Do you keep records of yields? How do you track it?

  2. says

    I am slowly getting my little garden put in. Last year it was big enough to grow a years worth of salsa and pesto plus some zucchini and sunflowers. This year I want to do the same but with more focus on basil and zucchini. Also, my teens and I work a few hours each week at a local urban csa farm in exchange for a share. It is great.

  3. Deanna Tharpe via Facebook says

    We started our 1st mini garden this year…a couple of tomato plants, peppers, squash, asparagus, garlic and several herbs. Hopefully next year we’ll expand. Making tomato basil soup today with fresh basil I picked at 5:00am to get in the crockpot before work. Keeping my fingers crossed it tastes good lol.

  4. says

    Gardening is one of my favourite topics. :) Your days are very full. It’s a wonder you have time to blog. 😉
    My garden should be going in, in about a week and a half. God willing and weather cooperating.

    • says

      Marg — I’m happy your garden might be going in soon! I am trying to make time for blogging but my days are fuller than they’ve ever been currently. I am managing to post a few times a week right now and that’s pretty good considering all that’s going on for us! 😉

  5. says

    I just subscribed to a “real CSA” this season, and I can hardly wait to receive my first bounty of veggies! Someday, I hope to grow my own veggies in the backyard…gotta’ convert the husband. :)

  6. says

    I just got in from two hours of planting a bunch of brassica family, but still have so much more work to do! Made an executive decision not to rototill this year, and instead am just working each row as I go, pulling up the crabgrass and whatnot. Good times. :)

  7. says

    What fabulous on the job learning! We’ve co-opped some landscape/garden projects with friends of ours. Nothing quite like this, but enjoyable just the same.

    Question: You mention composting chicken parts. This is something that goes against *everything I’ve ever been told about composting (no meat, no meat, no meat!). That’s not to say it’s wrong (I’ve been told LOTS of things that I don’t buy) but I’m very, very curious to know how they’re doing this without attracting critters and without a stink. Another blog post, maybe??

    • says

      Kris — I asked Kerry when we were there yesterday. This is what he does. He puts down about 6 inches of chips. Then all the chicken parts (offal, feet, heads, etc. — what people don’t want to buy). Then a layer of chicken manure. The manure provides the nitrogen and the chips provide the oxygen. The oxygen cuts down on the smell. Ideally, he’d cover the piles, but he can’t always do this. Also, ideally he’d turn the piles over periodically to incorporate more oxygen.

      By the time we turned the chicken compost into the garden, there was very little smell and even the bones were mostly all broken down.

  8. says

    I have many plants waiting to be planted. I have been working really hard trying to get my garden ready in time. Oh and by the way, I am offering a give-away this week on my blog. Enter for a chance to win the Mittleider Gardening Course book. I have this book and it’s great. The reason it’s taking me so long to get my garden ready is because I am implementing some of the Mittleider methods. Anyway, I am really excited about my garden this year.

  9. says

    what a blessing to be outdoors tending a garden with your good friends! can’t wait to read your posts as the garden begins to growing and produce for you. also can’t wait to see all the amazing recipes you come up with. will definitely be following your page for updates! <3

  10. says

    I love this post! I love community! This is a great thing to encourage people to do! Thanks for sharing! I lived in Creswell Oregon and all I got were GREEN tomatoes (no cold frame), I hope yours do well with the cold frame!

  11. says

    I’m interested in learning more about those polytubes. We’re at 900′ elevation and are struggling this year to get much started. Praying for sun and warmer nights! Lunch by a creek on a sunny day sounds serene.

  12. Lilylu says

    The orchard has grown larger this year. We’ve added 3 sweet cherries, 3 plums and 2 apricots. The apple trees that we planted over 10 years ago are blooming and we’re expecting a good crop of apples to eat fresh, freeze and make apple butter and sauce. The vegetable garden is coming along with the radishes, lettuce, spinach, leeks, onions, shallots, potatoes and swiss chard all up and looking great. For the potatoes I’m trying the no dig method this year by layering straw on the potato plants as they grow. If anyone has tried this let me know how it turned out for you. I’ve been to the greenhouses and purchased tomato and pepper plants but have to wait until it gets warmer. I’d love to try the global buckets with the tomatoes this year and have everything ready to experiment with it. We’ll see how that goes! :) The chickens are clucking happily and we’re eating wonderful eggs and getting free fertilizer for next years garden. Life is good!

  13. says

    That sounds like a great arrangement!

    We are on a steep learning curve, having put in our very first food garden this year. We’re using “square foot gardening”, since we have very limited space and very limited sun.

    We’re hoping to learn enough in the year or two we’re in this rental to hit the ground running when we move up to the family land…

  14. says

    We’ve been so blessed to be able to garden in my neighbor’s deer fenced garden that he is not using. My mom and I garden along with my kids. We have been there three years now and each year our garden gets bigger. My goal is to eventually produce pretty much all that we need for the year. We definitely made major progress this last year. The one thing I miss the most about not having our own deer fenced area (which we need as we can have as many as 10 deer through our place in a night) is having berry bushes. I finally got so desperate that I worked up an area in our dog kennel and just put in some raspberry bushes.

  15. Sue Rine says

    Re animal body parts. We farm and ‘where there’s livestock there’s dead stock’ so now and then we have dead sheep, chickens or even cattle to deal with. We also have our own meat animals killed on the farm so there are the guts to deal with…sorry not a very pleasant topic!! Any way, most farmers have a pit which they dump there dead into but I just thought that was such a waste so I lay the body on the ground in a convenient place around the garden somewhere and cover it with sawdust, woodshavings, dead leaves, grassclippings or whatever convenient vegetable matter is to hand. I then add some compost and worms and cover the whole lot with a cheap plastic tarpaulin. It’s a bit whiffy for a few days but quickly settles down and after some months to a year, voila, wonderful rich plant food. The fat only goes slowly and the bones are left behind but they can be burnt for calcium for the garden or buried for slow release in an asparagus bed.
    While we’re on less than pleasant topics, another thing I do with smallish quantities of guts is put them in the hen run where they get fly blown. I turn them with a rake each day and the hens just think it’s a lolly scramble!! However, this really does stink so only suitable for rural hen runs well away from the house!!

  16. says

    What a great opportunity for and your family to able to do this together with The Olsons. We just planted our edible container garden in our balcony as we do every year and is really an exciting time of the year.

    Have lost of fun!


  17. Kacee says

    Polytunnels (the large-ish, unheated “greenhouse”), in the agriculture community (esp. in my state) tare called high tunnels. I did my college internship at the PSU high tunnel research facility. Here’s a link to the Center for Plasticulture Research polytunnels and their info about high tunnels.
    Looks like their site is going under some renovation. Tunnels are great season extenders and a way to cut down on diseases. I know many market gardeners who plant all their tomatoes in tunnels. It gets their tomatoes to market before their competition and when we had the outbreak of early blight a few years ago their crop wasn’t affected since the were watered by drip irrigation and didn’t get rained on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.