News and blog

Current happenings on and around the farm!
Posted 1/11/2013 3:13pm by Jenna Untiedt.

Happy 2013! One may think that because there is snow on the ground, there may be less to do on the farm, but that is not the case. Everyone at the farm had a few weeks off for the Holidays, but we are all back to work now, and busy with a list of never ending tasks to prepare for the upcoming season.


Plans for the 2013 growing season are well under way. Flower orders have been placed, seed and plant orders are well on their way to being completed, and greenhouses will soon be prepared so planting can begin! February will be here before we know it and planting season will be in full swing in the greenhouses. Crews are out trimming trees and putting up fences to help with deer issues that we experience each year. Our CSA program for the year is up and running, and the girls are busy getting the word out! Have you signed up yet?


This mild weather we have had is making us think that spring will arrive early like last year, but we will wait to see what Mother Nature has in store for us. We are in definite need of moisture, so we truly wouldn’t be too disappointed with a little more snow this season to help prepare the soils for planting this spring!


All of us here at the farm hope this update finds you well! Again, Happy New Year and we look forward to growing for you this upcoming season!

Posted 8/23/2012 10:13am by Jenna Untiedt.

When one thinks apples, a Minnesotan does not think of August. This season has brought about many unexpected surprises. They have resulted in an early harvest of almost every crop in Minnesota, yet for the apples, it has also caused a damaging blow to supply.

It is true, we are currently harvesting our SweeTango variety with the Zestars already being sold out.  But due to the unseasonably warm spring, and hard frost, much of the early apple blossoms died off thus resulting in a limited crop.

The king blossom, the one that produces the bigger fruit, was the one that froze off during last April’s sudden drop in overnight temperatures. This frost took about 70 percent of the crop potential. The secondary blossoms were able to be pollinated, but during a summer hail storm, over half of the remaining fruit clusters were damaged.

This season, we will be able to pick only about 10 percent of what the orchard is capable of producing.

Put aside this despairing news, we are excited to be able to bring you Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Sweet 16s, and Haralsons in the coming weeks

You can see in the photos above that we have planted many Honeycrisp trees that are very short in height. Some farmers are experimenting with these shorter trees, because the apples can all be harvested without the use of a ladder. They are commonly called pedestrian orchards.

We’ve only planted a few rows of these B9 rooted Honeycrisp grafted trees. The next rows over, we’ve planted SweeTango’s grafted with M26 root structures. They’ve been supported with a taller metal pole. Comparatively the B9 root structure is known to be cold hardy as it comes from Russian growing climates. The B9 will yield fruit earlier than the M26 rooted trees, yet requires this permanent eight foot stake to support the tree.

Every spring we prune the trees, meaning we decide which branches should be cut off to encourage new growth and proper tree formation. Remember that fruit doesn’t grow as easily from old wood. New wood encourages new growth. 

It also is imperative to position the branches so they grow horizontally, thus we built a trellis structure to support this endeavor. The horizontal branches allow the apples to plump up to a decent eating size and decrease the vigor of the tree thus producing more fruit and less vegetative growth.  

We’ve also placed crab apple trees throughout the orchard, as seen in a few of the photos. These are not edible, but the bees sure love them and they are great pollinators for our apple trees.

Our early apples, Zestars, are known for a thin flesh and soft texture. These have already been harvested (well ahead of schedule), and are known to be Minnesota’s first taste of autumn. Our SweeTango tastes like pure apple juice as you bite in, and can be purchased at our Farmer’s Market locations now. The next to come in two weeks will be Honeycrisp and Sweet 16s. These are known for their crunchy texture – a true Minnesota favorite!

Please let us know if you have any apple questions on our Facebook page. We will be sure to get back to you.




Tags: Apples
Posted 8/15/2012 1:33pm by Jenna Untiedt.

Farming is all about weighing risk and minimizing it. There is absolutely no way to be a farmer and not feel the effects of nature. There are so many variables working every second that contribute to the success or failure of our crops.

Over the last 40 years we’ve researched what works within our growing climate, high tunnel operation and our specific soil type. We’ve come to learn about many natural soil amendments, and ways to make the most of the excess our farm produces by starting our compost program so many years ago.

I truly believe each season that we are better educated and more aware of what is possible. We document every lesson learned. So when it’s time to buy seeds, the discussion can be had “what’s new and exciting,” but we can also know that the venture crop variety could possibly work at our farm because of our seasonal records, and growing methods.

The sweet Italian pepper we tried to grow this year, is a perfect example. This seed is very expensive to buy, and is considered “risky”. Many people will not devote much land to the crop since it is expensive to grow with low return compared to others. But we want to offer our customers variety, and the best small fruits and vegetables available in Minnesota.

You can see from the photo album below this experience has turned out some beautiful peppers, but there has been much at risk as well.

The peppers in the photo gallery have been grown in our high tunnels. We have another portion growing out in the field, but we’ve combated many issues with that plot.

First, it is very difficult to shade these plants in the open field. There are cloths one can buy, but with wind and stormy conditions they don’t hold up for too long. As a result, many of the plants experienced sun scald on their fruits.

Second was that many of the plants experienced blossom end rot on their first sets of fruit, which is a sign of calcium deficiency.

We feed our plants the nutrients they need through drip tape irrigation. One of those nutrients is calcium. Well, similar to how your shower head or kitchen faucet clogs due to calcium build up, our drip tape can experience this as well, and did in this field.

Once we realized the drip tape was no longer irrigating the field properly, we had two options. Weigh the risk of sending a vinegar solution through the lines to unclog them, which could result in a lower pH level in the soil, potentially harming the plant. Or, leave it as is, and hope the rain will be sufficient.

After weighing the pros and cons, we’ve left the drip tape alone, and pulled off the first fruit sets to allow the plant to focus on its next cluster. We have learned a lot from this experimental variety, and are excited to bring you the sweet Italian peppers harvested from our high tunnels. Look for them at the Farmers’ Market soon.

Let us know if you have any questions on our Facebook Page.

Until next time,



Posted 8/8/2012 1:45pm by Jenna Untiedt.

Our Minnesota grown black diamond seedless watermelon will be at our roadside stands soon. This variety of melon took a heavy blow down south due to the extreme weather this season. The heat killed off many fields in Georgia, Indiana, and Arkansas, and supply was hard to come by. Luckily, we are ready to harvest!


On the Farm this last week the question was raised – Why is there a small green one next to the black diamond? Well, seedless watermelons cannot self pollinate. So, you need to plant a variety next to it that will act as a pollinator. These small green ones are not really edible, but have a dramatically different rind color – essential when harvesting to tell the two apart. Planted near to each other, they complete the combination needed to produce the sweet seedless Black Diamond you all have grown to love.

Fall Raspberries are now being harvested. You can see in the photo gallery below that the canes have grown so high, they’re pushing their way through the high tunnel plastic, which is nearly 15 feet into the air.




We are also harvesting strawberries, but many plants are producing smaller then normal berries because of the heat.

In the photos you can see the difference between the one year old plants and two year old plants. The two year old ones have straw on top of them. Their berries are smaller because it has been too hot, and they will fill out once it cools down a bit. The one-year-old plants did not have enough nutrients stored in their crown before the fruit started to be able to feed the cluster. And since their root structure was immature, it was not established enough to absorb the nutrients we are attempting to feed these plants through their drip tape. Can you only imagine filling up a box with berries this small? Remember though, the sweetness is still fantastic, large and small, with the smaller berries sometimes exceeding the sweetness of the larger.

Most of our onions have been pulled and are drying in the tunnels. And our field of Italian sweet peppers is looking great!

Despite popular belief there is basically no difference between cantaloupe and muskmelon. Most people identify muskmelon as having ribbed rinds, and having a softer flesh. The name muskmelon was taken from the word mush because of their soft, mushy texture. Personally I just want to eat something that is sweet, and not dried out or woody. These field grown cantaloupe are just as sweet as the ones we grew in the high tunnels, and will be coming to market soon.

We are also very excited to be offering squash in August. We will be publishing a guide on summertime squash grilling, and what the differences are in each variety.

Squash types, which will be available soon are listed below, as well as what one should look for to know when the squash is ripe:

Acorn – Dry and very hard stem with bright orange blaze where the fruit made contact with the ground

Buttercup - Bright orange blaze on the bottom

Butternut – Should be free of green lines, dry stem, and wonderful light golden color

Spaghetti – Deep yellow rind and dead hard stem

Let us know on Facebook if you have any questions about the vegetables we grow. We love educating people on the healthy benefits and differences in crop production.

Until next time,



Posted 7/31/2012 1:47pm by Jenna Untiedt.

 We are excited to say the early planting of our squash crop is about ready to be harvested – in August! These varieties will consist of Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup and Spaghetti. We started this plot ahead of schedule, while weighing the risk of frost, we went for it. The plants were only slightly protected in this open field, but thanks to a mild winter transition into spring these plants were off to the start they needed. Now you can expect to find Minnesota grown squash varieties at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, and roadside stands within the next few weeks.


Where will this early harvest lead us? We aren’t quite sure. We know that bees have a hard time pollinating new fruit sets on these plants when it is hot, because a bee’s body is similar to a aircraft. When the air is really hot it is less dense, than when it is cool, so just like the jet, it is harder to gain lift. Therefore the bumblebees stay lower to the ground, and may not quite make it into as many flowers (or deep enough to reach the pollen) as if it were a tad cooler air.

The other challenge of these squash varieties is that they’ve been bred to maintain a denser canopy. Maybe your grandparents grew squash plants, or you can remember the plants sprawling across the entire garden and up the fence. Well, they don’t quite do that anymore. Instead, their leaves shoot straight up and in a central area. What this means is that the bees also can have trouble penetrating this canopy to pollinate the plants when it is hot.

We hope to hold onto this cool down a little longer than the weatherman predicts.


Another area of excitement is the special sweet pepper varieties from Italy are doing quite well. We tried the red, orange, and yellow conical pepper called Belcanto, Oranos, and Xanthi. This trio is said to be superior in flavor compared to bell peppers of the same colors. So look for these at the stands along with a few recipe cards inspiring some great meal ideas. Let us know what you think of them!

Below is a photo gallery of these above products and our heirloom collection. Have you read our Untiedt’s Heirloom variety guide yet? We have it posted on our website. Click here to view the PDF.



We are busy harvesting away! Days go long, and sleep is coveted, but we are very pleased with the outcome of this season so far. Hopefully CSA shareholders, you are also enjoying the crops we’ve delivered. Let us know on our Facebook Page. We love hearing from you.



Posted 7/24/2012 2:06pm by Jenna Untiedt.

Check out the photos below from this past Friday of the tomato vines and raspberry canes. Both plants have grown to reach the top of the plastic high tunnel covers at a record time of year.

A few weeks back we explained how we pruned our tomato plants to prompt the leader stem to grow vertically. Well, once that plant reaches the top string we must cut off the meristeam on that leader so the plant knows to stop growing foliage, and to start sending its energy to the fruit clusters. If we happen to miss a few plants you can see that the plant will start to crowd around its neighbor, or the trellis posts for support. This could be detrimental as the fruit clusters grow. Since the branch does not have adequate support, it could snap due to the fruit’s weight. When considering what loss could be experienced, pruning becomes a very high priority, but very labor intensive.

Over in our raspberry high tunnel rows, the floricane (June bearing) variety is done producing fruit, but our primocane (ever-bearing) variety is growing quite rapidly. There are many ripe raspberries on the plant, but we cannot harvest all of them due to the cane overgrowth we’ve experience. In the photos below, Craig shows us how the team had to weave the canes underneath the trellis’ main support wires. Then they had to add a new metal wire to intersect with each of the main ones to pull the two main wires running parallel to one another, closer together to gain access to the row.

Colleen is shown in a part of the tunnel that has not been worked, versus what the row looks like after the team has trellised the canes.

The other big news on the farm is that our mums have been planted! A few weeks later than normal (due to not enough hours in the day), but growing quite well. They’ve just reached about 4 inches in height. To produce the high quality, bushy mum we are known for, this week we had to prune these plants down to about 2 inches. Completed by hand, this initial prune is called “pinching the buds,” and encourages bushiness and a later bloom, so you’ll enjoy your mum’s color later into the season. If we did not do this, than the mum would grow quite tall, and thin, plus bloom in August. We want the flower color to just be coming in as it awaits its purchase come late September.

We hope everyone enjoyed a few cantaloupes this weekend. We are quite excited with their sweet flavor. Some of you may have noticed our black diamond watermelons at market. This variety of melon experienced quite a detrimental blow in supply due to the South being so incredibly hot this past June, but we are happy to say the irrigation in our fields ensured a healthy plant, and sweet fruit.

Please let us know on our Facebook page what your favorite item is. We love hearing from you!

Until next time,



Posted 7/17/2012 2:09pm by Jenna Untiedt.

We consider it a success! Not only for the early corn harvest (we harvested corn out of the high tunnels on June 20, 2012 – three weeks earlier than normal), but we feel the high tunnel corn worked because we’ve found a way to work copious amounts of organic matter back into our high tunnel soils.

When farming, one typically wants to rotate a broad leaf crop with a grass every year. Since most of the crops we grow are broad leaf, it is imperative we find a way to cycle through. Now we could also use rye or wheat, but corn plants add a significant amount of biomass when considering tonnage. Think of the plant. The stalk, ears, leaves, tassels – every part can be chopped and worked back in.

The photos below show Craig chopping the high tunnel corn so that we add this plow down material back in to the soil to provide for a healthy plant rotation. We expect to be rotating corn through various tunnels in the next seasons.


Great news this week! We’ve started our cantaloupe production, and these fruit are exceptionally sweet!! Expect to find these in your CSA box or at our roadside stands in the coming week. View the photo gallery below for a full photographic recap of the plant stages on the farm:


Posted 7/14/2012 2:18pm by Jenna Untiedt.

Our sweet corn harvest continues! But due to the very heavy rains earlier this spring, and the very hot weather - our ear size is quite variable. But don’t let a small ear or an oversized one fool you! Customers (and we agree) have been saying the flavor seem to be sweeter than ever.  I will be enjoying some of these ears with a side of a BLT sandwich tonight, so ask me at Market this weekend how sweet these ears really are!

The underground irrigation pipe that exploded last week due to high use and too much pressure, has been repaired. The photos below show how big the area was which was effected. We also ran a new line to water some areas of our fields more efficiently. But, another one of our major irrigation motors went down again this week; this time due to a mouse shorting out the 100 horsepower engine.

View the photos below for the shots related to the flower blossoms on our pepper plants being aborted due to the extreme heat wave we’ve experienced. As a defense mechanism, when the plant needs to save resources, the plant will send its energy to protect the fruit it is currently growing instead of starting new fruit.

We don’t know the full extent of damage this heat has done, but we do know each one of those fallen blossoms is a fruit we will not be harvesting. But these are the trials a farmer faces, and we bare the burden to bring you the best produce possible. 

Take special note of the last of the photos are of the asparagus that we’ve let go to its fern stage. It is important to allow your asparagus plants to build up the carbohydrate level in its root structure so the plant remains strong enough to make it through a Minnesota winter. This also allows for the plant to produce a large crop next spring. You can see in the photos how the rows look when we let the asparagus shoots turn into ferns instead of cutting them.

Posted 7/3/2012 2:20pm by Jenna Untiedt.

While the lack of rain this last week is great for those in the northern part of the state, where heavy rains caused flooding in lakes like Big Sandy;  this drought means those areas will have a chance to dry out, and watch the nearby Mississippi River take on some of the unwanted water.

Out on the farm, we've been busy just trying to keep the plants hydrated. Our irrigation system has been pumping out water nonstop, and unfortunately, has had enough. Last Saturday, one of our pumps gave out and sent a connecting rod through the side of the engine block. Then a six-inch, underground pipe broke creating the need for us to take part in a massive excavation in attempts to restore water flow to these fields.

On the other end of our farming operation, our 13 tower, above ground irrigation system got itself stuck in the mud. It's one thing when one of our trucks get stuck, try to image dislodging the piece of equipment you see below. 


Isn't it fun to be a farmer?

Another disadvantage of this heat wave it that our tomato and pepper plants lose their flowers when their growing environment reaches 85 degrees and above. These flowers are what attracts bees to pollinate the plants to make fruit. No flower, no fruit.

Yes, in time new flowers will form, but only once it reaches cooler temperatures, and who knows how long that will take. And the other part is, that once these flowers are lost the next round will be less in numbers, meaning less of a harvest for all.

Moments like this make us realize just how fragile our environment really is.

Rain and heat. Both critical to growth, but when out of balance will completely destroy what it has worked to create for so many months.

Meteorologist Paul Douglas pointed to some very educational sources in his recent weather roundup segment in the Star Tribune titled “On Weather”published on June 21.

When considering if climate change was connected to the extreme weather patterns we've been experiencing, one source ( stated this, “He pointed to global studies projecting more extreme precipitation and floods as a result of climate change, which is a product of increased emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is emitted by natural and human sources, notably the burning of fossil fuels. 'A threshold may already have been crossed, so that major floods in the Midwest perhaps now should no longer be considered purely natural disasters but instead mixed natural/unnatural disasters,' Saunders said. 'And if emissions keep going up, the forecast is for more extreme storms in the region.'”

A direct quote from Douglas himself says this, “No, you can't prove that any one storm or extreme event was triggered by climate change, but the question is somewhat academic. You may not like it, but the atmosphere floating overhead is warmer than it was 40 years ago. We can debate how much is a "natural cycle" vs. how much is the result of greenhouse gases, but there's no denying that it's getting warmer out there. Basic physics: a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor. Our new reality: a warmer, wetter atmosphere is flavoring all weather now, a faint hum of atmospheric-muzak that makes droughts longer, heat waves more intense, and rainfall more extreme than it was for your parents and grandparents. Alarmist? We'll see. Just connecting the dots. 3"+ downpours have doubled since 1961 over the Upper Midwest.”

Reading the article brings me back to the realization that we are so fragile. Untiedt's Vegetable Farm understands our responsibility to feed as many people as possible, yet also can see that the weather patterns are changing – potentially by the actions of the same people we're growing the food for. As a collective whole, we need to consider the results of our actions - although effects may come long after.

We believe in sustainable farming to ensure our land continues to produce long after I'm gone. In hopes that others will follow suit. We can feel the weather patterns fluctuate each season, but continue to bare its burden to bring you the high quality small fruits and vegetables you've come to enjoy.

On the flip side, learning what exactly a crop needs, and being able to control its environment to product optimal results, is the reason our CSA shares started to see Minnesota Grown sweet corn four weeks earlier than normal.

We just have to want to live in harmony with the natural occurrences of the world, and note that when extreme storms hit, we pay attention to how easily everything we've built can be washed away.

Until next time,


Tags: Weather
Posted 6/27/2012 2:22pm by Jenna Untiedt.

The Epicurean Delight is the product of many years of trial and experimentation. These years of constant improvements has now yielded a very superior onion in both size and quality. Certainly not a long term storage onion due to its high water contents, which is what makes the onion so sweet, but instead just the right onion for summer grilling. Use as a topping to your favorite hamburger, stir fry, next to zucchini or just alone on the grill with a little olive oil to create the perfect caramelized Epicurean Delight.

These onions are not meant to be stored. Consume these fast. Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm will only harvest these for about the next 4-6 weeks, so get these while they last.

This is Minnesota’s sweetest onion because, besides its high water content, it is grown on rich alluvial soil. The soil is not hard, compact clay, but more of a sandy loam which is an easily worked, warm soil.

Untiedt’s enriches the soil with organic amendments, such as composted manures, straw and leaves. And it is apparent in the sweetness. These onions can truly be eaten like an apple!


Tags: Onions