1602 285th Ave. NE
Isanti, MN 55040

Phone: 763-444-8206



Guy's Potatoes Extraordinaire

Long term readers know that every year I put a 'Guy's Recipe' for the holidays on the blog.  I've convinced myself that everyone remembers and is anxiously waiting for this year's taste treat.


Guys--this is one of the easiest yet--lots of credit and little work, especially if you have your spouse pick up the ingredients.  BUT, unlike the earlier recipes that dealt with breakfast or game-time snacks, this one goes mainline and takes center stage on the dinner table.  So…expect some pushback from the spouse when you say "move over--I'm doing some cooking."


And now for the advanced planning part:  Set out a 30oz bag of shredded frozen potatoes to thaw for several hours or overnight before proceeding.


 The next day dump them into a tub, throw in a can each of good old cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup (don’t add any water), also dump in a couple of cups of sour cream and most of a 16oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese.


You could also sprinkle in some white pepper and powered garlic and onion, but be brave and use some real onions--I'm partial to scallions--plus some red or green pepper for appearance sake (remember the mantra of the TV cooking shows: 'presentation is everything'. 


If you're courageous (that means more than brave) fry some bacon  and break it up into small pieces or get out some of that venison sausage that’s been in the freezer since last year.  Toss whichever into the heap.


Mix everything into a big glob and dump into a lubed baking dish.  Flatten it out and then sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese.  It's ok to ice it until ready to bake or stroke up the fire to about 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Let the top get bubbly and cheese start to brown (remember: presentation).


Serve to the sound of accolades.  Dig in!


Also scroll down the blog posts to try out some my previous 'Guy's Recipes'.

2013  Guy's Caramel Corn Recipe

2012  Guy's Chips Supreme Recipe

2011  Guy's Baked French Toast

2010  Guy's Bread Pudding

2009  Guy's Baked Apples


Buckthorn Is Easy To Find In November

Now is the time to be checking for buckthorn in any brushy or woody areas you might have.  Note in the first photo how it stands out like a sore thumb this time of year.  It will hold its green leaves until around Thanksgiving.  Cut it out (good) or grub it out (better).  Either way be prepared to treat the popups next spring with Roundup.  At the farm we like to wait until we get a nice fresh leaf set so we have plenty of surface area to spray.Buckthorn Plant


Also shown is a close-up of the leaves--note they are mostly oval with a ragged edge and deep veins.  Ever wonder why you don’t see any thorns growing along the sides of the stem like most thorny plants?  That's because buckthorn has a single thorn at the very tip of each branch.  You normally don't
notice it but it's there and its sharp!.  See third photo.

Buckthorn LeavesBuckTHORN


Tree Planting Technique

This is a four year old Fraser Fir transplant in it's new home for the next 10 years or so.  Note the 'belt and suspenders' approach we use when planting--first, we lay down drip tape for irrigation, second, we mulch around the base.  Every tree we plant gets this treatment; anything less is a death sentence when July and August turn hot and dry.  So far, other then test for leaks, we haven't had to do any watering yet this year..


Winter Burn in Conifers

Over the Arbor Day weekend several people who stopped by to pick up a free potted transplant commented on the amount of winter burn on the trees this year.  So I decided it would make a good blog topic.  Let's address three questions:

What causes it?

What can I do about it (now)?

How can I prevent it (next time)?


What to do?  Nothing!  Absolutely nothing--until early June.  You need to know if it is just the needles that are dead or if the buds are also dead.  If it is just the needles, the tree or plant will be ok, maybe look a little sparse for a year, but will grow out of it.  If you trim the dead off now you may be also trimming off live buds.  If by early June the buds have not started to grow you know you have a dead branch to prune off,  or, in extreme cases, a dead tree.


Winter BurnThis photo shows some of the winter burn in the Colorado Blue Spruce.  I'm guessing 90% or more of these trees will come out of it, that is, the buds are still alive.  However, they may need a couple of years to fill in sufficiently to make a Christmas tree.


What causes winter burn?  A combination of prolonged cold, persistently strong winds, lots of snow cover, and clear sunny, but cold, days.  Sound like our past winter?  These factors dry out the needles, causing them to discolor.  Some, if only slightly discolored,  may survive and green up again, but most have died.  If you see winter burn on the north side of the plant you know that the wind was the major culprit; more often the most severe damage is on the south side and the sun was the major culprit.  When combined with the heavy snow cover we had this year, the sun, reflecting off the snow, can slightly warm the needles, which of course freeze again at night.  This sequence, repeated many times over the winter season, eventually damages the needles. 


It's rather common to see on a single plant:  needles that are slightly discolored and will green back up, needles that are totally brown and most likely dead but the buds are fine and will soon cover up the loss, and some buds that also died and the branch or part of the branch will have to be cut out.  Loosing the entire bush or tree is the exception, however, if you have lost an entire side you may wind up replacing it anyway.  The tree on the left will fully reccover, the one on the right may not make it.

Winter Burn Winter Kill

What can you do to prevent winter burn?  The easiest thing to do is continue to water your evergreens up until the ground freezes.  This may not prevent winter burn but at least it gives the plant more of a fighting chance to avoid it.  However, the only way to totally prevent winter burn is to wrap the entire plant loosely with burlap.  Burlap is generally superior to almost anything else, although old light-weight blankets also work.  The important thing is to use something that is porous,  the needles breathe even in  winter and  tarps or plastic  (or wrapping that is too tight) inhibits the breathing.


Winter BurnSome people who had planted our Arbor Day transplants over the last couple of years commented on the fact that the part above the snow line appears to be dead, but the part below the snow line is green and healthy. 

Again, wait until you are absolutely certain the top is dead.  Then if it is, cut the dead side branches out, leaving the stem.  Take one of the live branches and pull it up and tie it to the stem.  This will give you a new leader.  The tree already has an established root system, so it's better to work with it than pull it and start over again.  You may have to retighten the tie to the stem every  few days to help pull the new leader in close.