Kopp's Crops is a family-run business specializing in maple syrup, honey and fresh vegetables. We are located 45 miles north of Minneapolis in Bradford Township on our 65 acre farm.

*Now Selling at the Cambridge-Isanti Farmers Market!*

Local Orders: For pickup in Isanti, Cambridge, Brooklyn Park or Arden Hills, please email koppscrops@gmail.com or call 763-772-7057 to place your order and arrange payment & pickup. Available products are listed in the shopping cart below.

Outside the Twin Cities: Please use the online shopping cart below. USPS shipping charges will be calculated at checkout.

For questions, please email us at koppscrops@gmail.com


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fowl Play

With the maple syrup and the bees and the big honkin’ garden, you’d think we have enough agricultural pursuits to keep us busy.  But then we thought, how about some animals?  Other than the sneaky squirrels that have been stealing all the birdseed from the bird feeders, that is.  We kind of think of chickens as “beginner livestock” – a nice way to ease into raising animals.  Several families we know raise chickens for eggs, but we don’t make a lot of omelets in our house.  However, we do eat a fair amount of chicken, so we thought it would be fun to raise some fryers (aka “meat birds”) to fill the freezer for winter. 
But our growing to-do list has been vastly outstripping our available hours lately, and we finally had to admit that we weren’t going to get a chicken coop built in time to buy and raise chicks this season.  We’d need to find business partner.  Thus was born our chicken joint venture with L&L Poultry Producers – our friends Lou & Larissa.  They’ve been raising layers for a couple of years now, and have all the infrastructure in place.  They even have a coop on wheels that they can move around the yard to give the chickens a little change of scenery (and keep from killing the grass)!  So they’ve agreed to raise our chicks for us until we’re ready to go out on our own.
Our baby chicks were born a week ago Friday, arrived at the airport on Saturday, and we got to visit them on Sunday.   Two-day-old chicks are just as cute and fuzzy as kids’ picture books would lead you to believe!  Twenty six fuzzy little puffballs were happily hanging out in their new home, called a breeder.  They’ll stay in the breeder for the first few weeks, munching on specially-formulated “starter feed,” with a heat lamp to keep them toasty warm, like Mama Hen would.  Which ironically, is quite similar the heat lamp at your friendly neighborhood fried chicken joint.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wining and Dining the Garden

When one of us cooks dinner and the other one says “this tastes like poo,” that’s a bad thing.  Especially for the one of us that dared to pass judgment on the other’s meal, but that’s an issue for another day.  When we’re feeding the garden, hearing our plants say “this tastes like poo” would mean that we’re giving them the best possible nutrition.  Chicken poo, to be exact.  Composted chicken manure has nearly the perfect ratio of nitrogen, potassium, & phosphorus, the three macronutrients you need for optimal plant growth.  However, the manure needs to be spread on the garden several weeks before we’re ready to plant, so that some of the nitrogen can escape into the air and keep the garden from being to “hot.”  Thankfully that means the spreading happens when it’s still too cold to hang out outside, saving us from the overwhelming and oh-so-delightful aroma of decaying chicken poo.

So with the food taken care of, it was time to move on to the drink.  Our soil is really sandy, so when we used to turn the hose on the plants for a little hydration, we’d splash sand all up on the plants.  Which is fine, if you want to sand down your teeth a little with every salad you eat.  Not only that, but pathogens in the splashed-up soil can cause plant disease (hence the loss of our late tomato crop last year, when a wind storm blew down half our tomato plants!)  So last year, we started running drip tape through our rows of plants instead.  Drip tape is essentially a flattened hose with tiny holes every 10 inches to slowly release water.  The low pressure and low profile keeps the water close to the roots so it doesn’t splash up on the plant, and less is lost to evaporation.  Each row of drip tape is attached to the main hose with a valve that allows us to turn the water on for just the rows that need it.  We’re conserving water all over the place…only watering the rows we need, watering right at the root, and saving gallon upon gallon of water that we used to use to rinse the sand off our spinach.  Much to the chagrin of our lonely, salad spinner, alone with her memories of spinach salads past.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting In the Zone

After we know how much of what vegetable we want to plant, it’s time to decide on varieties.  Our main considerations are the colder weather & shorter growing season we have here.  In order to help farmers and gardeners plant the right varieties for their climates, the USDA publishes a Plant Hardiness Zone map that identifies 11 separate zones, based on their average annual minimum temperature.  Here in Minnesota, we live in Zone 3, which is the coldest in the contiguous 48 states (shocking, we know!).  Zones 1 & 2 are in Canada, which basically means they can grow popsicles and ice cubes.  And maybe radishes.  Seed catalogs and packages will usually list which zones each variety is suited for, and the number of days to maturity.
What we want to know is, who names these varieties?  This year we’re planting Georgia Jet sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes and Oregon Giant snow peas, which (ironically) grow well in Minnesota.  Snow Crown cauliflower, Early Frosty peas and Northern Lights swiss chard (with its bright pink & yellow stems) make a little more sense up here.  Hopefully, we’ll have a nice long season of Bloomsdale Long-Standing spinach, and nice straight rows of Arrow peas.  We’ll be watching our Packman broccoli to make sure it doesn’t turn yellow and eat up a dotted line of radishes to protect itself from ghosts.  The Celebrity tomatoes might or might not draw paparazzi to our front door.  And do you suppose we’re allowed to eat the Homemade Pickles cucumbers raw, or would we get cited for “Failure to Pickle”? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We've Got You Covered!

In an attempt to expand our growing season here in the northern tundra, we’re experimenting with row covers to protect a couple of our earliest crops.  You can buy row cover kits online, but that’s just not the Kopp’s Crops way.  Why buy a kit, when Jason can build them from scratch? J The first step was cutting a spool of nine-gauge fencing wire into half circles to form the frames of the row covers.  Then we lined up the metal arches over the plants and pushed them into the ground approximately two feet apart.  At this point, Michelle developed an inexplicable desire to bust out the croquet mallet and see if she could clear every arch with a single shot (umm… doubtful!).  Finally, we rolled out a long strip of floating row cover material over the frames, and used a continuous line of dirt to secure the edges and keep it from blowing away.  And to keep out any small critters who may find themselves unable to resist their cravings for tender young plants.
At this point, our croquet wicket field has morphed into a couple of long skinny igloos.  Which is somewhat apropos, since the row covers should theoretically protect plants to temperatures 4-5 degrees below freezing.  So on Friday, we planted broccoli & Brussels sprouts plants under the row covers, and on Sunday night Mother Nature obligingly sent us a hard freeze to test our new temperature-taming technology.  Our unprotected spinach was on life support after the overnight frost exposure, but the plants inside the row covers all survived!  And as the weather (hopefully!) continues to get warmer, the row covers will also create a microclimate that will accelerate growth and protect our baby plants from insects and pests… and the occasional curious toddler.   

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Annual Garden Plan

We’ve started planting the first few seeds in the garden, but that’s just the latest step in the plant planning process.  First came The Annual Garden Plan.  Which is a little like an annual plan for a business:  a ton of analysis goes into it, the various parties second-guess each other and negotiate compromises, the final decision mostly comes down to gut instinct, and oh, yeah…the plan changes 15 times between the “final plan” and the ultimate execution. 
This is our 3rd year of gardening here at the Kopp’s Crops homestead, so at least we have some past data to pull from.  We start by estimating how much of each vegetable we’ll want to eat fresh, which ones taste okay canned (we have lots of room for home canned goods), and how much room we have the freezer for the frozen ones.  After that, the thought process tends to go a little like this:  So, what did we run out of first last year?  Frozen peas.  So we definitely need more peas this year.  But just the shelled kind – the sugar snaps didn’t freeze too well; too mushy.  We only need enough of those for our fresh-eating needs.  What about beets?  We’ve got several jars left from last year, so we might be able to cut back a row or so.  Okra?  Believe it or not, it grows this far north.  But we didn’t try so much as one bite of okra from last year’s garden, so there’s no need to repeat that little experiment.  And finally:  the little bit of corn we were able to freeze last year was so super-sweet and tender – let’s plant a lot.  But this time can we try to find a variety that’s designed to be raccoon-proof?