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


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Busy Bees in the Garden

We have lots of busy bees in the garden these days (and we don’t just mean our daughters)!  We really mean the bees – our honeybees.  Without them, we wouldn’t have much of a harvest.  You could call them our garden superheroes, born with the power of pollination! 

Almost any plant where the fruit or the seeds are eaten (instead of the leaves or the root) relies on pollination to get the food production ball rolling.  Some vegetables, like tomatoes, beans and peas self-pollinate with a minimum of outside intervention.  They have male and female parts inside the same flower, so the pollen gets where it needs to go within a single bloom.  Corn is pollinated by the wind carrying pollen from the tassels on top down to the silk on an ear of corn.  

Zucchini Blossoms
But vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini and other squash can’t pollinate without insects, often bees.  These vines have separate male and female flowers on each plant, and rely on insects to transfer the pollen from the male flowers to the female ones.  Without ample bees or other insects to do this important job, it’s up to the gardener to hand-pollinate the plants, using a cotton swab to transfer the pollen between blooms.  Frankly, we can think of a lot of things we’d rather be doing than gender-typing blossoms and Q-tipping pollen.  Weeding, getting eaten alive by deer flies, root canal…   

Nationwide, there’s an emerging pollination crisis because the honeybee population has been declining.  Some enterprising folks have built good businesses trucking hives of bees from one commercial crop producer to another through the growing season.  The bees pollinate a few fields before packing up and heading off to the next stop, like a honeybee midway carnival.  Maybe that’s what we’ll do when we retire.  If you see an RV pulling a trailer full of beehives in a few years, give a wave – it could be the Kopp’s Crops Honeybee Carnival Caravan!   

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mid-Season Maintenance

We’re smack in the middle of the garden season now!  We’ve gotten past the “salad days” when we eat salad just about every day because lettuce, spinach and radishes are the only harvestable vegetables.  Now we have enough variety that we can eat out of the garden every night for supper, without having the same vegetable two days in a row.  But we haven’t yet started the canning and freezing frenzy that occurs when the garden is at is fullest production.  ‘Tis the season of mid-season maintenance.  There’s the weeding, of course.  And more weeding.  And whining about weeding.  But wait, there’s more!

Cocooning The Cauliflower:  As soon as a head of cauliflower starts to form (about 1-2” in diameter), we gather the outer leaves and tie them together above the head, creating a little cauliflower cocoon.  We do this because when the sun hits the developing cauliflower, it starts turning purple or green or some other color we don’t care to see on our cauliflower.  Using the leaves to shade the delicate florets keeps them nice and pasty white, like Michelle’s legs in March.

Thinning the Beets:  Beets are grown from compound seeds, which means that those Grape-Nuts-cereal-looking seeds that we plant are actually a conglomeration of up to 6 individual beet seeds.  If all those mini-seeds actually germinate, the baby beets are duking it out for room to grow.  We end up having to sacrifice a certain percentage of the plants, plucking them from the row to make sure the remaining ones have ample space.  Then throughout the summer, we strategically pick beets from thicker clumps first, to keep thinning the rows as the beets get bigger and need more room to spread out.  We thin carrots and onions this way, too – we intentionally plant them thickly because as we pick and eat young tender onions & carrots, it naturally allows nearby plants to spread out and reach their “full potential.” 

Staking and Suckering The Tomatoes:  We staked the tomatoes a while ago, using baling twine to tie them to metal stakes so they grow tall & straight and the sun can get to all the tomatoes.  Now we periodically “sucker” them.  Suckers are tiny branches that start growing in the crotch of two larger branches of the tomato plant.  If we let the suckers continue to develop, they take valuable tomato-growing energy away from the rest of the plant.  So we say, “I’m gonna get you, Sucka!” and pinch them off.  We saw our first red tomato today, so it must be working!