News and blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 10/11/2018 9:49am by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!  Welcome October!
I know you aren't supposed to pick favorites but I can't help it.  October is my favorite month.  I'm just like my Poppa Johnny Ferguson -- it was his too.  That's what happens to us Fergusons on our birthday month -- we extend the celebration out for a good 30 days!  Let's call it the Birthday Interval (which is a phrase that one of my dear Albuquerque friends used).

Here's Cheryl's grandfather, Poppa Johnny, in the mid-1960's.  He is celebrating his 140th birthday in Heaven!

But it's not just about birthdays.  There's something about October that is special:  it's crisp and colorful.  The light shifts and humidity drops.  Ah, October!

But Augtober is a different story.  I just learned this word yesterday but it's apt.  It's hot and sticky and the colors just aren't there yet.  But I can't complain too much or too loudly.  We've got tomatoes, squash and beans in the fields nearing harvest so we need some nice warm temps.  And Maine has gotten frost. Aargh!

Strawberry Fields...Forever?
This week was filled with lots of driving with trailers.  On Monday, we headed over to Banner Greenhouses in Nebo to pick up our strawberry plants. 

Sourcing organic strawberries is always an adventure and this year is no exception.  We ordered our plants back in August (a bit late) -- we were getting 3000 plugs in trays.  This would enable us to expand our production so that more of you could get our yummy strawberries next Spring.  Unfortunately we got a call last week telling us that we would not be able to get plug trays but instead they had baskets that we could break apart for planting....  okay. Knowing the additional time and labor this would take, we reduced our order size.  We would need 480 baskets. Okay...

We rented the largest U-Haul cargo trailer we could get and set off for the 2 hour trip to Nebo.  Ray had rigged up some ropes so that we could hang baskets in addition to putting them on the floor so we could get as many as possible.  When the packing was done, we had a grand total of … 150 baskets.  A bit shy of our needs.  The manager offered to use some spare space on their delivery truck on Tuesday to get us some more.

By the time we got back to the farm Monday night, a couple of the rows of baskets had collapsed (the rivet popped on one of the tie-offs!), so some of the plants were a little extra squished.  We pulled out our headlamps, unloaded the trailer and placed them on the floor in the Mama Meow hoophouse.

After the Banner delivery driver left Tuesday, we had Mama Meow pretty loaded with baskets on the floor and hanging on the purlins.  But unfortunately we only have a total of 290 baskets -- instead of the 460 we needed.   And we still have to figure out a method to separate the plants and actually plant it -- the roots will not be nicely contained like a plug would be.  LOTS of extra work.

So prepare yourselves... we are likely to have far fewer berries come next April than we had this year.  And they will have come with an exceptionally challenging beginning (and Lord only knows what the winter and early spring will bring weather-wise!)  We were musing about charging by the berry -- say $1?!  Such are the realities of farming.

Monarch Update
After last week's article on the Monarchs munching on our carrots and dill, we got a very sweet note from Pat, a friend of one of our subscribers.  She kindly pointed out that we had misidentified our lepidoptera.  She wrote, "I was happy to read that you are letting the caterpillars eat some of your plants! Just wanted to point out, however, that the caterpillars on your carrot and dill are not Monarchs but are Black Swallowtail caterpillars. Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed (Asclepias). Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat the family of plants which include dill, carrot, fennel, bronze fennel, parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace. Black Swallowtails overwinter as chrysalises in their local habitat by hanging on stems somewhere, so you have them somewhere on your farm (and unfortunately probably get rid of them if you clear out dead plants, etc.)  I’ve included pictures below for comparison of the 2 different butterflies and caterpillars.  Thanks for feeding the caterpillars!"  Thank you, Pat for educating us!  We really appreciate it!  

The images below are those of the Monarch caterpillar and butterfly (top row) and Black Swallowtail (bottom row).

Last Call!  Garlic Workshop on October 14
Just a couple of slots remain for our Growing Great Garlic at Home workshop.  It's on Sunday, October 14 from 2-5 here at the farm. The class fee is $35 and includes a 1/2 pound bag of seed garlic. To register, use our online form.

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update
We are at an in-between time with our crops -- but still lots of goodness!  Peppers of all sizes are coming in by the bucket-full.  
Picnic/Lunchbox Peppers -- perfect size for snacking or for packing in your lunchbox! Sweet Red Peppers including the Italian Roaster Marconi, Pimento, Lipstick, Red Bell and MORE!  Shishito Peppers -- great on the grill, seared in a skillet or cooked up Tempura-style.  Trick or Treat Peppers -- the sweet, not hot Habanero-type.

We'll have the last of our Muscadine and Scuppernong Grapes along with the last of the Bintje Potatoes and boxes of tasty Creamers.  We are also starting to run low on garlic -- so you had better hurry!  We'll have at least 5 varieties of Bulb Garlic along with Garlic Sampler Bags and Garlic Granules. Rounding out the table will be Daikon Radishes, Pea Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Parsley, Okra and maybe some tomatoes.  ALL of our produce is Certified Organic and we grow everything we sell!

If you'd like us to save something for you, please send us an email by 10 p.m. tonight and it will be ready for pick-up tomorrow.

 

That's all we've got this week.

With all of the craziness and turmoil in the world right now, let's celebrate National Do Something Nice Day   -- deal?

Until next week,
Cheryl & Ray

Posted 9/30/2018 12:20pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!  Happy Fall Ya'll!
The foggy mornings and intense spider activity are conspiring to advance the calendar to Halloween -- or at least it seems.  The front of the farmhouse looks like a stage set for some mighty spooky stuff!

 

This week was a continuation of clearing downed trees and branches from the storm -- feels really good to get them up and out of the way (safer too!)  But we've had a slightly different week because Ray's sister, Linda, was in for a brief visit.  Lots of laughter, talking and we even went to see a movie!  But of course, we put her to work...

Got some planting done -- escarole and frisse have taken over where the beets were.  Have to keep those beds flipping!

And a new crop of cucumbers is planted in the greenhouse.  Fingers crossed that these don't succumb to disease.

 

Have you seen the Monarchs?
We are seeing lots of Monarch Butterflies swirling around the farm recently.  Now is the time for the annual migration from Canada to Mexico and the Triad is on that migration path.  There was a great story on WFDD this week about how a couple of area researchers are helping track the migration and more precisely count the numbers of these endangered butterflies.  It's really cool how this technology is being employed!

What has been really interesting to us here at the farm is the number of Monarch caterpillars that we are finding -- don't recall ever seeing so many.  They are all over the carrot foliage and dill -- I counted as many as 10 on a single plant.  The caterpillars have pretty much eaten all of the carrot tops but that's okay if it gives them what they need to turn into beautiful butterflies!

Don't Snooze and Lose!  Garlic Workshop on October 14

We still have a few slots left for our Growing Great Garlic at Home workshop.  But hurry -- the workshop is limited to just 15 people.  It will be held here at the farm on Sunday, October 14 from 2-5 -- right in time for planting. The class fee is $35 and includes a 1/2 pound bag of seed garlic. To register, use our online form.

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update
Many of our market offerings are moving from Summer to Fall -- just like the seasons!  This week we'll have bunches of our crisp and delicious Daikon Radishes.

Don't forget the Picnic/Lunchbox Peppers -- perfect size for snacking or for packing in your lunchbox!  Almost seedless and VERY delicious. We'll have sweet red peppers including the Italian Roaster Marconi, Pimento, Lipstick, Red Bell and MORE!  And if you are looking for the perfect appetizer, try Shishito Peppers -- great on the grill, seared in a skillet or cooked up Tempura-style.  Yum!

Many of you got your first taste of sweet, juicy Scuppernongs and Muscadines last week.  We've got more this week!  Come grab a pint of this quintessential Southern treat. 

We'll also have Bintje Potatoes, Russets and boxes of tasty Creamers -- try roasting them on the grill.  We are starting to run low on garlic -- so you had better hurry!  We'll have at least 5 varieties of Bulb Garlic along with Garlic Sampler Bags and Garlic Granules. Rounding out the table will be Pea Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Parsley, Okra and maybe some tomatoes.  ALL of our produce is Certified Organic and we grow everything we sell!

If you'd like us to save something for you, please send us an email by 10 p.m. tonight and it will be ready for pick-up tomorrow.

That's all the news from the farm this week.

Lots of things happening over the weekend in the Triad:  Hops and Shops on Saturday and Sunday, the Black Walnut Festival in Bethania (Saturday) and don't forget the Dixie Classic Fair (today through 10/7) -- you'll see us there sometime next week!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 9/23/2018 7:55pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday! 

The storm is past and the sun is out.  And we are counting our blessings that we were spared.  We only had some very minor damage with downed trees, a torn door on a hoophouse and tomatoes damaged from the wind -- VERY lucky indeed.  

  

  

  

Unfortunately for many farmers in eastern North Carolina, they are dealing with crops underwater, dead livestock and months worth of clean-up. Our farmer friend, Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm in Graham put it this way, "There will be a lot of money raised, donations and time given but most of the farming community will not be the focus of all that generosity.  Our friends at the Rural Advancement Foundation International are already working on helping farmers in the disaster area and need your donations to support their work.  This is one of the main things that RAFI does, come to the aid of farmers in crisis and assist them through all the red tape involved when their farms are in danger of being lost."  

Our preparations last week paid off but we did not face the violent winds and torrential rains that were predicted.  Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.  We only got about 4.5 inches with most of it coming on Sunday and Monday.  For sure there will be some impact to the crops -- storms bring plant diseases and insects. The critters weathered the storm just fine -- a bit lonely because we weren't out as much but they were sheltered and safe.  In addition to all the bad things that storms bring, they also bring the need to be flexible.  Just like this spider that I saw on Monday hanging on to a zinnia while the wind was gusting all around.

We are now back to somewhat normal (whatever that means!), harvesting, mowing, trellising and planting.  

Don't Forget!  Garlic Workshop on October 14

People ask us all the time about how to grow garlic.  Here's your chance to learn from our 10+ years experience of growing this essential crop.  If you have always wanted to grow garlic but need some advice to get going or want to improve your skills, this is just the ticket!  Register now for our Growing Great Garlic at Home workshop. It will be held here at the farm on Sunday, October 14 from 2-5 -- just in time for planting. The class fee is $35 and includes a 1/2 pound bag of seed garlic. To register, use our online form.

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update
Thanks for understanding the market being closed last week.  We think it was a good call!  Cobblestone is BACK tomorrow and we'll be ready to see you with lots of great veggies!

It's Pepper-Palooza!  We are celebrating Sweet Peppers this week at market!  Our perfect Picnic/Lunchbox Peppers will be out in force.  Sooooo sweet and delicious!  We also have lots of sweet red peppers including the Italian Roaster Marconi, Pimento, Lipstick, Red Bell and MORE!  

We'll also have our wonderful Shishito Peppers -- great on the grill, seared in a skillet or blended up in a tasty cold soup!  

 

It's the first week for our sweet, juicy Scuppernong Grapes (and maybe a few Muscadines)!  Come grab a pint of this quintessential Southern treat.  At the Potato Bar, you'll find the Famous Bintje Potatoes -- the original French fry potato from the Netherlands.  We'll also have low glycemic Nicola, Russets and boxes of tasty Creamers -- roasted potatoes on the grill or yummy Potato Salad anyone?

In the Garlic Department, we'll have at least 6 varieties of Bulb Garlic (Red Toch, Spanish Roja, Lorz, German Red, Lahontan Early, and Elephant)  along with Garlic Sampler Bags and Garlic Granules. 

We'll also have beautiful Bunching Onions, Dill, Parsley, and maybe some okra and tomatoes.  ALL of our produce is Certified Organic and we grow everything we sell!


That will do it for this week.  If you think there is starting to be a touch of Fall in the air, you'd be right!  Tomorrow (9/22 at 9:54 p.m.) marks the Autumnal Equinox.   And not to be outdone, the moon will be full on Monday (9/24 at 10:54 p.m.).  This is known as the Harvest Moon or the Full Corn Moon.  Enjoy both of these astronomical events!

Until next week,
Cheryl & Ray

 

Posted 9/9/2018 2:00pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!  Welcome September!

Ah ha!  Our Ace detective, Inspector Brix has it a-l-l figured out.  Over the past few weeks the repairs to the fence, adding new gates and spiffing up the barn have kept Brix more than a bit intrigued.  She hadn't been able to suss out much from the humans and the sheep were clueless.

Well on Sunday, all of the puzzle parts started to fit together.  As Inspector Brix was possibly coming up with a conclusion for The Great Pasture Caper, a big trailer pulled in.  Out stepped this huge cow!

Oh my!  Given Brix's interactions with the last cow on the farm, she was a bit dubious.  The last cow chased her out of her hutch and was very scary with her horns.  This cow seemed calmer and less threatening.  But still, a donkey can't be too cautious, right?

*************

Yes, on Sunday we welcomed the newest member of the Plum Granny Farm herd:  Cara! She is a Brown Swiss dairy cow -- no, we are not starting up a new enterprise!  But she will be calving in about a month, so some form of milking is on the horizon.

Cara comes to us from Black Hollow Dairy in Dublin, Virginia which is newly certified organic (yay!).  Her owners, Kim and Blair Sanders have always considered her to be the perfect "PR Cow" -- she is very friendly, loves attention and is interested in humans and their activities!  Their daughter, Grace, raised her and has taken her all over the place -- from daycare center visits to living nativities at her church!  Cara is a very special cow.

 

Cara is getting settled in to her new life (without her 350 fellow cows).  She seems like she is getting the hang of life around Plum Granny Farm and she looks forward to meeting you at one of our future events!

It hasn't been all about The Cow around here this week.  BB and Tony said they are on their 2nd new pasture area since Sunday (burp!) and they are quite content. (Did somebody say something about a cow?  We didn't notice!)

They did notice their new collars today, though!

 

And BUNCHES of stuff got planted and the new beans and peas are popping out of the ground!  And tomatoes are developing on the new plants in the greenhouse.  That was fast!

   

And we just built the world's best raised bed for carrots!  Super deep and fluffy and it's getting planted today.

Save the Date!  Garlic Workshop on October 14

Mark your calendar for our popular Growing Great Garlic at Home workshop!  If you have always wanted to grow garlic but need some advice to get going or want to improve your skills, this is just the ticket!  It will be held here at the farm on Sunday, October 14 from 2-5!  The class fee is $35 and includes a 1/2 pound bag of seed garlic. For more information and a registration form, check out our website.

 

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update
Peppers are definitely on the docket this week at market!  Our perfect Picnic/Lunchbox Peppers will be out in force.  Sooooo sweet and delicious!

We'll also have our wonderful Shishito Peppers -- great on the grill, seared in a skillet or blended up in a tasty cold soup!  Back by popular demand, we'll have samples (and recipes) of our delicious Creamy Shishito Soup.

At the Potato Bar, you'll find the Famous Bintje Potatoes -- the original French fry potato from the Netherlands.  We'll also have Russets and boxes of tasty Creamers -- roasted potatoes on the grill or yummy Potato Salad anyone?

In the Garlic Department, we'll have at least 6 varieties of Bulb Garlic (Red Toch, Spanish Roja, Lorz, German Red, Lahontan Early, Elephant and the last of the Chesnok) along with Garlic Sampler Bags and Garlic Granules.  We'll have Sunflower and Pea Shoots, Dill, Parsley, a very few cucumbers and tomatoes.

Whew!  That's it for this week!

Wishing our Jewish friends a very blessed and happy Rosh Hashanah! This year, Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish New Year and anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve -- falls on September 9. Rosh Hashanah, which translates from Hebrew to the “head of the year,” is a two-day celebration. In 2014, we had the privilege of having congregants from Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem celebrate the 2nd day with us as they contemplated caring for and healing the earth.  That was a very special day at the farm.  Happy New Year!

Until next week,
Cheryl & Ray

 
Posted 9/9/2018 1:04pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

A misty, foggy start to the last day of August.  I remember reading somewhere that there is a correlation between the number of foggy August mornings and the number of snows in the winter.  While I haven't been keeping exact count, I'd say that we are in for a snowy winter!

But after the refreshingly cool weather last week, we have been back at the mid-90's all this week and have been swimming through the humidity.  As one farmer friend put it, "September can’t come soon enough as long as the heat and humidity break soon too.  I think the worst air of the summer has come this week, even more brutal after the delicious weather of last week!"  Couldn't agree more!

August has been called the "Tipping Point" between Summer and Fall.  Despite the muggy, steamy conditions, we've been keeping up our march to get ready for autumn.  We are tipping our crop mix to the cooler season veggies like kale, cabbage and carrots.  Lots of planting and prepping of fields -- check out the newly planted cabbage (left) and the super deep bed for our late fall carrots (right).

 

It was out with the cucumbers in Mama Meow!  These cukes kept getting knocked down by disease and pests and the yields were just getting too small to justify the expensive real estate.  But we sure learned a lot about lower and lean with this crop -- pricey tuition!  The grow bags will soon be filled with lettuce.

The heirloom Seminole Squash are setting a lot of fruit and keep on
g -r- o- w- i -n- g!  The vines must be at least 30 feet long now.

The Mystery Continues...

Inspector Brix has not been able to get to the bottom of The Great Pasture Caper.  Tony and BB are too busy eating grass in their newly expanded paddock and humans, well...what can she say?  She is hoping for some answers VERY soon -- and will work overtime to file a full report next week.  But donkeys always work overtime, right?

Pick a Peck of Pretty Picnic Peppers!
The peppers are starting to roll in -- definitely not at peak but we are getting larger harvests every day. These Picnic Peppers are definitely a farm favorite.  All of us love munching on these sweet little gems.

The Pepper Palace (aka Raz House) is pumping out beautiful sweet red pimentos, Marconi, red bells and the delicious Shishitos too.

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update
We will be featuring our wonderful Shishito Peppers this weekend.  They are great on the grill, seared in a skillet or blended up in a tasty cold soup!  We'll have samples (and recipes) of our delicious Creamy Shishito Soup at market tomorrow.

The Potato Bar will be back -- but we are running low on spuds!  We still have plenty of the delicious Bintje Potatoes -- the original French fry potato from the Netherlands -- and we'll have the last of the Russet and Huckleberry Gold.  We'll also have boxes of tasty Creamers -- think Potato Salad for your Labor Day picnic!   The perfect potato partners -- Rosemary and Italian Parsley -- will also be available.

Have you tried Pea Shoots?  If not, you should!  These tasty little nutritional powerhouses have a pea-like taste and can be eaten raw (salads, sandwiches) or lightly sautéed. We'll have bunches of pea shoots along with Sunflower Shoots (another yummy, crunchy treat).

In addition to the Shishito Peppers, we'll have the favorite sweet and nearly seedless Picnic/Lunchbox Peppers and Sweet Red Peppers.  In the Garlic Department, we'll have at least 6 varieties of Bulb Garlic (Red Toch, Spanish Roja, Lorz, Lahontan Early, Elephant and the last of the Music and Chesnok) along with Garlic Sampler Bags and Garlic Granules.  We'll have Microgreens, Dill, a few cucumbers and the last of the Basil (for now).

Here's wishing you a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  Enjoy those last beautiful days of Summer.

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 8/19/2018 12:15pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!
And in the blink of an eye, another busy week has buzzed by!

We've got our hands full with trying to tend for crops that are in the ground as well getting more crops planted.  And we are making good progress on both.

One of our favorite winter squash varieties, Seminole, holds a special place in the Demo Garden.  It's an heirloom with an incredible taste (and amazing shelf life) but has vines that are worthy of place in in fairytale history along with Jack's bean stalk!  This year we planted 2 hills of the seeds back in June in our 4x8 raised bed and they have been growing like crazy ever since!  This week, we finally got the vines wrangled and trellised.  They are no longer invading every other bed in the garden!

Check out the size of the flowers!

The sweet potatoes are doing great!  Our larger planting is really spreading out (now that we've got the field fenced so the deer won't munch on the leaves!).  The smaller planting in the Demo Garden already is beginning to flower.

 

We've also been getting lots of things planted including snap peas, daikon radishes, beans, bunching onions, along with a late trial of cherry tomatoes. 

The greenhouse has been humming too!  Seedlings of kale, cabbage, kohlrabi and broccoli are raring to go outside.

And the cucumbers and tomatoes that were planted 2 weeks ago already need to be trellised!

Pest control is a big thing at this time of year.  Late summer heat and humidity seem to bring out the worst.  But it's nice when we have help from other critters in the battle.

Although we haven't seen him at work, it's nice to have a toad in the greenhouse.  They can eat LOTS of insects!  You Go, Mr. Toad!!

Parasitic braconid wasps do a great job of controlling tomato hornworms.  They lay their eggs in the worm and by the time the wasp pupae emerge, they have pretty much eaten the hornworm's insides and it will die.  A bit gruesome, but it is a highly effective way to control the destructive hornworm!

Happy Birthday to Ewe!  And Tony Too!
Today is the special day for BB and Tony -- they are 3!  Tony wants to know how many bean cakes he gets for this momentous occasion!  He has set up an account at the GoFeedMe website! ;-)

Baby BB meets Brix

What a handsome boy!

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update
Sunday is National Potato Day!  Did you know there are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes and that the Incas in Peru started cultivating them around 8000 BC?

Better get ready for a GREAT celebration by stocking up on all things potato-y under the purple tent!  You'll find the delicious Bintje Potatoes -- the original French fry potato from the Netherlands along with Russet, Raspberry and the last of the Nicola and LaRatte Fingerlings.  We'll also have boxes of tasty creamers.  We'll have Rosemary and Italian Parsley to compliment your spud dishes!

We'll also have those tasty Shishito Peppers -- the mild and yummy Bar Food of Japan!  And don't forget the Garlic!  At least 6 varieties of Bulb Garlic (Red Toch, Music, Chesnok, Red Neck Wild!, Lorz and Elephant) along with Garlic Sampler Bags and Garlic Granules.  You'll find plenty of Basil, Pea Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Microgreens and Dill as well as a smattering of Escarole, Cucumbers, Summer Squash and Okra.

That's all the news from Plum Granny Farm for this week!  Find a nice spot in the shade this weekend, pull up a blanket and picnic and listen to some mighty fine tunes from Aretha Franklin.  RIP to the Queen of Soul.

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 8/12/2018 11:22am by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday! 
Fall is on our minds!  Yes, it is about 6 weeks until the first day of Autumn and that makes our hearts (and pace) quicken!  We are doing lots of prep to get ready for the fall season including trying some new things.  Let's take a look, shall we?

Fields are getting prepped for cover crops.  This is where the potatoes were this season.  We are getting a quick crop of buckwheat in now (bees LOVE the flowers!) and will be following up with other cover crops to overwinter.

We are also preparing to plant fall brassicas such as kale, cabbage, collards, kohlrabi and broccoli.  Here Chris is using the flame weeder to remove the weeds on the tops of the beds.  A brief burst of flame will cause the plant to die -- you don't have to totally burn it.  This is a quick and effect way to weed.

The greenhouse looks like spring again!  LOTS of trays with seedlings popping up.  This is a tray of salad turnips.

Beets are popping!  We are doing an experiment between transplanting beets (foreground) and direct seeding (at the back of the bed) to see which produces the best quality.  By doing trials such as this, we are better able to refine our production techniques.  Always learning!

Peppers are popping too!  The Pepper House (aka Raz House) is FULL of beautiful pepper plants LOADED with peppers.  Most of them need to ripen but our shishitos are ready now and we'll have the first of them at Market Saturday.

The close-up of the plant above is a Marconi, an Italian heirloom that is very sweet when it ripens.  The perfect pepper for a sauté with onions and garlic! These should be ready in about a month.

We are also taking care of what most consider "Summer" crops.  Our field tomatoes are looking great!  The plants are loaded with fruit and, as usual, we should have tomatoes l-o-n-g after everyone else is done for the year!

But we have also just started our fall/winter tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse!  Won't they be wonderful for Small Business Saturday?

We got BB and Tony moved to their alternate paddock this week -- and we brought in some very special helpers all the way from Houston!

 

Cheryl's nephew, Scott, and his family are visiting this week so we put his daughters, Sophia and Sydney to work!  They didn't seem to mind too much!  When asked for a comment, all Tony could say was "Mrmph, mmrph, mmrph!"  I think that was a compliment!

August brings many things but one of our treasured moments is watching the Perseid Meteor Showers.  When we lived in New Mexico, there was some mighty fine skywatching opportunities but hopefully we'll catch a break here in Piedmont NC this weekend.  Currently the forecast calls for clear skies overnight on Saturday night and Sunday early morning.  The Perseids peak August 12-13. Thanks to a new moon, the days before and after will also provide nice, dark skies. Look for shooting stars a few hours after twilight until dawn on the days surrounding the peak.  Happy Meteor Watching!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 8/12/2018 11:04am by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!  Welcome August!
A strange beginning to the month.  About the only bits of sunshine we've seen around here since last weekend came from these:

And unfortunately we've been feeling more like this:

It's kinda hard being solar-powered beings on days like these!
And unfortunately it isn't made any better hobbling around with this:

Sigh... it could be MUCH worse!  But it's not exactly how I had hoped to spend the last week of our Summer Pause!

But we have been getting things done - especially in the greenhouse as it is too wet to do much outside.

Ray and Jonny got the greenhouse tomatoes ready for their "lower and lean."  This method allows us to shift or lean the tomato vine over while it is trellised (and supported) and to lower it so that we are able to continue to harvest fruit without using ladders.  This is a fairly common method in many greenhouses and high tunnels for both tomatoes and cucumbers.  We are trying this approach for the first time.  It's taken a while for me to wrap my head about the mechanics of it but I think I understand it now!  Check it out!

Ray and Jonny are moving the tomato vine to the left.  The plant is trellised from a pipe hung about 7 feet high.  So the vine was shifted over about 4 feet and given more trellis line so now the vine is lower than it was originally.  This will encourage more growth and fruiting.

Here's the row of tomatoes afterwards.  It looks a little weird (kinda like a funhouse mirror!) but everything we've read touts its effectiveness!  Fingers crossed!  We are also doing the same thing with cucumbers in the high tunnel.

So why are we doing this?  As the season goes on, tomato (and cucumber) vines grow longer and longer, and produce new fruit near the ends (at the top).  Since our tomatoes have been growing since February, they're 10-12' tall with flowers at the top and bare stems at the bottom (It's a good thing they're tied to trellis line!)  But it's kinda hard to tend and harvest 12' in the air! So that's were the "lower and lean" method comes into play -- if we lean them over, the tops get lower and Voila!  We can get more tasty tomatoes!  That's your farming lesson for today!


Did you know that August has more National Holidays than any other month?  Well, it does!  Set your sights on a few coming up this weekend:

  • Today is National Watermelon Day!  Did you know that watermelon is 92% water? No wonder it’s so refreshing! People have been digging into this tasty, juicy fruit for millennia, and it all started in Ancient Egypt. It’s said that watermelon cultivation began in the Nile Valley as early as the second millennium B.C. Watermelon seeds were even found in King Tut’s tomb! 
  • Tomorrow is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! We sure do love our cookies, and on National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day we honor the most beloved cookie of them all. When she was in high school, Cheryl baked batch after batch of these goodies for friends and family -- even winning a ribbon at the fair! Shhhh!  Don't tell Ray!
  • Sunday is National Work Like a Dog Day!  We've know some pretty busy canines in our time -- excavations seem to be the specialty...

And last but not least, we can't forget National Farmers Market Week (August 5-11).  Celebrate all of the wonderful things about the markets (and farmers) you love!

That does it for now!  

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 7/27/2018 3:33pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday

What a strange Friday!  Besides taking a quick trip to Greensboro to see the ginger trials at NC A&T, it is so odd to feel...dare I say, relaxed!  Yep, we're in our "Market Pause" so we aren't running around like crazy people trying to get ready for Cobblestone Farmers market tomorrow.  Ahhhh.....

It's not like we are sleeping until noon but we are a bit more on our own time without the pressures of markets and PlumFresh directing our activities.

And we're catching up on some things that have been neglected for the past few months.  Like clearing out the garage (so that Ray can have a better space to work on Daddy's Cub tractor!)

And catching up on entering financial and crop data for our Organic Certification reports (you really don't want to see a picture of that!)

But the pause gives us the opportunity to reflect, re-plan and get ready for the second half of the season -- there's a lot left ahead!

We've gotten some key things done this week.

The garlic is all graded and hung!  It's great to know what seed garlic we will have for planting this fall, what we need to order as well as what seed we will have available for sale!

Lots of seeds have been planted -- kale, cabbage, broccoli, chard, kohlrabi, lettuce and lots more will be coming your way this fall!

And Chris and Jonny turned their "chain gang" excavation work last week into a perfect fluffy bed for beets!

Perhaps we might sneak in a nap or 2 -- I must admit that RingBob seems to have a good idea....

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update
We will NOT be at Cobblestone for the next two weeks (July 28 and August 4).  We'll be back on August 11, raring to go!

That's all we've got this week!  We hope you enjoy this evening's Full Buck Moon, named by Native Americans because a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode. This Full Moon was also known as the Thunder Moon because thunderstorms are so frequent during the month.  The Full Moon will also coincide with a Total Lunar Eclipse -- although it won't be visible from North America -- we'll have to wait for January 2019 for that.  Happy Viewing!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 7/22/2018 3:20pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

It's hot, it's dry.  And even though a donkey is a desert animal, sometimes she just needs a refreshing treat.  How about a nice cantaloupe rind, hmmm?  Brix has earned her place in the pasture by demonstrating that she is Yam worthy.  What's "Yam worthy," you ask?  Yam was our cow -- but she was much more than a cow, she was The Greeting Committee for the Capella Community.  She graced (and grazed) our pasture for 14 years.  A very special cow.  And she LOVED cantaloupe -- we call it Yam-aloupe.  So now Brix has earned her Yam-aloupe merit badge.

Lots of projects underway right now.  It's that time of the year when we are both tending summer crops like peppers, tomatoes and okra while we are getting ready for fall crops.  Lots of seeding is happening right now!  Kale, collards, broccoli, kohlrabi and lots more are hitting the seed trays.  And we are also prepping beds for additional plantings.

We built a raised bed last year between 2 of our high tunnels and have been growing carrots in them since then.  We have been noticing some poor drainage and what looked like compaction with our last round of carrots.  So we decided to remove about a foot of the soil and amend it with lots of composted leaves for our next planting which will be beets. 

We joked with Jonny and Chris that they were on the Chain Gang as they dug out wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of soil. I think I heard them singing "A Man of Constant Sorrow".... We are glad these guys have a sense of humor!

We got the rest of the potatoes harvested this week.  A respectable harvest but not our biggest -- about 1500 pounds.  Unfortunately we had to harvest the fingerlings and Bintje earlier than usual because Late Blight hit the field.  Once that happens, you need to get the tubers out as quickly as possible so that they don't become diseased.

 

Blackberry Update

Well, we had hoped to do one more PYO event this season but it looks like the berries just won't be plentiful enough.  We had a great harvest earlier this week but now the berries are slowing down to a trickle.  I am sure that the drought has had an impact -- even though we have been irrigating a lot.  Always a sad time for a small fruit farmer -- seeing the end of a great crop.

Cobblestone Farmers Market Update

 

Come and get 'em while you can!  This will be the last week for our sweet blackberries at market so stop by and grab a pint!  Saturday will be Ice Cream Day at Cobblestone so it sounds like a great match-up of flavors!

The Potato Bar gets two new additions this week:  Bintje (the original French Fry Potato) and the popular LaRatte Fingerling.  We'll also have German Butterball, low-glycemic Nicola, and Huckleberry Gold.  Boxes of the cute little Creamer Potatoes will also be available.

We'll also have lots of other Certified Organic goodness including big beautiful heads of Escarole, Garlic Sampler Bags, freshly Cured Garlic (including Elephant, Red Toch, Music and Chesnok), the last of the Garlic Flowers, Carrots and some Pea Shoots.  And we'll be bringing some of our tasty JAM to market too!

That's all the news from the farm this week.  Don't forget to celebrate National Hammock Day on Sunday!  A lazy July afternoon in the shade?  I'll nap to that!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

It's Time to Think Garlic!

Mark your calendar for our popular Growing Great Garlic at Home workshop!  If you have always wanted to grow garlic but need some advice to get going or want to improve your skills, this is just the ticket!  It will be held here at the farm on Sunday, October 14 from 2-5!  The class fee is $35 and includes a 1/2 pound bag of seed garlic. For a registration form, click here.

Wait List Opportunities Available for PlumFresh Memberships

UPDATE!  We are currently taking reservations for our waiting list as all of our subscriptions are Sold Out.

Would you like to get a box of delicious, Organic food every week?  Do you like to cook?  Do you want to ensure that your family is getting the freshest and safest food available?  Check out our PlumFresh Harvest Subscription program!  It offers you incredible flexibility without big upfront charges.  For more information, click here.

Our Online Store is Ready to Serve You!

Our online store is fully stocked and waiting for your orders! Click here to go right to the shelves.  You'll find our popular fruit-forward Jams (regular and gift-size jars), Garlic Powder and Granules as well as our new Ginger Powder and Lavender Sachets!  

Do you want the latest news from the farm? How about the opportunity to reserve items for pick-up at market? Join our mailing list for our "Plum Granny Farm Weekly Update"!




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Watch Us!

Ray talks ginger with Lisa

Check out the terrific feature that Flavor, NC did on Plum Granny Farm!  You can view the episode at http://video.unctv.org/video/2365069548/  They did a great job showing our garlic, ginger & berry production - plus a few other surprises! We are paired with Chef Jay from Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen who makes some wonderful garlic recipes!  Enjoy!

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