News and blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 5/1/2014 11:24am by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Just a reminder that you're receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in Plum Granny Farm -- you either signed up at a market or on our website.  We are glad to have this brief opportunity to share some news of the farm with you!  If you no longer wish to receive these weekly newsletters, please see the "unsubscribe" information at the bottom of this email.

Happy Thursday, Farm Friends! Happy May Day!!

We are feeling thankful that we didn't get hit by any severe storms over the past couple of days.  Sky-watching and weather.com-checking were constant activities.  Our hearts go out to all of those who were not as fortunate as we were.

To get a jump on the predicted rain, we finished up the rest of the fingerling potatoes on Monday.  As an homage to the Kentucky Derby, we popped out of the starting gates like prize Thoroughbreds and got the last 3 rows (300'+ each) planted, covered and marked in less than 2 hours!  All 542 pounds are now nicely tucked in!  Keep your fingers crossed because we want to share these goodies with you!

Finishing up potato planting

Other planting is underway as well.  Artichokes are going in the field along Flat Shoals Road and will hopefully produce 2 crops -- this fall and next spring.  Tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, okra and eggplant are also slated to be planted very soon!  The transplants are getting so big -- you can almost hear them say, "Plant Me NOW" every time you go into the greenhouse!

Speaking of greenhouse, thanks so much to all of you for coming out to our first Open (Green)House event last weekend!  The weather was perfect and the visitors couldn't be beat!  Thanks for sharing some of your weekend with us!  Congrats to the winners of the door prizes:  Tilda Vernon (Allium Adventure Club Weekend Explorer Membership); Brian Hart (Worm Composting system); Carol Wood (1 lb. raspberries); Laurel Ineman (1 lb. blackberries) and Philip Hatton (jar of Raspberry-Cranberry Jam).

This weekend will be the opening of the Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem!  Market begins at 9 and runs until noon.  There may be a bit of congestion at the beginning of market due to the colon cancer awareness run (the UNDY 500!) but all parties are apprised of our market and have promised to keep traffic flowing. 

Whoo-hoo!  Saturday will be the first offering of our Spring Garlic!  We'll also have lots of Certified Organic asparagus (purple & green), baby kale, baby swiss chard, salad mix, frisse, baby beets (few), blackberry & black raspberry plants, transplants (tomatoes, tomatillos, basil and other herbs, peppers and eggplant), garlic powder, jam and MORE!

On Wednesday, May 7, the King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA will have its opening day!  Market hours are 11-1 and is located in the parking lot at the Y.  We'll have most of the same products available on Wednesday.

We are happy to save an item for you in advance if you'd like.  Just shoot us an email the evening before the market.

It's always so exciting when our farmers markets open for the season!  We really enjoy seeing our great customers and getting a chance to catch up on your lives.  And we are truly honored to be given the opportunity to provide food for your families.

Hope your week is terrific -- and Happy Cinco de Mayo (psst...it's our anniversary!!)

Talk to you next week.

Cheryl & Ray
Posted 4/25/2014 9:03am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!

Gave you a break last week from our meandering thoughts -- but this week, we're back at it!

Springtime on a farm is a very manic time -- although the days are getting longer, so is the to-do list.  Things to plant!  Fields to prepare!  Ginger to tend!  Grass to mow!  It takes lots of planning and concentration to try to stay on task -- but it is a reality that by 10 a.m., you are already on Plan G (the 1st 6 plans have already vaporized!).  Sigh...  But the good news is that we actually are ahead on some of our spring tasks -- and that feels VERY good!

The fill-in raspberries were planted last week -- and even got weeded by our weeding demon, Emma!  Here she is showing her skill at the task.

Emma the Weeding QueenMost of the potatoes were planted yesterday.  The soil conditions and seed potatoes looked great so we are very hopeful for getting a nice harvest.  The standard potatoes and half of the fingerlings are now tucked in the ground.

Emma & Elliot prepping potatoes for plantingNext week the eggplant trap crop will be going in to surround the field.  We read about using eggplant as a trap for the potato's archenemy, the Colorado Potato Beetle.  Apparently the beetles like eggplant even more than potatoes so they will get to snack on the eggplant and will leave the potatoes alone -- at least that is the plan.  

This will be a VERY busy weekend! Our First Annual Spring Open (Green)House event will be on Saturday (9-3) and Sunday (1-4).  We'll have LOTS of certified organic transplants (heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, herbs, eggplant, pepper) as well as berry plants (raspberry, blackberry and black raspberry). You can even get soil amendments, produce, and jams.  Our friends from Be Nutty Bakes and Butters will have baked goods featuring farm products and along with their yummy peanut butters!  There will be farm tours and a drawing for a worm composting bin and a mini-membership to the Allium Adventure Club!  It is supposed to be a GORGEOUS weekend so head on out to Stokes County for some fun!

In addition to the Open (Green)House event, we will also be at the Cobblestone Pop Up TOMORROW (Saturday, April 26) from 9 to noon.  The market will be held at the parking lot behind Mary's Gourmet Diner (7th and Trade) in Downtown.  We'll have lots of Certified Organic baby kale, swiss chard, salad mix, frisse, sugarloaf radicchio, salad turnips, pea shoots, blackberry & black raspberry plants, transplants (tomatoes, tomatillos, basil and other herbs, and eggplant), garlic powder, jam and MORE!

Whew!  A busy weekend for everyone!  We hope to see you at one place or the other (or both!) -- celebrate the last weekend in April with a belated party for the planet (PEA's Earth Day Fair is also this weekend) by heading out and supporting small, Organic farms!

Talk to you next week.

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 4/11/2014 2:56pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!

What a beautiful week to get things done around the farm! Spring is really putting on its beautiful colors.  The yellows of the daffodils are being replaced by the brilliant yellows of the gold finches at the bird feeder.  The haze of white at the dogwoods are now turning into flowers.

Bathtub filled with daffodils and tulips

Dogwoods

Lots more onions in the ground (a big thanks goes to Bill Talich letting us know about the great song, "I Love Onions", it entertains us while we plant).  Here are Emma & Elliot proclaiming victory over unplanted onion transplants! 

Elliot & Emma celebrate the completion of onion planting

And don't forget, we are still accepting memberships for the Allium Adventure Club.  But better hurry-- the tour begins on May 3rd!

A great thing about being is small farm is how farmers help each other.  Today we loaded up 5 other farmers with a shared load of soil amendments.  Bill Smith of Old Town Farm in Walnut Cove worked with us to coordinate a 5 pallet tractor trailer load from Seven Springs.  It was a win-win for all of us -- we shared the shipping cost and were able to get a much better price than we would if we had ordered individually.  That's one of the many beautiful things about the farming community.

It's hard to believe but after 4 months, we are back at market!  We will have our first Cobblestone Pop Up TOMORROW (Saturday, April 12) from 9 to noon.  The market will be held at the parking lot behind Mary's Gourmet Diner (7th and Trade) in Downtown.  We'll have lots of Certified Organic baby kale, swiss chard, salad mix, sugarloaf radicchio, salad turnips, pea shoots, blackberry & black raspberry plants, transplants (tomatoes, tomatillos, basil and other herbs, and eggplant), garlic powder, jam and MORE!
Emma with radichhio

Talk to you next week. Enjoy the Full Pink Moon and Blood Moon Eclipse on Tuesday!

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 4/4/2014 4:22pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

MONDAY POP-UP MARKET UPDATE!

With the rain pouring down, the organizers of the Mini Cobblestone Farmers Market Pop Up at Wake Forest University scheduled for today have moved that event to Tuesday, April 22 from 5:30-8 p.m.  Just wanted to let you know in case you planned on heading out in your galoshes! Don't despair because we'll still be at the Cobblestone Pop Up this Saturday, April 12 from 9-noon.  We'll send out details of what will be on our table later this week. Stay dry! 

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog....

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!

Welcome to April -- not necessarily the cruelest month (so far at least!) but definitely most frantic!!  As we say around here in Stokes County, "we are wide open!"  Planting, preparing beds, doing soil tests, seeding, trellising the brambles, mowing, and MORE have all been on this week's schedule!

More peas, chard and bok choy went into the ground and we planted our first broccoli.  Here's Emma planting the first of the new raised beds in the Demo Garden with broccoli, bok choy, arugula and salad turnips (sounds like a great salad, huh?)

Emma planting demo garden

Here are a few other photos of the week's activities:

Unloading the truck  Chris unloading the truck of soil amendments from Seven Springs (3 pallets!)

Soil tests  Elliot with the 17 boxes of soil samples to be shipped to Raleigh for testing.

Picking up the coir  Picking up the cocoapeat coir for ginger from our friends Susan and Howard from East Branch Ginger and Aerocoir.

Budding Triple Crown blackberry  A budding Triple Crown Blackberry plant!

Here's some exciting news about upcoming markets!  We will be part of a Mini Cobblestone Farmers Market Pop Up at Wake Forest University on Monday, April 7 from 3:30 -- 6 p.m. The market will be on Davis Field on the WFU campus. Parking will be available along the road.  We'll have kale, salad mix, sugarloaf radicchio, Kids Garden Kits, blackberry & raspberry plants, garlic powder, jam and MORE!

We will also be part of the Cobblestone Pop Ups on April 12 and 26 -- more on that later.  And while you have your calendar out, make sure you have April 26-27 marked for our first ever Open Greenhouse Days!

Whew!  Just have to leave you with one more photo -- here's Wally playing the role of an overbearing supervisor when Ray was planting onions last week.  I posted this on Facebook and it got the most "Likes" of any we have posted!  Gotta love our crazy cats!  And speaking of Facebook, don't forget to "Like" us there too!

Wally the Overlord

Talk to you next week. Go find as many blooming things as you can! But don't plant tomatoes!!! 

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 3/28/2014 6:55pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!

Despite having a short week due to weather, travel and a workshop, we've been getting lots of things done.  The paths for the Demo Garden beds have been mulched and are just waiting for us to fill them with soil and plants!

Proud garden bed builders

We didn't think that we would get to see this so soon, but we found out that the new beds look nice in snow!

Demo beds in snow

We've also been doing one of our favorite tasks -- PLANTING!  Got in a lot of onions as well as bok choy, broccoli raab, and swiss chard.  More pepper seeds have gone into trays (LOTS of shishitos and aji dulce).  We finally got the heat mats working correctly so the peppers and tomatoes are nice and toasty and will sprout sooner.

Planting onionsDetroit and the dibbler

With the warmer weather (temps are actually not supposed to dip below 40 this coming week!), we decided to take down the walls of the greenhouse "Germination Room."  You may recall that we erected a little plastic and rowcover room in the greenhouse to reduce our propane use and costs.  Interestingly almost as soon as the second sidewall dropped, the heater turned on!  It was definitely doing its job keeping a smaller space cozy.

Elliot taking down the greenhouse walls

With April just around the corner, our pace will start to quicken.  Market prep is beginning and we are planning orders with some of our larger customers.  One of the fun things we do is our Kids Garden Kit that we make primarily for The Produce Box, a Raleigh-based company that provides home delivery of fresh NC produce.  We finished up the packs of seeds, soil, plant tray and instructions this week and sent them off to Raleigh.  We'll also have them available at Carolina Grown, our Open Greenhouse Days (April 26-27) and at some markets.  Here is a picture of some of tomatoes, squash and pumpkin (in tray) and carrots and sunflowers from the kit getting started in the greenhouse: 

Kids Garden seeds sproutingCarrots and sunflowers

 

Enjoy the last few days of March (going out like a lamb, I wonder?)!

Talk to you next week. 

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 3/21/2014 2:18pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!  It's Spring!
The arrival of this important date has probably never been more anticipated than it was this year.  Gloomy wet and cold days seemed to be the unending norm, and as a farmer they required much patience....something that we need to learn from our dog Gesti (here at the window with her beloved blue stick waiting for us to come in and play)!

Ggesti at the window

Thank goodness the arrival of Spring has been more than just the turning of the calendar -- the past couple of days have been gorgeous!  Even our tiny little peach tree shares our enthusiasm over the sunshine and warmer temps!

Peach tree with blooms

We have taken advantage of the nicer weather to continue our building projects.  The raised bed construction has continued -- we finished up the giant rhubarb bed by the greenhouse and added our "Demo Gardens" near the parking and PYO check-in/out area.  The Demo Garden has been a longtime plan for us -- we wanted to be able to have different plants growing there for our visitors to see during PYO and other on-farm events.  It may be a bit of a Noah's Ark of the plant world but it will be able to give you a good idea of where some of your food comes from without having to hike over all of the farm!  We know that 2 of the beds will have the plants from our Kids Garden Kits as well as the Three Sisters Garden (squash, beans and corn).  Hopefully our younger visitors will like those!  Here are a few pictures:

Rhubarb raised bed  Elliot & Chris working on Rhubarb Bed  Prepping the demo garden area  Demo Gardens

 Later this afternoon we will be planting the first of our onions (they didn't arrive last week)!  Alisa Craig, Walla Walla, Pumba and Desert Sunrise will be the first varieties (all large sweet onions) and we'll be following them up with the first of the bunching onions.  And just a pitch for the Allium Adventure Club -- we still have spaces for the journey and you'll be the first to get goodies in May!  Don't forget to check out the website for more information (http://www.plumgrannyfarm.com/allium-adventure-club) and sign up TODAY!  We are sure that you won't want to miss this grand adventure!  Memberships are available for both 15 and 30 weeks.

We averted a disaster with our bees.  During the terrible windstorm last week, one of our hives was knocked over -- we're not sure if it was the wind or, more likely a confused deer.  Ray found a bunch of comb on the ground with a big ball of bees.  He was able to put it back into a new hive body and resettle them.  Here's what it looked like after all of the crossbars were picked up:

Bee hive after the crash

The good news is that Ray visited the hive this morning to see how it was doing and if he could find the queen.  The hive was doing great!  At least 10,000 bees and a very healthy queen!  Here's a picture -- can you see the queen?  She's in the lower left corner of the photo -- getting ready to lay an egg!  Needless to say we were very happy!

Bees from the WellBee hive

Get out there and be (bee?) happy too!  Revel in the sunshine, gather daffodils and rejoice in the beauty of Spring!

Talk to you next week. 

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 3/14/2014 3:17pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

It's Friday, Farm Friends!
Happy almost St. Patrick's Day -- and almost Spring!  What a happy thought both of these are!  When I think of St. Patrick's Day, I always think of the lucky 4-leaf clover.  Here's a farm take on something that looks pretty lucky to us:  a tray full of tiny four-lobed bok choy plants!

Tiny plants in tray

Even though the low was 25 degrees last night, there is definitely a feel of Spring in the air.  Our yard is full of dozens of robins, cardinals and red-wing blackbirds, and the goldfinches are starting to put on their summer color.  The peepers in the pond are singing their hearts out every night (even more when it's warmer) and the bees are starting to be more evident when we are outside.  And the farmers are out a bit more too!  Here's Jen covering the first planting of sugar-snap peas -- we got 400 feet each of peas and radishes in the ground the other day!  Tomorrow we will be planting the first of the onions.

Jen covering peas Woodworking projects have also been on the schedule.  We are making new cross-ties for the raspberry trellis and are building several raised beds.  The first one will be for rhubarb!  This should make everyone happy that has been asking us to make strawberry-rhubarb jam!

Ray & Emma cutting trellis cross-barsSpeaking of jam, we just took a load to the new Good Food Growers Market in Kernersville yesterday!  Check them out during their Grand Opening tomorrow (3/15).  It's a great store that will feature local produce, jams, baked goods, plants and garden supplies.  Stop by and say "Hi!" to Angie & Kari!

The calendar is starting to fill up!  We'll be at Cobblestone Farmer's Market Pop-ups on April 12 and 26 in the parking lot of Mary's Gourmet Diner.  And we have our Plum Granny Farm Spring Open Greenhouse on April 26 and 27.  We are also planning our farmers market participation -- we'll be at the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market (starts 5/3) as well as the King Farmers Market (starts 4/30).  More information to come but get these dates on your calendars now!

Talk to you next week.  Happy Pi Day and Full Moon Sunday!! And don't forget to smell the flowers!Ajo and the daffodils
Cheryl & Ray (and Ajo too!)

Posted 3/7/2014 6:11pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!
 
Another day, another...snow??  Sheesh!  I guess March really did roar in like a lion with 2 winter storms this week.  I love winter as much as the next person (probably more than most, actually!) but this is starting to really get old!  I am taking comfort in the fact that tomorrow and most of next week that the temperatures are supposed to be in the 60s Time to get those peas, radishes and onions in the ground!!

We did take advantage of the 2 semi-decent days this week to get the rest of the blackberries pruned.  Here's Chris and Elliot showing off their handiwork!

Chris & Elliot display their handiworkWhile we were in the blackberries, we gathered LOTS of volunteer Triple Crown blackberry and black raspberry volunteers.  These will be potted up and available for sale this spring!

Black raspberry transplants in waitingSpeaking of spring sales, mark your calendars for April 26 and 27!  We'll have our first Plum Granny Farm Spring Open Greenhouse event those days!  You'll be able to get certified organic transplants of tomatoes, peppers, herbs as well as a variety of fresh spring greens (Kale, lettuce and more!)  We'll be sending out more information but we wanted you to get those dates on your calendar!

And even though spring feels light years away right now, our friends, the bees, let us know that it is just around the corner.  Check out this great picture that Ray caught -- notice the yellow balls on the bees' legs?  That's pollen!  Bees gather pollen from flowers for their protein.  Flowers this time of year? They must be gathering pollen from some early maple trees!  There is hope for Spring and some strong hives!

Bees entering hive with pollen

Talk to you next week.  Think warm and dry weather!!

Cheryl & Ray

 

Posted 2/28/2014 2:46pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!
 
Know what the most common word in the farmer's vocabulary is -- well, at least the polite words?  Weeds!  Weeds are something that we have to deal with year-round on the farm.  Even in the winter, we must spend time getting them out of the fields.  This week, we spent many hours on hands and knees getting weeds out of the raspberries, blackberries and asparagus.  Weeds are more than just annoying plants that you don't want in a particular planting.  Weeds can dramatically impact the production of a crop.  Ray found a NC State study on the impact of weeded versus non-weeded raspberries and it showed that weedy raspberries can actually cut production to zero in a season!  And that study didn't include common weeds that we have like grasses and morning glories!  Sigh...no shortcuts in this business -- next up is the garlic! 

Emma and Chris in asparagus bedEmma and Chris walking out the asparagus beds that they just weeded.

Speaking of garlic, the garlic is doing very well.  The cold temperatures have done some damage, but the spring and the bulb garlic is popping up nicely!  A field walk last weekend gave us some reassurance!  There is a green fuzz on Ruth's field -- and we were so happy to find out that it wasn't weeds!

Spring garlic in late winterThe seed ordering and seeding continue.  Another flight of onions went in and we are starting to seed peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.  It is always so gratifying and amazing to see the first little push of green coming up in a tray.  Here is an Italian Heirloom artichoke.

Artichoke seedling in tray

We got some great news this week for the Allium Adventure Club!  There will be a couple of products that we will now be able to provide the Club members -- such as scape pesto and shallot vinegar! These are exclusive products for Club members that we won't be bringing to market.  If you haven't been able to check out the website, take a moment now!  We are offering a huge array of allium products that will allow you to take a virtual tour through the whole spectrum of onion, shallots, and garlic -- I'll bet we'll surprise you with the variety and breadth of selection -- and sheer fun and value of the experience!  Sign up now before your chance for the adventure slips away!

Allie the Allium Adventure Club Mascot

Talk to you next week.  Updates to come on spring markets.

Let's see if March roars in like a lion!

Cheryl & Ray

 

Posted 2/21/2014 10:32am by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!
 
What a difference a week makes!  The snow is gone and the rain and thunder are here!  Sounds like Spring, huh?  Even the crocus  are beginning to wake up and smile.

Early Crocus bloom

We are moving into full-tilt seeding mode around the farm.  The seed orders are starting to come in (can't believe we ordered 25 pounds of sugar snap pea seed - but that's what the plan calls for!!).  Packets upon packets await our busy hands and seed trays!

Some of the seeds for this year's planting

The ginger, turmeric, and galangal (Thai ginger) have also arrived and we will start the 4 week presprout with them today.  We put the pieces of ginger and turmeric in a shallow tray filled with coconut coir and put them into our heated milkhouse which is a terrific germination chamber.  The seed looks much better this year than it did last year -- so keep your fingers crossed for a great season.

Ginger and turmeric seed

Another crop we are planning is potatoes.  As many of you know, we had a complete crop failure last year.  We are optimistic for this year and decided to make the harvest a bit less drudgery.  We rarely buy new equipment but learned from many other farmers that there is a great Italian potato harvester could make things better and more cost-effective.  We research things pretty thoroughly and based on that, we bit the bullet and got this little number.  Here's Ray with the Checchi-Magli SP-50 Potato Lifter!  We are excited!!  Think POTATOES!

Ray and the SP-50 Potato Harvester

 Thanks for the great response to our Allium Adventure Club!  We've gotten some GREAT questions and comments from folks.  Registrations for the Adventure are now being taken -- please spread the word!  Check out the information on our website!

Allie the Allium Adventure Club Mascot

Talk to you next week.  Hope you have a wonderful Card Reading Day (who knew?  but you have this card from us to read, right?)!

Cheryl & Ray

 

Pick-Your-Own Update!

Come and get some berries before they are gone!  Last week was the peak of production for our incredible blackberries -- but we still have lots.  So come out to the farm for a Twilight Pick-Your-Own on Monday, July 17 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

These delicious blackberries are Certified Organic and are No-Spray! And they are even thornless!

Price is $5.50 per pound.  Please bring a container to take your berries home as well as a cooler.

Other produce will also be available.

We are located at 1041 Flat Shoals Road outside of King.  Take US Hwy 52 North of Winston-Salem, Exit 122 RJR - Moore Rd.  Turn left at the ramp and continue straight on Moore Road (which then becomes Mountain View Road).  Drive 4.3 miles to intersection with NC Hwy 66.  Turn left and drive 4.3 miles to Flat Shoals Road which branches off to the right.  Take Flat Shoals Road – parking for the PYO field is the first driveway on the right – across the road from the farmhouse.  Look for signs.  

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Certfied Organic by QCS since 2010

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!

Flavor NC logo

 

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