News and blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 4/25/2011 7:35pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Just wanted to let our great customers know that we will be absent at markets until May 3. We are making the final transition of our New Mexico lives to a NC one! Believe me, we'd rather be at market than packing up our house!!!! See you all very soon! And start getting your tastebuds primed for some new products (salad mix and more) as well as old favorites. Won't be long until our spring raspberries start to come in!!  Also, check out the recipe section for the recipe for out yummy Roasted Spring Garlic!!  This was a hit at the Reynolda Village Farmers Market!

Tags: Garlic
Posted 4/9/2011 2:26pm by Cheryl & Ray.

While many in this part of the world spent their winter dreaming of their days of glory playing the hoops in the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Final Four, we here at Plum Granny Farm had a few hoop dreams of our own.  Now that all the hoopla is behind us (sorry about that George Mason!), we wanted to share a few photos of how we turned our dreams of The Big Dance into reality!

 

Some teams work with just one goal in mind.  Not us!   Nope, Team Plum Granny toiled over the winter to bring not just one but TWO greenhouses into being this year!  And we are happy to say that we did it!  We constructed an unheated high tunnel (or hoophouse) for season extension for a few of our raspberries (thanks to the NRCS Organic EQIP funding – our hats are off in thanks to our awesome agent, Dede DeBruhl!)  Our other construction project was a conventional heated greenhouse which we are using for plant starts and ginger production.  Take a look and see what you think!

Hammering in the ground stakes for the hoophouse

The very first steps in building the hoophouse (1/1/11)

Ray connecting center pole and purlins

Blue sky but cold steel!

Hoophouse skeleton

We're raising the roof!

Greenhouse detail work

Getting all the details right on the greenhouse before it is covered.

Wheelbarrow and greenhouse

Ceremonial entry

Ceremonial entry through the new greenhouse door! (Mocha appreciated the ride!)

Covering the greenhouse

What a way to spend a chilly February morning! Thanks so much to our great friends and family for helping!!  (2/1/11)

Plants in greenhouse

What a difference a couple of months make! (4/3/11)

Ray watering plants

A happy man and his plants!

 

Posted 1/9/2011 8:26pm by Ray.

I checked on the bees today.  We rarely open hives in the winter, but I was worried about their food stores, and the 10-day weather forecast is for cold and breezy, with a few days of rain/sleet/snow.  So feed them today or wait a couple of weeks.

The Pink Ladies are doing O.K.  I always check them first because they’re so encouraging  - a neat & clean hive with straight comb and a healthy population.  That gets my visits going on a good note.  Today was no exception.  Bars 10 and up were empty but I found bees between 8 and 9, along with a bit of capped honey.  A quick peek between 7 and 8 indicated a good population, so I left some crystallized honey to help them out and closed the hive back up from the cold.

The Artists and the White Room are O.K. as well.  They both had me worried when I first opened the hives - - quite a few dead bees on the floor and roach-like bugs roaming some comb.  But I found good populations between bars 7 and 8, and they still have capped honey.  And although the White Room’s population seemed smaller, it was still lively enough that one bee flew up to my face and challenged me, so they’re O.K.  Both colonies have always been a bit messy.  Especially the Artists.

But the Green House died.  I don’t know why.  A couple hundred dead bees on the floor.  Honey and nectar in some comb.  A tiny bit of capped brood - - just a small ring on two combs.  And a hundred or so dead bees clustered between combs 5 and 6.  It looks like they lost their queen and the population shrank until the last 100 froze one night in a huddle.  Maybe she absconded.  Maybe she died.  I don’t know.  I’ll look through the hive more closely tomorrow in the comfort of my shop.  For now I’m too cold and a bit saddened.  I put the hive on the tailgate of my truck and drove it back to the farmhouse.  Driving slowly so the hive wouldn’t fall off, and still wearing my black veil, I felt like a mini funeral procession.  Winter is hard on us all.

Ray

 The Green House In Summer

The Green House In Summer

Tags: Bees, Winter
Posted 1/8/2011 7:35pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Amazing.  I’m standing in the kitchen cutting open a beautiful Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.  I’m finally ready to turn this beauty into a stuffed pumpkin for a cold winter’s night.  This pumpkin is almost a friend.  It was given to me by one of the farmers who sells at the King Farmers Market as I was gathering items for our market’s booth at the County Fair.  After the fair (in September), the pumpkin has been gracing our farm as a bit of a stately decoration -- but I have always known that its destiny was for a wonderful dinner.  Well, that day has finally come.  So I heft a large knife to ready it for stuffing with rice and lentils.  As I scoop out the seeds, I notice there are sprouts among the seeds.  Then, upon further inspection, there are not only sprouts, there are leaves!  So as the winds are howling outside the window and the temperature plummets, it is comforting to see that the herald of spring comes within a humble (and tasty) pumpkin!  Here’s to enjoying winter -- which is a bit easier when you see such harbingers of spring!

Sprouted pumpkin seeds on a plate

Posted 12/26/2010 9:45am by Ray.

Cheryl takes Yam a Christmas dinner

The house is clean and decorated, with food for a party of 50.  It’s time for our annual Christmas Open House! 

We hosted it once many years ago for Cheryl’s parents and all their friends and relatives around here, and those folks looked forward to it so much that we’ve just kept it up every year since.  But right now there’s 5” of snow on the ground & some more on the way with 15-20 MPH winds.  The roads aren’t bad, but they sure aren’t going to get any better.  So in deference to all those older folks who would have to miss it, we’re postponing the party to Valentine’s Day.

BUT.....

Everything’s tucked in ...

The propane tank is full ...

Yam is warm and dry in her barn with plenty of hay and chop ...

And the house is clean and decorated, with plenty of food ...

Time for music and raspberry cider and cookies by the fire, and a walk in the snow and a hot bowl of posole and a fresh tomato sandwich.

(Yep, we’re still getting some tasty toms ripening up from that last mass harvest before the hard frost in November.)

When life hands you wintry weather ... make snow cream!

Posted 10/25/2010 3:25pm by Cheryl & Ray.

Crop Mob comes to PGF!

Yesterday a whole bunch of folks came to the farm to split bulbs of seed garlic into cloves for planting.  It’s not hard labor, but it sure is time consuming when we’re talking about 650 pounds of garlic bulbs needing to be split, or as garlic growers say, cracked or popped or clove.  So some raspberry and garlic fans from Krankies Framers Market and Slow Food Piedmont and other friends of Yam came to the rescue!  We set up straw bales, cooked up some green chile stew (with Plum Granny organic green chile and onions, and Gary & Kay Owen’s Naturally Grown potatoes), put on some music, and enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the NC Piedmont chatting and cracking garlic.  The kids worked on elephant garlic the size of softballs, and they loved having bigger garlic than the grownups.  Then they were off to play Duck Duck Goose and run in the raspberry rows and devour berries wherever they stopped while the rest of us talked and turned bags of bulbs into bags of cloves.  A bit of a farm tour rounded out the day.  Come evening, we were pretty tired and very thankful for that big dent in our pile ‘o seed garlic.  A bushel-full of thanks go out to:

Kay Bergey

The Brockenbroughs

David Brown

Blaine & Pat Ferguson

Don & Paula & Sophie & Ana Jennings

Andrew & Fill Lloyd

Anne Long

Kathy & Matt & Vivian & Nic Mayers

Susan & Harvey Moser (Moser Manor)

Kenneth & Dawn Nelson

Sara Nutter

Jennifer & Lucy Ong

Kay & Gary Owen ((Gary’s Produce)

Pat Sisson

Ken Van Hoy (Rail Fence Farm)

Jim & Michelle & Katherine & Elizabeth Walter (Walter Farm)

Cerole Zellmer

Carol Zerner

 

Tags: Garlic
Posted 10/2/2010 8:47am by Ray.

A lot of rain.  It was heaviest along the coast.  Wilmington got something like 12” in 5 or 6 hours.  We only got 5.5”.  It helped some and hurt some.  Tomatoes split when they get a bolus of water.  The raspberries’ flavor gets watered down a bit.  Their brix reading dropped from 12.5 to 10.5, but never a bland 7.5 like the supermarket raz.  And mold can become a problem.  But the rain also really helped a couple of our fields which we’re trying to prep for winter cover crop or garlic planting.  We’re still in the process of building the soil, so these newer fields are like cement when they’re dry.  We managed to get them opened up with a monster chisel plow before the rain.  So the rain soaked in rather than running off.  And now the soil is soft enough for us to pick rocks out of the new garlic fields.  We’re pulling about 4 cubic yards of rocks out of each half acre field.  That’s 3 to 4 tons.  One rock at a time.  Folks here think we’re crazy.  “What are you doing all that work for?  They’ll just come back!”  At night we dream of rocks in the pile sprouting little legs and trotting across the road to settle in their home field again.  I check the pile each morning.

But we know we’re making a difference, short term anyway.  We picked rocks from a couple of fields last year and planting was easier, weeding was easier, rocks didn’t stab our knees, our digging forks struck far fewer rocks at harvest, we dodged less flying rocks from the mower, ... .  We’ll go through the process with each field a couple of times to get the remaining ones that tilling brings to the surface and the smaller ones we missed last time.  Maybe after a few years we’ll have all the fields cleared.  Maybe not.  Meanwhile, we’re putting a lot of the rocks in some small ravines and packing soil on them.  We tell the Conservation Service agent that we’re doing it to control erosion.  Secretly, we’re trying to bury the rocks so they can’t come back to the field.

Posted 9/5/2010 7:32pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

It’s been a tough summer weather-wise here in northern piedmont North Carolina.  All the crops have had to work a little harder than usual to get themselves growing and producing in the extreme heat.  None of our crops have been more challenged than our raspberries.  The varieties that we grow -- by nature – enjoy cooler weather.  They obviously weren’t able to enjoy much of that this summer.  As a consequence, they weren’t very productive and even ended up with some nasty beetles preying on their stressed state (sap beetles are now one of our most hated insects!).

But now as things are starting to cool down a bit, the berries are starting to show new energy and productivity (aren’t we all?)  The new raspberry field is beginning to put on lots of berries and we picked our first ones from that field this week.  Hurray!

So thanks to all our loyal, raspberry-loving customers who have patiently heard us say week after week – “we hope the berries will be coming back in a few weeks!” – well now that finally seems to be more accurate than ever!  And just in time – Raspberry Day is at Krankies Farmers Market on September 14th!

Posted 9/5/2010 7:32pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

It’s been a tough summer weather-wise here in northern piedmont North Carolina.  All the crops have had to work a little harder than usual to get themselves growing and producing in the extreme heat.  None of our crops have been more challenged than our raspberries.  The varieties that we grow -- by nature – enjoy cooler weather.  They obviously weren’t able to enjoy much of that this summer.  As a consequence, they weren’t very productive and even ended up with some nasty beetles preying on their stressed state (sap beetles are now one of our most hated insects!).

But now as things are starting to cool down a bit, the berries are starting to show new energy and productivity (aren’t we all?)  The new raspberry field is beginning to put on lots of berries and we picked our first ones from that field this week.  Hurray!

So thanks so all our loyal, raspberry-loving customers who have patiently heard us say week after week – “we hope the berries will be coming back in a few weeks!” – well now that finally seems to be more accurate than ever!  And just in time – Raspberry Day is at Krankies Farmers Market on September 14th!

Posted 8/23/2010 6:02pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Well, actually, it’s a green letter day - - as in

Plum Granny Farm is now certified USDA organic for ALL our produce except raspberries and blackberries, which are still in their transitional period.

   47 pages of application

plus

   10 pages of extra notes and explanations

plus

   56 pages of attachments

plus

     2 rounds of questions and additional information

plus

     1 site visit / inspection

 

Equals  one HUGE sigh of relief  and an ear splitting cheer!

(Did you hear it?)


 

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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USDA Organic logo

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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