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Posted 7/24/2010 5:51pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Today the President declared July 7th to be a National Day of Celebration in honor of the completion of the garlic harvest at Plum Granny Farm!  The President noted that the bountiful harvest of beautiful bulbs of 16 garlic varieties deserved such a meritorious honor.  In prepared remarks, the President noted that the freshly harvested bulbs are currently nestled in 3 barns and are curing nicely.  As part of the President’s Eat Smart program, garlic has been featured as an important part of a healthy diet.  Hey, not bad for a crop of dirt farmers in Stokes County, North Carolina!  Rock on Plum Granny Farm, rock on! 

[Please note that the President referred to in this blog refers to the President of Plum Granny Farm and should not be mistaken for the President of the United States.]

 

Plum Granny Farmers toast this special Holiday with Gatorade (of course!)

 

Did we mention that it was a bit warm when we finished harvesting??

 

Posted 7/24/2010 5:16pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Well...for today anyway!  This week Team Plum Granny wrestled some monster weeds in the new raspberry field and got it squeaky clean – no easy task when the temps were in the miserable upper 90s and the humidity matched it.  We wrangled with sequoia-size pig weed and kudzu-like morning glories to give our new little plants some much needed breathing room.  Did I just hear a plant say “Thank You!”?  I’ll bet they pay us back in early fall with some sweet and yummy berries.

Posted 6/29/2010 7:14am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Greetings!

A heavy downpour helped cool things off around here but may interfere with our raspberry picking for tomorrow’s Krankies Farmers Market --   we’ll see.  It’s up and out early in the a.m. to finish picking raspberries and harvesting oriental lilies.  We will also have 5 different varieties of freshly dug garlic to add to the mix.

We'll also be at the King Farmers Market on Wednesday (11-1) and the Reynolda Village Market on Friday (9-1)

So stop by our table this week and check out the fresh goodness from Plum Granny Farm!

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 6/24/2010 6:17am by Ray.

It’s how we grow garlic.  One at a time.  That sounds like a Napa Valley cliche.  Except that it really is true.  24,548 cloves of garlic split from their mother bulbs, one at a time.  Plant them by hand one at a time.  Weed by hand one at a time.  Cut the scapes by hand one at a time.  Now we’re pulling them out of the ground, brushing the dirt from their roots,  and putting them in the barn.  By hand.  One at a time.

Harvest is a grand time, despite it being hot and humid.  It’s a thrill to see the product of any crop, but especially something like garlic.  We monitor it all year long and even pull samples now and then, but we don’t really know how big and healthy the bulbs are going to be until we dig into the soil and they come out of the ground.  It’s kind of like Santa Claus came to town.  And this year either we were good boys and girls or he goofed and came to the wrong farm.  We’ve only pulled 3,936 bulbs and some of our favorite kinds are still out there in their mulch wrappers, but so far we’re smiling.

Inchellium Red is looking very good.  Lortz Italian is huge.  Music has that gorgeous mother of pearl sheen.  Even the Korean Red turned out well, and we thought it would be a total loss.  A lady who bought some at Krankies said she roasted it for dinner and “it was like dessert!”

 That helps keep us going as we dig and pull and store the other 20,612.  One at a time.

Tags: Garlic
Posted 5/30/2010 9:10pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Garlic scape

Scapes!  It’s that time of year when these tasty but little known parts of the garlic make a brief appearance in the field springing up above the foliage of the plants.  We only have a couple of weeks to enjoy them young and tender, so we get busy gathering and bundling and rushing them to market.  So what exactly is a scape?  There are lots of descriptions out there is but I like this one by Washington Post blogger Kim O'Donnel (A Mighty Appetite):

Here's the anatomy lesson:  Garlic and its relatives in the allium family (leeks, chives, onions) grows underground, where the bulb begins its journey, soft and onion-like. As the bulb gets harder (and more like the garlic we know), a shoot pokes its way through the ground. Chlorophyll- green like a scallion (maybe even greener), the shoot is long and thin and pliable enough to curl into gorgeous tendrils.

This stage of growth is the garlic scape, folks. If left unattended, the scape will harden and transform from green to the familiar opaque white/beige color of garlic peel. Keeping the shoot attached will also curtail further growth of the bulb. So, in an effort to allow the garlic to keep growing, the farmer is getting a two-fer with this edible delectable that cooks are just beginning to discover.

The amazing thing about scapes is that they shoot up quickly (one day they aren’t there, then the next day there they are!) They stand up, bend over, and curl around like a little piggy tail.  That’s when they’re tender and tasty.  But after a few days of whimsy they know it’s time to get back to garlic work, so they stiffen their backs and straighten right up again.  Of course, stiff means tough, so if we don’t harvest them before that point, you won’t enjoy them very much.

Scapes are incredibly tasty and are quite versatile in the kitchen.  You can use them in stir-frys, chopped in cream cheese, as well as in some yummy scape-centered recipes like the pesto or bean dip that you’ll find on our recipe page.  Ray’s favorite is grilled scapes – quick, easy, and really good.  The folks who sampled his cooking at market thought so, too.

Last Tuesday at Krankies Farmers Market, Michelle Ferrier of Locally Grown News paid Ray a visit to find out what these bunches of strange curly things were at our table.  Here’s a link to her article and photos:  http://locallygrown.live.communityq.com/detail.html?sub_id=26300

Thanks for the coverage, Michelle!

So run right out and get a scape while you can!

Scapes on a plate

Tags: Garlic
Posted 5/14/2010 5:26pm by Cheryl.

Yes, our garlic.  It's been sitting there patiently since November/December and has been growing steadily and not asking too much of us.  But now it says that if we want to harvest over a ton of it next month, we'd better get it some irrigation and more food!  We've weeded it once and have given it a few foliar feedings but as the weather moves into a drought (or at least it feels that way), it is demanding some real water.

We laid drip tape when we planted in anticipation of this moment but between the wind and the flock of wild turkeys that loved to root around in the wheat straw over the winter, the tape was a mess.  (Remember 'Turkey In The Straw'?)  We needed to get it straightened out and ready to provide some essential moisture to those growing bulbs.

With some ingenuity on the part of one of our employees, Nick, we got the lines laid out nicely and now the water is flowing.  Ah, relief!  I was sure I heard a cheer from the Chesnok!

Nick's great idea!

Posted 5/10/2010 11:02am by Cheryl.

Winter dreams of planting raspberries finally were realized as we finished up our new acre on Saturday!  The push to get those masses of bare root plants into the ground (well, at least mostly bare -- a few had shot out some sprouts and leaves) was at last accomplished!  And the number of the day?  2358!  Yessiree, we planted two thousand-three hundred and eighty-eight raspberries and blackberries last week -- thought I'd write the numbers out for extra emphasis!  It was a red letter day here at Plum Granny Farm!!

The week's planting began with a wonderfully rainy Monday and ended with scorching temps by Thursday.  The lack of rain this spring is indeed worrisome -- perhaps Mother Nature is giving us a break after such a soggy fall and winter.  This year it is hard to tell if it is spring or summer because the two keep running together!

After the planting was done, Ray and Cheryl continued the long-standing tradition of toasting the planting with a glass of raspberry wine.  Perhaps I should ask  -- does doing it for two years in a row make it a tradition?  I think the photos show that a good time was had by all...

After the few minutes of frivolity, it was back to work to get the irrigation going to our original raspberry field and the field that will be under the high tunnel.  Having lived in the arid West for nearly two decades, we are firm believers in irrigation.  Cheryl's dad hardly every irrigated -- but he planted more than twice as much as he needed to make up the difference -- we can't do that with our crops and drip irrigation is a key to ensuring the health of the plants.

Now that the raspberries are tucked into their new homes (and no longer living in boxes in the milk house), we can turn our sights to veggies, flowers and herbs!  And we're off!

A toast

Posted 4/21/2010 2:31pm by Cheryl.

It's Spring!  And that means that the farmers at Plum Granny Farm are running around like crazy wishing there were enough hours in the day to get everytihng done.  Or as we say here in Stokes County, we are wide open!  We are adding another acre of raspberries this spring so we are trying to turn a rocky slope that was last planted in tobacco about 6 years ago, into a welcoming environment for raspberries.  A challenge but it can be done! 

In order to prepare the beds, we are cutting the sod off with a sodcutter (not a task for the feeble of body or spirit).  After the sod is cut, we roll it up and remove it, and then we are able to till up the beds and amend them for planting -- sounds simple enough but that requires days of work when you are talking about an acre of land.  So why all the trouble?  Why not just plow the sod under?  Well, all those pieces of grass left in the soil would become weeds.  So we cut it now, or weed it later.  Oh, and the sod is being used to help mitigate some erosion issues that we have here (in NRCS-speak it is "Highly Erodible Land" or HEL).

This new raspberry field is in addition to our original 1/2 acre field that we planted last year.  We are expanding this crop because we had such a tremendous response to our berries last year.  The varieties we are planting this year are based on our farm market surveys or customer favorites -- if you tasted one of our berries last year and gave us your feedback, you were part of the decisionmaking process!  We are planting Heritage, Caroline and Anne (the yellow variety).  In addition to these we are also planting some varieties that will produce earlier and later -- so that we are able to provide you with fresh berries for a longer season.  New blackberries  -- Prime Jim and Prime Jan -- are also being planted to round out our collection of Triple Crown and Navaho, and deliver blackberries in the Fall!

We'll be planting this week -- look for updates and a few pictures soon!

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!

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