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Posted 5/26/2016 12:14pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Thursday!

Firefly up closePhoto Credit:  http://bestofbicolandia.blogspot.com

They're back!  No matter what you call them, fireflies, lightning bugs -- they are back flittering over our yard and fields in the evening.  What a wonderful sight!  But I must confess... these little guys have been back for about a month now -- but I keep forgetting to mention it!

Lots of sun and warmer temperatures this week -- and what does that mean?  Weeds and irrigation!  Getting the irrigation going after all of the rain we had has been a challenge.  The pond pump was working fine before, but now there seems to be a problem.  So what do you do? Get out the backup pump and cross your fingers.  And then you find out that the housing is cracked on the backup pump so then you swap the housing... and cross your fingers!  No wonder it feels like we can't get anything done!

Ray fixing the pond pump  Pump heading back to the pond

Irrigation or not, lots of plants are telling us that it won't be too long until it's their turn to shine!  Raspberries, tomatoes and more are starting to show their colors!  Won't be long!

Hand full of Prelude raspberries  Coyote currant tomato in Raz House

We had fun this past Sunday being part of the Competition Dining kickoff round in Winston-Salem!  Our peas (snow and snap) along with carrots from The Specialty Farmer in Lincolnton and New Town Farm in Waxhaw provided the ingredients for Battle Peas and Carrots!  It's always amazing to see what these talented chefs create out of the featured ingredients.  Here's Cheryl with the giant gourmets from Team Phoenix of Brevard (left) and Team Miller Time of Graze Restaurant in Winston-Salem (right).

Cheryl with Competition Dining teams

Brix's Friend Jenny

Brix has a very good friend, Jenny Bates, who comes and visits her every week or so.  Jenny (aka The Donkey Whisperer) quietly comes up for a visit and brings Brix a carrot, a bit of brushing, and lots of kind words of encouragement.  We got to catch her in the act today!  Brix really loves her friend.

Brix and Jenny

Market Updates!

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem (Saturday) and King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA (Wednesday) with lots of Certified Organic tastiness including Garlic Scapes, the last of the asparagus (limited quantity), Kale, Swiss Chard, Frissé, Pac Choy, Easter Egg Radishes, Chives, Garlic Powder and Granules, Triple Crown Blackberry Plants, and lots of transplants (tomato, tomatillo, herb).  Our jam stocks are getting low, so you better make sure you don't miss out.  And since grilling season is beginning, don't forget that our Raspberry-Chipotle Molé is perfect for grilled shrimp and meats!  We hope to see you at Old Salem from 9-noon and King from 11-1.  Please note that we may not always have every item at the Wednesday market.

Wishing you the best on this Memorial Day weekend.  The weekend always holds special meaning for us since both of our fathers served in World War II.  Ray's dad, Bill, was a career Army man and also served in Korea. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  The photo below was taken during the Memorial Day weekend dedication of the World War II Memorial in 2004.

Our deepest appreciation goes out to all those who have served our country -- in wartime and peace.  Take a moment this weekend to say "Thank you" to a veteran -- and if you are one, our special thanks to you.

Bill's marker at Arlington National Cemetary

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 5/19/2016 11:07am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Thursday!

What a strange May this has been. Gloomy days seem to be the norm (although last Saturday at market was exquisite!).  But the cloud cover and mist are good for planting and weeding, which are high on our to-do list this week.

The weeds are definitely getting their spring growth spurt so we are trying to get them out of our plantings before they take over.  The leeks are a good example.  In the picture below, the unweeded bed is full of sedge and the newly weeded bed (to the right of Detroit) is nice and clean.  Leeks, along with other alliums, don't compete well with weeds so it is especially important to keep ahead of the game.

Weedy and weeded leeks with Detroit

Another crop we are trying to tend extra well this year is potatoes.  Last year the weeds jumped up before we could get in the field to hill and cultivate.  In the battle between the weeds and the potatoes, the potatoes lost big time.  And if the weeds didn't do them in, the Colorado Potato Beetles did.  This week we scouted the field and found very few beetles or eggs (yay!) and Ray did another hilling and cultivation.  Don't you think the field is looking mighty fine?

Freshly cultivated and hilled potatoes

One of the busiest "fields" on the farm is Raz House, our high tunnel.  This little 30' x 40' space has a lot going on!  The snow peas came out this week and the early sugar snap peas will probably follow today.  The peas are being followed by tomatoes along with lettuce, basil and radishes.  We are doing lots of inter-planting to maximize the space -- it's prime real estate!  The picture below shows the newly planted tomatoes in the former snow pea bed -- behind it are the snap peas awaiting their final picking.  We can really pack a house!

Raz House planting

The middle of May always signals one of our favorite times of the year -- Scape Season!  Yes, our little acrobatic friends are starting to emerge in the hardneck garlic.  These tasty morsels are always a frequently requested item at market -- and this week we'll have some!  In addition, we are doing a cooking class on garlic scapes for Southern Home & Kitchen at Thruway Center next Tuesday (5/24) at 6 p.m.  Contact them for reservations (336.777.3660) – it will be fun and tasty!

Scape on "Music" garlic plant

 

On the Bee front, Ray completed the transition of the damaged hive to a top-bar hive and things seem to be doing okay -- it is still hard to tell if there is a queen.  Later today, Ray will be installing a nuc from a swarm that our friend, Brian Hart, caught.  His wife, Sharon, had read about us losing one of our hives and called to offer one of theirs.  Those bees will be going into the Langstroth hive body -- trying again!  Thanks to Brian and Sharon for sharing!

Mini-Hay Day

Or was that hey day?  The lambs and Brix were treated to a pre-haying feast of fresh grass this week.  Freshly cut and delivered straight to their waiting mouths... sometimes you are just in the mood for fast food delivery!

Cutting the grass under watchful eyes  Brix gets her share  A deliriously happy lamb  Table for two, please

Market Updates!

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem (Saturday) and King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA (Wednesday) with lots of Certified Organic tastiness including Snow Peas, Garlic Scapes, Kale, Swiss Chard, Broccoli Raab, Frissé, Easter Egg Radishes, Garlic Powder and Granules, Triple Crown Blackberry Plants, and lots of transplants (tomato, tomatillo, herb).  Our fruit-forward jams and Raspberry-Chipotle Molé will also be available.  We hope to see you at Old Salem from 9-noon and King from 11-1.  Please note that we may not always have every item at the Wednesday market.

Tomorrow is Pick Strawberries Day.  While we won't have any to pick, we want to thank everyone who came out to our PYO event last Sunday -- what a wonderful day!  And thanks too to everyone who bought strawberries from us this year -- we know that we never had enough to go around but we really appreciate your enthusiasm for our little red fruits!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 5/13/2016 7:58am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

We are so very happy to report that we have no cataclysmic weather events to share with you this week!  Hooray!  We got nervous yesterday evening when big, bad storm clouds started rolling in but they didn't bring us much of anything -- although it sounds like there was a lot of bad weather all around.  Hope everyone made out okay.

We really appreciate the well-wishes we have gotten from everyone regarding last week's storm damage.  It means so much to get your words of encouragement and offers of help.  We hope to be having a barn-raising event to rebuild the shed that collapsed -- don't know when that will be but you'll be the first to hear about it!

The bees seem to have made it - although the numbers are reduced.  We still aren't sure about the queen -- they have been a bit too grumpy to be able to get into the hive for a thorough look.  We did have a little swarm on Sunday and were able to catch it.  The swarm was from another hive -- not the one that was damaged.

In addition to continuing storm clean-up, we've been getting some other stuff done around here.  Amazingly the soil had dried out enough that Ray was able to cultivate the potatoes and hill them for the first time.  Our little spuds are looking good!

Potato field

And the blackberries and raspberries are starting to develop green fruit -- promising!

Green berries on Ouachita blackberries  Green berries on Prelude raspberries

A good chunk of the week has been devoted to our annual Garlic-palooza -- our big order of spring garlic for The Produce Box.  This year we had decided that we weren't going to do as large of an order (we've done as much as 5,000 bunches before!) so we initially thought we'd have about 300 or so.  By the time we finished yesterday, we clocked in at 1,111!  You just can't stop these guys!  Kudos to our Rock Stars of the Palooza -- Chris & Andrew!  You crushed it!

Andrew washing garlic  Chris & Andrew with the last of the cleaned garlic  Getting the boxes ready to go  Last bunches go in the box

Strawberry PYO Update

Believe it or not, our strawberries have recovered and conditions are looking pretty good. So.... we are having a PYO on Sunday (5/15) from 1-3 p.m.  We provide picking containers but please bring something to carry them home as well as a cooler.  The berries are $3.75 per pound.  Head on up to Stokes County on Sunday!  It's supposed to be a beautiful day!

Market Updates!

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem (Saturday) and King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA (Wednesday) with lots of Certified Organic tastiness including Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Peas, Kale, Garlic Powder and Granules, Triple Crown Blackberry Plants, lots of transplants (tomato, tomatillo, herb) and maybe some strawberries.  We will also have our tasty jams and popular Raspberry-Chipotle Molé Sauce (it's grilling time!)  We hope to see you at Old Salem from 9-noon and King from 11-1.

Here's a bit of lore from our friends at The Old Farmer's Almanac:  May 11, 12, and 13 are the feast days of Saints Mamertus, Pancras, and Gervais. These days are known as the Three Chilly Saints because they are traditionally the coldest of the month.  English and French folklore (and later American) held that these days would bring a late frost. In Germany, they were called the Icemanner, or Icemen Days, and people believed it was never safe to plant until the Icemen were gone.  Another bit of folklore claimed, "Who shears his sheep before St. Gervatius's Day loves more his wool than his sheep."  BB and Tony are glad that we love them more than their wool!  But the time to shear is soon!

Have a great Friday the 13th -- did you know this is the only one this year?

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 5/5/2016 1:30pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Thursday! And Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Standing in a puddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Brix surveying the rain from her shelter

Or maybe that should be Happy Soggy de Mayo! We've got a soppy mess around here.  To date, we've had nearly 5.25 inches of rain since last Wednesday.  And unfortunately on Monday we had another brush with severe weather.  Around 5 p.m., a downburst came through bringing crazy straight-line winds, hail and heavy rain.  This storm didn't have the amount of hail that last week's did but the winds left us reeling.  Of course, the strawberries got beat up some but the biggest losers were several large trees and part of the tobacco barn that we use for our packing shed.  We've spent a lot of time this week cleaning up and trying to put things together while we see if the insurance company will help us rebuild the structure.

Tobacco barn shed collapse  Yam Barn tree  Church House tree

Another victim of the storm was the newly installed beehive (the New-Bees).  The force of the wind blew the hive apart.  Ray went out on Monday night to try to rescue them and we aren't sure of the success of that mission.  If the queen managed to stay with the comb that wasn't crushed, then there's a chance.  Keep your fingers crossed for our girls!

New-Bees hive blown apart by storm  Ray beside the behive  Ray moving the comb to another have  Lots of dead bees on top

Strawberry PYO Update

As you can imagine, all this rain and hail have not done the berries many favors.  We have had to trash several hundred pounds and are trying to save what we can for jam.  Today Chris and Andrew spent the rainy morning cutting up berries to freeze.

Because the berry production and conditions are not good, we are going to have to cancel our planned PYO on Sunday (5/8).  If we get some sun and warmer weather, hopefully we will be able to have a PYO this season.  More finger crossing....

Andrew & Chris prepping berries to freeze

Sorry to keep bringing you such downer news for two weeks in a row!  But let's end on a positive note, shall we?  We got lots of planting done, the garlic scapes are starting to peek through, and so many people have offered to help us with the clean-up.  That's definitely something to smile about, don't you think?

Newly planted kale & lettuce  Music garlic is starting to scape

Market Updates!

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem (Saturday) and King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA (Wednesday) with lots of Certified Organic tastiness including Spring Garlic (Last week!), Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Peas, Swiss Chard, Kale, Kentucky Colonel Spearmint (for Derby Day!), Garlic Powder and Granules, Blackberry Plants, lots of transplants (tomato, tomatillo, herb) and Strawberry Hanging Baskets (with fruit!)  We will also have our tasty jams and popular Raspberry-Chipotle Molé Sauce (it's grilling time!)  We hope to see you at Old Salem from 9-noon and King from 11-1.

Today is Ray & Cheryl's 32nd Wedding Anniversary!  And our employee, Andrew Chandler, is getting married on Saturday!  Happy times are here to stay!

Raspberry pink peony

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 4/29/2016 9:58am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday! 

The past 24 hours have been a whirling dervish!  What started as a calm, cloudy Thursday ended in a roar with a huge hailstorm and lots of rain. 

Huge hailstones  Shoveling hail off the shadecloth

The storm packed a one-two punch and dumped 1.1 inches of rain in less than an hour along with the biggest hailstones I've ever seen here.  The surge of water created some pretty serious erosion in the Flat Shoals field.  Our other fields fared just fine.  We have been working on stabilizing Flat Shoals for several years and have implemented erosion control practices to improve it.  This was caused by a rookie plowing error that allowed the water to flow at a different (bad) angle -- oh, the things you need to know to farm!  We've got to deal with this soon as we have more significant rain predicted over the next few days.

Channel in Flat Shoals field  Debris from Flat Shoals

Andrew had been planting beans in the field right before this hit -- we're not sure where those beans ended up! 

The good news is that we are all okay and there was no significant property damage.  We just have some beat-up plants and fruit...  We haven't started picking strawberries today but given the hail, we are sure that the fruit suffered damage.  That will likely limit what we bring to market this week.

Speaking of strawberries, did you know that strawberries are the #1 item on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Dirty Dozen? Conventionally grown strawberries are loaded with pesticides and the soil is fumigated with toxic gases.  In a new report, the EWG cited data from California showing that in 2014, nearly 300 pounds of pesticides were applied to each acre of strawberries – an astonishing amount, compared to about five pounds of pesticides per acre of corn, which is considered a pesticide-intensive crop. 

So what should you do?  Well, we know where you can get berries that don't have these issues!  But we cannot supply the strawberry needs of our area -- our 2,000 plants are working hard but can't produce enough for everyone to get as many berries as she wants.  When you explore other options, ask questions about the strawberries you buy.  Learn about the growing practices: fumigants? pesticides? herbicides?  Buying Certified Organic is your assurance that your food is safe but unfortunately there are not many local options.  If you go to the other strawberry growers in our area, encourage them to adopt organic practices and seek certification.  Customer pressure is a key reason for growers to make the switch to Certified Organic.

The week hasn't been all about hail and strawberries!  Take a quick tour to see what we've been up to:

The LaRatte fingerlings and other potatoes are really starting to pop up!

LaRatte potatoes  Row of LaRatte fingerling potatoes

Getting more beds shaped and covered has been a key task for the week.  Since we are moving into warmer weather, we're using white plastic on the beds to keep the soil cooler than black plastic would.

Covering the beds in North 2

Our little orphan tomato plant is now very huge and has a permanent home in the greenhouse -- and is starting to produce RIPE fruit!

Ginormous tomato plant in the greenhouse

 

Market Updates!

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem (Saturday) and King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA (Wednesday) with lots of Certified Organic tastiness including Spring Garlic, purple and green Asparagus (limited amounts), a limited supply of Organic & No-Spray Strawberries, Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Peas, Swiss Chard, Kale, Garlic Powder and Granules, Blackberry and Black Raspberry Plants, lots of transplants (tomato, veggie, herb) and Strawberry Hanging Baskets (with fruit!)  We will also have our tasty jams and popular Raspberry-Chipotle Molé Sauce (it's grilling time!)  We hope to see you at Old Salem from 9-noon and King from 11-1.

Pick-Your-Own Update

Our planned Strawberry PYO on Sunday has been postponed due to the forecast of heavy rain & thunderstorms.  Our current plan is to hold one on Sunday, May 8.  Stay tuned!

Hope to see you at market -- and the lambs ask that you not buy any peas...that means more for them (not!)

BB & Tony with pea vines

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 4/22/2016 8:49am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday! 

Happy Earth Day everyone! As organic farmers, every day is Earth Day to us -- each action that we take is done with the intent of protecting our planet and its resources.  We try to be good stewards of the Earth with everything we do.  And we know you care as well -- by supporting a small, local and Certified Organic farm, you are making a statement and contributing to the health of the planet.  With your purchasing decisions, you take positive steps to reduce our impact on the Earth.  We thank you for your support and Mother Earth thanks you as well!

We do not inherit

The great news this week is that the strawberries have started coming in!  They are coming in slowly but the crop is looking good (and tasting amazing!).  We will have some at market this week and hope to have a pick-your-own event in early May.  Watch this space!  Or should I say, watch this busket!

First strawberries of 2016

Here's your educational moment for today:  the berry pictured below is deformed due to inadequate pollination -- enough bees weren't able to get to the flower to ensure even movement of the pollen to the female parts of the flower.  Honeybees are the most efficient pollinators of strawberry plants -- and in this case, they were likely closed out of the field when it was covered due to the cold weather a couple of weeks ago.  So by covering the plants, we lost some berries by excluding pollinators.  See how important bees are?  But you knew that!

Misshapen strawberry

The week has been filled with lots of irrigation (it is amazingly dry for this time of year!), seeding, planting, harvesting and getting the shade cloth on the greenhouse.  This is the earliest we have put shade on the greenhouse -- and it felt like we were running late in getting it covered!  This spring got suddenly hot and it was really impacting the plants inside!  We had conveniently forgotten about the huge hole in the fabric so Ray had to do some fancy needlework (using a twist-tie for a needle!) before we could get the building covered. Who says farmers aren't Jacks (and Jills) of all trades?

Ray mending the shade cloth  A covered greenhouse

And lots of stuff is blooming -- from the lilacs to the fava beans to the blackberries!

White lilac blossom  Fava bean blossoms

Market Updates!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to our Open Greenhouse & Plant Sale!  Wow! What a great day -- and we even got some news coverage!!  Despite an overwhelming turnout, we still have lots of plants left and we'll be bringing them to market this week. 

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem (Saturday) and King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA (Wednesday) with lots of Certified Organic tastiness including spring garlic, purple and green asparagus (limited amounts), a limited supply of Organic & No-Spray Strawberries, swiss chard, kale, garlic powder and granules, Blackberry and Black Raspberry plants, tomato & herb transplants, and strawberry hanging baskets!  And we will also have lovely irises and delectable jam!  We hope to see you at Old Salem from 9-noon and King from 11-1.

Quick Schedule Update:  We are postponing our Turmeric Workshop scheduled for May 1 to a later date (TBD).  We will likely have a PYO that day instead.

Enjoy the Full Pink Moon which appeared at 1:24 a.m. today.  It is the smallest Full Moon of the year, as the Earth and Moon move to their furthest points from each other.

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 4/15/2016 9:24am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

Today is that magical day that gardeners look forward to -- no, not Tax Day -- Frost-Free Day!  This is the day that everyone sets as the day that it is okay to plant out frost-sensitive plants such as tomatoes and peppers.  What gets forgotten is that April 15 is the average frost-free date, not the absolute frost-free date.  Since it's an average, there's is a 50% chance that we may get some freezes before we move into consistently warmer weather.  Having said that, the long range forecast shows the weather through the end of the month as looking pretty warmBut it's always a good idea to give your transplants a chance to get used to being outside before planting. And be prepared for a cold snap.  Old-timers always said that May 10 was the best date to be sure.

This will be a great weekend to get transplants and get your garden ready to go.  We'll have some tomato plants and strawberry hanging baskets at Cobblestone Farmers Market but will have most of our plants at our on-farm Open Greenhouse and Plant Sale on Sunday (4/17) from 1-5 p.m.  We'll have hundreds of tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, herbs, kale, and chard transplants along with blackberry and black raspberry plants and strawberry hanging baskets -- all Certified Organic!  We'll also have soil amendments and some fresh veggies.

Perfect transplant

This week we finally got the potatoes planted -- nearly 500 pounds of spud heaven!!  The first step is to cut the seed potatoes into smaller pieces -- and boy, we sure got some lunkers this year!  Chris and Andrew have fun racing each other to see who can finish planting a row first and they have turned laying out the driptape into a competitive sporting event!  It's Team Plum Granny Spring Training!  They planted 3,000 feet of potatoes (15 rows) and hopefully, we'll be harvesting about 3,500 pounds of potato-y deliciousness starting in late June!

 

  Planted row of potatoes  Chris running out the driptapeDetroit gets in on the act of cutting potatoes  What a big potato

Last weekend's freeze (and wind!) were quite brutal.  We were able to get a double field blanket on the strawberries so they could be protected.  A HUGE thank you to Deb, Don, Matt, Andy & Lisa for coming out on such a blustery and cold afternoon to help us get the berries covered.  A challenging task with 30 mph winds but we got it done handily.  When we went to remove the cover on Sunday, the verdict was good -- all the flowers looked just fine!  And the proof was in the tasting...

Ray tasting a strawberry after the freeze  Victory in the berries!

Market Updates!

Thanks to all of you who braved last Saturday's less than ideal conditions for the opening of the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem!  We didn't completely blow away (but our tent collapsed!). We'll be back this week in our repaired purple tent packed with lots of Certified Organic tastiness including spring garlic, purple and green asparagus (limited amounts), swiss chard, kale, salad mix, red and green lettuce, Pink Beauty & White Icicle radishes, garlic powder and granules, tulips, heirloom tomato transplants, and strawberry hanging baskets!  And we will also have lovely irises and delectable jam!  We hope to see you there from 9-noon -- it's supposed to be a beautiful (and not windy) day.

Irises

The King Farmers Market at the Stokes Family YMCA will open on Wednesday, April 20 at 11:00 am!  The market has several new vendors this year and has moved to the lower parking lot at the Y.  We should have the same items as are listed for the Cobblestone Market.

We had a great time with our friends at Old Salem Museum and Gardens yesterday for our talk on growing small fruit.  Thanks to Vonnie Hannah for the invitation and for making us feel so welcome!  As I was walking to the greenhouse after we returned, I got a glimpse of why we love to grow berries -- seeing the first buds of blackberry flowers!  Stay tuned, folks -- it won't be long!

Ouachita blackberry flowers

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 4/7/2016 3:13pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Thursday! 

Covering the strawberries

Would someone please let the calendar know that she is confused?  Despite it being April, March winds decided to stay around long past their expiration date and the temperatures seem to think it's February!  We hit a low of 28 on Tuesday night and another cold one is expected Saturday.  Times like these send a strawberry grower into a blithering panic.  Our strawberry plants are LOADED with flowers and berries and are very susceptible to a freeze.  We got things covered up on Tuesday and will be covering again tomorrow just to make sure that we don't lose many berries.  Keep your fingers crossed!!

Lots of planting has been going on this week.  We got kale, broccoli raab, escarole, artichokes and leeks into the fields. Then we transitioned the hoophouse from winter greens to summer produce.  The first tomatoes and basil are now tucked into cozy beds in Raz House.

Planting in Flat Shoals  Raz House after removing lettuce  Chris planting tomatoes in Raz House  Raz House with tomatoes

More Bees, Please!

Ray got another package of 10,000 bees from Tate's Apiaries and we got to install them this afternoon.  Not the best day for installing bees into their new home because of the wind but we didn't want them to stay in their transport box (the "bee-mobile") any longer.  It was a great opportunity for Chris and Andrew to have an up-close view of the process.  We are using the beautiful hive body that Jen Garrison gave Ray when she moved to Mebane.  Take a look at this incredible process:

Ray waxing the hive body with beeswax

Waxing the hive body

 Getting ready to open the box

 Getting ready to open the box

Pulling the queen cage out of the box

Pulling the queen cage out of the box

Putting the bees into the hive

Putting the bees into the hive

That's a bunch of bees!

That's a bunch of bees!  At least they have a snack to get them ready to set up housekeeping.  Ray set up a bowl of honey complete with little wooden "piers" to help them get to the honey without drowning.

Putting the lid on the hive

Tucking them into their new home.  Since there are still bees in the transport box, it is propped up against the entrance to the hive so they can find their way inside.

Isn't this the most amazing thing?  And none of us got stung.

 

Cobblestone Farmers Market Starts This Weekend!

And now for the moment that many of you have been waiting for... Opening Day at the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem is Saturday (4/9) from 9-noon!   The market is located adjacent to the Single Brothers Garden at the intersection of Salt and West Streets in Old Salem.  For the latest updates on the market, check out Cobblestone's Facebook page.

We are already getting ready for the big day with our first spring garlic harvest of the year!

First spring garlic harvest of 2016

We'll be back in our usual spot (near the intersection of West Street and Old Salem Road).  Our purple tent will be packed with lots of Certified Organic spring goodness including spring garlic, purple and green asparagus (limited amounts), swiss chard, kale, salad mix, red and green lettuce, Pink Beauty & White Icicle radishes, salad turnips, garlic powder and granules, tulips, tomato transplants, and strawberry hanging baskets!  And we will also have our delectable jam!  We hope to see you there on Saturday -- bundle up and come on down to Old Salem!

Just a few reminders of upcoming dates:

Hang on to your hats, bundle up -- and be patient about planting those tender plants outside -- it's still 8 more days until the official frost-free date (we hope!)

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 4/1/2016 11:27am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!  Happy April Fool's Day!

Spring is really coming on strong!  This morning I had to make a trip to Danbury.  I always enjoy the drive there because it is so pretty to see the "other side of the mountain."   Today it was even more so.  The woods were tinged with that incredible spring green (the one in the Crayola box doesn't compare), and the dogwoods, redbuds, wisteria and wild cherries were decked out in their finest.  The rhododendron leaves were shiny in the mist and the meadow at Moore's Springs had a perfect pop of yellow flowers.  It was almost enough to make me want to ditch my long to-do list and head over to Hanging Rock for a hike.  If you haven't been up to Stokes County lately, please take the opportunity to see her beauty in the spring -- you'll really enjoy it!  Our County may be lacking in some of the economic fuel that some of our neighbors have, but our County does have incredible beauty and magnificent open spaces.  Come check us out!

When I got back home, a quick walk around showed our own version of Spring's beauty:

Dogwood tree in bloom  Tulips in Raz 1  Poppa Johnny's Apple Tree scion  Pea flowers on the trellis

Okay, back to work!  A main focus of this week has been ginger!  We were fortunate to have some great volunteers from the Triad Buying Co-op help us get the bags ready on Saturday -- they spent several hours folding bags and filling them with coir mixture.  Thanks so much to John, Amy, Rob & Roxanne!

Amy & Roxanne folding bags

We've started the planting process and are pleased to say that we have planted 168 bags so far!!  That's about half of our ginger crop and we still have the turmeric to go (it is a little slow to wake up in pre-sprout. Team Ginger (minus Ray) shows off some of the progress:

Chris, Andrew & Cheryl with the ginger bags

With the invasion of all of these bags, Detroit was worried that he wasn't going to have a place to nap!  Better move, buddy!

Detroit napping on a pallet

On Wednesday we had a group of farmers from Franklin County come up and learn about growing ginger and turmeric.  We had fun sharing some of what we've learned in our 5 years of growing the crops.  We'll be doing an on-farm workshop on May 1 to help folks learn how to grow turmeric at home.

Markets Start SOON!

Now that the calendar has flipped to April, we are really starting to kick into high gear getting ready for markets!  Cobblestone Farmers Market in Old Salem starts next Saturday (4/9) and the King Farmers Market begins on April 20.  It's looking like we will have asparagus along with salad mix, radishes and other greens for market opening!  Looking forward to seeing all of our market friends again!  We've missed you!

At market, we will also have additional information about our PlumFresh! Harvest Subscription Program.  There are only a few slots left and we'd love you to be part of our inaugural season!  This is a great program if you'd like to get a box of veggies & fruit weekly but want the flexibility to skip a week (or several).  Plus you don't have to pay for everything upfront! And we'll even deliver the box to your door*!  Depending on the weather, we hope to start at the end of April.

*within our delivery area

Wishing you an April Fool's Day filled with happy laughter - no foolin'!  Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 3/25/2016 10:14am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

Welcome Spring!  We are so glad that you are officially here -- although we would have preferred that you had left your blustery companion, Wind, behind!  Spring is definitely making herself known around the farm -- take a peek at some of the sightings:

Pansies in the bathtub planter  Robin's egg shell  Radishes ready for restaurants  Violets  Strawberry flowers in March

It is such a privilege to be able to experience the change of the seasons here on the farm.  The flora, fauna and tasks all ebb and flow depending on the time of the year.  Nature is a great teacher if we let her!

Speaking of tasks, one of this week's priorities was to get the artichokes mulched with hay.  We roll out round bales of hay over the plants and aisles to keep them cooler since they are planted in landscape fabric.  Just don't tell Brix and the lambs that we used their hay!

Chris and Andrew rolling out hay

Another task this week was to plant the onions.  Thanks to Chris and Andrew, we've got about 4,000 bulb onions, 500 shallots (from seed) and 2,000 bunching onions in the ground!

Chris, Andrew & Cheryl planting onions  Onion transplants  Chris and Andrew planting  Newly planted onions in the field

At this time of year we get lots of deliveries -- seeds, plants, soil amendments and supplies are coming in all the time.  Many of the large orders are delivered with a tractor-trailer.  Earlier this week, we got a delivery of a pallet of coconut coir -- we use this for planting ginger and turmeric. We are quite accustomed to large loads and full pallets -- but this was exceptional.  The pallet was 8 1/2 feet tall and weighed about 2,700 pounds.  And then it fell...

Pallet of coir on lift gate of truch  After it fell

Luckily no one was hurt (had a close call though!).  Later we joked that we've never seen a truck driver speed away from a delivery like that guy did.

Now that we've broken down the pallet into smaller pallets and bricks of coir, we have most of it stored and some at the greenhouse ready for ginger planting this weekend!  We have a great group of volunteers from the Triad Buying Co-op to help us with this task!

77 bales of coir in greenhouse

Dates to Remember

Here are a few dates to note as the season starts to get into full swing!

PlumFresh!

We have updated our website with a few sample boxes to give you a better idea of the goodness that awaits with our PlumFresh! Harvest Subscription Program.   There are only a few slots left and we'd love you to be part of our inaugural season!  This is a great program if you'd like to get a box of veggies & fruit weekly but want the flexibility to skip a week (or several).  Plus you don't have to pay for everything upfront!  Depending on the weather, we hope to start at the end of April.

 

Whew!  That made me tired!

Detroit snoozing on the potting bench

Wishing you a wonderful Easter weekend and until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

Pick Your Own Update

Empty busket

We currently don't have any Strawberry PYO events planned.  The berries are nearing the end of the season.  Just in case we get some sunshine and great growing conditions, please check back here.

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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