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Plum Granny Farm Weekly Update -- Hey! It's Augtober!

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

PlumFresh Is Full but Get in Line for 2021!

The 2020 Season for PlumFresh is currently SOLD OUT!  But to make sure you get an early place in line for 2021, please fill out the registration form so that we may contact you when registrations open in January.

This program is our own twist on a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  It is flexible and customizable -- and you don't have to pay for the entire season upfront.  Click here for more information!  Ready to sign up now?  Click here!

Our Online Store is Ready to Serve You!

We've been really jammin' so now 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!  

NEW!  Local customers can order online and arrange to pick up their items at the farm or at the Cobblestone Farmers Market Winter Market.


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