News and blog

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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?)


 

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!

Wanna Grow Garlic?

Want to know how to grow great garlic in your backyard?  Join Farmers Cheryl & Ray as they share their garlic growing tips based on their 9 years of experience.  This popular, hands-on workshop will give you the essentials of home production, as well as an opportunity to plant garlic in a raised bed.  Great garlic is easy to grow—if you know the basics, such as choosing the right seed; when to plant; and how to harvest and cure your crop!  The cost of the workshop is $32 which includes ½ pound of Certified Organic seed garlic.  Space is limited to the first 15 paid registrants.  Click here for a registration form.

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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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