ARCHIVE - 2011


Another CSA season comes to a close tomorrow.  Hard to believe it has been almost 4 months of planting, harvesting and delivering a share of farm fresh goodness to you all.  Guess times flies when one is having fun… 

It was not too long ago that the question of “who’s your farmer” was something that next to Noone asked or even thought about.  Today, that question is anything out of the ordinary.  As the weaknesses in our industrial food system become more apparent, more and more folks are seeking out fresh local food, a relationship with a farmer, a connection with a piece of land.   As I’ve written about so many times this season, farming is in so many ways impacted by the weather.  As our weather patterns continue to shift, the issues of climate change, and the extreme rainfall, drought, hailstorms, tornados and more that go along with it will continue to make farming more challenging.  I predict before too long the question “what is your farmers water source” will become a common question.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  Then again, maybe not. 

Enough serious stuff, let’s end on a high note.  We had a big time this weekend at the CSA Farm Party.  We dug sweet potatoes, harvested Borlotti and Asian Long Beans, set up a sweet potato curing bin in the greenhouse, washed greenhouse trays and more.  There were pups running around, swimming in the pond, chasing Frisbees and each other.  For me it was very satisfying to see folks having such a good time enjoying the farm and I certainly appreciated all of the extra farmhands! 

I’ve attached a few photos from the party and special thanks go out to Edie, Jay, Sarah, David, Ciara, Steve, Ben, Jessica, Brian, Brandy, Almaeda, Gary and Mom for such a fun time.   I know many more of you wanted to be here but could not make it this year with all the upcoming weddings, babies, visiting family and more going on right now.  We’ll catch you next year J

Thank you again for another great season.  It is an honor to be your farmer.

Until next season…


p.s. Several of you have asked about a Fall CSA this year.  I have planted a small fall crop but need to catch my breath and see how the fall seedlings grow in the next few weeks with this lack of rain before feeling comfortable offering a mini Fall CSA in October.    


The fall crops continue to grow nicely in their shady spot under the giant hickory tree.  Today I thinned the seedlings I planted last week, and also planted some chicory – a new crop for me this year.  Some folks love the bitter taste of chicory and I understand it is great grilled on pizzas.

I continue to be busy harvesting much of the crops that were planted in late spring – Okra, Crowder Peas, Borlotti Beans (aka October Beans) and now the winter squash are ready for harvest.  I move greenhouse storage tables around the farm as the various crops become ready (one of these years I will get around to building more tables).  The seedling trays go from the greenhouse to the sunny part of the barn for tomato storage, then to a shady part of the barn for potato and winter squash storage.  The next step will be to build a root cellar.  We have plans to do that this fall but…

Farm Food Favorites:

Delicata Winter Squash: Preheat oven to 400.  Cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds, brush cut sides with olive oil and place in shallow baking dish with water.  Bake 20-30 minutes until soft when pierced with a fork.  Dot with butter and grated nutmeg.  Enjoy.  

Italian Borlotti Beans: Shell beans then cook in lightly boiling salted water until desired texture.  Remove from water and toss in olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs. 

I understand that borlotti beans, polenta and sautéed greens are typical of central and northeastern Italian country food.  Those Italians do know how to cook…

Until next week…


I understand a powerful storm did a lot of damage to the Cabbagetown community garden this weekend.  I was sad to hear this news.  It is a sweet little spot, I know how hard those folks have worked to establish that garden and grow their food and I also know the feeling of putting a lot of love, sweat and tears into growing things and then looking at them destroyed in a few minutes with one powerful storm.  CSA member Jessica has a plot in this years community garden and she wrote and said her okra was snapped in half.  It reminds me of how connected we all are with the environment in which we live.  Growing food is fun, rewarding but not easy and my hat is off to those community garden members.  Every tomato that each of us grows, that is one less tomato the system has to provide.     

p.s. The Crowder Pea seeds were a gift from JL, one of the 80's something seniors mom knows from the community center in Clayton. He eats a bowl of Crowder Peas every night before bed - fresh peas during the growing season and peas that he freezes the rest of the year. He gifted me a bag of seeds that he has saved and replanted for many years. Last year was my first crop, I saved the seed this past winter, replanted this spring and this is the result. 


It might not seem like it to us with these 90+ degree days, but the four-leggeds know that fall is just around the corner.  They are all getting bigger, competing more for food, ranging further to eat and becoming more bold in the process.  Just yesterday there were 5 deer that decided to graze in the pasture 30 feet from the upper field.  I was at my cabin when I saw them.  Shiloh and I took off after them.  After seeing us one of them jumped, Shiloh ran after them and they all fled.  At a neighbor party last Saturday night, the talk was all about the bears, raccoons and deer that are visiting everyone – raiding their bird feeders, getting into their dog food and trash bins, demolishing their sweet corn and tearing apart their bee hives.  Thankfully they have not caused a problem for us, but extending the electric fence to protect the bee hives just moved up my to do list.   

In my own way I am preparing for fall.  Mom and I spent yesterday afternoon pressure canning green beans with a lot of coaching from Gary, the master canner.  Beets and tomatoes are next on the list.  In the field I transplanted the first of the fall lettuce and will be starting other leafy greens both in the ground and in trays during the next week.   It is time to do the soil testing in the fields and begin thinking about the winter cover cropping.  Check out the photo of the romaine lettuce transplants, the kale we have enjoyed all season and the buckwheat summer cover crop.   

Farm Food Favorites:

Grilled Okra:  Skewer okra, brush with olive oil and sprinkle Cajun or ground red pepper on okra.  Grill 4-6 minutes each side until soft.  Enjoy!

Until next week..


It hit me today as I was pulling the last of the cucumber vines from the field…we need a pig.  Not one pig, but two, as they would keep each other company as they go about their day fulfilling their job as farm pigs.  The idea of all animals having a role to play is part of the permaculture philosophy.  They eat all the extra “farmer food”, they eat the food that’s too far gone and they eat what’s left of the crops that are pulled from the field.  Of course it’s not so simple as going to the store and getting a baby pig.  Baby pigs grow up to weigh a few hundred pounds in 8 months time.  There is fencing to consider, timing their arrival correctly to ensure there are crops for them to eat (you don’t want them to mature in January), and I am sure a million other factors that go with raising a pig.  So it won’t be happening next week, folks, but…

Harvesting takes a large amount of my time at this point in the season.  Certain crops such as cucumbers, squash, cherry tomatoes and okra, require daily harvesting.   Check out the attached photo of the Sunday/Monday tomato harvest.  Other crops such as peas and beans can wait two or three days between pickings.  I average 3 full days each week harvesting and preparing for the two CSA pickups, one restaurant delivery and Saturday market.   Field maintenance items get squeezed in around harvesting, as time permits.  Insects become less of a problem for me at this point in the season, but the weeds are in high gear by midsummer.    

Farm Food Favorites:

It’s been years since I ‘ve done this but Angela suggested this recently and I am looking forward to doing this with one of the large garlic heads…

Roasted Garlic:  Preheat oven to 375.  Narrowly slice bottom off of garlic head, dip cut end in olive oil, wrap in tinfoil and roast in oven for 50-60 minutes.  After roasting allow garlic to cool and squeeze cloves out of shell.  Roasted garlic can be spread on fresh bread, used to make bruschetta or combined with tapenade or hummus.  Yum! 

Until next week…


I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability lately.  Was super sad to say goodbye this past week to my dear friends, neighbors and fellow organic farmers that have farmed ½ mile down the road from me for the last five years.  They have been an inspiration, role model and support to me on many levels.  They have a young family and it has been hard to juggle all the demands of farming and raising a family.  I understand their decision to leave farming “for now” and return to engineering and middle Georgia, but will miss them greatly.

At my own farm sustainability has come to the forefront with the tomatoes.  Tomatoes are a huge income crop for most small farmers, as it is one of the few veggies that can compete with the price of a Starbucks latte.  I enjoy growing AND eating tomatoes but feel the 105 plants that I have in the ground this season require more care than I can sustainably manage.  As a CSA farmer growing 40+ different veggies in one season, it is tough to determine the quantities one needs of each crop to meet my 24 CSA customer commitments each week.  That one pound of Roma tomatoes that is going home with you tomorrow translates to 24 pounds for me to care for and harvest.  Multiply that by 9-10 different items each week - argh - it starts to get complicated.  Lesson learned – scale back to 80 tomato plants next year.

The harvest continues shifting to more summer crops which is fun to see.  Check out the attached photo of the okra just beginning to flower (it won’t be long folks), the first of the peppers arriving tomorrow and the black-eyed peas.  I have done a better job at keeping up with the weeding this season – so it will be easier to harvest these crops than it was last year. 

Farm Food Favorites:

Sandra’s Red Sauce:  Chop up onion (I prefer red onions for red sauce) and saute with butter or olive oil in skillet.  Puree Romas in blender (no need to peel) then add to skillet.  Add salt and basil to taste, simmer uncovered and reduce moisture until desired thickness.  Serve over pasta or is great on top of grilled fish. 

Until next week...


Planted the pumpkins this past week.  Are the small suger pie baking pumpkins I plant every year.  They are delicious to eat and can double as a small jack-o-lantern – Bonus!  Halloween seems a long ways off but it generally takes about 100 days for pumpkins to mature, so early July is the window to get those seeds in the ground.

Also harvested a large portion of the onions today.  Ideally I would leave them in the ground until all the tops had died back, but we’ve had a lot of rain and they need to be pulled.        

The tomatoes received a lot of attention in this past week.  Spent almost a full day pruning and tying up the 100 or so tomato plants.  The cherry tomatoes have been slow to turn but the big slicers have really started doing their thing.  It was fun to take a rainbow of red, pink, purple and yellow tomatoes to market on Saturday.  No worries, there are plenty more to bring down for CSA tomorrow…

Farm Food Favorites:

Grilled Yellow Squash:  Slice into wedges, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with dried herbs (I like to use herbs de provence).  Grill 5-7 minutes each side.  Keeps in the fridge great if you don’t eat all at once.

Pattypan Squash with Tomatoes:  The famous Billy, Chef/Owner of Cakes & Ale restaurant loves the white pattypans from Ladybug Farms.  He cubes the squash, slices the tomatoes (romas would be the best tomato for this dish) and cooks them together on the stove. Maybe throw in some basil for an extra zing.  Enjoy!

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 6:30 until 8:00 pm - H building patio at the Stacks.    Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week...

Am worn out from a full day of weed eating and tilling but feel like I’m making a good dent with the weeds.  Weeding is one of those things that if you stay on top of it early on, life becomes much easier down the road.  In the case of farming, staying on top of weeding in June makes July and August considerably more manageable.  I hope to have all three fields cultivated (hand weeded and tilled) for the last time by the end of this week.  With this final major cultivation the plants will be big enough to shade out the weeds -which is my goal.

Harvested the garlic this weekend.  Garlic is planted in October, well mulched for the winter and then harvested in June.  It has been four years that I have tried to grow garlic.  I’ve had marginal success – until this year.  This year I moved the garlic row to the upper field - the sunniest and driest of my three fields.  I heavily mulched with oak leaves (which a cabbagetown neighbor kindly bagged up and left on the curb) and straw.  The garlic (and onions) have loved the hot, dry last several weeks.  The garlic is in the barn drying (curing) so it will still be just a bit before it is in the CSA share.  Next year I will definately plant a lot more – now that I finally know how to grow garlic. 

Farm Food Favorites:

Fried Green Tomatoes:  Slice tomato, dip in scrambled egg and dredge in polenta/cornmeal/grits.  Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in pan, fry coated tomato slices until golden brown on both sides.  I like to do a simple dipping sauce of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and ground red pepper.  Enjoy!

Until next week...

It's too wet to till.  Can't believe I'm saying that.  I had hoped to make a dent in the weeds that are in the rows today but with the rain these last several days it is too wet to till.  Still lots of hand weeding which can be done between the plants - a task that is about 1000 times easier now that the ground has been soaked.  

Started putting together an improved veggie washing station inside the barn.  Need it to be shaded, close to the water hose, easy for the water to runoff (we change the water in the tubs A LOT) and accessible to the coolers and van.  Won't have it up and running for this week's harvest, but perhaps next week.  Also will be moving the greenhouse tables up to the barn to get ready for the garlic and onion drying to be followed by lots of tomato harvesting.  Cucumber harvesting is now a daily occurrence at the farm.  It feels good to have something growing that well that it requires a daily harvesting.   With all the rain, several rows of beans, peas and squash have all sprouted - nice full rows without lots of empty areas as was the case earlier this season due to the drought.

Farm Food Favorites:
I’m sharing the Beet & Kohlrabi Recipe that Liz Nones ( put together last year and shared with our CSA:

-          1 tbsp sesame oil
-          1 medium onion, thin crescents
-          4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
-          1 large or 2 medium beets, peeled and diced
-          1 large kohlrabi bulb, peeled and diced
-          4 medium carrots, thin quarter rounds
-          4 cups low sodium vegetable broth (pick this up at Trader Joe's) plus 1 1/2 cups filtered water
-          Pinch of sea salt
-          2 cups unsweetened hemp, almond, or soy milk (can use whole milk if you're not going vegan)

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and dash of salt and saute until clear, then add garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables in the order listed and saute for 1 to 2 minutes each. Add the broth and water with a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend the soup with a hand blender and then slowly stir in the milk.

Until next week…


I came across the most amazing quote recently that I would like to share with you all…
The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land…Abraham Lincoln
All I can say is that reading those words written so long ago gave me a great measure of comfort.

So some good news, we finally got some rain which is most welcome indeed.  Not only do the crops appreciate it but the farmer does too.  I decided you know when you are talking to a real deal farmer when you run into someone and ask them how are they doing and their response is “well, it rained yesterday”.  

This weeks farm chores included a lot of maintenance – thinning okra, crowder peas, field corn, pruning tomatoes and more.  I also replanted a lot of winter squash as it has struggled with the several weeks of drought.  The critter presence seems to be mounting this year, so I am gearing up to deal with them.  Moles love the raised beds I prepare for the crops and they have created quite a patchwork of tunnels.  I heard about a battery operated probe you stick in the ground that makes a sound they do not like every 30 seconds.  I put one in today and if it works will purchase a few more.  Bunnies have also been in the beets again this season, Shiloh needs to step it up a notch but prefers to hang out in the shade of the barn or porch (I don’t blame him). 

A question came up about washing items at last week’s pickup.  Certainly there is nothing bad on the produce from a health perspective, but everything I bring down is “field washed” to preserve the harvest freshness and give a rinse to remove some of the soil.  Each of the greens gets a dunk in one of two large tubs on the tailgate of my pickup truck, but it is not the triple washed routine that produce in the grocery store receives.  I find most things, especially the greens, often have a bit of grit on them so I generally wash (now that I have a kitchen sink) before eating. 

Farm Food Favorites:

Swiss Chard, Beets and Spinach are all in the same plant family.  Their seeds look the same and they can be used interchangeably in most recipes.  My favorite way to prepare Swiss Chard is to sautee with garlic and olive oil for a few minutes, then add balsamic vinegar and golden raisins for the last minute of cooking.  Italians eat Swiss Chard all summer long as it holds up in the heat when lettuce melts down.  Today for lunch I enjoyed a salad with chard cut into ribbons with a light dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs.

Until next week...    


Another busy and unfortunately hot, dry week at the farm.  The 6000 gallons of rainwater in the tanks is long gone, so we are using well water from mom’s house to fill the tanks and then gravity flow to the main fields.  In the cabin field that has most of the lettuce and greens, the irrigation is spring fed and the inflow has dropped to a trickle.   By this weekend it was not enough to complete the daily watering the greens need.  Gary saved the day by temporarily setting a small sump pump in the creek to replenish the inground cistern.  Thank you, Gary!

I completed the staking and first tier of tomato plant twining this week.  Close to 100 tomato plants so was a big job.  I use a system called the “florida weave” which allows me to gradually tie up the plants as they grow and easily harvest when the tomatoes are ripe.

Honeybees are back at Ladybug Farms (photo attached).  Gary caught two swarms at his place, transported them down one evening last week and we set them in their new home around 10:30 at night.  Bees get moved after they have returned to their hive in the evening.  Keeping bees has been a challenge for me – four years of beekeeping and not one jar of honey harvested - yet.  There are many native bumblebees at the farm that are actually better pollinators than the honeybees, but I like having the honeybees around and also really enjoy honey.

A German woman came to market this Saturday and was excited to see the kohlrabi at my table.  Said she grew up eating them lightly boiled with a white sauce.  I pulled out my Fannie Farmer cookbook and was surprised to see a standard White Sauce (or Bechamel Sauce if you want to get fancy) was pretty easy and not the calorie heavy concoction I expected.      

Farm Food Favorites:
Kohlrabi with White Sauce:  Remove greens (can be used as a slaw salad) and boil kohlrabi until fork tender (7-9 minutes).  For the white sauce melt 2 tbsp butter in a heavy pan, stir in and cook 2 tbsp flour until it bubbles but not browns (about 2 minutes).  Add 1 ¼ cups heated milk, and continue to stir until sauce thickens.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I did this Saturday evening and it was delicious! 

Until next week...


Another week of low 90’s temperatures ahead, but we did get rain last Thursday which was a welcome relief. Even with last week’s rain, I am now doing a daily watering of most crops each evening now.  I resisted a daily watering routine for many reasons, but it seems to be the only way to get the crops to grow.  These unseasonably hot, dry conditions have made a big impact on me in terms of thinking about water usage.  60% percent of the organic produce in this country comes from California – a state that gets very little rain and trucks/pipes most of their water from 4 states away.  I do believe organic food has many benefits over conventionally grown food, but if California farmers regularly water the way I am having to water right now – yikes!

I hilled about 500 row feet of potatoes today – have been waiting for a rain to soften the soil so the tiller could make some progress and not bounce off the dry soil.  It is one of the more physically demanding tasks at the farm, but it is part of growing those yummy taters we all love.  Will be one more hilling of the potatoes before harvesting but am glad we are halfway there.  Mom and I have made some good headway on the potato beetles this season.  They were horrible last year but it seems we caught them at an earlier stage this year and interrupted their cycle.  Exciting news is I noticed the first flowers on the potatoes as well as the cucumbers today.  Will still be a bit before either crop is ready to harvest, but flowers is a sign things are on their way.   

I also transplanted some small rhubarb plants just before the rain.  These were pass-along plants that we dug up last fall from a “friend of a friend”.  Starting rhubarb from seed takes 5 years to harvest so receiving some transplants is a big deal.  Should cut a few years off the harvest window but unfortunately I won’t have this season.  Even so I am already dreaming of rhubarb pie…  

Until next week…


Well folks, time for a rain dance.  It is dry, dry, dry.  Large cracks in the fields – as if July arrived in May.  The transplanted greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and such seem to be hanging in there but getting the seeded crops like beets, carrots and radishes to germinate is not happening.  Each evening we hose water the newly seeded crop beds in an effort to get things sprouting.  Once they do we can switch over to the drip system which directs water to the roots.  I am grateful for the water system put in place this winter – I can’t imagine farming this season without it. 

On Saturday the sweet potatoes were planted.  Rather exciting as the plants came from last year’s sweet potatoes which I overwintered inside my cabin in a milk crate and then was successful at getting them to sprout new plants. The photo below shows the sweet potatoes in their greenhouse sprout trays.  In the past I have ordered my sweet potato “slips” from a grower in Tennessee.  I still did receive a small amount from them but had my own crop to plant out as well.

The tomatoes also went in the ground this week.  About 90 plants in all – 8 different varieties.  This season I am experimenting with straw mulching for weed and moisture control on the tomato plants.  In the past I have used the black landscape fabric which has worked well but cannot be reused because of disease transfer year to year. If the straw works I hope to be able to use hay cut at the farm but am mindful of the weed pressure that could introduce to the field. 
Until next week…


This is your food.  I am your farmer. 

It feels good to say that.  Good that things are (finally) starting to take off and grow (check out the attached photo of the cabin field).  And good to have folks like you all that appreciate this food and the effort it takes to grow healthy, nutritious food

It is an interesting time to be a small farmer in Georgia.  A new Agriculture Commissioner after 40 years, and already this spring 4 inspection crackdowns at tailgate farmers markets in Georgia.  Small farmers respect and give back to the land, generate jobs and income in mostly rural areas, and grow a diversity of crops to help insure against the extreme weather patterns we are all experiencing.  In a world of $4/$5/ who knows $8 a gallon gas prices, record rains in California, floods in the Midwest and tornadoes in all sorts of places, WE NEED small, local farmers! 

It has been my most challenging spring in 5 years of farming but thankfully, things seem to have turned the corner.  Earlier this spring farmers everywhere (me included) were unable to prepare their fields, as the frequent heavy rains made the fields too wet to plow and plant.  But now most all the crops have been transplanted from the greenhouse or direct seeded into the ground.  The greens are growing in abundance (in spite of the crazy heat these last two weeks) and in the next two weeks I should finish transplanting the tomatoes, peppers andsweet potatoes into the fields.    

My great Aunt Sara was a lifelong cook and her husband, Paul an avid gardener.  To celebrate their 60 years of marriage they prepared a cookbook of their favorite fresh from the garden recipes.  This season I will be sharing some of these with you all beginning with this quick and delicious baby bok choy recipe…

Ginger-Sesame Bok Choy

1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
5 thin slices fresh ginger
2 to 3 heads baby bok choy, each halved lengthwise

Whisk soy sauce, oil and vinegar and set aside. In large skillet bring 1 cup of water and ginger to a boil.  Add bok choy and reduce to simmer.  Cover and cook until stems are fork tender – 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain well, transfer to platter and drizzle with vinegar-soy mixture. 

I’d like to again say thanks to each of you for helping to make this possible and I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup.    Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…