ARCHIVE - 2018


Mark your calendar, September 29 from 10-3 for a USDA sponsored Field Day on The Link Between Minerals, Healthy Soils and Nutrition.  Building on the soil mineralization work I’ve been doing at my farm the last few years, the goal is to educate more folks on how to grow and the importance of eating mineral-rich, nutrient dense foods.  The link to register is  Hope you can join us and bring your friends!       

It looks to be a soggy last harvest and pick up day for the 2018 season.  Time to get out the Frogg Toggs!  I went ahead and dug sweet potatoes on Saturday with the rain that was heading our way.  The okra does not seem to miss a beat with the rain, it’s an every other day harvest crop usually up until frost. And the peppers are going strong – its been fun to have a bounty each week of brightly colored peppers to bring to pickup.

Farm Food Favorites: Peppers!
Quinoa and Pepper Medley
Prepare Quinoa and set aside.  Cut up Peppers, add to Quinoa and Toss with Basil Pesto. 

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Prepare Rice and set aside.  Sautee Beef and Onion and add to Rice.  Stuff Bell Peppers and bake in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes until soft.  Enjoy!

Its been a challenging 2018 season for me.  I said good-bye to two farm pals, my most dear constant canine companion, Shiloh the Wonderdog and the ever entertaining Super Duck.  Thank you both for all the gifts you brought to me and so many others.  My biggest farming takeaway has been the impact early rains have on plants when they are young.  They spend the rest of the season trying to catch up from a challenging beginning.  I can’t help but think it’s the same for humans – the more (and earlier!) we are exposed to a variety of farm fresh vegetables (and soil!) the better our chances for strong and healthy immune systems.

Thank you All for your support this season and I will see you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 4:30-6 at the Rabun County Library.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.


Finally, one of the “random” showers circling around these last several weeks landed at the farm today.  Hallelujah!  The 6000 gallons of stored rainwater that I use to irrigate the crops were gone as of last Thursday – it had been almost a month since the last rain.  Am most thankful to have gotten this shower – and the fall greens are too!  I completed the soil testing this past week and sent the samples off to the lab in Ohio that I like to use.  Given all the rains this season I am not optimistic about the results.  To rebuild nutrients in the soil lost from the heavy rains I am experimenting with grass clipping mulch in the fall fields and hope to in time be able to do no-till beet and carrot plantings in the deep grass mulch beds.      

Joyce and I began digging sweet potatoes last week and we will be digging sweets for the next few    By hand digging we are able to uncover and enjoy the fingerlings which are a delicious treat.  With about 20% of the crop dug so far it looks to be a promising yield of sweets this season. 

Farm Food Favorite: Butternut Squash Pizza
Peel Butternut Squash and cut into discs.  Brush with Olive Oil and rRoast in oven on 350 for 20-30 minutes until just beginning to soften.  Remove then add toppings of cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms or ???  Return to oven just to melt cheese and Enjoy! 

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 4:30-6 at the Rabun County Library.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.


Has it really been 15 weeks since I brought the first delivery of produce for the 2018 season?  It has certainly been my most challenging growing season in ten years of farming.  My biggest lesson has been the impact heavy rains have on crops when they are young as was our experience this April/May.  I really believe it’s the same with humans – less than optimal conditions when young have a lasting, long term effect that it is difficult to overcome.  A few things have done quite well with all the rain – cucumbers, lettuce and pole beans.  Others such as squash and tomatoes produced smaller yields and a much shorter harvest window.  Another reminder from this season is the importance of diversity – growing a variety of crops is an integral part of a CSA farm.  Not only is growing a wide variety of crops better for our diets as each vegetable contains different vitamins and minerals but it also increases the resiliency of ones’ farm. 

While we certainly have not needed to irrigate much at all this season, I decided to put drip tape out on the fall crops to give them a little boost.  Peppers, okra and basil are all singing this evening as are the birds that dart through and collect drops of moisture.  I moved Lola and Belle (aka the power eating and pooping machines) to the 30’x60’ kudzu patch at the farm.  In four days they have already made a good dent in knocking it back.  The plant is amazing in that it grows more than a foot a day!  The patch showed up at the farm about 5 years ago and I’ve managed to keep it contained by mowing the perimeter and then an annual livestock grazing to remove the top growth.  As I understand kudzu does not like to be messed with and if you keep knocking it back you’ve got a fighting chance to keep it at bay.  To totally eliminate you also need to go after the mother root which can be found by following the vines back to their origin.   

Farm Food Favorite: Sweet Potato Greens & Fingerlings!
Greens – Cut stems into one inch pieces and sauté in coconut oil for 5 minutes.  Cut leaves into one inch strips and then add to stems.  Sautee another 3-5 minutes, add salt and maple syrup.  Enjoy!

Fingerlings – Roast with coconut oil in covered dish on 350 until soft.   Enjoy! 

Thank you again for all your support and encouragement this season!  I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10-12 at the Rock House Park with a surprise new treat this season.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next season…


It might be hot outside but it is time to be thinking about fall crops.  We prepped 3 three rows for fall greens, winter root crops and garlic last week.  I direct seeded kale, daikon and watermelon radish, beets and carrots as well as did transplants of kale, lettuce, bok choy and kohlrabi.  I am missing greens to eat but it will be early October before any of those crops are ready to harvest.  Interestingly many folks don’t plant fall veggies but in my experience they grow much quicker than spring with the warm soil and temps and there is very little insect pressure.   

This weeks Farm Food Favorite is the Crowder Pea. The seed for this crop came from Rabun County native J.L. Watts.  He has been growing “Crowders” pretty much his whole life and he told me he eats a bowl of “Crowders” every night before he goes to bed (he recently passed away at 93).  About 8 years ago he gifted me 1 pound of seed and I have been planting them ever since.  Thank you J.L. 

Farm Food Favorite: Crowder Peas!
Shell and place in salted water. Add a few pea pods cut into 1 inch pieces and add to salted water for flavor.  Simmer all for 15 minutes or desired texture.  “Crowders” go great with cornbread.  Enjoy! 

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10-12 at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


Some great news late Friday which impacts us all.  A jury in California awarded $289 million to a former school groundskeeper that jurors concluded got cancer from Monsantos Roundup weedkiller.  And there are 400 more cases against Monsanto waiting to go to trial.  This should finally put an end to this poison that has caused unbelievable damage to our planet – I say Good Riddance!

Welcome news is that the okra is starting to produce.  I thinned the plants to a foot apart – more than I’ve ever done – but with the continued rains and limited sunshine I felt it best for this crop that prefers hot and dry.  The picture shows the Red Burgundy Okra that has already been thinned and the Choppee Green Okra awaiting its turn with the sweet potatoes, peppers and pole beans in the back of the picture.  Last week we pulled most all of the tomato plants – except for a few cherry tomatoes that are hanging on.  2018 will NOT be a memorable year for tomatoes. 

This weeks Farm Food Favorite is the Flageolet Bean.  Considered a specialty in France it is actually the interior shelled bean of the Selma Zesta Pole Beans that we had earlier this season.  You can google it and find several recipes such as a Salad with the Flageolet Beans, Carrots and Rosemary.  The traditional French way is to enjoy with tomato sauce and lamb.

Farm Food Favorite: Flageolet Beans – French style!
Make your red sauce with tomatoes and garlic and while simmering on stove add shelled Flageolet Beans.  If including with lamb brown the meat first and then add to sauce and beans.  Simmer until meat is tender.  Enjoy! 

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10-12 at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


Eight inches of rain over a three day period – insane!   I thought last Thursday nights rain was never going to stop!  I’m about ready to start building an ark – have the two donkeys already!  Keep in mind crops need an inch of rain per week to grow.  Interesting but I received a call on Friday from Tommie Culkin at the Clayton Tribune who is writing a story on the impact all this rain has had on local farmers this season.  I am thankful the paper is paying attention to this and helping to spread the word, as so many folks (but not all you CSA folks!) have lost touch with the impact the weather has on our food system.  

I started a batch of sauerkraut last week in a large crock my friend gifted to me.  It will be about 4 weeks until it is ready to eat.  I used 12 heads of cabbage and grated with the cuisinart on the slicing blade (the shredding blade makes it too mushy) and then added salt and dill in layers after every 3 cabbages.  You can make sauerkraut with a hand grater and a wide mouth mason jar – you don’t need fancy equipment.  Fermented foods are loaded with pro-biotics – a tablespoon with breakfast each morning is a great addition to starting your day.    

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10-12 at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


Happy days in that the hay was cut this weekend.  In “normal” years the first cutting of hay is done the end of May or beginning of June.  I had limed the pastures a year ago fall and the yield more than doubled with this cutting.  With all the rain this season we’ve been waiting for 3 dry days to cut the hay.  I use the hay for feeding the donkeys over the winter as well as mulch in the garden.  Is a big relief to have the hay cut and dry in the barn. 

It had been Wednesday since the pole beans were last picked so was a big chore to pick the 80 foot row of Selma Zesta Pole Beans this morning.  I harvested more than 30 pounds of beans from the nicest row of beans I’ve grown.  I thinned out the plants more than I ever have to almost a foot in between each plant and also used sturdy wire panels for the trellising.  It is so much easier to pick pole beans as you can stand up rather than bend over to pick the bush beans.   

Farm Food Favorite: Green Bean & Cherry Tomato Salad
Snap ends of beans, break into one inch pieces and steam for 6-8 minutes. Remove from stove and dunk in cold water to stop cooking process.  Drain beans then toss with small amount of olive oil or pesto.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half and add to beans.  Salt to taste.  Enjoy!

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 4:30-6 at the Rabun County Library.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.


So tonight for dinner I had an appetizer of heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar with a glass of tomobocino wine from CSA members Jabe and Barbara that the Noble Wine Cellar in Clayton.  And then dinner was steamed baby carrots with carrot top and basil pesto, sautéed onions and zephyr and trombocino squash and Lindas homemade egg noodle pasta with cherry tomatoes.  I say at Ladybug the pay ain’t great but the foods pretty good and the company not bad J.   

Saw the first five baby watermelons this evening as Randy and I walked through the fields planning out this weeks farm chores.  Very exciting as is the first time I’ve grown watermelons.  The Selma Zesta pole beans look gorgeous – are 100% from my saved seeds which feels really good.  Yet another reminder of the importance of saving seed that acclimates to ones local conditions.   

Farm Food Favorite: Cabbage and Carrot Slaw
Hand grate or food processor grate cabbage and carrots.  Add apple cider vinegar and allow to rest in fridge to absorb vinegar for a few hours or overnight.  Enjoy!

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 4:30-6 at the Rabun County Public Library  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


The word of the week at Ladybug Farms is Flowers!  I had a lot of fun harvesting a bounty of sunflowers, dahlias and zinnias this week to take to CSA pickups and also market.  Many of sunflowers volunteered on their own from last seasons planting – they always seem to perform better than ones planted directly.  On deck this week is thinning beets and transplanting watermelons, as I don’t want more than 3 plants per hill.  It will p
robably be the last time we can mow and weedeat between the rows of later summer crops as the vines of the winter squash and sweet potatoes are really starting to run.  The pole beans are flowering and should be ready to begin harvesting in a week.  The okra is still a ways off but did seem to double in height since last week.  All in all, summer crops doing well. 

Farm Food Favorite: Sauteed Pattypan Squash & Tomatoes
Cut the Pattypan into strips and sautee in garlic and olive oil.  Stew tomatoes in separate pan with garlic and olive oil and when cooked down add on top of Pattypan Squash.  Enjoy!

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 4:30-6 at the Rabun County Library.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.


The garlic curing is coming along in the sunroom.  While the garlic does appreciate heat for curing, it is important to keep the bulbs out of direct sunlight.  The butternut and spaghetti squash hills were hand weeded for the last time, as the vines have begun to run (and set fruit – yay!) and should cover any new weeds.  I generally mulch the rows with hay but with all this rain the hay is about 6 weeks behind schedule for harvesting, so I’ve had to do without this season.   

Folks ask every season what to do with carrot tops.  CSA member Jenny sent me a link that contained carrot top ideas.  Carrot tops are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. Use them as you would parsley, or in place of parsley in recipes. Strip the leaves from the tough stems, add them to stock or soup, put them in salads, or make carrot top pesto.

Farm Food Favorite: Carrot Top Pesto
Since carrot tops are slightly on the bitter side (like parsley), the recipe called for equal amounts of baby spinach and carrot tops.  I’d try using basil as we have that available.  Puree garlic and olive oil in blender, then add cut up carrot tops and basil in small batches.  Salt to taste.  Lightly steam your carrots and then top with the pesto.  Enjoy!

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 4:30-6 at the Rabun County Library.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.


The cucumbers and lettuce continue to appreciate the rain; the summer squash, potatoes and tomatoes not so much.  As Randy and I walked the two ¼ acre fields this eve to prepare for this weeks’ farm tasks we concluded, “a lot of stirrup hoeing, mowing and weed eating and plenty of hand weeding”.   

We harvested the remainder of the onions and all of the garlic this past Saturday.  Pictured is my friend Dan who was an Atlanta CSA member for several years along with his dog Clyde who supervised our digging.  I’ve never dug all the garlic at once so the sunroom where I cure the garlic is packed full.  I was hesitant to leave the garlic in the ground with all the rain we keep having – let’s hope for some drier days to aid the curing process.   

The almost month old 16 baby ducks are beginning to get their feathers and graduated to the pond today with Uncle SuperDuck teaching them the ropes.  This coming Saturday at 11 will be the July Farm Tour so bring your friends and come meet the ducks!     

Farm Food Favorite: Refrigerator Pickles
Use your cheese slicer to quickly cut up your cucumbers into thin slices.  Put in a container with apple cider vinegar and some chopped up dill.  For you fresh onion lovers, you can also chop up an onion and add.  New cucumbers each week - just keep adding to the vinegar. Enjoy!

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 4:30-6 at the Rabun County Library.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


I’m feeling much more optimistic about the fields this week than last week.  We’ve had a busy week putting up bean trellising, tying up tomatoes and dahlias and of course, always more weeding. And I was most happy to harvest the first of the cucumbers this week.  Am doing an experiment with using grass clippings to mulch the kale and cucumbers.   With these high temps is extra important to keep the soil cool.       

A big thanks to CSA member Joyce for lending a hand thinning the 150 feet of carrots last Friday.  It was a ridiculous hot day for the middle of June, so we borrowed an idea from the Hispanic stonemasons I’ve seen at work and put up a tent over the row where we were working! Ha – at least 10 degrees cooler!

Farm Food Favorite: Strawberry-Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
In a bowl whisk together 3 cups unsweetened almond milk, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 3 tbsp maple syrup and ½ tsp cinnamon.  Pour liquid mixture over ½ cup chia seeds and stir until seeds are incorporated.  Make sure to stir it well so that none of the chia seeds are sticking together.  This ensures they’re all able to absorb the liquid and create a pudding-like consistency.  Let sit for an hour or in the refrigerator overnight.  Mixture will thicken substantially.  In morning stir pudding and top with fresh strawberries. Enjoy!

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10-12 at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


A week of sun allowed the fields to dry out, somewhat, but we are back to daily rains which has actually been a good thing for most of the established crops.  The okra and second plantings of butternut and spaghetti squash all germinated in 4-5 days.  Interesting as the butternut and spaghetti squash that were planted before the 18 inches of rain(!!!) rotted in the ground.  There’s been a lot of that this season.  My usual three plantings of carrots and beets yet only one planting of each amounted to much of anything.  This season has definitely been a challenge so far!   

The photo to the left is the rish potatoes.  Once we see the flowers, the plants are beginning to produce potatoes below ground.  I generally dig the first spuds at midsummer so will be a few more weeks before they arrive.

Farm Food Favorite: Kohlrabi
A member of the cabbage family, kohlrabi can be peeled and cut into slices and eaten raw or my favorite way to prepare is the Kohlrabi Fritter.  Grate kohlrabi then mix with egg and flour and form like hushpuppies and pan fry in coconut oil.   Make a dipping sauce using dijon mustard, mayonnaise and/or red pepper.  Enjoy! 

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10-12 at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


These last few days of sun have been a welcome relief from the deluges of that last few weeks.  The fields are going through “residual effect” as there is generally a lag when it comes to way too much water and way too little sun.  The growing rhythm gets interrupted as the plants seem to go into shut down mode until things return to normal.  Most notably the strawberries don’t flower but interestingly the kale almost stopped growing.  I expect things to return to normal by next week and just hope the longer term impact is minimal. 

Ever the comedian SuperDuck is enjoying the tub I generally use to soak transplants in prior to setting out in the field.  I guess he decided we should use duck emulsion instead – ha!  He’s in for a surprise as tomorrow there are 15 baby ducklings arriving via the USPS.  He’s going to be a grandpa duck, grandma duck, mama and papa duck all at once!  After two years are the farm he has figured out how to be a duck – sleeping in the pond at night for safety and what to forage in the way of bugs and greens – so he has a big job ahead to teach the others. 

Farm Food Favorite: White Stem Bok Choy
Several ways to enjoy this asian vegetable but my favorite way is to eat it raw.  The juicy white stems can be used to dip in hummus or as a substitute for celery in a chicken salad.  The greens can be stir fried or sautéed with kielbasa sausage.  Enjoy! 

I will see you all tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10 am until noon at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


Yes, I know, we are all OVER THIS RAIN!  It’s been bad here but we’ve done what we can digging trenches to divert water from the fields and now all we can do is wait for it to stop.  Several of the rows have had standing water in the paths but for the most part the raised beds have kept the crops above water.  Considering the amount of rain we’ve had over the last two weeks I am actually pleased how the fields have weathered the storms. 

Today we had a visit from 12 folks from the USDA for a tour of Ladybug Farms.  We dodged rain drops as we toured the gravity fed rainwater irrigation system, the passive solar sunroom, the portable fencing o keep the deer out and the donkeys in!   Included in the group was the Lead Soil Scientist for the State of Georgia.  I ended the tour with an overview of the mineral work that’s been happening at the farm and everyone left with copies of the Minerals placemat. 

Farm Food Favorites: - Kale Chips
We’ve got a nice amount of Dinosaur Kale in this week’s share so get ready to make Kale Chips.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, slightly rub olive oil on a cookie sheet, cut up the kale into 1 inch strips and rub around on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with garlic or sea salt and then bake in oven for 12-15 minutes until crispy (you will have to play around with the exact time for your oven).  Enjoy! 

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10 am until noon at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.


The weather these last few months has been particularly challenging for those of us that grow food.  And yes, it seems rather appropriate that it is raining, AGAIN, as I write this first post of the sea
son.  I’ve all but given up monitoring the level in the rain gauge or planning based on the projected weather forecast.  Seems we went overnight from a really cold winter to summertime temps in the 90’s, but in April!  Combine that with an abundance of rain in February in March and then a few weeks of no rain in April.  These “swings” seem to be the new “normal” in our weather patterns – it reinforces for me the value of diversifying my crops, growing methods and fields at the farm.  I am constantly reminding myself to work smarter, not harder.  The crops are coming along nicely in spite of all this crazy weather.  Surprisingly, the heavy downpours of late have not had a significant impact in the fields.  Compare that to 5 years ago when I saw much more damage from heavy springtime rains that left a gully 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep through the center of my lower field.      

Several highlights to share since last season.  I was honored by the Georgia Water Coalition as one of their inaugural Clean 13 statewide recipients of good water stewards for the 6,000 gallon gravity fed rainwater irrigation system in use at the farm.  On another front it seems the mineral amending I’ve been doing at the farm these last two years is paying off.  Last summer I sent off several produce items I grew for plant sap testing of their mineral content and the results were exciting!  Small farms that take care of their soil are growing a nutrient dense food that is truly medicine.   

Two pints of strawberries in tomorrows first delivery of the season.  I’ve been enjoying them on French toast, Angel Food Cake and in strawberry smoothies.  I am thinking to make strawberry sorbet this weekend.  These berries are really a treat and I hope you enjoy them too.       

I appreciate your support this season and look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10 am until noon at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…

Ladybug Farms

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