ARCHIVE - 2016

9.01.2016

The last delivery of the 2016 season.  It has been, without a doubt, the most challenging growing season in my 8 years of farming - the early Spring (I think our last frost was in March), the Spring that did not rain, the hottest July on record, and now almost daily rains in August.  More than ever my lesson from this season is an even greater appreciation of the importance of getting the right nutrients when plants (and people) are young.  To the many parents of young children in my CSA I commend you for your commitment to healthy eating and cooking.  I know it is an extra effort with all the demands that go with raising kids.  Julie and I spent much of yesterday at Camp Ramah Darom talking about farming with 200 students from Atlanta International School.  We were impressed and inspired by their questions and knowledge about growing food, the environment and the world in which we live.      

Growing challenges aside I am most thankful that I had even more help than ever before so a huge THANK YOU to Julie, Joyce and Mom for all your help this season.  I could not have done it without you all!

Farm Food Favorite: BEETS!
Beets are a super versatile and nutritious vegetable high in potassium and Vitamin C as well as grown for producing sugar.  They will keep for months with the tops removed and stored in a plastic bag in the veggie bin.  Peel and boil beets for 20 minutes until soft, remove, cool, slice and put in a Ziploc bag with some balsamic vinegar.  Keep in the fridge for a ready-to-eat snack  or add to a salad with some feta.  Enjoy!

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next Season…

Terri


8.25.2016

The first of the daikon and watermelon radish as well as a few fall beets and snow peas started to peek through the soil today.   Friends Bruce and Kelly stopped by and helped Joyce and I put the fencing around the fall root crops before the bunnies discovered the new sprouts.  It will be a few more weeks before the fall transplants of kale, lettuce and bok choy are ready to go into the field.  Earlier in the week Julie and I spent a good part of Monday removing drip tape and cutting back the weeds with the tractor flail mower to prepare for the fall cover crop planting.  Extra exciting news is over the weekend Judy and Michael of Thomson, Georgia came to pick up their first trailer load of certified organic hay.  They have a herd of 14 alpacas that they raise for their wool and are thrilled with the high protein and quality of the hay I have raised.  I’ve been working on this for a few years so it was super gratifying to see this come together.  

Farm Food Favorite: Stewed Tomatoes & Okra
Cut up tomatoes into quarters and saut√© with onions and olive oil.  Simmer on stove for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes start to break down.  Cut okra into 1 inches pieces and add to tomatoes.  Simmer until desired consistency.  Enjoy!

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from   10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…

8.22.2016

The last Atlanta delivery of the 2016 season – a most bizarre farming season with respect to the weather.   We got our summer weather in April, May and June and now the spring rains that never came are here.  My biggest lesson from this season is the importance of plants (and people) getting what they need when they are small.  It especially warms my heart to see the little ones in our CSA enjoying tomatoes, okra and more!  All in all my most challenging year in eight years of farming yet there was enough for 25 CSA shares each week and I felt good about the quality even if the quantity was less than in years past.       

I wanted to make sure and bring potatoes this last week so today Julie and I harvested a row of spuds  from my field and two rows of Julies first crop of potatoes from her field.  We had a full day harvesting about 150 pounds of butternut squash, removing drip tape from the field and moving fencing so we could flail mow and then use the tractor on the potato rows.  Tonight we enjoyed some of Julies first potato harvest, grilled okra and burgers.  As we sat outside the temperatures have been dipping into the 60’s so Indian Summer is in the air and Fall is around the corner. 

Thank you to each of you for your support this season.  I remain firmly convinced that a CSA is the best model for small farmers to make a steady income from farming and for folks to best connect with how food is grown.  I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 6:30 until 8:00 pm at the H Building patio.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.


8.18.2016

The tomato harvest peaked over the weekend with a 100 pound harvest on Sunday.  I understand we are quite fortunate to have had such a bountiful crop as further south in Atlanta and beyond the heat earlier this summer stunted most all of the plants except for the cherry tomatoes.  I planted the same number of plants that I always plant, 80 plants, but it seems this year they have been even more prolific!  I started those tomato plants in February and it is always hard to know how much I will need for CSA and will be able to sell – one of the many challenges of farming.

Farm Food Favorite: Baked Okra
Cut okra into 1 inches pieces.  Drizzle olive oil onto baking sheet, add okra pieces and swirl around.  Sprinkle okra with your favorite seasoning (I like a Cajun blend) and bake in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until crispy.  Enjoy!

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


8.15.2016

At the moment we are drowning in tomatoes and I spent much of Sunday trying to get caught up.  I harvested 100 pounds - Sunday – and there will probably be another 30 pounds to harvest tomorrow, and then again on Thursday…  I planted the same number of plants that I always plant, 80 plants, but it seems this year they are even more prolific!  25 pounds for Tuesday CSA, 40 pounds for restaurants Cakes & Ale and Fromage (thank you Billy and Jenny) and Mom has been making tomato sauce and green salsa with the remainder.  I started those tomato plants in February and it is always hard to know how much I will need and will be able to sell – one of the many challenges of farming.

Farm Food Favorite: Delicata Squash
This beautiful winter squash is super versatile and the only squash that is easy to cut and the skin can be eaten.  I roast face down in the oven in a pan with a small amount of water on 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until soft.  You can also cut into cubes and sautee with an onion and sausage.  Or cut into discs, remove the center and add fresh coconut, drizzle with honey and bake in the oven for a squash cookie.     

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

Until next week…


8.11.2016

Starting my post this week with some bummer news about the ducks that are such fun to have around the farm.  We’ve lost five of the eight in the last ten days and believe it is a weasel or racoon.  At night we are now putting them up in the chicken tractor with an electric fence extension off my planting fields but that is a temporary solution.  I know it is nature and the “food chain” but it is one of the tough parts of living so close to the wilderness. 

I prepped and tilled the fall planting area last weekend and Joyce and I started some fall greens in seedling trays today.  On Monday I ordered 200 strawberry plants which will get planted mid October, around the same time as the garlic.  The tomatoes and okra are still going crazy and I need to trellis the pepper plants which are finally becoming weighted down with ripening peppers.  Interesting in that we’re getting our spring rains in August – normally a very dry time for our area.  Once again, this season is a very different rhythm!       

Farm Food Favorite: Crowder Peas
The Crowder Pea seed originally came from life-long Rabun County resident, JL Watts.  He gifted to Mom a handful a seed eight years ago and I have been planting and saving every season.  Every evening JL eats a bowl of crowder peas before going to bed.  JL is in his mid-80’s – might be something to it. 

To eat Crowders… Shell fresh pea and simmer in salted water until desired doneness.  Save the “pot licker” (juice from cooking the peas) and dip some cornbread into it and Enjoy!    

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


8.04.2016


The tomatoes are in high gear at the moment – ripening quickly and full of flavor with the warm, sunny days.  Unfortunately the ducks discovered they too like tomatoes – I came out one morning to discover all eight ducks with a giant Cherokee Purple Tomato in their beaks – Unacceptable!  Joyce and I put a temporary fence around the three 80-ft rows of tomatoes (pictures to the left alongside the basil).  The fence is working reasonably well at keeping them out.  Even with the ducks I harvested about 30 pounds of heirlooms today and that followed a similar harvest yesterday.   There will be a bounty to choose from at tomorrows pickup and Mom has also canned several pints and quarts.  One tomato in particular I’d like to feature this week.  I enjoyed this earlier this week – it was absolutely delicious!           

Farm Food Favorite: Schimmeig Striped Stuffed Tomatoes
Cut the stem out of the tomato and remove what little in inside (is essentially a hollow stuffing tomato) .  Mix together freshly grated parmesan cheese, a small amount of mayonnaise and chopped Italian parsley.  Put inside tomato and bake in oven at 400 for about 20 minutes.   Enjoy!

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…

7.21.2016


Seven inches of rain in the last week measured in mom’s rain gauge.  The tanks to irrigate the field are now full and last evening the spring at my house started flowing again after one month – big relief!    Julie and I spent several hours on monday pruning the tomato plants to maximize air flow.  I also used the flail mower over the weekend to mow down the oats cover crop and give the butternuts and sweet potatoes more air flow.  More thinning of carrots (they are loving all this rain) and interestingly the beans are beginning to flower again.  We are even beginning to get a second picking on green and purple beans – first time that has happened for me as the bean beetles usually wipe out the plant foliage after the first picking.  I can’t help but wonder if the parasitic wasps I ordered last year to attack the bean beetles have done their job?    

Farm Food Favorite: Grilled Okra
Put okra on a skewer and lightly brush with olive oil and Cajun seasoning.  Grill for 4-5 minutes each side.  Enjoy!

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


7.14.2016


Been a big shift in the weather the last week or so.  The temperatures have cooled down and the rains have returned – back to feeling more like our normal summers.   That being said the rhythm is different than years past.  With the hot,dry Spring as backup I had planted a second crop of cucumbers and squash in the cooler field in front of my cabin.  The cukes are starting to produce a nice quantity (finally!) and to a lesser degree so are the squash.  In previous years the cukes would have been done by July and the squash winding down.  Crazy but I began harvesting a small amount of okra today!  I looked at previous years harvest sheets and the end of July is the earliest I have ever had okra.  Julie and I put a lot of attention to the summer crops earlier this week by completing to put down hay around the three 100-ft rows of sweet potatoes, a short trellis for the crowder peas and weeding and thinning the okra.  

Featured this week is the Selma Zesta Pole Bean that is now in the Flageolet stage.  Is actually a tradition in France that folks look forward to their arrival in midsummer.  Is essentially a green bean that has a white bean inside that is allowed to fill out.  One shells the bean and cooks the freshly shelled bean much like a fresh pea.   


Farm Food Favorite:  Flageolet Beans

Shell the Flageolet Beans and steam or sautee until soft.  Traditional French way is to add to tomato sauce and enjoy with lamb.  Delicious!
I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm  in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


7.6.2016


It was the second time in 8 years that the peach tree produced!  In Persimmon we always seem to have a late frost that kills the tender pink blossoms - Not this year!  I had fun harvesting two half bushels of peaches this July 4th weekend and making Peach Ginger Butter.  Every morning I was worried a bear might beat me to the tree which is what happened the one other time the tree produced while I've been on this land.  I left some for him but hope I don't see him!     

Weed eating was the task of the week – the rows among the okra, peppers, sweet potatoes and more.  I’ve wanted to put down hay around some of the summer crops but have not yet gotten that done.  I’ve been amazed at how well the kale as performed with the leaf mulch which is new this season.  The tomato trellising is up to four tiers as of this evening.  I’ll be bringing the first of the slicers tomorrow as well as beets and garlic.   

Farm Food Favorite: Beet Hummus

Roast and peel beets then puree combined with 15 oz. can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed; 1 Tbsp Tahini; 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, Juice from 1 lemon; 2 chopped Garlic Cloves; 1 Tbsp ground Cumin.  Enjoy with toasted pita chips. 

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street. 

Until next week…


6.30.2016


A little bit of rain relief over the weekend and as I write it is pouring!  With the weekend rain (the first in 3 weeks) the tomatoes responded by producing a fair number of small yellow flowers.  In the 90 degree temperatures and above like we’ve had the last few weeks, tomatoes shut down flowering to conserve all of their energy towards their roots and leaves.  To a farmer these yellow flowers are a happy sight indeed. 

All of the mid-summer crops including the Okra, October Beans, Crowder Peas and Basil look 100% better after the rain.  The garlic is now out of the ground and curing in the sunroom to intensify the garlic flavor and prolong its storage life.  We continue weeding and applying leaves to the kale rows to keep that crop going as long as we can.  A different kale chip recipe below from CSA member Dionne – Thanks!  The kohlrabi row also received a thorough weeding last week, just in time to be featured this week.  Big thanks to Clayton CSA member Margie for this fun idea (and delicious – I tried last night and it reminded me of cauliflower).             

Farm Food Favorite: Kohlrabi Fritters (from Margie)

The kohlrabi count reached 3 today, so I peeled & shredded them all.  I mixed about half with one of Gary's eggs, maybe 3 TBS of gluten-free flour, and some sea salt.  Dropped spoonfuls into hot coconut oil & fried until brown & crispy on both sides, then added another sprinkle of salt once I removed them from the pan, then took them out onto the porch with a glass of wine and a book.  O........M........G.  I was going to make slaw from the rest (digestive enzymes get cooked out, plus even gf flour isn't all that healthy), but I don't think I can resist making more fritters.  They were just too damn good.

Kale Chips from Ladybug Farms (from Dionne)

Remove the stems from the kale.   
Lightly coat with coconut oil and a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt.  
Bake for 30 min on 200 turning once.  (or until crispy)
Eat immediately or leave in the oven until completely cool then store in a brown paper lunch bag.

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers Antiques on Main Street- H building patio at the Stacks. 

Until next week…


6.23.2016

I dug a few hundred garlic bulbs today and moved them to the sunroom to cure over the next couple of weeks.  The air curing process intensifies the garlic flavor and once dry it will keep for several months.  In years past I’ve always had a challenge to find a window of dry weather to dig the garlic without it rotting – not an issue this year!   Makes me realize once again the value of diversifying the crops in my fields.  Each year the weather changes and some things do well, others not so well.    

The 300 feet of sweet potatoes were planted last week and Julie and I completed the first two tiers of trellising on the 80 tomato plants.  That’s a tedious two person job weaving twine in among each plant but works well for a large volume of plants.  We also did a lot of stirrup hoe and hand weeding as well as thinning the radishes and carrots.   I will be bringing the first of the beans tomorrow and they are as pretty as any I have grown.
.   

Farm Food Favorite: Garden Fresh Green Beans

Freshly picked green beans are a treat from the garden.  The first picking of the season is always the best as the beans are young and tender.  Snap off the ends and put in boiling water for as little as 2-3 minutes.  Remove and sprinkle with garlic salt or lemon juice.  Or to put in a salad remove the beans from the boiling water and plunge into cold water to stop the beans from cooking.  Drain then mix with rice, olive oil and tomatoes and fresh herbs.  

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers II Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


6.16.2016

We finished mulching the tomatoes and winter squash with hay to conserve moisture and help suppress weeds.  Interestingly, the two rows of potatoes that have hay (an experiment this year at Julie’s suggestion) look much better than the four rows without hay.  Even so I decided to put irrigation hoses on two of the potato rows today.  In eight years of farming I have never had to
irrigate potatoes…  I pulled a large number of onions this week and transferred them to the sunroom to begin the several week process.  I also set out a few eggplant transplants this year and put catnip as a flea beetle deterrent.  It has been several years since I tried to grow eggplant – in years past the flea beetles all but decimated the plants – so we will see if the catnip works. 

In other news the 3 inches of rain from a week ago Sunday delivered 2500 gallons of rainwater into the storage tanks, and by Friday evening it was all gone.   Thankfully we are able to backfill the tanks from mom’s well but that can only be run an hour a day so we are definitely in water conserve mode.  Mom saw on the tv this week that we are 10-15 degrees above average temperature for this time of year.  All I can say is I can see it in my fields…

This week’s veggie idea comes one of our newest CSA members, Dionne.  Thank you for this great tip!

Farm Food Favorite: Vegetable Stock

Store your veggie trimmings / compost in a container in the freezer and when the container is full combine with water and boil it down to make a vegetable stock. 

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butler’s II Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


6.9.2016


A couple of happy, helpful farmhands featured in this weeks post.  Joyce is helping out again this season with the thursday CSA harvest so please thank her for the extra fine washing of all those greens.  Julie, who is apprenticeing with me this season through the UGA Journeyman Farmer Program is quickly becoming a weed eating machine in addition to many other talents including the new Ladybug Farms Facebook page.  

Big news of the week is WE FINALLY GOT RAIN - 3 inches over the weekend!!!  It had been three weeks since rain at a time when the crops really need the rain.  The summer crops are either small transplants or baby seedlings and need the rain to establish a good strong root system before the summer heat sets in.  We always have a several week dry spell at some point during the growing season but it has never happened so early in the year.  Time will tell if it has implications for the summer crops. 

The rain did help to get a few cucumbers to start producing.  We’re a long ways off from the 10+ pounds a day I normally harvest with our normal spring rains but if the rain continues they will continue to produce.  To be optimistic I am featuring the cucumber this week:

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 look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 pm in front of Butlers II Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


6.02.2016

The hay got cut this week.  Is a several day process that begins with cutting, then fluffing then raking into rows and finally baling.  I limed the pastures last fall for the first time since being at the farm and the lime (and warm weather) has resulted in a beautiful and quite thick stand of hay.  I’m developing a market for the certified organic hay and like all new things takes time.  Last week I connected with the second certified organic dairy in our area (they are in Northeast Alabama) about the possibility of supplying hay to their dairy.  Exciting news is these folks are originally from Wisconsin and have been milking for Organic Valley for quite some time.  I also learned today that Publix is trying to establish organic dairies in the Southeast as their milk is currently coming from Louisiana.  So it seems the Southeast which has been so far behind the rest of the country when it comes to the organic scene is coming of age.

In other news the pepper transplants went into the field this week and we put the shade cloth up in the greenhouse in preparation for planting the ginger and turmeric.  More than 10 days of no rain and plenty of heat has everything limping along but even so the okra, crowder peas, octrober beans and the luffa sponges all planted last week have sprouted just from the moisture in the soil. 

Farm Food Favorite: Raw Kale Salad (thank you Clayton CSA Member Dan for this recipe!)

Chop up one bunch of kale, ½ head of broccoli and toss with Balsamic Maple Dressing.  Top with Raisins or Cherries and toasted Nuts. 

Balsamic Maple Dressing: In blender combine ½ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup maple sugar, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 cup Olive Oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Store extra in refrigerator.    

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10:30 until 12:30 in front of Butlers II Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


5.23.2016

As May is coming to a close we are winding down the hi-speed planting mode now that most of the summer crops are planted.  We are using more mulch this season than ever before to keep the weeds down and retain moisture in the soil.  The 100 or so bags of leaves I backhaul from Atlanta each fall are doing more than amend the fields in the fall.  A few of the bags had leaves already chipped (BONUS) so we spread those among the kale and mustard plants.  Not only have they done a great job with weed suppression but the flea beetle damage has been nonexistent on the mustard – typically a big problem in the past.  We are also doing an experiment with mulching potatoes with hay.  Generally the potatoes are hilled with soil to keep the roots cool and encourage the potatoes to grow bigger.  The row spacing was off on two of the rows so I was unable to get the tiller in between the rows for the final hilling.  The picture shows the first 80 foot row of mulched spuds – come July we’ll see how it worked.    

Farm Food Favorite: White Stem Bok Choy

My favorite way to enjoy this vegetable is eating the delicious white stems raw with hummus.  The stems can also be used as a substitute for celery in dishes such as chicken salad.  And absolutely eat the leaves too – raw or steamed.  Below is a recipe for a quick and simple steamed bok choy…

Ginger-Sesame Bok Choy


1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
5 thin slices fresh ginger
8-10 stems Bok Choy

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.  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…


5.16.2016

The start of the eighth season as a CSA Farmer – WOW!  Many of you have been with me most all of this time and I really appreciate your support these many years. 

Lots of good things happening at Ladybug Farms again this year – we kicked off the season with the 8th annual Seed Starting workshop, new farm tours to educate the public, organic hay certification, Mom has a flock of baby ducks at the pond, a new Ladybug Farms facebook page and the biggest highlight of all is I have a a super fun apprentice, Julie Best, working with me this season.  Wahoo!     

With these warm, sunny days we’ve been working like crazy to get things in the ground before the summer heat arrives.  I can’t even remember when the last frost was this year, odd since we’ve had frosts as late as May 17 at this farm.  The upper 30s temperatures last week had us spending hours covering the tender baby beans, squash, cukes and more.  Last year I lost 700 baby kale plants to a late frost – I was determined not to repeat that lesson!

I am trying a different approach to planting out onions this season.  We planted them closer together, two to a hole and grouped them in bunches.  The idea is to thin every other group as spring onions which at the same time weeds the bed for the other onions to grow up full size.  Seems to be working and I believe you all will enjoy having spring onions which I have never offered before. 

Farm Food Favorite: Grilled Spring Onions

Brush with olive oil – green parts and all – then grill until soft and Enjoy!

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 from 6:30 until 8:00 pm - H building patio at the Stacks.    Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…

Terri

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