ARCHIVE - 2015


Investing.  A friend commented recently that she was in a new relationship after several years of being single and she was investing two days a week in getting to know this person.  In another conversation, I went to an Introduction to Yoga Nidra class recently and it was a $10 investment to attend.  I like the expanded definition of the term “investing” and it has caused me to reflect some this week on the areas in which I invest my time, money and with whom.  As the 2015 season comes to a close I would like to thank each of you for investing with me in a share of Ladybug Farms this season.  Our exchange is more than a “cash for produce” transaction.  Your support extends beyond a check and for that I am most grateful.  I could not do this work without you and please know it is an honor to be your farmer.    
Several years ago mom was gifted two ears of Keener corn that has been saved by Bill Keener and
his family in Rabun county for over 100 years.  The corn is amazing, towering 12 feet and more in one growing season.  I will bring to pickup tomorrow and would love some help husking the corn prior to air drying in the solar sunroom.
Farm Food Favorite: Sweet Potato Fingerlings
Hand dug Sweet Potato Fingerlings are a treat from the fields.  Unlike their commercially available counterparts that are harvested with the large equipment, it can be an experience to dig, uncover and follow the long roots of the sweets.  The photo shows the clump of sweets at the base as well as a few runner fingerlings.  I prefer to roast these at 350 in a pan with the lid on and include a small amount of coconut oil. 20-30 minutes until soft.  Enjoy!
I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at our final CSA pickup of the season from 10:30-12:30 in front of Butler's II Antiques on Main Street.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next season...


Fall is in the air and the transplanted rows of fall greens and winter radishes are coming up nicely.  A mole (or is it a vole) has had quite the feast on the recently seeded beet and carrot row so I will need to replant that one.  The tomatoes are winding down but still require a significant time to tend to the harvesting.  Cutting okra is now pretty much a daily occurrence.  The sweet potatoes will continue to grow up until frost but I have begun digging and will bring to pick up tomorrow.  And if you’ve not eaten spaghetti squash you are in for a treat.  I first grew this winter squash at the suggestion of my brother Jeff.  Each year I grow more and more as I really enjoy eating it and it is such a great winter keeper. 
Farm Food Favorite:  Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half and roast face down in a pan with water at 350 until soft.  Remove from oven, scrape out squash with a fork (it should be “stringy” somewhat like spaghetti).  Top with butter and salt for a great veggie side dish or to make lasagna substitute spaghetti squash for pasta noodles and then layer with tomato sauce and cheese.   
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.


Holy Tomato!  As you can see there is quite the bounty of tomatoes at Ladybug Farms these days.  I harvested 70 pounds of heirlooms on Thursday and another 90 pounds yesterday.  Mom picked 42 pints of cherry tomatoes between Monday and Thursday of last week and another 20 pints today.  Thanks to the hot days and infrequent rains it has been a great tomato year indeed! 

I also completed harvesting most of the winter squash this last week including the Delicata, Spaghetti and Butternut Squashes.  These three squashes are a staple for me throughout the winter months.  The Delicata generally keep until Thanksgiving but the Spaghetti and Butternut keep for me by storing in a milk crate in my pantry until next spring.  It most likely will be a rainy harvest tomorrow morning but am planning to bring the Selma Zesta pole beans which are now in the flageolet stage.  A French term for when the green bean has plumped out to the point that you can shell the white bean inside and enjoy sauteed.   
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 6:30 until 8:00 pm at the H Building patio.    Please bring a bag for your goodies.


Been using “Ernie” the tractor these last few days.  He’s a big help.  I harvested the last 400 feet of potatoes on Saturday.  I’ve been digging by hand for pickup each week but have been waiting for the moon to be in the right sign for harvesting root crops to do the “big dig”.  This was the first year I planted all 600 feet of spuds from my saved potatoes from last years crop.  The spuds hung out patiently all winter long in milk crates under my cabin waiting for their time in the dirt.  The yields aren’t as much as I’ve had in previous years but I’m pleased with the quality and it feels good to know I can grow from my own saved potatoes as opposed to relying on the potato farm I use in Colorado to supply my seed potatoes.    
Had to share one more picture of the sunflowers I took this morning.  No photoshop on this one! 
Farm Food Favorite:  GARDEN SALSA
You can mix and match a lot of different items for your own special salsa.  My favorites include Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Garlic or Onion, Cilantro or Lemon Thyme, Salt and Apple Cider Vinegar.  Puree in blender or food processor until desired consistency.  Enjoy!

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.


I completed the first round of fall seedlings this weekend including kale, lettuce and pak choy.  Also got in a late crop of October beans which began to sprout today.  I noticed a bunny run out of the sweet potato rows as we were weedeating today so spent this evening putting a bunny fence around the newly sprouting October Beans.  Had blamed those pesky crows but now have all but concluded it was The Bunny that got the soybean row and one of the three okra rows.  I don’t mind sharing but two whole rows is a bit much!  Overall the summer fields look better than they ever have.  I know putting the hay down for weed suppression has been a big help.  Not to mention it continues to be a pleasure to walk through the tomato rows as I harvest tomatoes each day and not be wading through knee high weeds.     
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.  You can stockpile up your CSA share beets and keep until cooler weather outside and do a large roasted veggie dish with beets, sweet potatoes and onions or for a summertime dish 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 until ready to add to a salad with some feta.  Enjoy!
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.


It feels like we made the transition this week from spring to summer crops.  Harvested the first okra (come early if you want it, as there are only a few bags this first week but plenty more on the way) and am picking beans in abundance.  The winter squash rows – butternut, spaghetti and delicata – are humming each morning with the sound of bees furiously pollinating the numerous flowers.  And the first sunflowers opened their cheery blossoms this past week.  We got a bit of rain this afternoon – the first in several days – but even so I spent a few hours this afternoon installing drip tape to irrigate all the summer crops that are flowering.  Is hard to believe but I will be starting the first round of fall crops – lettuce – tomorrow, followed by the first of the kale seedlings later this week. 

Farm Food Favorite:  Green Bean & Cherry Tomato Summer Salad (thanks Ben for this one!)
Bring water to boil and insert green beans (snap off ends) for 5-6 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain water and refill with cool water to stop cooking.  Drain again.   Place in bowl and toss in olive oil.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half and add to green beans.  Add salt or fresh herbs (basil, lemon thyme) to taste.  Optional – feta cheese crumbles.  Enjoy!

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.


I had a most interesting conversation recently during my CSA pickup on Main Street in Clayton.  A man and his family were up from Marietta enjoying a weekend in the mountains.  His wife and kids were visiting the shops in Clayton so he wandered up to me and started chatting.  He told me how his daughter when she was 17 years old was in a really bad place and so he sent her for the summer to be with his brother and wife who happen to run a large (10 acre) organic farm in eastern Tennessee.  He told me how that experience changed her life.  She went on to attend college and today is working for a Risk Management Company with plans to work, earn and save money until her mid 30’s and then return to take over management of her uncles farm.  He then said to me, “You know, Farming is a Calling”.  Those words struck a chord with me.  I’ve never thought of it like that but the more I think about it, his words are true.        
I’ve managed to find a couple of good solid farm maintenance days both Saturday and today.  The tomatoes are beginning to ripen in earnest, the winter squash are setting fruit and I picked the first of the beans today – a far cry from the inch long beans I took a photo of last Monday.   It will be the last of the cucumbers this week and most likely the squash too.  Is time to transition to summer crops. 
Farm Food Favorite:  Grilled Monster Onions
Make a tinfoil packet.  Slice the onion into rounds, add butter then seal the packet.  Grill until soft and Enjoy! 

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.


So it continues to be an unusual growing season with the rhythm of just about everything off from “normal”.  I’ve heard about several hailstorms in the last few weeks in neighboring Wolfork Valley and on up to Franklin, NC.  I experienced a hailstorm my first growing season in Rabun County 
and there is nothing you can do to recover other than replant or wait until next year.  The sourwood trees (which is the summer honey flow in our area) are flowering now, early.  In my monthly bee club newsletter they wrote that an early flow means more pressure on the bees, as they utilize more of their winter honey stores for food.  My one hive has a lot of activity and continues to produce honey.  I have been checking each week anticipating a swarm (the way they reproduce) but it has not happened.   With evening temperatures in the 40s this past week, the tomatoes have been slow to ripen.  I planted an extra 30 plants this season, up from the usual 85 plants.  I’ve kept up with the trellising this season and with the hay mulch between the rows the plants look really great.  All we need is some sunny days and warm nights and we should all get our tomato fix in the next several weeks.
Farm Food Favorite: Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

8 wild blackberries
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
Puree all in magic bullet or blender.  Homemade dressings are so easy and taste great.  Enjoy!

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.


I planted the pumpkins over the weekend.  In addition to a few standards rows of pumpkins planted in hills I also tried an experiment.  These last several weeks they have been tree trimming in our valley, so I asked to have about 10 loads of mulch dumped at the farm.  CSA Member David Rothmeier
came out and filled up two of the totes with mulch.  When I went to plant the seeds I added a few inches of soil on top and then planted some pumpkin seeds.  The idea is for the mulch to break down over time and potentially create some raised beds with good soil.

I have also been spending a lot of time trellising up the tomato plants.  This year I planted an extra 30 plants – for a total of 110 plants.  The temperature the last two nights was in the 40’s – I’m not joking – which has slowed down the tomatoes from turning color.  Still just a few cherry tomatoes are ready for harvest but should be next week to start bringing the slicers – hurray!  Nothing says summer like a homegrown heirloom tomato!

Farm Food Favorite: Fourth of July Potato Salad

It’s that time – red, white and blue potatoes are on their way.  Leave skins on and boil until soft (the purples cook quicker so add a few minutes after the red and white).  Remove from water, cool, cut into cubes and toss with mayonnaise and chopped up celery (is that going to be in our share this week?!)  Enjoy J

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.


My best friend Katie from 5 years old was up today at the farm and we trellised more tomatoes and the Selma Zesta pole beans that make those fabulous flageolet beans that we will so enjoy in august. 
Is late so am going to be quick.

CSA member Dan was up at the farm this weekend and prepared this totally yummy farm food favorite.  I’ll be grilling out tomorrow evening after pickup and bring some to share.  Special Bonus is Edie’s dad is visiting and will be joining us.  Join us for some grilling if you can!

Farm Food Favorite: Grilled Zucchini Plank Style

Cut the zucchini into long, flat planks.  Spread olive oil and garlic or herbed salt and a bit of pepper.  Grill for 8-10 minutes per side until soft.  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.


Exciting happening this last week was the first delivery of Ladybug Farms produce to the Northeast Georgia Food Bank as part of the Dave Matthews Band/REVERB Farm to Family Program.  45
pounds of the beautiful red and green lettuce we’ve been enjoying this spring was harvested that morning and delivered to Wanda Smith at the Wylie location.  I am looking forward to making regular deliveries to the NEGA Food Bank this season and to introducing some of their clients to locally grown, organic produce.

I’ve decided to put out hay as a mulch cover to reduce the weeding and keep moisture in the soil.  I’ve wanted to do this for quite some time but have concerns about slugs with our cool evenings.  Today CSA member David Rothmeier helped me to mulch the three 80 foot tomato rows as well as the first of two butternut squash rows.  Hay mulching is utilized at many biodynamic farms, including one I visited recently in Blairsville.  We’ll see how it goes.          

Farm Food Favorite: Quick and Easy Cucumber Salad

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.  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.


I’ve just about finished the planting of the summer crops and it feels good.  With that big push behind me I can focus on maintenance and of course harvesting.  This last week a lot of effort went into hilling the six 100 foot rows of potatoes - photo to left - with the second round of radishes, beets, lettuce and more in the background.  I also completed the trellising of the 80 heirloom tomato plants.  With lots more rain expected this week, they need as much air circulation and support as they can get.  Always plenty of weeding to keep up with as well, but this year is at a manageable rhythm.      

Farm Food Favorite: Kohlrabi

There are a couple of ways to enjoy this alien looking vegetable in the cabbage family.  I use a hand grater and mix it with carrots, pineapple chunks, pecans and mayo for a colorful salad or cut into cubes, steam and add a white sauce on top for an alternative to cauliflower.  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.


Well the big news at the farm this week was the huge honor of again being invited as the Dave Matthews Band Farm Partner while they performed at Lakewood this past weekend.  Many of the same folks returned as volunteers and it was great fun to work together with them again.  This year the Northeast Georgia Food Bank was chosen as the Food Bank partner so I will be able to direct produce to my local Food Bank this season as the produce in kind giveback.  It was totally inspiring to see the commitment towards sustainability and local farms that the Dave Matthews Band and Reverb makes and I was thrilled to be a part of this program again this season.

In other farm news I’ve all but wrapped up the planting of the summer crops.  Last week bush beans, pole beans, soybeans, okra, winter squash and the summer romaine lettuce which is more heat tolerant were all planted.  The nice rain we’ve been receiving this last week already has the okra and soybeans peeking through.  A good part of my afternoon today was spent weeding around the baby seedlings. 

Farm Food Favorites: Fresh Herbs

I’ve begun to grow and cook even more fresh herbs this season.  Below is a short guide of herb ideas from the Basic Herb Cookery to inspire you to incorporate fresh herbs into your cooking:

Beets - Basil
Carrots - Mint, Basil, Parsley, Thyme
Onion - Thyme
Beans - Sage
Tomatoes - Basil, Sage, Thyme
Potatoes - Parsley, Basil, Chives 

Meat - Poultry - Fish
Beef - Basil, Thyme, Rosemary
Pork - Sage, Basil, Rosemary, Chives
Lamb - Thyme, Sage
Poultry - Thyme, Sage
Fish - Sage, Thyme, Basil, Parsley

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.


As I sat down to write the first rain we’ve had in over 3 weeks began – halleluhia - just in time!  With the 80+ degree temps I have been watering every day and the 6000 gallons in the rainwater storage tanks was down to a few inches.  That low level of water happens most years, but never until July.  This spring season has undoubtedly been the most challenging start I’ve had in 7 years of farming.  In March and April it rained and rained which delayed the ability to get in to the fields and prepare the beds for planting.  And then when it finally stopped raining, it really stopped.  Those extremes are becoming the norm in farming though, and to continue farming you get more comfortable with the reality that you can’t control the weather and instead focus on doing what you can and working with what is.  I am again reminded that most of my best life lessons have all come from farming. And I am also quite thankful to be farming in Georgia, as I hear about the water challenges in California and beyond.

I’ve received more help with the farm this season than ever before, and I am so thankful!  Longtime Clayton CSA member Joyce Oliver has been coming out once a week since March and has been a tremendous help planting irish and sweet potatoes, transplanting chard, weeding and a whole lot more.  Another huge help has arrived in the way of Bobby Ward who has come up most weekends from Atlanta to learn firsthand about farming and homesteading.  And certainly I can’t overlook the help from Mom who does so much in the way of watering, mowing and helping with the weekly harvests.  It has long been my dream to have more community around this farm and it is heartwarming to see that taking shape. 
Earlier this spring I had some new neighbors move in - to my front porch!  Mama Wren laid 5 small eggs in a birdhouse on top of a stool that was 1 foot from my front door!  I was able to move the stool about 3 feet away and to my surprise, she continued to set on the nest.  The babies all grew up and last Sunday “flew the coop”.  It was such fun to check on them each day and listen to their chirp, chirp as the worms arrived. 

So thanks to each of you for helping to make this season 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment