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So Much Growth

The warm rains have helped kick off so much green on the farm. It is nice to watch everything grow. The fall and winter test plantings of fig, elderberry and pawpaw in the back field are growing well. We’ve had a few figs that might not make it, but overall it is looking good.

I hope you enjoy the pictures from this week.

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Spiders, Crazy Bugs and Flowers, Flowers, Flowers

What beautiful days to work on the farm! We enjoyed spectacular weather.

Day 3 of our Growing Potatoes class was today. Just in case you are wondering this is a day where we just weed potatoes and adjust any hay covering. The potatoes are growing nicely. Although we did discover that if you put too much hay down after you plant the potato slip, the plants won’t make it through the hay. So we had to uncover quite a few potato plants.

Potatoes growing nicely

There are so many flowers blooming on the farm and in the field right now. We must have some happy bees.

We also weeded garlic and onions. The garlic grows so well on our farm. However, I’m not sure that I’m much of an onion farmer.

It won’t be long before the garlic is ready to harvest, Connie did a great job weeding it

We also saw a lot of bugs from a very large spider with egg sac (maybe a wolf spider) to a very large unknow spider.

Big spider in the hay
What is this bug?
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Growing and Drying Herbs at Home

Herbs are often the first crop that we harvest. We grow them close to our house so they can be harvested just before cooking with them. If you are permaculturalist, then this is our zone 1.

This year we hope to have plenty of 

  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • dill
  • coriander / coriander
  • basil (best used fresh, not dry)


Pairing a basil with fresh mozarella and tomatoes with a sweet sauce drizzled on top is definitely a summertime treat

Herbs are one of the easiest crops to grow. We have already started harvesting herbs from some of our established pots and beds. They don’t take much space and you’ll get to enjoy them all summer long. If you dry your excess herb crop then you can enjoy them this winter as well.

Drying your own herbs is also super simple. Below is a link to a video that explains how.


We’ve also freeze dried herbs very successfully. They freeze dry quickly and store for a very long time.


I also enjoy seeing flowers in our yard. Here are some pictures from this morning

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Potato Planting Class (Part 2) and Finding Meaning in Life for Men

What beautiful weather and a nice day to plant potatoes. We took time to plant potatoes (and a few onions) then cover with hay.

We also installed drip tape. Because potatoes are a early crop and generally finish before the summer temperature gets hot, we may not need to irrigation the potatoes. The need to irrigate is driven by how much rain we get in May and early June.

Why work hard on the farm when we can just to go the grocery store? What does that have to do with doing big things as a man?

Growing your own food has many benefits for the farmer and people who work on a farm.

Getting out on the farm and working with our hands leads to good conversation and a sense of accomplishment. Men do better in life when we can take on and accomplish big things. What are we responsible for in life? We have responsibilities at work. We have responsibilities at home. What big things are we doing?

Our jobs are tenuous. You could be severed from your employer in one conversation because someone 1000 miles away made a decision while looking at a spreadsheet. We trade hours of our lives for time spent at the office. I’m not anti-company, I just recognize the system that surrounds us. Most of us work for someone else to earn a living and that is the system that we currently live in. Working for someone else is how we pay the bills and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. The tenuous nature of the relationship with our employers means that we should not seek meaning in life because of our position at some company but instead in what we do that has lasting value.

Growing part of your own food means that you have taken on responsbilities for the following:

  • for the land and the soil
  • for the crops that you have to nurture and harvest
  • for yourself so that you are there to prepare, plant, nurture and harvest
  • for the time you spend
  • for getting to know the people you work with as you grow your own food
  • the neighbors that you give some of your excess food
  • leaving the land better off than when you found it
  • leaving behind a lasting legacy of abundance – abundance that you developed and nurtured

How are you serving others around you?

These are all questions and opportunities for us as men to answer as we seek to live meaninful lives.

The abundance of a single fig tree and doing big things

Even a single fig tree can provide a bountiful harvest for generations. If you plant and nurture that tree, you are providing figures for generations. Having a purpose in life and accepting responsibility for a man is one way to develop joy. Don’t “search” for joy in things or titles, instead develop joy and purpose by accepting responsibility. Men were made to do big things. What is your big thing? Accepting the responsibility to do those big things can bring joy to your life.

Pictures from this week on the farm

Putting down hay to suppress weeds in the potatoes that we just planted
New bee hives!
Picnic table is a great spot for taking a break
Potatoes planted and covered with hay and drip lines in place
Potatoes ready to grow
Buckwheat cover crop planted in tilled areas
Garlic is growing
The Paw Paw seedlings we planted last fall are coming to life
Another Paw Paw seedling is growing
Paw Paw seedling leaves looking for sun
Baby figs on the way
More baby figs
Comfrey is blooming
Comfrey is growing nicely
Figs coming to life
Blackberries are growing
Nice to see the blackberries growing
More blackberry growth
Snakes are back out and hunting food
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Let’s Plant Onions

There was a break in the weather and it gave us time to plant onions. We have almost 1,000 onions sets started this year. We planted the onions and then covered with hay. The hay helps suppress weeds and makes weeding so much easier. The hay also serves as a soil amendment as it composts.

Word of warning with using hay, or any compost, in your garden: it is important to make sure that you aren’t introducing herbicides into your garden through the hay or compost. The vast majority of hay is sprayed with a herbicide. Compost from your local municipality usually contains grass that was treated herbicides. That free compost from the city or county can kill the plants in your garden. Here is a good resource on the topic – click here

How to buy produce and cuttings from Simply Us Farm

When we have produce available, we’ll announce it here and through our email list. Many of the the items from our farm are only available for a short season and often just once per year.

Onions planted, next is covering with hay
Hay covering the onions and garlic
Garlic is weeded and covered with hay
This toad was hiding in a patch of weeds in the garlic

The daffodils are blooming. Nice to see the beautiful colors

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Small But Mighty Growing Potatoes Classes

We had a great day on the farm teaching how to plant potatoes.

Yesterday (Friday, the day before class) I was out on the farm getting the rows ready to plant. It was all going well until it started raining. One of the challenge with planting potatoes is rain and wet ground, which also seems to happen when we go to plant potatoes. I’m not sure if I would know how to plant potatoes without standing in mud between the rows.

Today we accomplished the following:

– demonstrated and did hands-on cutting of seed potatoes in pieces to plant
– planted approximately 200 linear feet of three different varieties of potatoes
– installed and tested drip tap for the potatoes
– planted approximately 320 onions

This is the first day in a multipart class where we plan to prepare, plant, maintain and hopefully harvest some awesome potatoes grown without synthetic fertilizer, no herbicides and no pesticides using a low till approach. We work hard to practice regenertive farming.

I realize that if there aren’t pictures of video then did it really happen? So, lets take a look at the pics. Check out the purple potatoes! Scroll to the end for some bonus pictures.

More normal looking potatoes
Purple potatoes ready to plant!
Getting ready to dig in
Planting potatoes, albeit muddy
Drip line installed and potatoes planted
Surveying the work – agricultural therapy at its finest

P.S. Planting one more tree

About this time of year, I declare I’m done planting new trees or perennials until fall. But there is also the temptation to plant just one more fruit bearing tree or bush. Friday, it was just me on the farm and I had brought with me a fig that somehow didn’t get planted this fall or winter. So, I decided to plant one more tree. Thanks to Connie for getting the fig cutting and turning it into a figlet that was ready to plant. One day, if all goes well, we’ll be trying to figure out what to do with a lot of figs.

My dad always says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the next best time to plant a tree is this afternoon”.

Jean montie roland, quoting someone else, but still great advice

Getting ready to plant the “last” fig until fall
Figlet planted
Wire cage to keep the deer away from the figlet so it can grow

P.P.S. Parting Throught

I haven’t run this meme by my wife yet, but I’m confident she will agree. I’ll ask her after I water the chickens.

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Nice Day in March and New Bees

Walking through the farm reveals a plethora of bushes and trees that are budding out. A few weeks ago, many of these bushes and plants were dormant. Now buds are forming and you can see the first signs of growth of the year.

Last year we sold out of honey from the farm. This year we are adding more bees. The first new hives arrived this week.

The first of the new bee hives have arrived!
Peach tree budding out
More peach buds

Fig tree buds
Terminal bud on a fig tree
Buds on one of the blackberry plants
Blueberries are putting out buds
Mulberry trees are growing quickly
The mighty goji berries seem upstoppable already
Elderberries are off and running, they do so well here
Hazel bush buds arriving. Looking forward to having hazel nuts in 2-3 years

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Join us for Farm Tour Day!

Every year we do a farm tour. This is a great chance to meet the farmers and see the farm. We’ll show you our work in progress and talk about how we do regenerative farming.

Farm tour includes

– detailed tour (family friendly)
– 1/2 lb of honey from our remote mountain location of Troublesome Gap, NC

What to Bring

Just bring yourself and your family and comfortable shoes. We plan to walk on grassy fields and uneven ground.

We are Dirt Farmers and Pesticide / Insecticide Free

If we grow good dirt, then plants will grow and produce abundantly. We use a minimum of organic fertlizers. We avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers. We also don’t use any pesticides or insecticides. We do use natural amendments like woodchips, hay (pesticide / herbicide free) and feather meal.

Diversity of Plants and Trees on the Farm

Let us introduce you to some of the variety of plants, bushes and trees on the farm including

Row Crops
– garlic and onions
– potatoes
– moringa

Fruit Bearing Trees
– mulberry
– hazel
– black walnut
– figs
– olive
– persimmon
– paw paw
– yaupon holley
– pecan

Fruit Bearing Bushes
– blueberry
– goji berry
– elderberry
– blackberry

Specialty
– native cactus (edible / nopales)
– comfrey
– honey bees




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Our Family Has Vines and Bushes to be Trimmed

The love of farming and gardening often spans generations. This is true for our family. We have 3 generations that that currently grow fruit bearing vines, bushes and trees. Our family has 4 properties with fruit bearing bushes, vines and trees to prune and trim. During the month of February we have trimmed:

  • blueberry bushes
  • grape vines
  • fig trees
  • various fruit trees

There were a few years where some of my mom’s grapevines and blueberry bushes didn’t get the attention they needed to we have been working to get them in better condition.

It was a great way to spend time with family. Thanks to my family for letting us enjoy that time together.

They are getting in better shape every year
These vines produce so many grapes every year
The neighbor’s puppies wanted to help
One of the projects for next year is to look at replacing the posts that support the trellises
The puppies were definitely distracting my wife