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Potato Growing Class Wraps Up

We have a great time during the last session of our potato growing class. I am proud to say that we finished with 100% of the people that started the class. We had a nice harvest of potatoes. It was great to work with everyone for a class spanning several months

Currently Available Produce

This week we have

  • elderberries
  • garlic (very limited supply)
  • raw honey from the farm in Bennett
  • raw honey from Troublesome Gap
  • goji berries (you pick – email to schedule a time)

Visit our online store to place your order. We do porch pickups in Sanford, NC. Just select “porch pickup” as a shipping option when you place your order. Visit the online store here or click on the “Store” link at the top of the page.

Lack of Rain and Hot, but Some Plants Do Well

The fig trees are loving the high temperatures and growing like crazy. The warm spell in Feb of 2023 caused a lot of damage to our figs but now they are recovering nicely. The birds are enjoying the seeds from the sunflower heads

Future Plans

We have a wooded section on the farm comprising several acres. This part of the property was actively farmed 30 years ago. One of the goals for the farm is have a park like appearance. Having a beautful farm adds to the enjoyment.

The are several areas that were previously terraced and farmed but are now tree covered. We would like to reclaim an area for growing elderberries. There is an area with great microclimate. There is also flow of rainwater draining off the field that we can manage to provide an area that won’t need irrigation.

We’ve been working to manage the area grown up areas to

  • build abundance
  • return part of that abundance to the land and wildlife
  • provide a home for wildlife, diverse native plants and insects
  • provide pollinating plants for the bees on the farm and other pollinators

The first step is to have a plan that is open to pivoting. I’m realizing how important it is to be able change plans are we learn and discover more about farming and about our property. The next step is to remove brush, dead trees and small trees that don’t support the goals of the plan. This week I had an opportunity to do some work with the bush hog. Here are some pictures of the results.

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Elderberries Incoming!

We have started picking elderberries from our food forest. Please contact me if you are interested in placing an order. We don’t use any insecticides or pesticides. The fertilizer we use on them is organic.

You can order your elderberries here (select “porch pickup” under shipping options for local pickup in Tramway)

Raspberries

We have been trying a variety of raspberries that was developed for the climate in this area. Many raspberries just won’t tolerate the warmer tempertures here (zone 8a). That is why you see raspberries mainly in the mountains. The plants came from Rabbit Ridge Berry Farm in Coats, NC. We have bought friut bearing trees and bushes from them. They have great products and are wonderful to work with. They also have a u-pick farm.

Blueberries

This is our first year of having a blueberry harvest, even a small one. Previously our plants were too young, so we pulled the berries when they first formed to encourage the plant to put its energy into the plant instead of the fruit. The first of the blueberries are almost ready to harvest. I can’t wait to have blueberry pancakes.

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Garlic Incoming

We harvested most of our garlic today. Once we have it processed, we should have a limited amount available for sale. We didn’t use any insecticides or pesticides and we practice regenerative farming where we try to continuously improve our soil. Once we have an idea of what we have available, I’ll post it here. Please keep in mind that we only harvest garlic once per year, so when we sell out we won’t have more until this time next year. In the meantime, here are some pictures of part of the garlic and onions that we harvested today

Garlic and onions
Elephant garlic
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Getting Young Trees Ready for Summer

The project this week was getting the young trees ready for summer. This involves pulling off the anti-deer cages, weeding around the trees and then putting mulch around the base of the trees. The mulch helps to keep the soil around the tree moist. It also helps trap water when we water the trees during the summer months. As the mulch breaks down, it will also provide nutrients to the trees.

The elderberries are coming right along. We are looking forward to having a great elderberry harvest.

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Upcoming Availability and Harvest

Its been a busy year on the farm. Many of our plantings will take years before we will have a crop.

Here are some upcoming crops that we hope to have available for sale soon:

  • elderberries
  • honey (local, from the farm)
  • garlic – one crop per year so make sure to order all you need for the year (should be available in 2-3 weeks)
  • onions – one crop per year so make sure to order all you need for the year
  • figs – very limited quanties
  • blackberries – limited quantities

We don’t use pesticides or insecticides on our crops and practice low-till regenerative farming.

We’ll send out an email when we know exact dates of availability. Thanks for following along with our journey.

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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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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