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Changes to the Farm

A farm can be beautiful and functional. We have put a lot of emphasis on getting the orchard and food forest planted and growing crops for the past 2 years. This week we put the emphasis on improving the property and doing some cleanup.

Hargrove Lawn Care in Bear Creek, NC did a wonderful job helping to move brush and clear out areas so we can come back and plant pollinators. They also took out trees and bushes to make maintaining the property easier. They also opened up a spot for a fire circle and chairs. Its amazing what a trained operator with a skid steer can do in a day. Now we need to get planting clover and pollinators in these areas.

It will be nice to have a spot for a fire circle with room for a big group. The trees are out of the way so we can start bringing the rocks over and build the fire circle.

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Pictures from the Farm – 2023-07-29

It is definitely warm out. We started the day out with a sprinkle or two and a nice breeze so it wasn’t too bad of a day to work on the farm. We picked tan cheese pumpkins and cushaw squash after weeding sweet potato beds. The first fig fruits are developing, but it is still going to be long time until they are ready to harvest. Most of the fig fruit is still at the small bud size right now. We are continuing to pick elderberries.

The moringa that we planted as a test is doing great! Getting the moringa plants to make it through the winter may be a challenge, but one step at a time.

Honey

We have honey from the farm available at https://www.montiegear.com/simply-us-farm/honey. We have 1/2 lb and 1 lb jars.

16 ounce jar of honey
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Onions! Lots of Onions!

The onion harvest was wonderful. The sweet potatoes are not planted and the drip irrigation for the potatoes. The irish potatoes are growing. It will be time to harvest them soon.

The black berries are blooming and growing. We’re looking forward to picking and eating black berries. The warm spell in February followed by a deep freeze really did a lot of damage to the fig trees, but those are coming back nicely.

The elderberries are growing and blooming. We are hoping for a nice elderberry crop this year. We had to replant some of the winter squash and pumpkins, but they ones that came up are finally starting to take off.

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State of the Farm and Pictures from This Week

This has been a busy week on the farm. We try to give a semi-annual update that talks about what is going on at the farm in detail. We’ve also been working this week on our potatoes, developing the back field and planting a few ornamental plants.

I had a few days on the farm this week to ponder the future plans for the farm. I’m taking a class with IDEO on Insights for Innovation. The class project revolves around the farm so it was good having time to ponder the future plans for the farm while working in the field.

Here are some pictures from this week

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Interview with Niti Bali – Food Church founder

I’m taking a class called “Insights for Innovation” with IDEO. Part of that class is doing interviews for developing empathy and better understanding customers. Niti was the perfect person to interview to better understand the farm-to-fork community. I learned a lot in the interview and hope you do too.

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Planting Hazel Trees and Moving Pine Logs

We planted our first hazel trees. This is a test planting to see how they do. We should have our first nuts from the hazel trees in 2-3 years, if all goes well.

We also pulled up drip feed lines so we can trim and to make it easier to cut the grass. Drip irrigation is great, but having lines everywhere does make for some management challenges when it comes to cutting grass and keeping everything looking nice and well managed.

We also had a few logs to move from a dead pine tree that we cut. Its been too wet to move the logs until now. It is nice to get them out of the way so I can mow that area.

The spring flowers are blooming and the bees are busy.

We’ve learned that young seedlings are often enough reason for a deer to want inside the anti-deer fence area, so we put cages around them.

It was a nice way to spend a Friday afternoon.

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Blueberries Go In! Bees Go In!

Since we started the farm, one of the things I’m looked forward to is planting blueberries. We had a couple of delays putting them in, but now they are finally installed.

The picture doesn’t show the blueberry plants amidst the pine stray, but they are there!
Experiment of using the hugelkultur mound for blueberries

My wife Connie, came up with a wonderful idea. She suggested that we plant blueberries in the Hugelkultur mound. This gives the blueberries a wonderfully sunny place that is very well drained. The hugelkultur mound is approximately 85 feet long x 30 feet wide. It is now home to 20 blueberry plans (all rabbiteye), raspberries and goji berries. This area has easy access to drip irrigation and is inside the anti-deer fence. We planted a mixture of blueberries, including Columbus, IRA, Yadkin and Tifblue varieties. The raspberries are Fall Gold from Rabbit Ridge Nursery in Coates, NC. The raspberries are acclimated to this area, so we hope they will do well. We still need to put up the trellis for the raspberries and the goji berries.

Bees on the Farm, means Honey will be Available Later in the Year

Beekeeper installing the bee hives

We are excited to have bees on the property. We have partnered with a local beekeeper so we can offer honey from our farm later in the year. I’ll post a blog entry when the honey is available. The bees will also help pollinate our berries and crops.

We also plan to bees on your place in the mountains again this summer (www.troublesomegap.com) so we should have sourwood honey available as well.

The flowers are coming up on the farm, so spring isn’t that far away.

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Mowing Grass and Enjoying a Slower Pace on the Farm

It was relaxing putting lime on the back field and getting it mowed. It is ready for winter. Nice to be able to take a break from a very busy summer growing season.

Checkout the winter garden

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Questions from the Farm – #2 in an Ongoing Series

We get lots of questions from community farm participants. Here are questions that came up this week.

1) How do you know whether you should plant 1 seed or multiple seeds in the same spot?

If the seed are purchased then the back of the seed packet will usually show planting information that includes desired spacing between plants and the number of seeds to plant in the same spot

Another way to determine how many seeds to plant in each spot is to look at the germination rate listed on package.

If the germination rate is 80% or below I would plant 4 seeds and then thin as needed. Above 80, consider planting 2-3 seeds and thin as needed. A 95% or greater gemination rate means you could try planting one see per site.

2) Is it better to wash produce before or after freezing?

Definitely better to wash before freezing

3) What crops have the best number of calories?

If you are interested in the number of calories per ounce of crop check out:

https://www.calories.info/food/vegetables (click at the top to select serving size)

It is important to note that calories / lb of crop is only a small part of the picture. Some crops are easier to grow, take more or less space or have higher yields.

Another way look a it is with a typical serving size. You can download a chart here from the FDA:


Vegetables – https://www.fda.gov/media/70792/download
Fruit – https://www.fda.gov/media/76508/download

Also check out: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/nutrition-information-raw-vegetables

The breakdown of carbohydrates vs. protein is also important. Protein is a very important part of your diet. Check out:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/19-high-protein-vegetables

4) How long does eggplant last in the fridge?

Eggplant lasts about 5 days in the refrigerator crisper.

5) How many weeks does a fig last on a fig tree?

Figs last just a few days after picking when ripe. Figs don’t store well, so it is best to eat or process them soon after picking. Once the fig is ripe on the tree, it won’t last long. Birds and insects are drawn to ripe fruit left on the tree.