Thursday, June 30, 2011

Red, White, and Blue Potatoes and Cackleberry Tuesdays

This past week has been good to our farm. Not too many weeds, not too many bugs, but lots of squash, cukes, and bell peppers. If I weren't so anxious about all the purchases we need to make, I'd have to say things have been rather relaxing! It's our second week offering Jane Henderson's organic potatoes. I'm having some for dinner (cooked with our green beans and onions). I find it very easy to over eat in the summer...

This week, we have:

Tomatoes: $2.50/lbs
Onions: $2.00/lbs
Arugula: Let's Haggle! 
Swiss Chard (picked on demand): $2.50/lbs
Beets (picked on demand): $4.00/ bundle
Squash: $2.50/lbs
Zucchini: $2.00/lbs
Costata Romanesca: $3.00/lbs
Cucumbers:$2.00/lbs, over 5lbs: $1.50
Basil: $3.00/bundle
Parsley: $2.00/bundle
Eggplant: $3.50/lbs
Green Beans: $2.00/lbs
Bell Peppers: $0.25/each
Hot Peppers: $0.10/each
Squash blossoms: PYO, Let's Haggle!

We got a great surprise this week when we went down to weed the corn- all of the weeds down there were Arugula sprouted from last year's crop! Thus, we have tons of delicious spicy baby greens which can be picked on demand! 

Also, on Tuesdays, we will be offering Butter and Cheese from Cackleberry farm. Stop by to see our selection, as it will vary from week to week. This past Tuesday, Randy, the owner dropped off some hard hoop cheese. It reminded me a lot of manchego, but might remind you of something else. You'll have to try it to find out. 

With the prolific production of squash that we've had on our hands, mother and I have become very creative. I feel like Forrest Gump when I talk about squash: squash pickles, squash casserole, squash parmesian, fried squash, stuffed squash, squash curry, squash pie and SQUASH BREAD!

The latest creation- I'll have to put the recipe up when mum and I sit down for a while together- combines our fresh parsley, onions, and squash into a delicious quick bread perfect for tomato sandwiches. We offered it to our CSA customers last week and I think I'm going to be making some and freezing it for the winter!

Well, I'd better get back to the veggie stand and my hammock. Mum get's off work at 3, so I have to be ready to take over. 
When I told my employees to tie up the garlic, I didn't know I'd get such a piece of old world charm!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

David Goforth's Tomatoes and the Lag Phase

This week, we are pleased to announce that our first vendor has supplied us with some lovely and delicious tomatoes! They are grown in Cabarrus County under a high tunnel. No hail damage there! Stop by the farm store (Mon-Fri 11-6pm) to pick some up.

This week, we have:
Tomatoes: $2/lbs
Onions: $2/lbs
Swiss Chard (picked on demand): $2.50/lbs
Beets (picked on demand): $4.00/ bundle
Squash: $2.50/lbs
Zucchini: $2.00/lbs
Costata Romanesca: $3.00/lbs
Basil: $3.00/bundle
Parsley: $2.00/bundle

This week's work in the garden has been minimal: Just weeding, putting out our last batch of okra, and putting out some mulch. We're still shopping for a plow and a disk harrow so we can prepare the field for our pumpkins. I hope to get that done by Friday because it's getting quite late for planting the pumpkins. 

We're entering the lag phase of the summer- the time of the season where we can relax a bit and enjoy the fact that all our plants are in the ground. Our days are filled with a little pest control and picking our vegetables. The vineyard, too, has entered a lag phase. The berries have reached their ultimate size and are preparing for veraison. The shoots have stopped growing as fast as they were before, which makes maintenance much much easier. The Japanese beetles are here, but as of yet, they have not done significant damage. I hope to put some more kaolin clay on them tomorrow if the rain will hold out. The black rot berries are beginning the harden so that in two weeks or so, we can go along and shake them off, leaving extra room for the good berries to develop. Next week, we'll probably go along and tip some of the shoots on the vines that we haven't already tipped. This is like hedging for those of you familiar with the Vertical Shoot Positioning system. Since our vines grow upside down, we have to bend over and clip the shoots by hand about 5 inches off the ground.

We're also starting to talk seriously about bird control. We're looking for examples of successful bird netting on the Geneva Double Curtain trellis, but have yet to find one. Mom and Dad have several ideas, and when we decide on one, I'll post pictures so those grapegrowers of you out there don't have to go through the experimenting stage again. 

It's summer time- the living isn't easy yet, but it most certainly is getting there!

Kaolin Clay (Surround) covered Vidal Blanc vine

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The farm store is open!

Last Thursday, we opened up our farm store on 3450 Concord Parkway South! We've started small and are talking to several other farmers about selling their produce as well to ensure greater variety of products. If you're a farmer and are interested in having us sell your goods, please email us at

The store will be open from 11-6 pm Monday through Friday. This week we have

Swiss Chard (picked on demand): $2.50/lbs
Kale (picked on demand): $2.50/lbs
Beets (picked on demand): $4.00/ bundle
Squash: $2.50/lbs
Zucchini: $2.00/lbs
Costata Romanesca: $3.00/lbs
Basil: $3.00/bundle
Parsley: $2.00/bundle

If you are interested in purchasing any of the following items, please stop by the store my mother and I will be glad to assist you!

We are also looking into starting an email and pickup program. If you would like for us to prepare your groceries, simply email us by 3pm at and we will have your produce bagged up and ready for pickup at 5pm.This will be on a first come first serve basis.

In other news, we used our sprayer in the vineyard for the first time! We were spraying kaolin clay for the japanese beetles, so the whole vineyard turned white! After the second hail storm last Saturday, our Chambourcin are looking more pathetic than ever. Not only have we had a large amount of black rot, we have shredded leaves and split berries due to the two hail storms we've had this season. I don't think I ever imagined that we'd be affected so much by hail. It was a big relief to put some spray on the vines again and hopefully maintain what we have. I'm sure I'm making much more out of this than would other vineyard managers, but it is our first year of production, so I'm extra nervous.

The storms also brought a lot of wind and rain. Many of our plants (especially the corn) were blown over by the storm and had to be 'replanted.' A big shout out to my dad who went out with me for a few hours on Saturday and stood plants up with me! Thanks Dad! We also have a pretty big root rot problem in our garden behind the vineyard after three days of rain. Luckily much of this was a spring crop, so we've gotten the majority of our produce out of there already. It just brings to mind how important good drainage and organic matter are. The soil has improved so much since we started three years ago, but still, there are many low spots and puddles which are hot bed for root rot and other bacterial issues.

Finally, my family and I have been eating very well recently. We have discovered the joys of Costata Romanesca, a large heirloom zucchini. We especially enjoy it stuffed with mushrooms, cheese and breadcrumbs. I highly recommend this dish for any dinner or special occasion.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ups and downs

These past few weeks have given the farm a roller coaster ride of joy and frustration. This is one of the reasons that I have not been a very diligent blogger. Another reason is simple laziness. But this can be overcome.

I have several new favorite tasks in the garden. One is picking Colorado potato beetles from the potatoes. Another is picking squash bugs and squash bug eggs from the squash and zucchini. I never thought I'd look forward to crushing bugs, but every time I do it, I know that I'm protecting my babies and my investments.

We haven't had a significant rain in a week and a half, but before that, we were getting a few inches a week. This was very problematic. We got an afternoon rain (and hail too) the Friday before Memorial Day. I knew that the conditions were perfect for an outbreak of black rot, however, we didn't have the right spray for the outbreak. I called Green Resource in Charlotte, and even though they were going to be closed on Monday, they still sold me the spray and even brought it out to the vineyard on Monday morning! I am very grateful to this company, because, as I suspected, after this rain, we did get an explosion of black rot. The spray couldn't heal our grapes, but it did keep us from loosing the entire crop! I can now sleep at night.

The hail storm dealt a big blow to our tomatoes and our eggplant. On Saturday morning when I went out to our field on Poplar Tent Rd, the tops of many of our tomatoes were broken off, our squash leaves were shredded, and the squash plants had gaping wholes in their leaves. Luckily, my CSA customers were out there with me and they helped to prop the tomatoes back up, break off broken shoots, and lift my spirits.

Despite the really hot temperatures and the lack of rain, our plants are doing ok. Our garden is flourishing thanks to irrigation. We have started harvesting lots of squash, cayenne peppers, and yellow (hail damaged) tomatoes! We'll be opening up our farm stand tomorrow to sell the surplus squash and swiss chard.

And even though we got a heavy dose of black rot on the grapes, according to a class I was taking at UC Davis, this year has been a good one so far for the grapes. We got a significant amount of rain during flowering (good for berry set), and then it immediately started to dry up (good for phenolic development). Our trellis, the Geneva Double Curtain, has provided the most open canopy I've ever seen. Every cluster is exposed to the right amount of sun and shade for this hot climate (for those followers of Richard Smart, we easily have 1.5 Leaf Layers without even plucking!). It is messy, however, and our Moldovan employees, don't like the look of it. They keep trying to put all the shoots together in a bunch. I have to remind them constantly that the whole point of our trellis is to open up the canopy. It's beginning to get through the awkward teenage phase and look like a proper GDC. We have yet to figure out how to put bird netting on this trellis. But we have 2 months to figure that one out.

So, baring all other natural disasters (which are, of course, expected), this year should be a great year for our grapes.

We also have bought a tractor! This is a huge deal. We've been shopping for 2 years and we finally settled on a New Holland Boomer 8n! We have also purchased a bush hog and airblast sprayer (no longer do we need 5 people for 6 hrs to spray the vineyard with burdensome backpack sprayers!). We will now be able to do things in a timely manner, not relying on scheduling others to do our tractor work for us! We just have to get some implements to plow and condition our soil so we can proceed to grow without breaking our backs!

A final joy of the past few weeks: I graduated from NCSU, the best ag school in the nation if you ask me! I'm so blessed to have been able to go there and make all the great connections that will allow me to be a well informed farmer!

and now, everyone's favourite part, the pictures!
The Grimms, our CSA customers, picking up rocks, and our late squash plants

The Poplar Tent field, tomatoes on the left, corn in the middle and squash on the right

making a herb dryer out of two plant flats

put the herb between a flat with holes and one without holes

Vidal blanc on the GDC

a GDC vineyard, Vidal on the left, Chambourcin on the right

transferring the spring garden to a late summer garden



pumpkins and watermelon will be here soon!

our new tractor, Little Maggie, named for my mom, who bought it for us!

A Brief Eulogy

On Wednesday, May 18th, my grandmother, one of the owners of our farm, died at age 95. No matter what I write here, I will not be able to capture the influence she has had on me or our farming operation. Even though she did not farm for a living for the majority of her life, it is because of her that I turned to farming as my own livelihood.

She was born onto a successful tobacco farm in Tabor city. Despite the fact that she was a very capable farmer, she decided that she did not want to spend her life in a tobacco field, so she pursued nursing. Throughout her life, her yard was her constant passion, and as a child, she (and my other lovely grandmother) introduced me to the fun of gardening.

As it became time for me to choose a profession in life, I considered my options. After the hectic life at Davidson College, life in a quiet, simple low country town sounded amazing. I decided that I wanted to turn my grandmother's tobacco farm into a vineyard. Upon further consideration, I decided to start my farming ventures a little closer to home. I used her property on HWY 29 to plant my first vineyard and garden. I do not know if she ever understood what I was doing with her home or her farms, but I hope she would appreciate that all the land she has given me is starting to make a little money and that her yard is looking spiffier than ever!