Do farmers take the winter off? Not usually. Because Summer is the best season for growing, we spend a majority of it harvesting and tending to plants. Winter is the best time for us to tackle big projects like building high tunnels, new organization locations and an overhang where we wash our root vegetables.
Curious about the progress of our projects? Make sure you are following us on Social Media to see what we are up to throughout the winter!
Top: Improving our wash/pack area with a new awning, rain garden for waste water, and a pond. Bottom: t-post re-organization.
It is crazy to think it is already Thanksgiving! If you are as surprised as us, chances are you still have some grocery shopping to do! Before you run to your local chain store, take a look below to see what we have to offer! We have tons of products to help you make this Thanksgiving one of your best yet, with a little local flavor! Order by Tuesday at 9 pm and pick up at one of two locations on Wednesday. No crowds to fight, no crazy traffic, no hour-long self check out line, just good, local food, ready to enjoy!
Thanksgiving Week Bread: We have seven varieties of bread to serve to your guests this week! All of our breads are made using our wood-fire oven, as well as our tried and true sour dough starter. Check for the asterisk to see which loaves we used our own Forest-grown wheat to make!Pita: This four pack of pita bread, is great to serve for lunch any day this week but they make great palette cleansers for lunch the day of or the day after. Mix in fresh veggies or even your leftover turkey for an easy meal.
**Farmstead Ciabatta: Perfect as an appetizer, slice up our home-grown wheat ciabatta and serve with a dipping sauce or grazy!
Dinner Rolls: Everyone needs dinner rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. How else can you clean your plate with decorum? These soft rolls don’t even need butter to make them a perfect addition to your meal.
Farmhouse Wheat: It’s the day after and it’s time for your infamous leftover turkey sandwich. This pre-sliced loaf is no-hassle for toasting and serving with minimal effort and maximum flavor.
Pain au Levain: The do-it-all loaf, use our Pain au Levain for sandwiches, a gravy soaker or a perfect turkey stuffing. Have a big family visiting? Don’t forget we sell an
Extra Large Pain au Levain which is twice the size of our regular Pain au Levain. Buy this single loaf for your smaller family and you can use it for all three of our suggestions!
Multigrain: Another great loaf for left over sandwiches, you can also use this loaf as a dipper for a hearty soup or pre dinner appetizer dipped in olive oil
Walnut Raisin: Our best option for dessert or a hearty breakfast, enjoy our Walnut raisin as a toast in the morning or something sweet to enjoy around the table with your pies!
There can’t be Thanksgiving without vegetables!
With the addition of our two high tunnels, this Thanksgiving we are able to offer you more vegetables than ever before! Whether you need locally grown produce for your dinner or for one of the many other meals you are likely to prepare throughout the week, consider shopping with us. Check out the list of produce we will have available below to see if you can mark a few things off your grocery list with the click of a button!
This week is the American week of eating. That is why this week only, rather than providing you with just one recipe to try, we want to share our continuously growing recipe archive!Normally reserved exclusively for our CSA members, we are taking away the required password for the next week for everyone to enjoy! Use your search and find tool, type in what produce you want to incorporate into your meal and enjoy easy access to tried and true recipes for that produce!Follow the link below to have access to our collected recipes!
We have been mentioning our farm-grown wheat and corn products for several weeks now and we are excited to announce they are now available for sale in time for your holiday baking!
Our products are derived from our “Cateto Sulino” corn and “Turkey Red” wheat we grew using ecological practices and harvested this summer. We cut, shucked, threshed, shelled, and cleaned all this grain before taking it to our friends at Deep Roots Milling where they were ground using a water-powered stone mill! This means our products have been passed through very few hands before you take it home with you.
We should add that both of these are open-pollinated heritage varieties. This means they are more like what your great-great-grandparents ate, 100% non-GMO and non-hybrid.
We are especially excited about the corn products, which have a deep orange-yellow color and a delicious flavor. Keep this in mind when you are planning your cornbread, stuffing, and cookie recipes this winter!
Here’s what we have:”Turkey Red” Whole Wheat Flour”Cateto Sulino” Cornmeal”Cateto Sulino” Polenta”Cateto Sulino” Grits
Saying Goodbye to the Tomatoes
After nearly a year, we have finally taken down our tomato plants.
They worked hard for us, producing nearly 700 pounds of tomatoes throughout this season. Arden started the seedlings in February, using our heated greenhouse to allow the seedlings to grow, despite the still frigid temperatures. In April we planted four rows of those Hyloom (hybridized heirloom variety) tomatoes in the same greenhouse. A thick layer of straw and the plastic of the greenhouse helped to protect these tomatoes from pests, disease and changes in temperature. We used the “lean to” system in order to allow them to grow upwards of 16 feet. Throughout the season we harvested these tomatoes two to three times a week, distributing them to our CSA and our two markets.
Unfortunately, tomatoes are an annual crop and would struggle through the colder winter months. We began to notice the tomatoes were not ripening as quickly, nor was there much growth. With the need to plant new crops under the protection of the greenhouse roof, we clear harvested (picked every tomato, green or otherwise), took down the clips keeping the plants attached to the string, and used our walk behind tractor to mow them down.
It will take us a while to get used to the open layout of the greenhouse. After all, it had looked practically jungle like for eight months but we are excited to show you the new plants soon to take up this ever-changing tunnel! We still have a lot of tomatoes to sell both green and ripened, so don’t forget to stock up while you still can!
If you’ve handled a tomato plant for any length of time, you may have noticed your hands covered in a sticky yellow/green residue. What you may assume to be a build up of pollen, is actually called “tomato tar.”
Tomato tar comes from trichomes presenting as little hairs on the stem and leaves. The trichomes have many responsibilities such as secreting essential oils which help to repel bugs and gives the tomato plant its trademark smell. Not only that, the trichomes protect the plant from fungal diseases, as well as drastic changes in temperature and light.
Handling the plants do not harm the trichomes or the plant overall, nor does the tar harm us! In order to get the substance off, you can:Wash, rinse, repeatUse a distilled white vinegar, water solution Use a rotten tomato! (You read that right)
*The pictures above depict before and after one of our staff clear harvested our tomato plants this past week. Her hands show how much “tar” can build up after harvesting 135 pounds of tomatoes. The last picture is a close up of a tomato plant. The delicate, thin “hairs” along the plant are its trichomes!*
There’s a few thing everyone knows about carrots… They’re a root, they taste great in soups or raw with a side of ranch and we love them! There is a lot more to carrots though than they’re wonderful taste! Did you know…
-Carrots weren’t always orange? Domesticated carrots originally came from the wild Queen Anne’s Lace which has white roots. Then came purple, red and yellow by way of domestication in central Asia. Dutch Farmers brought about orange carrots through selective breeding in the 1600s! -There is no variety of carrot which is a “baby carrot.” Baby carrots are merely larger carrots which have been cut and peeled to the perfect 2 inch product we are familiar with. This began when a farmer in California was tired of throwing out blemished carrots! -Carrots are great for your skin as well as your eyes and immune system. -Cooking carrots releases 40% of it’s beneficial beta-carotene (vitamin A). As a comparison, eating a raw carrot only gives you 3%. -You CAN replant carrots to harvest seeds! After a period of cooling (in a fridge or root cellar), chose your favorite (even take a bite to taste flavor), replant them, allow the leaves to regrow, flower and harvest the seeds! -California is the largest producer of carrots in the US -Approximately 2,000 carrot seeds can fit into a teaspoon! -Carrots were the first vegetable to be commercially canned
It’s been a while since we did an update, and I think it is about time we go in depth on how our vegetable crops are doing. This week was our first CSA drop off, and here is a picture of what our members got in their bag this week:
The speed at which our plants grow and the amount we are harvesting is accelerating fast this time of year, just 2 weeks out from the solstice. Hot weather also brings a plethora of insects into the garden, some friends and some foes.
The Colorado Potato Beetle (which we wrote a previous post about) has showed up and done a little bit of damage to the plants’ foliage. We’ve kept them covered and go by every few days to squish the buggers by hand, and so far it’s looking like we’ll prevent them from reproducing on our plants, keeping the population down for next year.
Another conspicuous predator of veg is the cabbage white butterfly, which lays its eggs on cabbage-family crops. The caterpillars then munch your kale or mustards until there is nothing left but a wilted, fibrous skeleton. We are not doing a great job of keeping this one at bay, with only some of our kale and cabbages with row-cover blocking the butterflies.
The pests are present, for sure, but so far not enough to keep us from harvesting the quantities of things we need for market and the CSA. KNOCK ON WOOD.
The most exciting thing about this time of the year is that we are SO close to harvesting some early summer crops: potatoes, tomatoes, and squash. Other crops like tomatillos and eggplant are just now starting to flower, with promised of delectable fruits later in the season.
Weed pressure is pretty high since the soil is very warm, so we are doing our best to stay ahead of them (and not always winning). We are also trying the “stale seedbed” method for our next round of carrots and beets. The idea is to prepare the soil in a bed, then water it very heavily. The weed seeds will germinate, then we will come in with the hoe when they are very young and scratch the surface, killing most of the weeds. This means that there are little to no weeds in the carrot bed by the time they sprout, and we only have to weed the bed once or twice before harvesting.
Overall the garden is in great shape. We are staying on schedule with our plantings and happy with our yields, especially considering the poor quality of soil we started out with. Somehow the tomatoes, carrots, and garlic seem to love it! Some crops like the okra and beets are growing very slowly, however. Much more soil improvement to be done, the ducks are hard at work.
The garden is wet and mucky today and after some intense weeding yesterday, we are letting things and ourselves rest until it dries up a little bit. Plentiful rain is an absolute blessing for our young onions, potatoes, and brassicas who are now glistening with beaded drops of water. However, this spring has been a bit challenging with the rain coming so frequently, giving us only a few windows in which it’s dry enough to till and prepare the soil.
So, why shouldn’t you work in the garden when the soil is wet?
Good soil structure is essential for growing healthy plants. Soil pores allow for oxygen and water to flow freely through the soil and form homes for the vast diversity of soil organisms. When you walk on, hoe, dig, or till wet soil, you are likely causing compaction, which causes these pores to collapse. So when you walk out to your garden and the soil sticks to your boots, resist the temptation to work! Instead, do what we did today: go inside, make some hot chocolate and read about organic pest management.
Speaking of “pests,” do you recognize this fella?
You guessed it! The notorious Colorado Potato Beetle. We have spotted one of these on the property but luckily they have not found our patch of potatoes that are just barely poking up through the soil.
So what to do when these guys do begin to gnaw on our taters? Conventional wisdom would have us declare all-out war on them, and bring in whatever chemical insecticides necessary to eradicatethe menace. But wait, these are just tiny little insects on a mission to feed themselves, have a family, and die knowing they contributed to the backyard economy.
Too often we humans appropriate the lexicon of warfare when communicating our horticultural endeavors. But by doing so, we are forgetting the goal here: promote, tend to, enhance, support, and feed life, not recklessly destroy it.
So, again, what to do? Well, the plan for now is to first spray Neem Oil, which is made from the Neem tree. The oil makes nomming on potato leaves less pleasurable for the beetles, so in theory they will find a more satisfying meal elsewhere. Simultaneously, we will cover the plants with a fabric that lets in light while hiding the plants from beetle invaders. The key here is timeliness: both of these strategies are preventative measures that are not very useful after the beetle has shown up, sat down to eat, and realized the tater salad is scrumptious.
We have traded the role of warmonger for that of the merry prankster, the one who is tricking brother beetle into letting us eat his lunch. Still not very fair for the beetle, but at least he is not being murdered and we are not disrupting the soil food web. These kind of compassionate pranks are what let natural growers conjure nutrient-dense foods out of a mess of weeds, bugs, water, dirt, and confusion.
Hope you have enjoyed this tidbit of garden minutia. We should also mention that CSA shares are still available, and please contact us if you are interested. Weekly markets start on April 25, and from then we’ll attend the Forest Farmer’s Market every week and the Grandin Village Community Market in Roanoke every other week.
We're hiring for 2 part-time positions! More info here.Dismiss