June 15, 2012

This week has been busy! Slowly but surely we are taking steps to get out of spring production and into the full-blown summer season. This has included getting the older crops out of the ground and putting in the new. Last week we pulled out all of the garlic and hung them up to dry in the barn. We also pulled up most of the sweet onions from the same block. This morning we took some time to weed and prep the bed to seed some mesclun mix and a spicy green mix I am excited to try. From there we moved onto the sugar snap peas, which I am quite sad are done.  We pulled out all the old plants as well as the trellis and tee posts. Next door we pulled out older heads of the romaine lettuce. Here we will amend the soil and plant some okra. Getting older things out of the ground and putting new summer crops in is an ongoing process but assures us that we will have new and exciting things throughout the season.

Getting out of spring production and into the summer we focus a lot of energy on the soil and make sure we amend it so that the nutrients are present for what our plants need. Soil is a farmers’ main capital and the secret to a successful farm is good soil management. We don’t just want to maintain the soil but over time also improve the soil quality. So what do I mean when I say soil? Soil is the unconsolidated outer surface layer of terrestrial earth. Soil is made up of air, water, mineral particles, living organisms and dead organic matter. On Sugar Creek farm we improve the soil by little tillage, the use of cover crops, crop rotation and the addition of organic matter. By taking these steps we increase water holding capacity, infiltration and soil organisms. This all will increase the soil structure and overall soil quality. With good soil the farm will be the most productive.

So how is the soil looking at Sugar Creek Farm?? Awesome! Soil management is an ongoing process but since I have been at Sugar Creek I have been quite impressed with the quality of the soil. Still some blocks around the farm need some work and I know that Jeff and Natalie have BIG BIG plans! In order to classify a soil one can look at the soils physical and chemical properties. Physical properties to look for are the texture (mineral size and distribution), structure (spatial organization of soil particles), tilth (the ease of working the soil), amount of soil organic matter, aggregate stability (resistance to water), bulk density (weight by volume) and porosity (spaces between soil particles). The chemical properties for soil are measured by the pH, amounts of various nutrients, the cation exchange capacity (which measures how many nutrients the soil can hold), salinity (amount of salts in the soil) and the alkalinity.  The physical properties can be observed and maintained on the farm by us but for a more in depth analysis we send off a soil test twice a year to find out what our soil needs in order to be the best quality.  

Speaking of soil, I need to be off to get my hands dirty and have some quality tomato time!
Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese, and Avocado Sandwhiches
2 med. beets, stems discarded, and rinsed
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup mixed greens
A few tablespoons of vinaigrette
4 slices whole grain bread
2 ounces goat cheese
1 avocado, sliced
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 °F. Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil. Toss the into a roasting pan and place in the oven. Cook for about 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife can easily slip into the flesh. Let the beets cool slightly, peel them, then thinly slice the beets into 1/4 inch rounds. Sprinkle the almonds into a skillet set over medium-low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat before they burn. Toss the greens with a tablespoon or so of a vinaigrette. Something really basic. Add the almonds to the greens. Toast the slices of bread. Spread an ounce of goat cheese on two slices of the bread. Top each of those with a few slices of avocado, a little bit of the salad, and then a few slices of beets. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each with another slice of bread. Slice in half and serve.


Here is a list of what is available for our Friday on-farm pickup (today 4pm-6pm) as well as the Dixie Classic market tomorrow morning from 6am-12pm.  The Friday on-farm pickup will be at our barn at 1451 NC Hwy 801 N, Advance NC  27006.  Just look for our black mail box on Hwy 801 and you'll need to drive all the way back to the barn/greenhouse.  For the folks that are members of our market share program we will happily reserve produce so you can pick it up at the market please so just reply back to this email with a list of what you would like.
beets - 3.00/bunch 
kohlrabi - 1.50/ each
collards - 2.50/bunch
swiss chard - 3.50/bunch
romaine lettuce - 3/head or two for 5
green onions - 2/bunch
boc choi - 2/each
mint - 2/bunch
basil - 2/bunch
thyme - 2/bunch
flat leaf parsley - 2/bunch
baby cabbage - 1.50/lb
turnips - 2/lb
squash - 2.25/lb
zucchini - 2.25/lb
carrots - 3/bunch
cucumbers - 2.25/lb
zinnias - 3 for $1
onions - 2/lb
eggs - 5/dozen or 2.5/half-dozen
leeks - 3/bunch
yukon gold potatoes - 1.75/pound

Weeding Wednesdays:  Every Wednesday from 8:30 to 12 we are weeding, if you would like to join us, drop me a line - we'd love to have you. 

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