May 30th, 2013

The weather is getting warmer and feeling more like summer. This is a good thing! Natalie and I have been putting more and more summer crops into the ground. Summer squash, zucchinis, melons and winter squash have all been planted. As usual, we are doing succession plantings of the squash and zucchinis (family cucurbitaceae) to ensure that we have them throughout the season. Our nemesis of the cucurbit family last year was the squash bug. We lost our whole crop of winter squash, some pumpkins and a good amount of zukes and cukes to the squash bug.

In order to stay on top of this pest for the 2013 season we just got two adult male Guinea Fowl (which I have nicknamed The Men) last Friday. Guineas are mainly carnivorous creatures; they will forage on insects and weed seeds while not harming crops. They are native to Africa and are very social birds. They enjoy being able to roam around, hunt, roost and see their reflection. They make a lot of noise, from little squeaks to loud squawks. I have been told they are good watch birds, if anything unusual comes onto the farm then I will know. So far they have not been bad neighbors but we will see as they start thinking of Sugar Creek as home. To get them adjusted we have to keep them in an enclosure for 6 weeks before letting them roam free, otherwise they may just try to fly away.

I am looking forward to them being let loose to roam, and to see The Men in action.

Hope you have a great weekend,
Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew

Spicy Sautéed Kale with Lemon via: marthastewart

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Thai or jalapeno chile, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed and slices quartered
1 tablespoon honey
2 bunches kale (1 1/2 pounds), tough stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
Coarse salt
In a large skillet, heat oil and chile over medium-high heat. Add lemon and honey and cook, stirring, until lemon begins to break down, about 2 minutes. Add kale and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add scallions, season with salt, and cook 1 minute. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Grilled Garlic Scapes via: Michigan Garlic Farm
25-30 garlic scapes 

3 Tbsp. of olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and marinate for approx. 10 minutes
.  Fire up the grill to medium high heat.
  Add scapes to a grill pan and cook for approx. 10 minutes until soft and browned. You can also cook these in oven in a deep skillet, using medium high heat.

May 23rd, 2013

It seems appropriate that this summer-vegetable-oriented fieldwork week should end with a nice summer thunderstorm. Yesterday we suckered tomatoes, trellised and trained cucumbers and this afternoon, we transplanted the last of the eggplant and peppers for the year! This spring we’ve seen a lot of leafy and root vegetables. A sign of summer = fruits – and by fruits, I mean the botanical kind with the seeds are on the inside = tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants as well as watermelon and cantaloupes. 

The Road Block: In order to accommodate your vegetables this year, we’ve added another 9000 square feet (1/5 acre) to our production. Plowing that block (creatively named after its location next to the driveway) was truly liberating – opening up a lot more options for summer and fall vegetables. We are constantly feeling the need for more land, accommodating that need was a relief to say the least. We inaugurated this block Sunday afternoon (before and during the rain) with a variety of beans and winter squash. We put the final touches – an electric fence around it this morning. 

We welcome Kari Finn from the Sustainable Agriculture Program of CCCC in Pittsboro, NC to Sugar Creek Farm this summer! Look for her at the upcoming markets. 

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend,
Natalie and the Sugar Creek Crew

New this week: Kohlrabi! aka the space turnip. Kohl (cabbage) + rabi (turnip) is a cross between a cabbage and turnip that is sweet and crunchy vegetable with great tasting greens. I enjoy peeling it and eating it like an apple, Michael Hastings from the WSJ recently posted an article about kohlrabi. He’s got several recipes posted there or the sandwhich:

Kohlrabi Sandwiches (Leslie France)
Unsalted butter, softened
Pumpernickel bread
Thick-sliced kohlrabi
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Generously butter 2 slices of bread and make sandwich with the kohlrabi as the “meat.” Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 1 serving. 

Balsamic-Glazed Roasted Beets

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 45 Minutes


· 6 medium beets
· 1 teaspoon kosher salt
· 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 1/3 cup inexpensive balsamic vinegar
· 1 tablespoon maple syrup
· Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the leafy stems and roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks.
2. Place the cut beets on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing once with a spatula midway through, until the beets are tender when pierced with a thin-bladed knife.
3. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and maple syrup in a small, shallow sauté pan. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is just slightly thickened and lightly coats the back of a metal spoon. It should be reduced by about half (or to about 3 tablespoons). Pay close attention and be sure not to over-reduce it; it goes from sweet and syrupy to burnt and hard very quickly.
4. Toss the glaze with the roasted beets. Serve hot or cold.

May 16th, 2013

I am frequently asked this question, "I would like to come check out the farm, when's the best time to come?"  And I always and answer, "The end of May."  This time of year is simply incredible.  Right now the weather is perfect because the days are relatively cool and dry as that hot and sticky NC summer has not yet set in.  The whip-o-wills (technically chuck-wills-widows) sign their song every morning and evening for entertainment. The Spring produce is in full display with the kales, collards, and swiss chard looking like something out of a catalog.  The summer produce is just hitting the ground so the fields are almost full!  We also like it now that our market and CSA season has offically started and we get to see our customers on a weekly basis.  Finally, the fireflies are just beginning to come out for the year and I'm here to tell you, if 10 acres of fireflies blinking on and off in the evening don't make you smile, then I simply can't help you!

The buttercrunch head lettuces are coming along great.  They are hands down, my personal favorite.  We grow both a green leaf variety as well as a red leaf variety.  This time of year they are huge and make for a perfect salad.  We started these lettuces from seed back in Feb and we made sure to protect them in the frost during that cold month of March.  When we harvest these heads of lettuce we actually pull the rootballs out with the lettuce head and wrap them up.  We have found that wrapping the rootballs keeps these lettuce heads very fresh.  If you need to keep these beauties in your fridge I recommend just putting them in a regular plastic grocery bag and synching them shut.  This keeps the moisture locked inside the bag while the rootball keeps the lettuce looking good and crisp.  Some of our customers have even served "living lettuce" and here they will actually put the lettuce head in the center of the table and submerge the rootball in a bowl of water that also holds the lettuce head.  Folks at the table not only get to admire the beautiful head of lettuce but they also get to pull off leaves themselves to make their salad.

Have a great weekend,
Jeff and the Sugar Creek Crew

Kale Chips

Olive Oil

Pull stems from Kale and arrange on a baking sheet in a single (or so) layer, toss with a little olive oil and salt, and bake at 375° for 10 minutes or 15 minutes, giving the cookie sheet a shake or two if you remember, until the edges get crispy.

Sauteed Chard with Garlic and Red Pepper

2 tbsp  olive oil
2 stalks green garlic (white part finely chopped)
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 lg bunch chard cut into small pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon or a few teaspoons red wine vinegar

Heat the oil with the garlic and pepper flakes in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to color. Add the chard and toss to coat it with the oil. Add 1/4 cup water (carefully) and cook until it's absorbed and the greens are heated through. Season with salt and a little lemon juice or vinegar.

May 9, 2013

It has been a wet week and the greens love it! It seems overnight the sugar snap peas have doubled in size and the collards finally look big enough for a decent harvest. The cool weather has also reduced some of the insect pressure we were feeling at the beginning of the season.

Our biggest culprits this year have been flea beetles, cut worms and vegetable weevils. We use an integrated pest management system to control not only the pests but also the beneficial insects we want on the farm. To control unwanted insects our first method is hand picking. Cut worms and vegetable weevils are big enough to find and kill by hand, although this is usually a satisfying task it is not a long-term solution. We have been using a lot more diatomaceous earth this year.

Diatomaceous earth is fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae that is crumbled into a powder substance, and at a microscopic level is very sharp. It will cause enough injury to the insect to kill them. As a last resort we have also been applying Bt, a naturally occurring bacteria. This bacterium harms the insect’s digestive systems causing them to no longer to be able to digest food.

In order to attract the beneficial insects we have been planting beneficial blend seed mix to the outer rows of our blocks. The blend is composed of different flowers, grains and legumes that will create a good habitat and attractant to the insects we want around. These insects will hopefully call Sugar Creek home, feed on our pests and reproduce, creating a sustainable insect balance on the farm.

Have a great weekend,
Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew

P.S.  the pics below show a microscope image of diatomaceous earth along with 2 pictures of our current arch enemy, the cut worm.

Wilted Lettuce via:
leaf lettuce (head)
green onions

5 slc
2 Tbsp
red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp
lemon juice
1 tsp
white sugar
1/2 tsp
ground black pepper

Head lettuce - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
Green onions with tops, thinly sliced

1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove from skillet, crumble and set aside.

2. To the hot bacon drippings, add the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and pepper. Stir over medium heat until hot.

3. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce and green onions. Add the warm dressing and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle with bacon and serve.

Green Garlic Pesto via:

1/2 pound green garlic
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts or pistachios
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly shredded Pecorino cheese or other hard, flavorful grating cheese
Directions:  Trim and discard root ends of green garlic. Finely chop green garlic, rinse thoroughly and pat or spin dry. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook vegetable oil, green garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt until soft, about 3 minutes. Let cool to warm room temperature. In a blender or food processor, pulse pine nuts or pistachios to chop. Set aside. Add green garlic and process, scraping down sides as necessary, until bright green and smooth. With motor running, drizzle in olive oil. Pulse in reserved nuts and cheese. Taste and add more salt if you like.

May 3, 2013

We've got spring! I'm relishing the long-sleeve shirt weather. 

Although we have not seen the sun in a the past few days, our plantings have turned to summer. On Monday, Ann and I put in about 750 tomato plants. Although it rained 1.5" over the weekend, the ground was nicely mulched with old hay - thank you, mom and dad! Tuesday, we transplanted some squash, cucumbers and zucchini - covering them with a light row cover.  We saw a handful of cucumber bugs before the plants were even out of the greenhouse, but the row cover keeps the plants protected from bug damage until they grow into a less vulnerable size and start flowering. In a few weeks we'll remove the covers and let the pollinators do their thing. We grow these crops on black plastic to get maximum heat during these cooler spring days, to keep the moisture from the drip lines in the soil and to help us with weed control. 

See you at the market,
Natalie and the Sugar Creek Crew

P.S. the pics below show our freshly planted tomatoes, the row cover over the cukes, squash, and eggplant, along with a sneak peak under the row cover!
Creamy Green Garlic Soup from

Russets or baking potatotes are the best for soups like this due to their high starch content. Yukons have a medium starch content and will also work well, while adding a touch of their “buttery” feel. 

· 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Dairy-Free Margarine (I used olive oil)
· 1 Medium Onion, diced (about 1-1/4 cups)
· 1/2 lb Green Garlic or 3 bulbs, thinly sliced and cut in half (I used the whites, pink, and part way up the green) – can sub 2 to 4 minced medium garlic cloves
· 1/2 lb Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I didn’t peel)
· 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, plus more to taste (I used 1 teaspoon total)
· 1 Quart Vegetable or Chicken Broth (I used Pacific Foods Free Range Chicken Broth)
· Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
· 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon Dairy-Free Margarine (optional)
Heat the oil or margarine in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften and become translucent.
Add the garlic, potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and saute for another 5 minutes – keeping things moving. If the pan dries out, splash in a wee bit of the broth to keep the ingredients from sticking.
Add the broth and bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, allowing the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are nice and tender.
Using an immersion blender, or in two batches in a regular blender, puree the soup (garlic, onions, potatoes and all) until it is nice and smooth. I did it in my blender, allowing each batch to spin for a couple of minutes. Use caution when you turn the blender on, making sure you have a firm hand on the lid to ensure that no hot soup escapes. Trust me, that is never fun!
Return the soup to your pot and season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. As noted, I used a fair bit of salt, because I was craving it, but go for what you like best. If you have some miso on hand, I might try mixing in some of this for a different flavor variation instead of the extra salt.
If desired, serve with 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of margarine swirled in to each bowl.
Yields 3 light lunches
Garbanzo Bean Salad with Arugula and Cumin Vinegrette

Makes a salad

· 1- 16 oz can garbanzos, drained and rinsed
· 8ounces baby arugula
· 1red bell pepper -chopped small
· 1large carrot, scrubbed and chopped small
· 1/2cup red onion, chopped small
· 1/2cup chopped cilantro


· 6tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 3tablespoons red wine vinegar
· 1tablespoon minced shallot
· 2tablespoons ground cumin
· salt and pepper to taste
Add the garbanzo beans to a large bowl and combine them with the small chopped veggies, cilantro and arugula. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette and pour the dressing over the salad. Let stand for at least 1/2 hour before eating and enjoy!