Saturday, May 31, 2014

Where's Wando?

"Wando" heirloom peas, that is. (They're the heirloom pea variety I plant each year). I usually use them as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop, planting them in late winter and pulling them out in the spring, saving a few seeds for next year. We'll save some seeds again this year (why buy seeds every year when you can just plant your own?), but this year we're also going to enjoy actually eating some.
I don't look very happy in this picture, but I was thoroughly enjoying clear, 80-degree day here in Carolina. Just zoning out on the front porch, shelling peas. Shelling peas brings back lots of memories for me and Amie, memories of time with family, sitting on our grandparents' front porches, shelling peas, snapping beans, and shucking corn.
Here are some of the peas we saved for eatin'. We're going to roast them this year, like peanuts, since they are mostly past their sugar-sweet prime, moving into their starchy stage. We'll let you know how they taste roasted.
And here are some seeds for savin'. These wonderful Wandos will go in the ground in February or March of 2015, fixing more nitrogen, providing a cover for the soil in the cold winter, and giving us food next spring.
As such, these peas reconnect us to the soil, the seasons, and memories of family members who have died. Who knew peas could do so much?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Unofficial Start of Summer

Summer has begun! At least, unofficially, here at Reconnect Farm. What marks the beginning of summer for us? The arrival of the Rattlesnake Beans, of course! These amazing, prolific beans will keep producing more than we can eat up to the first frost. (We hope to sell some to you!) These are genuine family heirlooms, tracing back to Amie's grandfather's garden. They were kept in a freezer for more than 10 years after Paw-Paw died. We have no idea how far back these beans go, but it's not improbable that they go back to his farming days in Alabama back in the 1960's. They remind us that time is passing, and that each moment is worthy of cherishing.




Thursday, May 22, 2014

Roots Can't Be Beet!

Root vegetables can be intimidating. What exactly can you do with a turnip or a beet? Amie has the answer: combine them! And add sweet potatoes, beet stems, and carrots, roast them in the oven, and wrap them all in a blanched, bright green Swiss chard leaf. Beautiful, healthy, and delicious, and almost completely from your own 1/4 acre. This fall, everything, even the sweet potatoes, will come from the farm.

Want to know how you can grow interesting meals like this one, even in a small space? Register for the "Create a Farm in Your Backyard" course that Tim will be teaching at Millbrook High School. Just think, this fall, you could be getting back to your own roots!








Thursday, May 15, 2014

Create A Farm In Your Backyard!

This could be the next step in your journey toward self-sufficiency!

To see more class information, go to the "Create a Farm in Your Backyard" tab above. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Don't dawdle! Just two weeks until the first class...



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Excuses, Excuses (Good Ones!)

It's been a while since I've blogged. But I've got good excuses! It's the time of the year when a LOT of plants and seeds have to get in the ground...and that's just what I've been doing.

More than 50 tomato plants in the ground...

Dozens of Asian Long Bean, too...

I don't even know how many peanuts sown (all the white markers are peanuts)...

Dozens of okra seeds sown (and germinating!)...

And sweet potatoes and more sweet potatoes.

I've also been prepping for "Create a Farm in Your Backyard," a 4-week course to help you reconnect with self-sufficiency. Interested? Check out this page or ask about it in the "Contact Us" section of the blog. We're looking forward to helping you have a farm in YOUR backyard!




Friday, May 9, 2014

Good Stuff from the Farm!


This Saturday morning, come get your farm-fresh, organic produce from us! Get to know your farmer and tour the farm yourself. If Saturday doesn't work for you, contact us to schedule an appointment later in the week.




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Love Worms...but not THESE guys!

Imported cabbage worms are the bane of my spring and fall garden existence. Not actually worms, they are the larvae of the cabbage moth. They are called cabbage worms because, well, they love cabbage! But not just cabbage, all brassicas - collards, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, and more. If you don't stop them, they can destroy your entire brassica crop. What can you do?

First, you can look for these beautiful, horrible moths, as they flit and float around your brassicas, stopping occasionally to lay eggs on your precious leaves. If you see these moths, you can bet that you'll see little cabbage worms in the near future.

Can you see him? There, right in the middle of the leaf, on the vein. Cleverly camouflaged to blend in perfectly with brassicas, you have to look carefully. Often you'll see the damage they cause first - those telltale holes in the middle of the leaves. Look for the young ones in the very middle of the plant, feeding on the tender new leaves, and look for their excrement - tiny dark green pellets.

How to control them organically? The best, but perhaps most labor-intensive method is hand-picking. This involves a lot of bending over or stooping to get down where the worms live. If you have chickens, look at it as an investment in tomorrow's breakfast. Another method is to spray diatomaceous earth on the leaves, which is reported to help control the worms by drying out their bodies. I have tried DE before, but nothing seems to be as effective as picking them off yourself.

Anybody have other ideas for organically controlling cabbage worms? Let us know!




Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gardens Are Not Just For Summer

Tomatoes, peppers, squash...oh, my! Our mouths start watering thinking about them in February, April, and May. But why wait until summer to enjoy the harvest? Here in North Carolina we easily have three growing seasons: spring, summer, and fall. And harvests can be extened into winter with just a little help. In addition to lettuce and spinach, which I mentioned yesterday, read on for more pics and info about some of the wonderful plants you can be growing long before the tomatoes ripen.

Our garden on May 1.


Turnips are a wonderful spring and early-summer treat. Great in soups or diced and turned to "hash browns." And don't forget the greens! Boil them in a pot with some seasonings...mmm!

Swiss chard is also a green green to boil down or sautee with other yummy flavors.



Kale is becoming more and more popular these days. Not only is it beautiful, but it's a very versatile green. We like to bake ours in the oven on an oiled pan, making "Kale Chips." The kids (and adults) love them!


Bunching onions are ready to get their heads chopped off around this time of year, a perfect addition to salads, soups, or stir-fried dishes.


Peas add nitrogen to the soil and are very tolerant of cold weather, and they're delicious! (Never mind the sneaky cat)


You have to think ahead with garlic. Plant it in the fall and you'll enjoy the aromatic flavors of garlic later in the summer.

Beets can't be beat! We like to make "Beet Chips" with them as well. Even better when mixed with Kale.




And radishes add a nice spice to the your freshly-picked salad mix. We plant Watermelon Radishes, which are an absolutely gorgeous heirloom variety. I'll show you a picture when we harvest them; they do look like little watermelons!


And don't forget the potatoes. In Zone 7, plant them in March for an abundant harvest in late June/early July.





These are just a few of the dozens of options you can grow in spring and fall in many parts of the U.S. You could add carrots, collards, broccoli, cauliflour, parsnips, leeks, Brussels sprouts...


It's not too late to start dreaming about your 2014 fall garden. We'll have a workshop and fall garden plant sale in August to help you get started. Click here for more details.

Happy gardening!