Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Getaway

Ben and I had a ball at Foggy Ridge Cider last Saturday.  The day was cloudy, but the atmosphere was  festive.  We reconnected with old friends and even made some new ones.  Nothing brings people together like great cider and fantastic food.

Fresh pea soup alongside asparagus bread pudding with watercress sauce were served in the tasting room.  Fat Bear Farm offered asparagus, spinach, seedlings, and eggs out on the crush pad.

Ben was left on his own for a bit while I enjoyed the offerings in the tasting room.

 You can see some of the beautiful equipment used to crush the apples and mix the cider in the background.

We were lucky enough to catch some of the apple trees in bloom.

The orchard is breathtaking, even on the cloudiest of days.  In the background to the left, there are even more trees in full bloom.  

We want to thank Foggy Ridge for hosting us again.  It was our pleasure to help kick-off their Farm Days series for 2013!
We'll be back at the Cobblestone Farmers Market this coming Saturday.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Farm Days At Foggy Ridge Cider

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 27 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and come join us at Foggy Ridge Cider for Farm Days this weekend!  What could be better than spending an afternoon in scenic Dugspur, VA with great food, drink, and company?  Fat Bear Farm will offer asparagus, seedlings, and other spring goodies for sale. If you'd like to do a cider tasting and gnosh some snacks, $8 will cover it.

If you've never visited Foggy Ridge before, I highly recommend bringing a camera.  The apple orchard is gorgeous this time of year, and I wouldn't want you to regret missing the opportunity to capture some incredible springtime photos.  See you there!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Best Ever

We had some incredible ingredients on our hands after farmers market, so we fired up the mud oven last night.  We had a little pizza party with Thurgood Morsel and Miles Giles as our invited guests (they said the pizza bones were to die for).

Cobblestone Farmers Market finds: Mediterranean flavored lamb sausage from Border Springs Farm, Fat Bear Farm spinach, and shiitake mushrooms from Myers Mushrooms and More

These pizzas were officially declared "our best pizzas ever."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Berries and the Bees: The Miracle of Pollination

There aren't many things I enjoy more than watching the blueberry bushes progress from bud to berry.  It's fascinating to see the bees work their magic, transferring pollen from blossom to blossom.  There are hundreds of thousands of flowers to pollinate, and I think they manage to take care of them all.  Bees are so underrated.  
I'd like to share this miraculous process with you from beginning to end.

Depending on the weather, the buds generally begin to swell in late March.

Beginning in early April, each bud separates into a cluster of several individual flowers.

These flowers are just about ready to bloom.

Open, ready and waiting for just the right bee to come along.

The bees have just begun their work this week, and they'll continue to pollinate the blossoms for another week or two.

There are six hives at the orchard, and I didn't see any honey bees in the blueberries this evening.  Maybe it was just the wrong time of day.  But no worries, the bumble bees were kicking ass and taking names.

 I think this one was giving me the evil eye.

These blossoms have been pollinated and most of the petals have fallen off.  Can you see the berries forming?

This is what we'll have in just a few weeks from now!

And I think you know how the rest of this story goes...

We'll be picking in early July!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Nice Start

All is well in the blueberry patch.  The bushes are dripping with buds, and we're looking forward to a fruitful season this year.

I expect that the bushes will be in full bloom by mid-week, and there will be some very happy bees!

The strawberry plants are also just beginning to flower.  I better prepare my lower back for the torture that will ensue when strawberry season arrives.

Just about everything is coming up roses - even the garlic.  We planted eight varieties last fall, and all of them are growing vigorously.  We will soon have scapes!

It will be months before we harvest blueberries, strawberries, or garlic.  However, Fat Bear Farm will have spinach, sweet potatoes, seedlings, and perhaps a bit of asparagus available at the next Saturday Cobblestone Farmers Market.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Sweet Potato A Day....

Did you know that right now is a great time to enjoy sweet potatoes?  Our sweet potatoes are at their height of sweetness and have been perfectly cured to maintain freshness and quality.

After curing these Beauregard beauties in the sun for ten days, we store them in burlap sacks with straw in a cool dry place.  While tucked away in their cozy sleeping bags during the cold winter months, the starches are converted into sugar.  This is why they are so very sweet.  When baked, the texture is smooth, creamy, and rich -- no butter needed!  In fact, I can't even remember the last time I buttered one of our sweet potatoes.

Yes, the flavor is out of this world, but sweet potatoes are also incredibly healthy.  They're loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium.  These tasty tubers are an excellent choice for diabetics as they rank low on the glycemic index and effect blood glucose levels less than white potatoes.
So, eat up!

You can find us at the Cobblestone Farmers Market with our sweet potatoes this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  The market will be located in front of the Milton Rhodes Arts Center in Winston-Salem, NC this week.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Greenhouse Show and Tell

The greenhouse is buzzing with activity.  We started our peppers, tomatoes, herbs, annuals, and greens a few months ago, but we're not going to talk about that stuff right now.  Instead, let's take a look at Jessica's Pet Projects.

Washington orange, Meyer lemon, Mexican lime (left to right)

We bought these citrus trees about two and a half years ago at Lowe's Home Improvement for about five bucks each.  They were pencil-sized when we brought them home.  The orange tree is taller than me now!

Meyer lemon

The lemon tree is fruiting right now.  All of last year's fruits dropped before reaching this size, but I remain hopeful.

Blueberry whips

I took about 400 hardwood blueberry cuttings last winter, and they are rooting in propagation boxes right now.  I covered the tips with grafting wax this time around.  I'm hoping that it will prevent them from losing moisture from the top.  I had some sticky fingers that day.

Prizetaker leeks

The leeks are growing quickly, and I'm already dreaming up recipes for them.  Soups, omelets, salads, quiches....

Ben will soon be planting ginger in the greenhouse.  It did extremely well last year, so my expectations are high.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

It Is Risen!

We've been impatiently waiting for the first asparagus spears to emerge, and it finally happened today!  Due to unusually cold temperatures (it SNOWED a few days ago), most things on the farm are coming up two weeks later than last year.  Punxsutawney Phil needs to find a new job, but let's not dwell on it.  

At long last, I can shake off all the winter doldrums because today has had "spring" written all over it.  The daffodils (that's my Missouri-speak for jonquils), forsythia, and phlox are finally sharing their colors with us.

I just about had a fit when I saw this butterfly.  Does this mean it's time to put out the hummingbird feeders?  

I guess the blueberries got the memo that spring was going to be late this year.  The buds didn't open early enough to suffer any frost damage (but my fingers will remain crossed for at least another week), and the bushes are looking incredibly happy.

The first farmers market of the season is in exactly one week!  We'll be at the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Winston-Salem this year.  Details to follow.