Thursday, December 17, 2009


Well. It is officially winter now. We' can't fool ourselves any longer.
Kale, collards, some raddiccio, and a few other hardy plants are still hanging in there. I wonder if the snow we're supposed to have this weekend will kill those too... We really have been lucky this year - I just harvested a bunch yesterday - in the middle of December!
I struggle with this... the urge to grow things beyond their normal growing time. The urge to start plants early and keep them going under artificial conditions...
We built this hoop-house precisely for those reasons - to start plants early, and keep them growing over winter. Well. We've since learned, that hoop-house design is not the best for greenhouses. It takes a lot of "life support" like heaters, coolers, fans, shade cloths etc. to make that design work for you. Hoop-houses heat up very fast in the sun, but there is nothing to retain the heat, so in the absence of sun it cools down rapidly and the temps stay only a few degrees higher than outside. When your outside temps are around 25 F it is not much help.

I think that all the plants I have tried to over-winter in our hoop-house will die. And I will just have to accept that death is a natural annual thing in the life of a garden. Maybe this is the time to stop worrying about keeping plants alive. Take a deep breath, and start looking forward to spring? After all... The break will be brief in our climate. As early as mid February I will be poking some seeds into the ground...
I'll leave you with a small reminder of last spring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thai Pumpkin Soup

I promised to spread this recipe around! This soup was a hit at our Thanksgiving.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small pumpkin, skinned and chopped into 1-inch chunks

2 1/4 cups water

1 2/3 cups canned coconut cream

1 tablespoon hot sweet Thai chili sauce 

1 tablespoon lemon grass, finely chopped*

1 tablespoon fish sauce 

freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro
chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large pot, heat oil and gently cook onion with brown sugar and
garlic over low heat until softened (8-10 minutes).
Add chopped pumpkin, water, coconut cream, chili, lemongrass or rind
and fish sauce.
Season with freshly ground pepper. 
Simmer for about 25 minutes until tender.
Remove and puree until smooth.
Just before serving, adjust seasoning to taste.
Mix in chopped coriander.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a fresh coriander leaf.
*The same amount of grated lemon peel can be substituted.

I used butternut squash, which I had previously baked, and frozen. Instead of Coconut cream I used one can of Coconut Milk, some homemade hot sauce, and added about 3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter to this. Also some salt to taste.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If you're anywhere near Durham - check this out!

Breeze Farm Stakeholder Meeting & Potluck flyer

December 9, 2009 - 6 PM

Schley Grange Hall

3416 Schley Road, Hillsborough

*Optional* Farm Twilight Tour

December 9, 2009 - 4:30 pm

4909 Walnut Grove Church Rd, Hurdle Mills

PLANT @ Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator

WC Breeze Family Farm Extension & Research Center

Breeze Farm Master Plan

Read about the 2009 Farm to Fork Picnic in this article.

Sign up for future picnics here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Food Co-op Now Accepting Charter Members
(see press release below)

Stronger, more resilient communities,
farmland preservation,
local dollars staying home to generate local revenues,
new jobs and youth involvement,
the freshest produce from nearby farms,
better diet and health, TASTE and quality.
Eating well.
Connecting with our neighbors.
We all want these, and we all want to see this area prosper, especially during these rougher economic seas.

As a Moore County resident, you're already a piece of what may become a new economy here.
We think the new Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative will become a vital part of it as well.

With that in mind, we'd like your help in spreading the word. Join us on the new Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative Facebook page!
Until the website up and running, this is how we will pass along news of the Coop, a new weekly Moore County delivery service of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers.

Check it out and sign on as a "fan" to get updates. You do not have to be a Facebook member to check the page, only to get updates.

Here's the direct link:
Charter Subscriptions will be accepted for two weeks in December, with many benefits offered to the early supporters. Watch this space for further updates.

Thanks, and pass this along to your friends. Help us reach as many local folk as possible. Let's make it viral throughout the county.
Because, as neighbors, we're all connected.

The Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting ready for Winter

We had an unbelievable fall this year - a few freeze threats - but nothing serious until last week.
Next 3 pictures are from a few weeks ago when pepper plants were still laden with fruit (green) and basil provided some season's last nectar to the bees.
Here's the former mound that grew all our watermelons last summer. I made it a bit more appealing with edging recycled from the front of the building and a few rocks that came out of the ground when we built the beds on the hill... Some snapdragons are still blooming there.
Here is a partial view of the hill with two flowerbeds - you can see them right next to the greenhouse. In the spring those beds will be filled with perennials, aromatic herbs, annuals and oil seed plants. We will have our own bee hive in the spring so anything flowering will be greatly appreciated by the bees!
This picture was taken yesterday, after the frost and after Adam and I pulled up all the dead basil and pepper plants and a few tomatoes which were still full of green fruit... Our greenhouse is stuffed with plants - potted perennials we're trying to over-winter, my lime tree, 2 banana trees, a pot of hop rhizomes to be planted along the deck in the spring... Adam found me 2 metal barrels yesterday that we can roll in the greenhouse and fill with water for "heat tanks". Hopefully they will help to collect solar heat throughout the day and release it slowly during the cold nights... 2 barrels may not be enough though, so if you have any laying around that you are not using - we will gladly accept donations!
I also have 2 raised beds in there to fill up with topsoil, compost mix - so we can start growing greens all year round! My worms are there too, all snug and cozy.
Right now kale, chard, parsley, senposai (a new cooking green variety developed by farmer Doug who runs the Piedmont Biofarm), dill and mizuna are still growing. I'll be selling those greens as long as they are available - until our season starts again.
Winters here are really fortunate for us, the leafy green eaters.