tomatoes

baby birds, blueberries, farm news, Mother's Day, peppers, potatoes, sour cherries, Spring, tomatillos, tomatoes

Full of Life


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Hi folks! I have a few pictures from the farm this week and I thought I’d go ahead and share them with you. Spring is in full force and the farm is a microcosm of all of the rejuvenation and new life that comes with the season. Enjoy!

It’s hard to tell here, but these are baby birds in the weeping cherry. Their momma or daddy did not like me peeking through to photograph them, so I didn’t get any good shots. They sure did open their little yellow mouths for some food though.

Snow pea flowers are beauty-FULL! And the peas taste amazing too (we have some from our first round of planting already)!
This is Beth’s sour cherry tree. Ben and I are hoping we get to try a slice of her infamous sour cherry pie. 

The peaches are already getting pretty big!
Potatoes!

The first round of zucchini, squash and cucumbers (we planted 400 of each!)
I have no idea of what this flower on the vine is called, but it’s gorgeous! It’s on our front porch with kiwi and grape vines. 

These are in the ground now.

These too. I’m so excited about tomatillos!

Here’s a shot of one of the sections. Most of what you can see is peas and oats (and the yellow stuff, well, that’s wild radish – we don’t care for it much but the bees and the chickens sure do!).

Can you believe there are already blueberries on the bushes?!
Poor Ben planted all of these tomatoes without me – since I’m still spending most of my time studying for prelims. I’ll be out there picking them with him all summer though!!! 

Well, I guess that’s it for now. Have a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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2011 CSA, beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peanuts, squash, strawberries, tomatillos, tomatoes, vinaigrette, Western Wake Farmer's Market, zucchini

Strawberries and Summer Crops


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Last weekend we participated in the Western Wake Farmer’s Market Strawberry Festival. We made a creamy strawberry vinaigrette with a tossed salad, topped with fresh-picked, sustainably grown strawberries. Sadly, we didn’t have any strawberries to sell at market last week, but hopefully we will have enough for market this Saturday. We shall see. We are giving first priority to our CSA members, but any left overs will be available for market customers.

Since we ran out of vinaigrette recipe cards last Saturday, we told folks we’d post the recipe on the blog. So, here it is:

Spring Greens Salad with Creamy Strawberry Vinaigrette 
For Vinaigrette
·         1 cup chopped strawberries
·         ½ cup walnut oil
·         ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
·         2-3 Tbsp heavy cream
1. Puree or smash strawberries with a potato masher.
2. Add oil, vinegar, and heavy cream.
3. Mix well. Taste. Adjust to taste. You can add salt and pepper or you can add sugar if you like. We just keep it simple.  
Salad Ingredients 
·         Use your favorite salad greens
·         We use mesclun mix, mizuna, frisée, spinach and arugula – but we adjust according to what’s available
·         ¼ to ½ cup chopped walnuts
·         1-2 cups (depends on how much strawberry you want in your salad) chopped strawberries
1. Wash and spin salad greens.
2. Chop salad greens.
3. Add vinaigrette, chopped walnuts and strawberries.
4. Toss ingredients (or you can place strawberries separately on your plate after you’ve tossed the other ingredients to highlight the strawberries in your dish).
5. Enjoy!

As usual, we’ve been keeping fairly busy on the farm. We’ve been planting a lot of our summer crops, including cucumbers, squash, zucchini, watermelon, corn, peanuts (our first time doing this, so it may just be a personal crop), and green beans. We’ll be transplanting tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant and peppers soon – likely later this week.

We’ve also been busily cultivating. Above is a wheel hoe. I went through the potato plants with it to keep them good and free of weeds.We also planted some flowers, which of course, are not yet ready – but here are some pretty flowers that are currently in bloom.

A gorgeous iris (not sure which variety – if anyone knows, please comment below).

This is crimson clover. Ben planted it all over the farm to help provide more nutrients for our soil. Clover is particularly helpful for fixing nitrogen in the soil. It’s also very pretty.

Well, I suppose that’s it for now. This week marks our first week of the Summer CSA. We’ll be providing CSA members with strawberries, lettuce, kale, bok choy, tat soi, spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, frisee, mizuna and dried rosemary. We’ll also include a weekly (hopefully!) newsletter with CSA shares for the first time this season. Members last year liked the blog, but wanted something a little extra. Our weekly newsletter will be an effort to meet that particular need.


If you’re interested in joining our CSA, it’s not too late! Please print out a copy of the CSA brochure (linked to the right of the screen) and mail us your first payment to Ben’s Produce;1000 McLemore Road; Clayton, NC 27520. If you miss the first week or two, we’ll prorate you, so no worries there. And, of course, if you have any questions, please email us at BensProduceNC@gmail.com or give us a call at 919.800.8898.

Have a fantastic week and thanks for stopping by!

cabbage, chinese cabbage, eggplant, peppers, planting party, seedlings, summer squash, tat soi, tomatoes

Seedlings Galore!


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Howdy do, folks?! It’s been busy as can be out here at the farm. Ben and I have been making soil blocks, seeding flats, planting seedlings and direct seeding root veggies. Of course, that also means Ben’s been prepping a whole heck of a lot of ground to get it ready so we can plant. I also finally tried my hand at the tiller to till up soil for our newest edition – the flower garden (so pumped!!!).

We’ve had lots of folks stop by since our last planting party to help us out on the farm in one way or another. Beth and the kids have been keeping up with the chickens (the kids LOVE gathering the eggs each morning), our neighbors Andy, Amanda and Duffie have been by to give us furniture (they got a new set) and keep us company, our friend Craig has been dropping off quite a lot of flower bulbs from his garden, Kevin came out to help Ben pot up some of the summer seedlings, and David came out to help Ben and I plant more potatoes (they’re all in!!!) and weed and mulch some. Whew! I think that’s everyone, but please don’t be mad at me if I forgot to mention you.

As you know from our previous post, we’re having a planting party this Sunday the 10th from 1-5pm. We’ve had a few folks email us to let us know they’ll be stopping by to pitch in a hand and have a picnic with us too. Please come out if you’re interested! Many hands make light work! It’s true!

Alrighty. I just wanted to let y’all know we’re gearing up (and have been for quite a while) for a fantastic season and I thought I’d show you some of the seedlings that we’ll be planting in the next couple of weeks or so. Just to warn you, these pictures aren’t very diverse. They’re mostly pictures of a number of different varieties of the same veggies (e.g., multiple varieties of tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplant, squash, brassicas more generally, etc.) – but I thought it might help to demonstrate what we’re doing out here if I bombard y’all with some pictures of everything. Plus, you’ll be able to see the crazy awesome varieties we’re planting this year (and these pictures are not really representative – there’s even more to come!).

Okay. I guess I’ll get to it then. We hope to see you Sunday. And we hope you enjoy the pictures!



basil, eggplant, recipe ideas, recipes, red onions, spaghetti, summer squash, tomatoes

Ben’s Produce Summer Spaghetti


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Ingredients
1 summer squash
1 Japanese eggplant
2 small red onions
3 tomatoes
fresh basil sprigs
1 tablespoon olive oil
8-16 ounces cooked pasta
shredded Parmesan
salt, pepper, garlic (diced)
1 pound ground beef from Smith Angus Farm

Preparation
1. Dice tomatoes. Reserve about half for garnish.
2. Chop, slice or dice remaining vegetables (with peels on).
3. Brown beef with onions and garlic (or just onions and garlic with oil if you’re not using beef).
4. Add vegetables (eggplant first); let cook until tender.
5. Toss sauce and pasta. Add salt, pepper, raw diced tomato and fresh chopped basil as garnish.

ENJOY!

basil, bell peppers, recipe ideas, recipes, summer squash, tomatoes

you say tomato…i say YUM!


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Hi everyone out there in cyberspace (wow – remember when that term was used regularly?!). I hope you’re having a fabulous summer and keeping as cool as you can. We’re still sporting our multi-bandanna stylee and drinking lots and lots of water to keep hydrated. Life is good – and it would be even better if it would only rain! Yesterday I drove from Chattanooga back to Raleigh. The rain followed me the whole way…well, not the whole way – it followed me until about Durham and then it just stopped. We managed to get a few sprinkles but we didn’t get much. The bright side though was that it was our friend Josh’s 4th birthday yesterday and he wanted fireworks to celebrate. The rain would have put a damper on a very cute and funny little boy’s birthday – so I guess we can’t be too upset about its absence ;).

So, I realized I haven’t posted many recipes lately (or posted much all summer actually)…so I’m going to use the rest of this blog for exactly that. Right now we have tomatoes, summer squash, onions, potatoes, purple peppers, cucumbers, basil, and a few melons and eggplant (more of those to come soon). As usual, please feel free to post your own recipes to the comment box below or e-mail them to me at parker.patricia@gmail.com. We would love it if you shared some of your recipes with us!

Okay – moving on…

Here’s a basic summer spaghetti recipe. Our CSA members are receiving a TON of tomatoes this week – and even though they’re amazing all by themselves, I figured some of you might want a little more variety in your lives – especially as you continue to get more and more of them. I found this recipe on a blog called Closet Cooking. You can access the link to the recipe here. It’s easy and tasty – you can’t go wrong. Of course, vary according to taste and what you happen to have in your kitchen/garden.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 serving pasta (cooked)
2 roma tomatoes (chopped)
1 tablespoon basil (chopped)
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Saute the garlic until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
3. Turn off the heat.
4. Add the pasta, tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and toss to mix.

This one came from Southern Living (here). You can get peaches at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market from Clayton Orchard. This is another simple one – but feels and looks like it came from a fancy schmancy gormet restaurant.

 Ingredients:

  • 1/3  cup  white balsamic vinegar
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 2  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1  large peach, chopped
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  chopped fresh basil

Preparation:

1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in olive oil. Stir in chopped peach and basil. Serve immediately.

This one calls for tomatoes and squash – it’s a tomato and squash gratin. You can access the original link here.

Ingredients:

5-6 summer squash, sliced thin lengthwise
3-4 large heirloom or large, red tomatoes, sliced thin
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
15-20 whole basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Breadcrumbs
Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place one layer of sliced squash in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and a few basil leaves. Generously drizzle olive oil over all and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top. Repeat in the same order until you run out of vegetables. Top layer should be tomatoes.

Add a final toss of Parmesan and a generous coating of breadcrumbs and more olive oil. Bake until everything is soft, bubbly and brown on top (about 30-40 minutes) Serve as a side dish with whatever you’re grilling or with a bean salad or pasta dish for a complete meal.
 This one’s called “Mom’s Summer Squash” and it’s from Simply Recipes. You can access the original posting here.

 Ingredients:
2 lbs squash and/or zucchini, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed, sliced
2 smallish tomatoes or one large tomato, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
Olive oil
5 or 6 slices of cheese – jack or cheddar
Basil, either dry or chopped fresh
Salt and pepper

Preparation:  

1 Put onion, garlic, squash, bell pepper into a large saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put on high heat and brown the vegetables slightly to develop flavor. As you are browning, sprinkle either dried basil or chopped fresh basil on the vegetables. When vegetables are slightly browned, remove from heat, add the slices of cheese, and cover the pan.

2 In a separate stick-free fry pan, put the tomatoes and cook at medium hi heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to let the juice from the tomatoes evaporate some. After 5 minutes, add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 4.

This one’s a variation on the classic BLT – it’s a BTB (bacon, tomato and basil). This recipe is from Southern Living and you can access the original posting here

Ingredients

  • 9  slices ready-to-serve bacon, halved
  • 1/2  cup  shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3  cup  mayonnaise
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 9  slices extra-thin white bread slices
  • 3  plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 12  fresh basil leaves

Preparation

1. Heat bacon according to package directions until crisp.
2. Stir together cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly onto 1 side of each bread slice. Layer 3 bread slices, mayonnaise sides up, with 3 bacon slices each. Top bacon evenly with 1 bread slice, tomato slices, and basil. Top each with remaining bread slices, mayonnaise sides down. Cut each sandwich into quarters.

You can also access recipes for tomato pie (amazing!), tomato grits, and my mom’s cucumber salad on this blog (an old posting) here. a;lsdkfj

Alrighty – hope y’all try out some or all of these recipes and enjoy ’em.

As usual, thanks for stopping by!

bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, farm news, farm truck, flowers, summer squash, tomatoes, veggie mobile

time keeps on slippin slippin slippin…


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Hi folks! It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a MONTH since I last posted here. As you can tell from the title, time sure has been flying by for Ben and I. We successfully moved from 604 Sasser in Raleigh to 1000 McLemore Road in Clayton, then I went to TN to see my family, came back and we’ve been working on the farm pretty much from sun up to sun down since. Where did June go?! Well, I hope July doesn’t fly by as quickly. I’m loving the summer – even the heat – I am in NO way ready for the fall and for classes to begin.

I plan on posting some more recipes asap. I have some computer work to do in the next month, so that means I’ll be procrastinating a bit with it right here on the blog ;). Until those recipe postings though – I thought I’d share a few pictures with y’all so you can see a little bit of what we’ve been up to here at Two Trees Farm.

To the right is our new farm truck. It’s a ’93 Chevy Cheyenne. We managed to get a good deal from a very cool man named Gene. He sold us a camper shell too. I even got him to throw in a kitchen cabinet when we picked up the camper shell. Lately I’ve been discovering how much I’m getting to be more and more just like my mama – especially when it comes to finding a good deal or turning one person’s trash into my own treasure. That kitchen cabinet is gonna get fixed up and placed in our office/study.

This is the back shot of the truck. Ben and I still have most of our things in storage for the time being – but as soon as we get to unpacking Ben hopes to find a sticker he bought two years ago for his future farm truck: “I *heart* G.R.I.T.S.” (translation: I love girls raised in the south). Haha. Gotta love it! Farmer Ben from Massachusetts sportin a southern pride sticker. 😉

While we miss our neighbors on Sasser Street – Karl, Dave and Matt – and their beer garden – the farm is full of charms and good people. Our current roommates and soon to be neighbors are Beth and her two children Lucy (10 years old) and George (9 years old).Two Trees Farm (where our 1/2 acre plot is located) belong to Beth and the kids. When our lease on Sasser came up (without chance to renew – the owners are looking to sell), Beth kindly invited us to move to the trailer that is on her property. She and the kids are living there until the old farm house is finished.The farm house was Beth’s great great grandad’s – it was built in 1887. You can learn all about how Beth came to live on the farm and more at Beth’s blog (she’s a writer and stay at home mom) here. Anyway, it turned out that the farm house wasn’t finished in time, so Beth offered us a bedroom and bathroom in the trailer until she and the kids could get moved into the farm house. Of course, we jumped at the deal. When I tell people about our living situtation, a number of them feel compelled to express sympathy for us – but there’s really no need. Our schedules work such that we all tend to have our own space. When you’re living on a farm and most of your work is done outside (or in Beth’s case – in the other house painting and getting other stuff finished in there), it’s pretty hard to feel cramped. Ben and I really enjoy living with Beth, Lucy and George. We really couldn’t have better roommates – and I hope they feel the same way about us. It’s also insanely wonderful that we can open our front door and see our crops! The first day we were moved in, I walked out to the field and picked most of what we ate for dinner. Life can hardly get better. We truly are so very blessed. Sigh – okay, but moving along…and getting back to the pictures 🙂 –>

This is our new wash station. Ben and I found this tub at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for $15. We happened to have Art’s truck (Art is the farm manager of Veggie Barn – to check out their facebook page click here), which was lucky because that tub is mighty heavy. The truck bed tips, so we were able to tilt it and use a bit of gravity to our advantage. Well, I say “we”, but really, I left this particular job to the menfolk. Ben, Aaron, Derrick and a couple other guys from the house crew unloaded the tub onto the crates (which we got from Logan’s Trading Company – an awesome local garden supply store that you can learn more about here).

To the left is our room in the trailer. The window is probably Charlie’s (the dog’s) favorite thing about the house. He also loves the barn and all the rooms – including the hayloft – the farm cats (who are now out of sight quite a bit – poor kitties!), the monkey grass, the woods, the creek, the pond, and well, just about everything outside. The crazy fool loves to chase bugs and there are countless bugs out here. He is truly in dog heaven! 🙂

These are wild black eyed Susans. My cousin Thomas, who is quite the woodsman (and car mechanic and artist), told me that chanterelle mushrooms are in season when black eyed Susans are in season (they thrive off of similar weather conditions). Ben and I tried searching the woods for them but have yet to find any – but we’re convinced they’re there :).

This is a cold frame Beth is letting us use. No one’s using it now, except these pretty flowers and weeds, but we’ll be using it once the weather cools down for sure.

This is a sideways picture of Ben stretching after about 5 hours out in the field. We get up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. and then go in to eat breakfast and have some coffee sometime between 8 and 9. It’s SO nice being able to step inside and take coffee breaks. It’s also nice to sit in the shade of the trees and look at all the tasty and beautiful produce growing right in front of us.

It gets really hot out there. And when you get hot, you sweat. And when you get really hot, you really sweat – so much so that it drips into your eyes. For this reason, bandannas are necessary. Tie one around your head and you have a sweat sponge to keep it from rolling into your eyes. I posted this picture on facebook and once of our friends commented that this picture has a Marky Mark flavor. Hahahahaha! Remember Marky Mark (Mark Walhberg) and the Funky Bunch?! Anyway, you should see what kind of silliness we get into with these bandannas. They also make for good shields from the sun if you stick them in the back of your hat. Sometimes Ben rocks as mancy as 5 bandannas at a time. I’ll have to get some pictures of our 80s inspired banadanna farm fashion. Most of the bandannas came from my mama, who kept them from when my brother Matthias used to sport banadannas (he’s 14 years older than me – so he was a teenager/young adult in the 80s).

Here’s Ben putting leaves and compost down to add nutrients to the soil.

This is gomphrena. I love these flowers. Lara, one of our CSA members (and quickly becoming one of our friends), told us that you can dry the tops and replant them and they’ll flourish. I’ll have to get the specifics from her on this.

Of course, this is basil. Basil is one of my favorite herbs. I can eat it all alone and LOTS of it. But it’s also good with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, and mozzarella.

These are the cucumbers. I took this picture less than a week ago and they are already much bigger than they were then. We also tied the posts more so they can really grow up well.

These are the peppers. They are also growing quickly. We’ve tied them now as well.

Here’s our solar dryer. I LOVE it! Ben and I have always hung most of our clothes – but we used doorways and lines inside the house. This thing is the premium model for us :).

Tomatoes. They are all tied up now too. They are also finally producing a bunch more. Ben has fertilized them and sprayed (organic approved – you’ll have to ask him what) for stink bugs. Stink bugs are boogers. They get on the tomatoes and suck all the juices out. We’re also beginning to see horned green tomato worms…hopefully Lucy and George will catch most of them for us. They want to catch them and keep them until they turn into moths. They’d be better off that way. If Ben & I get a hold of them, they get squished. They will eat the entire plant in no time!

Here’s another shot of the bar and our wash station.

Here’s a picture of the truck with the camper shell. Fancy aye? 😉 We are LOVIN it!

Okay!!! I think I’ve written enough to make up for the fact that it’s taken me almost a full month to update the blog. I hope I didn’t bore y’all too much. We hope to see you at market tomorrow, but if not, have a great holiday weekend!

Keep cool!
Patricia & Ben