Hello there garden gals and guys! I just got back from visiting my parents in North Carolina.

Before I begin let me just say that the links in this entry will open in the same window. Just hit your browser’s back button to come back to the blog entry (or wait until you are finished reading to click the links).

Okay…now….while I was there I decided to google farms in the area and came across an organic farm about 15 minutes from where my folks live. It’s called the Plum Granny Farm.

Of course I had to stop in and see if I could get a tour. I had to work up the nerve first, because I wasn’t comfortable with walking up to a total stranger, but I am so glad that I did. Ray and Cheryl were more than gracious and gave me a two-hour tour of the 50+ acre farm, complete with gifts to come home with!

Here’s the sign when you first approach the farm:

The farm spans both sides of the street. Here is the view standing near the farm house looking across the country road:

That little house there is a bee hive. Ray is an expert beekeeper and has several hives on the farm.

I just LOVE the bathtub that has been turned into a flower bed…and it’s PURPLE…my favorite color!!

Here is a shot of the the farmhouse as seen from the driveway:

Plum Granny Farm grows (as I quote from their site so as not to leave anything out) “…raspberries, blackberries, garlic, ginger, specialty veggies, herbs and cut flowers”. The whole farm was just amazing to me, but here are some things that just really stood out.

First…the blackberries. Oh my gosh. I was right back on my grandma’s farm again when Ray let me pick a blackberry to taste. Here is one of the berry fields:

Ok, the next really awesome thing was the garlic, well actually the way they harvest the garlic. Ray had just purchased an undercutter blade the day I was there and attached it to his tractor. They loosened a 200 foot bed of garlic in about seven minutes! Now for those of you that have harvested garlic the old-fashioned way, I’m sure you are in awe just as I was. I felt myself making the “Tim the toolman Taylor” grunt as I listened to Ray talk about how it works.

Here is the undercutter blade on the tractor:

And here’s another shot with the blade raised a bit to give perspective (and that’s Ray, the friendly farmer, in the background):

Basically that blade gets lowered into the soil about two inches below the base of the garlic bulbs. Then Ray drove the tractor very slowly as someone behind him made sure the blade stayed positioned properly.

Once he got to the end of the row, the work was done…well mostly! And the garlic came out like butter! Here is the bed of garlic that he went through with the blade. What you can’t see that clearly is how the bed looks kind of dug up and loosened:

Having just spent a few hours on the farm (in the trainee program) harvesting garlic the old-fashioned way, I was very much in awe of this process. I can’t wait to share this with Jack and Becky!

OK…here’s another cool thing about the farm. Plum Granny Farm used to be a tobacco farm. Well, Ray and Cheryl use an old tobacco shed to cure their garlic! I think that is a most ingenious way to re-purpose a farm building (and save money too!).

If you’ve ever been in an old tobacco shed (I was in one on one of my daughter’s field trips), there are logs that run the width of the shed up above your head. The tobacco leaves were laid across these logs to dry.

Well, Ray and Cheryl ran heavy duty deer netting across these logs and they lay their garlic on that netting (and on some shelves that they acquired) and the garlic cures in that shed.

Here is a pik from the doorway of the shed. If you look towards the top of the picture you can see the deer netting. At the back of the picture you can see the extra shelves that they use when the space above is full:

OK…here’s the other really neat thing. Every farmer that grows to sell needs a cooler. Well, they got an army storage unit from a guy on Craigslist. It really makes the perfect cooler! Here is the unit:

And here is the inside of the unit:

That square hole is where an air conditioning unit will be placed. That A/C unit will be hooked to a Coolbot unit that will regulate the unit and keep their produce and a perfectly cooled temperature (click the coolbot link to read more about what coolbot does).

Farming takes a lot of creative thinking and ingenuity and Ray and Cheryl really have mastered finding affordable ways to farm the land.

Here’s a pik of Cheryl who had to leave about half way through the tour to fill a berry order (ahhh a farmer’s work is never done):

And when I got back to my car, some of these lilies we saw in the field were wrapped beautifully and sitting on my car waiting to surprise me:

Ray and Cheryl, thank you so much for your graciousness and being willing to share all that you know with me. I had such a wonderful time, I didn’t want the tour to end.

Well, that’s all for now garden gals and guys!

Until next time…..

Happy gardening!!