I’ve never picked my own blueberries before but have always wanted to do it. Seems like every year I miss my chance (prime blueberry pickin’ in this area is early to mid June). Although it is a little late in the season and despite the oppressive heat we have been experiencing, last Saturday I made a trip to Snikroc farm over in Durham County to get some blueberries. The small family owned Snikroc farm isn’t all that far from where I live in North Raleigh. It is just a short ride up Creedmoor Road and then head west on Highway 98. Here is a map of their location (Google Maps).
As you enter the property you will pass a small trailer that they use to sell soft serve ice cream on warm summer evenings. Further down the gravel drive is an area to park next to a small shed that has a scale and basic supplies like plastic bags and baskets to use when pickin the blueberries. Upon my initial inspection of some of the plants I confirmed that I was a little late in the season for prime blueberry pickin. I also noticed that the extreme heat we’ve been having has taken a toll on the blueberry plants. However, as I wandered a few rows in, I was able to find some bushes that had some plump albeit small berries ready to be picked!
Above is a quick shot of some of my berries. They are a little smaller than what I am used to buying in the store, but they are packed with flavor. I think next year I will plan on visitng the farm earlier, like sometime in mid June. I would love to get several pounds next year. On this trip I only managed to pick 1.5 pounds. My small haul didn’t discourage me though, since I love having locally grown fresh blueberries on my cereal in the morning and now I know where to go next year!
Purchasing at Snicrok farm is done on the honor system. Just weigh out your haul and leave your payment at the shed (prices per pound are listed on the wall). For more information check out the Snikroc Farm Facebook Page.
Farm Fresh North Carlonia Strawberries
Strawberry season has come a little early to NC this year, so we may get an extra week or two of crop production. Just make sure you don’t wait too long to go out and get some of this great seasonal local produce. The local strawberry fields are now open and it is the perfect time to go out and get your fill of berries. While you can pick up some great strawberries at the local farmers’ markets, going directly to the farm to pick your own can be a fun experience and a little cheaper too. Picking strawberries is the perfect opportunity to teach kids about where our food comes from or to remind yourself just how flavorful fresh berries and produce are supposed to taste. To find places to pick your own strawberries in the Triangle, check out these two lists of local berry farms published in the News & Observer and Carolina Parent Magazine.
The Wake Forest Herbfest
The Annual Wake Forest Herb Festival returns to Festival Park April 15th through the 24th. With the warm weather upon us here in the Triangle, now is the perfect time to pick up some plants to get your summer garden started.
Low maintenance, organically grown herb plants and organic vegetables will be available for purchase at the Festival which also features live entertainment and educational seminars. A highlight of the festival for children is the daily “duck parade” held each day around 10:00am when a group ducks gathered up each morning waddle to their pond amidst the herb and perennial plants. While this is a small town event by “festival” standards, the Herb Fest is recognized as the largest herb and perennial festival east of the Mississippi. There is a ton of free parking along White Street and the festival provides wagons and carts to load up your plants (and to tote your children).
Most of the herb plants I have purchease at herbfest in previous years ranged in price from $3-$4. For details about daily festival events you can visit their website here.
Filed under Events, Garden
I stopped in the Seaboard Station Ace Hardware located in downtown Raleigh this week and was surprised to see they had a big table set up with aluminum washtubs filled with different baby chicks. According to the people at Ace, they get a lot of requests for chicks given the growing popularity of urban chickens in downtown Raleigh. These particular birds come from the Mt. Healthy Hatchery out of Ohio and are destined to become residents of backyard chicken coops in older Raleigh neighborhoods inside the beltline.
Urban chickens provide their owner a source of fresh organic eggs, but some also view them as pets and or as an educational exercise for their children to learn about the responsibility of caring for a live animal. Either way, the popularity of urban chickens has grown so much in Raleigh in recent years that there is now an annual event called ” Hen-side the Beltline Tour-d Coup” each summer. The event features tours of dozen of coops located in the backyards of homes inside the beltline to give the public an opportunity to learn about raising chickens in a healthy neighbor friendly environment, and see how families integrate chickens into their gardening practices. The Sixth Annual Tour d’Coop will be held on Saturday May 21, 2011. For more information about the coops featured on past tours and info on how you can get tickets this year, please check out the Hen-side the Beltline website!
Filed under Events, Garden
With the weather finally warming up here in Raleigh, now is the perfect time to start preparing for your spring and summer garden. The heavy clay soils found in this area make raised beds and container gardenining a popular option. I spent last weekend turning over the soil in my square foot garden and adding compost and organic fertilizer. I like to add a bag of black cow compost and organic fertilizer like Espoma Garden Tone.
Every year I try growing some things by seeds but I haven’t had much luck with certain plants so I purchase seedlings of those from are nurseries. Pictured above is a romaine lettuce seedling I purchased at Logan’s in downtown Raleigh. They sell seedlings in packs of four for $1.59. Early spring is a great time to grow cool weather leafy green crops like lettuce, cabbage, and spinach. By the time May rolls around it gets too hot for these types of plants so it is important to get them started in the garden early.
This is the square foot garden I built last year. It is 4′ x 4′ and 8″ deep. Last year I filled it with planting media comprised of a mixture of compost, peat moss and vermiculite. With a square foot garden, you minimize the space needed for a garden by eliminating space needed for walking space between the rows of plants. You break the garden into a grid giving 1′ squares to eac plant. For example, my 4′ x 4′ garden makes up 16 individual 1′ planting squares making enough room for sixteen different plants.
Now that I have my cool weather crops planted (lettuce and spinach) I can start planning what I will plant for the warmer season after the last frost date, which is typically April 15th in this area. This year I am planning on growing several different herbs along with some cucumbers, peppers, and an heirloom tomato. I plan to buy seedlings for all three at the local farmers’ markets which should be in full swing by mid-April. For more information about gardening check out the NC State Extension website.