Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #26, 8/24/16

What’s been going on!

We are back!  With the steamy weather having finally broken for a few days and everyone having had a week or more off there is spring in peoples step and minds.  Good break with Jennie spending time in Indiana with her family and Trish going all the way to Montana!  Betsy and I kept as low a profile as possible short of the many dinners out.

Lots to do this week including the endless mowing, holy crap can the grass grow fast.  A cultivation pass through all the fall vegetables that we did manage to get planted after the big rains and before everyone left for a week.  But the big job has been working in the pepper field both trellising and picking.

It is all about peppers for the next month or so as we work our way through the peak of the season and do we ever have the peppers to start roasting this Saturday!  All varieties, colors and heat levels.  Unfortunately the beautiful weather is not going to last that long so we will roast as far into the morning as we can bear it.  Remember to come to the stand first to get your peppers into the cue and then when you are finished shopping your roasted peppers will be waiting for you.  If you want a large amount roasted let us know and we will make sure to have them ready for you, they freeze great!

If you don’t make it to market this week, not to worry we will be roasting for months but the selection wanes over time.  You might also want to attend our next cooking class at A Southern Season Cooking School next Monday August 29th, this one of course all about peppers!  Working again with our friend and tomato guru Craig Lehoullier who is also a pepper grower and cook and the wonderful Caitlin Burke of the Cooking School we will have a great time and meal.  If you haven’t ever taken a class at the Cooking School not only will you learn a lot but you will have a great meal including wine for a really reasonable price.

Picture of the Week

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Super sweet orange Corno di Toro peppers, did I say we have a lot?

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #14, 5/18/16

What’s been going on!

Another rainy week ahead, at least it is cool, so some solace.  We used the beautiful days leading up to yesterday to cultivate as much as we possibly could as the weeds were biblical after the previous wet period.  While we did not get everything perfectly weeded we did get to most of it.

Always too much to do in May and so we are a little behind in getting the big planting of tomatoes suckered and tied up for the first time.  Got a good start on it Monday but now it will be too damp to break off the shoots (suckers).  If we do it when it is really wet then the chances for disease to enter those wounds is very high so we will just have to wait until the sun comes back out.

The other big job we are trying to get to is preparation for the big pepper planting next week.  The plants look perfect and will be really happy to get in the ground.  Just before the rain started yesterday we tilled the nine beds that get covered with landscape fabric for all the hot and fussy varieties.  Today or tomorrow we can lay the drip lines and pin down the fabric so we will be ready to plant first thing next week.  That just leaves the rolling/crimping of the cover crop for the no-till sweet peppers.  Go, go, go!

Pictures of the Week

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Thousands of pepper plants ready to go

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Freshly tilled pepper beds on a really gray day

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Peregrine Farm New Vol. 12 #26, 9/18/15

What’s been going on!

A really pleasant event last evening at the Carrboro Market’s Harvest Dinner.  Perfect weather to go with good dishes from the twenty plus chefs that shop at and support the market.  The setting under the market pavilions is always beautiful and the assembled crowd of market customers and supporters has that real feel of community.

The Harvest Dinner is both a celebration of the season and the market but also a fundraiser to help extend the markets budget so that we can increase our outreach to many groups in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill area.  Food access programs, kids cooking classes, working with local businesses, farm and food education events of all kinds are examples of the forward thinking that has made the Carrboro Farmers’ Market the leader and innovator in local markets and one of the best in the country.  It is why it is the areas epicenter of the local, sustainable food movement.

While something like 90 percent of the markets budget is from stall rental fees from the vendors and market has been self-supporting for all of its 37 years, fees can only go so far.  We have never wanted to rely on grants, as many non-profits do, so events like the Harvest Dinner and the new Market Perennial Program help us to continue our forward momentum.  Just like WUNC’s Sustainer program you can sign up for a regular donation to the market.  Betsy and I are also “Perennials”, as are a number of other vendors and community members and even though we pay our share of stall fees, we know that the market has been the single most important part of our business for the last 30 years.  Even on a farmers budget we know that we need to contribute to the market as it has contributed to us for so long.

Picture of the Week

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It is all about Red Bells right now

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #23, 8/27/15

What’s been going on!

Glorious almost fall like weather, at least a tease of what is to come.  Folks always ask why our peppers start so much later than other growers at market.  We purposely plant ours later in the spring for several reasons.  The first is if we try and push and put the seedlings into cold soil and night temperatures they will just sulk, we want them to hit the ground running and make big strong plants that will produce for a long time.  The other reason is, while we can have some green fruit in June and July what we are really after is sweet ripe colored fruit and the best conditions for ripening are in late August and September when we begin to have weather just like this, cool nights, bright warm days.

Green chilis and Poblanos are the same, the closest we can come to the high light desert environment of New Mexico and the Southwest is this time of year which is also our driest time of the whole growing season.  Cool, dry nights in particular give us nice thick meaty walls and average heat levels that we wouldn’t get in hotter wet weather when the fruit grow really fast.

Just in time for the peak of pepper season we have another class at A Southern Season Cooking School next Thursday Sept. 3rd, this one of course all about peppers!  Working again with our friend and tomato guru Craig Lehoullier who is also a pepper grower and cook and the wonderful Caitlin Burke of the Cooking School we will have a great time and meal.  If you haven’t ever taken a class at the Cooking School not only will you learn a lot but you will have a great meal including wine for a really reasonable price.

We will have the pepper roaster there to demonstrate how it is done in New Mexico and the menu looks delicious.  Arugula and Pepper Salad with Warm Olive Oil; Parmesan Polenta Squares with Romesco Sauce; Chili Relleno Casserole; Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Crème Brûlée.  There is still room in the class so be sure to sign up to learn all about peppers and some ideas for how to use them.

Picture of the Week

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Standing in the Celosia Big Top looking out over fields getting ready for fall

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #22, 8/20/15

What’s been going on!

Students are back and so are we!  Despite the dampish week we have been back at it since Monday.  Good time off and we even got to the point where we couldn’t remember what day it was.  Lacey was the winner with a week in Maine, Jennie got in a trip up to D.C. and a few days camping in the mountains.  Betsy and I knocked around doing a variety of things including a scenic tour of Eastern North Carolina with stops in Wilson, Kinston, Pink Hill and Clinton!

Before heading off, Jennie and Lacey worked hard to get more fall crops in the ground and cultivate the established ones so they were in good shape for the week while they were gone.  Since their return the planting and cultivating has continued and we are right on schedule.  The tearing out of the tomato plantings has begun with the little tunnels completed but the Big Tops still to go.

As projected, pepper roasting will begin this Saturday with mostly Anaheims and Poblanos and a few Corno di Toros.  The sweet Red, Yellow and Orange Bells are running a bit behind but should give us some for next week.  Don’t worry we should be roasting through October.  The weather looks to be clearing and actually a fairly pleasant day to commence with the hot job of running the roaster.

Picture of the Week

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Another foggy morning, super tall Poblanos in the foreground.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #5, 3/27/15

What’s been going on!

Classic spring weather.  We were all set to plant the very early tomatoes and cukes in the sliding tunnels and then they dropped the low for Saturday night down to 22 degrees.  Nope, we will just wait until Monday to put them in the ground and will instead move them back into the greenhouse for safe keeping.  The floating row covers will come back out from their summer storage to cover lettuce and some of the flowers.  The only thing we can’t do much about is the blueberries that are beginning to bloom, we will lose some early fruit but not the whole crop as many buds are not open yet.

Cold, wet day so what is more perfect than to be in the greenhouse seeding the big pepper array for this year.  Painstaking and tedious, Jennie and Lacey are up to the task.  Keeping the 28 varieties straight and in the proper numbers takes patience, nearly 4000 seeds.  A few new interesting varieties this year including four special datil pepper seeds, yes 4, given to us by a fellow whose family has been in St. Augustine Florida since the 1500’s where the datil pepper has been grown by the Minorcan community since the 1700’s and is central to their cooking.  Each plant will have a name and armed guard.

Remember the picture of the Christmas lights in the flowers to add just a bit of additional heat when it got down to one degree back mid February?  Here are the results, lots of beautiful Ranunculus for now, Easter and later.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #23, 9/4/14

What’s been going on!

It is all about peppers right now despite too many other projects, events and other distractions.  Peppers have a way of sneaking up on us.  They can hang on the plants for weeks and then all of a sudden they turn color.  Tomatoes we have to pick twice a week to keep up and if you don’t then they become stinky bags of water.  Peppers on the other hand we only pick once a week (except for the shishitos and padrons which we have to go through three times a week to keep the size just right) and then we just pull the ones that are ripe.

We knew the season was slightly behind due to the cooler weeks in July and August but with the hot weather the last few weeks things have moved along.  This morning I walked out and bam! the whole field looked red.  So today we will start the harvest to split up picking the bells from all the rest and help spread out the job.  We have to wait until the plants are dry so we don’t spread diseases up and down the row, that puts us in the limbo zone between late morning and too hot in the afternoon.  Harvesting peppers is also one of those jobs you can only do for so long because they are just at that difficult height; not low enough to fully bend down or tall enough to stand up, tough on the back, even good ones.

Just to add a level of difficulty to the week our nephew is getting married on Saturday up in the mountains.  All week Betsy has been calmly gathering up all the flowers needed including ordering some from as far away as California.  She will be driving up early tomorrow morning to get set up to do all the arrangements, bouquets, corsages, etc..  Don’t get any ideas, she only does wedding flowers for close relatives and extremely dear friends, too many dangers with unknown brides and mothers.  So she will not be at market on Saturday and I will have to leave market a little early to drive up in time for the ceremony.  This is the balance between family and being all about peppers.

Picture of the Week

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Lots of red bells

 

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #21, 8/20/14

What’s been going on!

Another foggy morning in this continuing coolish summer.  The old folk adage “for every fog in August there will be a snowfall” indicates that we should be ass deep in snow this winter.  With the days beginning to get noticeably shorter we can let ourselves think about fall.

Summer break was enjoyable, different in its pacing and how it rolled out but we all had a chance to reset and do non-farm things.  Jennie was able to go north for a while and Betsy and I lolled around the house, went out to eat a lot, I even managed to read two whole books!  We still had to do some seeding and planting and maintenance but all with a relaxed agenda.

But we are back and it is a packed week.  The hard rain on Monday slowed re-entry some as we had planned to get a lot of things planted, looks like tomorrow we can get it done.  That is OK because we still had a film crew here shooting some pieces for Farm Aid which will be in Raleigh September 13th and then a dinner for a UNC class we participate in.  Friday night is our annual Farm Dinner at Fosters Market in Chapel Hill, focusing on peppers, what else.

Saturday is the first day of pepper roasting at market.  It will be a “soft” start with mostly just chiles as this cool weather has delayed the ripening of the colored sweet bell peppers but the Anaheims and Poblanos look great and will be in abundance.  The weather won’t even be brutal with a high in the mid 80’s, never in my wildest dreams.

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Get the snow shovels ready

 

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #14, 6/13/14

What’s been going on!

A wet week with well over two inches of rain.  After the first few small rains the taller pepper plants were beginning to think about tipping over if we didn’t get some trellis on them.  I had a fitful sleep on Tuesday night as yet another storm slipped by to our north, worrying it would be the one to lay the plants down.  Wednesday morning after getting ready for market we jumped on the pepper trellis and got the first layer on the tallest eight beds, a few of which had fallen over.  None too soon as the big storms of that afternoon would have certainly flattened them with the big winds and 1.7” of rain, instead they are standing straight and tall.

It is good to see real tomatoes on our kitchen counter again.  We had to use the first ten pounds of the season for our dish at the Farm to Fork picnic so our only taste was the inaugural BLT last Friday.  Running about a week behind normal due to the cooler spring but they look really good.  Another round of BLT’s on Monday and then last night the first of the summers tomato and basil risottos, it is beginning to look a lot like tomato season!

The Farm to Fork picnic was great.  The weather was a miracle both for the rains that turned away from us at the last minute and the resulting pleasant low 80 degree temperatures.  Bret Jenning’s, of Elaine’s on Franklin, savory combination of our beets, carrots, fennel and leeks as a filling wrapped in our Summer Crip lettuce with a medium spice salsa of the tomatoes, cilantro and our smoked dried chipotles was amazing.  Think of it as a roll your own lettuce taco.  Chased by the blueberry, ginger and basil lemonade and it was a perfect combination.  Thank you Bret and all of the picnic goers for supporting local farms and the training of new farmers.

Picture of the Week

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Proud and straight peppers

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #27, 8/29/13

What’s been going on!

Two popular questions we get at market this time of year.  Particularly with this summer’s much cooler than normal temperatures people are wondering what the winter will be like.  I used to think that if we had a cool winter we would have a cooler summer and vice versa summer into winter because the mass of the earth wasn’t as warm as it would otherwise be.  Now I realize that it really is all about the Jet Stream and how far north or south it tends to be and how amplified the waves in it are.  It is all about El Nino and the other steering factors.

If you go to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center you can see their best estimates of what the winter will be like.  Right now it looks like a normal fall both in temperature and rainfall, that would be refreshing, but as we move into winter it will be a bit drier than normal and as we move into late winter/early spring becoming warmer than normal but with average rainfall, much like the last few winters.  This is the forecast map for the November/December/January period.  So according to them nothing too cold.

The other question is of course pepper related.  The pepper roaster was really invented in the southwest to roast green chile, the national vegetable of New Mexico.  The question we get many times a day is “Are these Hatch Chiles?”  The answer is no in two ways.  First Hatch is not a variety of the New Mexican pod type, also more commonly known as Anaheims, it is a small town in southern New Mexico in the heart of the chile growing region.  Of course the second no answer is because we have to grow everything we sell at the Carrboro market they certainly can’t be chiles grown in Hatch New Mexico.

That all being said, we have and do grow New Mexican bred varieties of green chile.  Many of the varieties grown in Hatch have been bred just down the road at New Mexico State Univ.  Over the years we have trialed and sold 8-10 NMSU varieties, most recently NuMex Joe Parker.  What we can’t reproduce here is the conditions of southern New Mexico, hot arid days with cool nights in the alluvial soils of the Rio Grande valley.  Those conditions lead to a more consistent pepper in flavor, heat and in meatiness.  Think of Hatch chiles as Vidalia onions, there is no Vidalia variety, just a soil and climate that leads to really sweet onions.  We think that the best peppers we produce, including green chile, are harvested in the next six weeks as we come closest to the warm, dry and cool night conditions of the southwest.

Picture of the Week

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The perennial question is how are the turkeys?  4 weeks old

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