Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hi Friends!

Hope you guys have had a fantastic week in you respective homes. We are trucking right along here at Whitton Farms. Yesterday consisted of lots of seed sowing & scattering. The tomato transplanting is gaining steam with hundreds of the little guys being gently placed into the soil ready to stretch their legs, I mean roots. (I'm thining of myself on that one).

I believe our cover crops and crop rotation plan is going to work out well for us this year. Using more green manure (plant based manure) over animal manure, we believe, is the way to go for our farming operation. Thank goodness we are farming on ground that horses roamed for nearly 50 years. So we are blessed to have very rich and fertile soil to work with, but you never want to take it for granted. That's why we cover crop, and use composted leaf mulch in our fields to be tilled back into the earth. It decomposes ever so nicely. When transplanting its like working with buttah!
We do have aged horse manure & goat manure in our stables. We use it in the hothouses, and in specific fields, when preparing beds late in the fall, but we refrain from collecting manure from other sources, unless thoroughly checked. You never really know what you are getting, in regard how long it was aged, etc. If you like using animal manure in your gardens, a little goes a long way. Don't over fertilize, you can burn up your plants! We learned that lesson- the hard way a few years ago.
Whatever gardening practices you prefer, I am extremely thankful that you are out there experimenting, growing, and enjoying what the earth has so elegantly provided for us all, nature.

Over the course of the winter and spring Keith has been reading several books about farming in the early 1800's and the techniques that were used during those times. Long before synthetic fertilizers and herbicides were used in agriculture, there were a handful of specialty crop farmers who did an incredible job of documenting their organic farming practices. Crop planning/rotation all the way down to good farming philosophies, these books hold a wealth of information. This type of farming is truly a dying art, and we are working hard to bring it back in our region of the state. It's all about educating yourself. We won't ever claim to be experts in this field, because farming always throws a curve ball that you didn't see coming. We simply try to do the best we can out here on the farm each & every day. Thank goodness we have a lifetime to figure all this out.

In case you guys didn't know, we have bee hives on our property. Peace Bee Farms, out of Proctor, Arkansas, is owned and operated by Richard & Rita Underhill. They are two of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet. They keep bees the Amish way and use absolutely no synthetic materials when working with their bees. Richard is the president of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association and also keeps bees at the Memphis Botanic Garden. We truly feel blessed to have their hives out here at the farm. What started out as a simple experiment bloomed into something much more. Last year was a phenomenal year for both farming operations, and wouldn't you guess that Peace Bee collected hundreds and hundreds of pounds of delicious honey from the hives located here! It was so exciting to witness the bees pollinating our crops throughout the growing season. This week if you come by the Memphis Botanic Garden on Wednesday from 2:00 - 6:00 pm you can meet the Underhills yourself!

Last but not least! Tomorrow is an exciting day at the Memphis Botanic Gardens! The market opens! Lots of great vendors will be out there like Jones Orchard - yummy fruit & breads, Flora at Bluebird Farms- expect the unusual from Van the man - he's got lots of interesting and tasty crops, Tim's Family Farm - nice young couple farming Ripley tomatoes & other goodies, Downing Hollow Farm - good, high quality, specialty crops, Groovy Foods - the best granola in the Delta, Paul Little's Sedums - the plants you can't keep your hands off of, Gardens Oy Vey - they specialize in naughty native plants, Peace Bee Farms - need I say more? and lastly - Whitton Farms - lots of awesome flowers, heirloom transplants, and spring produce. Hope you guys take the opportunity to support as many local farmers & artisans as you possibly can. Encourage your friends to come out and experience the fun.

Recipe of the Week!

Curried Honey Sweet Potato Soup
- Makes 8 cups -

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 medium-sized cloves garlic, peeled
6 cups (48 oz.) chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons salt
6 Tablespoons local honey, divided
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a soup pot. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add stock, potatoes and salt. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.Puree mixture in batches, put soup back over low heat and add 5 Tablespoons of the honey, bell pepper, curry powder, pepper and ginger. Bring to a simmer, taste and adjust seasonings.Microwave remaining 1 Tablespoon honey for 5 seconds on High. Serve soup drizzled with a little warm honey and sprinkled with chopped cilantro. Serves 4 to 6.

Hope you eat local and visit the farmers market in the near future, like tomorrow!



  1. Great post! Our CSA shares start this coming Saturday, and Shane and I are so excited. We're really appreciative of all you two do and proud to be part of the CSA.


  2. Yay! Thanks for posting- I love reading about y'all's new adventures in farming and I really love that you are constantly learning in your craft... and sharing it with us!
    See you Saturday!

  3. Made a strawberry and arugula salad topped with fried goat cheese. thanks for the awesome stuff. looking forward to the next ten weeks.