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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Do I Really Need a New Tractor???

OK.  I admit it.  There are a lot of things I need worse than a new tractor -- but, hey, it's tempting.  I mean, the old tractor is big and -- yeah, it's old.  A new tractor that's smaller and serves the purpose of my mowing and moving stuff around and tilling in that lime in the spring.  I would love it.  AND, it drinks diesel -- not gas like my mower.  I like that aspect.  So, here's the thing.  It's expensive!!!  The biggest benefit would be that I wouldn't be afraid to get on it and do what needs to be done all by myself.  I could change the implements without any help.  I wouldn't have to rely on the scheduling of others to get my work done.  Is this beginning to sound like I need to be in control of my own truffle domain?  Bingo!  That's what it's all about.

TLB Series L45 Loading Dirt

Here's the reason I'm thinking about it at all. 



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Young signs of EFB -- Not yet in full bloom
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Dead as a door nail


If you've recently started reading my blog or, like me,  don't have perfect recall :-)
Back in 2004 and 2007, we planted 500 (mostly filbert inoculated seedlings) in what we will now call Test Orchard #2.  The past 2 years, because we knew we had EFB bigtime in that orchard, we started spraying Growers Mineral Solution on the foliage in the hope that stronger trees would hold out against the blight.  I couldn't come to terms with the idea of spraying fungicide which is the recommended treatment.  Looks like EFB loves Growers Mineral Solution and the experiment was a dismal failure of enormous proportions (think $10,000 worth of trees gone to their great reward).    So :-\ , now what?

Well, there may be options.  Here's where the decisioning process comes in................

Option #1:
Pull out those trees and forget the whole thing.  It was a just a bad dream.

Option #2:
Cut the trees down and plant truffle inoculated oak seedlings in their place and wait 10-12 more years to see what happens.  This option I can't afford.      OR

Option #3 -- my personal favorite ---
Do some soil testing and see what the mycelium concentration is in the soil.  If it's high, plant some regular uninoculated oak seedlings in the place where the trees are dying and irrigation is in place-- and see if those trees will adopt the truffle mycelium.  Maybe we could still get truffles in that field because of the already concentrated mycelium in the soil.

My farmer gene must be in high gear this morning. 

Farmers have to be comfortable with saying "maybe" a lot.  
I'll never forget unearthing truffles here with Martha Stewart.  Can't let it go.

I'm pondering the possibilities in the replanted Orchard #1.  My thinking is that we could get truffles in 5 years easily in this 4 year old orchard which was a replant from Test orchard #1.  Maybe because that particular orchard placement is so perfect OR because it was a replant from a producing orchard where the soil itself is fully inoculated.  That original tree species just simply couldn't hold out against the blight.  Now it's planted with blight resistant filberts and oaks.

SO -- that's what I would do with a new tractor -- rework the orchard that's about to bite the dust.  About 50 of the 500 trees in that orchard were inoculated with truffles that grew in Test Orchard #1 where Martha visited and got truffles..

 Some grant money for that soil testing would be a real good thing.  It won't be cheap.

Any scientists out there reading this?  Comments would be most appreciated.

Now, do I really need a new tractor?  Anybody want to buy a tractor?

Think Truffles!!!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Truffle Butter and Honey Flying Out the Door!!!

Well, well, well!! 

I am very happy to report that restaurants and truffle lovers are busily placing orders for products and keeping me hopping in the kitchen.  Thank goodness for air conditioning!!

Here are 2 restaurants in our area (Big thanks to the chefs) where you will be able to enjoy our delicious truffle butter all the hot North Carolina Summer long.  Use the links to check out their menus!!

Chef Donny Smith at NewTown Bistro in Winston-Salem is putting us on the menu again.  Can't wait to see  this chef's newest creations!

New Lunch and Sunday Brunch Menus!

 Also, we're back at Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards.

Many thanks to Chef Paul Lange, a long time supporter of our local truffle products.

Harvest Grill Front

We appreciate ya!

Just dropped off a new shipment of truffle butter at RagApple Lassie Vineyards in Boonville, too so visit them if you're in that neck of the woods. RagApple Lassie
On another happy note, I now notice that almost 25,000 people have actually read my blog (some perhaps with every post) so, folks, let's see those orders........................ by phone (336-631-8080) or email , you know where I live!

Think Truffles!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Carolina Farm Stewardship Event Hugely Successful!!

I know I told you about the upcoming farm tour a few weeks ago but this really blew my mind.  I had no idea how many people to expect so, of course, I prepared for throngs.
Port-a-John and Kubota resting comfortably after their workout

This past week-end convinced me (just in case there was ever a doubt) that lots of people are interested in truffle growing. 

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (of which I am a member farm) held its first ever Triad Farm Tour on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  It was a huge success!  CFSA has been doing farm tours in other areas for a long time but this was the first in our geographic area.

I had no idea how many people to expect and prepared for the crowd.  We had 93 visitors on Saturday and 40 on Sunday.  We probably would have had more on Sunday but it rained in the middle of the afternoon so it may have kept a few people away.  As soon as it stopped raining, my visitors started arriving again. 

I had volunteers to work with folks while I told the truffle story.  We gave tastes of our truffle butter and truffle honey (and sold a bunch of it!)  We sold out of the truffled white chocolate and we weren’t even sampling it.

Children and adults all enjoyed the visit and really engaged and asked good questions.  I was very pleased with the way everyone respected the property, interacted with the dogs, took away brochures and business cards to share with friends and family.  I passed out NATGA brochures along with my own farm brochures and had an opportunity for a professor from Illinois State University who teaches an online course in sustainable agriculture to film my spiel to share with her students in the fall.

It was a very rewarding experience.  If you live in North or South Carolina and have not joined CFSA, whether you are a farmer or not, I heartily encourage you to do so. Everybody wants good healthy food and CFSA really supports farmers.

Agricultural and Culinary Tourism are on the rise and the mystery of truffles really brings people out!  So happy to be here!  Hope you all have a great summer!!

Think Truffles!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Time to Add Some Lavender to the Mix

Whoa!! I had no idea how long it had been since I connected with my truffle friends.  FaceBook and Twitter just aren't enough.  I was feeling very disconnected and now I know why.  Let me bring you up to speed.

It is HOT!  Entirely too hot for May here in the foothills.  I think I heard yesterday on the local weather report that it hadn't been this hot for this long in May since 2006.  Our weather patterns are definitely changing.

Glad I have irrigation, too, even though I'm having a little trouble keeping it working these days.  I'll get it worked on by a professional soon.  I've already exhausted all the free help I can find.  Maybe we'll get some relief in the form of a thundershower tomorrow or Thursday.  I'm hoping..............

So, anyway, how about some new pictures?  We went out today and planted the first of our lavender plants.

 Isn't that cute? Those rocks will make it easy for me to find her for extra water this first season since it's really better to plant it in the fall.  She is planted right in the middle of the field where one of the oaks didn't survive and that empty space was just waiting for some lavender.  It's one of the angusifolias and should do really well there.  I have more to plant but that's the very first one.  Lavender is a very good companion crop for truffles because it will (theoretically, right?) thrive in the same high pH.  We'll see.....

As you can see from the picture below, this "new" orchard, now moving into its 4th year, is truly growing by leaps and bounds.  The tree closest to you in the picture is a "blight resistant/immune" filbert.  and behind it is one of the oaks.  Then a filbert, then an oak.  You get the idea.

Here you have a view across the orchard after the tilling.  I added lime and gypsum before the tilling started.  Just look at that beautiful rich red dirt.  You can almost hear the truffles forming  :-) 

And here's a better look at an oak.  Ignore the weeds around it.  We're going to aim a flame thrower at those soon.  No roundup here.  Either the weeds get pulled or burned or maybe frozen if I can find the guy who does that around here.

Now, for some news about other things going on here.  Today the tree man started taking down some trees that hinder the traffic pattern from one orchard to the other through the woods.  It's going to look much more "park-like" soon.  I like that idea.  Dazy and Friday are happy about it, too,  Here's Friday chillin' in the shade.
By the time the Carolina Farm Stewardship Piedmont Farm Tour hits the place on June 7th, it will all be finished and maybe we can put some lawn chairs out there for folks to cool off a little before they head out to the next farm.  I hope you will all take advantage of the special pricing available that day.  Come on out to Stokes County and see some farmers in action, meet our dogs, taste some truffle stuff and enjoy the countryside.  Seriously, folks, come see us!

Think Truffles!!