Well as most of you in South Georgia already know, we’ve basically gone from Fall to Spring as Winter forgot to show up this year! That’s great for strawberries b/c as long as we frost protected the few nights we did have cold weather, we were able to go ahead and open the U-Pick fields in January! That’s a first for our 19 year old strawberry farm. So what does this mean for the rest of the season? We don’t actually know! Right now the amount of blooms we’re seeing (it takes 30 days for a bloom to become a ripe berry) it looks like we might peak in March instead of April, but hopefully we will still have strawberries until May, they just might not be as plentiful. We really won’t know until we get further into the season. And as usual in farming, what one crop needs another doesn’t so this warm winter also probably means little or no peach crop for our farm. Peaches and nectarines have to have a certain amount of chill hours in the winter and we just haven’t had the winter for a big peach crop. Peach trees lose their leaves and go through a dormant period in the Fall, which gives them a rest. They have to have this rest for the buds that were set the previous summer or else they can’t bloom. But, let’s not worry about that until peach season! Right now we have gorgeous, sweet strawberries waiting to be picked! We’ve fired up the ice cream and slushie machines (actually we never shut them down except one day that it was 30 degrees!). The playground is open with some new additions and we have a new shaded area that we created out of an old barn on the farm. As always, with the exception of a few swings, our playground is totally recycled! Check out our Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat accounts for the most up-to-date info on the farm!
I’m sorry I’ve been so behind with updating the blog…I seem to never get caught up these days! We have several things going on at the farm!
If you haven’t been this season, there is still time! The strawberries are still big, sweet, and gorgeous! We still have U-Pick and We-Pick available. We’ve also opened up the U-Pick blueberries, and one row of peaches and have plums coming in as well. Blackberries will still be another couple of weeks before they’re ready.
We have restocked the t-shirts so if you were waiting on a size/color combo, I have gotten in some of the Buy Local shirts this week, sizes ranging from youth XS to Adult 3X.
Another exciting development is that we convinced Daddy to plant some vegetables! It will be later in the summer before they’re ready but last week we planted the following:
straight & crooked neck squash
mucho nacho jalapeno peppers
I’m not sure yet if these will be already picked only or if we will allow u-pick for these. We will also continue to partner with our other friends in the farming community and bring you what they are growing when possible. And don’t forget on those hot days you can always stop in and get a delicious homemade ice cream cup or cone!
In shuffling our merchandise around as we are building the new store, we realized that we have some peanut flour that we need to sale quickly b/c the best by dates are August 2015. The flour will last up to another year if refrigerated or frozen, but we don’t need to sell it past August, so for this month, it will be on sale, at cost, if you purchase by the case. Visit http://www.southerngracefarms.com/peanutflour.html to view/purchase. Also, we’ve added a t-shirt page to our store (sorry for the look of the page…it’s homemade!) We are currently working on a new look for the website as well with search options, and just a better flow for information. Anyway, the t-shirts are super cute and we are offering them at cost also, prices ranging from $10-$12. You can view those here: http://www.southerngracefarms.com/shirts.html.
It’s strawberry picking time! We will have strawberries in season until sometime around the end of May or 1st of June. Our new store is still under construction but we are open for picking and usually have already picked berries in the cooler! Stop in at the office at Berrien Peanut Company for directions!
For years we’ve tossed around the idea of adding a country store to our farm…and we are finally going ahead with it! BUT with all the rain we had this winter, we are over a month behind in building b/c we couldn’t get in there and ready the land for construction. But finally we are seeing a little progress! Concrete is poured and beams going in! The Country Market will offer all of our jams, jellies, salsas, pickles, and tons of other Georgia Grown, southern staples! We plan to have ice cream, slushies, samples of products, and more! Hopefully we will be able to move in at the end of strawberry season, if not then during blackberry season! So when you come out to the farm, please excuse our mess!
Frost Protection using above ground irrigation and row covers.
We plant our strawberries every year in October. They grow until the weather gets cold, so in November or December they enter a dormant phase. In what used to be a typical year :), when we start having some warmer days in January and February, the plants will begin to bloom. The plant can stand Georgia’s coldest temperatures but the blooms and berries cannot. A ripe, red, strawberry is ready to pick 30 days after the bloom. So if we get freezing temperatures after we have blooms, and we want to protect them, we have to frost protect! I found some old pictures of our frost protection to share with you guys to show you how we prevent the frost from settling on the blooms/berries. Sometimes we’ve used both methods at the same time, but we have row covers and/or above ground sprinklers to promote warmth and prevent frost damage.