Natural, farm fresh produce. Grown with love.

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  • Western view - sliding door and window
  • Tomatoes & friends
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  • Berries
  • Hummingbird's delight
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What to do with eight ball zucchini?

The squashes are doing great this year, and we have had fun growing some unusual varieties: zephyr (a type of yellow squash that is bi-color: yellow body, green end(s)), lemon (a fun lemon colored and shaped yellow squash), raven zucchini (dark green and delicious) and eight ball zucchini (a small, round zucchini with great flavor).



Why grow the same thing as everyone else, is what I think…but new or unusual can raise some important questions like: what do I do with it? How do I eat it? A little help please?

So, from a PTHF friend and fellow Marketplace Vendor comes a recipe suggestion for the cute and delicious eight ball zucchini. Here it goes:

URL to article:



- Added about 1/3 c. finely diced onion, sauteeing it first in a little olive oil.  When they were a bit soft I added the garlic.
- Used oil-packed sundried tomatoes because that’s what I had.  I skipped the “soak in hot water” step and added them when I added the garlic to the onions.  I didn’t need any extra liquid, but if I had I probably would have drizzled in some wine.
- Used jasmine rice because that’s what I had already cooked in the fridge.
- Also added about 1/4 c. finely shaved parmesan after I took it off the heat.  Could have even used a bit more.


Morning treat

Gleaning after sunrise…another reason to love summer…wild blackberries!


20140721-075313-28393289.jpgPlump, juicy and sweet, a nice morning treat.

20140721-075352-28432441.jpgNeeding a bigger container! Had this one full in under a minute.

The weekend work crew

My usual weekend work crew….



Yay! My zinnias are blooming.


Beginning and ending – a day

Here is how I started my day today:

20140717-214723-78443101.jpgSunrise in the garden

Here is how I ended my day:

20140717-214856-78536470.jpgSunset (yes, another one…I can’t stop photographing them; a sucker for the gloaming).

With a little help from our friends…part two

Sunday, we had another productive day. Weeding. Cooking. AND socializing. We enjoyed another great lunch with friends and family…then got right back at it. Why? Two new summer interns were on site with an intense love of carrots. So, after lunch, we took a peek at some of the carrot beds:

20140717-210708-76028494.jpgThe hunt is on!

20140717-210759-76079295.jpgSuccess! A purple one.

20140717-210840-76120064.jpgAdd an orange one to the mix.

20140717-210926-76166486.jpgA tote full of goodies! A just reward after weeding.

Many thanks to our crop of interns. What a fun summer!

Growing area progress

The boys have been hard at it the past few weekends. Dad has continued to find great deals on doors and windows that he and Jordan have installed in our future growing area. The remaining work includes: putting up plastic or clear corrugated panels to cover the gaps, leveling the floor and bringing in gravel (eventually will concrete), and changing out some of the roof panels for clear panels. Here are some photos:

Western view - sliding door and window

Western view – sliding door and window

Southern view

Southern view

The next area in the works is the indoor processing area. This part was the closed-in garage. We removed the paneled garage door and covered the opening with a tarp for many weeks…until Dad got this door for us:

Processing area

Processing area

The guys installed this door. The big gap will be framed in and filled with a window; smaller gaps will be covered with siding. On the right side (where the opening is) will be counter tops, a 3 bay sink, a drying area etc. for processing our goods. On the left hand side is the walk-in fridge. Next on the task list is running water and power to the garage for the growing and processing area. THEN, we’ll work on getting that cold room up and running with a cool bot system! How huge having these two areas up and running will be!!! We are getting there…..

Bug ID needed

Anyone know who this guy is and if he is a good garden bug?

20140715-135915-50355957.jpgMystery bug hanging out in the beans (seen elsewhere too)

Raw beet and carrot salad

We enjoyed having friends and family visit the farm this weekend to lend a hand as well as provide good company. Some good eats came from it, too. Like this quick, easy beet and carrot salad. Take a look (my comments are in italics with parentheses):

Carrot And Beet Salad With Ginger Vinaigrette
Gourmet | April 1994

Yield: Serves 6

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.


1/4 cup minced shallot (I used a garden onion diced and green sliced thinly)
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced (from the garden! Yum!)
1/4 cup rice vinegar (used seasoned rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
Tabasco to taste (used a hot pepper from the garden, diced)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cups finely shredded carrots (cut into matchsticks)
4 cups finely shredded peeled raw beets (about 3/4 pound) (used 4-5 beet roots and cut into matchsticks)
spinach leaves, washed thoroughly, for garnish if desired (did not use, instead garnished with feta cheese)


In a blender purée shallot, ginger, and garlic with rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and Tabasco. With motor running add olive oil in a stream and blend until smooth. (did not use blender. Put ingredients in Tupperware and shook until well mixed)

In separate bowls toss carrots with half of the dressing and beets with remaining half. Divide carrot salad and beet salad among 6 plates and garnish with spinach leaves. (did not separate but combined the carrots and beets)

20140714-204215-74535084.jpg Carrot and beet matchsticks…all from the garden. Carrots will be coming to market soon!

20140714-204312-74592761.jpgDressing added

20140714-204348-74628696.jpgTopped with a little feta cheese


We’ve planted buckwheat and several varieties of flowers to attract beneficial insects. Last year, buckwheat dominated. This year, other flowers are finally peeking through to add pretty splashes of color to the farmscaping attempt…



20140714-203223-73943621.jpgPollinator at work :)!


New blossoms

Here are a couple new blossoms around the farm:

20140713-163245-59565837.jpgHibiscus (a hummingbird and pollinator hot spot); also called Rose o’Sharon

20140713-163356-59636061.jpgBee balm (I think)

Also seeing harlequin beetles (booo hiss).

Farm to table

Blackstone Grill is promoting a farm-to-table culinary experience at the restaurant by supporting local growers. Here are some photos of produce possibilities and of collaborators. A Channel 10 WSLS news segment at 5:30 will feature Ashish (General Manager) and Ben Harder (Den Hill Permaculture). We also made a new friend, Ellen from Sickle Moon Farm in Riner.




Gratuitous produce pics

Just some photos from yesterday’s market…







Intercropping and companion planting

I’ve touched on these topics (intercropping and companion planting) before, but now I can show it to you in action and give some updates.


Tomatoes & friends

Tomatoes & friends

In this photo are examples of both practices – 1) lettuces are intercropped with tomatoes. Why? Lettuces are fairly benign plants, but they are not fans of the heat. Tomatoes like the heat and can get nice and big during the summer, thereby creating shade. Ok, it is now clear t0 all that I planted my tomatoes late, but they ARE growing quickly and they ARE starting to cast shade on the lettuces. I call that an early success. 2) To the left is a lot of green stuff…it is a row of tomatoes and basil (hard to tell because the basil is as tall as the tomatoes). This row is an example of companion planting. It is said that aromatic herbs, like basil, are beneficial plants to have near tomatoes. Why? Some aromatics deter pests. Others are reported to enhance the flavors or health of the plants they are near. We shall see! An experiment is on.


I need to take a photo, but I am concerned that my other intercropping experiment might turn into a slight failure. In another section of the garden, I have planted beets amongst the onions and garlic. The onions and garlic are doing fine, it’s the beets I worry about. I fear that I did not do a top-notch job on weed control which caused some of the beets to fail to germinate. Or, it is just too much competition for space and nutrients. At best, my beets are spotty. I’ll report on this test again soon.

Companion planting and intercropping are good options for tight spaces – for improved production and good utilization of spaces. I just need to keep learning how to do it better!


Summer interns

It is amazing how extra hands, no matter the size or ability, can make a day of harvest and market prep seem…relaxing!

Many thanks to PTHF’s newly added summer interns! They did a great job.

20140702-174820-64100499.jpgOnion harvest

20140702-174857-64137524.jpgReady to clean and prep for market

A day of rest…

Some times you need one. Sunday was it for us at PTHF.

The morning started off with a light rain…which is EXCELLENT for the crops as it was much needed…but it isn’t so good for direct seeding (i.e. cannot or really should not work wet soil as it destroys its structure to do so).

So…the Wonder Dogs and I took two walks around the pasture. On the first walk, I photographed some wildflowers and such (see previous post) and found this manna from heaven…



I have no idea what kind of berries these are…not blackberries as those are just forming and are all green. May be a wild black raspberry? It is along the road frontage fence, hidden amidst honeysuckle and my favorite…poison ivy. Of course, I ate some. They are crazy sweet. So, on our second walk, I came back with a bucket.


Wild berries



Ok, so not an abundance, but this bounty was from the first stop. After noticing the first hidden bush, I started looking for others….and I found some.

Why? Well, when you have a quiet day, I don’t know what you do, but we eat. Here’s what was going on in the meantime…

Apple wood smoked salmon

Apple wood smoked salmon

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I could have more of this beauty on any given Sunday. It went well with our friends and family that supped with us later…and all of the delicious sides (most containing freshly harvested wares from the garden, including wild berries….and we are all still upright).

A vibrant plate of deliciousness

A vibrant plate of deliciousness

I love a day of rest!!!!

So do these guys…


Seasons change…

As we welcome, fully, the summer season, here are a few things that are going on around the farm…

Early last week, I got home late enough that the sun had pretty well set…and I was completely engulfed by an amazing aroma. Confused and drunk by the sweet scent, I couldn’t image what was the source. Then, the next morning, it hit me. I knew what had bloomed overnight…this…

Sunday’s stroll around the property also shows what else is happening (wild flowers in bloom and insect life):

Not pictured – chickory is blooming.

The bees are going wild over the red and white clover in bloom as well as the mimosa. Lots of noise out in the yard. What’s going on in your area?

Warm Hearth Village

Tomorrow, PTHF will be at Warm Hearth Village (Blacksburg) with a variety of head and loose leaf lettuces, cabbages, beets, onions, kales, Swiss chards, spinach, and hothouse tomatoes, apples, peaches and blueberries from our friends at Chestnut Ridge Farm (Max Meadows).

We’ll start at the Karr activity center from 4-5 then we will move to the main Village Center and be setup up from 5:15 (we’ll do our best to be there on time this week) until 6:30.

Rain or shine. Remember, we are able to accept SNAP/EBT benefits. See you there!

Sunday shower

Here’s what happens when I decide to turn the sprinkler on in the garden…

20140622-210353-75833354.jpg…a Sunday evening shower rolls in!

Sunset through the clouds –

20140622-210522-75922995.jpg gap looks like a heart.

Random photos from the weekend

Happy summer solstice. Here are some random photos from the weekend:

20140622-114418-42258951.jpgParsley worm aka Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

20140622-114624-42384592.jpgunprecedented – hummingbirds sharing a feeder. There were 3 feeding at one point. Of course, they still dive bomb each other fairly regularly.

20140622-114801-42481653.jpgPretty milkweed, a great nectar source.

20140622-114844-42524488.jpgMilkweed beetle

20140622-115843-43123276.jpgPasture walk with Wonder Dogs



20140622-115955-43195980.jpgand run!

Jillaroo Jess

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