Natural, farm fresh produce. Grown with love.

  • Hatchlings
  • First sunflower blossom
  • A mess of beets
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  • Squashes
  • 20140721-075259-28379458.jpg
  • 20140720-185352-68032105.jpg
  • Western view - sliding door and window
  • 20140714-204215-74535084.jpg


Unrelated to the farm

This post has content completely unrelated to the farm…the garden…or to our day-to-day happenings. This post contains stuff that, quite simply, I thought was too cool NOT to share. In short, I was in Richmond for a family event when during that visit, my path crossed this section of life on Cary Street….too amazing to not stop and snap a few photos.

Just for fun:

Just born

Hiding out in one of our young apple trees is someone else’s young….just born birds.




Korean Cucumber Pickle

This recipe also sounded simple and delicious….

Korean Cucumber Pickle

The longer the cucumbers have to soak up the flavors of the marinade the more delicious they will be.

Mad Hungry, March 2011


  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 Israeli or Kirby cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled


In a shallow dish whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and cayenne. Add the cucumber, scallion, and garlic. Stir to combine. Press down and spread out cucumbers in dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour but up to 2 days.

© 2014 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. All rights reserved.

Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream and Dill Dressing Recipe

This week’s featured fruit…CUCUMBERS…so let’s get cooking! We have oodles of cucumbers coming in, so I thought I would browse the internet for some recipe suggestions.

Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream and Dill Dressing Recipe

Everyday Food Fresh Flavor Fast, 2010

 Prep Time 15 minutes

Total Time 15 minutes

Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (I’d stick with the real deal, personally)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 to 6 Kirby cucumbers (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (I would use any and all cucumber varieties for this one)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice, and dill. Season with salt and pepper, and whisk well to combine.
  2. Add cucumbers, and toss to coat. Garnish with more dill, if desired. Serve, or refrigerate, covered, up to 4 hours.

© 2014 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. All rights reserved.



Plantings and volunteers

It is so cool to see some of the first-ever-done-before-by-PTHF-plantings coming in this season.


Well, this year is my first real foray into flowers. Ok, I didn’t go wild.  I just planted some zinnias and a mix of sun flowers….and both rows are starting to open up!

Farmscaping, yes. The pollinators are happy this year. But so is the gardener. The colors, textures, shapes and sizes are all so different and cool. Not a money maker. Nope. It is a morale booster. It’s just pretty! Look:

First sunflower blossom

First sunflower blossom

I’ve already gushed about the zinnias. They are a rainbow of colors. Love ‘em.

Aside from these purposeful plantings, though, we have volunteers alllllll over the garden. And all of those spontaneous additions are starting to make themselves known, too. Like this guy…

The largest sunflower I have EVER SEEN!!!!

The largest sunflower I have EVER SEEN!!!!

I am 5’2″ people. That volunteer sunflower is at least 30 feet tall. Ok. May be not. But it’s close! It’s neighbor isn’t too shabby either.

Anyway. It is fun to see the tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, pumpkins, and other volunteers pop up any and everywhere. They may not be planned, but they are most welcome additions indeed!

What did you do last night?

Last night, I took on the adventure of pickling some beets, thinking that it all seemed pretty easy and straightforward…shouldn’t take too long (cursed).

The process begins with preparing the beets:

A mess of beets

A mess of beets

Boiling beets

Boiling beets

A good scrubbing under some cold water. What I neglected to read was that these guys had to be boiled for 20-40 minutes…ok. I’ve time. So, let’s boil them.

Meanwhile, I made my pickling liquid. I had to have onions in the mix.

Pickling liquid

Pickling liquid

Once the beets were soft, I drained them and rinsed them under cold, running water per Ball’s Book of Canning’s instructions…and “slipped the skins”…which I hadn’t done before, but after boiling beets, just running your fingers over the exterior beet causes the skins to “slip” right off. Very easy! Then I sliced instead of quartered.

Ready to pickle!!

Ready to pickle!!

Such pretty colors! Golden, Red Ace, Merlin and Chioggia beets.

The sliced beets got added to the pickling liquid and brought to a boil. Then hot jars were packed with beets and liquid (some got whole cloves per another recipe) then processed.

After processing, the jars were allowed to cool. Here’s the line up:

Good morning pickled beets!

Good morning pickled beets!

So, my hour and a half long project really was more like 3 1/2 to 4 hours long. Such is how it goes when I think something will be “easy.” Honestly, though, it WAS easy and fun….and delicious (I sampled a few pieces while packing the jars)….I just need to be sure to read the sidebars to recipes for better time estimations! :)

Taking a small break – NO SATURDAY MARKET THIS WEEK

Though summer veggies are starting to really come in, I have a commitment to family this weekend that will take me to Richmond.

So, PTHF will not be at the Blacksburg Community Farmer’s Market this Saturday, July 26th. We’ll be back on schedule next Saturday!

Pico de gallo – salsa fresca

Tuesday was a super busy day with lots to harvest and prep for market. It’s that time of year when plants are really starting to produce…kinda all at once! Not a bad problem to have in a market garden. Nope. But when summer interns show up ( i.e. free labor) to help, it turns a busy day into a glorious day.

So, to celebrate, one really must EAT! With thanks to the hard working crew, who allowed me to have time for lunch, we made a fresh salsa (pico de gallo or salsa fresca).

I harvested 2 pints of yellow cherry tomatoes, our first ripe tomatoes from….a volunteer plant (year 2 for showing up and being wild…and the healthiest plant we have…as in the only one to survive last year’s blight). Anyway, I just quartered the tomatoes.

Next, some onion, garlic, a jalapeño and chopped cilantro.

20140723-182019-66019958.jpgThis dish is the main reason I grow cilantro.

20140723-182125-66085990.jpg A pinch of salt if ya like. (Some add a squeeze of lemon or lime…I forgot). Give it a good mix…

Grab some chips and watch it disappear.

All ingredients were from the garden. A great snack after working…in the garden! :)

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.




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