Natural, farm fresh produce. Grown with love.

  • Unakite
  • Some lettuces
  • The Pulaski Marketplace
  • 20140717-214856-78536470.jpg
  • First corn harvest
  • Exoskeleton
  • Little helper
  • Pear
  • Fall prep
  • Gills
  • Organic grape jam
  • Kermie
  • Rain-free sunset
  • Crusty Dutch Oven Bread
  • Blight
  • Pumpkins
  • Watering hole
  • IMG_2015-0
  • IMG_2015

Latest

Geology

I stayed in town last night and decided to treat myself to a relaxed, leisurely walk to work this morning by first stopping at Mill Mountain Coffee for a fully caffeinated boost (and a pound of ground beans to savor at home) followed up with a random hike through campus.

My stroll happened to take me by a place very dear to my Virginia Tech heart…so I had to detour for just a few minutes to visit as it had been a loooong while since my last…

Did you know that Virginia had a state rock?

Here it is…

Unakite

Unakite

Unakite details

Unakite details

Aaaahhh. The geology museum. Second floor Derring Hall. I spent a lot of time in this space when I was an undergrad. It’s peaceful….and full of beautiful things. For some reason, since childhood, I have loved rocks. I guess it goes back to liking sparkling, shiny things!

Calcite

Calcite

I even got to take a free “lucky” rock. That made my day. Coffee and a pretty, shiny rock.

Happy Friday from your VT nerd.

 

Fall preview

Despite above normal precipitation and below normal temps, our fall plantings have sprouted, and I am ever hopeful that we will over-winter with lettuce, spinach, mesclun, greens, radishes, turnips and bunching onions. All are under row covers to:

1) protect seedlings from bugs…there are plenty out there.

2) protect seedlings from the torrential rains!

3) protect from an early frost…it’s possible!

Here’s a preview:

Some lettuces

Some head lettuces

Radishes

Radishes

Um…..I wish the weeds would take a break. Clearly, it is time to do some more weeding….AGAIN.

Spinach

Lettuce Mesclun

Ok. More weeds. Grrr. The lush green in the far end of the picture is mustard mesclun, a fall lettuce mix of mesclun and turnips (cannot really see).

Market Schedule Update – No Blacksburg Market This Weekend

Time for a post about our market schedule. You may notice diminishing dates on the right hand side navigation area that shows our Google Calendar. Yep, the market season is winding down.

The Pulaski Marketplace

The Pulaski Marketplace

We had our last Pulaski Marketplace farmer’s market yesterday evening.  A big and hearty THANK YOU to the Pulaski community who came out each and every Tuesday evening to support the market. We appreciate your support of us, of the market as a whole, and most importantly, we appreciate your camaraderie! We hope to see you again in October…and look forward to reconnecting next season.

The end of the market season is a bitter sweet time for us.

I won’t lie, we’ve worked hard. I’m a little tired, and it will be nice to be able to transport folks in my truck once again (completely full of market gear). At the same time, we will miss our friends…our fellow vendors and our customers. It is the sense of community that we enjoy…the artists, the growers, the makers, the preparers, the leaders and the eaters. It’s a tight community, and we love it. The bitter part is the goodbye.

The sweet part of the end of season is that it signals the beginning.

Huh?

Well, plans are already swirling through our heads…infrastructure we want in place prior the spring, crop plans, crop rotations, breaking new ground, re-fencing…and on and on. I’ve almost entered all of this year’s market data. Decisions on what to keep and what to move away from are close to being made. Planning is fun. It’s a rebirth in a way.

With all that said, I’ll finally get to the point of the market schedule updates. I deviated a bit from this topic. We’ve some life events coming up that will pull our focus elsewhere. What that means is -

* we won’t be at the South Main Blacksburg Community Market this Saturday (9/20) or possibly the following Saturday (9/27)

* we will be at Warm Hearth Village tomorrow (9/18; 4-5:30) and the next Thursday (9/25) which will mark our last market of the year there

* we will be at the old train depot in Pulaski on Oct. 7th (4-8) for the market Harvest Craft Fair

* I am not sure of our October schedule for Blacksburg’s saturday market, but I will let you know when I know!

As always, thanks for caring.

Weather data

I am a nerd. I think we all know that. Ergo, you shouldn’t be surprised that I am posting some weather data. But first, some backstory.

We bought the farm (tee-hee) December 2011. We threw some seeds in the ground, haphazardly, during the summer of 2012. We couldn’t keep up with harvests of tomatoes, peppers, beans and sweet corn (thus, the recurrent yellow cherry tomato now in its third year of volunteer production). We decide to start a business, having loved all of the fresh eats we had in 2012. Time to get a little serious and give it a try. Why not? We took a class (the Grower’s Academy…it was excellent). We talked to farmers, now friends and mentors. We formed a plan (or many plans). We started seeds. We tended plantings. We did OK. Market year two (that’s now), we took what we learned from 2013 and improved upon the plan. Performed crop rotation. Amended the soil with pretty compost. Pared down our plantings to try and manage our crops better (i.e. get better quality). And we DID better…but what was so different from 2012 up to 2014?

20140717-214856-78536470.jpg

Clouds at sunset

One thought – weather. We’ve had some…

Here’s some data from the National Climatic Data Center (a part of NOAA). It is an annual summary of temperatures and precipitation amounts collected by a weather station positioned in downtown Pulaski, VA (it’s been there, collecting data, since 1948). Remember, I’m a nerd.

See anything interesting? Granted, the data for 2014 isn’t complete, but it still is valuable. Take a peek. What trend(s) do you see? I’ll tell you what I see in a later post…makes me curious to see how the remaining blanks fill in for 2014….

DATE

TEMPERATURE (degF)

PRECIPTATION (inches)

MONTH

YEAR

MEAN MAX

MEAN MIN

MEAN

DAYS DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL

HIGHEST

DATE

LOWEST

DATE

TOTAL

SNOW TOTAL

January

2012

47

26.4

36.7

63

14

2.56

0.7

February

2012

5.1

28.3

39.7

70

13

2.59

6.7

March

2012

65

38.5

51.8

80

19

3.12

0

April

2012

66.2

40.5

53.4

82

29

6.1

0

May

2012

76.6

53

64.8

86

37

3.94

0

June

2012

81.4

54.8

68.1

99

46

3.57

0

July

2012

86.8

64.5

75.7

98

60

3.97

0

August

2012

82

58.5

70.3

88

51

3.64

0

September

2012

77.7

52.7

65.2

90

36

3.28

0

October

2012

65.5

40.8

53.2

79

33

2.39

0

November

2012

53.5

27.5

40.5

72

17

1.21

0

December

2012

51.6

29.1

40.4

69

20

2.36

0

ANNUAL SUMMARY

67

42.9

99

June 30

13

February 12

38.73

7.4

DATE

TEMPERATURE (degF)

PRECIPTATION (inches)

MONTH

YEAR

MEAN MAX

MEAN MIN

MEAN

DAYS DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL

HIGHEST

DATE

LOWEST

DATE

TOTAL

SNOW TOTAL

January

2013

47.3

27.7

37.5

4.5

71

12

6.95

9.1

February

2013

44.2

25.3

34.8

-0.9

59

11

1.81

1.6

March

2013

46

27.7

69.9

-6

71

16

2.61

4.5

April

2013

66.2

40

53.1

1.2

85

24

3.68

3.3

May

2013

71.5

48.3

59.9

-0.7

85

33

4.05

0

June

2013

81.2

58.5

69.9

1.1

88

51

5.53

0

July

2013

83

62.5

72.8

0.5

90

52

8.94

0

August

2013

80.3

60.1

70.2

-0.9

87

47

2.84

0

September

2013

46.5

51.4

63.9

-0.2

85

42

1.77

0

October

2013

66.5

42.9

54.7

1.1

84

22

2.17

0

November

2013

54.6

29.8

42.2

-2.5

72

12

3.25

0

December

2013

48.5

28.2

38.4

3

66

12

2.15

0

ANNUAL SUMMARY

63.8

41.9

90

July 17

11

February 2

45.75

18.5

DATE

TEMPERATURE (degF)

PRECIPTATION (inches)

MONTH

YEAR

MEAN MAX

MEAN MIN

MEAN

DAYS DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL

HIGHEST

DATE

LOWEST

DATE

TOTAL

SNOW TOTAL

January

2014

39

15.6

27.3

-5.7

57

-7

0.78

1.8

February

2014

45.7

24

34.9

-0.8

64

10

3.14

13

March

2014

50.4

27.5

39

-3.9

72

12

2.12

2.6

April

2014

66.5

38.9

52.7

0.8

81

25

3.78

0

May

2014

77.4

49.1

63.2

2.6

89

35

1.83

0

June

2014

July

2014

August

2014

September

2014

October

2014

November

2014

December

2014

ANNUAL SUMMARY

55.8

31

89

May 14

-7

January 8

11.65

17.4

Harvest photos

I had posted these photos on Facebook and am reposting them here…well, because not everyone partakes of FB.

Here are some photos from yesterday’s harvest:

The largest potato I have EVER harvested!!!

The largest potato I have EVER harvested!!!

I could live off of this Kennebec potato for a week. Wait. Who am I kidding? I’d eat it all in one sitting, luscious baked potato with diced onion, shredded cheese and sour cream. I’m an eater. I’d eat the whole dang thing.

Colorful cherries

Colorful cherries

Just love the vibrant colors!!!! They taste good, too.

First corn harvest

First corn harvest

Exoskeleton

Not much more can be said…here’s an exoskeleton:

Exoskeleton

Exoskeleton

My little helper

Little helper

Little helper

My helper during carrot seeding.

Coming soon…

Pear

Pear

Our pear tree.

It is situated on a hill.

It is the source of our farm’s name.

And it has many fruits.

Coming soon this fall….pears….off of our pear tree, of course. Yippee.

Fall prep

Worked hard the passed few days to prepare for fall….

Fall prep

Fall prep

After some tillage, these items were transplanted or direct seeded: lettuces, kales, Asian mustards, Swiss chards, Tokyo Bekana, Japanese collards, bok choys, tatsoi, salad turnips, radishes (D’avingon, Easter egg, Helios), mustard mesclun, lettuce mesclun, arugula, and bunching onions. Add to that diakon radish, Spanish radish, spinach and carrots planted today. Yay!

Photos from our morning stroll

Gills

Gills

Natural or artificially created heart?

Natural or artificially created heart?

Pumpkin blossom

Pumpkin blossom

Market Schedule Change

Sorry for this short notice…but I WON’T be at the Blacksburg Community Market tomorrow, opting instead to keep working in the garden on getting those fall plantings done before the rains hit.

Mother Nature has given me tiny windows to work through…gotta jump at ‘em when they’re open!

Jam – my first experience making it

Mom and dad have some grape vines growing along their driveway on a fence that separates a part of the parking area from their neighbor’s yard. It was a spur of the minute location as the grapes needed to go SOMEWHERE during a backyard makeover. Those poor grape vines have been moved multiple times. One final move will be out here to the farm.

The good news is that the vines have survived their many moves, and this year, they actually seemed to like their temporary location. How so? Well, for the first time in MANY years there was a harvest.

So now what? Well, I was able to sell a few of these organically grown grapes at the Blacksburg market. The rest went towards jam.

Organic grape jam

Organic grape jam

Thanks to mom and Marge who helped with the process Sunday. The recipe came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and involved separating the pulp from the skins (where the color eventually comes from), separating the seeds from the pulp (which was a pale green color), a little boiling and reduction, some recombining of pulp and skins with lemon juice and sugar, a little more boiling then canning. The result? A stunningly gorgeous concord grape jam which gelled nicely and has substance (i.e. I like having the skins added back to the pulp).

Taste testing

Taste testing

Who knew that grape jam (or a PB&J) could be so good? Now I wish we had more grapes to harvest…three pints just doesn’t seem like enough!

Have you ever made jam? What’s your favorite flavor?

Future fruits for us are pears and persimmons (October for both). Have any ideas what to do with these guys?

The three sisters garden

Yesterday, I finally devoted some time to the Three Sisters Plot. Much weeding took place with the help of some friends:

Kermie

Kermie

and

Snoopervisor...who somehow missed seeing Kermie

Snoopervisor…who somehow missed seeing Kermie

Here’s the plot post-weeding:

Three Sisters Plot

Three Sisters Plot

The corn is stunted from the lack of rain in June. Squashes (both summer and winter) are just starting to produce. Greasy beans are climbing the corn stalks, but there are no beans yet.

Beneath the Three Sisters Plot are tomatoes, peppers and soybean plants. And further down in the plot is the pumpkin patch. Here’s what is going on down there:

Pumpkin!

Pumpkin!

Its been awhile…

since I posted a gratuitous sunset from the point…so here is one.

Rain-free sunset

Rain-free sunset

Crusty Dutch oven bread

Tonight, Jordan and I enjoyed a lovely dinner of grilled pork chops, a harvest stir-fry (onions, fingerling potatoes, garlic, carrots, kale, savoy cabbage sautéed in olive oil and chicken broth), sweet corn and grilled eight-ball zucchini (in a foils pouch with olive oil, garlic and onions). For an added starch, I cooked a crusty Dutch oven bread. This recipe came from a friend of ours. It was my first attempt to make it…and it won’t be the last that’s for sure! Thanks, Kasey! So easy and delicious. Here’s the recipe:

Crusty Dutch Oven Bread

Crusty Dutch Oven Bread

3 cups of flour (I mixed all purpose and whole wheat)

1 teaspoon of salt (I used Kosher cuz that’s what I cook with)

1 teaspoon rapid/fast rise yeast used for bread machines (I used yeast I bought in bulk, not sure if it was rapid rise but it worked fine)

1 1/2 cups of warm water

3-4 tablespoons of fresh herbs, finely chopped (i.e. rosemary, thyme etc.) I did not add herbs to this loaf

  • Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight.
  • In the morning, place the Dutch oven with the lid on in the over and heat to 450 degrees F. After the oven reaches temperature, let the Dutch oven sit in there for about 10 more minutes.
  • Meanwhile, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (it will be slightly sticky) and roll, lightly knead into a nice ball.
  • Remove the Dutch oven from the stove, plop the dough in the middle  of the pot and cover with lid. Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden.
  • Remove and let bread cool on a rack.

Easy. Tasty. Crusty. Delicious. A nice way to have fresh bread at home.

More fungus or Later Mater

Bad news for us and any tomato lovers out there…well, at least it is a set back. We have blight forming. At least on two out of the 9 varieties planted. No huge surprise given the amount of rain and cool temps we’ve had these days. Here is what it this fungus looks like:

Blight

Blight

Fungus under leaves

Fungus under leaves

What this fungus among us means – nothing right now. The fruits COULD still be ok. But…we could lose the harvest from the affected plants. Two years in a row now…getting tough to grow field tomatoes.

Pumpkin patch

Here’s a sneak peek at our pumpkin patch down in the lower garden….despite the oodles of rain, these guys seem to be going strong. Here’s hoping for a good October harvest!

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

Watering hole

This sight just amuses me…this birdbath is completely ruled by the honeybees. It is their watering hole…and boy, do they use it. I had just filled it with fresh water which got the buzzers flying, but they all alight at the edges sometimes making a solid, single file drinking line. Very cool.

Watering hole

Watering hole

Green Tomato Salsa

This recipe is awesome….and timely given the field of green tomatoes that we have. The salsa is a footnote – meant to top a burger. I could eat a gallon of it is so beyond being a topping. Divine.

IMG_2015-0.JPG Green Tomato Salsa
Food Network Magazine
Sept 2014 issue Vol 7 No 7, pg 78

2 green tomatoes
Juice from 2 limes (used 1 lime and 2 keylimes)
1 TBS sugar (reduced this amount)
Kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (didn’t measure)
1/2 small red onion finely diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

Combine tomatoes, lime juice, sugar and 1 tsp (reduced this amt) salt in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave two minutes then stir in cilantro, onion and jalapeño. Dig in or chill until serving.

Our wonderful intern helped make this salsa. Amounts weren’t seriously followed. I think we used more tomatoes and onions, less salt and sugar; used keylimes cuz it was what we had. I just ate the tiny amount that was leftover. Yum!

Harvest meal – the way to celebrate a birthday!

We enjoyed a family meal today to celebrate a special birthday and a bountiful harvest. Thanks to our super-fantastic intern who stopped by and helped make green tomato salsa (recipe will be in a separate post)

IMG_2015.JPG and picked wild blackberries for this crisp

IMG_2013.JPG to go with the fresh peach crisp. Awesome and thanks, Mags.

We also enjoyed this

IMG_2017.JPG our first Ambrosia corn harvest along with stuffed peppers

IMG_2012.JPG – stuffed with onions, basil, garlic, cream cheese and cheddar cheese. The Hungarian hot wax were unbearably hot. The jalapeño and Feherozon were good! All of these goods were a complement to spareribs and sauerkraut salad mom brought and the main act of smoked wild-caught salmon (from Annie Kay’s)

IMG_2016.JPG YUM!

IMG_2018.JPG

IMG_2019.JPG

IMG_2020.JPG Exactly, Franklin!

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