Natural, farm fresh produce. Grown with love.

  • Pumpkin!
  • Rain-free sunset
  • Crusty Dutch Oven Bread
  • Blight
  • Pumpkins
  • Watering hole
  • IMG_2015-0
  • IMG_2015
  • IMG_2004
  • Volunteer
  • Penelope?
  • 20140801-214803-78483608.jpg
  • 20140801-214146-78106790.jpg
  • Life like
  • Hatchlings
  • First sunflower blossom
  • A mess of beets


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:




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:



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:



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!



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_2020.JPG Exactly, Franklin!

Fungus among us

It’s been a long radio silence. Not sure how that happened. Guess we’ve been busy!

Our markets have been rolling. The summer crops have kept us active with heady harvests (100 lbs of cucumbers on one harvest day). And the weather forced us inside to work on canning projects – dill pickles, pickled beets, canned beans, and pickled peppers. Yum! We had 5 days of solid rain that sent us inside…made for a soggy market – and – though we needed the rain – it was a bit much.

The result? Some veggies loved it (beets and carrots are going crazy) and some veggies didn’t like it at all.

Here’s what squash plants look like after 5 days of stead rain (and below normal temps):

IMG_2004.JPG Here’s what cucumber plants look like:

IMG_2005.JPGHmmmm. Harvests will be ending sooner than expected. Mildew.


There is another garden volunteer that is making itself known…this time in one of our contours.



I swear the head is at least a foot in diameter….I can’t measure it because it is like ten feet above my head.


So, we have our first livestock…a piglet. Our friends and neighbors built a pen and asked if we wanted to join them in purchasing a piglet to finish out and fill our freezer. We gave it a little thought and were excited about the prospect of having our first livestock…even if it wasn’t on our property.

So, we bought a pig…but after a little more thought, unlike the others who signed on for this adventure, we chose a female gilt. Why? Well, in case I name her of course.


Well, if I name her, odds are that she will never make it to our chest freezer. Yep. We are soft that way. Plan B is her temporary name. Meaning, if we cannot foresee her being in our freezer, we can get her bred and raise other piglets for sale (or for our freezer…as long as they don’t have names.




She loves our cucumbers.



She’s kinda cute.



Plan B.

One step closer…

This week, we got one step closer to having a farm stand! How? A project got completed…a big project…we got our driveway installed! Hip hip hurray and many thanks to L & S excavating.

20140801-214803-78483608.jpg In progress

20140801-214848-78528954.jpg Completed!

20140801-214923-78563744.jpg Stay tuned. May be next season we’ll have an on site store!

The contours

The contours are looking good…lush and green with our fall potatoes. Take a peek:

20140801-214246-78166357.jpg Our fall potato plantings

20140801-214317-78197528.jpg Another view

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!

Jillaroo Jess

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