Natural, farm fresh produce. Grown with love.

  • Prepping peppers for jelly
  • Oak Island
  • Covered in case of frost
  • French Breakfast and Helios radishes
  • It's a trap!
  • Wasp stinging the worm
  • Hot peppers
  • Unakite
  • Some lettuces
  • The Pulaski Marketplace
  • 20140717-214856-78536470.jpg
  • First corn harvest
  • Exoskeleton
  • Little helper
  • Pear
  • Fall prep
  • Gills
  • Organic grape jam

Latest

Hot Pepper Jelly

What to do on a rainy, dreary day?

Why, some canning, of course!

It was a good weekend to get in the kitchen and start preserving some of the remaining summer fruits. Saturday was a day for making hot pepper jelly. Today was devoted to pickling pepperocini peppers. Still in waiting are oodles more jalapeños (more jelly and some pickling), more pepperocinis, some Hungarian hot waxes (thinking of drying these), serranos and habaneros that I will probably dry, too.

Prepping peppers for jelly

Prepping peppers for jelly

Lesson learned...I wear gloves

Lesson learned…I wear gloves

Stirring in the pectin

Stirring in the pectin

The recipe calls for the option of adding food coloring, but the peppers confer a natural, lovely green color to the jelly. Food coloring? Pshaw. Au natural is nicer.

What’s your favorite way to preserve hot peppers?

End of our official market season…so what’s next

It is, indeed, the end of our official market season. I’ve emptied all the market gear out of my truck (Wow! It’s so roomy), put away some of the processing supplies, entered all the sales data.

So…what happens now?

Well, the garden is a living, breathing being, of course, so work will continue to maintain what is actively producing for as long as we can (the hope is through the winter, but that may be a challenge without any tunnels/hoop houses), to clean up what is finished producing, and keep working to prepare the garden for next year. Yep. We always try to think ahead.

Aside from that, there will be a little time to catch our breath and partake of some of this:

Oak Island

Oak Island

Yes…we are eagerly anticipating a beach trip. What a treat to have a little down time, a little personal time. It’s invigorating.

Then, we have to take care of things like this:

Tires

Tires

How often do you come home from work to a stack of new tires waiting for you at your door? Well, this day and age I guess it happens pretty often. Merry Christmas to the farm truck.

Then, there will be a lot more (gonna try anyway) of this:

Pickled Beets

Pickled Beets

Canning, freezing, dehydrating…all that good stuff so that we can keep eating ALL THAT GOOD STUFF!!!!

In the meantime, even though we won’t be trekking here and there, we’ll keep rolling with on farm sales. Need or want anything, just give us a shout. And many sincerest thanks to all the folks who stopped by our stands this season. We appreciate the support and loved the camaraderie!

 

Crisp weather

We had our first “felt like fall” weekend where our overnight temperatures fell into the 30s. Luckily for us, we had no frost and stayed toward the upper end of the temperature range. Still, it was a chilly, crisp weekend. As much as I love the promise and excitement that comes with the first warm days of spring, I find the crystal clear skies and nip of a fall breeze invigorating. We had a busy weekend that mixed business and pleasure (market day and winery tour with friends), but we were able to protect a good many of our crops for that “just in case” possibility of a killing frost. Farming on a ridge with some (usually) stout westerly winds can be a challenge weather-wise.

Covered in case of frost

Covered in case of frost

These covered rows contain lettuce mescluns, mustard mesclun, radishes, turnips, head lettuces and beyond the row of zinnias (just can just see the tops of more row covers) are the greens (bok choy, Chinese lettuce (which is a cabbage), tatsoi, kales, collards, chards, arugulas).

At any rate, with the weather warming up again this week, I have a little more time to deal with what is still growing in our fields. Our average first frost date is October 15th for our area. The clock is ticking! It is time to get busy in the kitchen and do some more preserving of veggies!

Winter prep

Winter prep

As you can see in the back ground (behind the shed) there are just a few covered rows (green beans) surrounded by a lot of nothing. The bare spots have been seeded with a cover crop mix (oat and Australian Winter Pea). After tomorrow’s market, any beans that are harvested will be canned. In the foreground are still very lush rows of carrots and beets. These rows will get mulched and row covered with hopes of over-wintering these crops for continued good eats. To the left of the shed and that bare ground are the peppers and herbs. They are un-protected at the moment (had me holding my breath this weekend). I will start harvesting the hot and bell peppers throughout this and the following weeks and begin drying, freezing and canning. Eventually, that whole side of the garden will be in cover crop (I hope) and the front half will continue in production through the fall/winter.

Finally, our front yard has some contour rows that contain our fall planting of potatoes. They’ll get a nice, thick layer of straw mulch for over-winter protection. We had potatoes all last year, and it was wonderful to just go outside and dig up what we needed when we needed!

As for our market season, we are excited to head to our favorite community venue tomorrow (Oct 7th) – the Pulaski train depot. Our friends at the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce are hosting a Harvest Craft Fair with a ton of vendors (including PTHF). There will be music, food and fun from 4 – 8. This event will mark our final official setup for the season, though we welcome anyone out to the farm if there is something you crave. I will keep posting under our Current Harvest Tab and on Facebook what we have growing. We also hope to keep up some deliveries to Annie Kay’s in Blacksburg.

So – that is what’s happening in the garden at the moment. Many thanks to our volunteers who came out yesterday to help with some of the cleanup (of finished summer crops) and weeding. Always amazing how much gets done when there are a couple of extra pairs of hands around. Hope everyone was able to enjoy the beautiful weekend and the lovely display of fall colors happening to our trees.

Radishes!

The fall crop of radishes – nearly all – are ready!

French Breakfast and Helios radishes

French Breakfast and Helios radishes

Some of these went to Annie Kay’s (Blacksburg) to woo them over for the future. What is available at AK’s are some bell peppers, French Fingerling potatoes, and arugula! Yum!

Simple Sunday on the Farm

Here are some random gratuitous photos from our simple Sunday on the farm. Hope you had an enjoyable day, too.

It's a trap!

It’s a trap!

Ripe (delicious) persimmon

Ripe (delicious) persimmon

Anyone have suggestions of what to do with these? We have 3 trees. The fruits are pretty perishable.

Jack o lantern starting to turn orange

Jack o lantern starting to turn orange

Splash of color

Splash of color

Relaxing on the hammock

Relaxing on the hammock

Close up

Close up

 Keeping watch

Keeping watch

Smoke signals

Smoke signals

Predation

While at market yesterday, a worm emerged from one of the squashes (hey, we follow organic growing practices…bugs come with the territory), and I got to watch my own version of National Geographic Explorer on my very table as predation in all its aggressive goriness happened before my very eyes…out of NO WHERE came a wasp (yellow jacket). He immediately found the worm. No delay. The worm was done for…

Wasp stinging the worm

Wasp stinging the worm

Wasp sucking the life juices

Wasp sucking the life juices

The wasp came and went a few times.

Worm is now headless

Worm is now headless

Worm is  chewed up

Worm is chewed up

The wasp and worm had to be flicked off my table so I could finish packing up. The worm flew into two pieces. The wasp seemed sluggish, no doubt satieted…but he found the pieces on the ground and kept at it. Wild Kingdom. Roar.

Tonight’s dinner feature – the poblano pepper

I wonder now why I didn’t take a picture. Too busy I suppose, but it would be nice to show you what tonight’s dinner feature – the poblano pepper – looked like.

Until tonight, I had never eaten a poblano pepper before, so don’t ask me why I chose to grow them this year. I’ve been curious to know what they were like and finally got around to taking action.

The poblano is a pretty pepper…dark forest green, shiny and firm. From what I have read, this Mexican lovely has half the heat of a jalapeño though the intensity can vary. Apparently, the pepper ripens to a deep, near black red. When ripe, the heat is the most intense. A dried poblano takes the term ancho (wide) because the pepper flattens out (widely) and is heart shaped. My next foray will be in preservation. From what I have read, poblanos freeze well. As mentioned above, they commonly are dried. Finally, these peppers can be canned. I hope to try all 3 methods of preserving these beauties.

Now, for tonight’s dinner…I found a recipe online (acouplecooks.com/2010/09/stuffed-poblano-peppers/) for stuffed poblano peppers to which I made some modifications (in parenthesis and italics). Jordan declared it a success. Here are the details:

Stuffed Poblano Peppers
acouplecooks.com/2010/09/stuffed-poblano-peppers/

 Ingredients

  • 4 poblano peppers (I used 6, 2 large and 4 smaller sized peppers)
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice (or 4 cups of any cooked grain) (my favorite grain is short grain brown rice that I get from Annie Kay’s; I cook the rice in chicken broth in a rice cooker)
  • I browned some ground beef and ground pork (not in original recipe)
  • 1½ cups salsa (didn’t measure; salsa was medium heat)
  • 1 15 oz. can of black bean (didn’t drain)
  • 1½ cups frozen or canned corn kernels (small can of whole kernel corn; drained)
  • 3 green onions (optional) (chopped one red onion)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (didn’t measure)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (did’t have)
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Shredded cheese (we used a Mexican blend)
  • Chopped cilantro for serving (optional)
 Directions
  1. Combine 1 cup uncooked rice with 2 cups water (2 cups rice and chicken broth – enough to cover – in rice cooker). Bring to a boil, then simmer according to package instructions. (Or, prepare the rice or grain ahead of time.)
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare the peppers: slice them in half and remove the seeds and ribs. Make sure to wear gloves!
  3. Place the peppers in a baking dish skin side up. Broil about 7 minutes, then flip the peppers and broil 7 minutes more.
  4. Chop the 3 green onions (of course the onion should be included and not option, just my opinion, again I used one red onion chopped), and drain (did not drain) and rinse the black beans.
  5. Brown the ground beef and pork; drain.
  6. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine (instead, to skillet with browned meat I added): beans, onions, 1½ cups salsa, 1½ cups corn, a bit of the shredded cheese, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder (nope), a couple dashes of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When the rice is finished, combine with the filling (in the skillet it went)
  7. Place the pepper halves skin side down in a baking dish, and spoon the filing into each half. Top with shredded cheese and broil until the cheese is melted, for about 1½ to 2 minutes.
  8. If desired (it was, I had a little cilantro that had not gone to seed and you betcha I picked it), garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with sour cream.
 Notes
Alternative oven method: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Follow Steps 2, 4 and 5 above to prepare the peppers and filling. Then bake until the peppers are tender and browned, around 25 to 30 minutes.

Market Updates

Well, it certainly feels like fall, doesn’t it? In accordance with this official change of seasons, many of the summer crops have been removed and the ground has been readied for (hopefully) a lush growth of cover crops.

Though things like cucumbers, tomatoes and summer squashes have come and gone, we do have some cool season crops starting to kick in. Ready to harvest are lettuce mesclun, mustard mesclun, arugula, Swiss chards in addition to our usual carrots, beets, peppers, cherry tomatoes and potatoes.

Hot peppers

Hot peppers

So, to update our market schedule, here is so info:

  • Today is our last market at Warm Hearth Village. We truly have enjoyed our time there and are grateful to the resident and staff support shown to us. We look forward to coming back in the spring!!!

 

  • Saturday, I will be at the South Main Street Blacksburg Community Farmer’s Market. I’ll be there the following Saturday, too. October 4th will mark our last market there for this fall.

 

  • Tuesday, October 7th from 4-8 we will be at the Pulaski Harvest Craft Fair event at the old train depot, our final formal market appearance!

As always, you can give us a call or come out to the farm. Hope to see you soon!

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?

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