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98 Degrees

I’m not a fan. Of the band nor the temperature. Get ready folks, we’re in for a wild ride! But what a gift Thursday and Friday morning were – I’m not sure we even made it out of the 60s on Thursday?  I actually thought about putting a sweatshirt on…in the middle of the day…in the middle of July.  And then I actually did on Friday morning. We got SO much done those two days, which is good because nothing is getting done this weekend. It’s amazing how much more efficient you are working outside when it’s not in the mid-90s! Today was 96 and all I accomplished after 9am was turning sprinklers on and off and cooling off in a friend’s pool. And tomorrow’s supposed to be even hotter.

Fortunately much of the cooler season crops are done until the fall. Broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and cauliflower love the heat as much as this fair-skinned farmer. Unfortunately only a few of the cauliflower are heading up properly. The plants look great but it’s really hard to get good spring cauliflower as we have a pretty short window before it gets too hot for them. Fingers crossed and we’ll see what happens.

No creature or plant on the farm likes 98 degrees. (They weren’t even top 3 boy bands of the 90s!) Even tomatoes, my favorite heat-loving crop, will drop its flowers in the mid-90s, so somewhere down the line we’ll see a lull in what is looking like a fantastic tomato harvest. We picked a few cherry tomatoes from the tunnel this week, and I was very worried how everything would do in the tunnel, but we somehow managed to harvest for the CSA AND pull shade cloth up and over the tunnel this morning AND not pass out! It would have easily been triple digits+ in there without the shade cloth!

It seems the summer abundance is rapidly approaching, if not already here. The variety at least is great, though many items are limited. I just counted and there are 20 different items now listed. Order now while the getting is good!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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So Close

We’re on the brink of a really good season but there’s been one (or two, not sure) really big thorns in my side. Deer! In addition to quite a few layers of fence, I put up two scarecrows and hung Irish Spring soap off them Friday night after they got into the beets, carrots, and lettuce the night before. Feeling pretty good about things, I went to bed feeling confident that we had turned the corner and finally got caught up from the very slow start to the season.

To my dismay, as I went out to cut some beautiful lettuce for the CSA Saturday morning, half of it was gone! Fortunately the next round of lettuce wasn’t too far behind, so I dipped into that. Unfortunately, if I keep taking from the next round, there will be a lettuce shortage sooner than later. So enjoy that lettuce while it lasts! The deer are (is?) also the reason you haven’t seen any carrots or beets yet this season. They (it?) is also the reason for this late newsletter as I spent the rest of the day into the evening and early night adding more fence layers. I’ll know shortly if it worked…the suspense is killing me!

Everything not getting chomped looks great. There will be cucumbers, broccoli, red cabbage, and zucchini on a first come first serve basis. The lettuce, onions, kale, and basil are plentiful and are prime eating right now. Pesto anyone? The yokatta na and braising mix is pretty holey, but still tastes great. You could even make the argument that a few holes is actually a good thing.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Cold Front

All day yesterday I was optimistically looking forward to the sweet relief of the “cold front” that was supposed to be coming through to take away the brutal heat. And I mean brutal! According to my weather app pictured above, it was 101 and a real feel of 134 degrees. I figured the numbers for this weather station were totally loony, so I switched to another local weather station and it read a real feel of 117! I’m not sure I’d call it a “cold” front but it did go from blazingly hot to just really humid and gross, so I guess I’ll take it?

Either way, that’s some heat! So far, I haven’t noticed any damage to the plants – just mostly to my poor red neck. Tomato, eggplant, and pepper blossoms can actually fall off when it gets super hot and thus not form a fruit. And surely the cooler weather crops don’t love it! Fortunately I saw the heat coming and set up a crude irrigation system that seems to have got us through the worst of it. If you’re not feeling like turning on the oven, check out The UxLocale if you haven’t already. They turned our excess of basil into quite the caprese salad (pictured below). Can’t wait till our tomatoes start coming in to add to it!

With the heat, the summer goodies are starting to come in. I swear the zucchini grew half a foot Friday night, and I’ve started picking the first cucumbers from the tunnel – 2 months late, but better late than never? Some of both will be available Monday on a first come first serve basis as there isn’t enough to add to the website. To go along with a smattering of other limited veggies, the basil and fresh onions are especially looking great. And the lettuce! We’re picking out of the best planting of lettuce yet this season, which is saying a lot!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Hot off the Grill

I feel like I’ve been pressed up against a grill these last few days of go go go in the heat heat heat. Seems like summer has finally arrived, and just in time to switch meal prep from your hot kitchen to the grill, Jeff is coming down with all kids of scrumptious sausages. Here’s the list, email orders to him directly at info@shortcreeknh.com.

With the late start to the season, most everything is still a week or two behind. Zucchini, onions, cucumbers, new potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage should all be ready within a week (two at most). For now we mostly have lettuce, radishes, bok choi, and kale with a smattering of other goodies.

I finally took off all the covers in the garden on account of the heat, so hopefully the plants are big enough to fend for themselves. I still haven’t sprayed anything ever while running the farm (4th season), and hope to continue that streak. I know the holes on the bok choi are unsightly and I’ll try better to keep the beetles out, but at least you can rest assured you’re not consuming any pesticides! It’s certainly a lot of work, and if you make a mistake (like planting the trap crop too close to the real crop), you pay for it with holes. The beetles strongly prefer the asian greens (bok choi, tatsoi, yokatta na, arugula) to the kale, broccoli, cabbage and broccoli even though they’re all in the same family (brassicaceae). Taking a cue from nature, maybe we should be eating more of those greens! All of those crops prefer the cooler temps, so fortunately I get to try again in the fall.

Meanwhile the asian greens were the interplanted sacrifice for the best looking broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower I’ve grown. Maybe I shouldn’t be too optimistic until the harvest actually comes in (next week hopefully), but we did sample a cabbage this week and it was delicious! Jenni made a slaw with it to go with slow-cooked brisket tacos (in all her spare time). Yum, here’s the recipe for when the cabbage starts coming in!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Shredded

I write these emails in my head (a scary place) all week – the subject was going to be ‘Swampfoot’ because I think it’s been two weeks since my shoes have dried out and Tanner said I was in danger of getting swampfoot, but that lovely hail storm yesterday changed my course. Every time I start getting really optimistic about the season (despite my swampfoot), something brings me back to the reality that I’m not at all in control…just along for the ride.

The hail storm was the killjoy of the end of a fantastic week that included our first market and first CSA pickup going off without a hitch. Fortunately most veggies are still covered and the hail wasn’t large enough to shred the (very expensive) covers. Any uncovered leafy greens would have been toast, but I don’t have my deer fencing up yet and deer love greens…so I guess, thank you deer? Unfortunately, the vigorous, leafy tomatoes suffered the worst damage. I’m hoping most of the plants just got a natural heavy prune, but not the one above. When the growing tip gets snapped like that, it’s a goner!

Despite it raining every day in recent memory, I’m not complaining yet. Instead of 1, 2 or 3″ rains like in the spring, these rains have been totally manageable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wet up here, but not to the point of stunting growth yet. Everything looks fantastic (minus the hail damage), so I’m stubbornly staying optimistic. For now!

We’re in a bit of a lull between harvest seasons. Summer deliciousness like cucumbers and zucchini will be coming soon, while the tenderest of greens like spinach have gone by. Everything is limited except lettuce and radishes – we’ve transitioned to our third plantings of both, and they are just as good as numbers 1 and 2! Please note, double check the quantities in your cart before checking out. There are issues with adding more than one of some vegetables. There does not seem to be any issues updating quantities from the cart page. This is a new issues and I am stumped – any website experts out there?

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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The Great Escape

Imagine having coffee on your back deck first thing in the morning and a deer runs by, looking a little stressed. Then you see two cows crashing through the tall grass. Are they chasing the deer? Huh – that’s a new one, even for Potter Hill.

That, in fact, was the highlight of my neighbor’s Sunday morning. As you can probably guess, Sunday was not the highlight of my week. I’ll spare you the details but 6 hours later, legs and arms shredded from chasing them through poison ivy, thorns, and dense brush and covered in ticks, we got them in a temporary pen down back…which they promptly broke out of the next two days. Fortunately they were less adventurous and stayed close by after their initial great escape. They’ve been better behaved since I upgraded their temporary pen to maximum security, but at some point, I’d love to have them back up by the house where they’re supposed to be. But I think I’ll leave well enough alone for now!

In other news, the first Grafton Farmers Market of the season is this Wednesday from 2-6pm! Please try to make it out and support your local market. With all the busyness of our lives, grocery home delivery, and what not, markets around the country are struggling. We (the market committee) have put in some serious work to keep the market fresh and exciting. All the oldies but goodies vendors will be there, as well as quite a few new ones. I will have lots of radishes, kale, spinach, chard, and (arguably) the best lettuce I’ve ever grown there if you can’t make the Monday pickup.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Right on Time

Nothing about this season has been on time, and the chickens certainly were not. In fact, they were 6 weeks late…but in this time warped season, their timing was perfect. I think for the first time in my chicken rearing, the chicken coop was done and in position when they arrived. Ok 99% done and finished the morning they arrived! This is my fourth season running the farm, and I managed the chickens the last year Jeff was here. Each year I’ve built a coop that I painstakingly planned out and then poorly executed, so this is my fifth coop I’ve built and the first one I’ve liked after finishing it. In fact, I think coop 5.0 is the one. The one that doesn’t get dismantled or parked in the weeds and forgotten about at the end of the season. The one I don’t have to re-build next season. What a concept! We’ll see if that optimism holds – chickens have a way of humbling me through their utter lack of common sense. Plus there’s a fox family I’ve been seeing constantly around our backyard. But I love hearing the happy chicken chatter, and they’re currently feasting on bolted arugula and lettuce in next season’s garden! Oh, and because they’re so late they’re already laying tiny eggs. Not enough for sale this week but surely by next Monday!

As we continue moving out of the tunnel to the fields, I’ve taken the website limits off the kale, spinach, perpetual spinach, tatsoi and yokatta na. They are abundant and looking fantastic, and so is the lettuce (yes, still). Also back (limited) on the list is just undersized but oh so perfect radishes. PLUS some great looking heirloom tomato plants. Choices in this round are purple, pink or a beefsteak. Ready to go in the ground!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Moving Out

Out with the old, in with the new. We cleared out the mustard greens from a row in the tunnel and the next day planted cucumbers. It’s about a month later than I was hoping to plant cucumbers, but I’m still learning the ins and out of the tunnel dance. The tomatoes are anxiously awaiting their spot in the tunnel but there is still SO MUCH lettuce in their future home. If you’re not having a salad per meal, it’s time to start before the salad abundance is gone. Yes, including breakfast!

In other exciting news, some of the harvest is moving from the tunnel out into the fields. I companion planted some tatsoi in between and all around the first round of cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage (which look fantastic). So in addition to kale, spinach, chard, salad turnips, and (STILL) unlimited lettuce, tatsoi has been added to the list!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Early Memorial Day Pickup

It’s that time of year, the field is filling up while the greenhouse is emptying out. On Thursday alone we planted a second round of cabbage and broccoli, along with lettuce, parsley, dill, cilantro, leeks, turnips, radishes, marigolds, and scallions. We’re still concentrating on planting season, but it’s nice to take a trip down to the tunnel for some early season greens. Soon enough we’ll move the harvest from the tunnel out to the field – the kale, swiss chard, and perpetual spinach we planted earlier in May are looking great and not too too far from ready. We STILL have unlimited amounts of lettuce from the tunnel, plus more spinach, salad turnips and swiss chard this week to go along with a smattering of other veggies. So that you can have unlimited salad at your barbecues Monday, I will have your veggies ready by 11am. I’ll bag up everyone’s orders at 130 and leave them in the garage for those that can’t make it early.

Now that there’s a bit of room to move around in the greenhouse, I have realized I seeded a good amount extra cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli seedlings. If you have room left in your garden and want to assure yourself ample veggies, order away via the link above! Although it’s a little late to put them in, they have been potted up and really shouldn’t be behind.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Lettuce Feast (on Tuesday)

I believe it was Monday when I heard on the radio that it had rained 26 out of the last 32 days! Since then, we’ve had rain on 3 of the last 4 , so I guess we’re at 29/36 after another rainy Friday. Pretty incredible! I’ve heard from many of you that you’re missing the sun just as much as I am. However ,the sun will re-appear just when I don’t want it, and I will certainly complain about that too. I am a farmer after all and that’s what we do best.

Despite the rain, the fields dried up just enough last week that the soil can no longer be termed mud (arguably). We’ve been planting till we can’t see straight or the rain drives us out of the fields. In addition to 3,456 onion seedlings (roughly), we planted perpetual spinach, lettuce, kale, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, tatsoi and cabbage to name a few. It’s a wonderful sight to see the greenhouse beginning to empty while the fields fill up!

The chickens are due to arrive Monday and the coop is mostly still just a concept in my mind, so I’m pushing the pickup to Tuesday (same time, same place, sorry for the inconvenience). I unfortunately know from first hand experience that a chicken coop is a heckuva lot easier to finish when the chickens are NOT already in it! I’m on chicken coop 5.0 now I think, so hopefully this is the last year I build a coop…it is quite promising in my head.

Salad turnips, spinach, and swiss chard join the list this week and replace the arugula and spicy salad mix. But as is the theme this season, the real star of the show is the lettuce. And I quote, “your lettuce today was so crisp, so tasty, so beautiful on our plates, it was an absolute delight to eat.” ‘Nuff said, order up!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up starting at 4pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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