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Croak

Yay, more rain! The only thing growing in my still uncovered and underwater high tunnel are frogs and tadpoles. Lots of them. And just when I thought the eggplant was making a much needed comeback – that’s a big fat nope. That third planting of cucumbers I was banking on to fill my cuke cravings? Yea, that’s them above. Disease climbing right up them before I’ve even picked one fruit off them. 5 (more) straight days of leaf wetness will do that to even the most promising plants that are prone to fungal disease. You can be sure that if we get anything out of this cucumber planting, it won’t be much. This season is unprecedented in my 10ish seasons of being at the mercy of the weather (ie farming).

On the brighter side of the rainbow, roots and greens love the rain (to an extent). Below is a nice spicy salad mix just starting to size up. I can’t get enough of that Tokyo Bekana – the main non-lettuce component in the spicy mix last week (large yellowish leaf in picture below). Not sure why it took me this long to remember its glory.

Sure would be nice to be raising beef on Potter Hill right now because our pastures are lusher than I’ve ever seen, which is really saying something! Diversification is incredibly important in farming – it’s pretty much a guarantee that whatever does well this year will crap out on you next and vice versa. But this farmer can only be pulled in so many directions before I tear. Next year I’m hoping for a business partner that can raise animals while I focus on veggies and children. Wouldn’t that be nice!? You could get your meat, veggies and eggs all in one place! Come back Jeff…dream farm! If you know any Jeff 2.0s, send them my way.
Anyway, enough dreaming about the future and back to the here and now. Jenni tells me we’re going to meet Nora tomorrow. It would be about a month early so no need to panic just yet. But then again, this isn’t her first rodeo, so I’m hitting the hay early(ish) tonight.
Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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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Sausage and Greens Season

Quick – it’s 5 in the afternoon, you just got home from work (wouldn’t that be nice), and you need to make a quick dinner. Sausage and greens to the rescue! You can get both here on the farm on Monday. Jeff is coming down with lots of meat, including quite the sausage spread. Every time I look at his inventory list, there’s a new one I haven’t tried yet. Smoked tomato and herb? Yes, please – put me down for 2 kind sir. Email him with your order directly at jeff@shortcreeknh.com.

I have almost as much variety for greens this week – we’re picking arugula (finally!), swiss chard, 5 varieties of kale, tokyo bekana (cooked or raw, equally as delicious), perpetual spinach, and salad turnips, whose greens are just as good as the roots in my opinion. Plus we’re finally well stocked with lettuce and should be for a while with the 400 heads we planted this morning. I’m even getting my salad spinner out to offer a salad mix or two this week (scroll all the way down on our ordering page to find them).

Other items of note this week:
-If you haven’t got a flower bouquet from April, you’re missing out. They’re a Monday specialty as we don’t sell them at the market or CSA. She mixes our Potter Hill flower mascots (sunflowers and marigolds) with whatever weed or herb that catches her eye. They look and smell fantastic.
-Eggplant is finally back and looking great, although limited quantities still. If half the current eggplant and pepper flowers turn into marketable fruit, we’re going to be swimming in them soon. Especially the jalapeno plants – they’re 5 feet tall and humming with pollinators.
-We just cleared the last two rows of carrots last week and already the next two rows are sizing up. They are at the baby gourmet size and tasting great. They’ll be even better once we get some cold nights!
-Same goes with the beets – we’re just starting to pick out of the next planting. They’re kind enough to share the row with carrots. It’s a nice sight (picture below) to see but would be even cooler if they grew upside down – it would be so much color!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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 Labor Day Pickup 12-2pm

Only a farmer can complain about the weather after a day like yesterday but here goes…September 1st and more 90s in the forecast. Yay! I suppose summer isn’t technically over and we can all bear one more heat wave. But that’s what I said about this week’s heat wave, which was supposed to be summer’s last hurrah.

I’m trying to beat the heat Monday and get you all stocked up for your Labor Day BBQs, so per tradition we’re doing an early Labor Day pickup from 12-2pm. Please get your orders in by midnight Sunday as it will be a quick turnaround! Despite the half empty tone below, we’ve made a lot of progress on the farm and there are plenty of goodies on the list. Be sure to get your fill of our heirloom tomatoes while you can as they are circling the drain. And fast (see picture below for as of yet unidentified disease now affecting some fruits).

For some reason instead of sharing typical pictures of the wonders of farming, I’m feeling like sharing with you all this season’s heartbreaks of farming. In case you can’t make it out, that’s a cucumber covered in mold still on the vine and a celeriac (which LOVES water) completely rotted in place.The fields are finally drying out but the receding waters have revealed rotten vegetables right and left. If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen any eggplant from us in a while, it’s because every one ready to harvest is slimy squishy. Same goes for all those seemingly beautiful red peppers – you go to pick one and your hand goes right through it. Grossest. Feeling. Ever. Based on how amazing they smell, you would never guess the level of stench a rotten pepper can reach. On the bright side, the pepper and eggplant plants are covered in flowers and delicious looking small fruits.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures:

Put your veggie orders in online before midnight Sunday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 12-2pm 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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Cool Nights, Happy Farmer

This is the start of my absolute favorite time of year…when summer meets fall. It’s a love story indeed – I LOVE all this deliciousness coming out of the garden. And the cool nights. And wearing a sweatshirt for the first couple hours out in the garden. And not getting heatstroke (though it doesn’t see we’re out of the woods yet…neighbor just told me 95 degrees on Tuesday). And that I don’t feel pressured to start working at 5 anymore (it’s still dark). And sometimes getting away without wearing sunscreen. But mostly it’s all about the food.
Typically we’re just swimming in variety right now, but this has not been my year. We still have tons of goodies, but there are some key items missing. Like radishes. And arugula. And beans. And we’re very light on lettuce. Some of the easiest things to grow! These are all items I expect to have every week and if they are one of your favorite, my apologies. I will do better with consistency next year! The good news is that we should have all those things, other than beans, for most of the rest of the season. I’ve been busy seeding in preparation for a bountiful fall. Now if only the high tunnel wasn’t a 2,880 square foot puddle, that bounty could extend right into January!
Don’t worry, I’m not holding out on you – our family has been salad deprived too. Although not having lettuce for a few weeks this season makes me feel like a failure, the silver-lining is that our newest planting of kale is crazy tender right now. I’m a big fan of cooked kale, so much so that I own a kale shirt. But kale salads don’t usually do it for me. Craving something green, I tried a kale salad for lunch today and it was simply incredible. Simple too…just an apple, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar, kale and I threw in some baby turnip and beet greens for funsies. Often you need to massage raw kale to tenderize it. No need. Rinse, tear, dress and eat! If you want to get a little fancier, friend Tori who does recipes for the CSA posted a kale beet salad recipe back in July.
Can you believe next week’s pickup will be Labor Day? I can.  It’s been a loooong season for this farmer. I’ll have to check with my crew to confirm but for now plan on a pickup next week. It’ll probably be an early one so we can all get to our respective barbecues!
Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures:

Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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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Sinking

Turns out 5+ inches of rain with leaf wetness for 96 straight hours will really do a number on the garden. Zucchini=done for now. I have another planting but it will be a while. Cukes are on their way out already (again we have another late planting due in early September). At least the main block of tomatoes are circling the drain as well, though the cherry tomatoes seem to be faring better as April picked 70 pints over the last two days. I do have a bonus row of tomatoes far from the other tomatoes, so maybe we’ll get a good haul from them.

Tomatoes are the lifeblood/cash cow/bread and butter/moneymaker of farms in the summer, even moreso for this farm as we really specialize in them. In fact, tomatoes alone can make or break a season. I’m putting as much stuff in the ground as I can to try to mitigate the losses I am expecting so hopefully all those lettuces, spinach, carrots and beets I just seeded like all this rain more than the tomatoes do!

The good news is the farm is still standing after 5 inches of rain and with my crew on vacation during the busiest time of the year – there’s really only way to go from here I hope! Really though somehow we have tons of amazing veggies coming in so stock up. I even found a little treat out in the winter squash/flint corn food jungle!

Veggies Ordering and Pickup Procedures:

Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. Don’t forget your egg cartons! We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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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Heatstroke

So this has been happening. Yay, high tunnel finally up! And yet there is still a delay to add to the unbelievable saga. This latest one being the manufacturer forgot to send a key part, so the high tunnel installers went back home to VT and will come back to “skin” (put the plastic covering on) whenever they’re free next (after the part comes in). So, almost there!
After the high tunnel installers went home Thursday afternoon, I passed out hard for an hour or two. Apparently Paddy Rose was in the room playing and probably even poking me but I was completely unconscious. According to my weather app, it topped 100 degrees for the first 3 days of the install. The installers literally left different colors than when they got here, as they don’t seem to believe in sun block. Being from Vermont, they haven’t experienced heat like that but it seems to be par for the course this summer down here. And then that rain Wednesday night – wowza! It rained so hard it took out my new tent, which I had up so the installers didn’t die of heat stroke. And more rain rain rain?! What a week!
I feel like I’ve said that far too many times this season. I’m not sure what happened – I had such high quality of life expectations going into this season but I’ve been pretty much fully absorbed by one catastrophe after another and have abandoned my poor 7-month pregnant wife to the terrors of a potty training 2 year old! Unfortunately it’ll only get worse for the next 10 days as half of the crew I’ve pieced together will be away. Next week is just April and me during the busiest time of the year! On the bright side, the harvest is coming in strong if we can keep up. Hopefully we can even get some stuff in the ground this week so there’s just as great of a harvest in the fall!
Tomatoes are coming in in buckets. Many buckets. In fact, I think all buckets and yellow tomato bins are full currently. Time to get your saucing done so you can enjoy the taste of a fully ripened Potter Hill summer heirloom tomato all winter long. Bulk pricing for more than 10 pounds, and I am happy (thrilled even) to find a time for you to get them if you can’t make the Monday window hours.
Veggies Ordering and Pickup Procedures:

Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. Don’t forget your egg cartons! We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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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Tomato Time 2018

We went from just a few tomatoes trickling in to OMG I have to pick day and night to keep up! It seems early and so I looked back and I used the same “Tomato Time” subject line two weeks later last season. Unfortunately I don’t think this means tomato season will be extended by two extra weeks. Quite the opposite. The bottom tomato leaves are dying off already, indicating early blight (not the devastating one) is enjoying all this rain. My prediction is we’ll have an intense tomato harvest that will pretty much wrap up by the end of August – very unlike our usual late October/early November tomato finish.

Objectively, we grow the BEST tasting cherry tomatoes. But because they’ve been selected for their flavor rather than their portability, their skin is super thin and they burst right open at the mere thought of rain drops falling on them (tomatoes absorb water). Plus we pick them ripe instead of picking them green and gassing them so they turn ripe. Earlier this week, with a pretty intense t-storm headed directly at us as observed on the radar…and the rumbling…and the lightning, I did what any farmer would do – grabbed my tomato bin and picked like I’ve never picked before. Must save cherry tomatoes! I got one side picked before I had to go back for another bin. Meanwhile the sky turned black and I decided a few more pints of tomatoes just wasn’t worth it. Plus, I get to eat the splits right off the plant so it’s really not all bad. As long as the plants dry out between now and when I see you, there will be cherries for all! And definitely plenty of heirlooms to boot!

This is a meat week. Happy animals make the best meat, and Jeff grows raises some of the happiest animals in the Northeast! Please support his work, it’s not at all easy.  Here’s a list of what he has available, including 15 different types of handmade sausage! Email him directly with orders at jeff@shortcreeknh.com and you can pick it up at the normal time at the farm.

Veggies Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your veggie orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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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Resilience

One word keeps running through my head this week. Resilience. And not the resilience of your favorite farmer, though I’m feeling quite resilient meself after this week! Still, our plants are far more resilient than I am. We have to be approaching double digit rainfall over the last 10 days. After such a long period of drought, the plants have to be wondering what a strange world they’ve been born into. Despite all the wacky weather, the worst the plants are showing is a small uptick in fungal diseases. Fungal diseases, like the yellowing leaves creeping up your tomato plants, spread when the plant’s leaves are wet….which has been pretty much all day and night lately!

Plants like tomatoes and beans really shouldn’t pick while the leaves are wet for that reason. Typically we can just wait and pick them the next day. But it just keeps raining. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY! A number of times I’ve tried to take advantage of a break in the rain, just to be thwarted by a big storm as soon as I get out there to pick. I just wish I had a high tunnel that could counter this zany weather and keep me and the plants dry! Pretty obvious segue right?

There’s a chance – if it ever stops raining – that the high tunnel will (finally) be going in next week! I met a new friend with a swiss army knife excavator (a very good friend to have). He removed all the rocks (err boulders) out of the way of the ground posts, leveled the area, and dug out and hooked up a frost-free water line out to the site. It wasn’t cheap, but it’ll be short money if I’m harvesting fresh greens in December! I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, so many great veggies coming in. And the color! If you want to eat healthy, forget all the stupid diet rules. Eat the rainbow folks, and I’m not referring to skittles.

Still looking for that special someone that can come in and work their butt off through the end of the season. If that sounds like anyone you know, send them my way.

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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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Help Wanted!

And I don’t just mean help wanted eating all these delicious vegetables! If farming is your thing, your offspring’s thing, your neighbor’s thing, or your second cousin’s thing….or you want it to be your thing, please be in touch. Lane is leaving for greener pastures, so I am in need of someone starting August 1st, preferably someone who can finish out the season into November. But I’m open to whatever help I can get! Think this through for a minute. Instead of paying ME to grow your vegetables, I will pay YOU to grow your own vegetables. Though I don’t want to romanticize it – the work is as taxing as you probably think  it is, times 10. Free veggies, no need for a gym membership, and I can guarantee you will sleep well at night – what more could you ask for in a job!?

We do also need help eating all these veggies! After a slow start, everything seems early this season. There will be a few field-grown heirloom tomatoes for sale (what?!), as well as a few cherry tomato half-pints. Still not enough for me to make available on the website though. Rainbow carrots will be available in limited quantities. So that everyone can have a taste of the rainbow, I’m limiting them to one per person. Beans also are a newcomer to the list, although also limited quantities. Not limited are those incredible cucumbers – literally every time I eat one I’m surprised at how good it is…and I don’t even like cucumbers generally! And basil, basil, basil – it’s time to put up lots of pesto so you can enjoy it all winter long like we do. If you want to order basil in bulk, please reply to this email. Order away, go bananas!

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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 Abundance

As you can see, my girls are back! It sure was nice catching up on the farm while Jenni and Paddy Rose were away, but the farm/house just wasn’t right without them. We’re actually trying a little experiment in July of having me watch PR one day a week again. Starting this week! I’ve always watched her for a day or two in the winter, and it was a personal goal at the start of the season to have the time throughout the season….but things got away from me for a bit. We’ll see how it goes! Watching her seed some microgreen peas made it all worth it, but boy is it exhausting. I could work outside for 12 straight hours in 95 degrees without food or water and not be as tired as I was when I put her down for a blissful 2 hour nap on Thursday. Speaking of blissful, cheese from Couet Farm is finally back available for order!
Maybe it’s overconfident stupidity, but I felt pretty comfortable taking the day “off” because the garden looks fantastic. Get your abundance while it lasts! I know we’re in a bit of a lull with most everything planted in the ground and the summer veggies yet to really come in in buckets (literally), but the tomatoes and cucumbers are trellised, I’ve set up about 90% of a rough irrigation system (rain sure would be nice), and we just hand weeded the entire garden. And yet, the to do list is a mile long with the priorities being FINISHING the irrigation, pruning the tomatoes so we can actually see the ripening fruit, prepping the new high tunnel site, and doing something about those pesky groundhogs!
My current confidence does cause me to pause as I distinctly remember the same feeling going into September last year. And then it didn’t rain for the entire month. We ended up limping through the homestretch. Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself, though it sure has been dry lately…

Ordering and Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 6am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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.