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Hot and Cold

Things are getting spicy up here on the hill. We harvested a boatload of hot peppers ahead of the frost. Hot sauce is in your future! If you don’t have time to make it yourself, I bought a bunch of organic, naturally fermented salsa and siracha sauce from an innovative and rockstar farm in Sunderland, MA. Yes, ORGANIC FERMENTED SIRACHA! I brought some in last year and it was a big hit – I ran out of my personal stash a couple months ago and have been dying for this season’s batch to come out. Scroll to the bottom of the ordering page to find them.

The cold wind kept me inside Thursday, so I didn’t assess the damage from the cold night(s) till Friday. I’m not sure which night was the silent killer but it took out all of the tomatoes and eggplant, which honestly were circling the drain anyway. We spent all day Wednesday picking ahead of the cold – in hindsight, there was some precious last tidbits of summer that I could have saved. Coulda woulda shoulda. There was a surprising amount of peppers (mostly green, lots of hots) and eggplant left out there. If any of you are lucky enough to get the limited eggplant on Monday, here’s our go-to eggplant recipe worth it’s weight in gold, courtesy of a wise farmer up north…from back in 2013 when Potter Hill Farm was about as old as baby Nora.

Speaking of who, I was on Nora duty while writing this – my first time alone with her and she snoozed the whole time. She’s definitely a different baby from Paddy Rose so far, though it has only been a week. A seemingly very long week – she’s so seamlessly integrated into the family that I feel she’s been with us much longer! Paddy Rose has had lots of emotions but in true big sister fashion, she has directed nothing but love and kisses toward Nora and plenty of stubbornness and terror at her parents. Just kidding. Sort of.

Lots of great greens going strong still, especially in the lettuce department. A couple new items too, but you’ll have to check the list to find out what!

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.
Frosty
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New Arrival

Baby Nora finally arrived on Tuesday, so this update is going to be light on content and heavy on adorable pictures. We returned from the hospital Thursday just in time for another deluge. Glass half full take…at least I’m not farming down in North Carolina! But still…downright demoralizing. I got a chance to tour the garden before it started and it was finally drying out and looking really good. Now it’s a mud pit!

Mom, dad, baby and big sister are all doing well. Looking forward to telling Nora’s tale sometime, it’s a good one. Long story short, we left the house for the hospital at 6am Tuesday and she was born at 6:47am Tuesday (IN the hospital fortunately). Nora is very squeaky and delightful and Paddy Rose is ecstatic (for now) to have a little sister.

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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Foraging

First off, just some quick housekeeping. With the quasi-holiday on Monday, I am shaving an hour off the end of the pickup so it’ll be 4-6pm. If you can’t make it until after 6, no problem – just let me know and I will bag it up for you.

My apologies that you’ve heard a lot of complaints from me lately. Fortunately you’ve caught me in a good mood today! I get rejuvenated via really delicious, fresh food and I’ve had some amazing food this week. Thursday started out with scrambled eggs, broccoli leaves, scallions, and savory for breakfast. Snack was some foraged autumn olives and lunch was supplemented with the 3 pound hen of the woods mushroom Pat and I found on a little foraging walk we took through the woods. If we can find another gem like the one below, I will put it on the list this week or next. It’s so good I want to horde it all for myself and share it with you all because I want you to experience its deliciousness. Apparently it was a really productive foraging adventure, so Pat says I shouldn’t get used to it.

To boot, Pat and I knocked a few things off the to-do list that have been there far too long. Like finally moving the hens down to next year’s garden location in a gorgeous patch of oats and peas to forage on! Better late than never I guess. And digging this ditch in the high tunnel…which is a bit of a ridiculous concept since the whole idea behind a tunnel is to mitigate mother nature’s mood swings. What was left out of that equation is that we’re on a slope so all that water above was just running down the saturated pasture and right through where I was hoping to plant. We dug that ditch on Thursday morning and by Friday evening, water was still running the length of the tunnel and out the far end (not a long-term solution – any environmental engineers out there!?) even though it hasn’t rained since Tuesday. If it ever dries out, I have over a thousand seedlings ready to go in the ground that could feed us for the next couple months! I’m hoping this does the trick because the window for planting is closing fast. Some may say it closed a month ago!

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 4-6pm 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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Mercy

So I’ve decided I’m just growing rice next year. How’s that for a business plan?! 35 acres of rice paddies. Overreaction? Maybe, but I can’t tell you how difficult it’s been to continue to slog through this season. The beautiful days like Thursday are negated by the fact that half of the garden is reachable only by boat. We got our monthly average of rain on one day this week! And then it poured the next night, and more rain today. Demoralizing…mercy!

Misery loves company so I’m at least comforted in talking with my fellow farmers. One farmer I commiserated with is losing all his winter squash in storage to a lovely disease that we fortunately don’t have on our farm, and had 1,500 broccoli plants wiped out by groundhogs. To give you some perspective on the size of his farm, he has 40 acres of sweet corn (to my oneish acre total) and his family started the farm the year I was born. Another CSA farm I know told me they’ve been supplementing their CSA with veggies from local farms all season long and they’ve had an established CSA for years. So I guess I should feel lucky – I don’t have phythophora, all my broccoli plants are in tact (because they’re covered), and I haven’t bought in any veggies to fill out the spread, though that’s certainly in the near future. Honestly, I can’t believe anything’s still out there, but there are some parts of the garden that look great…as I float by on my makeshift raft dreaming of rice. Thanks y’all for your support this season. And let me know what you think about a rice CSA 🙂

On the brighter side of things, my high tunnel is getting “skinned” Sunday morning if the weather cooperates…although at every turn something has gone wrong so who knows. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Because I will be working about 46 of the 48 hours this weekend, I’m limiting the list for Monday’s pickup. Still lots of great stuff though!

PS: Just so you know I’m not romanticizing prior years, I just stumbled across this picture labeled “Late October Tomatoes” a month later than today but two years ago (my first year running the farm by myself). Looks like more tomatoes than we picked in all of September this year in one day in late October!

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Out to Lunch

I was feeling pretty down about the season on Tuesday night as I was sitting down to make the harvest list for the Grafton Farmers Market on Wednesday. And then I actually made the list and realized it is indeed the season of abundance…just not the abundance of mid-September I’m used to (ie bucket loads of tomatoes). The tomatoes may be circling the drain but our greens and roots game is out of control…and that spicy mix! I happen to be on the farmers market committee and we were making a BIG push for a BIG day since the weather finally looked clear. Kids activities, yoga on the common, and a food truck! I decided to go crazy hoping for a killer turnout and brought bucket loads of veggies

Unfortunately Grafton was out to lunch or something because no one turniped. Literally I didn’t sell one bunch of gorgeous salad turnips! And I ended up with more than half of my spicy mix bags – do you know how much work it is to triple wash, dry, and bag that deliciousness? Fortunately, there is a new restaurant in town that took most of my leftovers. Have you been to Reunion yet? The chef told me they’ve been overrun every night going on a month now and they haven’t even advertised they’re open yet because their kitchen is still at half capacity. And I was able to sell the rest of my leftovers to my awesome neighbors and a few friends.
The Grafton market had been pretty solid up until Wednesday, but it sure let me down on our biggest day of the season. Moral of the story: it made me realize how amazing you all are that I know you will show up whether the weather is awful or mild like it’s going to be on Monday. Your support is highly appreciated.
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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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.