Tag Archives: Edible


DSC_6774Some weeks are crazier than others around here, and I will just say that this week, I was pretty darn happy to see Friday arrive.

It’s also easy, this time of year, to look around a farm and get discouraged. Weeds are ravenous, pests are ravenous, farm stand customers are ravenous. (And our egg supply isn’t keeping up with demand.). The pretty green frilly stuff of spring has fled, replaced by dying pea vines (piled on the picnic table, below) and bolted lettuce and plants ravaged by potato beetles.

DSC_6713 But wait. That’s only one way to look at it.


Despite what I consider to be a lot of messy, less-than-ideal aspects to the current state of things (like this entire row of weed-smothered arugula, above), there is, by far, much more to celebrate.


For instance, the sunflowers are just killing me—they are so gorgeous, it hurts. And cheery? Nothing cheerier. And don’t even talk to me about the zinnias! (Okay, I realize that I’ve talked about the sunflowers and the zinnias for like the last three blogs in a row. I’m besotted.)


And I think it is safe to say now, that barring a true tragedy (not just one that I imagine or one that calls itself a hurricane), we will have a bountiful tomato harvest this year, and far more tomatoes than any other year.

DSC_6777DSC_6788 Just look at all the fruits on these plants.  And there are 230 plants!

DSC_6793DSC_6798 This tomato thing is not to be under-rated. Everybody waits all year for these quintessential summer goodies, but not everyone is arranging their yearly budget around the tomato harvest. We have a lot to be expectant about.


We’ll be harvesting tomatoes every evening now. They’re just trickling into ripeness—Roy picked this quart of Sungolds and Sweet 100s last night—but soon we will be looking for surfaces all over the place to put them on.

There’s plenty of other good stuff, of course. (I can’t believe we’re actually getting to the ripe black raspberries before the birds do! With any luck, Libby and I will make that berry ice cream this weekend. )


Now that my pep talk is over, I can go back out and keep weeding. Underneath all those weeds are still some pretty nice vegetables!



Strange but True — Chickens Chasing Fireflies and Pumpkins in the Piggery

DSC_6695Funny, strange, unexpected things seem to be happening a lot on the farm these days. Never a dull moment, as my father likes to say.

We found a birds’ nest in a tomato plant yesterday. (Four beautiful eggs; Mommy is a fox sparrow.) Farmer found (another) nest of baby bunnies (six of them) in between two rows of onions last week. Then yesterday, he unearthed a pack of snails under a cosmo plant. That’s in addition to the robin’s nest he found a month ago with newly hatched baby birds in it.


There is a frog living in the pea patch.

At night, two owls talk to each other at opposite ends of the farm. The sound is loud and disconcerting and space-alienish, especially with a full moon on a misty night (like the one we had tonight, above).

There is a group of hens who won’t go into their coops at night, because—get this—they’re having too much fun chasing fire flies. Roy did an imitation of them the other night after trying to corral them, and I was in stitches. Apparently the hens get really confused and practically fall over each other dancing around after the flickering lights.

The ducks—and the Aracaunas—are taking turns sitting on a nest of duck eggs. (We have one male duck, so ducklings are, theoretically, a possibility. A couple of the Aracaunas like to brood on their blue eggs constantly, but little do they know, with no rooster, there will never be any baby chicks.)


All over the farm, plants are growing where they weren’t planted. We have two  really healthy pumpkin vines in the old piggery. Poppies and tomatoes in practically every garden bed. (We moved a volunteer tomato into Libby’s garden, and it has the first ripening Sweet 100). An entire row of sunflowers and calendula we didn’t plant. There is dill in the chard bed. And cilantro absolutely everywhere.


There are even blueberry bushes in a chicken pen. That’s right, our new group of 125 pullets (18-week-old chickens) are the lucky owners of a huge wooded parcel of land (fenced off by Roy) that includes wild blueberries and black raspberries that we can’t even get at through the thick growth (and ticks).



And weeds? We have more weeds this year then we’ve had total in all previous years. I am completely confounded by this.

And that’s just the critters and the plants. People at the farm do funny things, too. A nice couple stopped by the other day just to give Farmer a present. They were leaving the Island after three weeks and apparently (unbeknownst to me) had bonded with Farmer. Farmer, in fact, is a Rock Star. He has all kinds of fans who ask for him to come outside if he’s not around. Who knew?


Because of the crap-shoot nature of farming, the surprises are often not pleasant. But it seems, often as not, the unexpected is lovely, even joyous. Bionic summer squash! A towering volunteer sunflower! Peas, peas and more peas. A gift of freshly baked bread from a farm stand customer…chocolates from another…dog bones for Farmer.



A customer told me the other morning, “It makes me so happy to come here.” That’s the kind of unexpected surprise that makes my day.



Two Favorite Potato Salad Recipes for Fourth of July

DSC_6147Our potatoes aren’t quite ready to harvest yet (usually some are by the Fourth of July), but that hasn’t stopped me from making potato salad. Yesterday I made one of our favorite recipes from Fresh From the Farm. Well, definitely one of Roy’s favorites and I think it is pretty darn swell, too. It’s called Roy’s Almost-Classic Potato Salad with Farm Eggs, Celery & Crème Frâiche (photo above, recipe below). I like it because I’ve never really been a fan of mayonnaise-based potato salads, though I am well aware of how popular they are. Creating one of my own gave me a chance to freshen up the classic.

I start with Yukon Gold potatoes, and for the dressing, I cut the mayo with crème fraiche (sour cream is a fine sub), add plenty of lemon juice and lemon zest (plus the cider vinegar), a touch of ground coriander, and fresh parsley and chives. The hard-boiled eggs, celery, and onions are non-negotiable. The salad has a nice, light feel and a bright flavor.


IMG_8127_1photo-68But in case you’re not in the mood for the classic, I offer up another potato salad that I created for Fast, Fresh & Green. It’s called New Potato Salad with Fresh Peas, Lime, and Yogurt (photo directly above). It also has some mayonnaise in the dressing, but cut with Greek-style yogurt. I’ve been thinking of that salad while harvesting peas in the near-dark (yes, there are so darn many of them this year that we can hardly keep up with them). Once we eat all of Roy’s Classic, I think we’ll make this one, too, as I just love it. We’ll still have peas, and maybe our Red Gold taters will be ready to pull.

Hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday!


Roy’s Almost-Classic Potato Salad with Farm Eggs, Celery & Crème Frâiche  

DSC_6149Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, 2014, Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories

Roy gives this salad two thumbs up. He said he’d give it three if he had an extra hand. He also says he likes it even better the second day, so make this ahead if you like. Feel free to substitute sour cream for the crème fraiche. You can loosen the sour cream a bit with just a touch of half ‘n half.

Serves 4 to 6


2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Kosher salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup crème frâiche or sour cream

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced

2 long or 3 short stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (3/4 cup)

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (a scant 1/2 cup)

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives

Put the potatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender, or about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain carefully in a colander, rinse briefly with cool water, and spread on a clean dishtowel to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, crème frâiche, cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, ground coriander, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper. Add the cooled potatoes, eggs, celery, onion, most of the parsley, and most of the chives. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt over all. With a silicone spatula, mix everything together until well combined, breaking the eggs apart as you mix. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining parsley and chives. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Hope for the Flowers, Witchcraft for the Weeds

DSC_5972 croppedThursday night I drove up to York, Maine. Taught two cooking classes Friday and Saturday mornings at Stonewall Kitchen, spent some precious hours Friday afternoon and evening with my friend Eliza and her family, and drove back to Woods Hole to catch a 6 pm ferry home on Saturday night.


I was hardly gone for 48 hours, but stuff grew. A lot. I’m sorry to say that the weeds grew the most. (Those are supposed to be carrots on either side of the nasturtiums, above; but looks like mostly pursuane and grass to me!) I really cannot fathom how these weeds do it. Some sort of black magic, I guess. I wish I could cast a spell on them (crabgrass be gone! poof!) or conjure up some other weedy witchcraft to get rid of them. But this is just the kind of bizarre thought you have when you are hacking away at a tangle of roots at twilight when the fireflies are dancing against the darkening trees, the neighbor’s sheep (newly moved to a field next to us) are baa-baa-ing, and the potent scent of honeysuckle and wild roses make the evening seem a bit surreal.

But back to reality. There are weeds, yes, but flowers, too. Lots of them. That gorgeous sunflower (Ring of Fire, I think) is a volunteer from last year, so it came up (with a couple dozen more volunteer sunflowers) early in the season, and took “first to open” honors while I was gone. It is really stunning, since the petals haven’t suffered any bug damage.  (You could call that a miracle.)


While I was gone, the Fairy roses bloomed, too, the zinnias started lining up in their merry parade, and the pea blossoms topped the trellises.



The cheery yellow calendula blossoms went off like firecrackers everywhere.

DSC_5967cropped DSC_6009

The cilantro bolted and arranged its dainty white flowers in clusters among the peas.


The lavender let loose…


And the surest sign of summer–the nasturtiums all over the garden started to flower.

DSC_6026Best of all, there is more on the way. Next up: coneflowers and daisies.

DSC_6036daisy 1In the meantime, I’m helping myself to a little magic potion–a glass bottle of freshly picked flowers. Maybe flowers are an antidote to weeds!




What to Do with Those Garden Strawberries + A Gingery Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

GingeryStrawberryRhubarbCrispPg.61Not since my parents gave me my weekly 50-cent allowance to bike down to Jack’s Market and buy a stash of penny candy have I been quite this excited. Every morning when I head out to the strawberry patch, I keep looking around for someone to give me permission, or at least to charge me an entry fee to the garden. I just can’t believe there’s a whole row of fresh, ripe strawberries simply lying around in my backyard waiting for me (and Libby, when she’s here) to eat. (Roy’s not much of a fruit guy.)  I’m truly and ridiculously giddy about this situation and I am not apologizing.


This is the first year we have enough for me to pick a bowlful every morning, but thankfully, not quite enough to sell at the farm stand. Too bad. This means most days, I get to decide how I want to eat them. I’m sure you can guess the next part—it is hard to get inside the house without eating most of them. But I have been practicing discipline.


Last weekend, knowing Libby was coming, I saved enough for the two of us to have a nice dessert with whipped cream on Saturday night. We ran out of time to make shortcakes, because we decided to make grilled pizza instead. (If I’d had time, I would have made one of two shortcake recipes from my fabulous baker friend Abby Dodge (author of The Weekend Baker and many other cookbooks). This one is chocolate (oh my!), the other is a classic tender shortcake that Abby did for a story I worked on at Fine Cooking magazine years ago. But since Libby is a huge whipped cream fan, we were okay with just the strawberries tossed in sugar and topped with vanilla (freshly) whipped cream.


Libby remarked at how tasty the strawberries were—I had warned her that they weren’t terribly sweet, because it has been cool here. But I found her comments interesting (she has a sharp palette), because I am finding these Ozark Beauties that we are growing to have a really intriguing citrusy flavor. They’re tangy for sure, and at first I kept looking for that super-sweet flavor you get with say, the famous Earli-Glow strawberry. But now I think that for using in desserts, these are particularly nice, adding an intriguing acidity.


The other really cool thing about fresh, ripe, picked-nearby strawberries is how red they are—all the way through. It seems like kind of an obvious thing—that a ripe strawberry should have red flesh—but as you know, most grocery store strawberries are mostly white on the inside.


Now I am saving my daily harvest to make one of my very favorite recipes in Fresh From the Farm—the Gingery Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Brown Sugar-Pecan Topping. You have to make this one, I promise, even if you have to steal the strawberries from Mr. MacGregor’s garden! (Recipe below and photo above.)

After that, my next batch is definitely going to be my (and Libby’s) all-time favorite: homemade Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream. My other favorite frozen strawberry dessert is this Strawberry-Balsamic Granita from Fine Cooking, but Abby’s Strawberry Sorbet looks really good, too. I also see, among the many delicious strawberry dessert recipes Fine Cooking has on their site, an intriguing change-up to strawberries and yogurt—a Strawberry-Yogurt Brulee. Looks easy and delicious. And I remember loving all of Lori Longbotham’s strawberry concoctions, especially her roasted strawberries that she then used for her Triple Strawberry Ice Cream Sundaes–with chocolate-dipped strawberries!.

DSC_5897In the last strawberry days (which will trickle through the summer since the Ozark Beauties are everbearing), I will make Farmhouse French Toast with Backyard Berry Syrup as well as Yogurt and Strawberry Parfaits with Homemade Maple Granola (both from Fresh from the Farm). Maybe I’ll even have enough strawberries to finally make jam. I hope so, because my friend Cathy Barrow‘s recent article in the Washington Post (“Canning Class: Strawberry Jam that Works”) totally had me wishing I could stop right then and there and make jam.

Heck, maybe I’ll even be able to steer some of my berries to the freezer, so that I can recreate this glee in the middle of the winter. But don’t hold your breath. Think I’d better order more strawberry plants and get them in the ground this fall.

GingeryStrawberryRhubarbCrispPg.61Gingery Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Brown Sugar-Pecan Topping  

Copyright Susie Middleton, 2014, from Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories.

This crisp rocks. Sweet and tangy with a most excellent crunchy topping, it gets a flavor jingle from two secret ingredients—crystallized ginger and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Cook the crisp until the topping is plenty golden (about 45 minutes)—enough time to let the fruit juices reduce and thicken a bit, too. This looks pretty in a 10-inch quiche pan, but any 2-quart baking dish will work. Great warm with vanilla ice cream, this crisp is pretty tasty leftover for breakfast, too. I should know.

Serves 6


For the topping

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for baking dish

1 cup all-purpose flour  

1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup regular oats

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

For the filling

2 1/2 cups hulled, quartered strawberries  

2 1/2 cups thick-sliced rhubarb stalks (cut 1/2 inch thick; about 10 ounces)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For serving

Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, or heavy cream (optional)


Heat the oven to 350°F. Rub a shallow 2-quart baking dish or large ceramic quiche dish all over with a little butter.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crisp topping and mix together with your fingers until well-combined into large “crumbs.”

In a large mixing bowl, combine the filling ingredients and mix thoroughly. Arrange the filling mixture in the baking dish and top evenly with the topping mixture. (Depending on the size of your pan, you may have a little leftover topping. Freeze it for another use.)

Bake the crisp until the topping is firm and golden, about 45 minutes. (The juices will have been bubbling around the edges for a bit.) Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes and serve warm alone or with ice cream, frozen yogurt, or heavy cream.

top photo credit: Alexandra Grablewsky, from Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories


First Light, Sort Of: A June Morning on Green Island Farm

DSC_5676I am forever wishing I could get up earlier. And earlier. And go to bed earlier. And earlier. But it never quite works. We get most of our best garden work done in the cooler evenings, so everything gets pushed back at night. Then the 5:20 alarm really doesn’t work for me. So I am not Susie Sunrise Greeter. But on the occasional morning when I can get outside with the camera before Farmer has realized it and wants to come along, just a little bit after first light and not before the dew is gone, I am happy. I love the light, the quiet, the coolness, the promise. Wouldn’t it be great to hold on to that morning karma all day long? But then, of course, you wouldn’t have evening…and sunset–my second favorite time of the day.

Here’s a look at what I saw one June morning on the farm.


Poppy volunteering in the market garden

DSC_5735 New field echoing old.

DSC_5775Baptisia blossom poking through the deer fence

DSC_5686Potting bench and cart shadowing  the coop-shed

DSC_5771Flag iris flanking the garden gate

DSC_5742Newly potted tomato plants waiting for a move up to the farm stand

DSC_5538Cilantro soaking in cold water

DSC_5747Purples and greens blowing out

DSC_5751Light sneaking DSC_5717Peas climbing

DSC_5694Two hundred-plus tomatoes marching to the East

Next week: Strawberries and Sunset!


How DO You Cook Those Japanese Baby Turnips, Anyway?

DSC_5455bunch 2We are just coming to the end of our first-ever harvest of Tokyo turnips, aka Japanese baby turnips. They aren’t really babies, but they are really delicious and beautiful and tender and juicy. (The greens are delicate and tasty, too.) We’ve never grown them (or a similar variety called Hakurei that’s popular at farmers’ markets) before, so I am pretty darn excited that they did well, and I can’t wait to grow more. I’m sure our cool weather helped, so I probably won’t seed again until fall.

It’s unusual for me to sell a vegetable at the farm stand that I haven’t cooked with much. And while I could certainly guess by the juicy raw texture and flavor that both minimal cooking (steaming, quick-braising, glazing) and browning (roasting, sautéing and stir-frying) would probably work with these, I couldn’t quickly reference one of my own recipes to help people cook them.

photo-64Fortunately, many of our farm stand customers are adventurous and competent cooks, so several of them forged ahead without me! One woman found a recipe for a nice sauté with potatoes in my fellow Island cookbook author friend Cathy Walther’s Greens, Glorious Greens, and on FaceBook, another cookbook author friend, Diane Morgan, suggested finishing a sauté with miso butter. I don’t have Cathy’s Greens book, though I know it’s a classic and well worth checking out, but I do have Diane’s award-winning Roots, and I can tell you there are more than a few really delicious recipes for turnip dishes in it, including one called Kashmiri-Style Turnips with Greens that led me to think I wasn’t crazy to want to pair cilantro (and ginger) with the baby turnips. The cilantro is flourishing in the cool spring garden, alongside the turnip bed.

Today (thank God for the rain!) I finally got a chance to mess around with the Japanese turnips in the kitchen. Since we had sold all the good-sized and blemish-free roots at the farm stand, I was left with only teeny-tiny roots and some bigger damaged roots, so I had no choice but to cut everything about ½-inch in size. (That meant no cutting for the teeniest mini-marbles.) But I think I would favor that size anyway—or wedges if all my roots were similar sized—for the quickest cooking. I did both a quick par-boil and a quick sauté, adding the greens only briefly to wilt at the end in the sauté , and with lemon and butter, found that the baby turnips really do make a super-quick spring side dish.


DSC_5233Then I indulged my desire to go Asian, and did a stir-fry with soba noodles—and ate the whole thing for lunch. (It would have served two easily with some grilled shrimp. Photos very top and below.) Originally I thought I might go all the way and turn it into an Asian noodle soup, as the greens would be so perfect for one of these. (And one small turnip—generally about 2 inches in diameter—has a lot of greens attached.) But I was afraid the turnip roots would get lost in the soup, so I kept it noodle-y. I’m including the recipe below in narrative form, as I wouldn’t want to give you a set-in-stone recipe without testing again with more uniform turnips and more exact proportions.


To make Soba Noodles with Stir-Fried Baby Turnips, Ginger & Cilantro: DSC_5470

Cook a handful of soba noodles separately in boiling water. (Follow the package directions, but shorten the cooking time a bit.) Drain and hold. Get out a non-stick stir-fry pan or a big non-stick sauté pan and heat just a couple teaspoons of vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil) over medium heat. Add about a cup of diced baby turnip roots (trimmed) and a couple big pinches of kosher or sea salt. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger, one-half teaspoon of chopped garlic, about ¼ cup thickly sliced spring onions or scallions, and a couple tablespoons of quartered, sliced radishes. (If I’d had a small Serrano pepper, I would have added a bit of it, chopped, too.)

Stir, cooking, until fragrant and a bit softened. Add a half cup of chicken broth or other broth and about 2 cups torn, stemmed turnip greens. Stir until the greens are wilted. Add the soba noodles and stir well to combine. Add a mix of fresh lemon (or lime) juice and soy sauce (one-half to one teaspoon of each or to taste) and a tablespoon or more of torn fresh cilantro leaves. Stir, remove from the heat, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a bit more cilantro and some sliced spring onion or scallion green tops.  (Serves 1 or 2)


photo-66P.S. I almost completely forgot. The first thing I actually did with the baby turnips a few days ago was to add them to one of my slow-sautes with carrots and potatoes. I’d forgotten I had a few in the fridge, and cut them just as a i was starting to cook the potatoes and carrots. They cook a little more quickly than purple-topped turnips, so you can certainly use them deliciously in one of these, but I might add them half-way through cooking.





Market Garden or Farm Field, It’s Still an Outdoor Room

DSC_5222DSC_5267One of the things I love about formal gardens is the outdoor “rooms” they create from their inherent structure. I can remember as a child, tagging along behind by father, an enthusiastic horticulturist and talented amateur landscape designer, on garden tours, along brick paths, through boxwood mazes, under rose arbors, across pond bridges. In my memories, it was always a warm, muggy June day in Washington, D.C., where in my long-ago childhood, there were many elegant homes with beautiful gardens. The stone paths were hot under my flimsy sandals, and once a bee got underneath my little dress and stung my tummy. But it was an adventure and a privilege to be allowed to walk those secret gardens.


The gardens of my current life might seem like the antithesis to those beautifully coiffed architectural gems. But they are still outdoor rooms, with their own personalities, their own feng shui, and always, their unique interplay of man-made structures and natural plantings.


DSC_5149I’ve been thinking about this a lot as our new back field has begun to take shape. The quarter-acre (above, and photo second from top) is much more like a traditional farm field than our original market garden (top photo). It has long parallel rows, each being planted with one crop as we move down the line. But once Roy got the fencing finshed, the field enclosed, and the gate up (a tri-fold of old chicken pen panels big enough to get the tractor through), it became an enclosed space. There’s a grassy strip left open, where we think we might put a table and chairs. The well pump will get a little structure over it. And we’ll be planting at least one row of flowers down here, too, in addition to tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, beans, potatoes, and greens.



So as the summer progresses, the field will develop its own personality. But it already feels like a destination to me, since we’ve been working in it a lot, and I’m fond of wheeling my little cart down there with buckets to harvest the arugula and kale under the row cover. I like opening those big gates and feeling like I’m stepping onto another plane. (We’re often working in the field in the evening, too, so the light is nice.)

It’s a much different space than our original market garden, which has its own quirky personality, with lots of smaller beds, some raised, some trellised, some staked. The market garden has flowers and herbs scattered about, and a nice swatch of perennial flowers flanking the gate. The market garden sits up high, the field down low. And the field is next to the chicken pens.

But like the hoop house, the farm stand, the potting area, the old stone foundation where the piggery went, and the old chicken coop that’s now a tool shed, the field is yet another distinct space that we’ve created or re-created while making up this small farm.  A small farm, it turns out, is a fascinating collection of outdoor rooms. Not fancy, but certainly alluring and comforting, in the way only an outdoor space can be.


100 Veggies in 100 Days: Follow Me on Instagram!

photo-54photo-53photo-51photo-50photo-57photo-49 You may have thought I was just having fun or being silly when I wrote that letter home from “Camp Green Island Farm” last week, and I was…sort of.

But what I didn’t really say is that what inspired me to write the blog is the seemingly endless work list we’ve got going this year. (Camp “activity” was a euphemism, yes.)

We’re truly working harder–much harder–than ever before, having taken this big leap towards growing so many more vegetables. And this is a particularly tricky time of year, because not only do we still have a lot of planting to do, but we are already harvesting/washing/packaging/selling greens and some veggies (in addition to eggs), as well as managing about 1000 seedlings waiting to go in the ground. Endless watering, moving around, repotting, etc…The bottom line is that you have to be constantly re-prioritizing about what to do next. We are up at sunrise and still working at sunset, and dinner is well, unmentionable.

I’m telling you all this as a big fat excuse for writing a short blog tonight. In fact, I am so tired that I can hardly string words together (I keep repeating myself and I just accidentally erased this entire paragraph)–but I do have photos! I discovered that Instagram is the easiest, quickest way for me to keep up my social media duties (after all, I’m still in cookbook author/vegetable expert mode–can’t very well just drop that for the summer)–while also posting something informative and pretty.

photo-45 photo-46 photo-55photo-58photo-52photo-56

This week I realized that I’ve been taking a photo of a different vegetable (or variety) in the garden nearly every day, so it occurred to me, why not challenge myself to do that all summer? 100 Veggies in 100 Days! Maybe not 100 different veggies, but I think I can do 100 different varieties of veggies from the garden (especially if I include herbs and fruit). I think it will be cool–and informative, too–since I’ll be able to share some things that folks might not see in grocery stores (or may see at farmers’ markets and wonder about) and/or show how some vegetables look when they’re growing. Of course, I can always mention a recipe or two to use them in!

So come along for the garden tour this summer and follow me on Instagram.  Photos and a few garbled words may be all I can muster for a while.

Photos, left to right (each row, top to bottom): Purple Pak Choi, Golden Frills mustard, rhubarb, pea shoots, spring onion, Garden sampler, Zucchini seedlings, Cherry Belle radishes, Shuko baby bok choy, Buttercrunch Bibb and Speckled Amish Lettuce, Ruby Streaks mustard, Collard and Arugula flowers



A Letter Home from Camp Green Island Farm


Dear Mom and Dad,

Well the first day at camp was nothing like I thought it was going to be. Are you sure this is the camp with the beautiful brochure we looked at? Did you really mean to send me here?


First of all, we got up at like 6:30, way earlier than I’m used to. Then, instead of a nice breakfast of farm eggs and home-cured bacon, we trudged down to the green house to pick greens and radishes for the farm stand. That was okay except it was really cold at first and then it got really hot, so I had to, like, go back to the cabin to change my tee-shirt twice. Not sure you packed enough play clothes for me.

DSC_4896Then we had to water what seemed like two billion tomato seedlings. I thought maybe we’d at least get to run through a sprinkler or squirt each other, but they don’t let you do that here. Supposedly we are going to walk down to a creek later this week to collect watercress, but that’s hardly like going to the beach.

Later on we had to hike over to the smelly chicken coops and collect eggs. A hen tried to peck my earring off my earlobe when I grabbed her egg. It was pretty hot in there, too. And did I mention stinky? Plus, there are like hundreds of chickens so the bucket of eggs was really heavy. And then, you wouldn’t believe it, but we had to wash and package up all those eggs!

Then there was some excitement because the refrigerator at the farm stand broke. So the maintenance guy (he’s also the head counselor) had to stop what he was doing (fixing a barn roof I think) and come and haul another refrigerator out of the mess hall and saw off a piece of the farm stand counter to fit it in.


Our job was to move like 50 dozen eggs and lots of other stuff from one refrigerator to the other. And then sweep up the mess at the farm stand after he got that done.

DSC_4976In the afternoon we planted lettuce seedlings. I don’t know why as there already seem to be a lot of lettuce seedlings around this place. Only we don’t get to eat any—it’s all for the farm stand customers. We had hamburgers and pretzels last night for dinner. Can you believe it? Some farm fare. Oh, they did let us go down to the asparagus patch and cut asparagus, but there was only enough for like, one per camper.


The worst was the after-dinner activity. I thought we were going to build a camp fire, or have movie night or game night or something. Instead they stuck us out in the back field and had us pick rocks out of the dirt and rake them up to the tractor bucket.

photo-44There is one good thing about this camp—they let the camp dog and kitty sleep in your bunk with you. In fact, the farm dog pretty much comes along on all our activities with us.

So like, its’ only May, and I am supposed to be here all summer? When can you come pick me up? Next summer can I go to that camp where you go to the beach all day and lie in the sand?


Camper Sue

P.S. My counselor took these pictures. She is trying to make the place look nicer than it really is.