Farm News, JULY 28, 2020

The Farmstand is open today! 2- 6:30 PM; PYO from 1:30 – 7PM

Most of the work we need to do in July and August are tasks you would expect on a veggie farm in mid-to late- summer:  weeding, watering, picking, packing.  Surprisingly, planting is also a big part of what we do.  Many of our crops need to be planted weekly (think lettuce and arugula), and we have big fall plantings of carrots, beets, broccoli, and cabbage that must be planted at just the right date so they mature in cooler weather of late summer and early fall.  The planting dates on these crops are tricky, because even though the days are hot and long, they are actually declining in length, and by mid-September the daylength has shortened to a point where crop growth rates slow down noticeably.  Rebecca and Lauren keep a sharp eye on the crop plan and make sure everything gets planted on time, and the crew makes sure that we have planting beds that are ready to receive transplants or seeds.

Lauren celebrates the healthy crop in the PYO bean patch. So far we haven’t seen too many Mexican Bean Beetles – keep your fingers crossed.

As we prep and plant beds for late summer and fall harvest, the fields that produced spring and early summer crops need attention.  We use a flail mower to turn the spent crops and weeds into little bits that often resemble a green paste, and then turn this into the soil.  Sometimes we reform the beds and double crop, but more often we plant a soil building cover crop.  We love to plant legumes, like field peas and vetch, which not only pump carbon into the soil, but fix nitrogen as well, which is the main nutrient plants need to grow well.  One of our favorite summer cover crops is Sunn Hemp.  This legume is a native of India, and it loves hot weather and doesn’t mind drought, which makes it a perfect match for summer in Connecticut.  We planted it in the old strawberry patch, and it came up in 4 days and will be a foot tall in two weeks!

Three times a week, Katie and company navigate the jungle that yields the sweetest of all tomatoes.

As important as planting is, in mid-summer it’s the harvest that takes center stage.  Cherry tomatoes are coming in strong, and the heirloom and slicing tomato harvests are picking up as well.  Our second planting of corn Is going strong (barring thieving from blackbirds and raccoons….), and we’ve started pulling the big, sweet Ailsa Craig onions.  Peppers and eggplant are beginning to come in.  We’ve been diligently watering the lettuce, scallions, chard, and kale and have brought those crops through the current heat wave.  If you’re lucky, you may even spot the first of the cantaloupes. We are approaching peak season!

We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,

Paul, Rebecca, Lauren and the Fort Hill Farm crew

The crew brought in the mother load of red cabbage first thing on Monday morning.

Featured this week:

Cherry Tomatoes:  after what seemed like slower than usual peaking, the Sungolds and Red Cherry tomatoes are starting to ramp up this week – look for them on SALE this week!  At this rate, we hope to be able to open the Sungolds up to PYO soon. Sungolds are always a favorite, but the reds we’ve been growing the last few years give the former a run for their money on sweetness- all the while still maintaining that “red” tomato flavor. Enjoy the sweet taste of summer!   

Ailsa Craig onions:  these big, fresh sweet onions are great sliced thick and cooked on the grill brushed with olive oil, sliced thin on sandwiches and burgers, caramelized, or use in any recipe that calls for sweet onions (see beet recipe below).  They store best in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, head lettuce (5 – 7 kinds available at any given time!), curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh basil, chives, sage, and thyme, red and French Breakfast radishes, Asian and slicing cucumbers, scallions, red, Chioggia and gold beets, Tendersweet cabbage, red cabbage, fresh carrots, rainbow carrots, garlic, Patty Pan, Zephyr, Yellow Squash and zucchini, sungold and red cherry tomatoes, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, sweet corn, green bell peppers, Jalapeño and shishito peppers, PYO Green and Wax beans, Red Torpedo fresh onions, limited pea shoots and radicchio

Coming Soon:

red gold potatoes, eggplant

Pick Your Own:

Sunflowers! They started opening on Saturday. Small heads may be included in a flower bouquet. Large heads are sold by the stem.

Flowers – open for picking!

Beans! Green beans and yellow wax beans

Perennial herbs – for your fresh summer salads and grilling:

Chives– clip a few stems at the base

Oregano, Sage and Thyme – Trim the tops 4 ” down

PYO begins 30 minutes before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.

Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database

To mix things up, I’m going to try to feature one classic farm recipe and one new one this year …

Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini with Oregano-Lemon Goat Cheese Recipe

By Jordan Pervere                                                                              Serves 6


1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and seeded

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 sprig of thyme, roughly chopped

1 sprig of oregano, roughly chopped, plus 1 tablespoon oregano leaves, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ French baguette, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 cup goat cheese, softened

Zest of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme, the sprig of oregano, and garlic, then toss. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and cook for about 15 minutes, or until tomatoes are slightly browned. Transfer the tomatoes to a mixing bowl and allow to cool. Lower the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a pastry brush, coat the baguette slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Cook in the oven until hard and golden brown, about 8 minutes.

While the bread is in the oven, combine the goat cheese, lemon zest, oregano leaves, and remaining olive oil in a mixing bowl. Fold together with a rubber spatula and season lightly with salt and pepper. 

Spread the goat cheese mixture on the baguette slices, and place 3-4 tomato halves on top. Serve immediately.

Beets and Caramelized Onions with Feta

Adapted from Gourmet                                                          YIELD: Makes 4 first-course servings


2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (preferably whole-grain or coarse-grain)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb onions (2 medium), quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces 

2 lbs small whole beets, quartered (or halved if very small)

3 oz crumbled feta (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup pine nuts (1 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped


Whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add 3 tablespoons oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.

Steam beets whole and slip off skins (optional) when cool; quarter or halve is small.

Cook onions with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.

Add onions to dressing, then add beets and cheese, stirring gently to combine. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts.

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