The Potato Story: Surprise!

What’s in Upic?……

Flowers                Herbs   (more Beans next week)

I know we keep talking about how early this season has been but potatoes in July is just too much. Here is the story….  We plant seed potatoes in mid-May when the soil warms to about 45 degrees.  For those not in the know, potato plants are grown by planting small potatoes or pieces of large potatoes that then sprout and grow into plants that then produce more potatoes amongst their roots. Prior to planting we use a technique called green-sprouting to kick the tubers into high gear before they are put in the ground. This process usually entails putting our potato seed (all 1500 pound of it) into a small room in the barn and heating that room up to about 75 degrees for a week. Then we take the seed to the greenhouse and empty it in single layers into big vented trays that allow sunlight to hit the now sprouting tubers. The greenhouse is kept at about 60 degrees night and day while the seed is there. During this time the potato seeds begin to sprout from their eyes. If we’re lucky we can start planting after about 14 days in the greenhouse. This spring we received our potato seed in April and one variety, Carola, was already sprouting.  It must have been on a loading dock for a while or in a hot part of the warehouse.  By the time we went through the green-sprouting process with all of the other varieties of potatoes the Carolas were beyond sprouting; they were growing! The sprouts coming from the eyes were over half an inch long, deep green, and ready to hit the soil. After planting, the Carolas were the first up and looked strong. Being the first ones up they were also the first to be hit by the dreaded Colorado Potato Beetle. We watched closely and thought we were keeping ahead of the beetle but in in the course of a few days their population exploded and the Carolas went down.  This is a very sad thing to see as a farmer.  A strong beautiful plant skeletonized over the course of a few days.  Once the foliage is gone from the plants there’s no going back so we mowed off the stems and a week later here we are, sharing some small but tasty potatoes. Carolas are great roasters. Just toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on a cooking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. More potatoes to come, but hopefully not too soon.

Here’s what to look for in your share:

Chard                        Potatoes

Kale                                    Summer squash

Tatsoi                        Lettuce

Mustard                        Napa cabbage

Cucumbers                        Broccoli

Organic Blueberries will be delivered this week for those that have preordered. If you missed  out on this order don’t fret we will be taking orders again this week for delivery next week. We will also have some extra quarts for sale on both Tuesday and Friday if you want try them out…they make oatmeal sexy.

Our first group of pigs for August are sold out. If this is disappointment to you don’t fret. We will have another group available for order come early October. Watch the newsletter for more info.

Crystal Spring Farm Lamb now available at CSA pick-up. Look for our own loin chops, lamburger, legs and more. Talk to a farmer about what we have available.

Eggs are coming in…the girls are ramping up production so hopefully if you haven’t had a chance to try a dozen there will be one available at your next pick-up.


What’s in Upic?……

Flowers                Herbs         Snap Beans

Help we’re drowning! Those of you that woke up to my emergency email on Sunday morning I imagine we’re surprised to find a call to the farm to pick beans en mass. Well the heat of this year has blown us out of the water more than a few times so far and this was yet another case. Even though all of you know that we work with mother nature here at the farm (and she is not exactly one to run on railroad time) we still try to make it look like we know what’s going on around the place. Maura went out to pick beans for dinner on Saturday evening and came back overwhelmed by what was out there. Sure enough, the beans we thought were coming on well mid week had come in big and needed to be picked before the plants fell over! Thanks to all of you that came out to lend a hand. Thanks to your efforts the plants will keep producing and all of you who need beans on Tuesday and Friday will have a fresh flush.

Many thanks to Louise, Julie and Seth who threw in with the crew this week to battle weeds. Every hand counts in this battle. We’ll be out there again this Wednesday and Saturday at 9:00 a.m. to fight the good fight if you wan to join in.

Here’s what to look for in your share:

Chard                  Carrots

Kale           Summer squash

Tatsoi                   Lettuce

Mustard      Napa cabbage

Cooking demo cancelled this week. We have to cancel our cooking demo with Becky Shepherd, CSA member extraordinaire. We hope to reschedule her for a future date.

Field walk with Farmer Seth, today at 4:30 today. Meet at the CSA distribution building. Walk the fields and ask those obtuse agricultural questions that keep you up at night.  It will be fun. Really it will.

How about those eggs? We premiered our first eggs of the year last week to a strong response (they all sold). Those of you that brought them home, What did you think? Bright yolks? Bold flavor? Let us know. We really like these eggs (and believe me we eat a lot of them). Nothing beats a fresh, pastured, organic, local egg (any other adjectives I can add?) Try them.

Pigs are great workers, and they taste good too! Our own pastured pigs available for pre-order this week. The first four of our group will be available in Mid-August. Pre-order your whole or half now and fill you freezer with bacon, sausage hams and chops. Talk to us at CSA pickup for the details.

Crystal Spring Farm Lamb now available at CSA pick-up. Look for our own loin chops, lamburger, legs and more. Talk to a farmer about what we have available.

Grass-fed Beef from Harpswell. Two Coves Farm in Harpswell is raising grass fed beef and we have T-Bone steaks, London Broil and Burger for sale at pick-up.

Tempeh – local and organic!  Available for sale at pick up; made by our friends and neighbors at Lalibela Farm in Dresden – a great addition to a healthy diet. Look for an info sheet and recipes at pick up.

July feels like July!

What’s in Upic?……

Flowers                Herbs

Things are cooking along out in the fields. Tomatoes have lots of green fruit, eggplant are in flower and melons are moving along as well. I expect to have more napa cabbage next week and broccoli the week after. Carrots arrive in the share this week. The farm campers helped harvested about 200 pounds of the 300 we pulled from the ground yesterday! They loved the task and we loved the help.

Here’s what to look forward to in your shares:

Kale                     Carrots

Chard                  Lettuce

Tatsoi                   Mustard

Summer squash    Various chicories

We still need you help beating back the weeds! Thanks to Otey and Liz who came out this past week. The vegetables are loving this perfect season, but so are the sinister weeds. Help. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9am in the fields

Maine Organic Wild Blueberries will be available starting Tuesday July 27th and we will begin taking orders this week and next. These are certified organic, raked the day before from Stoneset Farm in Brooklin, Maine. As those of you who have ordered in the past know, these are top notch wild blueberries. No twigs, firm berries, amazing flavor. The berry crop is early this year (like almost everything else) so jump in and buy enough for your summer cereal, muffins, pancakes and martinis, as well as enough for the freezer. We will have a few quarts for sale in addition to the preordered deliveries and if there is enough interest we may do another order for next week. Let us know if you are interested in ordering for pickup on Tuesday the 27th or Friday the 30th and we’ll put you on list. Berry prices are: quart (not pint) for $9, 5 lbs. for $26 and 10 lbs. for $50.

Cooking Demo. Next Tuesday July 20th at 3pm Wild Oats Bakery and Café Chef and longtime CSA member Becky Shepherd will share her insight on cooking with CSA produce here at the farm. Just show up at 3:00 by the distribution barn and learn ways to use the week’s harvest.

Eggs! Hens are working…we’ll have a few dozen for sale this week on a first come, first served basis. Our new hens are doing their thing, enjoying their pastures and making bright orange yolks and stand tall whites. Nothing is better than a fresh, pastured egg.

Pigs are getting big….Our pigs have been doing a great job turning compost in the barns and turning sod in the fields. They are healthy and happy eating grass, grain and liberal supply of exotic kitchen scraps from El Camino Restaurant. Who new Maine pigs would come to love tortillas and avocados! We are opening orders for whole and half pigs this week with delivery in mid August. Order your half or whole any way you like and fill the freezer with chops, hams, sausage and bacon. Talk to a farmer about signing up when you come to pick up your share.

Grass-fed Beef from Harpswell. Look for local grass-fed beef from Harpswell’s Two Coves Farm. This is the real thing. This beef has amazing flavor and it was raised overlooking Casco Bay –what could be better! Look for T-bone steaks, London Broil and Ground beef.
Enjoy the harvest this week!


Upic Peas continue for another week, but they are waning in a serious way. Thanks for all of your hard picking; they have been a great crop for us this year. We will be planting fall peas in a couple weeks, so you’ll see them again come September. We’re going to give the flowers a bit more time to bloom so there will be enough for everyone – so if you can wait another week or so, we’ll let you know when you can pick some flowers.

Weeds are choking us! The weed population is getting the better of us in a few crops and we have started putting other things on the back burner to try and catch up. Its amazing, wet year or dry, the weeds know their niche and they keep coming back. What is the best tool we have to controlling big weeds is lots of people. We need you help. Wednesday and Saturday mornings we will be down in the fields starting at 9am and going until… It’s a great time to chat with the farmers and save your favorite vegetables from the jungle. Look for us in the fields and pull into the nearest driveway along Pleasant Hill Road.

Here’s what to look forward to in your shares:

Kale                                    Baby Bok Choi

Chard                        Lettuce

Tatsoi                        Mustard

Scallions                        Kohlrabi

Summer squash            Various chickories

A couple weeks ago I wrote about making hay as winter feed for our sheep. These dry square bales take two consecutive days of dry weather to make, which in most seasons is doable but in the past few we have really been struggling. With the new pattern of really wet Junes (we escaped this pattern this year) we found ourselves making hay in July or even August, after the quality of the grasses and clovers was past. This year we are trying something new to us, hay silage. When making silage, instead of drying the grasses and clovers in the sun to preserve them like bailed hay, we cut the grass green and preserve it anaerobically, like making sauerkraut. The green hay is cut and make into a pile, covered with plastic and the oxygen is sucked out, making an anaerobic cocoon that will preserve the forage until the winter when we feed it out to the sheep. Last fall we applied for a grant to research making hay silage using a technique popular in New Zealand. Many of you have seen the big round bales wrapped in white plastic on farms in Maine and beyond. These also are silage bales but the method of making them is very expensive to get in to (close to $50K, not including the tractor). The system we are researching costs less than $20K and the forage made is (hopefully) of better quality and uses a tenth of the plastic. We’ve already made several piles here at the farm and on two other local farms participating in the project. If we’ve done a good job we’ll open the piles in the winter and be able to feed the ewes the best winter forage they have ever had. For those of you who might want more detail on the project, our grant proposal is posted on the web:

Cooking Demo. Tuesday July 20th at 3pm Wild Oats Bakery and Café Chef and longtime CSA member Becky Shepherd will share her insight on cooking with CSA produce here at the farm. Just show up at 3:00 by the distribution barn and learn ways to use this week’s harvest.

Chickens, Pigs, and Lambs The chickens are laying eggs but they are still small.  We’re hoping in a few weeks we’ll have some for sale at CSA pickups.  Say hello to the lambs & chickens by the CSA barn.  You can check out the pigs while you’re in the Upic field – on the south side of the field.
Enjoy the harvest this week!