Hot, Dry and Normal?

Thankfully the heat and dry of the past couple weeks has come to an end. We survived the sweat-soaked days but it is good reminder of why we live in Maine and not Virginia (although if the climate does continue to change maybe this will be the new norm).  We have been irrigating everyday for the past ten days trying to keep ahead of the dry wind. Here’s a shot of our leeks getting a much needed drink. The farm has but one irrigation well and it yields 45 gallons a minute. This may seem like a lot but when we’re trying to put an inch of water a week on 10 acres of vegetables it goes very slowly. Mostly we are doing very well with the weather, but the greens in your share will be a bit thin this week. We had some lovely red oak leaf lettuce that we planned to harvest this morning but the cooler weather came too late and we found our 275 heads bolted.  There are some very nice looking greens plantings coming up and we hope to have more of them in your share soon. Our old friend chard is thriving. Running out of creativity with chard? Look at our collection of recipes or jump onto the the csa facebook group for fresh inspiration.

Sweet onions are with us again this week and should be a regular part of your share for the next few weeks. Try them right on a sandwich or on the grill  – they are gifts of summer. Green peppers and eggplant have started and we have a mix and match this week so you should be going home with one or the other. The quantities on both should be increasing in the weeks to come. There is also more basil this week so find find your favorite pesto recipe, or ours: pesto . Great in the freezer to enjoy in cooler months!  Please DO NOT refrigerate your basil!  It is a hot weather crop and will turn black in a day at temps below 45 degrees. The best way to keep it fresh if you can’t use it right away is to trim the stems and put it in water on your counter.

Beans Step Up, Peas Die Back

Sadly the peas have come to an end. They were great while they lasted and we were a bit surprised that they held on so long in the heat. The good news is that beans are ready. Look for the signs in Upic.

Order Pork Now!

Whole and half pigs are available for pre-order. These are our own pigs raised here at the farm and processed however you like at a USDA inspected butcher. This is a great deal for high quality pork for your freezer this winter. Bacon, ham, sausage and ribs all processed and packed as you like. Neighbors and families can split halves or quarters. Whole pigs are $3.50/lb. hanging weight and halves are $3.75. Talk to us at pick-up for more details.

What’s in Upic?


Cilantro (in flower)






What’s in the Share?

Sweet Onions

Summer Squash






Swiss Chard Quesadillas

  • Adapted from the internet..
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped (3/4 C)
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced (2 tsp)
    • 1 jalapenos or 1 serrano chili, minced (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
    • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/4 cup tequila
    • 12 ounces swiss chard, trimmed
    • 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
    • 1 cup light monterey jack cheese, grated
  • Heat oil in pot over medium heat; add onion and saute 5 minutes, until golden.
  • Stir in garlic, chile, cumin and oregano, and saute 2 minutes.
  • Add in chard; cover; reduce heat to medium low, and steam 5 minutes, or until chard wilts.
  • Uncover, and cook 3 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.
  • In  a second skillet place 1 tortilla in skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle with 1/4 C cheese; top with chard mixture and second tortilla.
  • Cook 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  • Slice into wedges and serve.
  • Seared Chard

    Adapted from Rachel Ray
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
    • 10 to 12 cups red chard (2 bunches trimmed and coarsely chopped)
    • Grated nutmeg, to your taste
    • Coarse salt and pepper
    • 2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

    Make sure your greens are very dry before preparing recipe. Also, wash and chop them when you come home from the farm, then they are ready for you to cook up even quicker.

    Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and toss 2 minutes, then addchard in bunches and keep it moving as it wilts up a bit – you are just searing it up. The greens should remain crisp and crunchy. Wilting them all and searing them up should take no more than 3 to 4 minutes. Season the greens with nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste. Douse the pan with a little vinegar and remove from heat. Toss to cook off vinegar and serve the greens hot.

    Hotter then July (in maine)

    Heat is a vital ingredient in growing all of the vegetables we are craving this time of year.  Zuchini, cucumbers, and scallions in the past couple weeks have been robust because of the constant warmth.  Tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplant and summer onions are all producing fruit right now that will come to ripen soon and we hope their flavor and sugars will be concentrated from the heat and dry air.  Benefits to the heat loving crops aside, growing vegetables in this weather is challenging if for no other reason that it is unusual.  I’m from the midwest originally where everyone is used to temps of 90 – 105 most days in the summer and life is adjusted accordingly. Every house has ceiling fans or a/c and productivity crashes in the summer months.  Growing up we ate California lettuce in the summer for the same reason Mainers eat California lettuce in the winter -it won’t grow in Missouri from June through August.  Farming here for the past thirteen years I have gotten used to (attached to, really) the cool summer evenings and July days that are foggy until noontime.  The varieties I choose to grow are adapted to the usual mild qualities of a coastal Maine summer, not the blast furnace heat of the past weeks. The extended heat wave has affected us and the crops in a few ways.  First, we have thin northern blood and the heat has us wilting a bit by noontime.  Second, many varieties that are mainstays for us like arugula, baby bok choi, and tatsoi have succumbed to the heat, bolting before we can harvest them.  Third, heat-loving crops are growing faster than we can harvest them.  The best example of this is zuchini.  Usually we harvest zuchini every other day.  Fruit that is 3 inches develops into a perfect 8 inch zuchini in two days.  In the heat this week two days pushes that 3 inch zuchinni into a 16 inch little league bat that’s a tough as leather.  Like all farmers, we adapt where we can and capitalize on the benefits and diminish the drawbacks.

    Check out the Crystal Spring Farm CSA  “tips and tricks” facebook group for recipes to fit your share each week.

    Bookmark this link to the facebook group created by superstar CSA member Joanna Patterson. There are great new recipes each week using the exact produce in your share. What could be better!

    Crystal Spring Farm Tote Bags are Here! Show your CSF pride and get your this week at the farm. Only $6

    Order Pork for your freezer starting this week.

    Winter in warmer with a farm-raised bacon, ham and chops in the freezer. For more info download our pork order form. Reserve you whole or half hog by sending in a completed form with  $50 deposit.

    Basil is in your share this week -get ready!

    Sweet Summer Onions

    Look for sweet summer onions in your share for the next few weeks. Unlike the pungent storage onions you are used to in the grocery store (or in your share come fall) these onions are sweet and wonderful. Use them with everything.

    Zucchini Has Landed

    Zucchini and summer squash are here to stay for a while. Check out these new recipe ideas… summer squash

    What’s in Upic this Week?




    Peas (Snow and Snap) -Last week until fall!


    What to expect in your share…

    Sweet Onions

    Asian Greens





    Summer Squash


    Zucchini crust pizza

    Thanks to Robin from Mister Bagel in Brunswick for this one…

    5 medium zucchini grated

    3 eggs, well beaten

    1/3 cup all-purpose flour

    pepper, onion, garlic, to taste

    herbed tomato sauce

    favorite pizza toppings, cheese, meats, etc.


    Preheat oven 450°F.

    Drain the grated zucchini in needed. Place the zucchini pulp in mixing bowl with eggs, flour and seasonings. Mix thoroughly.

    Spread the mix onto a shallow oiled pan and bake for 8 minutes.

    Remove from oven. Top with pizza sauce and favorite pizza toppings.

    Return to oven and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F until cheese is browned.

    Grilled/pan-seared zucchini and summer squash

    These vegetables are made for grilling/pan searing. Remove the stems and ends and slice longways, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with olive oil that  has salt, pepper and paprika (optional). The grill or pan should be very hot before adding the squash. Resist the urge to turn them until they are well browned/starting to blacken -about 4 minutes.

    Pull them off the heat and drizzle with more olive oil that has been blended with fresh basil leaves.

    Ramping up

    What’s in Upic?


    Cilantro (help it’s bolting!, make pesto)


    Things are really exploding here. The heat and the regular rain have pushed things along getting us caught up from the dreary May, now just a hazy memory.  Potatoes have just started to form little tubers, eggplant is in flower, cantaloupe is vining out and full of little fruit, tomatoes are growing so fast we can’t keep ahead of the trellising.

    Scallions are Onions

    This weeks’ scallions are on the big side, some of them even bulbing up a bit. We will have these for the next couple weeks at least until we move into our sweet summer onions. Until the “real”onions start don’t be afraid to use the scallions any way you might use their bigger cousin, the onion.  Not just for the top of salads, scallions can enhance sautee or soups, – or even grill, and add to burgers.   Tonight we sautéed scallions and blended them together in the food processor with Chard making an amazing pesto we tossed onto ravioli (the kids loved it).  Kind of like a quick & simple basil – no cheese or nuts necessary.

    Get Ready for Basil

    Next week we hope to have our first harvest of Basil. New this year we are growing basil in our high tunnel that we will harvest and distribute in your shares.  If you are pesto fan you may want to get your pine nuts/walnuts and parmesan ready. Here’s the link to our favorite pesto recipe .  Don’t forget, if you are wondering what to do with your greens (chard & kale) go ahead and add them to your pesto.  (May want to lightly steam the kale first.)

    Mad Rush for Kale

    We have been growing food for CSA members for the past thirteen years. The most complex part of farming in this way is figuring out how much and what to grow. Each year we tweek things a bit, taking your feedback from the fall survey along with our own harvest data and trying to get closer to that “perfect” share. Sometimes we are way off base and grow too much of one thing or too little of another. One thing we have consistently over grown for the past few years is kale. Call it wishfull farming, we have been encouraging CSA members to eat more of this superfood for years. This past winter we gave in and cut our plantings way back, almost 40% from last year. Wouldn’t you know it but this year so many of you have jumped on the kale bandwagon and the past two weeks the kale has been more popular than the typically favorite, chard, in the mix and match! This is like the donut shop running out of bran muffins! Kudos to the kale lovers – more coming soon!

    Weeding Wednesdays

    Come help us beat back the weeds and enjoy some good conversation or peaceful quiet as you choose! Stay for as long of as short as you like. Meet us at 9am at the CSA Barn.

    More recipe ideas, just for you…

    A current member has set up a facebook group specifically for our CSA members to share tips and recipes week to week.  There are some great ideas on there & we encourage you to join if you’re looking to give or receive ideas on using your share.  Find it here:

    What to expect in your share this week:




    Summer Squash




    Don’t get behind on your cabbage, there’s more food coming next week. Look at our recipes in the sidebar to you right… See you at the farm.

    Basil Pesto

    This is our favorite traditional Basil Pesto, adapted from Mark Bittman

    2 cups loosely packed basil leaves


    1 clove garlic

    2 Tablespoons pine nuts/walnuts

    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

    Process the basil, salt nuts and half the oil. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining oil slowly while continuing to process. If you are eating right away add the cheese and toss with pasta, rice or potatoes. Spread on grilled or broiled chicken or fish for great results. If you want to freeze some for the dark months ahead pack the pesto (without the cheese) into zip-locks, ice cube trays or any other freezable container that will provide you with a good portion to thaw later. Add the cheese to the thawed mixture.

    Peas Please

    What’s in the Upic Field?

    • Snap Peas
    • Snow Peas
    • Flowers with signs

    The Upic field opens this week and peas are ready. Please read further for more info about how upic works. The suggested amount to pick is two pints (we’ll supply the pints) this first week so that there is enough for everyone. There are a few flower varieties starring as well. Look for the plantings that have signs, this means they are okay to pick.  Pick carefully so that we can keep the plants healthy.

    Here’s the skinny on how Upic works. We prepare, plant, and weed this ½ acres plot just for you, the members of the farm. Growing there you will find cherry tomatoes, green beans, herbs, flowers, and most notably this week, peas. These are crops that are particularly rewarding to harvest and can add a lot of value to your share as they often are great accompaniments to the “field crops” we harvest and wash for you each week.

    The important thing to understand about this field is that it belongs to everyone who has a share in the farm. There are 250 shares this year and we try very hard to plan each planting so that everyone will be able to enjoy every crop. The idea is that all of these crops are compliments to the field crops and not necessarily staples in and of themselves. While we would love to be able to plant enough Upic basil for everyone to make pesto for the winter or sow enough beans to share with your neighbors, it’s just not possible in the space we have to work with. Those of you that split shares, we ask that you be particularly aware of your picking quantities.

    With the exception of these first couple weeks we will not suggest amounts for you to take from the upic field. The idea is that we all take our share and consciously leave behind enough for everyone else. The upic field has always been our grand experiment in community spirit and in thirteen years of CSA growing all over the Northeast we have never been disappointed.

    Here are a few points and guidelines to keep Upic going strong all summer:

    • Picking is open on Tuesday, Fridays, and Sundays from dawn to dusk. Please pick just once a week.
    • Look for the signs we post in the field indicating what is ready to pick. If you don’t see a sign, please don’t pick it.
    • Scissors are provided to help in cutting things that need to be cut (not peas). Please use them –clean cuts help keep the plants healthy and productive. Please don’t put scissors in your pockets! You’ll remember them when you get home. The loop on each pair is to go around your wrist and keep them handy for picking.
    • Be gentle with the plants when picking and USE BOTH HANDS, one to hold the plant and one to cut or pick. Parents please teach your little ones how to do this before letting them loose.
    • Be aware of where you are walking and try to walk between the beds and not on them.
    • Know and teach your young ones that all of the fencing at the farm is electrified, including the fence around the upic field.
    • Make sure the kids (and adults) stay out of the buildings and off of the tractors and farm equipment. The farm is old and there are numerous serious dangers to be found.
    • Weeding, picking rock,s and squashing bad bugs are always welcome. If you question whether a bug is bad leave it be: it could be an ally.

    What’s in the Share?

    • Lettuce
    • Chard/Kale
    • Chinese Cabbage
    • Salad Turnips
    Look for great chines cabbage recipes on the website sidebar. The rule of thumb with this great summer cabbage is…use it as you would any other cabbage (cole slaw, stir fry, etc.)