It’s fresh potato time

Chemical free produce including purple potatoes at Halcyon Acres in RoanokeIf you’ve ever had potatoes fresh out of the ground, you know what a treat they are. Unlike the store bought kind that are dry and starchy and mostly tasteless due to age, the recently harvested spuds are moist, creamy in texture and rich in flavor. The down side to this delight is harvest season runs mostly from July through August in Roanoke. That makes it tough to go back to grocery store fare. If you can resist the temptation to eat them all when they’re dug up (it’s not easy to do), they stay delicious for months and will probably still be fresher than the industrialized harvest selections well into the winter.

Our specialty is Adirondack blues. These are a great conversation piece not only for their delightful taste, but also for their color. Both skins and flesh are a deep purple, even after you cook them. They’re versatile too. You can boil them, bake them, saute and even use them in potato salads.

We also have a limited amount of Pontiac reds. These didn’t do as well as we hoped this year, so the potatoes are small, but equally fun and tasty. Pontiac red and Adirondack Blue potatoes fresh dug at Halcyon Acres in Roanoke VA

Curiously, we’ve found the taste and size of potatoes is very weather dependent. Fortunately, this has been an ideal year for the size and flavor of the Adirondack blues. They’re big and delicious in 2018. Not so much for the Yukon golds.

In addition to potatoes, we currently have carrots, garlic, fresh herbs including sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, dill and lavender as well as a small selection of heirloom tomatoes. We hope to be harvesting sweet potatoes in the next few weeks. We’ll also be planting fall crops including lettuces, radishes, peas, kale, Swiss chard and turnips soon to be ready in September and October.

nlevin

Growing chemical-free produce can be a spiritual experience. Join me as I discover and share the secrets to making it work on a tiny plot of suburban land in Roanoke as I try to adapt what I learned during 20 years on over 100 acres rural in New York.

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Deer in the garden

Produce at Halcyon Acres in Roanoke Virginia

It’s been a challenging year on the growing front. A winter that wouldn’t let go followed by stifling heat and then rain, rain and more rain. I’ve never been a believer in the saying “rain, rain, go away,” but I might change my tune if my house floats away by the time we get through the next stretch of weather with rain forecast every day in the foreseeable future. We’ve been hit hard here with flooding. While the interior of my office became a pond, curiously, the garden area drained quickly and plants survived (for the most part – lost a couple of the artichokes I’m testing to see if they survive in this climate).

That said, it’s becoming impossible to predict what will be ready when. Items that need a lot of sun and heat seem to be ahead of schedule and those I expected early are late. What we have now and what’s been planted for later.

We currently have a lot of fresh herbs available including:

  • Cilantro (soon to be coriander)
  • Dill
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Chives

If you like fresh herbs and think that’s what you get at the supermarket, you’re wrong and in for a treat with the taste truly fresh picked brings to your meals. Give us a call at (540) 400-7106 and we’ll introduce you to new flavors you’ll relish. We can do quantities on your favorite items or create a sample pack. Soon we’ll have parsley, basil and garlic scapes (if you’ve never tasted one of these, you must). Oregano and thyme are great in salads and eggs if you’re looking to cut calories on dressing and cheese and still get a burst of taste that excites your palate.

The purple and green asparagus was delightful this year, but short-lived. The purple variety is tender, not stringy and meant to be eaten raw. You can even do that with the green that’s fresh picked here. If you want to get on the list for limited quantities of this item, call now to get on the short list for next year.

Deer in the garden
Yep – these critters – they ate most of your strawberries this year. Note the solar light on the tree – works great at night – not so much during the day.

I’ve given up on strawberries. Perhaps I’ll come up with a better way to keep the deer from devouring the leaves before fruit even bears next year on the plants that survive, but I’m not buying any more. On the few that did make it to producing berries, the ground hogs stole them before they were picked. This is a new challenge for me. When I had the farm, I had Gatsby, my delightfully talented mutt with no nose (thank goodness because in my New York town, DEC officers were authorized to shoot dogs, even when they’re yours on your own property, if caught running deer), who guarded the two-acre vegetable garden plot. Groundhogs annoyed me as they took a single bit of every ripe strawberry, but I had enough land to grow more than they could eat and ultimately, Gatsby hunted them all down.

New fruits available this year includes:

  • Blackberries
  • Elderberries
  • Blueberries
  • Artichokes (maybe – and yes, technically they’re a flower)

With vegetables, we’ve moved away from planting the standard fare and are focusing on items that have been extremely popular in the past two years with mostly unavailable items locally that have tastes unequaled elsewhere. We’ve also switched from a standard fare package to specific item and quantity orders. We’ll have a page on the website soon indicating what’s available with prices soon that’s updated regularly. While we’re also happy to try to grow something on special request, our current selections this year include:

  • Garlic (hard neck, softneck, elephant – new this year)
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Adirondack blue & Pontiac red potatoes (never had fresh dug potatoes – you’ll never go back to old, starchy supermarket crap once you do)
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Leeks
  • Heirloom tomatoes (a variety of sizes and colors)
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Water melon
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Banana peppers
  • Many lettuces including head and loose leaf mixes
  • and probably more I’m forgetting at the moment

We’re also going to give sunflower seeds a go this year (no idea how that will turn out). We’ll be offering these flowers and a number of others for bouquets deliver to our regular customers.

Unusual iris flower
Look at this lovely – not selling iris’s because they’re too short lived, but wish I could remember where I found this unusual species.

Thanks to those of you who have already called to get on the list for delivery this year – and for your patience as we deal with weather surprises that have crops behaving weirdly. We’ll keep you all posted as soon as crops emerge with hopes this growing season moves into some kind of normality soon.

 

 

 

 

 

nlevin

Growing chemical-free produce can be a spiritual experience. Join me as I discover and share the secrets to making it work on a tiny plot of suburban land in Roanoke as I try to adapt what I learned during 20 years on over 100 acres rural in New York.

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Cucumbers, spaghetti squash, tomatoes and more new this week.

Looking for in-season produce picked morning of and delivered to your home or business in South County Roanoke or Roanoke city?

Here’s what we’re picking at Halcyon Acres the week of July 18, 2016

Vegetables & Fruits

  • Turnips (& turnip greens)
  • Kale
  • Beets (& beet greens)
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes (blue)
  • Carrots
  • Swiss chard
  • Beans (green)
  • Onions
  • Fresh garlic (with tops)
  • Wheat grass
  • cucumbers
  • green peppers
  • tomatoes
  • spaghetti squash

Fresh Herbs

  • Dill
  • Parsley (curly & flat leaf)
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro

Coming within the next two weeks:

  • Acorn squash
  • Potatoes (Yukon gold & red)
  • Egg plant
  • Flowers

nlevin

Growing chemical-free produce can be a spiritual experience. Join me as I discover and share the secrets to making it work on a tiny plot of suburban land in Roanoke as I try to adapt what I learned during 20 years on over 100 acres rural in New York.

More Posts