For the Love of Asparagus

Every year our first major crop that we bring to market is asparagus. It’s the first green that we see that’s from our fields and that’s edible and really is a beacon of spring and the warm weather to come.

We love asparagus. So many of our friends and customers do too and tell us when they get to the market and see it’s available! But what is asparagus?

Origin of Asparagus

Asparagus is actually a cousin of the onion and a member of the liliaceae family. So asparagus and Lilies are related! Just like lilies asparagus comes back up every year. It’s been consumed for over 2000 years and has its origins in Eastern Mediterranean countries but has also been traced back to Africa. It has been shown that ancient Egyptians actually cultivated it by archaeologists.

In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used asparagus to treat certain gastric issues in his patients. Asparagines in the plant are a diuretic and has been shown to be quite medicinal. It wasn’t until the 16th and 17th century until asparagus made its way to Europe and was served to royalty. By the 18th century asparagus made it to the local markets and was used commonly in culinary efforts in every day households.

It doesn’t last nearly long enough. Only a few weeks usually. But, it’s the start of the season and the beginning of so many great things to come in the next few weeks and even months. But if you like it as much as we do you can easily freeze it!

Freezing Asparagus

The easiest way to do it is to blanch the spears and then quickly cool them. Get some boiling water ready and get a bowl of ice water ready. Put your asparagus spears in the boiling water for three minutes (one pound of asparagus at a time and allow the water to reboil before the next batch) and then take out and cool off the in the water. Dry them off and put them in freezer bags! That’s it. Fresh tasting asparagus long into the summer!

 

Crop Report: Onions are in the Ground

Fisher Hill Farm Onions

We got our onions in the ground last week. It’s and brutally slow process and if you follow us on social media you probably saw a post about driving .1 miles per hour in the tractor! Painfully slow but so necessary and actually kind of beautiful in a way. It also gives you time to think which with three kids and a business to run there isn’t much time for that.

Onions are one of the first things to hit the soil every year and it marks the beginning of the growing season. It’s a time for reflection on last years crops and a time to look into the future of where the business is heading, what changes need to be made, and what milestones to celebrate.

Onions might be the beginning of our soil crops but they are so much more than that. They are a staple of cooking for chefs and culinary hobbyists around the world. They last through the year in cold storage. Did you know they are famous for being untraceable in the archaeological world? It’s true! Their tissues leave almost no trace at all and so their origin has been debated by botanists and food historians alike. Some research suggests that they originated in Central Asia while other research suggests they came from West Pakistan.

No matter where they originated from, onions were one of the very first cultivated crops  in the world because they grew in different soils and climates, were easily transported, and lasted a long time after coming out of the ground. Ancient Chinese, Roman, and Egyptian texts have shown that onions played an important role in diets and even cultural practices. It’s amazing how far back they date and just how amazingly important they are!

We’re excited for the growing season and excited about these onions. We can’t wait to share them with you.

Crop Report: Last Year Can Give Insight

Fisher Hill Farm - Crop Report

Looking through last year’s crop reports can be telling sometimes.

It’s somewhat of a personal Farmer’s Almanac. We send out crop reports on our email blasts to alert our friends and customers of what’s happening in the field. If you have a CSA with us or if you frequent our table at the markets we attend then you’ll want to know what to expect as the summer months progress.

Looking back to last year is fun too. 

This last week of really cold temperatures is enough to make you want to run south. But looking at these old crop reports made us realize that spring is coming soon! Not only that but the sun has been much warmer this last week than it has in months. It’s coming but it seems like it’s taking forever.

Here’s a few crop reports that we put on our blog from last year. 

Here’s a few that might be interesting to you and of course, get you a bit excited for this year’s growing season. We can’t wait!

20181007_183132

These three are from July of last year. It will give you an idea of what to look forward to, especially if this is your first CSA with us!

July 7th

July 13th 

July 24th 

If this is the first time you’re hearing about us or you stumbled upon this blog posting check out this link of where to come find us. Come meet us at one of the markets we attend.

CLICK HERE FOR MARKETS

The fast approaching spring can’t come soon enough for many of us. But maybe these crop reports are more than just teasers. They really are time capsules into years past. We now have the internet and this web blog to thank for them being public, but this is nothing new for farmers and nothing new for a lot of us who have kept journals and diaries.

Enjoy this video of our farm and family!

Hope to see everyone soon!

 

 

 

Crop Report: All About Sweet Corn

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Sweet Corn

This week summer will be in full force. Sweet corn is finally ready and let me tell you it is amazing. We had an exceptionally cold April and an unusually warm May and that cold April kept us out of the field for an early corn planting.

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Sweet Corn
Fisher Hill Farm – Local Sweet Corn

But when you look back at May we never had a frost. How unusual is that? Many years we struggle to keep early plantings alive and this year we could have planted frost sensitive crops even earlier.

But I digress, back to sweet corn. This week’s variety is called ‘Sweetness’ and its nothing short of that. Usually, to grow early corn we have to sacrifice a few things to get the corn on the table so soon, such as ear size, flavor or height of the plant. Sweetness is a very good eating corn but it is a smaller ear. But don’t worry as the season goes on the corn will get larger but it will always be better than you can find in a store!

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Sweet Corn 2
Fisher Hill Farm -Sweetness

 Deer Report

The fences seems to be holding them back. We have one last field to fence in this week and after that the deer are out of luck. Hopefully they will find some other place to call home. Next week I hope to share some pictures of the fence itself and the solar powered fence chargers that keep the fence hot.

Fall Planning

Last week we planted more beets, chard, a mega planting of kale (for winter harvest), broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and melons. We have since had a nice little rain shower to set the plants in but definitely could use some more. Hard to believe that it’s time to think about late fall and winter kale. But we need to have the plants well established and full of greens by fall. After mid October plants don’t grow much and we need to have all that foliage banked up and ready to harvest.

Currently Available

Garlic Scapes

Zucchini and Summer Squash

Head Lettuce

Cucumbers (slicing and pickling)

Sweet corn

Chard

Kale

Radishes

Spring onions

Scallions

Green garlic

Beans (flat, fava, green, yellow)

Sweet yellow onions

Bunched beets (red and gold)

Shoots and microgreens

Potatoes, New (red and white)

Carrots

Shallots (storage)

FRESH chicken
Free Range Eggs (chicken & duck)
Red Jacket juices

Fisher Hill Farm - Bristol NY
Fisher Hill Farm – Bristol NY

Crop Report: Oh Deer!

Fisher Hill Farm

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

Whitetail deer have been an issue since we started farming vegetables. In the beginning they liked to eat peas and pumpkins. Knowing their preference for these crops we began planting those close to the barn or the road. These ideas helped but we always had some loss. Last year seemed exceptionally bad and we had serious losses and damage.

Off to a Good Start

This year we seemed to be off to a good start until last weekend. Those darn deer ate almost a whole bed of gold beets; a bed meaning rows upon rows not just a stretch of one row. They have good taste, I know! They pulled out the beets from the ground and nibbled only the beets; leaving a trail of destruction – partially eaten beets, greens, and torn up plastic. This all happened over the weekend and enough was enough.

What We Did About it

Monday I went to tractor supply with a headache but no plan, well maybe a little internet research, and left the store with what I thought I needed. 7 foot t-posts, poly wire, insulations, solar fence charger, and miscellaneous goodies. The final product was a 6 foot tall electric fence with 4 wires spaced 18 inches apart. And boy golly, it worked!!! So, the next day after another (fairly expensive!) trip to tractor supply we had one more field fenced in.

We are already seeing almost double the production of zucchini and summer squash. Hopefully next week after the heat wave leaves we can fence in the last big field and be deer free.

You may ask yourself why don’t they just hunt the deer in the fall? We tried that with several groups hunters during the entire Fall season. The deer are very smart, sleeping & limiting their movement during the day and foraging at night. If there is a little snow cover, a clear sky with moonlight the deer manage to find their daily ration just fine. I talked with the DEC about permits but I needed results fast.

 I hope that the deer get the message, move on to easier picking in another area and don’t come back!

 Harvest News

In positive, profitable news – we did harvest some new and exciting crops this week. We dug the first new potatoes and boy do they look nice. Planting them on plastic really paid off and I know I’ll be doing that next year. Also available are cucumbers and pickles, greens beans, fava beans, and larger sweet onions are coming in too.

The Current List of What is Available

Garlic Scapes

Zucchini and summer squash
Cucumbers (slicing and pickling)

Head Lettuce

Peas (shelling and sugar snap)
Beans (green, Italian Flat, fava)

Chard

Kale

Radishes

Spring onions

Scallions

Green garlic

Bunched beets (red and hopefully the return of gold)

Shoots and microgreens

Potatoes (NEW!)

Carrots (storage)

Onions (storage)

Shallots (storage)

 FRESH chicken
Free Range Eggs (chicken & duck)
Red Jacket juices