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May 2020: Isn’t it great that plants still know how to grow?

May this year—so very, very different from all other years. This month has been similar to talking about the 100-year-flood plain. You know it’s possible that a flood can happen, but until you experience it, you don’t realize all the ramifications of such an event. So here we are in the 100-year-pandemic plain. The weather has been bizarre, we all are in disguise, and we are just now finding routines in the new way of living.Isn’t it great that the plants still know how to grow?
With a lot of our customers working from home, gardening is the new activity! As one person said to me, “This is the only thing we can do.” Hmmm, no movies, no restaurants, no gym time, no concerts, no museums… that leaves gardening, meditation, journaling, taking online classes, reading. Gardening seems to be the favorite!
Tomato and pepper plants are popular of course, but it is great to see people putting in herbs for the first time, experimenting with native perennials, building their own combination plan…

We are all trying to find our new normal in these distinctly not normal times.

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Wow. An April unlike any other April in our collective memories! Even my mother, at age 91, has no memories or family stories of the Spanish Flu Epidemic, 1918-1920. This coronavirus has hit all of us equally new. 
Fortunately for us, the plants that were planted in months past have continued on their way to harvest, blithely ignoring projections, edicts, proclamations, predictions, or other statements. The plants have demanded that we keep up with harvesting. How we get those vegetables to the consumer is not their concern.
Here are our wonderful greens—lettuces, baby bok choy, arugula, mustard greens, chard, kale, etc.—as well as the start of asparagus (10 days ahead of last year) and rhubarb. Onions give way to fresh scallions, and mint, thyme, chives, and sorrel are greening up outside in addition to what is growing in the tunnels. The fruit trees look great, and the new raspberry canes promise a good crop. I have spotted our first pair of barn swallows, scouting out last year’s ne…

Mable Garfield Talley Rotthouse

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Although women make up 51% of the world’s population, and 43% of all farm workers, and grow more than half of the world’s food, little is heard of our women farmers. The land passed to the son of the family and the women have been invisible. 
Today, I am talking about a woman who bridged the 19th and 20th centuries. She was a smart businesswoman, an expert farmer, a devoted wife and mother, and someone who triumphed over adversity and celebrated life. Meet Mable Garfield Talley Rotthouse. 
I am fortunate to have a heritage that honors the women in our family, and I am fortunate to have so many smart, talented, loving, and capable women who have set such a high standard for me. Mable is my maternal great-grandmother.
Mable Garfield Talley was born June 1, 1880, to William Talley (1845-1923) and Rachel Emma Baker (1850-1935). Her two older siblings both died in the first year of life, and her sister Anna, died at age 27.Her sister had “hip disease,” which may have been developmental dyspla…

Thoughts About Peaches

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I am a peach snob. I admit it. I can only eat our fabulous, fresh, tree ripened peaches. Juicy, sweet. I usually eat the ones with a little bruise on them that don’t sell. I cut one open and eat the whole thing. It is because I am a peach snob that we do not carry other peaches in the farm market once our peach season is done. It’s why I say, “eat local.” But let’s face it. It’s a long time between the end of September (the end of peach season) and the end of June (when peaches start again). Nine months in fact. Sometimes the longing for a taste of summer is overwhelming.A South American peach in February just does not come close to what I want.
And hurray, there is a solution! Our good friend, Rebecca, cans a lot of peaches for us. A lot.And she uses hardly any sugar, just enough to keep the peaches from discoloring. They are delicious. Amazing. Stunning.They taste like summer peaches because they are summer peaches. And they taste like peaches, not sugar.There are some peaches in a li…

February is the Shortest Month

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This year, February is confounding us. It is 66 degrees on February 4.On our farm, that constitutes a heat wave. No measurable snow so far this year. It feels like spring. And we had sunshine today!February 2 marks the day we are closer to the start of spring than the beginning of winter—and it is sure feeling like spring today.The additional daylight is quite noticeable now, and we have passed that magic 10-hours mark, when plants increase their growth exponentially.
Woo hoo! I hope this means an early spring! But I know all too well that the end of February and all through March can be treacherous. I know you have been keeping track of this also, that March 20-25, 2018, was close to the coldest week of the winter. And March 20-25, 2019, was one of the coldest weeks of the winter. I suspect winter is not done with us.
In the meantime, though, primroses are popping up, and calendula are looking at me, and lilies of the valley have been planted. The early tomatoes are looking great and w…

Apple Butter

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Apple butter is a unique, old-fashioned way of preserving some of the apple harvest for winter consumption.  It is made by very slow cooking apples, and frequent stirring thereof. My mother, Elaine Linton, remembers her grandmother, Mary P. Webster, making apple butter in the large kettle which hung from a metal stand, over a carefully tended wood fire outside. It took about 2 days and nights for the apples to cook down in an apple cider slurry, turn a rich brown color, and then be ready for canning. No sugar was added, for sugar was quite expensive and everyone liked the flavor of the butter just as it was. People like my mother, who grew up canning with her mother and grandmother, find canning easy. I suppose after 80+ years of practice, it should be easy! Our apple butter is all apples, apple cider, no sugar, seasoned with a little cinnamon, just the way my great-grandmother used to make it. It is naturally sweet and delicious!  I like it on bagels, on oatmeal, as a base for a salad …

A Note about Fitler Square Farmers Market

December 21, 2019 will be our last Saturday at Fitler Square Farmers Market.
Nearly 20 years ago, I renewed a family legacy of going to off-site farmers markets. My great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents, and grandparents all traveled to the King Street Farmers Market in Wilmington.They stopped going in the 1940s when my grandfather established a market at the farm, as more people moved out of the city and closer to the farm. We tried many different markets in various locations, and settled on two in Philadelphia. Our favorite market, by far, has been Fitler Square. Wonderful people who appreciate our unique products and were curious to try something new. Kiwi berries, gooseberries, currants, gold raspberries, mizuna, patty pan squash, purple asparagus, plus all the usual.
17 seasons going to Philadelphia.And the last 14 have been year round, every Saturday, rain or snow or shine. Your support has been wonderful.
Now it is time for another change. We love Fitler so much that …