Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reflecting back

During the winter time things slow down on the farm.  Vegetables don't grow as fast.  It's colder outside and the days are shorter.  So, it's a time to reflect back on the year and to think ahead for the coming new year.

As I reflect back on the year, two things come to my mind.  The wetness and warmth of the year.  Those two things played the biggest part in the garden.  It was warm earlier than usual.  It snowed the first day of March and then was in the 70s for the rest of the month.  The early warmth meant that the bugs appeared sooner than usual.  Then it rained and rained and rained.  It has been one of the wettest on record here in Alabama.  You might think that tons of rain is good for vegetables.  Well think again.  They like moderation.  Tomatoes succumbed to disease early on thanks to the rain.  Rain brings on disease quicker.  It was a horrible watermelon year.  If a watermelon gets to much rain right before it is ripe it will explode.  The rain will also wash all the flavor out.  So the spring and summer pass and you start thinking how great the fall will be.  Then it starts raining again and again.  So the soil is to wet and the fall vegetables are late getting going.  

Things are looking up now.  Everything is doing well.  But let's not just think back on the year and commiserate about how bad it was.  Some things did well.  The Music garlic, cannellini beans, flowers, and potatoes were standouts.  This has been the 2nd year for the farm.  We are steadily making improvements.

Winter time is a great time for working on projects.  We will be putting up a greenhouse and getting all the infrastructure ready for laying hens come March.  Seed catalogs also start coming in the mail.  It's always exciting to get new catalogs.  I love pouring over them.

As I look ahead to next year I see the farm growing by leaps and bounds.  It has come a long way since I moved back in 2005.  As each year passes by the soil gets better, the vegetables become more consistent, and income for the farm grows.  

And last but not least.  I am very thankful for my family, whom I would not be able to do any of this and to a new member of the farm, my girlfriend, Elizabeth Sanfelippo.  Elizabeth has been instrumental in helping the farm grow.  One of the biggest things she has done is implementing a email list.  Through the email list people are able to buy vegetables and or flowers when available.  

Friday, October 9, 2009


Zinnias and Cosmos ready to be delivered.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  I've got so much to write about.  So much just waiting to be written about.  I promise post them soon.  But for now check me out in the Hot and Hot Fish Club cookbook!  It's in stores now!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Food Inc.

I'm not sure where to begin.  I first heard about Food Inc., the movie several months ago.  My first thought was oh cool.   I thought it would be kind of similar to King Corn or some of the other documentaries out there.  But I think Food Inc., stands out from the others by addressing labor and business practices of big agribusiness.  

The movie was screened here in Birmingham Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Word on the street is that there was an overwhelming show of support for the movie.  In fact Sunday when I went, was sold out.  The room was packed with anticipation.  Just as those seats were starting to get uncomfortable the movie was over.  The screen came up and there was the panel to discuss those burning questions everyone had.  The panel was made up of a professor from Montevallo, Edwin Marty of Jones Valley Urban Farm, Kathy Crenshaw, Chris Dupont of Cafe Dupont, and a Professor from UAB who was a pediatrician.  The q and a session went well and then on to the food!  The food was made by Cafe Dupont and Bottletree.  

I think the event went well.  Listen up Birmingham!  The sky is the limit to what we can do here.  Now it's up to us to make it happen.  Yes we can!

Chili de Arbol Peppers

Winter Savory

Anise Hyssop

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Available this week

Hollow Spring Farm


Please let me know before 4pm Tuesday if you would like to get some of these Wednesday evening. You can also order by 4pm Thursday for items that you can pick up at the Pepper Place Market on Saturday. 


This week’s special announcement:


The Farm Table at Little Savannah will feature

Hollow Spring Farm, Tuesday, Sept. 1st, 2009


 The evening focuses on three key things: the diverse local ingredients that thrive with our local farmers in Alabama, the creativity that goes into preparing these ingredients in the kitchen, and the bond that is created through sharing a table together.


Reservations are required and only 20 seats are available.

Call 205.591.1119, and be sure to specify that you want the Community Farm Table.


$35 for four courses of family-style food (plus tax and 18% gratuity).

Drinks are not included, but come early for $5 cocktails at the bar and on the patio.

Bar opens at 5pm.


 Provider Green Beans $3/lb


 Mixed Bouquets of Zinnias, Comsos, and Sunflowers- $5/ bunch (also can do bunches of just Zinnias or Sunflowers).


 Green Peppers- $1/each


 Carmello Red Peppers- $2/each or $3/lb  Long frying type that is sweet


 Super Red Ruffled Peppers $2/each or $3/lb - Small sweet pepper that is good for stuffing


 Fresh herbs $3/bunch

·         Thyme

·         Lemon Basil

·         Lime Basil   

·         Marjoram

·         Rosemary

·         Garden Sage

Books on cooking that inspired me.

When I worked in the restaurant industry there was a handful of books that inspired me.  I still go back to them.  They still inspire me.  Even though I don't cook for a living anymore, food rules my world.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's available this week

Hollow Spring Farm


Please let me know before 4pm Tuesday if you would like to get some of these Wednesday.  You can also order by 4pm Thursday for items that you can pick up at the Pepper Place Market on Saturday.  If you are interested, let me know what and how much you would like.


This week’s featured item:  Orange Banana Tomatoes- $3/lb-Its amazing sprightly sweet flavor, reminiscent of Sungold but with more depth and diverse tones, makes an ambrosial sauce by itself and adds a vivid fruity complexity to any sauce with other tomato varieties. 

Green Peppers- $1/each

Provider Green Beans $3/lb

They just keep on providin’ that rich, beany taste of a classic green bean.

Mixed Bouquets of Zinnias, Comsos, and Sunflowers- $5/ bunch (also can do bunches of just Zinnias or Sunflowers).

Black Cherry Tomatoes $3/lb Two-bite cherries with the dusky color and complex flavor typical of the best black tomatoes.


These are particularly good for drying…

Principe Borghese Tomatoes -$3/lb

An Italian heirloom with excellent flavor. Used for sun-dried tomatoes as it has few seeds and little juice.


Lilliput Tomatoes - $3/lb

Hybrid Cherry tomato. Heavy cropper with small round tasty fruits. Great for drying, too.


Sun/Oven Dried Tomatoes – Overview

Plan on 10 standard tomatoes to get one ounce of dried tomatoes.  Homemade dried tomatoes should be placed in an airtight bag or container and stored in the refrigerator or freezer (for up to six to nine months for optimum shelf life.) 

When packing your own in oil at home, be sure to keep them refrigerated, especially when adding fresh herbs or garlic to avoid the risk of botulism. Once opened, oil-packed dried tomatoes should be refrigerated and used within two weeks. 


The Die Hard Way to Sun Dry Tomatoes

·         Simply slice tomatoes in half, place on a raised screen, lightly sprinkle with salt and optional herbs, and place in the hot sun until dry. Depending on your weather conditions, this could take anywhere from four days to two weeks.

·         Cover them with cheesecloth, raised so it does not touch the tomatoes, to keep out any critters and provide proper ventilation.

·         You will also need to bring them in during the night, lest the evening dew undo your drying process.

·         Transfer the tomatoes to zip-lock bags and store in either the refrigerator or freezer.


The Simpler Way to Oven Dry Tomatoes

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 6 hours

·         Preparation: Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. or the lowest setting possible.

·         Trim and discard the stem ends of the tomatoes. Halve each tomato lengthwise. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, side by side and crosswise on cake racks set on the oven racks. Do not allow the tomatoes to touch one another. Sprinkle lightly with salt. 

·         Place in the oven and bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and feel dry, anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. Check the tomatoes from time to time: They should remain rather flexible, not at all brittle. Once dried, remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow them to thoroughly cool on cake racks. (Smaller tomatoes will dry more quickly than larger ones. Remove each tomato from the oven as it is dried.)

·         Transfer the tomatoes to zip-lock bags and store in either the refrigerator or freezer.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Autumn Beauty Sunflower

Velvet Queen Sunflower

Valentine Sunflower



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Loving the cool weather!

The pond this past Sunday.

Loomis Mountain Mint

Lemon Verbena and Summer Savory

Anise Hyssop

Lemon, Lime, and Red Rubin Basils

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yeah for rain

Wild Shiso.  The green shiso grows wild along the road in the hollow.

Could it be?  Chanterelles?  Yes!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A juicy hot post


More Dewberries

Honeysuckle that needs to be picked for syrup.

Music Garlic and Cipollini oinions curing in the barn.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Last of the spring photos

The garlic heading to the barn.

Music garlic to be exact.

Bright Lights Chard

Lots of tomatoes have gone in these rows.

Leeks, garlic, and sugarsnaps.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Available this week

Skunkyo Semi-Long Radishes



Long Standing Bloomsdale and Tyee Spinach

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Oh yes the strawberries are here.  I picked three quarts worth this afternoon.  I only picked maybe half of them.  The story of how I found them goes something like this.  Last year around this time I walked up to the top of the hill behind the house just to look around and check things out.  I was walking back down the hill when I noticed a plant that had gone to seed.  The seed heads didn't look familiar, so I checked the plant out.  It was wild sorrel.  So I start walking again and notice strawberry plants EVERYWHERE.  Now there are two types of wild strawberry plants.  One is called Woodland strawberry and is tasteless.  The birds will not even eat them.  The other is the one I have growing.  The berries are small and very intensely strawberry flavored.  They are rare as well.  Anyway, the strawberry plants were starting to bloom.  I made a mental note to check back on them to see if they were the real deal.  About two weeks later I'm bush hogging the area and as I'm going along I look down and notice little red strawberries.  I stop immediately and pick one.  My first thought was, OH MY GOD!!!  I just fell to my knees and started looking around.  There were strawberries everywhere!  They make eating any other strawberry hard to do.  They last for only two weeks.  The most I picked last year was seven quarts.  Hopefully there will be more this year!  

Fade into the sun

The road going over the dam by the pond.

Honeysuckle hanging on a tree.

Deep in the woods.

The front field

Looking towards the old garden.

The view from the old garden looking back towards the front field.

Mulberries up in the tree.

No, those are not gummi bears.  They are unripe mulberries that the rain has knocked off the tree.