Thursday, December 29, 2011

Los Endos - Pt. 1

“There’s an angel standing in the sun, free to get back home.”

Belatedly, with apologies…

The last market of the season was on Dec. 3 at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The last New Amsterdam market, in NYC, was on Sunday, Nov. 20. The last on-site farm stand was Wednesday, Nov. 16. On behalf of all associated with Z Food Farm, a great shout out of thanks to all who supported the farm the 2011 farm season.

This was the second year that Z Food Farm participated in the Rittenhouse Square Farmers’ Market under the auspices of the Farm To City organization. Thanks to Kristen, the hands-on market manager, for all of her efforts. (If you are interested in more info about Farm To City and the various programs and markets that they run go to The first year at the market (2010) was a huge success for the farm. This year was even better. To the residents of the Rittenhouse Square area, to those who may not live near the Square but still use the market as part of their regular shopping, and to those who just happen to wander by, thank you so much. Old friends and new, your patronage has been greatly appreciated.

This was the first year that Z Food Farm participated in the New Amsterdam Market in New York City. This is a relatively new market and it has the goal of “leading the redevelopment of the East River Market District in Lower Manhattan.” The manager of the market, Robert is striving to create a “Public Market” in the spirit of the historical nature of the Fulton Fish Market and surrounding district. For more information about the goals Robert has for the market, and about specific vendors, go to The market is located in front of the Old Fulton Fish Market on South Street and Peck Slip in Lower Manhattan; it is just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. As a newcomer to the market Z Food Farm felt warmly welcomed by those who have previously shopped at the market and by those who were discovering the market for the first time. Becoming a part of the New Amsterdam Market family of vendors was a wonderful experience for Farmer David and the farm. To those who supported the farm by purchasing some of your produce us, thank you ever so much. Whether in Philly or NYC, you, the consumer, have many choices as to where you can buy your produce and Z Food Farm does not take your support for granted. The heartfelt thanks from David and company are extended to all.

As mentioned in an earlier posting, the Lawrenceville Farmers Market ceased operations during the course of the farm season. It is unfortunate that this happened. Whether the market makes a comeback is not known at this time. Regardless, the support of those who bought their produce at the L’ville Market this year and last is appreciated. In addition, thanks to all who have stopped by the farm on Wednesdays and Fridays these past two years to buy their produce.

At this time Z Food Farm will be returning to both the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market and to the New Amsterdam Market for farm season 2012. In addition, the on site farm stand will return. We look forward to building on the successes of these first two years and learning from, and improving upon, those areas that fell short of our own expectations.

While the winter hiatus has only recently begun, the start of the next season is not that far down the road. Seeding for farm season 2012 will be starting late February/early March!!!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. Hope the overall holiday season was a time of much enjoyment and peacefulness. And here’s hoping that the past year was a good one and that the coming year is one of peace, happiness, hopefulness, and good health to one and all.

Monday, September 26, 2011


‘Hot town, summer at the farm
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the fields’

‘I can't stop the rain
From falling down on you again
I can't stop the rain
But I will hold you’

The Sahara like conditions of July was followed by copious amounts of rain. The combined impact on all farms in the general Northeast area has been significant. And farms in upstate NY and Vermont have been especially devastated. Each season brings its own weather related challenges, and this year has been no exception. So, regardless of where you live, the next time you go to your local farmers’ market, give a shout out of appreciation to the farmer from whom you are buying your produce. It will most definitely be appreciated.

Specific to Z Food Farm: various plants in the ground were toasted. Germination in the green house was too often poor. With the passing of the heat the persistent rain of August has contributed to the early demise of tomatoes and a couple of other items. Last season David had a decent amount of various tomatoes through the end of September into early August. As of now, tomato season is over. This is simply part of the challenge faced by all farmers and is not specific to Z Food Farm.

There is much over which a farmer has control, but the critical factor of weather is something that no farmer can do anything about. With that said, some farmers have high tunnels (unheated green houses) in their fields. This allows the farmer to plant directly in the ground in a semi-protected environment thus providing the farmer an opportunity to minimize some of the effects of extreme weather. The high tunnel also allows a farmer to get some items into the ground a little sooner and to keep things in the ground a little later. David’s plan is to put up a high tunnel prior to the start of farm season 2012. The anticipation for next years season has already started.

Bits and pieces: Last season the last farm stand market was the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week. The last market at Rittenhouse Square was the first Saturday of December. That is the goal for this season as well, with the inclusion of the New Amsterdam Market. We’ll see if the weather cooperates.

News about the Lawrenceville Farmers’ Market- David has participated in the Lawrenceville Farmers’ Market since its inception in 2005- first as an intern with Cherry Grove Organic Farm, then as manager of Gravity Hill Farm, and currently as farmer/proprietor of Z Food Farm. It is sad to report that the Lawrenceville Market has come to an end. Attendance at the market has been dwindling the past few years and it reached a point where it was decided that maintaining the market was not in the best interests of the various vendors. Thanks to all who brought the market into existence, to those who worked to make the market a success, to the vendors who supported and encouraged each other, and, most importantly, to you who have supported David and the other vendors by doing some of your shopping at the market. We hope to see you at the farm on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Support your local farmer. Eat healthy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mother Nature's Bounty

In case you hadn't noticed, it has been extremely hot of late. This puts undo stress on both the plants, those in the ground and those waiting to be planted, and those doing the farming. Both requires lots of water to prevent drying out and dehydration. And while most of us can relax in an air conditioned home or office, Farmer David and his merry band of warriors (Greg, Oscar, and Jose) and all small and large farms in the area and elsewhere, are at the mercy of the elements- extreme heat, rain, and cold. If you do shop at a farmers' market, take the time to thank the farmer for bringing fresh, local, and sustainable produce to you. On top of the challenges presented by weather Farmer David is experiencing a different type of challenge. For the first time at Z Food Farm some critter is eating the plants that are developing in the greenhouse! And the damage is quite significant. Lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, among others, have been eaten. As a result there is a chance that there will be a shortage of these items at the time they would otherwise have been getting harvested during the fall. There will be a reseeding of the items that have been eaten, but this will not make up for the loss. Once everything is reseeded and starts to germinate the new baby plants will be covered, in some manner, to protect them from whatever it is that is eating the current plants.

What follows are some pictures of some of the bounty that David has been bringing to the Philly (Sat) and New York (Sun) markets as well as selling at the farm (Wed and Fri) and at the Lawrenceville market (Sat). Enjoy.

A painter's palette of colors. As you enjoy the beauty, imagine how tasty they are! Happy and healthy eating to all.

Monday, July 11, 2011


It has been a very busy and hectic month. However, with all that has been going on the biggest and most important news is that Z Food Farm is officially CERTIFIED ORGANIC!!! Yes indeed. It has been a long process, but this particular journey has been completed. Being certified isn't going to change anything about how David farms. David will continue to farm as he always has- using farming practices that convey a personal and abiding commitment to practices that are respectful of the soil and nature. All organic farmers are stewards of the ideals established by Sir Albert Howard about the critical importance of farming in a manner that nurtures the soil as a living organism. Healthy soil results in food that tastes good and is good for you.

Bits and pieces. Market season is in full swing. The market at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The New Amsterdam Market in New York City. The Lawrenceville Farmers' Market and at the farm itself. Though things got off to a slow start due to weather considerations and the general challenges of farming, the availability of produce is picking up with more new items available on a weekly basis. Currently available is Swiss Chard, kale, cippolini onions, summer squash, cucumbers, basil, white and purple scallions, various lettuces, and cabbage. Coming up this week should be radishes, parsley, potatoes, and fresh garlic. Taking a hiatus are spinach, collards, and kohlrabi. It has been rewarding to have f'riends' from last year tell us how happy they are that Z Food Farm is back at old markets. And the response from new 'friends' at last years markets and the New Amsterdam Market (which is new for ZFF this year) is extremely gratifying. Much thanks to all who support David's efforts by buying some of their produce from Z Food Farm.

As always the weather plays a role in the ebb and flow of farming. While there have not been too many rainy days, the days of rain have a) come at inopportune times and b) dumped a lot of rain in a short period of time. This resulted in David falling behind in forming beds in order to plant, thus delaying the planting of certain items. (Putting the tractor on wet ground will compact the soil; compacted soil is not healthy soil.) The rain also resulted in the proliferation of weeds. The weeds overwhelmed the first planting of a couple of items, salad mix being one. This has meant that David has been unable to bring some produce to market. All farmers experience these types of challenges. Those who can adapt and keep pushing forward are those who ultimately succeed. Those who don't, stop. And so it goes.

An article by Mark Bittman ( June 14, 2011, "The True Cost of Tomatoes") that should be of interest for those who are interested and concerned about how their food is grown and about those who work for certain industrial farms can be found at this link

Here is one paragraph from the article- "Most of the big purchasers, like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, want firm, “slicing” tomatoes, because their destination is a burger or a sandwich, so the tomatoes are picked at what is called “mature green,” which isn’t mature at all but bordering on it. Tomatoes with any color other than green are too ripe to ship, and left to rot; I’ve posted a couple of pictures I took of those on my blog. The green tomatoes are gassed — “de-greened” is the chosen euphemism — to “ripen” them; the plants themselves are often killed with an herbicide to hasten their demise and get ready for the next crop." In addition to exploring the manner in which tomatoes are grown and treated, the article discusses the harsh living conditions of the farm workers. Read this article and think about the tomatoes you eat at local restaurants when local tomatoes are not in season. Speaking of tomatoes, Z Food Farm should have some cherry tomatoes within the next couple of weeks. A couple of varities of 'regular' tomatoes could be ready by the very end of July, with the second week of August being when the main crop of tomatoes start to make their appearance. When all is said and done, David hopes to have upwards of 60 varieties of tomatoes, mostly heirloom, to tantalize your taste buds.

Looking forward the the weeks to come. Good health and happy eating to all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

And On and On It Goes

The cycle of farming is a daily process.No matter how much gets done, and no matter how good you feel about any particular day, there is always something more that could have been done. That's why there is tomorrow. Having people you enjoy spending long days with is critical to the success of any farm, but it is especially true when you are working on such a small scale. David is very cognizant of his good fortune in having Greg and Oscar as his employees for the second year in a row. Here is a snapshot of some of the ongoing process of farming.

Preparing the soil for planting requires a few steps. The first is the use of a chisel plow. This plow does the initial breaking up of the soil. Next comes disc plowing which turns the soil over exposing the roots of the weeds which is intended to kill the weeds; then roto tilling which breaks up the large chunks of soil into softer consistency; and then an implement that forms the beds into which the plants will be planted. At the same time the beds are formed, plastic is placed on the beds which aids in the lessening of weeds.

Here is David using a disc plow.

On the seats are Oscar and Greg (foreground). They worked for David last year and are back for more fun and excitement this season. They are great young men and David is very appreciative of their efforts helping in the growth and development of the farm. In the background is Frank. Frank has been primarily involved with the bees at Z Food Farm. When he has the time he volunteers in the fields. Frank's involvement with the bees has been outstanding and his willingness to then spend time in the field is a great bonus. (Greg and Oscar are sitting on the water wheel. The water wheel pokes holes in the plastic/soil and puts water in the whole as it is pulled by the tractor. As it moves along the plants are placed in the hole by those on the seats- it is a process that speeds up the process of planting.)

A number of beds, covered in plastic, with tiny babies that were recently planted.

Some Red Russian kale. The netting covering the plant is intended to protect the kale from being eaten by a ground hog.

Lettuce, and various other veggies, are waiting their turn to be planted.

Happy and healthy eating to all. As best you can, eat local, eat organic. Peace and good health to all.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Be The Farmer

“Dream the fisherman in his boat, he’s comin’ home empty. He’s barely afloat. Dream the logger in the great northwest, they’re runnin’ out of trees. They got to give it a rest. Dream the farmer in the old heartland, corporate greed and chemicals are killin’ the land… Save the Planet for another day, be the river as it rolls along. Be the rain. Be the rain. Be the rain.”

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks for Farmer David and his hard working crew of Greg and Oscar. With the rain creating a delay in planting, the workdays are long and the restful nights are short. There have been a couple of days that started at 5:30AM and more than a few days that didn’t end until dark. Long hours such as these are common to small, family type farms. Add to this the August type heat of last week, and you can better appreciate what it takes to commit oneself to farming. Whether you buy at farmers’ markets or your local grocery, take a few moments to appreciate the hard work that went into getting the food to you. If you do shop for your produce at a farmers’ market take a moment to thank the farmer. Take the time to learn more about the process of farming and you will better appreciate that you are getting great value for your hard earned money.

Despite the rain and the heat, a lot of planting has taken place. Lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, fennel, sweet and hot peppers, various onions and scallions, potatoes, and tomatoes, plus a few others, have all been planted. As of today the plants are doing well and some items should be ready for market within the next week. With all of this planting is still behind schedule and more long days are anticipated. A day in the life.

Ground hog news - there has been some damage done to lettuce by groundhogs. Hule has gotten one ground hog, but there are more to go. Between pests, disease, and ground hogs, keeping the plants in good shape is an ongoing challenge.

Long days and pleasant nights to one and all. Shop local. Eat healthy. Peace and hopefulness to all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Market To Market

For David and Z Food Farm this years’ market season will start the first weekend/week of June. For the coming season David will again attend the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market in Philadelphia, (9:30Am-4PM) a market that is organized by Farm To City. For more information about the market and the other markets supported by Farm to City go to Z Food Farm will also again sell produce at the farm itself. At this time the plan is to be open on Wednesdays and Fridays. The specific times will be posted on the Z Food Farm facebook page and on the Z Food Farm website ( And Z Food Farm will once again be part of the Lawrenceville Farmers’ Market. New this year, the Lawrenceville Market will now be held on Saturdays; 10AM – 2PM. This is a change in day and time. Go to to stay informed of what is happening.

The big market news for the coming season is that Z Food Farm will be attending the New Amsterdam Market in New York City ( The market is on Sundays from 11AM-4PM. On May 1 there was a special May Day market event that Z Food Farm attended. In addition to various potted plants (lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, snap peas, and basil), for those who want to ‘grow their own’, David had leeks, spring garlic, and kale as fresh produce. It was a wonderful experience and David and all of Z Food Farm are eagerly looking forward to being part of the New Amsterdam Market this coming farm season.

Z Food Farm looks forward to friends old and new at Rittenhouse Square, at the Lawrenceville Market, and at the farm and to the new friends we are about to make at the New Amsterdam Market.

Eat healthy and prosper.

Welcome to the Z Food Farm stand at the New Amsterdam Market.

Here are some of the potted plants that were available at the New Amsterdam Market. Potted plants will be available at all market sites come the beginning of June.

More potted plants.

The fresh produce. Spring garlic is a special treat and if you have a chance you should try some.

The market is located by the old Fulton Fish Market just below the Brooklyn Bridge. It is a beautiful sight.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Last year the first planting, potatoes, took place on May 12. Today, May 7, marked the start of this seasons planting. First in the ground was kale and kohlrabi. Pictures to commemorate the event will be forthcoming. Though planting has started sooner than last season, things are behind where David would like them to be. Though there were a couple of glitches, the greenhouse was not heated as soon as desired being one, the wet weather was the biggest culprit. Over the past few days the weather has been glorious and David was able to work the soil, thus allowing for the start of planting. Planting will continue tomorrow and the cycle of the season is now well under way. More trays of plants will be moved from the greenhouse to the outside tables to 'harden' them in anticipation of planting and then there will be more seeding, germinating, growing, planting of the grown up plants and moving the now ready trays of plants outside; and so on for the duration of the season. There is a continuity and regularity to the farm season that is consistent and comforting.

The anticipation is that market season will start the beginning of June. With more specifics to come, Z Food Farm will be: at the Lawrenceville Farmers' Market on Saturdays (yes, the market is moving from Sunday to Saturday), at the Rittenhouse Square Market in Philadelphia, also on Saturday mornings, at the New Amsterdam Market in NYC on Sunday mornings, and at the farm on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Whew! That should keep David and crew busy. David and Z Food Farm are looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

This shows how full the greenhouse was, and this picture was taken on April 6. Much of what you see here has grown up and was moved outside to be replaced by new trays.

These are the trays of plants that have been moved outside and are waiting to be planted.

These are hops rhizomes. Let's brew some beer! Actually is will be a couple of years before there will be enough hops to actually do some serious brewing.

"In botany a rhizome is a characteristically horizontal stem of a plant that is usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes. Rhizomes may also be referred to as creeping rootstalks or rootstocks.

If a rhizome is separated into pieces, each piece may be able to give rise to a new plant. This is a process known as vegetative reproduction and is used by farmers and gardeners to propagate certain plants. Examples of plants that are propagated this way include hops, asparagus, and ginger." (Wikipedia)

This is Red Russian Kale that survived the winter and was producing delicious baby sized leaves of kale. It was delicious.

This is David's 'new' tractor, a 1977 John Deere. The blue tractor from last year was not powerful enough to pull the various plows and other implements to work the field and plant the crops. David was in the position of borrowing Farmer Matt's tractor throughout last season. Matt was very generous with his tractor, but there were times when David was in need of a tractor at the same time that Matt was using it; David thus had to wait. While David will still need to be patient about when he borrows some of the implements (ie. a chisel plow), having his own tractor will minimize the amount of time that he will have to wait. And if you are concerned about the age of the tractor, have no fear, nothing runs like a Deere.

This is what the field looks like after being chiseled plowed. Chisel plowing is the first step in preparing the soil for planting. This type of plowing breaks apart the top layer of soil that has been compacted over the course of the winter.

This is what a chisel plow looks like.

Here is David using the disc plow. After the soil has been broken up by the chisel plow, the disc plow turns the soil and breaks it up even more. Following disc plowing the soil will be rototilled and then David will use an implement to lay the plastic 'mulch' that helps, somewhat, to minimize weeds. Just like rust, weeds never sleep.

And here's your hippy, dippy farmer wishing you all peace, love, and organic vegetables.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Moving Forward

This seasons seeding started a little later than was planned, but was well ahead of last year. The germination was great and the seedlings have thrived. The seedlings grew up and, in anticipation of being planted, were moved outside to ‘harden’ them. The next round of seeding was accomplished and germination was again successful. These seedlings have also done well and the plants are close to being ready to be moved outside. There’s only one problem- it keeps raining and the ground has been too wet to do any plowing (driving heavy equipment on wet ground compacts the soil- compacted soil is unhealthy soil) and thus there has been no planting. Since the outside tables are full the plants ready to be moved outside have nowhere to go. However, on Monday, May 2 and Tuesday, May 3 David was finally able to do some plowing. First he did some chisel plowing to break up the soil and then he used a disc plow to turn the soil over. The next step would be to rototill the soil to prepare the beds into which the seedlings would be planted. Alas, Wednesday’s rain prevented this from happening. Fingers are crossed for dry weather so that planting can take place within the next few days. Last seasons first planting took place on May 12, so David is still ahead of where he was, but is behind where he would like to be. And so it goes.

Last season David bought a cultivating tractor. The advantage of such a tractor is that it would save labor when it came to weeding between the plant beds. Unfortunately the tractor was not strong enough to pull various attachments- such as the chisel plow. Farmer Matt, David’s mentor from his days as an intern at Cherry Grove Organic Farm, was generous with his tractor and equipment. While David will still benefit from Matt’s generosity with various attachments, David now has a tractor that is strong enough to pull the attachments; a good old John Deere. While David will still need to wait for Matt to be done with any particular attachment, having his own tractor will allow things to go much more smoothly. Better days ahead.

As was done last year, Z Food Farm will spend Saturday mornings/afternoons at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia (Go to for more information about the market and the organization behind the market). The Lawrenceville Farmers’ Market will be moving from Sundays to Saturdays; yes, we will be in two places at once; more details to come. And the farm stand will be open on Wednesdays and Fridays; again, more information will be forthcoming. In addition to these locations, David will be adding the New Amsterdam Market to his schedule. The New Amsterdam Market is located in Manhattan, where the old Fulton Fish Market used to be. (Go to for more information about this market.). On Sunday, May 1, Z Food Farm made its inaugural appearance at a special edition of the market. All markets will start the first weekend of June. The opening of the farm stand has yet to be determined, but will be around the same time.

David and Z Food Farm are looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. Getting there.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Keep On Growing

Most of the germinating seeds in the greenhouse continue to do well. In fact, lettuce and spinach that was seeded on 3/22 has been moved outside to 'toughen' up in preparation for being planted in the field. (Pictures of these plants will be posted in a couple of days.) The plan is to start planting in about two weeks. A break in the rain would be a very good thing. Will all friends of Z Food Farm please hope for the best. In addition to the excitement of moving the lettuce and spinach outside, there are two other bits of exciting news. The first is that the hops that were ordered have arrived! Yay hops! The other is that the second round of seeding has started. The next seeding of lettuce, Swiss Chard, and broccoli has been done. This process of seeding, germinating, moving outside, and planting will be continued throughout the season. In the next few weeks the pace of events will speed up. Greg and Oscar, while not back to work full time, have been integral parts of the ongoing process of getting things at the farm up and running and their efforts as things move forward are essential to the success of Z Food Farm. This is a very exciting, and anxious, time of the year. Actually, the entire season is full of excitement and anxiety:-)

The following pictures were taken a week ago. Compare them with pictures from the previous post to get a sense of how quickly things grow. Within the next couple of days more recent 'baby' pictures will be posted to again show the growth and development of the plants. Enjoy!

Here is the center row of the greenhouse. The green of the germinating plants is a beautiful thing.

Here is the left side of the greenhouse. Notice the green of the plants in the background of the picture and the newly seeded flats in the foreground.

Baby basil plants. There are 160 varieties of basil. Z Food Farm will have eight varieties including Italian, Lime, Lemon, and Cinnamon.

Baby Swiss Chard.

This is some of the lettuce. Within the past week there has been an amazing amount of growth. Within approximately two weeks the lettuce will be ready for planting in the fields.

If you look back at previous posts you will have an appreciation of how much growth there has been with these plants. What you see on the heating mats are tomatoes, eggplants, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and various herbs.

This picture should give you a better perspective of how much the seedlings have grown. Remember, seeding started on March 21. Nature is truly amazing.

As a frame of reference, at this time last year the greenhouse was still in the process of being put together. The end walls were still not complete, and most certainly nothing was germinating in the greenhouse. As was written about last year at about this time, David was able to start his seeding at Cherry Grove Organic Farm through the generosity of Farmer Matt. It is amazing how far things have progressed at Z Food Farm. Market season is just around the corner. Looking forward to seeing everyone at Rittenhouse Square and at the farm stand. Yay farm fresh produce!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


A few days later than intended, here are some pictures to show a) how much the greenhouse has filled up in one week, and b) the amount of germination that has taken place. These pictures were taken on Tuesday, March 29. In the two days since, the range of plants germinating has increased and the growth of the seedlings has been dramatic. As the season progresses, and the cycle of seeding, germinating, growing, planting, growing, and harvesting speeds along, there is so much going on that there is less preoccupation about whether or not the newly seeded plants will germinate. But at this stage of the season, there is always nervous anticipation while waiting for, and then a great sense of relief when, the first sprouts start poking their head above the soil mix. Though it will still be some time before these plants are ready to be moved outside to be toughened up as prelude to planting, it would be nice if the weather would start to cooperate. There is much to be done to prepare the fields, and the wet conditions are not conducive to getting much done. The hope is that the current cool and wet conditions do not foreshadow a cool and wet farm season. If you recall, the 2009 season was marked by cool and wet conditions that led to a disastrous tomato crop for many of the areas organic farmers, and farmers throughout the Northeast. Let's hope for sunny, warm days and pleasant nights.

Okra- Seeded 3/22

Lettuce- Seeded 3/21

Spinach- Seeded 3/21

On the left- Red Russian Kale; On the right- Toscano Kale. Both seeded 3/21

The center tables of the greenhouse. Compare with the pictures in the prior posting.

The left side of the greenhouse.

The right side of the greenhouse. The seeding trays in the front part of the picture are on heating mats. The seeds of certain varieties require extra warmth to aid in their germination. Among the plants on the mats are okra, basil, sweet peppers, eggplant, and hot peppers.

There you have it, a quick trip through the greenhouse. Stay tuned for more pictures showing the rapid growth of the seedlings. Peace and healthy eating to one and all.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Seeding

The seeding has continued. What follows is the updated list of vegetables that have been seeded.

Hot Peppers- 19 varieties, plus the three specialty peppers that were previously written about- Padron, Shishito, and Piquilo.

Herbs- Lemon balm, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Lovage (its leaves can be used in salads or to make soup. Can be made into a tea. Its seeds can be used as a spice, similar to fennel seeds), Shiso (also known as Perilla), and Summer Savory.

Okra- two varieties

Eggplants- two of sixteen varieties were seeded. The remainder will be seeded this coming week.

Leeks and more onions. When all is said and done there will be four varieties of leeks and twelve varieties of onions (bulb onions, tropea, scallions, and chipollini), with one variety of shallots thrown in for good measure.

Fennel- six varieties

Swiss Chard

Basil- Italian, Thai, Cinnamon, Mrs. Burns' Lemon, Linme, Red Rubin, and a variety called Aroma 2. There are, in fact, 160 different varieties of basil. Who knew?

Along with the excitement of seeding, there is great news. Some of the seeds are starting to germinate!!! Every time there is seeding there is a certain level of anxiety. Is the soil mix correctly balanced? Are the seeds receiving enough water? Too much water? Is the greenhouse warm enough? Too cool? And then the first signs of germination. What a wonderful feeling. More details about this and pictures of the new babies will be coming within the next few days. As seeding continues, a list of the newly seeded of veggies will be available.

Warm days and gentle nights to all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Seeding - Day 1

The following pictures depict the first day of seeding.

The various components that make up the soil mix are combined in this 'pool'. The sieve helps sort out stems and other unwanted items from the final mix. The mix includes- peat moss, compost, limestone, greensand, kelp, blood meal (not human), and bone meal (also, not human), vermiculite, and perlite. These ingredients provide the nutrients that aid in the healthy germination of the seeds.

The center row of tables. Only the beginning.

The left side of the greenhouse; looking from the front door.

The right side of the greenhouse. Keep these pictures in mind. On Monday, March 28, one week after these pictures, pictures of each section of the greenhouse will be shown to allow for a comparison to illustrate how much has been accomplished in one week.

On the left is a flat of Toscano Kale; on the right, Red Russian Kale. On Monday, 3/28, another picture of these flats will be taken to see if there has been any germination. This will be done on a weekly basis until they plants are ready to be planted in the field.

In the late fall, cloves of garlic were planted. They were then covered with straw to provide some protection over the course of the winter. As can be seen, the garlic is sending forth shoots that indicate that they are growing and doing well. The visible shoots will become garlic scapes, which will then be harvested and available at market. The 'scapes' can be used like garlic or scallions. They have a milder and more delicate taste than the garlic. They can be used fresh, sauteed, or made into a pesto.

Let the seeding begin. Here David is intent on the task at hand. Seeding requires ones full attention and is very time consuming. Yet, it has a certain meditative quality to it. It is a question of balance to maintain ones full attention and move along at a steady pace.

Overseeing the operation is Maple. She wants to make sure that everything is being done to a high standard of excellence.

Further on down the road. Peace and healthy eating to all.