Monday, January 31, 2011

Greens Day


“The resources of the earth should be used as God’s gifts to the whole human race and used with due consideration for the needs of the present and future generations.” (From- The Soil and Health – A Study of Organic Agriculture; Sir Albert Howard, pg 13)

Lettuce falls into six specific categories or groups. These include: Butterhead, Chinese Lettuce, Crisphead, Looseleaf, Romaine, and Summer Crisp. From these six categories there are hundreds of different distinct breeds and hybrids of lettuce. Below are the lettuces that will be grown at Z Food Farm this coming season. Lettuce does best in the spring and the fall, when the weather is relatively cooler. However, by following a program of continuous seeding, germinating, and planting David’s goal is to have head lettuce and/or salad mix (a combination of baby lettuce greens) on a weekly basis throughout the entire season. As with most things related to farming, success in this matter will be greatly influenced by the weather.

Adriana (Johnny’s) – Heads are full and dense with good taste. A butterhead.

Baby Oakleaf (Johnny’s) – Just the right size for a “mini-head”. Oak-shaped leaves.

Black Seeded Simpson (High Mowing) – Large, loosely packed bright green leaves are juicy, crisp and slightly crumpled. Tender and sweet.

Bronze Arrowhead (Fedco) – Scores a bullseye for form and color, developing a gorgeous oakleaf rosette in a dance of green and bronze.

Deer Tongue (Johnny’s) – Highly rated for baby leaf. Toungue-shaped outer leaves. A nice heirloom specialty. Dates back to the early 1740’s. Good texture and wonderful flavor that is pleasantly sharp.

Devil’s Ears (Fedco) – One of the lovely rare treasures once maintained by the Abundant Life Seed Foundation. Starlike rosettes of tasty glossy leaves are deeply tinged with burgundy for a shimmery appearance. Nutty texture and bitter-free flavor.

Forellenschluss (Fedco) – Also known as Speckled-Troutback due to its similarity to the patterns of a trout. An old variety that has been a favorite of lettuce collectors for many years; dates back to 1793.Originated in Austria. Leaves are very crispy. Excellent flavor. A Romaine type lettuce with the delicate taste and texture of a butterhead.

Lovelock (Seeds of Change) – Beautiful, thick, bright green leaves edged with maroon.

Magenta (High Mowing) - Good taste. Red-tinged leaves form a whorled, conical head with a crispy, green heart.

Nevada (High Mowing) – Excellent summer variety. “French crisp” type that forms large, open heads. Vibrant green leaves are glossy, thick, and beautifuuly ruffled with a satisfying combination of crunchy texture and buttery smoothness.

New Red Fire (Johnny’s) – A terrific full-sized red summer lettuce. Crisp and sweet. Ruffled red leaves.

Ridgeline (Johnny’s) – Tall, upright plants produce long, dense hearts with good flavor. A Romaine lettuce.

Royal Oakleaf (Fedco) – Darker, larger, and fancier than most other green oakleaf types. The “Rolls Royce of oakleaf lettuce.”

Skyphos (Johnny’s) – Beautiful, large dark red heads with nicely contrasting green centers. Excellent flavor and texture. A butterhead.

Speckled Amish (Fedco) – Origins date back to 1660 in Holland. In the late 1790’s it was brought to North America. A bibb lettuce. Has a pleasant, muddy flavor which is similar to watercress. Its apple-green leaves are splashed with maroon flecks.

Tropicana (Johnny’s) – A standard Greenleaf lettuce with heavy leaves and full heads.

Crispino (Johnny’s) – Medium-sized, glossy green, firm heads. Juicy and mild.

Red Iceberg (Seeds of Change) – A gorgeous iceberg with copper-head outer leaves surrounding the green-to-white inner head. Delicious sweet flavor and crispy texture.

Good health through healthy eating to one and all. Support organic agriculture. Support local and sustainable agriculture. Long days and pleasant nights.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


“4. The widespread vegetable and animal pests and diseases, which are such a bane to modern agriculture, are evidence of a great failure of health in the plant and animal links of the chain.

5. The impaired health of human populations in modern civilized countries is a consequence of this failure in the plant and animal links.

6. The general failure in the last three links is to be attributed to failure in the first link, the soil: the undernourishment of the soil is at the root of all. The failure to maintain a healthy agriculture has largely cancelled out all the advantages we have gained from our improvement in hygiene, in housing, and our medical discoveries.” (Sir Albert Howard- The Soil and Health – A Study of Organic Agriculture; pg. 12)

Here is part two of the list of potatoes that will be available from Z Food Farm this coming season. As with part 1 most of the information comes from

Fingerling potatoes are a family of heritage potatoes that naturally grow much smaller than conventional potatoes. They can be used just like regular potatoes in an assortment of roasted, broiled, baked, grilled, or boiled dishes. Fingerlings tend to have a smoother and creamery texture and taste.

French Fingerling – Though plumper than most, this potato is still considered a fingerling. Radiant rose-red skin and deep yellow flesh with an occasional red ring. Creamy, smooth texture with exceptional flavor lends itself well to salad with thinly sliced red onions and chunks of crisp cucumbers.

Banana Fingerling – Probably the best known of the fingerlings. Tan skin with dark yellow flesh. Steamed and tossed with butter and parsley, these make a tasty late-summer dish.

Rose Finn Apple Fingerling – Rose-blushed beige skin and deep yellow flesh. Exquisite flavor and cooking qualities set it apart. Matures mid to late season.

Laratte Fingerling – From France. In appearance Laratte is similar to the Banana fingerling. A nutty flavor to the dark yellow flesh set it apart. Smooth and firm texture. Fine chefs love this gourmet morsel, and the demand is high.

Purple Peruvian Fingerling – Deep dark purple inside and out, with a rather earthy flavor that some really love. A late season potato. Truly a specialty potato. To maintain the color boil with 1 tablespoon of vinegar added to the cooking water.

As always, happy and healthy eating to one and all. Support local, sustainable agriculture. Support organic farming.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

SPUDS - Part 1

“1. The birthright of all living things is health.

2. This law is true for soil, plant, animal, and man: the health of these four is one connected chain.

3. Any weakness or defect in the health of any earlier link in the chain is carried on to the next and succeeding links, until it reaches the last, namely, man.” (Sir Albert Howard- The Soil and Health - A Study of Organic Agriculture; Pg. 12)

Last seasons potato harvest was a bit on the disappointing side. There was a delay in getting the potatoes into the ground. This was due to the overall business and delays in getting Z Food Farm up and running. Another factor, as it was with other plants, was the heat. While there is no way to control the heat this coming season, getting the potato ‘eyes’ planted on time this year should be ‘easily’ accomplished. (Keep in mind that nothing in farming is ever easily accomplished.)

Here then is part one of the potatoes that will be grown at Z Food Farm this coming season. This spuds for you. (Note: Most of the information about the potatoes comes from the website

Dark Red Norland – A good early season potato. Excellent boiled, mashed, and in potato salads. When baked, they will be moist (waxy). Beautiful round red skinned spuds. White flesh. Good flavor with a moist, waxy, firm texture.

Satina – A good early season potato. Satiny yellow skin and yellow flesh. An exceptional eating experience. Smooth texture and great flavor. Very good storage.

Adirondack Blue – A mid season potato. Glstening blue skin with a deep blue flesh without a white ring. The moist, flavorful flesh is superb for mashing or salads. It is a favorite in taste tests. Very high in antioxicants.

Adirondack Red – A mid season potato. Has a lightly netted purplish-red skin and a pink-red flesh. Flavorful and moist. Tast for roasting and salads. Good storage. Contains naturally occurring anthrocyanin, a powerful antioxidant.

Kennebec – A mid season potato. Was released in 1948. One of the top-ten varieties grown in Maine. Can be cooked any way you choose, boiled, mashed, or baked, and enjoy a superb meal every time. Excellent storage. White fleshed.

Carola – A mid season potato. Golden yellow color. The color of its sunny flesh is reminiscent of butter from cows fresh on pasture. The creamy texture and exquisite flavor is a pleasure whether steamed, boiled, baked, or fried. Originally from Germany.

Bintje – A late season potato. A classic Dutch variety released in 1910 and still widely grown in Europe. Smooth yellow skin and creamy golden flesh.

One announcement- seeding for the coming season will start March 2. This is exciting news. Good health and happy eating to all.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sgt. Pepper's Happy Hot Peppers Club

“…the foundations of all good cultivation lie not so much in the plant as in the soil itself. There is so intimate a connection between the state of soil, i.e. its fertility, and the growth and health of the plant as to outweigh every other factor.” (Sir Albert Howard; The Soil and Health – A Study of Organic Agriculture)

Hot Peppers – Part 2

Hungarian Hot Wax - (Reimer Seeds) Excellent for pickling, frying, stuffing. Can also be used fresh in salads, marinades, and dressings. (Scoville Scale 5,000-10,000)

Camino Real – (Seeds of Change) Most often used green when pickling. A Serrano pepper with pungent flavor.Serrano type peppers are usually 3 on a scale of 5.

Jamaican Hot Chocolate – (Tomato Grower’s) Originated in a market in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Deep chocolate-brown when ripe and ribbed. Resemble large dates or prunes. Extremely hot Caribbean flavor that is strong and smoky. Makes a great hot sauce. 200,000 – 300,000 on the Scoville Scale.

Red Savina – (Reimers Seeds) A habanero pepper. Developed by Frank Garcia in Walnut, Ca. From 1994 – 2006 was listed in the Guinness World Records as the hottest chili in the world. 350,000 – 580,000 on the Scoville Scale.

The following three peppers can be viewed as special peppers rather than what might be routinely thought of as hot peppers. Farmer David is hoping that you will be as excited about trying these peppers as he is about growing them.

Shishito – (Kitazawa Seed Co.) Small, sweet-hot, thin-walled glossy green pepper is popular in Japan. Can be grilled, toaster-oven broiled, pan or deep fried.

Padron – (Johnny’s Seeds) Named after the town in Spain where they originated. About 1 out of 20 fruits will be hot, and the rest mild. All the fruits become hot if allowed to grow 2-3” long. Padrons are served sautéed in olive oil with a little sea salt, and eaten as tapas (appetizer) in Spain.

Piquillo (Cook’s Garden) – A variety of chili pepper traditionally grown in Northern Spain. Can be roasted over embers, which gives them a distinct sweet, spicy flavor, more akin to bell peppers than chili peppers. Can be stuffed with meat, seafood or cheese, and served as tapas.

As David finalizes the seed order, there may be a couple of additions the list of peppers. For now, these are the hot peppers you can look forward to this coming season.

Happy and healthy eating to all.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Time Passages

"It was late in December, the sky turned to snow. All round the day was going down slow, night like a river beginning to flow. I felt the beat of my mind go drifting into time passages. Years go falling in the fading light, time passages, buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight."

Z Food Farm's final market of the 2010 farm season was December 4 at Rittenhouse Square. Though the temperature was a bit brisk, it was a lovely late fall day. It was a great opportunity to offer a personal thank you to those who came on that day and who have supported Z Food Farm throughout the season. This last market also provided David a chance to make some new friends in anticipation of the 2011 farm season. As we look forward to the coming season the next few postings will be used to introduce you to some of the produce that will be, weather permitting, coming your way. The hope is that writing about the summer bounty will help ease the chill of winter and give everyone something warming to think about. So, while we move through the passage of winter into spring and spring into summer, here is the first of the posts about what you can expect at the farm stand and at the farmers markets.

Hot Peppers - Part 1

BLACK HUNGARIAN - (Seed Savers Exchange) Similar in shape to jalapenos, but shiny black ripening to red. Medium hot.

FISH - (Seed Savers Exchange) Heat 3. This pepper is an African-American heirloom that predates the 1870's. The Fish Pepper is bright in color and crunchy, with a hot and bold flavor. In the late 1800's, the Fish Pepper was widely grown in the Philadelphia and Baltimore area. Traditionally, the Fish Pepper was used in oyster and crab houses around the Chesapeake Bay.Rated as 3 on a heat scale of 1-5. Is on Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste.

HINKELHATZ - (Seed Savers Exchange) Cultivated by the Pennsylvania Dutch since the 1880's. The name translates as chicken heart. Traditionally used for pickling and making pepper vinegar. It is considered to be quite hot. It is a rare heirloom pepper. The Hinkelhatz is part of the US Ark of Taste of Slow Food USA.

FATALI - (Seed Savers Exchange) Scalding hot. Excellent citrus flavor, but very hot. The Scoville Food Institute lists the Fatalii as the sixth hottest pepper with Scolville units ranging from 125,000-325,000 units.

JOE'S LONG CAYENNE - (Seed Savers Exchange) Originally from Calabria, Italy. Introduce to SSE in 1996 by Dr. Carolyn Male. Great for fresh eating or drying. Hot.

TRIUNFO JALAPENO - (Seeds of Change) Extra large fruits are very dark green and pungent. Most jalapenos are between 3,000-6,000 on the Scoville Scale.

NUMEX JOE E. PARKER (Johnny's Seeds) ripen from bright green to mahogany to red, but are mostly consumed green. Southwest favorite for stuffing, grilling, and roasting. The flesh is thick and crisp with a delicious mild heat and richly satisfying Chile flavor.

ANCHO/PABLANO - (Seed Savers Exchange) Heat 2. Called Poblano when fresh and green and Ancho when red and dried. The standard Mexican variety for sauces and stuffing. Distinctive rich flavor.

This is a partial list of the hot peppers that will be available from Z Food Farm this coming season. Next post will provide the rest of the list. Support local farmers. Support sustainable farming. Buy organic when possible and practical. Here's hoping that you had a wonderful holiday season. May the coming year bring you good health, happiness, hopefulness, and peace.