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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seeding - The Beginning

Monday, March 21 marked the start of this years seeding at Z Food Farm. The initial goal was to start the first week of March. Clearly, this date has come and gone. The reasons for the delay are varied, but there were circumstances beyond David’s control. However, though behind from the standpoint of the goal of starting on March 2, seeding is well ahead of last year. Last year at this time the greenhouse was still being built, with some seeding being started at Cherry Grove Organic Farm due to the graciousness of Farmer Matt. And it is a good thing that 2011 is not the first year of Z Food Farm as the current weather has been much cooler and wetter than last year at this time. If this were year 1 then seeding would end up being farther behind than it was last year. Thus, despite the cool, wet weather, full speed ahead.

What follows is the list of vegetables that have been seeded these first four days.

ESCAROLE (a hearty green whose leaves are less bitter than endive; high in folic acid and fiber; can be eaten raw or gently cooked)

KALE (Toscano and Red Russian)

CELTUCE (also called celery lettuce; grown primarily for its thick stem which is very crispy and tender; young leaves can be used as lettuce for salads and stir-fry; popular in China)


ONIONS (scallions, shallots, bulb onions, chippolini)

CHERVIL (used to season poultry, seafood; more delicate than parsley; has a subtle anise flavor)

RADICCHIO (very popular in Italy; it is eaten raw with olive oil and salt; can be mixed into a variety of salads; can be grilled or roasted)

MICHILI (Aka- Green Rocket) (type of Chinese cabbage known for its sweetness. More mild and tender than Western cabbages. Delicious in a salad or slaw. Can be boiled, stir-fried, steamed or braised.)


LETTUCE (13 varieties)


MITSUBA (native Japanese herb- Japanese parsley)

CHIVES (regular and garlic)




BROCCOLI RAAB (Rapini) (the flavor has been described as nutty, bitter, and pungent. Sauté with garlic over low heat for 10-15 minutes)

BEETS (6 varieties)

CABBAGE (6 varieties)

It has indeed been a busy four days. If rust never sleeps, seeding never stops.

Welcome back to Gregg and Oscar as they start their second year at Z Food Farm. And, for the first day of seeding, a shout out of thanks to Betsy and Frank. Any and all assistance is greatly appreciated.

When possible and practical- eat local, eat sustainable, eat organic.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winter Scenes

"Time, time, time, see what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter"

"The pursuit of quantity at all costs is dangerous in farming. Quantity should be aimed at only in strict conformity with natural law, especially must the law of the return of all wastes to the land be faithfully observed. In other words, a firm line needs to be drawn between a legitimate use of natural substance and exploitation." (Sir Albert Howard- "The Soil and Health"; pg. 66)

The tail end of winter means that spring is just around the corner. And with spring comes the start of seeding. As of this post seeding has not yet, despite noble intentions, started at Z Food Farm. The heating unit to keep the trays, with their newly imbedded seeds, and then the newly germinating plants, warm, has been installed. The next step will be to install a propane tank that will then be used to allow the heater to do its job. Once this has been accomplished, seeding shall commence. The reason for the delay in the installation of the propane tank has been, wet ground. Last season seeding was delayed by wet ground interfering with the building of the greenhouse. (The more things change the more they stay the same.) By the time the greenhouse was completed it was warm enough that the heating unit was not needed; thus last years delay, and the amount of work that needed to get done, has contributed to the current delay. Despite this years slight delay, David is ahead of last years schedule and anticipates rapidly catching up to where he would prefer to be with his seeding schedule.

Before things get into full swing, here are a few pictures of the farm and the snow. Getting closer and closer. Eat as healthy as possible. Support local and sustainable agriculture. Support organic farmers.