Monday, April 30, 2012


“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”
Wendell Berry

Cat on a hot tin roof. Maple got herself on the roof of the barn by herself. She needed help getting down. Silly kitten.

This picture shows how the fence wire is wrapped around a plastic insulator. This is not as easy to do as it might look. This is done on every other insulator. On the 'other' insulator the wire is strung through in a straight line.

Using a piece of special electrical wire, the six pieces of the fence wire are connected to each other. This allows all wires to be electrified. The top picture shows how the wires are connected. The second picture shows the manner in which the wire is connected to the special fence wire.

 This shows a portion of the completed fence. The entire field is now enclosed by the electric fence.
The top picture also shows how the ground is cleared on the outside of the fence. The buffer zone is designed to decrease protective cover in which the deer can hide and get closer to the fence.

As you might think, this fence is neither strong enough, nor high enough to keep deer out of the fields. Also, the electrical charge does not provide enough of a shock to the body of a deer to deter it from going through the fence. From this you might wonder, what good is the fence? Well, what you do is take a soda can, cut off the ends and cut the remaining piece in half. You then fold down the top and hook it over a wire. You then smear some peanut butter on the can. The goal is to induce the deer to come close to the fence to eat the peanut butter. When the deer touches the can with their nose/tongue to eat the peanut butter, the electricity running through the wire will shock the deer on the nose/tongue; where the deer is sensitive. The hope is that once shocked the deer will be conditioned to avoid the fence. In the overall scheme of things it is pretty cool how effective this has been over the past two years. The first year there was no damage done by the deer. Last year there was one time when the deer did damage. We will cross our fingers and hope for the best for this coming season.

Good night kitty.

Happy and healthy eating to one and all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Electric Ladyland

 There will be pictures and details in the next posting, but I wanted to announce that the electric fence is now in place and in operation. This is BIG news as this will allow David to start planting. Depending on a couple of variables, planting may start this weekend. If not this weekend, then by Monday! The excitement is building.

 Red Russian Kale. The kale, along with many other vegetables have been outdoors getting ready to be planted. Remember, seeding started just a little over a month ago. It is amazing how fast stuff grows.

A pallet of potatoes. This is a lot of potatoes that will become even more potatoes to bring to market. The larger potatoes will be cut into pieces, with each piece having 3-4 eyes. The smaller potatoes, the fingerlings, will be planted whole.

Lettuce. The colors are gorgeous.

Baby basil. The basil was seeded in trays with small cells that allow for the development of the roots. The plants are then re-potted in trays with larger cells. The roots will continue to develop and in the bigger cell the plants will reach the size required for planting.

BIG NEWS (as if the electric fence isn't enough)- there is now a sprinkling system in the greenhouse. This will allow for the automatic watering of the plants! The great value of this is that it will allow whoever would be watering time to do other tasks. The amount of time saved will be tremendous as it can take upwards of 1-2 hours to water the greenhouse when it is full.

At this time there are four lines for the watering system. Once the middle tables have been cleared out, a fifth line running down the center of the greenhouse will be installed. On the left side of the picture you can see that the tomatoes have been potted up. The tomato seeds started in small cells and are not in 3" pots. They will now grow at a fairly rapid rate and will be ready for planting by mid-May. By late Jule, if all goes well, the first tomatoes could be ready. Yay! Fresh tomato season is getting closer!

Hop! Hop! Hooray!! The hop plants survived the winter and are starting to grow; and at a fairly rapid rate. Hop plants can grow upwards of 20 feet and need to be trellised. Fresh, local, organic hops. The beer they make will be delicious. 

This weeks column by Mark Bittman talked about Wendell Berry. If you are someone who believes in small local farms, organic farms, and the importance of treating the land with respect, you probably know something about Mr. Berry. If you are not familiar with him, you should be. Mr. Bittman's column will be enjoyed by those who do know of Mr. Berry and will be a good intro for those who have not yet made his acquaintance. Use the following link to get to Mr. Bittman's column in the NY Times-

Thanks to all who enjoy and support Z Food Farm!! If you are interested in becoming a member of Z Food Farm's CSA (community supported agriculture) you can contact David at

Happy and healthy eating to one and all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting There

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don't fence me in

During the first season at Z Food Farm, part of the back field was fenced in. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that the goal of a deer fence is as much a matter of fencing the deer out as fencing the vegetables in. This season David will be expanding production and will be growing in areas that are not currently fenced in. Since David is in business of growing his crops to feed people, not deer, the fence is going to be expanded. The posts are now in the ground and within the next week the wiring will be strung from post to post. (A prolonged process that is rough on ones fingers.) Once the fence is up and electrified, David will begin preparing the soil in anticipation of planting. The planting could be able to start in about two weeks.

As mentioned David will be growing upwards of 65 varieties of tomatoes; about 60 of these will be heirloom varieties. (Heirloom vegetables are old-time varieties, open-pollinated instead of hybrid, and saved and handed down through multiple generations of families.). As you might imagine there will be tomatoes of all sizes, shapes, colors, and flavors. A sampling of what will be available includes: Sungold cherry tomato, Garden Peach, Black Krim, Arkansas Traveler, Black Zebra, Red Brandywine, Boxcar Willie, New Girl, Eva Purple Ball, and Yellow Brandywine. The size, color, and flavor are as varied as the names. A couple of early varieties should be available towards the end of July. Once early August rolls around there will be an avalanche of tomatoes. Depending on the weather, tomatoes should then be available well into September. If you are a fan of fresh, local tomatoes, this will be your time of year.

Support local farmers. Support organic farmers. Happy and healthy eating to all.

The process of bringing the plants outside from the greenhouse has begun. The purpose of bringing the plants outdoors prior to plant them is to 'harden' them up prior to planting.

This is an area, one among many, that gets very muddy when wet. David obtained some wood chips and is spreading them out to help absorb some of the water and to cut down on the mud.

As flats are being taken out, the greenhouse is still 'full'. Various plants are started in small celled flats. This is to aid in the development of the roots. At a certain point the baby's need to be moved into bigger celled trays; this is called potting up. Currently onions, scallions, and parsley have been potted up. In the weeks ahead, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplants will be potted up.

These are the posts that were placed around the perimeter of the field. The next step will be to screw on six conducting knobs on each post; the wire is wound around each knob to hold it taught from post to post. Next, six strands of wire will be strung from post to post. This will be a very time consuming task.

These are some of the onions that have been potted up.

Peace, good health, and hopefulness to one and all.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Born To Grow

For now the pace of seeding has slacked off. Since the last post, some of this years flowers have been seeded; with more to come. If all goes well bunched bouquets will be available at the farm and at the markets in NYC and Philly. The main task of the past week has been getting the field cleaned up of row cover, row cover hoops, drip tape, and various other bits and pieces. The most exciting aspect of the past few days has been the growth in the baby plants. As the pictures below will show, things have been going well. There are a couple of exceptions, but excitement about the growth is running high.

If all goes well, David expects to have 14 varieties of eggplant. This includes varieties of Italian and Asian eggplants. Of the Italian varieties the one that has been quite popular is the Rosa Bianca. It's "fruits are lavender-pink with creamy white shading. Mild in flavor and rarely bitter. Well suited for all of your cooking needs, great for eggplant parmesan."Asian eggplants "have thinner skins and a more delicate flavor than American eggplants, and not as many of the seeds that tend to make eggplants bitter. They're usually more slender than American eggplants, but they vary in size and shape. They range in color from lavender to pink, green, and white." Start looking for recipes now as there will be an abundance of all the varieties.

The goal for this coming week is to have the posts for the expansion of the deer fence pounded into the ground and to then start the process of stringing the wire on the fence. There is a local farmer who has a hydraulic post pounder that was used when the original fence was put up during year one. The amount of time this saves is incredible. To dig the holes by hand would take hours upon hours. With the pounder the posts will be placed in about three or four hours. Here is a picture of the machine.

One other bit of news, Hule got her first ground hog of the season. Hule remains a vital part of the success of Z Food Farm. What a good dog.

Seeding started less than a month ago. If you look back and compare and contrast the pictures you can better appreciate how quickly plants go from seed to germination, to being quite sizable. Emerald waves of green.

The flats in the foreground in this picture are on heating mats. Some seeds require extra warmth to aid in their germination and growth. On the mats are basil, hot peppers, sweet peppers, okra, eggplant, and tomatoes.

Baby tomato plants. If all goes according to plan there will be upwards of 65 varieties! Look for fresh local tomatoes towards the end of July. There is guaranteed to be any number of tomatoes that you are going to enjoy. Start planning now to can tomatoes or to make your own tomato sauce. Hmmmm good!

Baby okra.

Baby Swiss chard

If you are interested in becoming a CSA member of Z Food Farm, spots are still available.

Support your local farmers. Support organic farms. Support small businesses. Support Bo at Eat More Kale. (If you are unfamiliar with this do a Google search and you will find a lot of info. In the next post there will be an explanation.

Happy and healthy eating to one and all.