Saturday, June 30, 2012


A long delayed post about the hops plants that were planted last season. The plants, which survived 'benign' neglect, last season, survived the winter and resiliently started to grow again this season. Hops plants, like asparagus, take a couple of years to produce enough hop cones to be called a crop. Wanting to ensure that the plants would survive this season, and to increase the future production of the plants, a plan was implemented to trellis the hops. Hops, which can grow upwards of 18/20+ feet tall, need to be trellised. To design and build a trellis takes time; a commodity that is in short supply. To accomplish the task of putting up the trellis the assistance of a friend of Z Food Farm, Michael Guzman, was enlisted. Mike adapting from research that he did, designed the trellis and, with David, put up the trellis. The step after the building of the trellis was to cut back the numerous offshoots from the root ball. What is needed to promote the growth of the hop vines is four shoots from the plant. Once you have your four vines, the vines are 'attached' to the rope that is part of the trellis and, if all goes well, up they grow. At this time some of the plants are doing quite well. The implication of "some of the plants doing quite well" is that some of the plants are not doing well. Time will tell as to how the plants do. Also, due to a shortage of time, not all of the plants have been cut back to the desired four vines and thus some of the vines are still sprawled out on the ground. The goal is to find the time to get the remaining plants trimmed and to get the vines growing up their rope.

The following pictures will illustrate some of what was described above.

Here are the multiple vines spread out on the ground.

 Mike and David working on the trellis. Also, you can see the length of the trellis.

Anchoring the ropes into the ground.

A hop vine that, hopefully, will grow up the rope to its full length.

David pruning the plant and getting it started on the rope.

 A view of the trellis. The front end loader was used to hoist Mike up the the top of the trellis in order to attach the rope to the cable.

Another view of the vines placed on the trellis rope.

A close up view of part of the trellis.

A view of how the trellis is anchored  into the ground.

A general review of the status of things at the farm will be coming shortly. Overall, in the most general of manner, things are coming along. While things could be better David accepts that farming is a marathon, not a spring.

Happy and healthy eating to all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


For those of you who are interested in growing some herbs, or some vegetables at home, Z Food Farm has a number of potted plants available. What follows is a list of the herbs that are available.

 Anise Hyssop – Smell and taste of anise (similar to liquorice, fennel, and tarragon). Herb lovers claim it as a culinary herb, using the fresh or dried leaves in tea and crumbling the tangy flowers over fruit salad.

Chamomile- A daisy like plant. Are best known for their ability to be made into an infusion which is commonly used to help with sleep and is often served with either honey or lemon.

Lemon Balm- It is a citrusy and fresh scented herb. Fresh leaves can be stored in plastic bags in the fridge for a few days or they can be frozen. Can be used to add zest to sweet or tangy dishes. A wonderfull addition to fruit salads, green salads, herb butters, fruit drinks, sorbets and marinades for fish.

Lemongrass- Provides a zesty lemon flavor and aroma to many Thai dishes. Look for heavy, long, relatively green stalks with chubby bulbs. Be sure to cook thoroughly. May be stored in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 weeks. Can be frozen and kept almost indefinitely, thouogh some of the perfume and freshness may be lost. Can also be dried and stored in airtight jars.

Lovage- Can be chopped and added to salads or stuffings or to soups. Is also said to be delicious with eggs- stir leaves into omelettes or scrambled eggs. The flavor is like parsley and celery combined with a hint of anise and curry.

Mexican Mint Marigold- Licorice-anise flavor; a stand-in for French tarragon. To use, chop fresh leaves and use them to season chicken and tossed green salads, or brew them into a sweet, anise-flavored tea. Dried leaves retain their fragrance well if kept in a sealed glass container.

Mountain Mint- Has a spicy, mint-like flavor that makes it a seasoning for meat. Medicinally, the leaves are brewed into a refreshing herbal tea for that run down feeling.  Very aromatic.

Nira (garlic chives) Used in oriental cuisine in a manner similar to regular chives, green onions, or garlic.

Papalo- Similar to cilantro used in Mexican cooking. Must be used fresh, as it does not dry well. Used raw to flavor tacos.

Red Veined Sorrel- Same sharp, tangy flavor as regular sorrel. (See below) Main difference is its distinctive appearance.

Shiso- Also known as perilla. Lemony-minty flavor. Can be chopped up and used in a salad. Other uses- added to stir-fry, shiso-miso soup, sushi wrap, shiso Mojito

Sorrel- The leaves may be pureed in soups, stews, and sauces or added to salads. Tart, lemony flavor.

Vertissimo/Chervil- Mild, sweet anise flavor. Popular for salads, micro mix, and garnishing.

Wild Bergamot (Bee Balm)- Was considered a medicinal plant by Native Americans and was frequently made into a tea (often sweetened with honey).

Winter Savory- Has a reputation for going well with beans and meats. Strong flavor while cooked. Loses much of its flavor under prolonged cooking. Has a strong spicy flavor. A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto a bee sting brings instant relief.

Za'tar- A variety of Marjoram- A mild, sweet, oregano-like flavor. 

In addition to these, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, swiss chard, sweet peppers, 
 hot peppers, spinach, leeks, and tomato plants are also available. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's Market Time

Today, Wed, June 6, marked the first market of the season! The weeks of exhaustive effort by David and Oscar came to fruition at Z Food Farm's farm stand. The first of the bounty consisted of kale (Tuscano and Red Russian), Swiss chard, radishes, kohlrabi, six varieties of lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, and garlic scapes. Potted herbs, tomatoes, basil, and other varieties were also available for sale. (A complete listing of the herbs will be forthcoming in the next day or so.

While the start of the market season is always fun and rewarding, today's start was special. It marked the start of the expanded CSA that is part of the farm. After a pilot program last season, the size of the membership was increased this season. It was great to welcome back returning members and to welcome to Z Food Farm all the new members. The support of the membership is greatly appreciated and it is hoped that all of you will enjoy the wonderful bounty in the months to come. It was also gratifying to welcome back many regular customers from the past couple of seasons. Your support is as important to the success of the farm as are those who are members of the Z CSA. We look forward to seeing you all over the course of the coming season.

What follows are some pictures from today's market.

Thanks again to returning members, new members, and all who stopped by at the farm today.

Happy and healthy eating to one and all.