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Monday November 23, 2015

Instead of going to the Farmer's Market this week, drop by our shed on Friday after 2pm.  We're going to have several things available for you.  Below is a list.

Salad Greens: already in bags $6

Squash: $3lb.  There are three different kinds, pattypans, zucchini, and bi-colored.  All of which are delicious(but of course!)

Sun Gold Tomatoes: sweet like candy cherry tomatoes.  They are all about the concept of sweet. They'll knock you off your feet. $6.50/pint. 

Heirloom Tomatoes:  Ever tried an heirloom.  Most people will say,"that's what my father use to grow when I was a kid!".  They're probably right.  Old fashion, musty sweet flavor, texture and presentation. $6.50lb

Greenhouse Tomatoes:  a deal at $4.50lb.  Tasty, red tomatoes that are very firm and great for sandwiches or salad

Juliet Tomatoes: $6.50/lb A story unto themselves.  They look at act like a cooking tomato, but are utterly fantastic to eat uncooked, too.  An unusual combination, as usually cooking tomatoes aren't much fun to eat raw.  I call them my "Desert Island Tomato" because if I had to choose one variety to take to a desert island-it would be the Juliet for its versitility.

Pickling Cukes-crunchy and sweet $.75/each

Carrots- both the Cosmic Purple and Yaya(orange) $6/lb

A scale will be there.  It's easy to use.  I'll leave instructions next to it.

I hope that you'll take the opportunity to come by and get some of this season's offerings.

If you have any comments, shared recipes or questions-please write back.

Bon Appetit,


Posted by: David Zemelsky
8/6/2015 5:18 am

Thanks to a call from an enthusiastic  friend of Star Light, I am reminded that it was never stated the time of the Open House.  Ok. 12 noon to 3pm.  Come to 54Fowler Ave. in Durham.  Park on the road and walk 100 yards or so down to the farm.  Say hello to the sheep if you want, but DON'T TOUCH THE FENCE-ELECTRIC!  Hope to see you there.  We'll have plenty of salad greens, arugula, herbs, tomato plants, strawberry plants, pepper plants and malabar spinach.

Posted by: David Zemelsky
5/17/2015 8:07 am


Let's count the weeks till the CSA begins, shall we?  I get 6 weeks till the first Share Day-June 3rd.  We're counting on being quite ready. If you are thinking about CSA, there are still some slots available.  Write me with any questions, I'll get back to you right away.  Our opening offering will be (subject to the whims of nature), salad greens, haukeri turnips, swiss chard, braising greens and an herb plant that you can use in a patio pot or put in the gardens.  We fret about being ready.  It is not unlike Opening Night at the theatre.  I need to emphasize to you that with farming- things can change on a dime.  But, we're optimistic.  Here is a picture of some of our growing space.  You can tell from looking at it, why we're so optimistic.  It is a beautiful sight.

These rows were hooked with our sub soiler. Then we put the rotary harrow on it.  Somewhat like a rototiller, but better.  It doesn't invert the soil, just stirs it up.  After that, we load compost in our manure spreader (no manure is used at slg).  we've made this spreader a hybrid.  Instead of flinging the material everywhere, we've managed to get the spreader to drop compost in a nice even row.  You have no idea how much better this is than what we did before!  I won't bore you with the details, but imagine digging a 4 foot hole with a grapefruit spoon.  Get the idea?

Things that happened this week.  More tomatoes planted in the heated greenhouse (we only have one house that we heat).  Planted arugula, spring raab, pak choi, haukeri turnips, lettuce, mizuna, red russian kale-to name but a few.

Onto our Friday's store.  Read the list below.  If you see something that interest you, write me back with an order. Deadline is noon on Friday.  Pick up your order at our shed at 54 Fowler Ave.  Its self service, so try to bring exact change. Cash preferred, but checks are ok.  Once in a while, I miss someone's email and that person shows up at the shed and is disappointed.  Let's make this simple-you write to me and I write back to acknowledge that I've seen your email.  If I don't write back-let me know. I don't mind.

Let's talk about Mother's Day Strawberries first.  Here's a picture of a few of them.

See all the blossoms?  These beauties will produce strawberries all season.  Bring them into a protective place and they're off and running next season.  Also, I guarantee that this will make the very best Mother's Day present that the recipient has ever ever received. Wow! Can't beat that.You can pick them up any Friday before Mother's Day, but the final Friday(May 8th) is your last chance to get them before that revered holiday.  $25/pot

Malabar Spinach-in 8" pots.  An unusual green with a great taste and appearance.  They will grow and grow and give great taste satisfaction.  $16/pot

Sweet Pepper Plants in a pot-specialized variety that produces numerous peppers but is easily grown in a small pot.  Pick peppers off your own plant. $18

Basil, Sage, Chives, Parsley Herbs-all certified organic and ready to go into patio pots or transplanted to the garden. $5/pot

Spinach- glorious first cut Tyee variety. $6/ 6oz. bag


Red Russian Kale- robust, satisfying and all around great for you.  Lightly cooked or raw, either way a true winner $6/for a 6oz. bag

Braising Greens-with spicy mustard, kale, pak choi, spinach.  Heavenly flavor. $6/half pound bag

Yu Choi-kind of a cross between chinese cabbage and pak choi.  Light green, long leaves that are great in salad, stir fries and just wilted $6/ for a 6 oz. bag

Spring Salad Mix-with claytonia, kale, mizuna, 8 different kinds of lettuce and yu choi $7/ 6oz. bag

Tomato Plants- yes, its too early to put them into the ground, but not to early to get your own and have them keep growing at your house. $5/plant.  Discount for multiple plants(10 or more)-inquire.  Our tomato plants consistently are the best.  I'm not bragging , just reporting.  So many customers tell me how happy they are with our tomato plants. Here's a partial list:

Juliet-the one that I'd take to a desert island.  Great to cook, dry or eat in a salad. Exceptionally sweet taste.  You'll want a lot of these.  And a great producer, too.

Paul Robeson-this is a Black Russian variety, and named after the incredibly talented singer/actor(and a favorite of mine-check him out on Youtube).  There is almost a cult following about this variety.  Its texture, flavor and finish (like a great wine) is memorable.  You'll be rolling your eyes.

SunGold- an orange cherry tomato that would be impossible to eat just one.  Saying that its "sweet" doesn't even come close to the taste of these guys.  People come up to me in the Winter, almost weeping over the Summer memory of sungolds.  For me, it isn't Summer without them.

Pruden's Purple- they aren't really purple, but they also aren't really red either.  An heirloom variety like this deserves to be looked at closely.  When we started growing heirlooms, Prudens was the first eating experience for me.  The difference between it and "normal" tomatoes will never be forgotten.  It's a great producer, with big fruit.

Cherokee Purple-heirloom, too.  Very popular and for good reason; taste, appearance and productive. 

I should mention that all of our choices are easy to grow and productive.  Some heirloom varieties are wonderful to eat, but only produce a few fruits for each plant.  Not these.  You'll be overun with tomatoes.

Let me know your wishes by noon on Friday.  Distribution at our shed (54 Fowler Ave.) after 3pm. Cash preferred, checks ok.  And , if I didn't write back to acknowledge your order, contact me-by phone if necessary. 860 463 0166.  Thank you.

Open House Reminder : May 17.  Exact time , not sure, but probably early afternoon

A new CSA member sent a little note with their check a while ago.  It said "We're hungry!"  I know the feeling.  So stay well, and buy your food from the outside of the supermarket aisle-that's where all the whole food is.  Learned that from Michael Poulin.



Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/28/2015 4:43 am


Suddenly, our road down to the farm, which I thought would remain impassible for cars, has dried out.  I envisioned a late May target date, based on the depth and wetness of the mud.  Unless you're a kid, mud isn't that much fun.  Take off your shoes, every time you come inside etc etc.  Now what's left are big ruts-dry ones though.  I've been surveying these ruts today and contemplating how the compost truck ( a big affair with at least 10 wheels was going to negotiate them.  Hmm?  I'll let you know.

By the way, if ever there was a harbinger of the coming of Spring, it would be the compost truck.  Filled to the brim (33yards) with delicious food for the soil, we greet its arrival with the knowledge that  there's much to do.  Its always the same driver and we always say  the same things. "Hard winter"  "You bet" "We could use a little warmth" "OK"  " See you in a few months" "Right! Don't get stuck in the mud going out".  The stuff is dark, black and beautiful to touch.  As the season progresses the lines and fingerprints of my hand get darker and darker.  It takes one of those Stop n' Shop green scrubbies to get them even reasonably clean.  Its worth it though because this compost, to the plants, is a glorious supper.  Since its only made out of leaves (no animal manure used here), we also will put on organic compost and alfalfa meal.  The compost adds essential trace minerals and the alfalfa is a great source of nitrogen.  Plants aren't all that different from us.

There's clearly a lot to do.  Finally, we can get out into the field.  John, who has been with us for 3-4 years (we both lose count), spent the whole day on the tractor literally tearing into the soil and trying to make it breath again.  He puts a long hook that resembles a sea anchor on the back of the tractor and goes up and down the field, creating 2' troughs in each bed.  Water and air now has a highway to drive down to bring their goodness to the lower levels.

Meanwhile, Joel spent the day transplanting kale plants from the nursery outside to the long rows that are adjacent to some arugula and other asian greens that we planted the day before.  And they, in turn are planted next to a few rows of swiss chard that we also transplanted out of the nursery.

Which is all to say that we're doing everything that we know how to make sure that by the first day of the CSA (June 3 or 4th , depending on which day you picked or June 6th for Wooster Square), we should have a decent showing.  My prediction will be that there should be radishes, chard, salad and haukeri turnips in our first week or so.  Kale, should be following soon after that.  We have room still for you, if you are interested.  Write me with any CSA questions.

Following is a list of what we have for sale this week.  If you see something that you like, please email me back at: starlightgardens@comcast.net

Ok.  Offerings for this week.  Let me know by noon on Friday with pick up at the shed after 3pm. Cash preferred (exact might be better).  Check if you have to.

Spinach sale ! Buy a $6 bag and get another for free.  I'll put them both in one bag to save on plastic

Salad Greens- a wonderful Spring mix of kale, 8 kinds of lettuce, claytonia, spinach $7/ for a 6oz bag

Kale- baby red russian $6/ for a 6oz bag

Spicy Mustard Greens $6/bag

Claytonia- a wonderful winter green that will only be around for a short time more.  It goes to seed soon and then dies away.  $4/ for 4oz bag

Strawberry Plants-some still available for Mother's Day or sooner.  They are blossoming as we speak.  In a hanging basket $25.  Send no money for this one now.  Just let me know and I'll put you on the reservation list.

Basil, sage, parsley and chive plants in 4" pots- $5 each. 

Talk to you soon.

Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/20/2015 11:43 am

Sure, its been cold beyond your wildest expectations.  And for many of you, you're probably wishing that you could get on a plane for warmer climes and be done with it all.  On the other hand, you'd be missing a great day like today.  Cold, but not too cold. Sunny , but not too sunny. (wait, that's not possible!) And no wind.  That parts very critical.  I love snow but hate a cold wind.  You, too?  The best thing about today is that we went around the corner and planted out our first bunch of spring plants-namely spinach. 

We started flats of spinach a few weeks ago , under lights in the basement.  They did great and began to look like a great crop.  Then came the issue of hardening them off.  This is a process in which we patiently explain to the spinach that it isn't going to be so cozy and warm all the time from here on in.  You're going outside where the temperature can be in the single digits.  In order to get them use to this concept, we brought them outside to the heated nursery, where they enjoyed real ultraviolet rays during the day and lower temperatures at night.  After 4 nights, I felt that they were ready to meet the reality of real dirt.  The picture below is what a few of them looked like after we transplanted them into the ground.  After covering their roots up with dirt, we put metal hoops over the rows and draped rowcover over that.  Rowcover is a simple lightweight blanket that buffers the plants from extreme cold.  Let's hope they take off like a big bird and provide  us with lots of spinach in the near future.  Here's the picture

We're ordering unusual seeds from everywhere this week in our endeavor to provide our great and unusual food for the CSA , our restaurants, and Farmer's Markets.  Of most interest are some very promising Asian vegetables that we'll grow from a seed company in California that specializes in Japanese and Chinese Food.  To name but a few: Yu choy sum, Dwarf Pak Choi and Shoya Long Eggplants.  We are always on the look out for the next big thing in food trends.  I should mention our ginger/tumeric program, too.  We've found a huge fan base for our ginger and therefore decided to branch out into tumeric.  Last year, we planted 10 plants.  The excitement that the tumeric  generated was extremely gratifying.  As many of you know, tumeric can be used to help with aching limbs and joints.

We are hoping that you might consider joining our CSA , so that you could enjoy many of the crops that we're offering.  As a member of the CSA, you will be able to enjoy great food every week at a reasonable price.  The health benefits of organically/ locally grown are enormous and very satisfying.  If you have further questions about what it would be like to join this exciting enterprise, please write back.  You'll get a very prompt response.

Posted by: David Zemelsky
2/27/2015 3:49 pm

Dear Friends of Locally Grown Food,

Six? Yes, our sixth grandchild was born early this morning.  Everyone is doing great. And we're so excited.  With six of them around, there should be one who'll keep the farm running for all of you well into the future!

We're getting ready to move the bulk of our growing "starts" out to the nursery.  There's a big leap that a plant will take once it goes from grow light to natural light.  Without a little tenderness, a plant can go spiraling out of control and die.  Our first order of business is to harden off a lot of spinach plants.  We'll keep them at a temperature of not less than 50 degrees for a few days and then allow them to go down to 40 degrees after that.  Once they've experienced cold that way, we'll be able to plant them out in the hoop houses.  They are gorgeous and healthy right now, so I'm hoping that the transition goes smoothly.

We've got about 800 tomato plants growing, too.  Half of them are what we call rootstock.  We graft an interesting flavor of tomato onto the rootstock, which enables the plant to withstand many common tomato diseases.  And beside that, they'll grow a very vigorous plant that is capable of doubling the production of a normal plant.  Pretty cool, right?

The CSA is filling up nicely, but there is still more room for now.  If you'd like more information about why we think that this is the best way to get great food at a reasonable price-write back.  I love to respond.  And also, love to answer any questions.

Tomorrow, we're offering for you the following:

Salad Greens with kale (mostly, and so sweet) , some spinach, claytonia $6/ for a 6oz. bag

Spinach- $6/bag

French Fingerling Potatoes -$5/bag

Sun dried Tomatoes-these are Juliets.  Once you've put water to them, they are better than anything you'd get fresh at Stop n' Shop today (but nothing beats a fresh locally grown tomato) $5/oz

Farmer Dave's Tomato Sauce- $11/jar.  Ok, these are getting serious attention now in the world of foodies.  Texture, flavor, goodness-its got them all

If you'd like any of the above things, email me back before 11am tomorrow(Friday).  Your order, with your name on it will be waiting for you in our shed to the left of our house at 54 Fowler Ave after 3pm.(not 2pm)  Cash is best, but will take a check if you don't have exact.

Thank you, one and all for letting us tell our story.

Ty and David Zemelsky


Posted by: David Zemelsky
2/12/2015 6:45 pm

    Become part of the CSA at Starlight Gardens by purchasing a seasonal share in our Spring/Summer CSA Harvest. 


     ***Register and make your deposit in January 2015 to join for LAST year's prices.***


  • Your family, the local community and farmers, and the environment as a whole, all benefit from food that is deliciously fresh and nutritious, sustainably grown and harvested, and USDA Certified Organic. 

    Interested? Click on the our "Spring/Summer CSA 2015" tab above.


  • Thank you!
Posted by: David Zemelsky
1/14/2015 8:53 am

We'll be opening the store tomorrow afternoon(October 17th) at 2pm,  You can get awesome salad greens($6/bag), peppers($4/bag), eggplant($4/bag,spinach($6/bag),potatoes($5/bag, carrots($5/bag and ginger ($7/bag.  Also, this week, we're offering our own tomato sauce.  You'll flip when you try it. $8.50/jar  We'll be putting out a few of each item, so if you know exactly what you want, you can tell us ahead of time, and your order will be sitting by itself.(email at :starlightgardens@comcast.net

There is still time to sign up for the Fall CSA.  I would say that there are a few more places that we could fill.  Fall CSA is on a Wednesday, but if you can't do Wednesday, we could make things available on a Thursday, also.  Let me know.  Pak choi, sweet potatoes, daikon(I believe), tomatoes(while they last), onions, swiss chard, potatoes, carrots, salad to name some of the highlights.  Store closes at 7pm.

Hope to see you there!

Bon Appetit


Posted by: David Zemelsky
10/16/2014 8:21 pm

Fall is the time to enjoy sweet everything;peaches, cider, apples and best of all-vegetables.  Colder weather kicks the carbohydrate factory in our vegetables into overdrive.  Carrots are a really good example.  We've been enjoying great carrots all season, but its the Fall carrots that really win my heart.  So sweet and crunchy.  Its hard to believe.  But not just carrots, there's salad, beets, kale and many more.  All of them are sweetest in the Fall.

The Fall CSA is a way to have a great and steady stream of the best vegetables come into your home every week.  This year's Fall CSA will start on October 29th and continue till December17th-a total of 8 weeks.  We've been farming for over 15 years and running the CSA for 3 of those years.  Our members are extremely enthusiastic about what they've gotten from us.  We can provide you with names if you would like to hear about other people's experiences being a CSA member.

A typica Fall CSA member loves soups and salad to savor on those colder Fall nights.  We'll be giving you carrots, potatoes, beets, pak choi, kale, salad greens, ginger, onions and sweet potatoes.  Might still have green tomatoes at that point, too.

In any case, we hope that you'll sign up soon for an opportunity to enjoy locally grown and Certified Organic  vegetables from Star Light Gardens.  Please write with any and all questions. We respond.  If you'd like to sign up-it is a very simple process.  On the top of our homepage there is a pull down menu that saids : "CSA for Fall 2014". Click on that and select "Member Sign Up Fall 2014".  Takes 2 minutes.


Posted by: David Zemelsky
9/9/2014 10:40 am

CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) is very big in the world of locally/sustainably-grown food.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, here is how it works.  The CSA,once you've joined, enables you to get incredibly fresh, reasonably priced, delicious food every week from our farm.  Members show up on a day that they choose (either Wednesday or Thursday) between the hours of 2pm and 7pm for a 21 week period starting at the beginning of June.  Upon arrival at our shed, there will be instructions on how much of each food you can take.  There are two sizes you can choose from.  The Small Share feeds between 1-2 people and the Regular Share is for 2-4 people.  Based on surveying members who have been with us in the past, the portions are very ample.  Additionally, we have only received extremely positive (and somewhat flattering!) compliments, so I know we're pleasing people out there.  The concept of CSA has been around for over 20 years, but only recently has it been gaining in popularity.  Probably, this is a result of a growing awareness of the importance of locally grown food and its superior nutritional and culinary traits.  From the ecological side, CSA only helps small farms like us both plan on the size of a crop and a guaranteed income.  It's presence sends a loud signal to the large food machine that people are interested in knowing everything that they can about where their food comes from.

To sign up, go to the menu choice marked CSA and choose the registration for Summer 2014.  It is a very quick process.  Our address for sending in the deposit is on the instructions.

Meanwhile, in other news, we are happy to report that our two new houses are now ready to plant with wonderful greens.  For a while, it seemed that they'd be full of snow till June!  Out in the field, there are several places that we protected from the snow and rain, that are now also ready to plant.  They will be planted with kale plants-the kind that grows into a large leafed glorious plant that will make you soar up in the air with delight (guaranteed!).  Additionally, we'll be planting beets and chard as soon as the ground can be worked.  My guess would be by beginning of next week at the latest.

For the Tomato Enthusiast, we'll be planting our first wave of tomatoes early next week.  That deserves a few words about our methods for growing tomatoes.  First off, we graft tomatoes.  This is a method by which the top of one plant is taught to grow on the bottom of another plant in order to increase production and resist many of the diseases that tomatoes fall prey to.  Secondly, we grow all our tomatoes in a hoop house in order to protect them from too much rain.  That too, will help with the disease problem.  We say around here that"tomatoes don't like to get their jackets wet."  By keeping them in a hoop house, the only water that they receive is water that we give them through small irrigation hoses(driptape) at the base of each plant.  Thirdly, we feed them what they like-a healthy blend of compost, alfalfa and organic fertilizer.  Fourth, we prune each plant in order to produce better looking and bigger tomatoes.  Lastly, we salt all our plants with seaweed.  That's right-salt them.  The fruit absorbs the seaweed and incorporates the salty goodness of it in each fruit.  You can taste the difference.

here are some photos of our ginger getting ready to be planted in a few weeks.  Hope you get a chance to sample real fresh ginger this season.

Posted by: David Zemelsky
3/24/2014 11:39 am