This week I want to tell you about our spreader. The spreader is the key tool for our soil feeding program. After tilling the soil, we’ll fill the spreader (ok, its proper name is manure spreader-we don’t use manure, though) right up to the top with compost. Our compost comes from a company called New England Harvest. Rather than manure, this compost is made 100% with leaves collected from municipalities. As a USDA Certified Organic Farm, we are required to strictly adhere to regulations about manure. If we use raw sources of manure, it needs a full 180 days of being incorporated in the soil before growing vegetables in it. Obviously, tying about a field for a half a year is impossible for a farm of our size. The downside of using compost composed of leaves is that it is lacking in nitrogen-an essential part of every plants diet. We solve this problem in two ways. First, we’ll add alfalfa meal which is rich in available nitrogen. Second, we also use organic fertilizer. Besides nitrogen, there are many trace minerals that our plants will appreciate. Think of it as a great vitamin supplement. Anyway, back to the spreader. Originally, this tool would spread the manure in its hopper in a wide path in back of it. That isn’t what we want. We want the compost to drop quietly in a confined line. The manufacturer worked with us on this one. They figured out that if they removed certain internal parts, we’d be able to have the compost drop quietly out in a 26 inch path. Each bed is seperated by the width of the tractor’s tires. After spreading compost, we’ll add the alfalfa and fertilizer. Then, it all needs to be lightly raked in. The other plus of this method- the compost acts like a weed barrier.
The first picture shows you what the spreader looks like. Its towed by the tractor. As the wheels turn, it drives a chain driven shovel that you can see in the second photo. The compost just gets nudged out the rear. The last photo shows you how the planting bed looks after driving the tractor with spreader in tow. Alfalfa and fertilizer added after this and raked in.
OK. On to store business. First off, if any of you who pre ordered Hanging Strawberry Plants would like them tomorrow instead of next week, please let me know. Otherwise, everyone else who ordered should plan on picking them up at that time. They look great, with tons of blossoms. I will also provide you with a link for care of them. Don't worry, it's easy!
As always, give me your order by noon tomorrow.You can email me back directly from the website. Pick up will be at the shed on Fowler. Your order will have your name on it. Put payment in the jar. Cash preferred. Your order will be ready after 2pm.
Claytonia- I keep saying "last week" for them, but I think I really mean it this week. As they reach maturity, there is a little flower that grows out of the middle (and a tasty one, too). I believe that they are even more sweet and succulant as they get ready to produce seeds. $6/bag
Spring Garlic-a real treat that is only available in Spring. Every part of the garlic plant is usuable, including roots. The fresh garlic taste is all about Spring $8/half pound
Hakeuri Turnips- fresh, incomparable taste (I have no good words, anyway) and the leaves are the best of any root crop, too. $4/bunch
Pea Tendrils- last night, we made "pea tendril pesto". Its every bit as good as basil pesto. Uncooked, you'll feel like you're eating fresh peas. $6/ for 6oz bag
Arugula- $6/ for 6oz. bag
Baby Red Russian Kale- $6/6oz. bag
Salad Greens- with firecracker lettuce, kale,claytonia, mustard, mizuna and tokyo bekana $6/6oz bag
Tokyo Bekana- a Chinese Cabbage type with a sweet, subtle flavor $4/bunch
Hanging Strawberry Plants- I still might have a few more. If interested let me know and I'll get back to you about whether we're sold out or not. Available tomorrow and next week. $25
Heirloom Tomatoes- Wapsipinicon, Cherokee Purple, Striped German,Green Moldovan $5plant
Cherry Tomatoes- Black Cherry, Sun Gold, Riesentraube, Amy's Sugar Gem $5/plant
Herb Plants- German Winter Thyme, Italian Flat leaf Parsley, Compact Genevese Basil (smaller than regular basil and perfect for a patio pot) All are $5/pot
Teddy Bear Sunflower- a dwarf variety that stays in a pot. You can plant out, but they do great in a small pot. Fuzzy fuzzy flower, which probably explains the name. $5
Northfordy Tomato Sauce- two seasons ago, a few farm, including Star Light put together a big lot of canning tomatoes for the processing plant in New Haven. We ended up with cases of amazing sauce. I still have about a dozen jars left, which I AM KEEPING. However, Northfordy Farm from Northford still has some available which I am selling. $10 /jar
That's the list. Thank you all for being our friend.
Posted by: David Zemelsky
Have a great week.
Dear Friends of Star Light,
I'm going to share with you that my birthday was this week, if you promise not to send me cards. I am telling you this fact because it figures into a short event that I am going to tell you about. Remember, no cards!
We've got two immediate projects going on right now. Tomatoes planted in the ground in our one heated hoop house and getting started on getting the fields ready for planting. Before the "birthday event", the tractor had presented its own obstacle to getting this work underway. A flat tire. What was particularly annoying about the flat tire was that I should have remembered already that it was flat. That happened over the weekend when I was doing the "Grampy" thing with our grandchildren and giving them all a ride. After this first kid finished her ride, it was pointed out to me-flat tire. Too bad for everyone else. So that was the day before- I should have remembered that. But I didn't-untill I was just about to get on the tractor. Ok. Deep breath. Jack the tractor up, pull the flat tire off, bring it to the tractor place , let them tell me that it would take a day or two (more delays) and then have a spot of good fortune , as they fixed it right then and there. Moving on- back to the tractor and put the patched tire back on. So, that was all before I discovered that the PTO was frozen shut. PTO is an axle that fits both on the tractor and your tiller. A gear at the rear of the tractor moves this axle like on your car which subsequently makes the tiller do its work.
PTO has a shape that fits over the shaft in the middle of the picture. The trouble is that the shaft was jammed up and couldn't extend to meet this gear at the back of the tractor. Simple Tractor 101!
Well, I hammered on it and yelled at it, but nothing was going to happen. Over to Danny's Unlimited. There's nothing that Danny's isn't afraid to tackle. When I got there, a customer took an interest in my problem and put the PTO in a vise, looked down at it, grabbed a hammer and a flashlight and whailed on it for a few seconds. Bingo, and it came unstuck. Turns out that it was well greased, it just doesn't like being compressed all winter. I thanked him and rushed back with my newly "fixed" PTO. It was looking good for a start on tilling for today. As soon as I got back and started working on getting everything in order, I made a fatal mistake. I let the tiller down in such a way, that the PTO compressed itself again and got re-stuck (if there is such a word). In spite of a lot of re-yankings(again, is their such a word?) , it was not going to budge. More futile bangings on my part, made me slowly realize that I'd have to go back to Danny's. Fortunately, I'm old enough that all my pride has left me long ago. But(and this is where the Birthday part comes in ),I realized that it being my birthday, it would be ok. This is, after all , a day to take stock of who one is and where one's going. And in this case, I'm going (back to Danny's anyway). So, as I write this note, Danny still has the PTO. Which is ok, I found plenty of other equally important things to do. He's going to fix it so, it can't compressed so far that it will get stuck. Its worth the wait.
Because there's still valuable spinach in the house, we're just planting the two rows in front of you for starters. The outside rows will have cucumbers that are guaranteed to make you jump high enough to dunk baskets even if you're under 5 feet.
I'm enjoying taking care of all of you at the store. Pre ordering seems to work for me for now. Hope you feel the same way. For some of you this concept is new. Let me explain. Below are listed greens that are available right now. You can, be emailing me back(email@example.com) pick up any of the listed items tomorrow at our shed at 54 Fowler Ave./Durham. If you join our mailing list, then I can write to you personally each week and tell you what there is. Nice stuff.
Hanging Strawberry Plants are growing rapidly. When they arrived, they looked like dead roots. Once they were planted, they virtually exploded with leaves. By the time those Mother's Day recipients get theirs, there may be blossoms. Let me know, if you'd like to reserve one. $25/basket.
A few more weeks, and I'll be offering our tomato, basil,thyme, and parsley plants to take home. We grow strong successful plants for you. I hope you'll consider them.
This week. Spinach Special. Again. Buy one bag for $6 and get a second one for free. I'm going to pack both bags in one bag to save on packaging.
Arugula- $6/for a 6oz bag
Claytonia-only a few more weeks left. Succulant, sweet, and gorgeous. $6/bag
Salad- with kale, claytonia, spinach, mild mustard and mizuna $6/bag
Order by noon on Friday. Pick up after 2pm on Friday at the shed @ 54 Fowler Ave. Your order will be marked with your name. Payment in the jar. Bring exact or hope that someone else's payment will help you make change. Cash preferred, but checks ok, if you must.
Have a great week.
DavidPosted by: David Zemelsky
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.
Posted by: David Zemelsky
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
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!
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 :email@example.com
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!
Posted by: David Zemelsky