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TINY HOUSE SCULPTURE 1

Monday June 17, 2019

Dear Some of You Whom I Know And Some Of You That I Wish I Knew,

Its always good here. Even when hard things happen, I feel that it can be handled.  Even that time when the hoop houses were crushed by the huge snow storm, it didn't feel that the world had ended.  For me, there was an unspoken trust that this farm would pull itself through.  And I was right.  The good Governor offered some assistance to help defray the cost of rebuilding. Additionally, there was a boost of help from Whitehouse Construction who offered their services at cost, which saved thousands.  And lets not forget the countless friends, who's emotional support was so essential.  And underneath it all is always the thought that this place is meant to thrive.  And it has.  The feeling of gratitude that everything that we do here works is one of the best things about my life.

Its not luck that we're talking about.  It more like hard work and dedication can pay off.  And here's the pay offs, as far as I'm concerned.  Its the young child who is exposed to fresh,nutritious food and really loves it.  Or the chef who recognizes that they are being given the best material in the world to cook with.  Or possibly that person who taste an heirloom tomato for the first time in 30 years and is suddenly weepy as they remembered that this taste is exactly what they've experienced when their father/mother grew them in the backyard so long ago.  A taste that they thought was gone forever.  I could go on, but  then I'd be guilty of nostalgia.  But for me this is all about gratitude-an opportunity to serve and enrich.

Along with gratitude follows "plenty".  The soil is ready, poised even, to give to us.  And in a big way, too. Our job is to feed soil its proper diet and follow the simple rules of sustainable living and farming.  From this union of seeds, water, fecund earth and sun comes Plenty(capitol letter is deliberate).  A cascade even, if the right details are attended to. Plenty of great food gives me gratitude. And so the circle is complete.

 

 

CSA people: If you see something on this list below that you know for sure that you want, let me know and I'll make sure that when you show up at the Farmer's Market, it won't have sold out already.

Segway to Farmer's Markets. Durham on  the green,Thursdays 3-6:30pm/Madison on the Madison Green on Fridays 3-6pm, and Wooster Square in New Haven on Saturdays 9am to 1pm.  Note: No Madison Market this week-High School Graduation has bumped us out.  We'll resume next Friday.

For those ordering for the shed, remember to get your order in by 8am on Friday.  Order will be ready after 2pm on Friday.

Oh and a word about carrots.  Those carrots that we've been offering for the past few weeks were the ones  that we nurtured from last late Fall.  The idea is to plant them late, but not too late in the Fall.  They'll grow a little bit before Winter sets in.  In late January, when the stronger light returns they're ready to continue growing.  Alas, we've depleted the stock.  But new carrots are on their way, probably by mid-July.  Hope you can do alright in the interim.

Here's what we have:


Peas/ snow and snap.  Let me know which one. $6/pint

Salad Greens $6/bag

Braising Greens-spicy or not $6/bag

Collards,Big Kale and/or Swiss Chard- $4/bunch

Radicchio- $3/head

Radishes- $4/bunch

Hakeuri Turnips- $4/bunch

Pea Tendrils- Special This week. $5/bag

Garlic Scapes-this is the flower on the garlic.  Next fresh  thing from the garlic plant.  Use exactly like clove garlic except it won't go thru a press. $4/bag

Pak Choi- $4/bunch

Cucumbers $2/each.  These are cukes to bow down to.  Taste, crunch, looks. Yup. They got them all.

Spinah $6/bag

Dill, Cilantro and Parsley  $3/bunch

I hope you have a great week, full of all the right foods!

David

Posted by: David Zemelsky
6/12/2019 7:51 am

That's just it.  I'm not tough. And don't really know how act that way.  For me, acting tough is trying to convince the meter readers  not to give me a ticket on my car.  It never works, anyways.   But farming is tough and one needs to be able to adapt to new situations at the drop of a hat, be it weather changes, animal or pest infestations or a big change in an order.  It feels a little bit like one is facing your opponent in tennis and you'll need to anticipate whether you need to pivot left or right at the last second.  It all keeps me guessing.

You really have to be tough to grow tomatoes.  We've already climbed that hill earlier when the furnace failed to go on one cold night and it froze all  (or nearly all) of the tomatoes. Oy.  What a disheartening sight that was.  I remember there was a lesson to be learned here, but I didn't want to face it.  Lucky for Star Light though, in that almost all of the "frozen" plants made a recovery.  Unfortunately, I've had experience with "frozen" tomato plants and knew that there was a good chance that they'd spring back.  It took a solid two weeks, though before I saw any green come forth from the rather dead looking plants.  Now, a full month and a half since this happened, I can hardly tell about their step back.

Most tomato plants at this time of the year are so incredibly vegetative.  They have an inner brain.  They really do. The message is: put on leaves, put on trust(these are the blossoms), put on height and put out more roots.  The last item is the reason that one should plant your tomatoes deep, burying most of the main stalk.  The stalk will create a root system that will keep the plant in good stead if there's a lack of rain.  Metaphorically, any time one can create good root system-do it.

Then comes the consequences of so much rapid growth.  It feels like if I take my eyes off a plants for 45 seconds, that in the interim, it will grow new stems where I never saw them before.  This is particularly daunting when I think of all the meticulous moments spent inspecting and cutting out suckers, so that the plant was forced to grow upwards rather than outwards. 

Tomato Plants are like foreign sports cars.  They're fussy and vulnerable.  That is one of the main reasons that we have only grown them in a hoop house.  In that way, we don't have to worry about rain creating a fungal disease that they'll never recover from or worry about them getting too much water on their roots.  They only get water that we give them.  Not from on high.  So, for the past three days, I've put a major push on to stay ahead of the tomato growth.  Its tough. Like all plants, their goal in life is to reproduce seeds so that there'll be more of them for the future. 

This leads me to a very small workshop for you on tomato pruning.  Ok. The idea is to keep the bottoms clear of leaf growth and new stems.  That should be removed.  Next we need to keep the plant to two main stems (four, if its a cherry plant).  We work on this by getting to the plant right at the beginning of its growth spurt.  The job is completed well when the pruning eliminates all unnecessary suckers and branches.  Soon after that, we'll attach strings to the two (or four, if its a cherry tom) leader stems.  They get attached by a clever "clothespin" of sorts that clamps onto the string.  The plant is then wrapped around the string or we'll use a clever and somewhat complicated tool called a "tey m up" that will put a heavy ribbon around the plant and the string in one movement and in its second, staple and cut the ribbon, so that one can move onto a new section.   So far this year, the most time that I've spent on any one plant is about 8 minutes.  That's mostly because I'm trying hard to stay up on them.  (In fact, what I should be doing right this minute is not writing, but pruning.  However, its important to me to share this information with you.)  There have definitely been seasons when any one plant has been neglected for so long that it takes 20 minutes or longer to go through one plant.  Very time consuming, yes?  There are always big pruning decisions that I have to go through.  Should I take this major stem out-its so big already.  Is there too many leaves?  Does the plant itself look healthy?  On and on.

Truth is that its a rewarding job.  One can see results immediately.  I should make something very clear, though.  One does not have to prune tomato plants.  You could let everything evolve with no interference.  Studies have shown that pruning does not increase the weight of produce that comes from a plant.  What does happen is that the plant is healthier and produces bigger and sweeter tomatoes.  And that is what we're after. And that is what we hope to bring to you this season-the best tomatoes anywhere. 

Many of  you don't know this yet, but several years ago, a young child who loved our tomatoes gave me a new nickname-"The Tomato Scientist".  I'm keeping it!

 

This week we'll have for all of you numerous lovely items.  If you're ordering for the shed, please get me your orders by 8AM on Friday.  Your order will be ready after 2pm on Friday.  Or, like the Durham CSA people, you can come over to the green in Durham on Thursday from 3-6:30pm and just shop.

I should also note, that we'll be at the Madison Farmer's Market on Fridays from 3-6pm.  Located on the green just west of town.  A beautiful sight.  And of course, Wooster Square in New Haven from 9AM to 1PM.  If you've never been to a Farmer's Market, it is the most singularly wonderful experiences ever.  You'll find freshly harvested food and extremely happy people. 

Garlic Scapes!- first of the season.  Use exactly like garlic.  Fresh, new Spring Taste. $5/bag

The scape is curved over and  green, almost in the center of the picture.  One pulls it gently out from the plant.  Cut it up and use in salad or for cooking!

Salad Greens, Pea Tendrils $6/bag

Big Kale, Collards,and Swiss Chard $4/bunch

Radishes- $4/bunch

Hakeuri Turnips- $4/bunch

Pak (Bok) Choi and Chinese Cabbage- $4/bunch

Scallions- $3/bunch

Radicchio- $3/head

Lovely Lettuce Heads- $3/head

Nasturium Flowers- a dozen for $4.  Pretty and edible, too!

Carrots- first of the year! Sweet and exciting $6/bunch

Spinach $6/bag

That's it.  I hope that you are enjoying this magnificence weather.  I can't help but note that we shouldn't be lulled into thinking all is well with the environment just because we have a great day.  Still, it is beautiful!


 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
6/4/2019 9:15 am

It is suddenly lunch time when I wrote this note, much to  my surprise.  I kept finding reasons not to come inside, but when I finally did, was amazed how late it was. As we all know, this is Flow made popular in that very dense book on the subject by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  But wonderful as it is to lose track of time, that's not where I'm going here.  You'll see.

I've been pruning tomatoes all morning till early afternoon.  I've probably mentioned many times-pruning is one of life's joys.  It has a sense of humor to it, some tension, some drama and often a lot of sadness.  Over the years, I've gained confidence in how to prune.  Like many of the knowledge bases on the farm, there isn't a handbook on most of the subjects that need to be tackled.  I've learned by doing.  There is one piece of advice that a wise farmer did give me that has remained close to my heart- "the answer that you're looking for is right in front of you, all you need to do is be open to see it". 

But as far as pruning a tomato goes, haven't found that book yet.  I could easily write the book, but two things would immediately emerge.  One, no publisher would want to  print it.  Its too off the beaten track.  The second thing is that if I gave you a roadmap on what to do, then you'd be denied the pleasure that many tomato pruners (including myself) get when they find their "tomato way".

To make the subject even more complicated.  There are many growers who firmly belief that the plants shouldn't be pruned at all.  They feel that one would be interrupting the natural flow of its growth.  And we all know what happens in the world when we mess with Mother Nature.  Again, I refer you to both Bill McGibbons and the recently released United Nations report on the state of the environment.  For myself, the advantages of pruning are obvious.  Tomato plants are fragile things, subject to countless life threatening diseases.  There are of course new breeds that won't get sick as easily.  But there main problem is that the fruit on these plants taste like over cooked shoe leather.  Sorry.  That's just how it is. 

A well pruned tomato plant has a minimum amount of both leaves and main shoots on it.  In that way, there'll be plenty of air circulating around the plant helping it be more resistant to mildew and countless other maladies.  Now, unlike tomato pruning, who's book has yet to be made,there are plenty of books on tomato diseases.  But by giving the plant the swish of cleansing air, and a minimum of both leaves  and suckers, you can expect to be rewarded with bigger, healthier and more beautiful tomatoes.  One doesn't get more tomatoes by pruning, however.  I prune studiously because I believe it makes the plant more healthy, bigger and more beautiful. The fruit taste better if the plant is healthy.  It fits my value system.  Which is a good thing because there's an intense amount of work that goes into a well pruned tomato.

First, you'll need someone to work their way down the rows with a huge spool of binder's twine.  The heirlooms get two strands, but the cherry tomatoes get 4.  We try really hard to limited the heirloom tomatoes to two main branches.  Its a challenge-a real challenge.  The cherry tomatoes are so vigorous in their foliage production that you'd have to stand next to the plant and  prune it all day.  (I'm joking, but not much).

As I go from plant to plant, I'm having an internal dialogue about each plant that I work on.  At the base of each plant, there can be suckers.  I take them off, as I want the entire bottom of the plant to be free of vegetation.  Let the air run under it.  Your plant will thank you.  Occasionally, a sucker will get missed.  When I finally get back to the plant, the missed sucker turns out to be as thick as your pinky.  I still take them off.  Let the energy go into other parts of the plant.  It will all work out. 

At the beginning, I mentioned that pruning can be humorous, sad, full of tension and drama.  The humor comes from finishing to prune a plant that was hopelessly neglected for too long.  Initially, it looks like an impossible task but when I'm done, it makes me chuckle to see how its been brought back to life.  The drama comes when I begin to wrestle with a vine in an attempt to wrap it around the string that is attached to the internal structure of the hoop house.  Drama can easily turn into sadness when the wrestling ends with a big branch snapping off from too much pressure.  Ah, at this point I need to put my philosophical hat on.  I've learned over the years that it isn't worth getting too upset when a branch gets ruined.  I say that, but in fact when it happens, it is usually accompanied by a cry of alarm from me.  I take pruning personally.  Maybe its like inviting your neighbors over and they will look out of the corner of their eyes in the corners of your house and see if there's really any dust bunnies lurking around.   It needs to look good in order for the tomatoes to taste good.  That's my experience.

As for the subject line above all I can say is that answers aren't always what I'm looking for.  Sometimes, its just process.  So maybe the subject line should read "Answers Are Overrated".  I don't know.  I don't have that answer.

We are now attending 4 Farmer's Markets.  Thursday on the green in Durham from 3-6:30pm.  Plenty of parking just below the green. Friday at the Madison Green from 3-6pm, Saturday at Wooster Square in New Haven from 9-1pm and for one more week at CounterWeight Micro Brewery in Hamden from 11-5pm

CSA begins a week from this Thursday, but if anyone wants to start early (and end earlier) that's fine with us.  We've got lots to choose from.  For those of you still thinking of CSA-there's still room. By joining, you'll be  essentially getting about a 20% coupon for all the food that you get this summer.  The system is flexible and ready to work with your needs.  Just pick out what you want.  If you miss a week or so for vacation time, you can make it up at the end.  Or you could start a week early.  Its all going to work out.

We're looking at the same lovely choice of products this week.  So I took the liberty of copying over last weeks text including the information about tomatoes.  Some of you have been asking when is the right time to plant.  The simple answer is NOW!.

Below is the Radiccio.  This is the Italian Bitter.  People who love bitters want this.  $3/head

Raddicio.  Its color and texture will please raddicio lovers.

 

Lettuce heads-sure there's a lot of fancy names, but what it boils down to is an amazing head of lettuce.  Between the texture and the taste, its hard to say which is the best.  I will say that you shouldn't wait long to pick them up,  they need to be treated with a certain amount of care and refrigerated ASAP $2.75/head

Spring Garlic- I don't know about you, but the garlic you'd get from S and S-its really disappointing.  Now, we can offer you our Spring Garlic.  It hasn't bulbed yet.  What you get is a stalk that is 100% useful.  The roots can be used in soups and everything else right up to the very tip can be cut up and used for a sensational garlic taste.  Does not go thru the garlic press yet. $2/stalk.

Arugula, Salad Greens or Braising Greens- all $6/bag

Spinach- $6/bag.  They'll be a bit fuller than a normal sized $6 bag

Radishes and Hakeuri Turnips-both $4/bunch.  These have been the 2019 surprise of the year, so far.  The crop is crunchy, snappy, beautiful and everyone wants them.  The turnips can be eaten just like radishes-raw. Both of them have excellent greens that can be put in salad or lightly toasted with olive oil.

Green Onions- $3/bunch.  What's there not to like here?

Swiss Chard and Kale- $3/bunch

Cilantro-$3/bunch

Pak(Bok) Choi and Tokyo Bekana- both $4/bunch.  These Asian Greens really make the difference in a great vegetable dish

For those of  you growing some of your own stuff,now would be the time to get those tomato, herb and flower starts.

Herbs are on sale this week, too.  If you buy one plant, we'll give you another of the same kind to you for FREE!.

All Herb Plants are $5/  There are 4 different kinds of Basil, for starters. Genevese,Tulsi (Holy), Thai and Spicy Bush.  They are all way different from each other and each of them are amazing in their own rights. You can't go wrong.

Also, oregano, summer and winter savory,rosemary,sage,.thyme, chives, parsley, cilantro,lemon balm, hysop.

Dwarf Sunflowers have really become more and more popular over the years.  They grow to 2-3 feet and are happy most of the Summer.  Small pots $5 and big pots $10.  They'll do fine in the pot or can be transplanted to your flower garden.

 
Below is Teddy Bear Sunflower

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
5/21/2019 6:40 am

Dear Breathers Who All Breathe the Same Air,

My sister told me that I should read this book that she's reading by Bill McKibbin called "Falter".  In it, according to her, McKibbin outlines the concept that if we don't do something immediately about the way our environment is going, that a whole list of unspeakably terrible things will happen to our planet.  Mr. McKibbin is not alone is this view.  The United Nations very recently published a very thorough and extensively researched report on the state of the  earth.  One of, and probably one of the most terrifying  things that they reported was that millions of species are heading inevitably towards extinction.  The UN report does state that we can turns things around, however it must be an extensive and immediate response.  The report didn't raise much of a concern from those that believe that climate change is not real.

I believe that climate change is real. This kind of news concerns me more than I can describe.  Already, people of less means than myself are suffering as a result of the activities of modern society.  I wish there was some way for me to understand those on the planet who claim that climate change is not a fact.  None of these people (or at least 99%), are people of science.  What I worry about is that most of them are the people of power who believe that the very most important thing that a politician can do is to keep production of things up no matter its environmental impact.  If the cessation of certain activitiess would mean less money in the pockets of the owners of these activities than the politicians are going to certainly vote in support of their continuance. 

This little note of mine-I hope that it finds you in agreement with its statements.  If not, then I hope that you'll look deeper into the subject.  Perhaps buy Mr. McKibbin's book and approach the subject with an open mind and find yourself agreeing with 99% of every single scientist.  And lastly, I'm hoping that for those of you who don't agree that climate change is a real thing, that you won't feel alienated by my opinion on the subject.  I feel strongly on the matter and hesitated mixing this in with our usual conversations, but only for a moment.  These are trying times on so many levels-we need to not hide from our convictions.

CSA starts two weeks from this Thursday in Durham (5/30), followed by Friday (5/31) in Madison and Wooster on Saturday (6/1).  There is still an opportunity to join now.  By doing so, you'll be getting the most flexible and delicious CSA anywhere (a very bold claim, indeed.  But I mean it).  Additionally, you'll be saving money because your CSA dollar goes so much further than a regular dollar.  Roughly speaking, there's a 20% savings. And another factor is our committment to work with you and your own personal comings and goings this Summer.  If you miss a week or two for any reason (I like to know where you go because I'm nosy, but its not required!), we'll make sure that you either get more the next week or add an extra week at the end.  If you don't want much a certain week, you can get more the following week.  You'll find us the most reasonable people on the lot.  Sign up on line.  If you're hesitating because its a lot of money all at once, get a hold of me and we'll work out something else in the payment schedule.  Just don't not join because of lack of money, we're both creative.  And getting the right food is priceless.

Most everything from last week is available this week. 

New this week is Raddicio and Red Head Lettuce. Both $2.75/head. So many people love the bitter aspect of raddicio.  This one is mild to moderate bitter.  I'd recommend trying. The red lettuce is so crunchy and sweet.   Here's pictures of them below.

Raddicio.  Its color and texture will please raddicio lovers.

Red head lettuce

Here are our pea blossoms.  Its hard to believe anything could be this pretty!

 

Make sure to read all the way to the end.  Lots of tomato/herb/flower plants for sale.

Lets focus first on pea tendrils.  Sometimes known as pea shoots, these wonderful greens are so useful in many ways.  My favorite thing is to make pesto using the pea tendrils instead of basil, which many of you, I'm sure are very familiar with.  Its every bit as delicious as basil pesto.  Look also towards Asian Culinary dishes.  Did I tell you how amazing pea tendrils taste?  Do you like raw peas?  Most people are crazy about them.  The whole plant taste exactly like raw peas.  You just don't have to shuck them.  Salads? Sure,  just add to your salad green bag or perhaps some of the amazing lettuce heads that we're going to offer this week. Its $6 a bag, but I'm hoping that the idea of putting a bit extra in each bag will convince you to give pea tendrils a try.

Above are the pea tendrils.  They taste just as good as they look.  I recommend them

Lettuce heads-sure there's a lot of fancy names, but what it boils down to is an amazing head of lettuce.  Between the texture and the taste, its hard to say which is the best.  I will say that you shouldn't wait long to pick them up,  they need to be treated with a certain amount of care and refrigerated ASAP $2.75/head

Spring Garlic- I don't know about you, but the garlic you'd get from S and S-its really disappointing.  Now, we can offer you our Spring Garlic.  It hasn't bulbed yet.  What you get is a stalk that is 100% useful.  The roots can be used in soups and everything else right up to the very tip can be cut up and used for a sensational garlic taste.  Does not go thru the garlic press yet. $2/stalk.

Arugula, Salad Greens or Braising Greens- all $6/bag

Spinach- $6/bag.  They'll be a bit fuller than a normal sized $6 bag

Radishes and Hakeuri Turnips-both $4/bunch.  These have been the 2019 surprise of the year, so far.  The crop is crunchy, snappy, beautiful and everyone wants them.  The turnips can be eaten just like radishes-raw. Both of them have excellent greens that can be put in salad or lightly toasted with olive oil.

Green Onions- $3/bunch.  What's there not to like here?

Swiss Chard and Kale- $3/bunch

Cilantro-$3/bunch

Pak(Bok) Choi and Tokyo Bekana- both $4/bunch.  These Asian Greens really make the difference in a great vegetable dish

For those of  you growing some of your own stuff,now would be the time to get those tomato, herb and flower starts.

All Herb Plants are $5/  There are 4 different kinds of Basil, for starters. Genevese,Tulsi (Holy), Thai and Spicy Bush.  They are all way different from each other and each of them are amazing in their own rights. You can't go wrong.

Also, oregano, summer and winter savory,rosemary,sage,.thyme, chives, parsley, cilantro,lemon balm, hysop.

Dwarf Sunflowers have really become more and more popular over the years.  They grow to 2-3 feet and are happy most of the Summer.  Small pots $5 and big pots $10.  They'll do fine in the pot or can be transplanted to your flower garden.

 
Below is Teddy Bear Sunflower
Posted by: David Zemelsky
5/13/2019 3:20 pm

 

How much do you think about dirt?  I'm not referring to the parts of your house that refuse to get clean.  Or the muddy tracks that someone near and dear to you might bring into the house the moment that you finish cleaning the floor.  I mean the  material that holds the trees in place, the mountains way up in the sky and the matter that is being washed away in the Mississippi Delta at the rate of a football field a minute (Seriously.  That's a whole other topic).  Its also the stuff that we put our seeds, transplants,bulbs and rhizomes in.  I'd like to share with you what dirt means to me.

For a moment imagine that you've got a scoop of dirt in one hand.  Now, envision a whole community of living things actively existing in that hand.  Some are microscopic, others you can see.  None of them know each others name, but they are all doing their own specific job to make the soil a place for other living things (like your tomatoes that we're going to give you in a few months!) to be able to grow and thrive.  Some of the microscopic ones are figuring out complicated chemical formulas in order to supply our plants with important nutrients  such nitrogen or magnesium.  Think of them as food creators.  I know this is a simplification but the reality is that none of us know how or why these simple simple creatures figured out a way to make the whole system function.  And that, in a nutshell is how I feel about dirt: Dumbstruck and in total awe.

Before telling you what's available this week, you need to hear about the new shed.  It's name is Lulu.  I didn't mean to name it, but it was inevitable.  I've 7 grandkids.  Each of the five hoop houses are named after a grandchild.  Another one came around 4 years ago, so that kid got to have a newly acquired shed named after her.  About 15 months ago,came the last (I think, but don't hold me to it) one.  No building at the time of her birth.  But two weeks ago, we decided to put a shed roof off the back of the refrigeration unit.  This will be used for washing greens and roots.  So the last grandchild got something named after them, after all.

The boards on the bottom will be coming off.  And the sink has yet to move in.  Its going to be so awesome to wash and sort things out there.

Make sure to read all the way to the end.  Lots of tomato/herb/flower plants for sale

On to the food.  Lets focus first on Pea Tendrils.  Sometimes known as pea shoots, these wonderful greens are so useful in many ways.  My favorite thing is to make pesto using the pea tendrils instead of basil, which many of you, I'm sure are very familiar with.  Its every bit as delicious as basil pesto.  Look also towards Asian Culinary dishes.  Did I tell you how amazing pea tendrils taste?  Do you like raw peas?  Most people are crazy about them.  The whole plant taste exactly like raw peas.  You just don't have to shuck them.  Salads? Sure,  just add to your salad green bag or perhaps some of the amazing lettuce heads that we're going to offer this week. Its $6 a bag, but I'm hoping that the idea of putting a bit extra in each bag will convince you to give pea tendrils a try.

Above are the pea tendrils.  They taste just as good as they look.  I recommend them

Lettuce heads-sure there's a lot of fancy names, but what it boils down to is an amazing head of lettuce.  Between the texture and the taste, its hard to say which is the best.  I will say that you shouldn't wait long to pick them up,  they need to be treated with a certain amount of care and refrigerated ASAP $2.75/head

Arugula, Salad Greens or Braising Greens- all $6/bag

Spinach- $6/bag.  They'll be a bit fuller than a normal sized $6 bag

Radishes and Hakeuri Turnips-both $4/bunch.  These have been the 2019 surprise of the year, so far.  The crop is crunchy, snappy, beautiful and everyone wants them.  The turnips can be eaten just like radishes-raw. Both of them have excellent greens that can be put in salad or lightly toasted with olive oil.

Green Onions- $3/bunch.  What's there not to like here?

Swiss Chard and Kale- $3/bunch

Cilantro-$3/bunch

Pak(Bok) Choi and Tokyo Bekana- both $4/bunch.  These Asian Greens really make the difference in a great vegetable dish

For those of  you growing some of your own stuff,now would be the time to get those tomato, herb and flower starts.

All Herb Plants are $5/  There are 4 different kinds of Basil, for starters. Genevese,Tulsi (Holy), Thai and Spicy Bush.  They are all way different from each other and each of them are amazing in their own rights. You can't go wrong.

Also, oregano, summer and winter savory,rosemary,sage,.thyme, chives, parsley, cilantro,lemon balm, hysop.

You can also get a jump on spring by buying our Baby Pea Plants.  Just stick them in the ground and in weeks you'll beahead of yourself.  $2/plant

Dwarf Sunflowers have really become more and more popular over the years.  They grow to 2-3 feet and are happy most of the Summer.  Small pots $5 and big pots $10.  They'll do fine in the pot or can be transplanted to your flower garden.

 
Below is Teddy Bear Sunflower
Posted by: David Zemelsky
5/6/2019 11:53 am

First off, I'd never be able to cover this conversation in a whole book.  But sometimes, I think its good to challenge oneself to try and say something short and succinctly and boil it down to its essence.  It taste better in the brain, if you know what I mean.  Star Light got its start, not from a long yearning to farm, but rather  for Ty and myself to find a way for both of us to get our needs met as a couple.  The notion that we could make our living in our backyard was extremely appealing.  Sometimes solutions are right under ones nose and in this case, that was literally the case.  Now, 20 years later, I'd have to say that ended up as an awesome decision.  But I digress from the question-why farm? I farm because the act of growing things reminds me that we are all mortal. We have a definite ending, as well as a beginning.  That honest food is as pure as love and just as nourishing. (Or close, anyway!) That watching vegetables  grow is a wonder unto itself, that I (for one) will never get tired of.  That customers such as yourselves are incredibly appreciative of the hard work that goes into putting those vegetables in front of you to buy.  That knowing that the food that we grow taste better than anything that you'd find at the big boxes.  So, that's my elevator pitch answer.  Oh yeah, one more thing, getting my hands dirty in soil is good for the soul.

Starting this Friday, we'll be at the Madison Farmer's Market from 3-6.  Great selection of farms and convenient parking.  Come down, so we can meet you!

CSA reminder:  This is your best way to get our food at the very best price.  Three drop off locations. Durham, Madison Farmers Market (Friday 3-6), and Wooster Square in New Haven. (Saturday 9-1pm)  If not sure if the CSA is right for you, please call me at 860 463 0166 and I'll do my best to explain with the experience might be like for you.

This week, we've got everything that we offered last week PLUS pea tendrils.  Pea tendrils are used extensively in Asian Cooking, as an amazing garnish and for pea tendril pesto.  Heartily recommended . $13/lb

Mother's Day Hanging Strawberry Baskets.  As mentioned earlier, these are magic plants.  If the person you wish to buy them for is somewhat annoyed (or even worse) with you-giving them one of these plants will guaranteed to put your relationship immediately back on the right track.  On the other hand, if things are fine and you're just trying to be nice to someone, these will more than suffice.  $25 each

Herb Plants: so many to chose from. Parsley, cilantro, thyme, summer savory, genevese basil, holy basil , spicy bush basil,thai basil,chives, rosemary. $5

Tomato Plants! Sun Golds, Juliets, Striped German, Green Moldovan, many large yellow and red heirlooms.  I make a practice of only selling tomatoes that I personally love.  That's my best recommendation.  $5/each

Pepper Plants: only Bells. Orange, Yellow and Red $5/each

We have an infinite amount of radishes, French Breakfast Radish, Rover ( a nice perfectly round red one) and a Japanese offering called Scarlet Long.  None of them are too spicy.  And they're all crisp and snappy. $4/bunch

Salad Greens- with 4 different kind of wonderful lettuces, both red and green, red russian kale, asian greens, tokyo bekana $6/bag

Arugula- really nice stuff $6/bag

Braising Greens- Big Sale!  We're chock full!  With either spicy or non spicy. Mizuna, kale, chinese cabbage, mustard  $6 for a double bag

Pak Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Tokyo Bekana,swiss chard $4/bunch

Spinach-On sale, too.  Double bag $6

Cilantro Bunches- $3

I hope you see something that you like.  Please, just email your orders.

Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/29/2019 3:29 pm

 For as long as I've been doing these letters, it has been my custom to oh and ah over the coming of Spring.  Not going to change that this year.  And why should I.  Spring reminds us that being alive can be all about new beginnings, old and trusted ways of doing things(like growing!) and a general sense of huge gratitude to Nature for not losing its way, inspite  of all the interference from humans (I'm not going to dig too deep in that one right now.  Hopefully, everyone reading this letter believes that climate change is real.  If you don't believe it climate change, I'll try to respectfully respect your position.  It might be hard, though!).   Specifically, this excitement about Spring change is born out of how amazing the formally frozen tomatoes are doing.  Nature has its own system for healing.  And we're seeing their magic at work.  I would estimate that only 2 -5 actually plants will not recover at all from what happened.

Here's a good example of how nicely the tomatoes have recovered! I love tomatoes!

Here's what we have to offer you this week. Mother's Day Hanging Strawberry Baskets.  As mentioned earlier, these are magic plants.  If the person you wish to buy them for is somewhat annoyed (or even worse) with you-giving them one of these plants will guaranteed to put your relationship immediately back on the right track.  On the other hand, if things are fine and you're just trying to be nice to someone, these will more than suffice.  $25 each

Herb Plants: so many to chose from. Parsley, cilantro, thyme, summer savory, genevese basil, holy basil , spicy bush basil,thai basil,chives, rosemary. $5

Tomato Plants! Sun Golds, Juliets, Striped German, Green Moldovan, many large yellow and red heirlooms.  I make a practice of only selling tomatoes that I personally love.  That's my best recommendation.  $5/each

Pepper Plants: only Bells. Orange, Yellow and Red $5/each

We have an infinite amount of radishes, French Breakfast Radish, Rover ( a nice perfectly round red one) and a Japanese offering called Scarlet Long.  None of them are too spicy.  And they're all crisp and snappy. $4/bunch

Salad Greens- with 4 different kind of wonderful lettuces, both red and green, red russian kale, asian greens, tokyo bekana $6/bag

Arugula- really nice stuff $6/bag

Braising Greens- Big Sale!  We're chock full!  With either spicy or non spicy. Mizuna, kale, chinese cabbage, mustard  $6/bag, but twice the weight!

Pak Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Tokyo Bekana  $4/bunch

Spinach-On sale, too.  $6/ for a double bag

Cilantro Bunches- $4/bunch

To be boring-orders to me by 8AM Friday.  Orders will have your name on it, in the shed after 2pm on Friday.

I hope you see something that you like.  Please, just email your orders and we'll arrange delivery for you.

Have a great week.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/22/2019 3:03 pm

 

In the subject line, I really wanted to use the word "exploding".  It just seems in these times of international violence that we should tread lightly on using such a word.  What I'm trying to get across though is obvious.  Almost minute to minute, the season is changing. New greens coming out of the ground and amazing buds on all the trees.  Just drive along any road and take in the suttle red haze on the very common red maples.  All of this to me an an ominous way, "the system (nature) still works".  And still, its hard to understand why after all the abuse that humankind has bestowed on the planet.  It would be great if the next sentence was a perfect solution for helping to save the planet.  I don't own such a sentence.  And yet, that doesn't stop me from cutting down on plastic, biking rather than driving and paying attention to what will help.  What will (can) we all do.  As Helen Keller once said: "Alone we can do so little: Together we can do so much!"

There's so much this week.  Not just in terms of vegetables in the ground, but now, starting plants from the nursery.  Here goes:

In the nursery there's herbs, vegetables and Hanging Strawberry Plants.  The strawberry plants will produce the most delicious and aromatic strawberries you could ever imagine.  And they keep producing all season, too.  As a Mother's Day gift there 's no match.  This is simply your homerun solution about what to get.  If the person you're thinking of and you have some kind of a roadblock-this plant will fix it instantly.  I personally guarantee it!  And for those of you who are not experiencing any kind of roadblocks,  this plant will keep the road clear forever! Right.  Not just for Mother's Day, but the next 365 days.  Granted, this is quite a claim, but I've seen it over and over.  Done deal.  $25

Herbs: All $5/pot

Compact Genevese Basil- genevese is the basil that is most requested by chefs.  This particular variety is well suited for a pot on the back door or deck.  Doesn't need to be in the ground.  Will keep going for a long time, as you prune it.

Cilantro and Parsley-very happy alone or apart

Rosemary, Summer Savory,Thyme,Sage

Its a tad early to  put your tomatoes in.  However, its not too early to think about it!  We have a huge selection for you.  All Certified Organic.  There's some of my regulars like Sun Gold, Juliet and Paul Robeson.  But many others, too.  I'm going to create a small brochure on the website so you can see what we're talking about.  My past experience tells me that we grow a really great tomato plant based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback that I always get.  So before you buy those Big Girls and Boys at Agway,  think of us first.

In the world of flowers, we have miniature sunflowers (Firecracker,Teddy Bear and Sunny Smile) and Hanging Nasturium Plants.

In the world of greens, lets start with the braising greens.

Tokyo Bekana-a fresh chinese cabbage with unusually crunchy, and delicous leaves  $6/bag

A mix of mizuna,spicy mustards, chard, tatzoi  $6/bag

Red Russian Kale- $6/bag

Salad Greens- with claytonia (almost its last week), minutina,lettuce, mizuna,kale, red choi.  This is truly an epic mix $6/bag

Arugula- top of our game this week.  $6/bag

Radishes and Hakeuri Turnips  $4/bunch.  Crunchy (times 10!)

Claytonia-possibly last week for this Winter Warrior.  The plant now has a very small and edible white flower.  This is also the signal that the life cycle is spinning to a close $6/bag

Spinach- tasty tasty as ever.  But over run with so much.  two $6/bag for the price of one!

As usual, send me your orders by 8AM Friday.  Your order will be waiting for you in our shed at 54 Fowler Ave after 2PM.  Bring exact change or a check

Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/17/2019 9:18 am

Dear People Whom I Love To Write To Every Week

Some of you are in a position to have to "judge" the people around you in how they're doing their job.   It may not be the best part of the work, but it is necessary.  Certainly, I've had to do that over the past twenty years.  All and all, the people who have come to work at Star Light have been at the very least "really good".  And sometimes they've been better than that by a long shot.  Once, there was a dud of an employee-or maybe twice.  I forget.  Some have gone on to start their own farms, which is also kind of cool.  Everyone of them was hired by me, which means that my track record for judging how someone will work out is pretty ok.  Where I'm heading with this is to share my wonderful experience working with Jen and Joel. 

First thing you need to know.  They work hard.  Real hard. And with passion and enthusiasm, too.

Second thing.  They've recently shared with me that they're engaged!  That's pretty cool, too.  Don't worry.  I checked with them first before making a public announcement about it.  They met because they're both in the farming community, which is a small small world.

Best of all. Besides working hard, they're learning so much about farming and asking all the right questions.  In farming, the answer is always right in front of you, you just need to know how to read it.  And they do.

And then best of all beyond the "best of all" that I just mentioned.  They think of this as their farm.  When you talk to either one of them, you get a real sense of ownership.  All of this translates to even better and more exciting varieties of Star Light food.  Some of you already get it.

This week are choices have expended again.

Potatoes- $3/lb except if you order 10 or more lbs, then the price changes to $2/lb

Hanging  Strawberry Baskets for Mother's Day.  You'll be glad if you buy one.  They are so definitely the right thing to buy for Mother's Day.  The other day, I bumped into one of my neighbors who bought a basket from us several years ago.  They told me that their strawberry plants are still alive and produces amazing berries. Something to consider-$25

Salad Green- now more than ever, beautiful Garrisoon, Red Leaf and Outredieous lettuce in our mix.  Also Red Russian Kale, Claytonia, Tatzoi, Mizuna. $6/bag

Arugula- $6/bag We're now 2 weeks into this year's crop.  Such a pleasure. Beautiful leaves and a snappy taste.

Radishes- I'll cook dinner for you for a week, if you don't find these radishes the best ever.  $4/bunch

Hakeuri Turnips-same offer! $4/bunch

Spinach- half price sale again.  Full spinach taste for salads, soups and stir fries.  $5.50/lb

Braising Greens- with hot spicy mustard, kale, tokyo bekana $6/bag

Pak Choi- I love pak choi.  $4/bunch

Claytonia- our Winter favorite is going to be done in another 1-2 weeks.  Still tender, beautiful and delicious. $6/bag

Garrison Lettuce Heads.- we're going to try something new.  They aren't really heads.  More like several small heads banded together with a rubber band.  It'll be fun. $3/"head"

Tokyo Bekana- light and crisp and having a flavor that has always come out on top.  $4/bunch

In looking ahead.  We've got tons of herbs, tomato plants, flower starts.  All magnificent and certified organic.  Keep watching for what's available in the next week or two.  In the meantime, you can get out in your gardens and get the soil ready for these new members of your family.

CSA is waiting for you.  Totally flexible terms.  You'll only get what you want and at a discount.  If you're away for a week because of a holiday, we'll tack a week on at the end.  Its a "can't lose" scenario.  Sign up on the website at:starlightgardensct.com

Orders do by 8AM Friday.  Pick up at the shed after 2pm.  Bring exact change. Self service. And thank you.

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Have a great week.

David

Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/8/2019 1:47 pm

 

I'd say that 5 or 6 days ago it suddenly dawned on me-Spring is really starting to unfold.  Let's see, the daff's in the front yard. The snowdrops in the side yard.  The peepers putting on a serious racket somewhere in someone else's backyard.  Edible flowers forming on the claytonia.  The most interesting to me though is how the lawns look around houses.  There's a change towards green.  So suddle that its almost easy to miss it.  Kind of like a coloring with pastels.  I hate to use frosted because then the description feels like a Kincaid painting i.e. glitch but hey that's kind of how it is.  And then almost hour to hour you can see the change.  I like that.

With the coming of Spring came the first planting of tomatoes.  Farmers are particularly keen on being the first to offer tomatoes for sale.  I'll admit it.  So it shouldn't come as a surprise that we put our first round of  tomatoes in the greenhouse last Friday, March 22.   There's a sturdy oil burning furnace in there and we can keep them safe and warm.  HOWEVER, what  I didn't count on (and should have), was that the furnace would develop a problem.  I won't bore you with what the problem was.  But somewhere in the middle of the night, it stopped working.  These greenhouses only hold the heat for so long and very rapidly the temperature starts going South, if there's no additional input of hot air.  By morning, most of the planets had suffered freeze damage.  Now, I'd be the first tell you-the world will not end over a bunch of frozen tomato plants. HOWEVER, when one sees the damage at first, that's what it feels like.

Many thoughts went through my head. Some of them, I'd rather let you use your imagination about.  But was did secondarily occur to me was that I could have taken a preventative step and bought one of those awesome systems where by one installs sensors in the greenhouse and your phone will tell you if something goes awry.  $4-500, maybe.  Sure, that's a lot of money, but so is the loss of the plants.  And that's what I mean about going through the same lesson too many times.  This has happened to me before.  Furnace breaks and plants die.  Not a good situation.

The good news is that not every plant died.  And the ones that died-most of them didn't.  They're going to be set back, but plants are like resilient children.  They've both got inner strength and know how to bounce back.  These "dead" plants wll put up new shoots and by July this whole episode will seem like the kind of bad dream you have after eating too much pizza.

A beautiful stand of Arugula (right) and Red Russian Kale (left).  All the greens are new for this season. 

Lots for sale this week:

Braising greens: $6/bag with hot spicy mustard, milder Asian greens, kale and spinach.  For reasons that I can't explain, braising greens are more popular than ever.

Salad Greens- $6/bag. lettuce, asian greens, claytonia, minutina

Spinach- on sale this week for $6/one bag $8/two bags $11/three bags

Strawberry Plants in Hanging Baskets (ready for Mother's Day).  These are the seascape variety.  Truly tasty beyond all measure.  These are homerun presents those people on your Mother's Day list.  Pre order by sending us a check for $25 to reserve yours.

Arugula- $6/bag  Nice, first cut of the season stuff

Potatoes-  again, we're selling an amasing french fingerling for a great price. 5-10 lbs $2.50/lb  Over 10 lbs- $2/lb

Mizuna-$6/bag  More nice stuff.  Tender and very multi-layered  flavor

Pak Choi (Bok Choi)- $4/bunch.  Small tender heads.  Shanghai variety.  But the name doesn't really matter.  All pak choi is worthy of its name.

Please let me know, if there's anything of interest for you on this list and we'll get your order going.  As always, we appreciate your business so much.

Have a great week.

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/2/2019 7:32 am