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 :firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
Just a quick note to draw your attention to an article in the Town Times (our local paper) about SLG.
Here is the link: Cut and paste if needed.
Posted by: David Zemelsky
We wanted to keep you up to date on how things are going on the farm. There's been a lot of activity both outside and inside these days. Our basement is outfitted with a vast array of grow lights. We started swiss chard about 4 weeks ago. They are now ready to get hardened off and planted in one of our hoop houses. Picture below shows you what we're talking about.
Additionally, our two new hoop houses are moving along towards completion. Our greenhouse supplier, Growell of Cheshire, has been braving the cold when they can and putting up these houses. At this stage, we are waiting for a warm day to put the plastic on the tops and ends. This is important because if you installed the plastic on a cold day, you'd end up with a saggy loose job when it finally gets warm (and it will get warm again-promise!). Here is what it lookslike now. As many of you know, we lost all of our houses in the big snows of last year. Now, we've come back with a new improved design. Each hoop has a collar tie on it and another one on the corner of each hoop. Previous designs did not include this extra tie on the side and also the collar ties on the previous houses were only on every other hoop.
Now that the days have lengthen beyond 10 hours, we have seen our greens in the existing hoop houses start coming to life. Because they have inherent ability to withstand frigid temperatures-their health is just fine. This would include kale, arugula, spinach and claytonia. In the upcoming weeks, we'll be offering salad greens for sale on a weekly basis. It is an exciting time of year. Even though Winter is giving it to us right now, we're making serious plans for Spring and far beyond. Here are some pictures of greens in our hoop houses from a few days ago.
That is a glimpse of what's going on now. Hope you are all doing well and staying warm. Please send in your deposit now. Also, please feel free to spread the word about our CSA. There are still some available spaces.Posted by: David Zemelsky
The link below is a nice little article that the Middletown Press did on Star Light Gardens last week The almost finished hoop house in the photo is one of two new houses that will directly benefit our CSA members this Spring. If you'd like to join, there is still some available spots. Go to the Green box on the far right marked "CSA for Summer 2014. Choose from the pull down menu: "Member Sign up Summer 2014". Write us with any and all of your questions.
Here is the link. Just cut and paste.
http://www.middletownpress.com/general-news/20140120/durham-farmer-back-on-track-after-grant-from-state-plant-programPosted by: David Zemelsky
This has been a breathtaking winter so far. Even though we've been busy planning for the coming season, it sometimes feels like I spent the better part of the beginning of January either hauling wood into the house or hauling the ashes out of the house. Happiness, for a while was sitting in front of the wood stove, staying warm and imagining that the burning logs were a perfect replacement for television. Farmers can't stay that way for too long and that has been the case around here. Lists,calendars, seed catalogues, articles and much much more have taken over our office. So much to learn. Farming is like going to school, and yet you never can quite learn enough. After fourteen growing seasons, there is still something else around the next corner to learn.
Last year was the year that everything got crushed (see Hartford Courant article at: http://www.courant.com/community/middletown/hc-blizzard-farm-damage-20130303,0,263417.story). So many of you were supportive of our situation. Losing our hoop houses was such a loss, don't think we'll ever forget that. Yet, inspite of this set back we were ready to do whatever was necessary to have a great CSA season last year. In listening to last year's comments from members, it looks like we were successful.
About a month ago, we received word that the State of Connecticut was allocating money for farms affected by the catastrophic snowstorm . I am happy to say that we benefited from this program. Currently, two more hoop houses are being erected and should be ready in the next 10 days. Combined with the two houses that we put up last Spring, this will bring us back to where we were before the big storm. We are happy and excited that we'll be able to continue farming at the level that we've gotten use to by utilizing these new houses.
Which brings me to the delightful task on hand- CSA 2014. This letter is the official opening for the CSA 2014 season. We are determined to continue providing our CSA members with ultra fresh, organically grown and amazing tasting food. One of our goals is to keep popular crops available for long periods of time. Our crops and their availability are listed on our website. You can see what crops we are growing and when you can theoretically expect to enjoy them. I would like to mention our carrots, which have a reputation unto themselves. They are so sweet that I've told customers at our farmer's market that they'll make you jump up in the air with delight and if that doesn't happen, we'll refund the money. Hasn't happened yet. The spring carrot crop was started last November and with a little luck, should be available for the first or possibly the second week of the CSA. This year's CSA starts in early/mid June and goes 20 to 21 weeks till October 22/23
To enroll as a CSA member on our website-go to CSA for Summer 2014 and select Member Sign-up Summer 2014: The whole procedure takes 5-8 minutes. It is not necessary to print/mail the sign up application. Everything happens online. If you any questions, please write us. We respond. Thank you so much for supporting locally grown food.
Posted by: David Zemelsky