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TINY HOUSE SCULPTURE 1

Wednesday July 27, 2016

 

Some people think that I'm pretty mild mannered.  That is sometimes an accurate estimate of how I am in the world.  But not always. Not always.  Let's take the subject of woodchucks.  No, let's take up the subject of woodchucks and tomatoes.  In the back of both hoop houses there's a woodchuck entrance that is vast, like a cavern.  I've rolled cinder blocks in front of it, but they just dig around it.  They, apparently are very good diggers. Very good.  But they are actually best at ruining tomatoes.  I feel like I'm dealing with an opportunist.  Since way back in January, we've been growing, caring and grafting tomato plants.  In late March, we put them in the house and set the thermostat for 60 to keep them safe, warm and happy.  Then comes pruning and stringing the up.  And after that, re-stringing the ones that fell down and lets not forget the constant pruning, so that we grow plants that are going to produce glorious tomatoes.  Then comes the green fruit.  WE watch them every day. Green.  More green.  If feels like it goes on for a decade.  Then one day, one tomato fruit has begun to turn.  After a few days, I can see-its going to be a ripe tomato.  Then one morning, I come out to scout the tomatoes and this fruit has a bite out of it. One bite. Ruined.  Totally ruined.  I contemplate for a second to cut off the offensive bite, but can't get past the image that a furry woodchuck was on the opposite side of this tomato at one point.  I loose my appetite.  Nothing to do, but throw the tomato away.  I want to destroy them.  Truly.  My "gentle" ways seem to go by the wayside.  The Hav-A-Heart trap caught one the first day, but since then, they've stayed away.  Doesn't stop me from checking the trap first thing in the AM for a new chuck.  Farmers are eternal optimist.  This narrative doesn't have any conclusion yet.  But , inspite of the woodchuck's efforts, we now do have tomatoes to sell you.

See the bite?  This WAS a beautiful Green Moldovan, one

of my favorites.

Above is JULIET.  Small, fruit, but bigger than the sungold.  Sweet flavor and the best texture. Pretty good supply.

Every one of these heirlooms is an eating adventure.  We'll see about supply for this week.  Next week, should be better

 

Here's our store offering:

Sungolds- $6/pint.  In pretty good supply.  Should be able to accomodate all your needs.

Juliets- $6.50/lb these are small, sweet saladette style tomatoes.  Perfect for everything. Cooking, salad, and drying.  I call Juliet our "Desert Island" Tomato because it would be the one that I'd take to a desert island, if I had to choose.

Heirlooms-$6.50/lb.  Not sure about the supply this week.  Put it down on your list and we'll see what's available

Salad Greens- $6/bag

Katrina Cucumbers- now these little babies have been my hit of the summer, so far.  We've got a great supply, so there's going to be a special for you this week.  Instead of 3 for $5.  It's been 5 for $5.  If you, in anyway like cucumbers, these are twice as good as any other variety ever. Guaranteed

Hakeuri Turnips-  $4/bunch.  We're having a great summer with these delicious turnips.  If you haven't tried them, they can be eaten raw on roasted.  White, plump little roots with a unique flavor

Big Kale- one of the best greens available ever.  Again, we're having great success with big kale this season.  $4/bunch

Beets- $4/bunch.  For roasting or pickling, beets are heaven bent.

Green Onions- crispy and full of life $4/bunch

Radishes- French Breakfast $3/bunch

Yaya Carrots- get wonderful vitality with these orange beauties.  $5/bunch

Swiss Chard-  you really should try this wonderful green as a side vegetable $3/bunch

Peppers-  Flavorburst. Sweet, crisp, bright yellow/green color.  Hardly any seeds. $5/lb

Garlic- this is our best crop ever!  Probably because they were well mulched and well fed $2.50/head

Genevese Basil- $4/bunch

Thyme and Sage- fresh wonderful herbs $4/bunch

As always: let me know by 10AM tomorrow.  Order ready for you by 2pm on Friday (tomorrow)

Have a great week and think of the end of woodchuck.


 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
7/21/2016 10:40 am

 

Beer taste the best after being outside trying to get plants to grow.  That's an easy one to answer, although I didn't form it as a question.  Its been a great week at Star Light.  The tomatoes are starting to come in.  There's just enough ripening sun golds that I couldn't eat them all without regretting it. (Not that likely).  Still, what we wait for is the "waterfall" of tomatoes-so many that its almost impossible to know what to do with them.

I have spent several hours every day this week, including last Sunday trying to get the tomato plants to grow up, rather than sideways.  Grafted tomatoes are usually left with only two main branches to grow fruit.  Everything else is cut out.  What is truly amazing is how fast the plant will grow at this time of the year.  If I leave a plant entirely alone for a week,  there are so many suckers that need to be trimmed off by the following week.  Trained plants don't produce more fruit, just better fruit.  I can see this already with the many many green and very large fruit that is forming at the bottom of the plant.  The cherry tomatoes and the Juliet, I only prune at the very beginning to get a few well established main branches going.  After that, I'll let them produce as many branches as they want.  To accomplish the task of tying the plants to a string, we use something called "Ty M Up".  This very creatively constructed tool is part stapler and part biter of tape.  With the first squeeze, the tool captures a piece of the tape, which one can then wrap around both the tomato stem and the string.  With the next squeeze of the trigger, the tape is neatly stapled and cut off.  When it works, its wonderful.  Other times-not so much.  Maybe the blade for cutting the tape isn't sharp enough or maybe the staples get caught.  Or maybe the tape inside the tool has started getting too hot in a hoop house (it can happen) and  it won't come unraveled as smoothly as it should.  I work with the machine and coax it through its quirks till I can't stand it any more and then eventually loose patience all together and buy a new one.  When the new one arrives, it seems like a modern miracle.  Its all shiny and doesn't have all the tomato oil all over it.  When the new one arrives, I'll let you know.

 

The picture on the left was taken yesterday.  The one on the right this afternoon.  Hopefully you can see the jungle that one has to make sense out of.  The picture on the right shows pretty clear aisles that a person could walk down and harvest wonderful tomatoes.  These plants are 12 feet tall.

This is our "Ty M Up" tool. On the left is a spool of tape. On the right is the fancy stapler, that catches the tape and in the next squeeze staples it around the tomato plant.

 

On another front, I'd like to mention both peppers and eggplants.  In the beginning, both are stubborn plants to get started.  To germinate them, you need a warm (90 degrees) environment in the soil.  They'll grow very slowly for weeks untill you put them in the ground.  Now, after being in the hoop house, both of them are beginning to get close to producing.  Particularly the peppers.  Like peppers?  You'll love these.  Only orange, red and yellow.  Use to do purple, but not as nice.

Here's what's available for this week.

Salad Greens- with 5-6 types of lettuce, mizuna, rosie (a wonderful green from Africa) $6/bag

Arugula- $6/bag

Beets- $4/bunch

Swiss Chard $4/bunch

Big Kale- we're having the best kale year ever.  If you haven't tried big kale salad, please consider.  You'll need a fresh lemon to toss the kale in before you eat it.  Kale-how could anyone get along with out it.

Cosmic Purple and Yaya (orange)Carrots-  these guys are ready to go.  $5/bunch

 

Cosmic Purple Carrot       Yaya Carrot

Garlic heads- $2.50/head.  They'll last in the fridge for a few weeks.  Fragrant, aromatic and delicous

Red Iceberg Lettuce -$3/head

Katrina Cucumbers- 3 for $5.  These are, and you have to believe me, the worlds best cucumber in the world-period.  I eat way to many of these every day and it puts me in the best mood ever.

Zucchini Romanesco- an italian variety $3/lb

Chicory Romanesco-another italian beauty $6/bag

Genevese Basil- $4/bunch

Sage- $4/bunch

Sun Golds- I'll take orders, but can't promise.  First orders get preference.  $6/pint

Northfordy Tomato Sauce- just selling these for a friend, as a favor.  Delicious.  $8/jar

As usual, send me back your orders by 10AM Friday and we'll have your order waiting for you in the shed by 2pm that day.

Lastly, a bit of shameless advertising.  Our oldest kid (he's way too old to be a kid now) has a landscape business.  He founded and ran Torrison Stone and Garden untill he sold it over five years ago.  He's the real deal.  If you or you know anyone else needs walls, walkways, patios (etc etc.) please consider Aaron.  His company s is 'The Stonescape  Company by Aaron Torrison.  Website is: Thestonescapecompany.com  Phone is 860 388 7774

Have a great week

David

Posted by: David Zemelsky
7/13/2016 8:17 pm

 

If you're looking for a great place to take yourself and everyone else you know-consider the Strawberry Festival at Wooster Square Farmer's Market this Saturday, June 25th from 9-1pm.  There's so much to look at and eat besides strawberries.  This is the height of the season, so a great time to indulge.  We're the longest running vendor at the market.  It is, by far the best market in all of CT.  You'll find some of the best farmers and other food vendors.  Our friend Meg has a food truck called Farm Belly.  She makes the very best sandwiches around.  They promise lots of interesting things for children of all ages.  The market is located at: Russo Park, corner of Chapel Street and DePalma Court.  Please look us up if you come.  We're up near Chapel Street, across from Sono Bakery (also highly recommended)

This morning I have this image of our farm: its a well oiled machine ready to do work.  We've been tuning it up for months and now its starting to perform.  Once everything is in place, the best thing is that cooking meals becomes a wonderful event.  With great ingredients, anyone can make a meal that is from another planet.  The only trouble with the image that I just created for you: it isn't always a "well-oiled machine".  I wish.  But on the other hand, sometimes it comes out right.

This is now the season of the pest.  Two weeks ago, you learned about all the cucumber beetles and their plot to destroy squash and cucumbers.  We continue to win that war as long as we "scout" the plants every day for more beetles.  The pyganic spray works, but only for a few days, so its important to keep looking.  A lot of times, I can capture  them crawling all over the leaves. They're slow.  The other bad thing about these beetles is that they'll spread a canker disease that will wreck havoc with the internal workings of the plants. The other pest to consider right now is the potato bug.  You'll hate them.  They, if you'd let them, devour potato plants.  Soft, squishy-like a small container of jam that you'd never want to eat- you'll find them munching.  Easy to catch and easy to kill. (You can't be squemish in this job!)

With all this vigilance, we've finally arrived at the place where we have a serious amount of squash.  Here's what it looks like:

These seeds came from Seeds of Italy-a wonderful company.  The variety is Zuchinni Striao d'Italia.  All they need is to be fried lightly in olive oil with some good grainy salt.  Or they could be roasted with the same wonderful results.  We're loaded with them, so hope you'll enjoy.

Another great bright spot this week is arugula.  I've been fighting with flea beetles since the beginning of May.  Of all the plants that we grow, this is the one that the flea beetle seems to love the most.   A lot of weeks, we'll have arugula, but it will be ravaged by the beetle.  This last batch I was extra careful about everything and this has seemed to pay off.

I'm guess that tomatoes are on your mind, so here's a report on them.  Soon. They want to start producing, but nothing has turned green yet.  My guess is 3-4 weeks.  I probably spend 2-3 hours every day pruning and stalking them up.  Its one of my best jobs.

Here's what we can offer you this week at the store.  Reminder: email me back by 10am Friday and your order will be waiting with your name on it in our shed after 2pm. 

Arugula $6/bag

Salad Greens $6/bag

Squash $6bag (2lbs)

Pea Blossoms $4/bag (20 blossoms)

Radishes $3 bunch

Big Kale for smoothies, salads, sautee $4/bunch.  If you want lacinato, please specify

Broccolli Raab $3/bunch

Garlic Scapes $4 bag (half pound).  Garlic scapes are delicous

Baby Beets $4 bunch (beets are small, but the greens are also an attraction)

Fresh Sage and Thyme $4/bunch

Swiss Chard $4 bunch

Spring Tower-the lettuce with the delicous core $3.50/head

Baby Mizuna -$6/bag

Tatzoi-wonderful both in salads and sautee $6/bag

Have a great week.

David

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
6/23/2016 6:48 am

 

What I mean by "We're Getting Richer", is that if variety is richness, our wealth is growing.  Not by leaps and bounds, but a distinct change is happening.  There are numerous pictures of things around the farm that I want to share with you.  They should give you an idea of what's going on. Just a quick word about cucumbers (which aren't in this week's pictures) and summer squash (which is).  Cucumbers are healthy and striving towards a large waterfall of available crop.  But not this week.  Last week's picture showed a half eaten cucumber.  Yesterday, I ate 3 or so and probably that many today.  What that saids to me is that soon there'll be more than enough.  I can accurately report to you that this katrina cucumber is the "endgame" of cucumbers.  Although, having said that, there are several other varieties that we're going to try, including the Mexican Pickling Cucumber which is a guaranteed hit at the Ocean House in Rhode Island.  Summer Squash, is a more immediate story. It will be available this week for you.

Below is an assortment of photos.  Most of what you'll see is available to buy at the store this week.  We are in between crops on the carrots, but wanted you to see how lovely they are.  As always, let me know what  you'd like by 10am Friday(tomorrow).  Pick up after 2pm at our shed (54 fowler ave.) Checks ok, but cash preferrerred

Cosmic Purple Carrot (not available)    Mizuna (not available)               Roubles Radish $3.50bunch

Blanched Peas $6bag                     Pea Blossoms   $6 for 24                 Italian Squash $3/lb

Large Kale $4bunch                       Spring Tower(with the most            Hakeuri Turnip

                                                    delicious core) $4                          $4bunch                                                  

Spring Raab $3bunch                    Garlic Scapes 4bag            Tatzoi $$6bag

Salad Greens $6/bag

A word about garlic scapes and summer squash.  Garlic scapes are the beginning of the flowering of garlic plants.  Typically, they are pulled so that the energy of the plant is forced down into the bulb.  Scapes are as wonderful as garlic heads, just earlier.  You can use in salads, sauteed.  Just wonderful.  Summer Squash: they are virtually body lifiting (your body will lift off the ground from excitiment).  All you need to do with these wonders is slowly cook in olive oil with your garlic scapes.

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
6/16/2016 6:43 am

Dear Friend of Star Light,

See below for what's for sale and how easy it is to order.

I knew that the first thing that I had to do this morning was prune tomato plants.  It is one of those things, that if you blink,its too late.  They will have already grown too big to deal with.  That is an unfortunate position to be in.  When one waits too long, all the suckers are grown around each other and the plants themselves have interwoven their stems, so it becomes impossible to  sort everything out.  Luckily today, I was just a half beat away from impossible.  I went through all the plants in one hoop house getting rid of all the suckers.  Also, it is important to remove a lot of the bottom leaves.  It improves circulation and helps prevent tomato plant diseases.  It is one of the very satisfying jobs at the farm, except if you wait too long.  While pruning, I noticed that some of the tomatoes are ripening.  This bodes well for seeing a great crop.  I am including pictures below, but must warn you that one or two ripe tomatoes does not mean that we're ready to sell ripe fruit.  I wish it did.  But the pictures should give you an inkling of what's ahead.

You're looking at a sungold-the worlds sweetest.  Notice all the tomato branches on the ground-those are a result of this morning's pruning.  In case, you were wondering, I picked this tomato right after taking the picture

You're looking at Juliet, my Desert Island Tomato.  I call it that because if I ever had to choose one tomato to take to a desert island, it would be Juliet.  Juliet is wonderful eat either raw or cooked.  This is an unusual trait because most cooking tomatoes don't taste that good uncooked.  Not so, Juliet.  You'll see.

About 3 weeks ago, I used the "hook"  with the tractor and made about 10 deep scratches in the ground : 100 feet long and 6 feet apart.  It was like a chasm in the earth.  After that I put both compost and fertilizer/alfalfa into the crack.  When that was accomplished, Joel came along and put one french fingerling potato  every foot into that mixture and then covered it.  Finally, last week, the new plants began to emerge.  I will update their photos periodicallly.  You'll be amazed how quickly they'll grow.    There are sure to  be pest to follow and I'll keep you updated on what we do about them, too.

You're looking at potato plants.  In the next few weeks, we'll be hilling them and mulching between the rows.  At the right, where the green looks much more dense, those are your pea tendrils.  We grow them in blocks.  Right now, still very delicious and growing nicely.

On to the store:  For those of you new to our process, here it goes.  Read what we have below and write back to me (starlightgardens@comcast.net) what and how much of something you'd like.  Deadline to process your order is 10AM tomorrow (Friday) We'll process your order and it will be waiting for you in our shed at 54 Fowler Ave. after 2pm on Friday with your name on it.  Cash preferred, but checks  are ok if you're in a bind.  There's a payment jar on the table.

Pea Tendrils-they're still coming on strong.  Once the hot weather is firmly established, the peas will have to wait till late Summer. $6/bag

Salad Greens- several kinds of lettuce, kale, mizuna $6/bag

Lettuce Heads- these are small, exquisite, and crunchy.  $2/head

Pak choi- Shanghai variety.  A tiny bit holey from flea beetles. $3/bunch

Arugula- again, slighly holey but tasty. $6/bag

Green Onions and Leeks- $3bunch

Large Kale $6/bag

Baby Beet and Carrot Greens- $4/3oz bag  Very special and labor intensive to harvest.

Still have several tomato plants.  Black Cherry, Striped German, Juliet, Amy's Gem.  Plus German Winter Thyme, and Compact Genevese $5/pot

Hope to hear from you soon.  Call with question

Posted by: David Zemelsky
6/2/2016 10:25 am

I guess you could say that this was the week of growing and eating.  Some plants really grew and some got really eaten.  For myself, I like the former story best.  Of particular note, were the tomatoes.  Now, on many plants, we have green tomatoes.  A very good sign indeed.  At Star Light, we will always do whatever it takes to come up with the very best tasting tomato.  To that end, we are pruning and salting. Salting?  We actually spray the plant with fish/seaweed to help enhance the flavor.  And it really works.  Pruning, is the act of training the plant to have just two main stems.  This involves cutting out the suckers.  Suckers grow in the crotch of the main stem and a leaf.  Suckers will have blossoms and eventually will produce fruit.  So what we're doing is concentrating all the life force that the plant has into less but more delicious and bigger fruit.  Poundwise, a plant won't be producting more fruit one way or the other, just better and better tasting fruit if you prune.

This plant has two very distinct main branches.  If I can keep up on it, it will remain like that.  Each branch has a piece of twine that it can climb upl  If you look real closely at the place directly below where the two main branches begin, you'll see a pale white clip.  We fix the twine to that and twirl the stem around it, offering great support.  Note the yellow blossoms.  Always a wonderful thing.

Eating? Well, it wasn't me.  Some bug (sow bug), end up eating many of our Katrina Cucumber plants.  Katrina, for me is the ultimate cucumber.  Taste, texture-its got it all.  So I am not that happy to share with the sow bug.  To date, I don't have a good cure for them either.

Some of you might know that I am referred to at the Farmer's Market as The Carrot Scientist.  Not a very well deserved name-there are many who know lots more than me about carrots.  Its just a name.  Never the less, I am enthusiastic about carrots.  Here is a picture of how big our Spring carrots already are.

OK.  Not that big.  But not that small either.  In less than a month-we'll be seeing the first of the carrots.  I've already sampled them.  Delicious-truly!  Incidently, planted on one of the first days of March.  Carrots take a long time. 

This week at the Store.  Write me by 10am(yes, that's a change) Friday and your order will be ready with your name on it in the shed in front of our house at 54 Fowler Ave.  Payment in the jar. Checks ok, but cash preferred.

Here's our rundown on store items:

I've got tomato sauce , still.  There's about two jars left of the $10 size(32oz.).  After that, we've got a 24oz. jar for $8.  We haven't bought any  Classico or Paul Newman for way over a year and that makes me a happy guy.

Arugula- very snappy and  full of serious vigor $6/bag

Salad Greens- with several kinds of lettuce, mizuna, tokyo bekana, red russian kale $6/bag

Pea Tendrils- still the most amazing thing to buy at this time of year.  We have pea tendril pesto at least once a week now. $6/bag

Spring Garlic- still tender.  I am guessing that this is the last week that we'll sell this(I know,I said that last week,too).  The next delicious item from our garlic will be the scapes.  More on them later.  $7/half pound

Risentraube and Amy's Gem-all great cherry tomatoes. $5/plant

Striped German - kind of the best tasting tomato around (except for all the other ones).  A ripple of red through a bold yellow/red flesh.  A heirloom favorite $5/plant

Juliet-a small tomato, but not a cherry.  The very best for both cooking and eating. Oh, and did I say drying?$5/plant

Cherokee Purple- great producer of tomatoes, great taste and amazing color $5/plant

Wapsipinicon- the totally curious tomato.  Curious because its color is so drab, BUT the taste!  And very productive too. $5/plant

Herbs: Compact Genevese Basil, Italian Flat-leaf Parsley and German Winter Thyme -all $5/pot

Pepper Plants and Eggplant Plants- $5/pot

Please tell your friends about our store.  We'd appreciate the good word.  Its been really fun filling your orders this season.

Have a great week,

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
5/26/2016 10:28 am

 

I've had a song rattling around inside my head for over a week-"Minstrel Boy", a ballad about a young Scottish (I think) lad who's off to war and shows uncommon bravery and valour.    Inspite, of what looks like a song that glorifies war, it actually is more a song about determination and resilience.  The reason that it got stuck there is a result of a google search about Danny Quinn.  Those of you deep in the Connecticut folk music scene probably already know who Danny was.  He died very unexpectedly about a year and a half ago.  I don't keep up on this kind of news, so it came to be as a big shock when his life partner (or maybe they were married) Marta informed me of Danny's death.  I met Danny a few years before at a home concert in Old Lyme. We started talking that night and really hit it off.  By the end of that evening, it felt like it was just meant to be that we should have met.  A few months later, he and Marta joined our CSA.  There were a few attempts to have them over, but his concert and traveling schedule was way too busy.  Besides covering the Northeast, singing his songs, Danny also lead  group trips to Ireland, singing his way from pub to pub and probably getting to know his travellers pretty well.  Ty and I really wanted to go on one his trips, but it never worked out.  They didn't join the CSA the following year, citing that his schedule made it impractical.  Then, we lost touch , getting busy with everything else that goes on at the farm.  Marta wrote last week, requesting tomato plants and I wrote back telling her they'd be at the shed with her name on them on Friday.  Well, I forgot her request and she came looking anyways cause she trusted that I wouldn't forget.  It was during a few emails and apologies on my part that I realized that in her earlier note, she had informed me about Danny's unexpected death a year and a half ago.  Although we were just beginning friends-I was really upset and sad to hear this news.  I spent the rest of the evening looking at YouTube clips of some of his concerts.  As I was looking at them, I remembered that Danny had given us several of his very fine CD's as an unexpected gift.  My favorite YouTube was "Minstrel Boy".  You can easily find it by putting "Danny Quinn/ Minstrel Boy" in the google search box.  Later, Ty and I talked about Danny's death and how it was a lost opportunity to have missed his trips to Ireland and also the missed opportunity  for us to have known each other better.  I run into these lost opportunities every day.  So with resolve, I hope to not let more of them slip away.  This has everything to do with farming in case you were wondering where this is going.  Growing food well is the gift that Star Light can give us every day.  It is my intention to help it along, follow the techniques that will lead to outstanding vegetables and give you the opportunity to have it land on your plate.  This is truly something to think about.

Which makes me remember about the tomato plants  that are growing in the hoop houses.  A few weeks ago, I spent a very pleasant day staking the grafted plants and actually cutting the main stem on the "scion".  Here's a quick review of the grafting concept.  We take two tomato plants and splice them together.  One of them is the flavor(scion) and the other one the rootstock which will drive the plant to produce better and more fruit and also eliminate soil born disease.  For weeks, the plants had two roots sticking in the ground.  They were joined about an inch above the soil's surface.  The scion,  has the root that we want to eliminate.  It's presence leaves the plant open to the soil born diseases that the rootstock tomato that it is joined to can repel.  Get it? Two plants that are now stuck together.  The scion's roots could make the plant sick, but the rootstock's roots won't.  Infact, they are so strong that they make one plant act like two.  What I didn't know for sure was whether the new plant was capable of living without the  scion's root, too.  I am happy to say that in all cases, the plant survived this operation.  I predict that we'll see ripe tomatoes before June is finished.

This picture should help.  The stem sticking out of the ground is the rootstock. Just above the soil's surface on the right is a bump.  That is what remains of the stem of the scion as it goes into the ground.  It was at that point that I cut that stem off leaving the rootstock to do all the work for the plant.  Its going to work just fine.

This is an overview of the hoop house.  As you can see, lots going on in tomato growth.  Most of these plants were started in our basement at the end of January.  By the time these guys are done, they'll be around 9 months old!

Consider buying from out store this Friday.  Anyone who writes back with an order can buy from us.

Here's our rundown on store items:

I've got tomato sauce , still.  There's about two jars left of the $10 size(32oz.).  After that, we've got a 24oz. jar for $8.  We haven't bought any  Classico or Paul Newman for way over a year and that makes me a happy guy.

Arugula- very snappy and  full of serious vigor $6/bag

Salad Greens- with several kinds of lettuce, mizuna, tokyo bekana, red russian kale $6/bag

Pea Tendrils- still the most amazing thing to buy at this time of year.  We have pea tendril pesto at least once a week now. $6/bag

Hanging Strawberry Plants- there's still about 10 left, so if you blinked for Mother's Day, you can get in on Father's Day!  $25

Spring Garlic- still tender.  I am guessing that this is the last week that we'll sell this.  The next delicious item from our garlic will be the scapes.  More on them later.  $7/half pound

Sun Gold, Black Cherry, Risentraube and Amy's Gem-all great cherry tomatoes. $5/plant

Striped German - kind of the best tasting tomato around (except for all the other ones).  A ripple of red through a bold yellow/red flesh.  A heirloom favorite $5/plant

Juliet-a small tomato, but not a cherry.  The very best for both cooking and eating. Oh, and did I say drying?$5/plant

Wapsipinicon- the totally curious tomato.  Curious because its color is so drab, BUT the taste!  And very productive too. $5/plant

Hakeuri Turnips- the best that there is for turnips.  Eat either raw or roasted $4/bunch

Herbs: Compact Genevese Basil, Italian Flat-leaf Parsley and German Winter Thyme -all $5/pot

Pepper Plants and Eggplant Plants- $5/pot

Orders to me by noon on Friday.  Orders ready by 2pm in the shed. Cash preferred. Checks ok

Please tell your friends about our store.  We'd appreciate the good word


 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
5/19/2016 8:20 am

 

This is my "inbetween time".  It certainly isn't Winter but nor is it Summer, either. Tuesday morning, while biking I even saw frost. Frost! May 10th. Crazy and unheard of.  If you look up the last frost date for our area, it says  April 26th.  But like everyone else, I just have to go with what comes at us.  But, not really.  With the use of row covers, hoop houses and unusual vegetable breeds, farmers can work there way around pockets of unexpected cold weather.  The amount of light that a plant gets ever day is a big factor in how quickly it will grow.  We've already learned that less than 10 hours of daylight slows growth down to a deep, profound crawl.  Just important is the temperature.  If your plants are covered with remay (kind of a cheesecloth material), you can get an additional 2-4 degrees of warmth for your plants.  This can make a big difference in growth.  They're much more advanced than plants that are left unexposed.  To getting back to the "inbetween time" concept.  Because of all this slowdown in growth due to  warmth and daylight length, a person can find themselves short on the new crop, as the old crop goes out.  An example is arugula.  I planted a great stand of it in our hoop house named "Bella" (named after one of our grandchildren).  I've cut it two or three times and it has tasted and looked great.  Now its done-too bitter to eat and not particularly  pretty either.  Meanwhile, outside I've planted a nice stand of new arugula.  But its been too cold for it to grow at its Summer pace.  Result: no new arugula.  I always kick myself and say that I should have planted it sooner.  But really, I planted it as soon as the weather would let me.  Time to forgive and move on.  Arugula will arrive.

Consider buying from us directly.  Every Friday, we open our "store".  Please look through the list below.  If you see anything of interest that you'd like to get, email me back to order (starlightgardens@comcast.net). You should send your order to us before noon on that Friday. Then come to our shed to the left of our house at 54 Fowler Ave. in Durham AFTER 2pm on that Friday.  Your order will be waiting for you, marked with your name.  There's a jar for payment.  Cash preferred, but will take checks if needed.  This system has worked really well for us.  Hope you will join us!  Here's the list of available products

Hanging Strawberry Plants- there's still about 12 left, so if you blinked for Mother's Day, you can get in on Father's Day!  Very flexible $25

The next biggest star and the prettiest (and very tasty, too) are the pea tendrils.  They were pretty great last week,too.  Cool weather is what makes them happy and there's been plenty of that.  Put on a sandwich for an unusual twist on lettuce.  Better still is to make pesto with it.  Every bit as good as basil pesto. $14/lb

Tomato Sauce- you will surely like this sauce.  The source of the tomatoes is from us and two other outstanding farms that we cooperated with.  Locally canned.  $8/jar

Spring Salad-with kale, pea tendrils,  mizuna and firecracker lettuce $10/lb

Kale- for salad, smoothies and garnish $10/lb

Arugula- first cut.  $6/bag

Spring Garlic-  Tender stalk and leaves at zip to salads and cooked protein and vegetables. We're going to let the rest of them grow into garlic heads $7 for a half pound

Tomato Plants

Sun Gold, Black Cherry, Risentraube and Amy's Gem-all great cherry tomatoes. $5/plant

Striped German - kind of the best tasting tomato around (except for all the other ones).  A ripple of red through a bold yellow/red flesh.  A heirloom favorite $5/plant

Juliet-a small tomato, but not a cherry.  The very best for both cooking and eating. Oh, and did I say drying?$5/plant

Wapsipinicon- the totally curious tomato.  Curious because its color is so drab, BUT the taste!  And very productive too. $5/plant

Green Moldovan-medium small fruit with great taste (you'll just have to take my word for it.) Texture of avocado $5/plant

Hakeuri Turnips- the best that there is for turnips.  Eat either raw or roasted $4/bunch

 

Oh, one other piece of news, we planted our first line of ginger today.  Its been pre-sprouting in the basement on heating pads for over two months.  They look glorious going into the ground.

Posted by: David Zemelsky
5/17/2016 6:00 am

 

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.


Have a great week.
David

Posted by: David Zemelsky
4/28/2016 5:40 am

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(starlightgardens@comcast.net) 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.

David

Posted by: David Zemelsky
3/31/2016 10:16 am