alliums ameraucana Anthony Bourdain aphids Appleseed Permaculture aquaponics arthritis artichokes Asian Vegetables aussie basil baby chicks baby turnips bearss lime bee keeping beet greens beneficial insects benner tree farm Biochar Bitter Melon blight blooming hill farm boothby blonde cucumber brix broccoli brussels sprouts cabbage cabbage hill farm camp hill farm cancer caraflex celeriac chicken coop chickens children chinese tamale chives cilantro cilantro root coconut cold frames collard greens Compost coriander corn crop rotation cruciferous crucifers cucumber Dan Barber dan kittredge Dave Llewellyn detox dirty dozen dragon fruit Dutch white clover dwarf citrus eggplant Elderberries factory farms farm to table farmer's market farmers markets Fava beans ffarm to table fish oil flea beetle flowers food allergies food combining food miles founding farmers four wind growers Fred Kirschenmann french bulldog G6pd deficiency garlic garlic festival garlic scapes geese Glynwood grass-fed beef Great Outdoors Listening Tour green tomatoes greenhouse growing indoors Hanalei Hemlock Hill Farm heritage turkey heritage USA hudson valley farms hurricane Irene hyssop iced tea infections influenza Insect control isothiocyanates joan gussow jolie lampkin joong kaffir lime kale Kauai kohlrabi korean licorice mint Ladybugs late blight leeks lettuces local food locust tree maine avenue fish market menhaden meyer lemon mycelia mycorrhizal natural fertilizers nectary nightshades No Reservations Nurse cropping nutrient density okra organic Baby food organic christmas tree Organic Pest Control Parsley Paul tappenden peas Permaculture pesticides pesto petite watermelon plant sap pH plymouth barred rock pole beans potatoes preserving food purple basil qunice Radish Greens rainbeau ridge farm raised beds rampicante raw food real food campaign red hook Rockland Farm Alliance ronnybrook farm row covers salt-preserved duck eggs sambucus nigra seed saving seedlings Sheet mulching small space soil analysis soil blocks soil conductivity sorrel Squash Vine Borer star fruit sugar snap peas sustainability sustainable fishing Swiss Chard tabbouleh TEDx Manhattan terracing three sisters tomato sauce tomatoes trellis trovita orange turkana farms Tuttle Farm urban zen volt white clover winter harvest Winter Squash Young Farmers Conference
Indispensable Books and Resources
  • Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    by Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier
  • The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    by Eliot Coleman
  • The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    by Gary F. Zimmer
  • The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    by Barbara Damrosch
  • 1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    Organic Insect Control
  • Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.

    The best farming and growing magazine money can buy!

  • Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks
    Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks

    2" Soil Blocker

  • Mini Soil Blocker
    Mini Soil Blocker
  • New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    by Emily Brooks
  • What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    by Tasneem Bhatia, Editors of Prevention







Short journal entries detailing the nuts and bolts of our ventures in growing food at our micro-farm


Farmers Markets: Hawaiian Style

A flower from the ginger familyOur usual vacation every year takes place in October after we've done the majority of harvesting.  This year we went all out and travelled to the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i.  Being the farmers that we are, instead of heading for the sandy beaches and the crashing waves, we took to touring organic farms, botanical gardens and hitting the many farmers markets that occur sometimes up to 5 locations in one day.  Amazing considering the island is only 33 x 25 miles with a population of 60,000.  We were most fascinated at the opposite spectrum of growing conditions compared with the Hudson Valley.  With the rich volcanic soil, sunshine predominent days and abundant rainfall, we assumed Hawaii offered the perfect growing conditions for most crops.  Indeed we learned that was not so.  Our first farmers market was on the north end of the island in lush Hanalei where the emerald landscapes are dotted with multiple waterfalls in nearby mountains.  This was probably one of the nicest markets we've ever been to.  Every stand offered produce only organically grown and the variety of tropical fruits, something we rarely eat, became an obsession for us.

Is this not the most exotic and beautiful fruit?

Young and mature coconuts were expertly cracked on the spot for hydration and then brought back to the same vendor to be hacked open to enjoy the white coconut meat.

When we spoke with a woman selling her seedlings about how fabulous is must be to grow there, she told us that she was jealous of us!  In the Hudson Valley, we could grow so much more food than farms on Kauai citing the 15 different fruit flies alone that devastate crops on the island.  In fact, you think Hawaii would be able to grow the most luscious tomatoes with all that sun and heat but large tomatoes are hard to come by because of insect damage and high humidity.  Cherry tomatoes are what farmers mostly grow there!

Star Fruit: A favorite fruit of the island for us.

Drunk on passion fruit (lillikoi), soursop, and longon fruits, we looked forward to our tours at an organic chocolate farm complete with chocolate tasting, and an organic goat farm.  Stay tuned for more tropicalia.




Considering Heritage Turkeys for the Thanksgiving Table

Each Thanksgiving, 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten.  Chances are, the turkey that you will be enjoying on Thanksgiving is a typical white broad-breasted turkey bred to develop as large a percentage of white meat in as little time as possible.  Large scale agriculture is all about profit: raising animals having the largest volume of meat in the shortest amount of time. Usually there is little to no consideration on the quality and taste of the product.  Only recently have sustainable agriculture advocates and preservationists been able to bring awareness of heritage breeds to the table...literally.  Heritage breeds are what we ate before the push to raise animals quickly and cheaply became mainstream.  According to Patrick Martins, founder of Heritage Breeds USA in Brooklyn New York, “the heritage breed reflects man’s best attempt at a good tasting turkey.  The white broad-breasted represents man’s attempt to produce a turkey that lives indoors and grows quickly.”  

Many people may be disturbed to know that their broad breasted turkeys cannot reproduce on their own without the help of artificial insemination.  Their body shape prevents this from occurring naturally and because they gain so much weight so quickly, oftentimes, these birds, if left to grow older, would not be able to walk or stand as their legs would be unable to support their own body weight.  With many more people questioning where their food comes from and how it was raised, the door has been opened for heritage breed turkeys to make a comeback.  With names like Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish and White Holland, these old-time turkeys have a distinctive rich taste, more dark meat and certainly more flavor.

Purchasing these breeds sometimes costs twice that of a pasture-raised broad breasted turkey and there is a good reason for that.  While the standard turkey takes 18 weeks to reach market size, heritage turkeys take 24-30 weeks.  Not only is it more costly to raise them but they are more time-consuming as well.  Because they have more of the instincts of the wild turkey, they want to fly unlike their sedentary and weighted cousins.  Still, even with the high costs to the consumer, farmers barely profit from selling these birds.  Burgeoning consumer demand for these breeds are being met by some small farms.  Heritage Breeds USA sold approximately 800 heritage turkeys in 2002 and are expecting to sell about 8000-10000 by mail order this season.  If you are looking for local resources, places where you can actually visit and see your heritage turkeys develop, grow and lead a happy existence (for at least a few months), you have only three choices.  Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills raises Bourban Red turkeys that sell out quickly, usually to membership holders.  Upstate in Germantown, New York, Peter Davies at Turkana Farms raise Bourbon Reds, Spanish Blacks, Royal Palms and Narragansetts, slaughtered three days before Thanksgiving and delivered to NYC or to be picked up at the farm. “There’s a difference in taste with heritage turkeys because it takes longer to reach market size and they get lots of exercise” states Mr Davies who also obtains organic grains to feed his birds from the nearby Lighting Tree Farm in Millbrook.  Heritage turkeys are so succulent that there is no need for brining and you cook them like any other turkey.  This rare commodity in the Hudson Valley usually sells out locally by October, however, you can purchase them from Heritage Breeds USA which obtains their turkeys from two farms in the midwest.

Heritage meats can still be enjoyed beyond the Thanksgiving table.  Peter Davies states that the Christmas goose, an Old World tradition, is also becoming a popular choice. It has the texture and consistency of beef rather than poultry and cooks just like a turkey.  Turkana farms offers a Toulouse Geese available for Christmas and offers wonderful recipes on cooking your bird.  We plan on making a Christmas goose again this season.  Don't forget to collect the "liquid gold" or goose fat to use in the coming months.  Sublime when eggs or potatoes are cooked with it!


Successes and Failures of Growing after Hurricane Irene

Zapotec and Kellogg's Breakfast TomatoesEach season brings certain expectations and, of course, certain challenges that never remain the same.  Farming and growing is subject to weather fluctuations occuring more often due to climate change.  This year we had historic rainfall in the area starting with heavy downpours in the spring and culminating in the arrival of Hurricane Irene last month.  We lost our peas early becuase of late frosts, then many of the vegetables we seeded or the delicate transplants we placed in the ground would get hit by pounding downpours.  The repeated downpours led to soil erosion, and lastly, when there was no place for the water to penetrate, some beds were in standing water on a few occasions.  We were lucky that we had the harvest we've had to date, albeit much less than we expected for the year.  Unfortunately,  many farms from New York to Vermont were devastated and several CSAs were no longer able supply their customers with weekly drop-offs.  The Union Square Greenmarket had significantly less vendors.  This letter from Evolutionary Organics in New Paltz summed up the impact of Irene on some of our local farmers and is a must read for those who buy locally.


For the home gardener, many of whom grow tomatoes, this was not a good season.  It sure beat 2009 when we all had blight, but what started as a promising season of luscious fruit ended with overwatered tomatoes.  A sure sign of overwatering are tomatoes with fissures and cracks near the top of the fruit.  Multiple linear cracks near the stem of the tomato is a sign that your plant got way too much water.In case this is happening to you are not alone.  Having raised beds, which we encourage, helps with excessive water except in the case where you are getting 8 inches in an hour.  Our tomatoes were in standing water for periods of time.  They eventually drained but the damage was done, and repeatedly. Typically we are harvesting tomatoes well into the end of October but we'll be done by the end of September.  Such is life of a grower.

 Looking back at this season and also looking forward, these were the crops and varieties that did really well for us.  We plan on being fully stocked with these seedlings next spring at the farmers markets:


Favorite tomato varieties: Kellogg's Breakfast - meaty with little seeds and super productive.  Ramapo - gorgeous exemplary red tomatoes, Sungold Cherries, Pink Berkely Tie-Dye, and Lime Green Salad.

Other successes this year: Angled Luffa (Chinese Okra), Japanese Eggplant, Red Russian Kale, Leeks, Italian Rampicante Squash, Hot and Sweet Bell Peppers, and beets.

Wondering what your successes and failures were for the season?


Tonight's tribute to the end of the Nightshades is an absolute favorite sauce for pasta where the eggplant and tomatoes melt in to become a substantive sauce and the brininess of the kalamata olives and anchovies create the necessary pungency to make this a dish that stands out.  Trust me, it's amazing.  Be warned, it's a bit more time consuming than it looks from first glance but so worth the effort.


Recipe: Robust End-of-the-Summer Spaghetti


2 lbs of eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/2” thick
2 Red or yellow bell peppers, halved
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 anchovies
2-3 lbs of ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and chopped
3 Tbs capers (optional)
1 Tbs dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb spaghetti
1 cup grated Parmesean cheese

1. Preheat broiled.  Arrange eggplant on cookie sheet and brush both sides with olive oil.  Broil both sides until soft and slightly browned about 10 minutes per side.  Oil peppers and broil then skin side up, until blistered.  Stack on top and steam for another 15 minutes then peel and dice into small squares.

2. Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Saute the onions, peppers, garlic, anchovies and parsley over medium high heat until softened.  Lower the heat and add eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano and 1/2 cup water or juice from tomatoes.  Season with S and P and simmer for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.

3. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water and drain.  Place in a large bowl with vegetables spooned over the top, showered with cheese and garnished with extra parsley.  Toss before serving.

Adapted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors

The amazing component here is the eggplant which literally melts and becomes the backbone of the sauce





Compost is Nice

For all of us who lug their kitchen scraps outside in the cold and dark....who scour their home looking for brown material (carbon) to match the easier to find green matter...who layer their compost bin precisely as outlined in the textbooks...who turn their pile daily to ensure the proper aerobic bacterial population....good for you. For those of us who simply throw anything we can find into the pile and manage to turn it when the inspiration or energy seems to strike (once a week)....good for us too! For this week HMG has finally produced some really nice compost following the lazy plan.

Compost when finished is a nice sight. Money savings becomes real, a forty pound bag of compost can cost between 5-12 dollars depending on where you get it, plus you have to take time to transport it as well as carry it everywhere.

Using a three bin system, HMG has produced what appears to be about 6-8 forty pound bags worth this season. Adding kitchen scraps, brown vegetable plant branches, occasional leaves (not too many) and a sprinkle of fireplace ash, we have made some pretty respectable looking compost.

We have found with minimal attention compost is really not difficult to make. The most important aspects are to make sure you get some brown matter in there as well as to periodically turn the pile so as to prevent anaerobic bacteria from kicking in. You will know if this happens as your compost pile will begin to smell like takeout fish that was left in the car overnight. If this happens, simply turning the pile over a few times instantly cures the problem. We have found a small pitchfork the best for doing this.

BEFOREApplying the compost to needy beds is definitely a great feeling. For those of us who do this without the benefit of high heat compost, which is usually done with machine turned piles or piles which have air blown into them, we will see a nice seedling bed soon of every vegetable we have eaten for the past 6 months as those seeds have not died in the pile. Obviously this is not desired, although seeing 200 tomato seedlings in a 10 x 4 foot raised bed is interesting, simply raking them in or pulling the seedlings seems to be the best management option....and is there anything more sustainable then making your own compost? I don’t think so!




Dual Purpose Squash: Eat Now for Summer, Mature for Winter Storage

So far each summer squash has weight about 2.5 lbs each. They can be cut in half to be stored in the fridge.Summer squash is one of the fruits we DON'T grow here for various reasons.  It's so ubiquitous during the summer that neighbors and farmer's markets are usually innundated with them.  Plus it's not something we eat much of.  By the end of July, most people who receive a weekly CSA have become so tired of eating summer squash that they are more than ready to move on to the next NEW produce item from the farm; they welcome the thought of never seeing a zucchini for the rest of season.  Ahh, the perils of local and seasonal eating!  We found a great solution to this (at least if you're growing your own food) - the dual purpose squash.  The seedlings were actually grown and given to us by Rissa, one of our interns who happens to be a quite a foodie and a really great chef.  This heirloom squash has a few names:  Zucchino Rampicante,  Zucca D'albenga, Trombocino, Climbing Zucchini or Italian Trombone.  It's a slender 2 foot squash that bulbs out at the end and the mature fruits get even longer.  The Italians use the mature squash for stuffing ravioli, a venture I hope to take part of this season.


The plant is prolific and needs a lot of space to climb and ramble.  The support needs to be strong enough to accomodate the multiple fruits it produces.  We planted it in two locations: one in a very large pot at the base of the high tunnel skeleton so it would climb up on of the ribs and the other along a 6 foot wooden fence.  They are both doing well and best of all, they are squash vine borer resistant. So for container growers and for regular gardeners this plant works in both situations.

The squashes tendrils could not grab onto the metal frames so they get tied every few feet. The ones on the fence didn't need any help.

Oftentimes when you are growing as much food as we are, you can't find a way to use up all the food.  This plant solves the dilemma: pick from it when you need some summer squash in your recipe or don't pick from it and leave it on the vine to mature and store for winter use.  This is my new favorite fruit to grow and one we wil definitely make available as seedlings next spring at the farmer's market.

For now, check out this intriguing recipe for summer squash with basil, mint and honey!

Watch for winter squash recipes later in the season...hopefully ravioli stuffed with rampicante squash!