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

Entries in greenhouse (2)


Spring Has Sprung: The Year Ahead

Well, this isn't what you would expect for the second day of spring.  Forecast calls for even more snow today and tomorrow.  Though St. Patrick's day is the usual signal for us to get the peas into the ground, snow on the very last day of winter has deferred our plans giving us a little more time to plan.

This year we have decided to forego our seedling sales at the farmers markets and local plant sales and concentrate efforts on really perfecting things on our micro-farm.  It's a bittersweet decision.  We are relieved that the hard work that starts from February and ends around Memorial Day will come to an end but we are sad at losing that seasonal connection we have with our community.  We've already gotten so many emails from people who have grown our plants in the previous seasons, wondering if we'll be doing them again.  Marie from Nyack told us that she was only able to grow a certain Italian eggplant with our seedlings because of their strength and vitality; prior to that she had tried many times and failed.  This makes me a bit sad, but with a toddler, I have the pull the reigns in and prioritize!

So the key words for this season are "simplicty and abundance".  With that in mind, we're opting for less maintenance and more permenance. For example, we made our greenhouse just a place for dwarf citruses: Sweet navel orange called "Trovita", "Golden Nugget" mandarin orange, Bearss Lime, Keffir Lime and Meyer Lemon trees.  We found a great source for them at Four Winds Growers in California.  They were really exceptional at helping us choose what would work in the ground in a permanent greenhouse and we look forward to citrus fruits winter through summer.

Where we were growing things for large yields, we realized that you can actually have too much garlic.  We are trimming back on the amount of garlic grown and using beds to plant low yield veggies that we're interested in like artichokes.  We already started to seed them.  They are tricky to germinate because they need to spend 8 hours in temps of 85 degrees and the rest of the time in temps of 70 degrees.  A heatmat in the greenhouse will serve as a place for those alternating temperatures naturally.

Our Plymouth Barred Rock and Ameraucana. The Ameraucana just went through a period of broodiness which we were able to break.New chickens will be integrated to our current flock that has been whittled down to 5 chickens after some illnesses and predator attacks (one that included our own dog).  There's an art to integrating them so hopefully that will go smoothly.  Two years ago we ordered day old chicks from Ideal Poultry in Texas and they were sexed properly - we didn't get one rooster!  Look for updates in late spring... Speaking of animals, we are also toying with the idea of getting a cat to help keep the chipmunks and squirrels at bay this year but the thought of one more life to care for at this moment is definitely making me hesitate.

And finally, we want to better manage what we have already planted for the best yields.  That means really paying attention to pruning and training especially after a year of grape vines gone wild.  And we'll also continue more with the nutrient density soil management we were on top of before the baby came into our lives.  Hopefully this mama will get back on track continuing the blogs about what we do here after a short hiatus due to sleep deprivation.

Even "dwarf" citruses can grow up to 12 feet. Ideally they should be planted 4-5 feet from each other at the very least.

Happy Spring and may this season bring you simplicity and abundance!





Nature's Infantry

Part of the process of trying to grow vegetables in the winter is dealing with limited sun, limited warmth and pretty much non-optimal growing conditions for almost everything you could possibly want to grow. That being said, we have become pretty expectant of some fresh Hook Mountain Growers lettuce whenever we want in the winter. The only problem is that with little plants that are not in the happiest growing conditions....they are more prone to pest infestation. Now don’t get me wrong, these little guys are being grown in a greenhouse that never drops below 46 degrees. They are not exactly Navy Seals trained to survive in the harshest conditions. They live quite a pampered life, however even their charmed existence is not enough to stave off the occasional mega-aphid infestation that occasionally occurs on naturally grown produce and is an always present nuisance for greenhouse-grown produce.

Our lettuces were not spared this insult. The infestation was complete. The options were discussed. Consider the plants lost. A trial of Neem organic spray. Prayer. Anger. Cursing. After considering all options, we decided a trial of Natures infantry to suppress these little aphid intruders. Aphids on our Deer Tongue lettuce leaves

The shipment arrived last Thursday from Hirt's Garden Supply. Upon opening the box, the warrior’s looked ready. Angry, aggressive and roaring to eat. OK, they were just ladybugs. Not the most dangerous of names but definitely voracious eaters of garden pests. We ordered 1500 ladybugs for about 9 dollars. We released them during the evening hours to minimize stress to the the ladybug, as we were instructed. Some were poured over the lettuces, some were left in the open container and some were sprinkled around the periphery to ensure border control and prevent the aphids from escaping or sending for reinforcements.

I can tell you the results would please the most demanding of Generals. Complete enemy annihilation. Survivors were spared no mercy. Our lettuces our safe.

OK, enough war jargon. This has been an eye-opening experiment. For less than the cost of an organic spray, we have provided a most natural solution to our problem. Not only do we now have ladybugs in the greenhouse which will continue to eliminate insects, we have rid ourselves of the aphids without the hassle of little dead aphid corpses to deal with when we wash the lettuces. Seems almost ridiculous to try any other method. But so does most of what conventional big agriculture does anyway....

Nature's infantry rolling and patrolling
SO, with just a little thought...problem solved. Off to eat fresh lettuces in February...

Charlie, Wheel Barrel Operator