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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 Squash Vine Borer (3)


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!


Intern's Corner: A Small Space Experiment - Planting The Three Sisters

Alison Siggelko, one of our departing interns spent a full spring with us getting things in the ground and helping us immensely at the farmer's market.  We bid her a fond adieu as she heads to California for graduate school in Transpersonal Psychology.  Good luck Alison!  You will be missed!

The Three Sisters growing technique is a Native American way of companion planting with squash, corn and pole beans.  Typically you need at least a 10' x 10' space but we had a lot less to work with.  This is our experiement:


The first ear of corn. Not the cornsilk which you can make a tea from helpful in bladder infectionsA few weeks ago, the interns were asked to plant a Three Sisters garden. With free reign to designate planting mounds and seed spacing, we were initially nervous. Between a combination of how-to planting guides and the ancient myth of Three Sisters, we figured out how to lay four soil mounds and plant our first crop of corn.

    I personally remember the legend of the Three Sisters from elementary school. Corn, beans and squash were the first crops to become domesticated by Mesoamericans and were viewed with great reverence as gifts from the Great Spirit. (The legend of the Three Sisters can be found here.) What was left out of my brief education of the Three Sisters was the sustainable science of this growing method.

    Once our corn began to sprout, we planted pole beans around each corn plant. The corn stalk will provide a trellis for the beans to climb, and the bean's presence will not only stabilize the tall corn, but will also fix the nitrogen in the soil for the corn of following years. Squash* was planted around the corn/bean mounds providing soil cover and eventually crop residue beneficial for soil structure.
    Nutritionally the combination of the three plants is also well balanced. Corn provides carbs, beans give us protein and a balance to the amino acid found in corn, and squash fruit is chock full of vitamins.
     Of course, ancient Americans didn't understand the chemistry behind this system. In all probability, they discovered Three Sisters because these crops could be successfully cultivated while maintaining balance and health for people. It is a beautiful example of common-sense sustainability and a reminder of the importance of maintaining indigenous traditions.

Corn providing the trellis for the climbing beans and watermelon as groundcover to suppress the weedsThough none of the interns follow Native traditions, I think it’s safe to say we all felt a shimmer of the ceremonial as we built our soil mounds and planted corn seeds. In keeping with indigenous tradition we decided that there should be four mounds and that they should each represent one of the four directions (N,S,E,W). Though we giggled at our unexpected reverence for tradition, I for one felt a surprising satisfaction at combining the practicalities of farming with a respect and admiration of nature.


* Instead of squash, petite watermelon were planted since vine borers had been a problem in the previous year in the same location.

 Our first trial at watermelon. Everytime I see this guy it makes me happy.


Pest of the Month: Squash Vine Borer 

SVB moths. They appear more like wasps when they fly.In our first growing year we grew an abundance of winter squash.  It was so easy to amass this large quanity of storage fruits for the winter.  The second and third year proved to be a big disappointment as we were invaded by the nasty squash vine borer (SVB).  It attacks plants as a moth laying eggs at the base of leaf stalks.  The larvae then develop into these gross looking light green catepillars that burrow themselves into the healthy large stems of squash plants.  The first sign that something is wrong is the the appearance of wilting leaves.  It looks like you forgot to water your patch of squash.  Upon closer inspection of the base of the main stem you will find your stems gouged open with several SVBs inside happily munching away and slowly killing your plant the many young fruits attached to the vines.  Burrowing SVB catepillarI have literally picked these bugs out and tortured them on a nearby rock.  They have killed off so many of my squash crops that I've taken it personally.  After removing the pests, it is possible to bury the damaged area in the soil and it will reroot but I've never been able to keep up with it and eventually give up losing the patch.


This year we are trying something else: using a row cover to prevent the moth from laying its eggs at the base of the stalk.  After planting a variety of winter squash: red kuri, buttercup, butternut and delicata we set a floating row cover on all the plants.  It's mid June and this is the time the SVB moth starts egg laying.  If you do get this nasty pest, remember not to compost the vines at the end of the season but to throw them out in the garbage.

We use a lightweight fabric cover made by Agribon

We're not the only ones doing this.  This is a squash field at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, also covered with a row cover.  We are wondering weather or not this is going to present a problem with pollination, however.  Our squash just started to flower...  Another experiment we'll report back with.


Stone Barns use of a row cover on the their field of winter squash