Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's not the Midas Touch

Contrary to what the farm's appearance might suggest, not everything I plant grows well.  I submit, for your disapproval, photos of my home garden:



Lettuce, bok choy, fennel and some onions planted a week or so later than their counterparts at the farm.  There is also some self seeded dill from the garden two years ago.  They are still alive, but are small and sad looking, considering they are only slightly bigger than when I put them in three weeks ago.  In contrast, here are plants from the same seed starting vintage at the farm:





 Just to make sure I'm clear here, the house garden plants and the farm plants were started at the same time, in the same trays and given the same treatment until they were planted.  I just happened to have some leftover seedlings after I planted at the farm, so I took them home and planted them.  Granted, the farm plants were put into the ground a week and a half earlier than the house plants, but I can guarantee the house plants will be nowhere near caught up in a week.

"So what happened?" you might ask.  Both gardens get a similar amount of sunlight, which is usually the first culprit.  The disparity between my two gardening practices points to just about everything that will make the difference between a successful garden and a frustrating one.  Lets take them one by one, shall we?:

Timing:  Timing is important when it comes to transplants.  Seedlings in a cell pack only have a little tiny amount of dirt they can draw nutrients from and the cell pack's structure lends itself to letting plants become root-bound.  There's a relatively short window between peak readiness and malnourished plants, and to make matters worse, store-bought seedlings often are right at the peak when they arrive at the store, and almost at the end of their window when you get them to your house.  Even though I grow my own seedlings, I put them in a little after peak at the farm because I was traveling, so by the time they got home they were way past their prime.  Recently, a customer asked what was wrong with her seedlings.  They had started to turn yellow and had spots on them.  This is usually a sign of severe nutrient deficiency and probably the early signs of disease. As it turns out, she had bought the seedlings three weeks ago, but decided to wait on putting them in the ground because of the cold weather we've been having lately.  At this point the seedlings are so starved, even if they get proper nutrition when they hit the soil, they'll be weak for long enough to let disease and pests in early. Sometimes these things cannot be avoided, but if you can, try to put in your seedlings before or just as they start to show signs of stress, which includes yellow or purple leaves.  If it is too cold yet, consider protecting your transplants with row cover, cold frames, or even a milk jug turned upside down.  Or chalk it up to experience and try again later in the season.

Soil Prep: Before I transplanted at the farm, I added some micronutrients to the soil to balance out their availability (using what I learned at the Bionutrient Rich Crop Production Course).  I also added some of my own garden compost as well as a good dose of Croswell Enterprises compost.  I let this sit for at least a month before I planted in it.  At the house I added compost at the beginning of last year, but no micronutrients and I didn't have time to add this year's compost in the spring.  It's probably decent soil at the house, but nowhere near as lush as the soil at the farm.  Once those seedling roots hit the dirt, they'll find it easy to access what they need to keep growing, boosting them into fuller leaves and healthier growth.  Letting the amendments mellow in the soil before you add plants lets the soil ecosystem recover from the shock of the additions and lets the microorganisms work on making those amendments more available to the plants.

Seedling Prep: Right when I planted the seedlings at the farm I either dunked them in a nutrient rich fish and seaweed emulsion solution or I added a small amount of light fertilizer that has been beneficial bacteria and fungi added to it (I used GardenTone from Espoma, but I'm looking for a fertilizer that is actually approved for organic production, GardenTone is not...).  This helps ease the "transplant shock" that seedlings get when they go from being coddled little plant babies to being shoved into the real world.  I also made sure the seedlings were well watered during and for a few days after transplanting.  I am pretty sure I just stuck in the home plants some evening after work without any of the prep steps.  I am also certain I forgot to keep them watered afterwards.

Mulch!: This year I also used Croswell Enterprises compost as a mulch on the farm.  Their compost has a slightly rough texture that is well suited as a top dressing or mulch, the nutrients go down and the wood pieces stay on top, covering the soil.  As a farmer, I almost never mulched my soil, mostly because it seemed like a daunting task on a 6+ acre farm.  On this new scale, mulching is my best friend.  Something fine, like straw, chopped dry leaves or rough compost, is great because it covers the soil for one season and will break down to nourish the soil by the next season.  As you can tell from the pictures, no such luck at the house garden, though I'll probably add some compost soon to mulch it there too.  The mulch does so many great things, it covers the soil and creates a safe space for the microbes to do their thing, it regulates the moisture in the soil and allows for easier watering (bare soil often creates a crust that is hard to water properly), it deters weed growth, and it adds even more nutrients as it breaks down.

Intention: Often overlooked is the intention you bring to the garden. I'm not trying to be totally hocus-pocus here, but in reality I just pay more attention to the plants at the farm.  I notice if they need help and I try to do what's best for them.  This is often something that is difficult for folks with busy lives, like myself, that want to have a little garden at their house.  I am majorly impressed with anyone that finds the time to have a day job, raise a family and a garden.  It is very difficult, and yet, some pull it off.  Kudos to you folks, you've totally got me beat.

 And now a word of encouragement: the good thing is, we're still lucky enough to have dependable food sources while we learn how to grow our own.  And the season itself is flexible enough that even if you're first planting attempts don't quite make the grade, you can always try again, often in the same season.  Tomatoes and cucumbers can be planted into June and short season crops like lettuce can be planted into the summer.  So if your soil and your garden plan isn't quite ready, you've still got time.  Strategize and grow!

BTW, if you look on my facebook page, you'll find some sweet links to seedling sales happening this weekend so you can stock up on high quality plants.  Also, here's a link to the HV Seed Library's blogpost about building a raised bed, and I'm mentioned in the post!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Photoshoot, the farm in May


Pictures of the farm, pure and simple. 
The view from the top of my truck - and the farm stand sans veggies.

As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about the spinach this year.  I actually think I might have overdone it, there's two more beds just like this one...behind the spinach is broccoli.  I love how there are so many different color greens in the garden, and I admit, the blue-gray-green of broccoli is my favorite.

The "baby" bok choy, almost done.  So this is a case where it's called "baby" just because it's diminutive, not because it is a younger version of the regular stuff.  Same goes for carrots and peppers.

I am always fascinated by insect sex, especially when it is happening on the crops.  I am not sure whether these guys are good or bad, so if you know, tell me!  Oh, and these are on the napa cabbage.

Two types of cabbage here: Early Jersey Wakefield on the left, a great early pointy headed cabbage (really, it looks like a cone) and on the center and right, Golden Acre, a variety I haven't grown before, but the catalog made it seem like they were the sweet  and great for coleslaw.  We'll see.

Back view of the garden.  Peas are coming along, but I am impatient.

The lettuce is growing up! (See last post)

Red romaine head on.  Yet another kind of green in the center there.

 Once some of these guys get a little older, I'll do a spring heirlooms and open pollinated review.  I'm thinking Bloomsdale spinach, Golden Acre and Early Jersey Wakefield cabbages, Mayfair peas and Nantes di Chioggia carrots.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Not a Vacant Lot!

There are many exciting things happening at and around the farm!  And I'm not just talking about the fluctuations between blistering hot and frosty cold.  Last week I made a trip over to the coast to visit a friend and on the way I stopped over in Providence, RI to a collection of urban farms and community gardens that has been building there for the last thirty years.  And yet, even though there is a strong presence of urban agriculture and gardening, life can be tough for an urban farmer.

The day before I was set to drive to Rhode Island, I was looking at Facebook (my morning routine/guilty pleasure) and noticed a post from Front Step Farm, the farm I was about to visit.  Without his knowledge, the landowner of his leased lot had sold the land from under his feet.  The new owners gave him an ultimatum - get out or else.  The afternoon I arrived, Than (the farmer at Front Step Farm), was just getting out of a meeting with the new owners.  It had not gone well.  They referred to land as a "vacant lot," negating three years of hard work on Than's part, and the business he had created around his soil and vegetables.  What followed was a drizzly dash through Providence and tours of its many, many gardens, each with their own story of peril and triumph.  Angry neighbors, helpful landowners, falling trees, leaded soils, generous artists, Kickstarter campaigns, each of these participate in the crazy world that is the South Side urban ag landscape.
Front Step Farm, about the same size as South Pine Street City Farm

Than behind raspberries.
Hopefully Than can take his soil with him, he worked hard for it!


Laura at Sidewalk Ends Farm watering the pea shoots.

Providence has a six-chicken rule.  The colorful coop was built during a workshop.
She's proud of her compost!  Those bags next to Laura are the hulls from coffee beans, apparently they make a great brown addition to compost.

Than and Rich at City Farm, "the original."  City Farm is part of South Side Land Trust and has been growing for just over 30 years.  Rich has been the farmer there for ten.  To this day he is making improvements and expanding the growing area.

 What amazes me about the Providence is the shear number of urban farms and community gardens.  At least six farmed lots with more at the periphery.  And so much dedication from each grower to their little piece of earth.  If only we could replicate that number in Kingston!  But if there is a lesson to be learned, it is that proper paperwork is key.  Whether it be leases, insurance, agreements, what have you, get it in writing and make sure everyone understands the implications of what they are signing.  Otherwise you might just find yourself hurriedly moving all of the plants you just transplanted into your backyard.  The other lesson is that a lack of buildings does not a vacant lot make, urban ag is making a comeback and we will not be silenced!


Many many thanks to Than, Jenna and the other housemates for putting me up for the night.  We shall return the favor if ever you get to come to Kingston.  But beware, I am sure to visit Providence again!

So what about SPSCF?  Thanks to the efforts of three trusty volunteers (Steve, Ed and Shiloh - yay!) and my dear Daniel the farm was well taken care of in my absence.  By the time I got back, the seedlings were just begging to be put in the ground or into larger pots.  So I indulged them.  And plants were popping up everywhere, including some self-sown lovelies.


Self seeded cilantro (say that five times fast), right by the entrance.  Makes for excellent lunch tacos.

The garlic is really going now, will it be done before July?

Self seeded cheerful johnny jump ups.  It's funny, they are so hard to start indoors, but they are practically weeds once they get established.

I had a lot of requests for head lettuce last year, so here it is .  Green and red romaine.  Little red radishes in the back.  Good job volunteers, you kept the seeds watered and they came up nicely!

Chives, ready to flower.  It's so nice to have the perennial herbs established this year!
Initially thrown by Summer in March, the lovage (one of my favorite herbs) has come back to life.

Various nightshades (aka tomatoes and eggplants) waiting to be potted up.  I've been really pleased with their germination this season.  They can be tricky sometimes.
 Please note: I will be starting up the farm stand on Wednesday, May 2nd from 4pm-7pm.  Normal hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 4pm-7pm.  Just a quick stop after work and you'll be set for dinner.  This spring I am happy to also offer eggs from Old Ford Farm in New Paltz.  They are from pastured hens and are some of the best eggs I've ever had.  There's a mix of white and brown eggs in each dozen, but no worries, the quality comes from the diet, not from the color of the eggshell.


See you at the farm!






Thursday, March 15, 2012

Compost, Community, Cupertino and Co-operation

Wow What a Week.  Somehow May came in March and all of a sudden we are forced outdoors into the 70 degree sunshine, planting peas with abandon and even prepping beds for seedings of carrots, lettuce, you name it.  The farm is entering its second season and every once and a while a neighbor passes by and asks "are you doing the garden again this year?" Of course I am!!  The idea of not doing a second season never even crossed my mind.  How could I not do it with so many supporters and co-operators in the works?

I have dubbed this year the "Year of the Farming Community."  In any farming situation, and especially in urban farms, co-operation is key.  This year it seems people are really getting together and realizing, without each other, how can we get along in this world?  Combined with this is a sense of belonging, belonging to a present movement and at the same time, belonging to history.  I submit to you now two examples of the community surrounding SPSCF.  Mind you, there are many players in this game and I appreciate them all, it just so happens these two came along when I was considering my next blog piece...

First up is the Ulster County Tool Bank.  Through the magic of the Hudson Valley, I was put in touch with Wolf Bravo - the organizer of this much needed program.  One of the most important parts of starting a farm or garden is the set of tools one uses to work the ground.  From spades to rakes, these tools are not only useful, but they can be a source of beauty and pride, something to hand down to the next generation.  Then again, sometimes they break in half and then you curse at them.  The purpose of the Ulster County Tool Bank is to gather up tools, whether broken or intact, and redistribute them to farmers and gardeners starting up in our area.  For tools that are broken, there are "you fix it, you keep it" workshops designed to teach people how to be resourceful and resurrect a broken, rusty tool with some elbow grease and locally sourced materials.

I have signed up the farm to be a drop-off point because goodness knows where I would be if folks weren't willing to start me off with some good tools.  It's time to return the favor.  I am also really keen on leading one of the workshops (and learning about how to fix those pesky broken handles), so please print or download the flier below (or contact me if you want me to send you a .pdf copy) and spread it far and wide.  Or simply tell your friends to drop off unwanted tools at the farm, by the shed.  I myself will hand in some of the tools that were given to me when I was starting up last year.  It is amazing to me how these sorts of things come around.  It's almost like farming karma.
TOOL SHARE NETWORK FLIER

You can print without registering.  If you have a docstoc account, please feel free to download and distribute widely...

And onto another member of the community:
Last week I got a call from Colleen at Croswell Enterprises.  These folks made the soil that you see in all of my raised beds.  They are pretty much responsible for my lack of weeds in those beds last year and the fact that I was able to hit the ground running and grow at full pace my first year. In addition, everyone from Kickstarter Backers to a very generous anonymous donor to volunteers to the delivery guy, Dave, was involved in getting 36 yards of Dynagro Garden Soil into those beds. 

This year Croswell has taken it upon themselves to sponsor not only the farm, but also the Dig Kids, which I am co-operating on. Soil, compost, stones and mulch will be given over for use by youth wishing to create a green space in their neighborhood, a healthy environment, and food for their plates.  This alone would be enough of beautiful thing, but what really got me going is the fact that Ed Croswell (the man behind the mulch) used to live IN THE HOUSE WHERE THE FARM IS NOW!!!  Can you friggin' believe it?  It blows my mind just to think of this man giving the gift of potential (because that's what good soil is: the potential for food and life) back to his old neighborhood.  Every time I cast a shovelful of compost onto those garden beds I will think of a younger Eddie Croswell, playing in the dirt and roaming the forest behind those streets, looking for plants to take back and plant in the yard.  How could I not do the garden this year?  Hopefully I'll get some pictures of the old house to reference what garden beds are where, but in the meantime, Rebecca Martin took some shots of Ed and me checking out their compost piles.


.............................

The fascinating thing is that behind both of these groups there are just people doing what they do, but with integrity.  Because, for now at least, we all here together on this planet, right?  We might as well co-operate.  Oh, and what is with Cupertino in the title?  There is such a thing as a Cupertino Effect, which is when spell-checking goes awry.  Apparently "in the olden days", cooperation (instead of co-operation) was changed to "Cupertino" by spell-check.  If no human caught the computer error, you end up with some hilarious phrases.  I think to this day there are several UN online documents with this error, citing a city in California instead of the actions of willing world community members.  This is my dorky homage to the power of technology, both to bring people together and then completely undo it.  Hopefully this blog post does the former (I spelled co-operation correctly, right?)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Signs of Life at the Garden

 What friggin season is it now?  Winter? Almost spring? Dry?  Looking at the mostly bare beds this afternoon, I cursed myself for not having saved or planted more for the "winter."  I want to think that winters like this only happen every few decades, and if so I have missed an opportunity to be pulling out heads of lettuce, bunches of kale or even some hearty leeks from the garden in FEBRUARY.  Dammit, if only I had planted that last succession of lettuce....


But, the good news is, I left the spinach in the ground.  The spinach I planted in September and harvested a couple of times before the solstice hit.  This beautiful spinach has survived and ever so slowly has continued to grow underneath some flimsy row cover.  In a few weeks, the growth will probably explode and be ready for the farmers market.  Until then, I eat it at one precious meal every week, savoring the sweet leaves in omelets or with some onions and a little cream...
 I wish I could tell you what variety this is, but I honestly can't remember.  My record keeping gets a little hazy in the fall.  My guess is Tyee, since it is savoyed.  The spinach is probably the greenest thing at the farm, but there are little signs of life popping up with enthusiasm.  My favorite is the garlic (pictured below, mulch moved aside).  When it sprouts in your kitchen, it's a shame.  When it sprouts in your garden, it's a miracle! These were planted during my last work party last year, by some enthusiastic youth who also happened to straw mulch all my beds.  Thank you young energy.  I know they will be excited to see the little lovelies come spring.  Real spring, I mean.


 
I seeded some very early spinach in early February (after all, you can never have too much spinach in the spring.  And if you follow the blog, you know what an ordeal this was).  After many nights and a few snows, they have come up under the protection of my cold frames - those things are handy.  Spinach is one of the few vegetables that will germinate in cold weather.  The soil temp can even be near freezing and these troopers will germinate at near 100%.  As a matter of fact, they won't do well in warm weather and will germinate poorly at soil temps above 78 degrees F.  Hence no spinach in the summertime.  Look at these cuties below with their seagull wings.  Yes, I love seedlings, a lot.

Before you go and think that everything worked perfectly this winter.  I give you exhibit A (pictured below right).  I placed my other cold frame over the artichokes in the hopes that they would survive the winter and provide me will a California-sized harvest this year.  No such luck.  The crispy brown extremely dead leaves are the artichokes.  The slightly alive, but very poor looking bush is a rosemary plant that I also stuck under protection.  This one is the best looking of the three.  Sad.

But enough of that, I have some very exciting news!  Way back when, I applied for a Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant to study heating a greenhouse with compost made of coffee grounds and yard waste (read: fallen leaves and wood chips).  I didn't blog it because I was too nervous that I might jinx it all.  Well I was just notified last week that I received the grant!!  Yay!  "Wait, what greenhouse?," you ask.  That's the other piece of good news.  I was driving down the road and I saw a frame from what was an temporary garage/hoopy thing.  At 12' x 20', it is pretty much the perfect size for my little operation.  And at $100, the price wasn't too shabby either.  Thank goodness for stopping at the side of the road and knocking on strangers' doors.  If it weren't for that, I'd be out a thousand or so just for the frame.  At first I thought I would have to squeeze it into the South Pine lot, but the YMCA has generously (and excitedly) offered up some space in their community garden.  Hooray for everyone!  If you are really curious, (or you are the press), you can read the press release here: YMCA and South Pine Street City Farm Team Up to Build Community Greenhouse in Kingston

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What do farmers do in the wintertime?

Once upon a time, during my first farming apprenticeship, I asked my mentor what is the most popular question he gets asked.  Is it "what IS this vegetable?"  Is it "so what does organic mean anyways?"  He said it was actually "so what do you do in the winter?" a question I hadn't actually thought of yet, and at the time it was November!

So WHAT DO farmers do in the winter?  Well, it depends on the farmer.  Those that have livestock year round obviously have to take care of those animals year round - yes, even on Christmas.  No holidays for cows.  Orchard farmers do a lot of their pruning in the winter.  In the northeast they also plan out their treatment strategies, whether organic or not, to deal with the immense pest pressure we've got going on up here.  Grain farmers manage their store of grain and plan for the next season.  Veggie farmers, like me, try to recoup from a long, exhausting and dirty season.  Then we plan for the next one.  Sometimes we do winter markets.

Essential components of crop planning in order of importance: 1. hot tea 2. seed catalogs (aka veggie porn) 3. garden bed plans 4. spreadsheets 5. writing implements
 I just finished my crop plan for the year.  I don't know whether other gardeners/farmers on my scale go through such painstakingly detailed lengths to plan out their garden, but I do because otherwise I'd be lost during the season.  I actually find it really hard to see an empty bed and visualize what can go in there.  Doubly so when things are companion planted.  What goes into crop planning?  Well, for me, first is daydreaming: what would my perfect garden look like in 2012?  Lots of tomatoes? Little to no chard? (I hate chard) endless garlic? A few essential flowers?  Then it's the steamy stuff: looking through seed catalogs.  Every farmer I know loves it when seed catalogs first arrive in the mail.  It's like a Victoria's Secret catalog, except all the models are replaced by stacks of unblemished veggies.  And all the descriptions are filled with measurements that would make you blush.  Five pound melons, cucumbers the size of your forearm, you get the picture.  After I've circled way too many interesting items in the catalogs, it's time for the nitty gritty: looking through my notes from last year.  What worked?  What didn't?  What would work if I just tweaked it a little?  This way I can determine what needs changing.  I'd like to think that someday I'll get everything perfectly right, but it seems I have a long way to go.

With catalogs and notes in hand I start to draw out the beds and then type up the spreadsheet.  The bed plan is a visual reference for how everything will fit into the space I have.  For years I skipped this part because I had much more space to plant and a pretty good idea of where to put everything.  Now that I have only 2,300 sq. ft., it's much more of a jigsaw puzzle.  Not only do I have to fit everything into the space, but also in time, most beds get planted at least twice, some up to four times before the year is up.  It's really intensive, but I'm hoping that my additions of compost, humus, microbial inoculants and trace minerals help keep the system balanced.  The spreadsheet is where the magic happens...on paper at least.  Every vegetable variety, every planting and seeding date, plant spacing and even projected harvest dates...it's all in there and because it is on a computer I can click a few buttons and organize it any way I want.  I don't know what farmers did before spreadsheets.  I imagine they just had an innate sense of how much and when.  A pity or progress?  Who knows.

Finally, finally I get to write out the seed order.  I make an inventory of seeds I still have in stock and I double check the catalogs (including the Hudson Valley Seed Library's online catalog) to compare and contrast.  For the most part these are the factors, in order, that affect where I get what seeds from: local/small scale supplier, organic, open pollinated, price.  To be perfectly honest, sometimes price is a big factor.  I'd love the totally awesome, new, open pollinated, organic seed from High Mowing, but I could also get something similar, but not organic from Johnny's at 1/10 the price.  So it goes.  Fortunately I am at a scale where lots of the HV Seed Library stuff is appropriate, and they top the charts on all of those previously mentioned factors, especially because I get a membership every year and that gets me a discount on the seeds. By the way, just because your seed catalogs at home look small and friendly doesn't mean they don't send money to Monsanto in some convoluted way.  Most seed companies do not raise all of their own seed, they buy it from larger seed houses and big corporations have long sticky tendrils that even go into organic seed suppliers. Read more about it in this HV Seed Library post. (By the way, can you tell that I totally love that company?)

Actually, I have one more step, and I'm about to do it on Monday.  There's a couple of other super small farmers around that get together to do a swap and share.  This means that we compare crop plans and then either swap seeds that we have extra of or share an order to get the price break.  This worked out really well for me last year because there are a lot of vegetables that I only need a few plants, but the minimum order was for 100 or more seeds.  Even in 5 years I couldn't use all of those seeds.  So we all get to shave off some bucks and then have a nice dinner afterwards!

Phew!  That was a lot of work huh?  Well, since this was a very word-heavy post, here's a picture of that radicchio that I forced for the winter.  I had some for a salad last night.  Very mild and tender.  Yum!


By the way, you did know that I am total maniacal dork, right?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Well-Intentioned Vandals...and other News

The oxy-moronic phrase "well-intentioned vandal" is surprisingly not new here in Kingston.  I will say as objectively as possible that there was a bit of a scandal some months back when a fleet of stenciled red goats appeared on concrete planters days before our newly-renovated uptown was scheduled to be announced to the press.  Our city community was divided into sects that either applauded the goat painters' efforts to undermine the system that brought the unpopular renovation to uptown or applauded the administration's efforts to keep the integrity of the renovation intact and turn the vandals into an example - no one will be excused for vandalism, even if their intentions are "good" or their damage is "innocuous".

So why am I even talking about this, except for the fact that goats are farm animals and I actually do want real goats doing real goat things in Kingston?

Well, yesterday Daniel, the dogs and I went to the farm to meet up with my cousins-in-law and a few buckets of alpaca poop destined for the compost.  That all went well, but as we were waiting for them to show up I noticed something odd on some of the beds...
If it just looks like dirt, look carefully...that's right, sunflower seeds.  Hundreds, maybe even thousands of them, densely strewn all over my cleaned-for-the-winter beds.  Since we are in the 21st century, my first reaction was, "WTF?"  After the shock was over, my second reaction was, "Why?"  Why had someone broken into the farm, not to steal anything, not to destroy anything, but simply to spread sunflower seeds all over the place?

I have my theories, and in fact I have a suspect.  I won't name names, but I do think that whoever did this was well-intentioned.  Perhaps they saw my empty and bare beds (the rest are covered with straw) and didn't know that I left them bare on purpose, so that I could easily sow them with spinach in the coming weeks.  Perhaps they thought "a bare bed is a dead bed," and decided that covering them with something, anything would be better than leaving them empty.  Perhaps they like the idea of birds coming and eating the seeds or the idea of a whole bed crowded with bright sunny flowers.  But you know what?  That still doesn't give them the right to do this without my permission.  I am all for growing things, and I like birds and flowers as well, but really this is just ridiculous and disrespectful.  And I am dreading cleaning this up in the early summer.  What is a weed?  It is a plant that is growing in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And that is what these will be.  Thousands of weeds in what used to be weed free beds.  Dammit, I am still mad.  I left the garden open as a space where people can come, learn, relax and enjoy.  It is a community garden in the sense that the community is welcome to enjoy it, but I took it over to manage as single lot on purpose, so that the design and the produce would be coherent and cohesive, not a product of Guerilla farming.  Perhaps this decision was not agreeable to everyone involved, but I stand by it and I think that it has helped the space develop in a positive direction.  Whoever did this, please don't do it anymore, and please contact me first if you want to be involved with the project!

So ya, well-intentioned vandalism.  It's been on my mind recently.

On a happier note, I am pleased to report that the Winter Market at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston has been going very well.  I have a table there that I am sharing with Hudson Valley Seed Library and Prime Print Shop.  That means this Saturday (and every 1st and 3rd Saturdays through April) you can find me, shoots and sprouts of all kinds, heirloom seeds in artful packaging AND handmade letterpressed cards in original designs all at one table.  The last two times we sold out of green stuff, so be sure to get there early!  Doors open at 10am.



Also, a couple of my Winter Experiments are doing fairly well.  As mentioned above, the shoots and micro-greens are growing well. As a matter of fact you might notice that I am growing sunflower shoots...It's all about place and time.  The funny looking rosettes are those radicchio roots that I dug up earlier in the fall.  Further research turned up the fact that I don't need to blanch these like they do endive, so they are under the growlight with the other greens.  They are doing so well, I wish I had saved more of them.  The sideways picture (I don't know what's going on with blogger, but it won't post it right no matter what I do) is my somewhat sad-looking, but still alive lemon grass.  It's got another four months until it can see the ground again...I am hopeful that it will make it.

That's all for now! But if you see someone besides me at the farm suspiciously planting in the middle of the night...let me know!