November 9th, 2007 · 2 Comments
So I volunteered today at the Restoration Farm in Old Bethpage. The keepers of the farm, Dan and Caroline, are great people, really, really great people. I grew up around there and remember visiting The Old Bethpage Village Restoration, but I never knew there were farm animals around; pigs, cows, chickens, and horses. What a fantastic place! Not to mention its a great open space in Nassau County and some of the houses there are from the 19th century. As soon as I walked in, I felt I had taken a step back into time, to simple times.
We planted about 2,000 garlic cloves in 3-4 hours in a mixed bag of weather. I did some raking of beds and planting of garlic. After we finished planting a bed garlic, Dan would run the “spreader” over it with some aged manure. After we were done, the garlic received a nice shower to settle into their new homes. It was a beautiful day.
Tags: Long Island
November 7th, 2007 · 1 Comment
There are so many uses for miso. So far, I have only used it to make soup. It helps digestion due to the probiotics naturally found in miso. One of the best soups I ever had was a dry package of miso and some water from a brook. It was a cool and wet day and my buddy and I had been hiking for days. We gathered some water from a brook and took a well deserved break to make some miso magic. It was just what the doctor had ordered; A nice warm nutritious soup to replenish the body. To this day, we still talk about that ammazing bowl of miso.
When I am not out on an excursion, I keep Miso Paste in the fridge for those miso days. Today was one of them.
I have only experimented with miso about three times, but with some great results. It is so easy. If you wanted to you could just warm up some water to the boil. Take it off the heat and then add some miso paste. Mix it in and add more according to taste. And viola, you have miso. I like to take it a few steps further than that.
Traditional Miso Soup is the paste, Dashi, some Tofu cubes, and Scallions. Dashi is a stock made from kelp and dried, smoked tuna. So since we run a vegetarian house, we will just use the Miso Paste. Heres the recipe I made today:
Fall Greens (from the garden)
Leeks or Scallions
Spice Rub (below)
Put some water (more than 2 cups) on the boil for the rice. Place 1 cup of brown rice into a small pot with a tablespoon of butter. Medium High Heat up and mix in butter until kernels brown a bit. Be careful not to burn the rice. And if you do, and its not too burnt, don’t worry, it will still be good. Put the water into the saucepan, turn the heat all the way down. Cover with lid and walk away for 40 minutes.
Make a rub for the tofu consisting of: Five Spice Powder, Galanga (dried), ginger (dried,ground), garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, corriander, turmeric, salt & pepper
I cut up a block of tofu into three blocks and coat them with the rub and set them to the side. Then, I picked some bok choy and kale from the garden, washed and chopped them and put up some water to boil.
Sear Tofu in a pan on both sides for 3-5 minutes each and take off heat.
Meanwhile, Put another pot on the boil for the potatoes. Cut a few potatoes into bite site pieces . Salt water and place potatoes in.
Chop up kale (taking out big stems) and chop up bok choy. Take big pot with steamer tray and pour boiling water into the pot until it comes a bit below the tray. Place kale into pot and close the lid. Let the pot sit and steam the greens for about 15 minutes. I kept the bok choy to the side to add at the end because the stems and leaves were not as tough as the kale.
After rice has 40 minutes, take off heat and let sit with lid on for 10 minutes. Then, take lid off and fluff up rice.
Take another large pot and fill up with as much water as you want broth. Turn heat on high. Chop up scallions or leeks. If leeks, add to water at this point. Bring to boil and take off heat. Dilute Miso Paste in some water and add mixture to the hot water. Taste broth. Add more paste if necessary until satisfied with miso flavor.
Take potatoes off heat after 10 minutes and strain out.
Assemble your soup one bowl at a time. I place in rice first, add block of tofu on top, potatoes and greens around and ladel in a generous amount of broth. Pepper on top and viola.
I have made similar versions of this miso soup with other ingredients such as: mushrooms, brussel sprouts (good one).Â Here’s a link to a similar soup.
November 2nd, 2007 · 1 Comment
Today I prepped an area where I will plant garlic for next year. I am planting each clove 3 inches from its brother or sister.
I took some measuring tape, and a piece of thin plywood, and made myself a measuring stick, marking every inch with a marking and a number.
Then I used a horizontal cross section on my trellis and marked it every three inches (with a marker).Â I wrapped a piece of string around it and tied a loose knot, allowing enough slack on the string to come out to the end of my bed.Â I wrapped the other end around a pencil and stuck it in the ground every three inches so that I can prep my rows and add my valuable compost only to the spots I will need them the most.Â That stuff is too valuable to be just throwing everywhere.
So I am making rows every three inches for the garlic.Â I just wanted to loosen up the gound a bit so I can work in some organic matter and home-made compost.Â Â Because I heard that garlic likes to breathe, I worked in a bit ofÂ the straw that I had placed around my tomato plants into each row along with the compost.Â And thats it.Â When the weather cools down enough, I will plant my garlic every three inches.Â My plan is to plant 100 garlic plants in a 60″ X 12″ plot (trying to get the most out of my “backyard gardening”).Â Each row will measure 60″, spaced 3″ apart.Â Each row will have 20 plants/row.Â 5 rows spaced 3″ apart is 100 plants.
Tags: Organic Gardening Techniques · Vegetables
Today I took out the last of the squash and tomatoes. It was a good year for both of these veggies. The squash plants grew out of the compost pile and the tomatoes didn’t have any problems whatsoever. Perfect year. Then again, it is only my first year on this property. So well see what happens next year. The little critters have yet to find my treaures. I flipped over the compost pile and made another pile just for the tomato and squash plants so they can dry out and then I’ll figure if I want to use them for mulch or throw them in the compost.
So there was a Halloween harvest. Many green tomatoes and about 8 squash. Does anyone out there have suggestions for green tomatoes? I think Ill try a green salsa. No Fried Green Tomatoes though. I can’t see how that would be good. Whatever I do, if it comes out good, Ill post the recipe.
Katharine made some Jack-O-Lanterns and roasted the seeds with some salt in the oven. They have been the house snack the past few days, getting passed along. We placed a candle in each one and they looked nice out on the front steps. Very whimsical, warm, and inviting. Happy Halloween!
October 31st, 2007 · 2 Comments
I remember as a kid growing up in Plainview, our class would go on field trips to The Old Bethpage Village Restoration.Â The transition from a suburban neighborhood to urban pastimes of mid 19th century is mind blowing.Â It’s like a dreamland.Â Funny thing is I was thinking about that area the other day for whatever reason, and the next time I went to my Mom’s house, she had left an article from the Plainview/Old Bethpage Herald for me to read.Â I took one look at the article and was very excited to find out there will be a new CSA farm opening up in the Old Bethpage Village Restoration.Â Finally, a CSA in Nassau County!Â I had volunteered at Garden of Eve last summer and the commute was just too much for me to handle. If you can’t tell this is exciting news for me. The farm is called Restoration Farm.Â I hope to be volunteering there sometimes and writing about my experiences here.Â I am going to paste the article in this entry just in case it gets deleted off their site:
Â Old Bethpage’s Restoration Farm Offers Residents Locally Grown Organic Produce
By Denise Nash
Nassau County recently signed a contract for the creation of “Restoration Farm,” a privately run, economically viable organic vegetable farm at county owned Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
Daniel Holmes and Caroline Fanning
The county signed a six-year use and occupancy permit contract with Restoration Farmers, LLC, a new company formed by Daniel Holmes and Caroline Fanning, two young but experienced Long Island farmers. Under the agreement, Restoration Farm will sell its produce to the public through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. For use of the land, Restoration Farm will pay a percentage of its revenue to Nassau County.
CSA is a new agricultural model built upon the relationship between farmer and consumer. CSA farms are partially or entirely supported by members who pay in advance for weekly distributions of fresh produce.
By accepting the possibility that certain crops may do poorly or even fail, members share in the inherent risks of farming. This model demonstrates a commitment to the farmer, and it allows small farms to thrive in otherwise unfavorable conditions. Given the alarming disappearance of farmland on Long Island and across the nation, more and more people are abandoning the supermarket and joining CSAs.
CSA is the cornerstone of all operations at Restoration Farm. Crops are selected to maintain a steady and varied supply of produce throughout the growing season.
Creation of the farm was initiated by Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi as part of “Healthy Nassau,” his campaign to make Nassau the “healthiest county in the nation.” The campaign builds upon existing initiatives and adds new ones to sustain a healthy environment and encourage healthy living.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to re-introduce farming at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, which gives visitors a glimpse into our past, so it’s a perfect site for the county’s organic farm,” said Suozzi. “After all, before synthetic and toxic chemicals were introduced into agriculture, all farms were organic.”
Daniel Holmes, born and raised in Bay Shore, has been farming since 1999. He got his start at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, a 7-acre organic CSA on the grounds of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. In 2003, he returned to Long Island to become the head grower of Sophia Garden, a 1.5-acre organic CSA in Amityville. “At Sophia Garden, the CSA always had a waiting list,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll find a market for our produce here at Restoration Farm. The challenge will be to make a living at it, but that’s the opportunity we’ve been waiting for.”
Caroline Fanning grew up in Amityville and was introduced to organic farming in the Hudson Valley. While attending Vassar College, she interned at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project in Poughkeepsie, the Common Ground Farm in Wappingers Falls, and the Creed Ankony Farm in Rhinebeck. After graduating in 2004, she worked for World Hunger Year, a New York City nonprofit addressing food and hunger issues. She joined Holmes at Sophia Garden in Amityville in 2006.
“Organic is going mainstream, and as that happens, many people are becoming skeptical of its standards. There’s just no way of knowing the truth about an organic apple shipped from thousands of miles away,” said Holmes. “Buying locally grown food allows you to talk to the farmer and even visit the farm. You can see what’s actually going on. That’s why farmers markets and CSAs have become so popular.”
Restoration Farm will abide by the organic principles outlined in the Farmer’s Pledge of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), which is an organization of consumers, gardeners and farmers creating a sustainable regional food system, which is ecologically sound and economically viable. Through demonstration and education, they promote land stewardship, organic food production and local marketing. NOFA-NY is one of seven northeastern state organizations that work together. They are governed by a volunteer board of farmers, consumers and gardeners whose officers are elected by the general membership and they are a non-profit educational organization supported by membership dues and contributions.
For Holmes and Fanning, running a successful farm means resourcefulness, hard work and being in the right place at the right time. “Back in March, we were ready to either give up or move to Nebraska – that’s how dismal our chances at running a sustainable farm on Long Island seemed,” said Holmes. “But then this opportunity came along, and we jumped at it.”
While Nassau County has several farmers markets and CSA pickup sites, development pressures have pushed farms within the county to virtual extinction. Most of the food now sold at those markets and CSA pickup sites is brought in from eastern Long Island or upstate. Restoration Farm is one of the few places where Nassau residents can buy locally grown produce.
Though many CSAs operate as nonprofits and rely on grant funding to supplement their budgets, Holmes and Fanning chose to incorporate as a limited liability company. “We knew that if we wanted to make a career of farming, we’d have to make it sustainable financially as well as environmentally,” said Fanning. “Does that mean we’d turn down a grant if it was offered to us? Of course not. We just wouldn’t want the farm’s success to depend on it.”
The farm encompasses seven non-contiguous acres at the southern tip of Nassau County’s Old Bethpage Village Restoration, which is modeled on a 19th-century village. Restoration Farm will be a separate operation using modern organic methods and technology. The larger fields will be planted with annual vegetables, while the smaller, irregular pieces will be reserved for perennial gardens, greenhouses, tool sheds, and compost. “I think the presence of a modern farm will enhance the Old Bethpage experience,” said Fanning. “It will help people remember that farming is not just a thing of the past.”
Upon learning in mid-May that they had won the county’s bid competition for the farm, Holmes and Fanning began extensive planning and preparation efforts for the new venture, as they ironed out permit details with the county.
Now, with the signed permit and official go-ahead secured, Holmes and Fanning will spend the remainder of 2007 preparing their fields for 2008, when farm operations begin full force. They are also planting a small garden for a limited 2007 harvest to help build momentum for the farm.
Restoration Farm is now accepting members for its 2008 CSA. From June through November, members will receive weekly shares of produce at the farm. Full shares, which are picked up every week, are recommended for families of 4-6. Half shares, which are picked up every other week, are recommended for families of 2-3.
Restoration farm is located at 1303 Round Swamp Road in Old Bethpage. Please e-mail email@example.com or visit www.restorationfarm.com for more information.
Tags: Long Island
October 28th, 2007 · 1 Comment
I had just moved to my house and needed gardening tools. So where did I go? Craigslist.
I found a gentleman moving from Long Island to Florida who was looking to get rid of all his gardening equipment. Perfect deal. I got a nice set of tools (spades, hoe, and other hand tools), a lawnmower, and a weed wacker for $90. What a deal! Anyway, these are the deals to be had on Craigslist.
Basically, Craigslist is Online Classifieds. I use it to find or get rid of things. The best part about it is that it is free to use. I have found furniture, my car, house, and computer from ads people have placed on the site. It is a great place to find great things used or new, from local people. Many times, people will need to get rid of something and are willing to get rid of it for less than usual. I am always checking it for random items I may need. My favorite section is the “free stuff” section where people post things they are giving away FOR FREE!
Most recently, I had fire wood dropped at my house from a gentleman I contacted from Craigslist.
There is a specific section for Long Island. Or if you can’t find it in Long Island you can press a tab to search in Queens or Brookly or New York City.
Right now I have been querying the Craigslist search box with “freezer.” Im looking for a freezer to store my homemade vegetable stock, tomatoes, and other storage items.
I see people trying to get rid of shrubs and sell trees, things from tractors to chickens. For items related to gardening, there is a special section called “farm and garden.”
Leave a comment and tell about what sweet deals you have encountered from Craigslist.
Description and Background of Craigslist on Wikipedia
Tags: Long Island
Our squash jungle that had grown straight out of the compost pile produced a hefty amount of squash. Some I can recognize and some I am not sure about. One in particular was like a spaghetti squash but has a spotted green outside. Anyway, it’s quite hardy, not as hardy as a butternut or acorn, but I have yet to see one go bad. They do lose their green color after a while though.
So with so many ways to make squash, this simple technique will have the natives asking for more, not screaming “no more squash!..pleeeeease…”
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Take a good size cast iron pan (or any oven safe pan but cast iron holds heat the best) and put it over medium heat. Take a squash (i find the deeper the color, the deeper the flavor) and cut it lengthwise in half. Scoop out the seeds and where the seeds were, put in a 1-3 teaspoons of ghee (clarified butter – or you could use sunflower oil, canola – any oil that will take high heat). Rub it all around the inside of the squash. Add in any spices you like. Today I added a bunch of cinnamon, garlic powder, some five spice powder, salt, pepper, and smoky paprika. Rub it into the inside of the squash as well. Now flip them over into the pan and turn the heat up to medium high (depending on your stove – you want to get a nice sear going, so make sure its high enough). If you want, put some weight on top of the squash to help it along. I use a large saucepan filled with water and press down on it occasionally. After about 5-10 minutes, check the underside of the squash. When it is nicely browned, get a pot holder and transfer the whole pan into the oven. Let the squash finish off in the oven for about 20 minutes or until soft.
I love flipping it over and adding a bit of butter at the end (and salt if necessary). If you want to get real fancy, make a thyme butter (which is butter simmered with a bunch of fresh thyme for 5-10 minutes and strained). You could use this as part of a dish. Add it to a stew for a great complex flavor. Another option, when you put it in the oven, flip them over and stuff them with something, sauteed onions and garlic with cheese on top or mushrooms and garlic and rosemary. If it sounds good try it. If your like me you will have plenty of squash to experiment with.
October 25th, 2007 · 1 Comment
I was hiking in Catskill Park about a month ago, near Woodstock, up at the Overlook Mountain Fire Tower. Besides from the multiple incredible viewpoints and a 360 degree fire tower view of the eastern part of the park, we came upon ruins of a historic Historic Mountain Hotel of the 1800â€™s. It was a fantastic afternoon hike and worth the sacrifice of walking on a paved trail all the way up the mountain. On top of the mountain, there were guides from The Catskill Center for Conservation & Development. They were manning the fire tower and giving information on preserving the towers, a husband and wife team, really nice people.
My friend and I overheard her talking about a garlic festival in Saugerties, The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. She said there were going to be over 20,000 people there and so after a conversation with her, I was already driving there before I had even reached the car. Being a garlic lover and beginner grower, I was real excited to get my hands on some locally grown seed (upstate is somewhat local in my book). And I figured this would be the perfect place, and so it was.
I purchased the seed from a farmer in New York. He was a real nice man. I told him I was going to be using it for growing. So he took some from his special stash of primo-garlic heads and hooked me up! His lady friends weren’t so thrilled about that. One woman said something like “those are the best one’s.” He was giving me a break on the price, and so I gladly paid a bit more than he was asking. There’s something to be said about purchasing seed directly from the grower, face to face. At least in this instance, the respect and appreciation was right-on. Being a nation of consumers, I believe we vote with our dollar. And so it felt good for me that he knew I appreciated all their efforts that went into growing it and was willing to and more than happy to pay a little extra for it, even though he was trying to give me a break because I was growing them.
One last thing and then Ill get to the grow guides. When I came back to the island, I talked with my gardening buddy and he told me there was a Long Island Garlic Festival the same weekend as the one upstate that I just-so-happened to drop in on. Another coincidence, it was held at The Garden of Eve….the Organic Farm I had volunteered on earlier in the summer. Funny stuff. I can’t make this stuff up. Eve writes about her experiences during the festival in her forum.
Well, this article was supposed to be a place to come to find out information about planting garlic. I have only successfully grown one small crop of garlic, besides from helping my neightbor with his. Since I am a novice at growing garlic, I have compiled a few resources to assist with the steps necessary for preparing the beds to caring for, harvesting, and curing the garlic. Of course, I will follow-up with my experiences along the way.
List of Resource for Growing Garlic
Hood River Organic Seed Garlic – Garlic Calendar – A great monthly guide to sowing and reaping garlic. Good source for seed.
Seeds of Change Newsletter – Issue 37 – Growing Garlic – Good Source for seed
Mother Earth News Article – Plant Now For Great Garlic (Oct/Nov 2005) by Barbara Pleasant
I will continue to add links to this post as I find them.
October 24th, 2007 · 2 Comments
After a bit of research I compiled a list of internet resources that tell the story of Long Island Agriculture. This will be an ongoing list and will be updated as needed. Feel free to leave a comment if you have a resource you feel needs to be added.
Newsday’s “Farming The Land of Their Dreams”
Newsday’s “Long Island History Section”
Long Island Farm Bureau’s “Long Island’s First Industry, Farming Continues to be Important Today “
Wikipedia’s “Farm Island”
Newsday’s “Masters of Agriculture”
Cornell University’s “History of the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center”
1994 Students of Bethpage High School’s “Native Americans“
Tags: Long Island
October 23rd, 2007 · 1 Comment
A few weeks ago, I noticed little holes in my brussel sprout plants and then cabbage plants. They were small holes. Until one day they were not small holes anymore. So as I was perusing some garden blogs, I came a across Marks Garden Desk’s Article, Organic Gardening Techniques Don’t Always Work and there I found my answer the what had been eating my planties. It’s those pesky pretty little cabbage worms. Thanks to Marc’s article, I knew they were able to hide in broad daylight. It seems their green color is an amazing camouflage and makes them hard to spot even though they are sitting right in front of you, just hangin on the leaf.
So upon my investigation and my new found knowledge of how to spot them, I went hunting. Boy did I find loads of them, and I don’t have that big of a garden. I was amazed at how many there were.
Well, not that amazed, considering the amount of my plants they had eaten, bastards.
But I could not bring myself to kill the little suckers. They were just too damn cute. So I walked over to my backyard fence and tossed em into the parking lot (near the LIE service road) to fend for themselves. Let’s see how long it takes until they make their way back in. If they do, watch out! They will get a good stomping.
Oh, I could just use BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), which is used by organic gardeners. I used it once to get rid of Colorodo Potato Beetles on my crop of Potatoes last year. It worked good.
Followup: Well, its two days after my initial cabbage worm investigation and each day I have pulled more cabbage worms off of the kale, brussel sprouts, and cabbage. There were not nearly as many as my first findings, but I hear they grow fast and eat a lot. They are ruining my crops. Well, hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with them. I have yet to kill one. I can’t say the same about the fruit flys in my house though. There was a massacre this afternoon.