welcome, and thank you for joining me on my farm and studio in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the latest arrivals to the farm

Why, now, what could possibly be in this box?
Too small for lambs, not enough ventilation for chicks, I already have every kind of bee I need or want.

How about...


A pound of red wigglers, to be exact.

These guys are used in something called vermicomposting, where you have worms, bedding such as shredded newspaper or dead leaves, and kitchen waste. Add a little water and some time, and you get beautiful compost for your garden. Some folks keep them in a ventilated plastic rubbermaid tote bin under their kitchen sink. Mine are temporarily in a bin, but in the garage. Long-term, I'd like to build them a wooden box that could be kept outside in the summer and either in the garage or the greenhouse in the winter, but more research is needed before box construction can begin. I'd like to design it in such a way that it's easy to remove the finished compost without disturbing the whole works.

How did I happen upon vermicomposting? In a slightly convoluted way as things often are. I was surfing around he net, looking at what some other market gardeners are doing and growing and became intrigued by the possibility of growing fraises des bois, gourmet alpine strawberries. Searching further brought me to The Strawberry Store. And there I learned about the worms.

From what I understand, a "tea" can be made from the vermicompost which is then sprayed on plants. Multiple benefits are touted from this concoction. It should be an interesting process, from worms and waste to improved plant health and vigor.

I'll keep you posted.

(and yes, I also ordered fraises des bois seeds)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

garlic pesto

There is an overabundance of garlic scapes hereabouts. I've roasted them with potatoes, sauteed them with vegetables and taken them to market, but still I'm inundated. Then, I came across this recipe. Or more accurately, a recipe very similar to this one but with a couple of changes.

Anyway, if you like garlic, give this recipe a whirl. This stuff is good on crackers as well as linguine.

And by the way, the season for scapes is almost over. If you'd like to try this before next year, you gotta hurry!

Garlic Pesto
This pesto keeps very well, covered and chilled up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 months.
1/2 pound garlic scapes (about 
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly shredded pecorino cheese or other hard sheep's milk cheese
Trim and discard garlic bud. Finely chop garlic scapes, rinse thoroughly and pat or spin dry.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook vegetable oil, garlic scapes, and 1/2 tsp. salt until soft, about 3 minutes. Let cool to warm room temperature.
In a blender or food processor, pulse pine nuts to chop. Set aside. Add garlic scapes and process, scraping down sides as necessary, until bright green and smooth. With motor running, drizzle in olive oil. Pulse in reserved pine nuts and cheese. Taste and add more salt if you like.
Makes enough Garlic Pesto to coat 1 pound linguine.

Monday, June 21, 2010

making a tough choice

After giving it serious thought, I've decided to bail on the Willow Street Growers Market. I feel bad about it, I really do, but there simply aren't enough customers. I would harvest in the morning, and then spend the better part of the day at market, only to see so few customers and correspondingly few sales, then bring most of the produce home to throw on the compost pile. Sadly, it's been a waste of time and resources. However, an upside to quitting Willow Street is that it frees up almost an entire day. A day that can be spent getting the garden into better shape - weeding, planting, mulching and trellising. A day that can be spent making art. So it's all good. And of course, I'll still be at Lancaster's Eastern Market on Saturdays from 9-2. If you're in the neighborhood, stop in and say hello!

Friday, June 11, 2010

this week's market offerings


salad greens



white, red, and golden beets

braising mix

cut flowers

diva cucumbers

rose gold potatoes

garlic scapes

romaine, leaf, and buttercrunch lettuces

summer squash

pac choi

potted herbs

sungold tomatoes



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

fresh roasted vegetables

golden beets, rose gold potatoes, garlic scapes, patty pan squash, rosemary, sungold tomatoes, and zephyr squash.

What started as a desire to try some of the fresh garlic scapes from the garden turned into a full-blown meal of fresh roasted vegetables. Scapes are seriously seasonal and available only for a short time in late spring/early summer - now, so if you want to try some, you gotta find them soon. Wanting to allow the flavor of each vegetable to come through while still working together as a whole, I decided to roast them. Or, at least finish by roasting them. Here's how...

Take a small handful of scapes and some young beets, cut them all into bite-sized pieces and toss in a bowl with some sea salt, a pinch of pepper, and enough olive oil to coat. Spread out on a shallow pan and put them in a 350° oven to roast for about a half hour (I like golden or albino beets for this since they won't turn everything red). As they're roasting, cut up some new potatoes into one inch chunks and boil them until barely done. (Or better yet, use baby potatoes and boil them whole.) As that's happening, heat olive oil in a skillet, slice up some young summer squash about a quarter inch thick, and saute them with a little salt for about 4 minutes until golden brown but also barely done. You don't want to overcook either the potatoes or the squash since they are both now going to be added to the roasting pan along with a handful of cherry tomatoes and a couple teaspoons of minced rosemary. Toss everyone together in the pan, making sure to get everybody coated with olive oil. Roast for just a few minutes more to meld the flavors and finish cooking. Whatever you do, don't overcook the veggies because that's just disgusting.

Yes, several of these things are early, but with the greenhouse, I'm able to get a jump on the season. Of course, other fresh vegetables would also work. Use what's available to you. For instance, I think scapes and asparagus would be great roasted together, maybe served warm on a bed of spinach with a little vinaigrette.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

please allow me to clarify... acceptance

I never meant to sound complaining in that last post. Perhaps rather than "resigned", the word I should have used was "acceptance". It's a bit like giving myself permission to relax a little about self-imposed schedules and expectations. Okay, so the new plot looks like a golf course with it's lovely inch-high cover of crab grass, interspersed with orderly rows of crops. On the upside, when the kale was harvested yesterday, it was very clean due to it's crab grass carpet. And while the mulching and weeding will all get done eventually, things may look a little rough in the meantime. The farm might not look picture-perfect, weedless, and pristine this week, month, or even year, but that is my eventual goal. It's the image I keep in my head and the filter through which I see things when looking around. A place of production and beauty. Rich, healthy soil brimming with nutrients, teeming with life, bringing forth healthy food, while being lovely to look at. That's where I want this to go. Eventually. In the meantime, I'm accepting that not everything will get done and it won't always look nice. But - the food is healthy, the work is good, and this is where I want to be.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Planting, weeding, mulching, pruning, trellising, harvesting, marketing. Repeat endlessly.

I. will. never. be caught up.

Resigning myself to that, I now feel better.