Monday, April 27, 2009


There's a new online service that's very much like Freecycle, except for produce. (If you haven't heard of Freecycle, it's fabulous when spring cleaning.)

Veggie Trader was inspired by a lemon tree that didn't get picked. People with fruit, veggies, nuts, etc., that they can't or know they won't use, can list it on Veggie Trader, sell it, give it away, or trade it for something they will use. Their hope is that the service will help us all use our collective resources better.

Have two cabbages and no potatoes? You know what to do.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gardening in a Small Space

If you want to grown your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs, you can find a way! Many people use their windowsills (inside and out) for small plants and herbs, ask their landlord or condo association if they can garden in a patch of shared land, or join community gardens. You don't have to live on a farm, or even have a yard to grow food!

This picture is my friend Bob planting in a tree well in the West Village of Manhattan.

There are plants that do better in containers, and in windows, just as there are plants that do better in this climate than in Florida. Do your research, and you can easily grow some of your own food.

Composting Weeds

Have you ever tried drowning your weeds?

I have sent them off with the garbage before, and felt bad that I was contributing to landfills. Past years I've mostly pulled weeds and thrown them on the blacktop to bake, before composting them. But I'm worried this actually dries the seeds and preps them to be spread far and wide by the wind. This year, I'm trying drowning my weeds, then adding them to the compost. Rumor has is that the "tea" the rotting weeds create is actually good fertilizer.

Does anyone have any experience with this they can share?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

3 Easy & Essential Herbs

Mint, parsley, and chives are all perennials, meaning they come back every year by themselves. All three look great in your garden (I put them in flower gardens and they control weeds). All three dry and freeze well, and all three make your food much more fabulous. All three grow well in pots.

First, chives. Aren't those flowers gorgeous? Chives were among the first plants in my yard to come up this spring, and they're almost ready to blossom already. To use, cut chives off at the base, and they will continue producing new shoots all spring, summer, and fall. For winter, cut as much as you can, tie them in bunches with string, and hang them in a dry place. Once dry, store in a brown paper bag or baggie in a drawer and use all winter long.

Chives are milder than onion and garlic, and often useful for those who have trouble with spicy foods. Also, kids love them. When I was small, I enjoyed cutting my own out of the garden and cutting them up over food with scissors. Chives are delicious, just ask French cooks!Parsley is key for potato salad, tabouleh (my fave!), stuffing, and good breath! I love parsley so much that put I it in salads and sandwiches. When I first realized how tasty it was, I was horrified that it was so commonly used as a garnish that people don't eat.

Parsley is available at all times in my garden, except when there's snow on the ground. It's that hearty. It's more abundant in summer, but it's there year-round. Plant parsley close to tomato plants to keep pests away. That's it. You don't have to do anything for it once it's established, but this plant keeps giving and giving. (Now we just have to wait for ripe tomato season....)Mints are the queens of herbs. There are zillions of different kinds (chocolate mint, lemon mint, apple mint, ginger mint). There are as many flavors of mint as there are martinis these days! I grow the basics: peppermint, spearmint, and, because I have cats, catmint. Mint calms your stomach by aiding digestion.

I put it in all kinds of food to add zing, but my favorite use for mint is suntea. Stick several sprigs of your favorite mint in a glass jar, cover with water, and let sit in the sun for an hour or so. Chill and drink.

Mint spreads, and some people consider it invasive. I think there's no such thing as too much mint, but you might not want to plant it near delicate plants. You can skip the worry of mint spreading by planting it in a pot. If you put the pot somewhere where it's protected from northern winds in the winter, the mint plants are hearty enough that they will still come back on their own next year.

The drying methods for mint and parsley are the same as chives. Once dry, you can crush and keep the leaves and discard the stems.

You know that by "discard" I mean COMPOST, right?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eat Your Weeds

The whole world, including the internet, seems to be covered in garlic mustard right now. While most hardy perennials are just starting to peep out, huge mounds of garlic mustard appear overnight. There are plenty of warnings and alarms about how evil this plant is, how invasive, how it could potentially ruin forests. I tend to get kind of excited about having wild ginger, as it's also called, growing outside my door.

Garlic mustard is edible, and that's why it was introduced here in the first place. I like the approach of keeping these weeds in control by eating them. It's spicy, like horseradish root.The roots are long, but thin, and can be prepared just like horseradish. A lot of people seem to make pesto out of the leaves and roots. And I'm finding the huge roots useful for adding flavor (and good bacteria) to my nuka pickling bed.

Garlic mustard is plentiful during these spring rains, so weed and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

wintergreens Accepts Food Stamps

Today is officially a good day, since we officially became eligible to receive Food Stamps. The federal food stamp program is now called S.N.A.P. (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and will require a different payment schedule than listed here on the wintergreens site. If you are a part of the SNAP program and you'd like to participate in wintergreens CSA, just contact us and we'll set it up!

We expect to work with area farms and help them move toward accepting SNAP too.

If you don't know whether you're eligible or not, check the Hunger Action Network. (One in every five New Yorkers is eligible!)

Oh, it's a jolly, well-fed day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cool Weather Lettuce

True to April style, the weather is still very temperamental: sunny in the morning, pouring rain in the evening, gorgeous and warm one day and freezing the next. It's a terrible time to have to pack a suitcase, but the perfect time to grow lettuce! Lettuce gets bitter when the weather is warm, and goes to seed easily. It's fantastic to grow when the temperature's too moody for summer plants, and again after warm weather veggies have quit. (In between, you can grow lettuce in containers that you keep in a cooler, shady spot.)

Leaf lettuces are generally easier to grow than head lettuces, but experiment with those you like! I'm a sucker for lots of Asian greens, so am planting lots of those. Turn your windowsill into a salad bar!

If you're like me, you'll drop too many seeds too close together. If so, don't feel bad about thinning—it's an absolute must to give the plants enough room. Make sure to give your seedlings plenty of water, and you'll be picking leaves in as soon as three weeks. If you pull an entire head, plant another seed in that spot.

Daffodils today, lettuce tomorrow. Next up, peas!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Planting Trees

Planting trees as a community is an idea that is taking off around the world. From the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and her Green Belt Movement in Kenya, to American Forests, to much smaller projects, like Trees for Tribs in the Hudson Valley.
These projects focus on trees for shade, for fuel, for beautification, and for creating oxygen and preventing soil erosion. There are also a lot of groups focused on trees that provide food to communities. In many places, fruit from trees is not used, while members of that same community go hungry. Groups like Fallen Fruit and Iskash*taa work to bring people's attention to the food readily available where they live, and access to it. Mulberries and black walnuts are two commonly occurring local trees producing wonderful free food which is rarely harvested.
I'd add "food" to this list!

There are many fruit and nut trees that grow well in the Beacon area: plums, apples, pears, cherries, mulberries, black walnuts, and more. wintergreens hopes to partner with the City of Beacon to plant some food-producing trees on public land. Maybe delicious pawpaws!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Price of Great Food

Everybody knows that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out. What people don't always realize is that often cooking at home produces better food, more suited to your tastes, too.

It's a similar situation with local foods. They're cheaper because there has been no transportation and often no packaging, and they taste better because they're fresher, and harvested in season.

That said, you'd be nuts to not join wintergreens, and keep the local eating going all year long! We're focused on our community, and making sure that everyone has access to great food. After all, we're neighbors, and we're all in this crazy economic crash together.

Prices for the 2009-2010 season are:
  • $315 for a GOOD SEED share
  • $240 for a regular share
  • $75 for a GOOD SEED donation
Share fees are due prior to the start of the distribution season. If you cannot pay in advance, please contact us at to make an alternative arrangement. We accept food stamps.

A share comes to $20 per distribution. A Good Seeds share is only a few dollars more per distribution. If you are able to be one of our Good Seeds, please consider doing so. wintergreens will use these funds to help subsidize shares for those in Beacon who cannot afford them.

Good Seeds will be honored in various ways: businesses will be thanked on our website and at our events, individuals will receive extras in their distribution when available. Everyone will have the peace of mind of knowing our community will be well fed all winter long.

**To pay with food stamps/SNAP, contact us:

Shareholder Contract

This is the shareholder's contract for the 2009-2010 season.

1) By becoming a shareholder in wintergreens C.S.A., I understand that I will be receiving fresh, dried, fermented, root cellared and frozen produce 12 times during the winter season, twice monthly from November through April. I understand that the content of that share is variable based on the availability of crops in the area.

2) I understand that my share is made up of fruits, vegetables, and grains, produced by local small farmers in a sustainable manner. It will not include animal products.

3) I understand that I must pick up my share during the designated distribution period. Someone can pick up my share for me if I've alerted wintergreens in advance of distribution day. (Give your input on the best distribution location for you, here.)

4) I understand that being a wintergreens shareholder means that my share dollars are going directly to local small farmers, and give me the opportunity to participate in wintergreens events and educational programs. I understand that my membership does not require me to participate in said programs or events.

5) I understand that I'm about to experience my best winter of eating yet!

Please print out this page, sign, and include with your membership check.



Printed name:__________________________________________________

Contact info (email, phone, address):__________________________



Saturday, April 4, 2009

How [not] to Compost

I spent part of yesterday shoveling compost at the Sharpe Reservation, which is a camp for city kids run by the Fresh Air Fund. Kids get an introduction to the natural world, some of the things it has to offer (like maple syrup), and what people can offer back (compost!). Compost is an easy way of reducing the trash you create in your life, and enriching soils.
It's fabulous that these kids are getting a taste of these concepts. However, using the finished compost offered some reminders of what is and what isn't organic. Here are some things I found that can skip the compost collection next time: metal flatware, plastic flatware, plastic bags, an intact french fry, ketchup packets, and swimming goggles.

I now understand a little of what it must be like to be an archeologist. Here's a guide on good things to put in your compost.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Artsy Seeds

I don't know the people behind the Hudson Valley Seed Library, but I can tell already that I'm going to like them. Not only are they bringing back the lost art of seed saving, they're going about it in an aesthetically pleasing way! HVSL asked local artists to design some of their seed packs, and the results are fantastic. Inside these beautiful packs are locally grown seed. What that means to you is that the plants are perfectly adapted to the Hudson Valley, they were saved by your neighbors, you can produce heirloom varieties in your own garden, and you can return some seeds so that someone else can grow those varieties next year. That's what living in a growing community is all about!

Cool Weather Radishes

If you're like me, and can't wait until after Mother's Day to plant your garden, radishes are a good bet. Soil temperatures only have to be 40 degrees in order for them to succeed.In that same "impatience" vein, radishes are a great choice for gardening with children! They sprout in as little as five days, and are ready for harvesting in as little as 25 days. These lovelies are french breakfast radishes. In the still chilly spring weather, I sped things along by heating up the planting area with victorian bells. You can do the same thing by putting a sheet of clear plastic over the plant bed, and weighting it down with rocks until you have sprouts.