Saturday, December 19, 2009

I can read

No really I have time to read books, not just the New Times and Blogs, but real books.
The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller M.D, this book started out like about 8 others I have read about the topic of food, but it is so well written and looks at such interesting cultures. Like the Tarahumara Indians of the the Copper Canyon. These native people of Mexico are so cool, as also in Born to Run by local runner Christopher McDougall. The book that lit a fire under my ass and got me running again. I did not read it by played it in the car, I am one of those people that does not count that as reading.
I also finished The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine, by Steven Rinella. I am also looking forward to his new book on American Bison. I told my Buddy Steve that I want to come out west and a Kill a bison with a spear on horse back. He said that sounds great and he can't wait to come to my funeral.
The last book I just finished was Fat of the Land by Langdon Cook. Just a awesome book about finding your own food in the woods. This was my favorite of the lot, A wonderful read about eating his way thru the coast of Oregon. I really have to do more fishing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ramp it up.

Great crop this year over 1.7 pounds of seed.

You may think that I am only a farmer here at happy cat, but you may have also noticed that I have a tendency to always be out foraging for edible plants. I am not much of a killer, so you won’t find me out there clubbing chipmunks over their little heads. But if someone where to wrap one of those little suckers in bacon and stuff it like a squash blossom? Maybe.

I grow up in the woods and I was always eating things that I found. My parents got me Euell Gibbons books when I was like ten.

So when I found my secret ramp stand I almost fell over, it is the size of 3-football field.

If I harvested all the ramps at once I would be taking Arugula to market in an Enzo Ferrari, for real.

Ramps Allium tricoccum are a native edible plant that is foraged for it’s wonderful spring bulb and leaves. Ramps grown from seed germinate in 6 to 18 months. 6 if the fall is warm and 18 if not. This year I am putting the ones I potted up into cold frames to get them some fall heat, hope I can get the 6 month window, but if not, cool gardening is all about patience.

What’s that? Patience, it is not being an over entitled self-centered prick, and boy the patience team could use some serious help.

Check out my Local Harvest Store it if you would like to buy some, or just ask me at the Kennett Square Farmers Market, I probably have some in the bottom of my pocket. You will not find them on our website, but be on the look out for a new web page in the near future, that will blow you mind.

Just be patient.

p.s. I got Lyme Disease out crawling around collecting these seeds and felt like something from a Hieronymus Bosch Painting for days and could not drink beer for a month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

where have all the tomatoes gone?

Me stealing Amy Goldman's thunder at the Terrain Heirloom Tomato Fest, Just kidding we had a great day and it was wonderful meeting Amy and talking to her about her books. I lectured about seed saving.
Chef Dave Berg of the Styer's Cafe @ Terrain is an amazing chef, he used 30 #'s of black krims and Tim's Black Ruffles (gay name and all) to make tomato water to poach this fish in. BOOM.

Above all things I am a tomato farmer.

That is a big statement; I am a lot of things (some good, some bad) we just don’t grow tomatoes we live tomatoes. This year we started with 174 varieties of love apples from seed. Seeds that we saved from the year before, seed that we sell and also turn into tomato plants, 20,000 of them this year, and we sold almost everyone of them. We also planted somewhere north of 1000 plants. So with some quick math, I figure I am responsible for close to 100,000 plants hitting the ground this year. Most years that makes me feel great, but this year, OUCH!

Have you ever heard of the Irish Potato Famine? The Irish feel in love with the easy to grow tuber, but the problem was that they only grow one type of potato, The Lumper, I still grow this one today, and it is a great potato. But an entire country growing on type of anything is a bad thing. (Think Kansas, 99% of all corn in this country comes from 3 kernels of corn) Biodiversity anyone.

Maybe it is my own fault, when I had my planting party we put 660 plants in my one field. I told my bubby Jacob, I think I am going back out and plant 6 more, you know just to keep farming evil.

Bad karma.

So maybe it was a large grower how sold sick plants to a national chain on a year with a wet and cold spring, that’s sounds pretty evil, right?

We started cut plants out of the fields in mid July, when I should of started to harvest the first cherry tomatoes, to date we have lost about 100 plants of the 1200+ we have put in, the others, well they look like shit. Some of the varieties don’t even look like them selves this year, shape and colors are off, it kills me.

So what happens now, well you pay more for tomatoes. You eat fewer tomatoes. We could be in a 5 years cycle of this weather. (I will move)

So please go the your local farmers market or road side stand and hug your farmer, they could use it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This is where it all begins.

We slept in late, I am on vacation, then we went to Blue Hill to a great place for lunch. It is the sister restaurant of Cleonice called Table a Farmhouse Bistro. O my God. I had the Ploughman's Lunch (thought that was fitting for a busman's holiday) The Mackerel pate was out of this world.

This is where is all began.
After lunch we head to the 'Good Life Center' Helen and Scott Nearing place on the Maine Coast on cape Rosier. For me this is a true pilgrimage I read the Good Life when I was just 17 and was hell bent moving back to the land.

Hand built walled organic veg garden.
Helen and Scott's home that they made by hand.
Then we went to see uncle Elliot. Elliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, have changed my life more than any other persons I can think of. From there TV show 'Gardening Naturally' to the many books and lectures. We visited Four Season Farm
Elliot's wonderful 10 acres of organic greatness.  Sheer Mecca.

This is hard to see, but it is a wooden fist raised in defiance. What else can I say.

Eating local in Maine

Wow, the bounty of the Maine coast in summertime is amazing. The season is so short that everything seems to come to life at the same time. Peas and new potatoes grow next to the first cherry tomatoes. We toured a great farm yesterday, darthia farm was really great and I saw a porcupine in the tomato patch, I never saw that before. But Maine in the summer is really about foraging for me, and man the hunting has been good.
                                               Clams are everywhere, just make sure your cove or bay is not over raked and claming is banned. I had to walk along the coast until I got to the next township (about a mile) to rake them.
                                             Oysters are everywhere, wait for the tide to go out and walk out to the kelp covered rocks and boom.
Snails, they are on every rock and just cover the beach. They are called wrinkles here and if you get a chance you should eat at. Cleonice
I ate there last night and it was really really good, that and Elliot Coleman of Four Season Farm produce in on the menu. Maybe because I Elliot has been God like to me for decades (just look at his hair.)
The Chanterelle's are insane, they are just covering the ground. Slice and fried with some browned butter, then in go the local eggs and it makes a great side dish for our fresh foraged blueberry buckwheat pancakes
If you feel down up here (or down east ?) chances are you would end up with a blueberry in your mouth.
The last cool thing I found where these coastal cranberries, just about as sour as sour gets, but I wish they where growing outside my house.
Word from Pa. is that the farm is doing well and Late blight is not spreading. I miss the work and the landscape, but I did see a 65 acre farm with 4 greenhouses for 220,000 thats dollars, WHAT?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yo what's up haulms?

Today, man what a day, it has stopped raining every ten minutes, and the temp is in the high 70's and the Springfield like sky that would have made Homer happy. I have been digging new potatoes all day today. Making food is lots of hard work, so come and hang out at Kennett Squares Farm Market this Friday with me or Big D and Amy on Sunday at Headhouse. 
I love digging potatoes,  not grabbling them, but really digging them. I love potatoes because they have there own lexicon. Grabbling is the act of digging 'new potatoes' while not digging up the entire plant. so you dig in rob some new spuds and let the plant keep on keeping on. Haulms is the English term for the green above ground part of the potato and new potatoes, does not mean that I genetically modified them, it means (with most varieties) that when the Haulms flower you can dig the spuds and eat the best thing that comes out of the ground.
Also potatoes make me feel like a Hobbit, maybe because my feet are filthy, or my brain is sun baked. I love the hard work and smell of the soil and how every time you turn the soil and there is this mass of tubers and my 4 year old niece standing next to me yells every time, like she is opening a birthday present. 

Here are some of the prizes of the day. Starting in the upper left hand corner is a new one for me, it is called Inca's Gold. BOOM! this is a long season storing spud, but I lifted them now. The plants where about 4 feet tall and the root system is massive. The flesh is bright yellow and the skin is yellow with stripes of purple. The ones on the bottom is purple viking, this wonderful looking spud is pure white on the inside and purple and pink on the outside. This potato really needs a new marketing rep. it should be called purple haze or at least techno viking
The one in the upper right hand corner is Ozette. OK, so Spanish explores picked up this potato in Peru and took it with them as they traveled up the coast, they gave it to the Makah Indians in Washington State and some how it ends up in my dirty little hands.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

so long Mr. Jackson

I am not sure I want to farm in a world without
Odd little fellow, but just watch the video and enjoy.
Man that is a great song.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mache pit

So my buddy was in from Colorado this week and besides all the drinking and fishing, I gave them a farm tour,  My friend said he reads my blog and wanted to know why the punk rock farmer.
So here is the story.
It all started on a summer day while on summer break, and shopping with my mom I bought a cassette tape for my brand new Miami vice inspired tape deck, it was teal green with gray and orange buttons, Very cool.
When we got home I took my new Suicidal Tendencies tape to my bedroom and pugged it into my player. The tape started playing and I was never so scared in my life, so I turned it right off. It was pure evil and I needed to take it to the basement.
So life goes on and skate boards and punk rock filled days, then in 88 Youth of Today released Your not in this alone. The band was really in  Vegetarianism and Hare Krishnaism. In the liner notes they had info about PETA and books by Peter Singer. I read Animal Liberation and became a Vegetarian, we all go thru weak points in our lives. 
Back then Health Food stores were the only places that you could find Veg. food. Then I started running into organic veg.  
I started my own garden and tried every thing I read Elliot Coleman and then started working for Tim Stark of Echerton Farm. ( I think I was a hippie then, but I never stopped playing the Misfits and Minor Threat. )
I still skate, I still play punk rock and I still farm, some just more than others.
Tomato Tim
p.s. I just could not bring myself to post a picture of my devil lock hair cut.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


660 tomatoes in one hour and 45 minutes. Jacob wanted use to plant six more, just to keep farming evil. Big thank you to Claire, Cintra, Lyla, Jacob, Tim, Holly, Rob, Meg, Raph, Kara And Amy.  What great friends to come out and help us get our tomatoes in the ground, Finally. After we planted we retired to our place for some of Walt's fried chicken (banging) and some local beers and some chimney swifts

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I touched the BOSS.

WOW what a week, Tomatoes have really opened up a big world for me. 
Or southeastern Pa is becoming the next LA. I mean Sarah Reese is our gossip girl right? 
But last week I saw Danny Bonaduce at our plant sale in Chestnut Hill. 
Just watch that clip, I mean was the entire country on drugs? maybe I missed something.
Then I run into to Carson Kressley from Queer Eye, no real tomato connection, but what the F@#$.
I was going to add a link but the intro to Queer almost made me vomit.

So I am at the 110th Devon Horse show, or some horse shit like that, and I start talking to this redhead named Patty about organic heirlooms and the farm she has in Dirty Jers, Then I tell her about my 172 varieties of heirloom tomatoes I am growing, she ask me for a card, and one for her husband. so I get out 2 cards, and she is like, "you have to meet my husband" 
Yeah fucking Bruce Spingsteen. No shit, I gave him a card and shook his hand and talked to him.
He looked just like he does in this video, white 80's shirt thing goin on, not so much with bee bopping, but who has time for bee bopping any more.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Big out to Gayla

Thank You so much Allison and all my new Friends for a great day of selling plants and hanging out in such a great garden. The Spring Gardens.
I love Philly and all of its great spaces for people to grow. I able to trade some pepper plants for some really cool beans, but my spanish is shit, so I do not know much about them. But I will let you know.

   Next, if you have not been to the Chestnut Hill Garden Fest. You are missing out, not just great green vendors like the cat, but the Organic Mechanic . No he does not work on cars, he works on your soil, and as things are going, investing in your soil will have better returns then the stock market. It was a cool day, but the beers keep Mark and I warm. p.s thanks Amy and David for helping out.

The last shout out goes to Gayla of You Grow Girl, for her glowing post. The Happy Cat was very HAPPY. We went on a tour of Winterthur, had some good food at Sovana and then had Mexican ice cream. Thank you everyone. 
Well back to the dirt.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thats so Techno Viking

Motown philly going on.
3 red heads  (big D, Colleen and Amy) at the Head House
Market which started last Sunday.  When people ask me where this 
market is, I just tell motown philly is back again.  Boys to Men

                                                        What else can I say. 
Transplant season is in full swing. 
Don't miss the Tomato
Revolution at the Kennett Square 
Farmers Market this Friday! We will
also be at the Chestnut Hill Garden Fair
this Sunday. We have over 70 varieties of
tomato, pepper and eggplant. Oh yeah there
is a beer tent too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You grow girl is coming- shut up.

This weekend Gayla Trail will be at terrain , shut up. No for real Sat. and Sun. she will be lecturing and doing a class, so sign up soon.
I know Hillary thinks I have a man crush on Spencer, but Gayla gardens in a Joy Division t-shirt and has a tomato vine tattoo. I want a tomato vine tattoo. So check out you grow girl get inspired and come out to Terrain, Drink some Lancaster Brewing Co. beer and hear the great band Mason Porter on Sun.
oh yeah I am lecturing as well.
Maybe I will sharpie a tomato vine on my arm for the weekend.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My tomatoes are 3" tall and I am talking about them already

Always with the tomatoes!
I know I know, shut up already, but for real my tomato, the one I bred, not like that I used pollen. Tim's Black Ruffles, sorry it has such a shit name, but it was just a working name until I could come up with something to honor my Grandfather, but that did not get to happen. So Gary Isben has it at Tomatofest with pictures and he says it is one of his favorites. For me it's like writing a song for the clash. WOW.  Tim's Black Ruffles (I hate that name) is also on Laurel Garza site as one of her top desert island tomato plants. Maybe Black Death, or Darth tomatovader, I mean Tim's Black Ruffles it sounds like some weird pirate shirt.
Hopefully the Obama's won't mind the bad name, I sent them seeds for their garden on the west lawn. I even put in the intro letter the Jefferson quote, "The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to it's culture." I ended that Tim's Black Ruffles (shit name or not) was my service to country and culture. My friend Hillary told that sending things to the white house might just get me a 3 hour FBI interrogation, but chances are the Fed's will be coming around sometime anyway. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seed orders

Life is kind of funny, right? I mean look at the picture of those beans, Wow kind of awesome. A fantastic Pa German Red Lima that taste as good as it looks. I grow tons of these this year and added it to our seed catalog and put it on our website and our local harvest store. Nothing. Fine I will keep them all for myself. I could move into a cave and stare at these beans all day long. 
Wait till next year when no one buys my Hopi orange and blue lima beans. I can't wait. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mourn A Copia

Mourn a Copia

        Leave and travel well.

I just read that Copia, The American Center for Wine, Food and Arts has locked its Napa Valley doors and filed for chapter 11, but it was too debt burdened ($80 Million dollars) and the courts turned them down. FIN.

Maybe they should have been the center for wine, food and SUV, then big brother could have helped them out.

I have only been to Copia in spirit, but I loved what they where doing, not the $80 million of over spending, but all the education and wonderful information that came out of there.

I know organic Arugula is expensive, but 80 million is a big hole, I mean don’t you get to 40 mil and say, ”Maybe this stupid.”

At least you made a tomato, and a great one at that. So this year maybe I will make the COPIA tomato my tomato of the year. Copia was breed by Jeff Dawson the first garden manager of the Copia Center. It is a cross between Green Zebra and Striped Marvel, both awesome by themselves. This is a medium large to large fruited tomato with a taste that is full of abundance, or as one would say in Latin, “Copia”.

So this year I will rant and rave and jump up and down tell everyone about you and who great you were and maybe someone will be inspired and pick up the torch you burned and fill our hearts once again with abundance. VIVA COPIA.