Monthly Archives: March 2022

Spring Planting at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm

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If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that good health is everything, and here on the farm I have been focusing (in between cocktails) on immune-boosting foods. I was raised in London and, growing up, ate a lot of curry. It was this dish that I continually cooked throughout this past winter – developing sauce recipes from scratch – that helped stop us from getting sick. My recipe will be in the upcoming print version of Upstate Dispatch. My people, whenever they felt a cold coming would cook up a strong curry: the hot peppers, coriander, ginger, cumin, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and turmeric, all of which I am now growing on the farm, so that we will have an endless supply this year. I’m calling it pandemic PTSD because I don’t usually do themes. Corny alliteration, yes, but not themes. Last fall, I planted 200 cloves of garlic and they are just now sprouting.

Ginger, a miracle root, grows wild in the Catskills, but I have never foraged it. Grated, raw ginger can also be soaked overnight in juice for a morning pick-me-up, and put into cocktails. You can harvest the root while it’s still growing in pots in your house. If you’re feeling run down, peel and chop one cup of ginger; boil it in a large saucepan full of water until the water goes brown; strain out the ginger and let the water cool to a drinkable temperature; drink the water. In previous years, I’ve bought ginger from Straight Out Of The Ground in Roxbury, and now there is a company here that cultivates the wild plants of the Catskills called Barkaboom Native Plants. You will also find them at the Pakatan Farmers’ Market that begins its season on May 14th, 2022.

Black cumin seed, like turmeric root, is used in Ayurvedic cooking and considered a medicinal herb, but this plant likes warm weather. It is grown in the Mediterranean and beyond. It may not make it here on the farm where winter is six months long, and if so, it will be going in pots on the radiator by a window along with the turmeric. Alan White of Two Stones Farm told me to plant whatever grows well on your land and swap with your neighbors, so we’ll also be planting roots, tubers and all manner of greens.

Growing mushrooms is more complicated. I will be inoculating a tree with mushroom plugs after the last frost. And once the ramps come up, I’ll be transplanting some of them in wetlands closer to the forest. More on that later.

Daily Catskills: 03/22/22

Dry with gusty winds, 43F at noon and a special weather alert for high winds. A burn ban is in effect until May 14th. Mostly clear skies with gauzy cloud turning thicker by sunset, and a high of 55F in the Dry Brook Valley. Garlic sprouting on the farm.

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Maple Weekend 2022

This weekend Saturday and Sunday, March 26th and 27th will be the second and final “Maple Weekend” across New York State, sponsored by New York State Maple Producers’ Association. Sap houses across New York State will open their doors to visitors, who will be able to watch the sap boiling into sugar and learn about New York’s maple sugar making processes. Here in Rider Hollow we have Tree Juice Maple Syrup who will be participating from 10am to 4pm on both days (251 Rider Hollow Road, Arkville, NY). It’s up to the weather as to whether the sap will be flowing and boiling, but there will be syrup to taste and buy.

It’s been a learning process since Upstate Dispatch moved to Rider Hollow in July 2021 and I learnt how to tap maple trees in one of the worst winters ever (2020/2021): read my account here. Syrup production is such an involved process and reliant on the optimum temperatures.

More facts about maple syrup:

– no artificial colouring, flavouring, preservatives or additives
– same calcium concentration as milk
– contains folic acid, biotin and niacin, which convert proteins and sugars to energy
– virtually sodium-free
– encourages growth and production of red blood cells
– has no fat and no proteins and is a good source of calcium, iron and thiamin

Buy local sugar.

Daily Catskills: 03/21/22

Brilliant sunshine with clouds getting lost in the vast expanse of light blue like chunks of cotton wool. A high of 46F and a low of 30F, with high winds of 30 mph making it even chillier. A first spring dip into the stream this year for the Alfie, the Black Lab.

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Daily Catskills: 03/20/22 Spring Equinox

The first day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox, with equal duration of day and night, begins on a gloomy note in the Dry Brook Valley. A 47F high at 10am, humid and overcast. Rivers cascade loudly with the rain of the last few days, and a rare pussy willow produces fuzzy grey catkins on the banks of Rider Hollow Creek, a symbol of hope in an uncertain world. Nature will continue when she feels like it. It feels safe in the wild forest.

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