A giveaway and a jumpstart to our spring planting

One of the benefits of being a GreenThumb garden is getting support to help us farm better. A big part of that support is free materials, and most of our planting committee went out to East New York Farms this Saturday for a GreenThumb-sponsored plant giveaway. The event was very organized, with each registered garden receiving a number when they checked in and one person for each garden entering to pick out a tray of seedlings and native perennials. We chatted up a bunch of fellow gardeners while we waited for our numbers, sharing resources and contact info for further networking.

It was great for us to see such a large, well-run farm that hosts a weekly market during the summer, featuring local gardeners and vendors. While East New York is the neighborhood with the least grocery stores per capita in the city, they also have the most community gardens, in large part due to the stewardship of East New York Farms. Running three urban farms and one community garden themselves, the organization additionally provides support for over 60 gardens in the neighborhood.

 

Back in our little plot, we set to work planting up the beds, currently carpeted with a yellow-green dusting from our resident tree’s blooms. With the late start to spring, we’ve been a little slow out of the gate, so this was a good opportunity to jumpstart our planting. We picked up cucumbers, butternut squash, hot and sweet peppers, parsley, and traded out some tomatoes for eggplant with another farm. (Don’t worry, we have plenty of tomatoes coming — members of the Windsor Terrace Food Coop should look out next weekend for our surplus seedlings.) The Brussels sprouts that survived the winter have since gone to seed, which we are leaving until we are ready to plant in that bed, since they are so popular with the bees.

 

More to come soon as we continue planting out our beds!

Planning for this year’s spring plantings

Brooklyn is getting another round of snow today, but last weekend our Planting Committee met to put together a plan for our spring planting — this year going so far as to plot out not just locations as usual but also specific timing of when we’ll sow seeds or transplant seedlings started at home. Taking a look at the mostly empty beds, it’s hard to believe in a few months this space will be alive again.

But there is already signs of life around the farm.We have been puzzling over some mystery grass in a raised bed that might be wheatgrass. We had some Brussels sprouts up on the hill that made it through the winter, but now we’ll have to see if they make it through this snow! 😬 We’re guessing that Hellebore “Snow Love” should do just fine.

 

Tree pruning and first signs of spring

Recently Tom A and Jo went to an espalier fruit tree pruning workshop held by GreenThumb at the Know Waste Lands garden in Bushwick. We have a few pluot and apple trees that we’ve been neglecting, as none of our farm members have brought knowledge of pruning fruit trees. This was a perfect opportunity to gain both the skills and confidence — as well as supplies: they won a pair of pruners in the raffle! All of this was immediately put to use on the first balmy day of the year yet (a record-breaking 78º across the city).

Though the temps have dropped back to normal ranges, we are seeing bulbs start to come up, oregano coming back, and even some white blooms.

(pictures from Jo, Sarah, and the GreenThumb)

Notes from our Annual Member Meeting

We gathered for the first time in 2018 for our Annual Member Meeting, a chance to discuss reports from the previous year, give input on how the 2017 growing season went, and plan for the year ahead.

Among the positives: Great crops, especially cucumbers (we harvested over 70 pounds this summer!) and eggplant, with more variety in the crops overall; we built two new raised beds; our pest control committee was established; and we had two successful events.

The negatives: the floundering of a plan to sell herbs at the Windsor Terrace Food Coop, tomato blight, and mosquitos.

For this year, we plan to plant and prune wisely to avoid the blight, hopefully pinpoint a few members who can focus solely on the herb project, organize a school apprenticeship program, and work on improving our sidewalk strip.

If you wanted to come to the meeting and missed it — no worries. There will be plenty more chances to get involved! We’ll have a spring clean-up and member orientation on Saturday, March 17th, starting at 10am. Once the weather improves, we will reestablish our regular Saturday collaborative work time.

We’ve also already set the date for our Earth Day event: Saturday, April 21st. More details to follow!

Come be a part of Prospect Farm in 2018

While new members are welcome at any point in the year, we’re having our annual meeting for current and prospective members next month. This is a great opportunity for new members to learn more about the farm and meet most of the people involved.

Sunday, February 18, 2018
4–6pm 30 Ocean Parkway

On the agenda: reports from 2017, planning for 2018, election of board members, and discussion of new initiatives.

We’ll be meeting in the basement “community room” of 30 Ocean Parkway (between E 7th and Sherman Sts). Enter the lobby and take the elevator down. There will be signs posted to guide you.

Light snacks and drinks will be provided by our members.

If you have any questions, please email prospectfarmbk@gmail.com.

Happy New Year from Prospect Farm

We are seeing 2017 out with frigid temperatures and more snow! As the farm is settles into its winter hibernation, most of our work is composting and shoveling. We’ve had to cancel a couple Saturday compost drop-offs so far due to inclement weather. Our dedicated composters should check our home page or Facebook page for updates when the weather looks bad.

We’ll start planning soon for the 2018 growing season. Best wishes to all!

Temperatures are dropping, we’re still going

The temperatures have dropped a little as we’ve moved into September, but the farm is still going strong with peppers aplenty, okra still blooming, and the kale getting ever taller as we harvest it. We still have one more watermelon to ripen, and the seedlings in the new bed are coming along just nicely. But we are thinking about the coming end of the season, so there are some specimens tagged for seed collection.

We’re also seeing some of our plants wind down — including the cucumbers, which looked too sad to photograph. Also there is evidence of a lot of pests and afflictions, including the tomato plants which continue to succumb to blight, nasturtiums covered in aphids and surrounded by morning glory, as well as pepper leaves pocked from some unknown nuisance.

But this is all part of the growing experience. And since not all insects are problems, let’s leave with this bee pollinating away on these flowers:

Bee in action

Moving into late summer at the farm

In the last few weeks, we’ve been getting ripe tomatoes, green beans, and ever more cucumbers and kale. Our eggplants and peppers and still heartily producing as well. It’s been a great growing season so far, and we’ve already planted some crops for fall in one of our new raised beds — beets, carrots, radishes, and more greens to come! We lost some tomato plants to blight, but luckily our new-this-year pest committee, also known as the Aphid Avengers, have been on the case, and we hope we won’t lose too many more plants.

Harvesting is becoming more colorful

Our first tomatoes are ripening, eggplants are getting big, and the couple of okra that were small a few days ago suddenly were gigantic. Plus we’re going to have so many hot peppers. It looks like it’s going to be a very productive year at the farm, and our harvest piles on the table are becoming more varied — not just green veggies now!

We’re trying to get better at succession planting so we pulled up some bolted arugula and lettuces too tall to stand upright, as well as what was left of the snap peas and put in some brussels sprouts for a fall harvest. We also got soil for the new beds this week and are planning what to put in there — probably some root veggies to make use of the deep, rich soil!

Late-July harvest status at the farm

It’s been hot and humid without a lot of rain, so we’ve been working hard to keep up with plenty of watering. We are just starting to get some ripe tomatoes with so many more to come, though some tomato leaves have started to turn yellow — our pest committee is investigating as a possible attack. There are so many cucumbers, I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of any of them hiding in and around the fence. The okra is the one plant loving this weather, and it never seems to look wilted. The watermelon in the straw bale is doing great, though we weren’t sure how to tell when to harvest them. The seed packet indicated they were ready when the underside turns yellow, so we picked our first one based on that tip. Unfortunately it wasn’t ripe yet! But we have another one far along on the vine (and more little babies), and I did a search for recipes to make use of underripe watermelon. More to come on that topic!