THE YOUTH FARM at the High School for Public Service

NEWSLETTER Week of Sept. 29,


This week, despite plenty of delicious and special
produce coming off the farm, my brain is fully
occupied by the many tasks involved in preparing for
winter - and, the following season.

Each year, we take care to rotate our crops
(especially heavy feeders of Nitrogen like tomatoes
and Collards) from bed to bed. This helps to not
exhaust our soil or deplete certain beds of important
nutrients. Our apprentices have been trading off the
task of updating our "Row Log," recording exactly
which crops are in each bed. This Row Log becomes
an important tool over the winter as we crop plan for
the following season and decide where we'll place
everything in 2015.

We work on building and producing compost year-
round to increase the nutrient-rich organic matter
levels in our beds as well. It is very desirable to add
compost to beds in the fall: either "side-dressed"
(placed on top of the soil at the base of plants) or
incorporated at deeper levels. The compost can
further break-down over the winter, adding new
organic matter that will improve the health of the soil
and prepare it for production in the spring.

And, this time of year, we begin sowing "cover crops"
(also known as "green manures") in beds that are
finished growing veggie or flower crops for the
season. These cover crops are useful in more ways
than one. They literally cover the soil, protecting it
from harsh low winter temperatures, and from
compaction or erosion caused by wind, snow or rain.
They are like a warm blanket for the soil over winter
months. Cover crops also eventually become food for
the soil: 'winter-killed' cover crop will die back with a
hard frost (15 or lower), and turn into carbon-rich
organic matter. Winter Rye, Hairy Vetch and other
cover crops that can withstand freezing temps will
slow their growth in winter, then take off again in
spring, and once we have a 12" stand of green matter
we can turn that in to the soil -- a nice Nitrogen boost
to kickstart the healthy microbes and feed young
plants. Some cover crops - legumes like clovers,
alfalfa and vetch - enter into a symbiotic relationship
with certain fungi in the soil called Rhizobia. Rhizobia
will 'fix' Nitrogen in the soil - literally make more
So, we love cover crops. And we plan to cover 1/3 of
the farm in various cover crops between now and the
end of the month. We'll also be spreading compost,
mulching perennials, pulling out old crops, and
packing up for winter months. We hope you'll
consider coming out for one of our two remaining
Volunteer Days - this Saturday, Oct. 4th, and Oct.
18th. We'll be doing all of the above, and more!
Cheers to fall,

 Chard
 Cucumbers
 Dino Kale
 Eggplant
 Hot Pepper Medley
 Sage /Parsley
 Salad Mix
 Sweet Peppers
 Sweet Potatoes!
 Tomatillos
 Tomato Medley
 Napa Cabbage

 Ageratum
 Amaranth
 Cardinal Basil

THE YOUTH FARM at the High School for Public Service
NEWSLETTER Week of Sept. 29,

 Calendula
 Celosia
 Cosmos
 Euphorbia
 Gomphrena (purple & bi-color)
 Red Curly Kale
 Scabiosa
 Snapdragons
 Strawflower
 Sunflowers
 Thai Basil
 Tithonia
 Zinnias

FARM UPDATES by Wendy Wilkins
Fall (Autumn) has officially arrived and the
winding down of the growing season for the Youth
Farm has arrived as well. You begin to notice
changes in the weather (not that we had a
scorching hot summer); but the weather seems to
be getting cooler quicker later in the day, the wind
seem to have picked up particularly later in the
day; and, finally the loss of sunlight earlier as we
move from afternoon into evening. Noticing the
farm changes taking place you see which crops
produced abundantly in the warm weather and
those crops which are still producing but not as
much as the temperatures have cooled.
Unfortunately, you notice crops that did not
produce at all (Jelly Melon). Well, I guess that is
the nature of Mother Nature; there are no
guarantees. You put in your best and hope for the

Two stars this week…Tomatillos, Husk Cherries, and
Sweet Potatoes:
 Tomatillos are a fruit with a citrusy, sweet
flavor. Dainty paper husks encase the
tomatillos. Native to Mexico and
domesticated by the Aztecs around 800
b.c., tomatillos are one of our most ancient
Today, you can grow varieties of the same
two species the Aztecs grew. Physalis
ixocarpa is commonly sold in markets and
has large (up to 2 ½-inch-diameter) tart
green fruits, which ripen to pale yellow. P.
philadelphica produces sweeter, marble-
size purple fruits. This species is a common
field weed in Mexico. When growing
tomatillos select a spot in full, hot sun, with
well-drained, moderately rich soil.
Tomatillos are lighter feeders than
tomatoes, and while they are tough, semi
wild plants, they do not fare well in soggy,
poorly drained soil. Work a couple of inches
of compost into the soil before planting,
and fork deeply to improve drainage. Raised
beds work great for tomatillos in gardens
with heavy clay soil.
When planting tomatillos start indoors six
to eight weeks before your frost-free date.
Harden off indoor-started plants before
transplanting outdoors. Set out at the same
time you plant your tomatoes, when all
danger of frost is past and the soil is
thoroughly warm. Much like their cousin
the tomato, tomatillos sprout roots along
their stems, so they profit from being
planted deeply. The indeterminate,
sprawling plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and at
least as wide, so space the plants 3 feet
apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Plan to give
them support unless you want to pick the

THE YOUTH FARM at the High School for Public Service
NEWSLETTER Week of Sept. 29,

fruits off the ground.
Husk Cherries is part of the tomato family.
The husk cherry member bears 1/2- 3/4"
sweet golden berries inside papery husks,
resembling small, straw-colored Japanese
lanterns. The flavor is quite sweet and a bit
wild. Plants are profusely branching and
prolific. Fruits can be eaten raw, dried like
raisins, frozen, canned, or made into
preserves, cooked pies, and desserts.
Sweet Potatoes: Hooray, its Sweet
potatoes this week! These tuberous roots
are grown from “slips,” or stems with a bit
of root. We plant them in our hoop house
where they enjoy the dry heat. These
vegetables are some of the highest in beta
carotene. They can come in a variety of
colors from white to orange to yellow and
purple. We’ve grown the traditional
“Beauregard” variety. Enjoy them baked,
roasted, fried, added to soup, or pureed.
Spicy Tomatillo, Cilantro, and Lime Butter


1 tomatillo, husk removed, and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon lime zest (about 1 small lime)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic

½ to 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño
pepper (or bit of cayenne pepper)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter,


1. Place the tomatillo, cilantro, lime zest, garlic,
jalapeño pepper, and salt in a food processor and
thoroughly combine. Add the butter and combine
until just blended.
2. Scoop the flavored butter onto a piece of waxed
paper and roll into a cylindrical shape. Refrigerate
for at least 1 hour.
3. Slice off “coins” of the butter to serve with
boiled or grilled corn.
Makes about 1/2 cup; serves 8 to 10

Interested in interning at the farm?!
Our internships are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from
9am-3pm. For more info please email Liz at!

Every Wednesday, 2:30-6:30pm during our farmers

Upcoming Volunteer Saturday Dates:
October 4
: Join Farmer Molly this Saturday for some
farm work, followed by a free worshop on cover
Farm work: 10-4
Workshop: 2-3:30

Other upcoming volunteer dates:
October 18

November 3rd

We would love to see you out on the farm!
Families and people of all ages are