Thursday, March 18, 2010

When life gives you lemons...

You make lemonade, as the old saying goes. But what happens when life gives you a lot of lemons? We're getting lots of spring plants in right now but I thought for this post I might focus on a few of our own individual projects.

For the past two years we've been nurturing a couple of lemon trees and a key lime tree in the greenhouse. We weren't sure how well they were going to do in the upstate NY climate but I'm happy to say that we now have lemons!

There have been mini-tragedies along the way. (Last year we accidentally froze one of the plants-but thankfully it came back after we cut it way back). But other than that it has been relatively painless. We put the trees outside during the summer (after the threat of frost has passed) and then drag them back in for winter.

We have two types of lemons: Meyer and Ponderosa. (The top image shows the Meyer lemons and the bottom one is the Ponderosa tree.) Meyer lemons are famous for their sweet taste while Ponderosa lemons are known for their gigantic size. I'm talking bigger than a softball. Everybody that comes in thinks they're grapefruit.

So far we've made lots of lemonade and used them in dishes like baked fish and roasted chicken. The lemonade made out of the Meyers had a really sweet, unusual flavor. I still have 5 Meyers left so this weekend I'm thinking I'll make a lemon tart or maybe this amazing lemon crepe cake I saw in the most recent Martha Stewart Living magazine. (The recipe isn't available online yet but the link shows you a picture.) I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Playing in Dirt

Each year when Sunnyside re-opens their doors for Easter, we begin to hear the same question from many of our customers: What do you do all winter? The answer to this question is simple: we plant. We have 18 greenhouses that will eventually be filled door-to-door with plants.

And to start off planting, we need to fill pots with potting soil. Thankfully the days where we had to do it all by hand are gone. We've had what I call a "dirt machine" for over a decade now. It dumps potting soil into pots on a conveyor belt. It's pretty cool. The only downside is with all the dirt flying around, you get dirty. Really really dirty.

But it doesn't compare to our new toy: the Rapid Transplanter. We've only had the transplater for a few days but it's so awesome. I don't know how we ever did without it. Transplanting is a long and (sometimes) tedious process. When doing it by hand, you have to poke the little plants out of the plug trays and then stick them into the flats.

On a good day, one person can transplant up to 200 flats (that's about 7200 plants). Our new machine can do 200 flats in about 2 hours. It's amazing! Here's what it looks like:
The plugs are on the left and the flats they are going to be planted into are on the right. It can plant four flats at once.

The little white things have poked a hole and now the plugs are being dropped into them.

And then you send the transplanted flats through the automatic watering machine.

It's really an amazing machine. Just don't get your hand caught in it!

The First Post

Welcome to the first post of our brand new blog! Sunnyside has been going strong for almost 30 years now but we think 2010 is going to be our best year so far. We're planning a lot of changes for the greenhouses, starting with a bunch of "firsts" for us: our first website, our first blog, and our first e-newsletter. We hope between these three things that you'll be able to find whatever you're looking for. And if you still have questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.