• SEEDS: Key to diversity.

    We propagate all of our perennials right here on our farm using only propagation methods that occur in nature: seeds, spores, separation, division, layering, cutting. You won’t find laboratory-grown (or even greenhouse-grown) plants here!

    We grow 90% of our plants from seed following the natural rhythms of the seasons. This is incredibly important as sexual reproduction is the ONLY method of propagation that increases genetic diversity. All other methods of propagation simply create clones.

    We do propagate select plants by separation, division, layering, or cutting. We reserve these methods only for special plants that cannot be easily propagated by seed or that don’t come true from seed.

  • SOIL: Great plants start with great soil.

    Our plants are grown in the highest possible quality soil. Whether we are growing in the ground or in containers, we make sure that our plants get the nutrients they need through the soil.

    Our containerized plants are grown in a compost-based potting mix with a plant-healthy fungal and bacterial profile. When the pots need to be refreshed, we top them with manure-based compost and/or give them a brief soak in one of our raised fish ponds. The plants love the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and ammonia created by the fish and the fish love the cleaned water.

    Our in-ground plants are also treated to the highest possible quality soil. We have several different types of soil on our farm, all of which we amend simply by feeding the worms. Whenever we create a new bed, we first lay down a layer of cardboard to attract the worms, then we cover the cardboard with layers or organic matter: wood chips, fallen leaves, well-rotted manure, compost, etc. The worms mix the organic matter into the soil creating a beautiful loam.

    Finally, we do not use peat in any of our growing practices. We know that plants and growers love it for good reason, but peatlands are critical ecosystems and we do not condone their destruction.

  • WATER: A precious resource.

    Water is a precious resource no matter where you live. We are lucky enough to live in an area that receives an average of 42 inches annually, and we save every drop we can. Our 1860s home was built with copper gutters that divert the rain to a large underground cistern; we are still using the same system today for our drinking water and for the nursery. We also collect water from the roofs of our other buildings using a series of recycled barrels. In coming years, we will be turning the defunct silo pads (the nursery was once a dairy farm with several grain silos) into cisterns which will collect the water from the roofs of our largest barns.

    In addition to collecting water, we also conserve water in our growing practices. We bottom water our seedlings and potted plants. This is more time consuming, but it reduces the risk of fungal diseases and ensures that plants receive water at the roots where they need it. We also group plants close together and keep the bulk of our pots below ground level. This keeps the pots cooler and cuts down on water consumption.

    Finally, we do not irrigate our gardens. Here’s what we do instead:

    • We plant the bulk of our plants in fall. Rain is plentiful at this time of year, temperatures are cool, and stress on the plant is at its lowest.
    • We water well at planting time and supplement only as needed to help plants get established.
    • Most importantly, we site plants according to the conditions for which they are adapted. Plants do not need to be watered, fertilized, or sprayed if they are sited correctly. Happy plants are resilient!

    Go to your local home center and you will find bags of fertilizers, pesticides, and various other chemicals right next to the plants and potting soil. Please just say no! Healthy plants start with healthy soil (see above).

    We do not use ANY chemical, fertilizer, or pesticide (‘organic’ or otherwise) on our farm. We grow thousands of healthy plants every year without the use of these so-called necessities and promise that you can too. Make use of fallen leaves, compost your waste, mulch your beds, feed the worms. Nature has nurtured plants for millenia and will continue to do so - please just give it a chance!

  • WINTER: Nature’s gift.

    Like us, plants need downtime to rest and recharge. Winter is their time to do so.

    We do not grow in heated greenhouses. Instead, we allow our plants to go dormant and overwinter outdoors. We cover them with layers of fallen leaves, wood chips and evergreen boughs. This provides the little bit of protection that they need to get through winter in their pots. Natural overwintering is incredibly important to the long-term health of native and other hardy perennials, shrubs, and trees.

  • SPRING: Wake-up.

    We do not force our plants to leaf out. Instead, we allow them to follow the natural rhythms of the garden. Admittedly, early-leaf-out is customer pleasing, but it is bad practice for the long-term health of both the plant and the environment. So, please know, that plants shipped or available in early spring will very likely not be in full leaf. We grow in a cold climate (Zone 5!) and plants shipped to warmer zones will likely be behind schedule. Not to worry though, healthy plants catch up quickly.

  • FALL: What you plant in spring can grow, but what you plant in fall must grow.

    We do most of our planting in fall. The old adage what you plant in spring can grow, but what you plant in fall must grow has largely fallen into disuse due to pressure from garden centers, but it is no less true.

    Here’s why: A plant planted in spring or summer needs to establish roots, send out new growth, flower and set seed. In fall it only needs to establish roots. The soil is warm and (hopefully) moist and within a week or so, new roots will make contact with the soil. The August planting will develop a nice mature root ball before winter and will have a huge head start on spring plantings.

    Benefits to the gardener: you can clearly see the holes that need to be filled in your garden; you can see exactly what you are buying as plants in the nursery are now quite large; there are many more choices available now than in spring; most importantly: you don’t have to spend an entire summer watering plants.

    That said, there are a few plants that fare better with spring planting. Download the list here.

  • REDUCE: Say no to fossil fuels.

    We try our best to reduce our need for fossil fuels. To that end, we do not heat our greenhouse at any time of the year, we do not use our greenhouse through the hottest months of summer (so that we do not need to run electric fans), we grow only on our farm as we do not believe in trucking plants around the country, we move soil using wheelbarrows and shovels, we remove brush using goats, we use pigs to turn soil if needed.

  • REUSE: Pots, pots, pots.

    We reuse everything we can get our hands on from shipping materials (finally, a use for junk mail!) to building materials (no part of our historic farm goes to waste) to plastic pots.

    Plastic pots are one of the necessary evils of the nursery business. We have tried growing in just about every other container type - without success. We loathe contributing to the production of new plastics so, please, return your used pots and we will put them to good use. We offer a TEN PERCENT DISCOUNT for every TEN pots returned with The Old Dairy label.

    Do you have pots from other nurseries that you want to get rid of in an environmentally friendly way? We can help! Drop your pot off in the community box. We periodically give them away to other sustainably-minded growers or to community gardens.

    Looking for pots? Please feel free to take from the community pot box.

  • NATIVE: More than a marketing gimmick.

    Native plants are all the rage and we love it! Many of the plants we grow are U.S. natives. That said, we never blanketly refer to plants as native, as it means relatively little given the enormous geographical expanse of our country. Instead, we encourage you to search for plants that are native to YOUR unique area. We added a U.S. Native Region filter to our website to make it easier to shop.

    Not sure which region to select? Check the map here.

    Want to learn more about natives? Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Missouri Botanical Garden are great resources.

    In person shoppers, look for HV Native tags on plant signs - these plants are native specifically to the Hudson Valley.

  • INVASIVES: A real threat.

    We do not use any chemicals or pesticides on our farm, instead we manage invasives by hand.

    Asian jumping worms are in the Hudson Valley. We have yet to find them on our property, but we suspect it is only a matter of time. We are preemptively doing everything we can to combat the threat:

    • We propagate 95% of our plants on site. The remaining 5% (select trees & shrubs) come to us bare root. This eliminates any chance of worms or eggs coming in through plant material.
    • We store our potting soil in large slings which are raised up off the ground on pallets and covered in solarizing tarps. Worms can’t live in or lay eggs in the solarized soil.
    • We line our potted plant sales beds with a thick tarp (recycled from our soil slings). This does not completely eliminate the worms ability to get into pots, but it does make it more difficult for them.
    • Finally, we are in the process of creating solarized ‘You-Pick’ beds for the 2024 season. Here’s the idea: plants will be grown in the ground after it has been solarized, and we will dig them when you are ready to plant them. We can either wrap the roots and dirt ball intact, or we can wash away the soil entirely and send the plant home bare root. Washing the roots and sending bare-root can be very stressful to the plant, but it is the best way to ensure that you are not taking any potential pests or eggs home.

    Japanese beetles have been in the Northeast since 1916. They create unsightly holes in the leaves of certain woodies but do not kill otherwise healthy plants. We believe that the best defense against these creatures is to promote a healthy eco-system. That said, we do not ship to states that do not already have these beetles present as we do not wish to spread them.

    Spongy moths (previously known as Gypsy moths) were a problem for us in the 2023 season. They defoliated our Amelanchiers, Tilias, and a few other favorite trees. That said, we focus on growing healthy roots and know that our plants are strong enough to recover from the defoliation.