Thiessen Farms

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CSA 2016 – Final week!

This is it!

We’ve reached the final week of our CSA for this season.

It’s no secret that this has been a challenging year. Drought, heat, humidity … all worked together to make it a difficult year for growing (though most farmers would agree that a drought is still better than too much rain).

However, with a lot of effort, a lot of watering, and a lot of encouragement & support from our CSA members, we succeeded in providing a box of fresh produce each week for 17 weeks. While the quantity of vegetables in the boxes was sometimes smaller & the variety of produce was less than we had planned for, both quality & taste were good.

  • Thank you to all our CSA members for joining us this season – both first-timers and returning members. (Some of you have been with us since we began our CSA 7 years ago!)
  • Thank you for allowing us to grow your family’s food.
  • Thank you for making the commitment to drive to our farm each week to pick up your box, and the commitment to then use the vegetables (including the less familiar & perhaps less liked ones).
  • Thank you for telling us how you use your produce, for sharing recipes, and for posting pictures!

You have made it a great season for us!

What’s in the final box?

Radishes, winter squash, kale, sweet peppers, garlic, onions.

extras – hot peppers.

  • Our late planting of radishes has matured & are ready for eating. They are mostly red ones, with some pink, purple mixed in. The cooler, moister conditions have resulted in mild radishes – not quite as big a bite as the earlier ones.
  • We’ve got the winter squash all picked – but lots of it is still out in the field, waiting for us to haul it in. There is some really nice squash and you will get to choose several for your share this week.
  • Kale, sweet peppers, garlic & onions will also be in the box.

Last week’s CSA pick-up.

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While CSA might be over, our season continues. We are still harvesting crops – albeit in smaller quantities now, including radishes, beets, bok choy, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peppers, eggplant and of course squash. While not enough for CSA, there is enough to make a nice display at the farmers’ markets which run for much of October yet.

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The tomatoes are looking weary & wild.

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The final planting of lettuce & greens are growing nicely.

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Hope to see you all again next season! 

(we’ll send sign-up details for CSA 2017 early in the new year.)

 


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CSA 2016 – week 16

Our customers at the farmers’ markets keep asking for winter squash. Our CSA members are wondering too. When will squash be ready?

… It’s ready!

Most of it has been ready for a while.

But we have not been ready. The warmer weather of late & the timely rains have kept the summer crops producing – we’re still busy picking other things. Plus, it just doesn’t seem right to be picking winter squash when it’s so warm (even hot) outside.

But perhaps the biggest reason we have not begun to pick squash is  fear  uncertainty. We transplanted the squash into the field way back in June. We weeded & watered several times and then turned our backs on it, busy with other vegetables. Many squash plants died in the drought. Then the weeds came & overtook the plot. We avoided the squash field all summer, turning our faces away whenever we passed by. Would there even be anything worthwhile in there to pick?

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Finally last week we found the courage to venture into the thicket. Surprise surprise! There is some really nice squash – not a large crop but probably ample. While we started with 29 varieties there are considerably fewer remaining, but still a good selection.

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And so today we started the harvest. There will be winter squash for our CSA this week as well as the farmers’ markets.

Finally!

What’s in the box?

Squash, Bosc pears, corn, green beans,

sweet peppers, onions & garlic.

extras – hot peppers.

  • This week your CSA boxes will have the first of our winter squash. We have only just begun to pick but there will be several kinds to choose from. Pick your favourite variety or try something new.
  • Two weeks ago we offered Bartlett pears in the CSA share. This week there will be Bosc pears! They come with the same caution. Because we did not prune, thin or spray them, they might be marked up & misshapen – but they still taste great!
  • There is still some sweet corn to pick, so enjoy a few more cobs in your box this week.
  • Our final plantings of green beans are now producing. These were seeded back when it was very dry so it took a lot of watering to get them to germinate & grow. Our efforts paid off & we are now picking some quality beans. There will not be a large quantity, but enjoy this last taste of green beans for the season.
  • The warm fall weather is perfect for the sweet peppers. We are getting our biggest picks of the season now & expect to offer a few more peppers in your share this week.

This will be the 2nd last week of our CSA for 2016.

Next week will be the final pick-up!


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CSA 2016 – week 15

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We tend to sleep in a bit later these early fall mornings – and yet we still beat the sun up! It doesn’t rise until almost 7:00 am these days. When we get outside & are ready to work, everything is covered in a heavy dew. So we tend to linger over our coffee, take our time planning the day’s work, & stall … waiting for the vegetables to dry before we can begin picking.

It’s a beautiful time of the day – my favourite time of day.

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The compost pile steaming in the early morning.

What’s in the box?

Sweet corn, sweet peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kale.

  • Sweet corn is not something we usually offer in our CSA. But this year we thought we would give it a try. Corn is easy to grow – we always grow a patch for our own use, to eat  fresh & to freeze for the winter. The difficulty growing corn for CSA is in the timing & growing the correct amount. It seems to have all worked out, so this is the week to enjoy some ears of “Honey Select” a beautiful yellow variety that (according to the seed company) features “tenderness, flavour & sweetness”.
  • Sweet peppers were a surprise in your box last week. We have been waiting & waiting for them to ripen. Throughout the drought we watered & pampered them as best we could, hoping they would flourish. Most of them made it through, but they have been taking their sweet time in ripening. The plants are loaded with fruit and are finally turning colour.

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We grew mostly shepherd peppers – the long, thin, pointed ones, and some bell peppers – the common blocky shaped ones. They both taste great with the shepherd peppers being perhaps a bit sweeter. We have them in red & yellow & the bells in red, yellow, purple, orange & green.

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  • The cabbages are also ready now – tender, mini cabbages that are just the right size for a delicious coleslaw or a 1 meal serving. We thought these smaller versions would be better than a huge cabbage that takes forever to finish. Were we correct? Let us know.
  • Tomatoes, onions, garlic & kale are also part of your CSA share this week.

 

Oliver enjoying the early fall sunshine.

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CSA 2016 – week 14

It’s September.

We’re weary & the farm is weary.

That means we have to try harder  …   to get motivated (set some goals), to get the work done (easily attainable goals), even to get out of bed in the morning (stronger coffee), and to see the beauty of the farm.

Here are some photos of the farm taken this morning – it really is still beautiful!

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What’s in the box?

Shallots, garlic, tomatoes, kale, Bartlett pears.

  • Instead of onions there will be shallots in your box this week. Shallots are similar to an onion but perhaps less pungent & a little sweeter, with a hint of garlic. This makes them excellent to use raw.
  • Surprise! Pears! I know we aren’t growing fruit anymore, but we do have a few pear trees left that we did not manage to get cut down last fall. They were neglected – not pruned, thinned, sprayed or looked after in any way. All season I have been watching the fruit form & grow, wondering how it would turn out. The pears are not pretty! They are misshapen, damaged by insects & disease. But we are including them in your share this week because … pears are something new & different for you to eat this week, we did not want them all to go to waste, even the grocery chains are now selling imperfect fruit, and while they can be considered organic, they do show the necessity & importance of using pesticides to grow beautiful & perfect fruit. Also, they taste really good! Eat them now when they are mostly crunchy, or let them ripen at room temperature until they soften, get more yellow, and become sweeter.

Last week’s CSA share.

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CSA 2016 – week 13

It’s week 13 of our CSA.

That means we are well over half way through the season – about 7 weeks left to go.

It’s been a challenging summer, but a good one! While the weather has been the main event of the season – as usual – several other things stand out for us.

  • We have a great group of CSA members! You have supported & encouraged us all season. When it was dry & we were struggling to keep the vegetables alive & the baskets full of quality produce, you understood. In fact, many were surprised & pleased with the contents of the box. Other CSA farmers we know, are dealing with dissatisfied members & their complaints. We have had little of that. Thank you!
  • Several members have assured us they prefer a smaller box of produce. The amounts we have offered other years have sometimes seemed overwhelming & there was waste. That comment has surprised us, but enough people have mentioned that same thing that we are taking notice. The size of the box is always one of our biggest questions & concerns. When you pick up your box this week please let Lorie know how you feel about the quantity of produce in your share. Is it the right amount, or too much or not enough?

What’s in the box?

Kale, blackberries, cherry tomatoes, mini romaine lettuce, beans, garlic, onions, cucumbers or zucchini.

  • This week will be the first time this season we have offered kale. For a change, I won’t blame the drought. I simply neglected to seed enough earlier on. Enjoy it – finally!
  • Blackberries are a part of your share for the 4th week in a row. The plants have done well, but they seem to be running out of energy – the berries are a bit smaller & we’re picking a bit less. They still taste amazing though!
  • The tomato patch is looking wild & unkept as it usually does at this time of year. Cherry tomatoes are plentiful while the larger tomatoes are taking a break. There are less ripening, & many of those have cracked & spoiled from the recent rains.

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  • Mini romaine lettuce was a hit last week. Enjoy it again!

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  • The beans we are picking now were planted at the height of the drought & required daily watering to get them to germinate & then grow. Our efforts have paid off & there will be a small quantity of beans – green or dragon’s tongue yellow – in your share this week.
  • Cucumbers & zucchini – choose one or the other. Already the new plants are succumbing to disease & we are not able to get enough of either crop.

Last week’s box …

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Our latest plantings of vegetables are sprouting …

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We are still anticipating …

… cabbages

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… sweet peppers

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There are a lot of lovely pepper plants – but not many peppers. During all that extreme heat & humidity they aborted most of their blossoms. Now that temperatures have moderated, they are reblooming. Will there be time for the fruit to mature & ripen?


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CSA 2016 – week 12

The calendar says it’s nearly the end of August – but we have been planting like it’s spring!

The ground is moist from the recent rains (finally), so we are taking advantage of it.

Today we seeded lettuce mix, radishes, Asian greens, salad turnips & kale, and transplanted Chinese cabbage & kale. Tomorrow we’ll seed some more …

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Late summer can be a time of good growth for vegetables. The heat & humidity is usually easing, precipitation is more reliable and bugs & disease pressures are often less. All good things – for vegetables (as well as humans!). And so we plant.

Late plantings can also be risky. There are no guarantees that nice, growing weather will continue. If the temperatures cool considerably, seeds may not germinate as readily or grow quick enough. An early hard frost can kill off tender vegetables, and heavy fall rains can cause them to rot or even drown. But still we plant.

Chances are that we will have both successes & failures – but CSA & our farmers’ markets continue well into October. We need to have lots of fresh produce available until the end.

What’s in the box?

Cucumbers, mini romaine lettuce, blackberries, tomatoes,

garlic, onions, beets.

  • Our 2nd planting of cucumbers appears to be more successful than the first. So far we have been able to pick a few good quality cucumbers – at least enough for CSA this week. We grew both the normal green cucumbers as well as the ghostly white ones. As growers, we like the white ones for the simple reason that they are easier to see & pick among the green vines. Some people have trouble eating white cucumbers, but the taste is the same as the green ones – both taste great!
  • Mini romaine lettuce: As the name suggests, it’s not too big. Each head is just enough for a single, delicious salad.
  • The blackberries have certainly benefited from the rain. It takes a lot of moisture to ripen those large, shiny, juicy, dark berries. I’m guessing most get eaten immediately (perhaps even before they make it home). But they are also great in jams, fruit crumbles (see our favourite recipe back in week 1 newsletter), smoothies, ice cream …
  • The rain has been good news/bad news for the tomatoes. As much as the plants needed & loved the rain, the fruit has really cracked & spoiled. The cooler temperatures this week will also slow down their ripening but there should still be plenty in your share this week.
  • The garlic is now dry & can be safely stored at room temperature, preferably in a dry & darker place. It should keep until the end of the year at least, if stored properly.
  • There are still onions in the box this week. They may be red or white – both are the sweeter, Spanish types.
  • This week finishes off the beets. Certainly we have had more beets in your share this season than usual. They have been one of our more successful crops this year. Here’s a recipe for a favourite tomato & beet salad of ours, from Martha Stewart. It’s simple & delicious!

    Tomato-Beet Salad

    http://www.marthastewart.com/907476/tomato-beet-salad

     

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 pound scrubbed small beets
    • 2 pounds tomatoes, preferably heirloom
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Seal beets in a foil packet. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, 75 minutes. When cool, rub beets with a paper towel to remove skins; slice. Slice large tomatoes, and halve cherry tomatoes, then arrange with beets on a platter. Top with feta, cilantro, and olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Some pictures of last week’s CSA pick-up.

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CSA 2016 – week 11

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60 straw bales were delivered to our farm the other week. They will be used to mulch our vegetables next year. This summer’s drought again reminded us of the importance of keeping the soil covered to preserve moisture.

In front of the bales is a small patch of buckwheat. Buckwheat grows quickly to cover the soil & keep down weeds. It has a lot of fine roots which loosen the soil & improve it. We seeded the buckwheat earlier in the season expecting to let it grow briefly before working it down & planting vegetables. But the drought wouldn’t allow us to grow as many vegetables as planned so we let the buckwheat continue. It’s slower than usual without the needed rains, but if we allow it to keep growing, it will flower & attract lots of beneficial insects & pollinators. Either way it is a benefit to the farm.

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Today I mowed down some vegetables that were finished. The rains we had on the weekend – 3/4″ of very welcome moisture! – allowed me to work the ground & seed more cover crop. Oats this time, mostly because that’s what I had lying around. It should grow quickly & prevent weeds from coming. As oats can take cold weather, we will probably let it continue to grow until the winter kills it. Next spring we’ll work the soil & plant crops again. It’s always best to have the soil covered for the winter to prevent erosion, catch the snow & keep the moisture.

Sometimes it’s hard to think of next year when we’re busy with this season’s harvest. But it’s a necessary preparation that will pay off later.

As usual it was a busy Monday – a day of harvesting. If the weather reports turn out to be accurate, tomorrow should be a day of precipitation. In anticipation of this, we worked ahead to pick what we could. If it doesn’t rain … we can catch up on other chores.

What’s in the box?

Blackberries, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, garlic, beets.

  • If this week’s box looks familiar – it is. Blame the drought! Throughout the summer we have been buying truckloads of water to keep the tomatoes & blackberries going as these are our 2 most important crops. Most other vegetables were watered as necessary to get them started and then were left on their own. We have learned what can survive without water & what can’t.
  • Zucchini, onions, garlic & beets have done okay. And so they are part of your share again this week. Many other crops that would have added variety to the box didn’t make it. However, we have continued to plant & are anticipating some new vegetables … sometime … including …

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sweet corn, and maybe cucumbers,

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more beans, romaine lettuce, cabbage, kale, spinach, squash …

We are now more than half way through our CSA season.

Thank you for your continued support & encouragement.