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CSA 2017 – Week 11

What’s in the box?

Green peppers, Swiss chard, blackberries, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, garlic.

  • The peppers are hanging thick on many of our pepper plants – but they sure are slow to change colour! So rather than wait for them to turn red, orange, yellow … we’ll pick some green peppers this week.
  • Swiss chard is a beautiful & delicious leafy green – but not that well-known. The stems come in a rainbow of colours – white, red, pink, yellow & orange. The wrinkled leaves can hold a lot of dirt & grit so they may need several washings. The simplest way to prepare them is to just wilt them in the saute pan then season with oil, butter and salt & pepper, and enjoy.

I have included several simple recipes using Swiss chard below.

  • After a pleasant & warm weekend, we had an amazing pick of blackberries today. Enjoy a larger taste of these sweet & tart berries in your share this week. Store them in the fridge uncovered and eat them within a day or two.
  • We’re finally picking some larger beefsteak tomatoes along with the cherry types. Tomato sandwiches anyone? Find all sizes of tomatoes in the box this week.
  • Lettuce, onions & garlic continue to be a part of the share again this week.

Quinoa with Swiss chard, garlic & tomatoes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Swiss chard stems, finely chopped (about 4-6 stalks)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 medium size tomatoes diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Swiss chard leaves, roughly chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside on a serving platter.
  2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  3. Saute the Swiss chard stems and shallots until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute until they have lost their firmness.
  4. Add the garlic and Swiss chard leaves and continue to saute until the leaves have softened.
  5. Remove from heat and slide on top of the cooked quinoa and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.  (recipe from myhalalkitchen.com)

Swiss Chard stalk Hummus

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add 2 cups chopped chard stalks and boil for 5-10 min.
Drain well, squeezing out any excess water, and add the stalks to a food processor, along with 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/2 tsp salt and juice of one lemon. Pulse continuously until dip is slightly chunky. Serve with a generous swirl of oil on top and sprinkle a handful of chopped parsley if desired.

Some newer plantings of vegetables including beans, cabbages, Swiss chard …

… carrots, lettuce, spinach, Chinese cabbages, bok choy.


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CSA 2017 – Week 10

You know it’s wet when …

… the puddles on the farm never seem to dry up,

… the vegetables are growing – but not as well as the weeds (find the onions to the right in the picture!),

 

… you have not had to water the pots of herbs in the yard for almost a week,

… the new patch of kohlrabi is ready to pick – except it is mostly cracked & rotting,

… the tomatoes are just starting to produce, but the plants are already dying,

… 5 days out of the last week had rain (and it hailed twice)!

You know it’s wet … when you no longer lament all the vegetables that are diseased, rotting & dying, but instead are amazed (and thankful) at those vegetables that are still looking healthy & doing well.

What’s in the box?

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

  • The first taste of blackberries is in the box this week. We only have 2 rows of blackberries – but they are one of our most important crops. This season especially, we are hanging our hopes on the blackberries. They look outstanding so far & we’re optimistic that the harvest will be long & fruitful!

  • As mentioned above, the tomato plants are failing rapidly even though we have barely begun the harvest. Fingers crossed that their growth outpaces the diseases and they keep producing – at least for a while. Find some cherry tomatoes in your share & perhaps a larger slicing tomato as well.
  • The beans this week will be mostly dragon’s tongue – a flat, yellow bean with purple stripes. We started growing these beans years ago, because of the name & their beautiful looks. We continue to grow them for their great taste – better than any green bean in my opinion!
  • We are cleaning up the first planting of beets. The size might be varied, and the greens are not too good anymore but the beets still taste good. The next patch is ready & will have some yellow beets too. The final planting – we just transplanted them last week – is growing well. It includes dark red beets, yellow beets & the candy-striped beets. So there should be beets on & off for the remainder of our CSA program.

  • How was the fresh garlic? We are including another bulb this week. Remember – it is not yet dried. Store it at room temperature in a spot with good air circulation.
  • Onions grow best in sunny, moist, weed-free conditions. We’re doing really great with the moisture, so-so with the sun but very poorly with the weeds. The result is that the onions are not getting much bigger. But we have lots of this very useful & delicious vegetable.
  • The zucchini plants continue to amaze me. While they are producing very few zucchini – most plants have wilted & are dying – many are throwing out new vines with fresh green leaves and even blossoms. Will they turn into fruit or will disease overtake them first? We’ll find out! But we do have several new plantings of zucchini coming soon.

Please remember to return all containers – big & small – so we can reuse them.

Here’s hoping for a warm, sunny (rain-free) week!

 

 

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 9

Harvest is always the high point of our day.

And when we can pick something that is a favourite of our CSA members & market customers, and a crop that is eagerly awaited – well, that’s even better!

Something like …. garlic!

Garlic scapes are good, as is green garlic, but everyone awaits the new crop of those pungent, tasty bulbs of deliciousness.

We pulled much of the crop today – mostly large, firm, beautiful bulbs of garlic. They are now spread on the drying racks in the barn, filling the air with their perfume.

Another favourite crop – or at least one that brings a big smile to people’s faces – is sunflowers.

Our sunflowers are blooming! The first few that we brought to market on Saturday were snapped up in a hurry. People love sunflowers!

 

We will have lots of sunflowers for sale at market this week and at CSA pick-up.

 

What’s in the box?

Fresh garlic, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, onions.

  • Why wait? Enjoy a fresh bulb of new garlic. Because it is not dried, it should be kept someplace with good air circulation, and out of the sun. Do not put in plastic or in the fridge. Once the bulb has been started, try to finish using it within a few days.
  • Our new rows of beans are healthy & producing well now, and back in the box this week.
  • Every time we pick tomatoes, more varieties are ripe. There may even be a few large tomatoes by the end of the week.
  • Last week the zucchini plants looked poorly. They still do, but at the same time they’re putting on new, fresh growth with lots of new blossoms. We got a nice pick today. Here’s hoping it continues. Today we transplanted a new batch of zucchini plants into the field. They should be producing in about a month.
  • Onions & (the last of the) cucumbers round out your CSA share this week.

Saturday at market, a friend brought us some zucchini dip to try. The recipe comes from the summer edition of Food & Drink, the magazine put out by the LCBO. I have included the recipe below. It’s delicious!  (This is a large recipe. You may want to try just half)

Zucchini Dip

6 cups grated zucchini (about 4 medium zucchini)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

½ cup yogurt

¼ cup tahini

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tbsp chopped dried mint

Salt & pepper

Garnish – 1 tsp cumin, 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

  1. Toss zucchini with salt. Transfer to a strainer & set over a bowl. Drain off excess water for about 15 minutes. Pat dry.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini & sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant & zucchini is beginning to turn golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
  3. Stir in yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, & dried mint. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Heap into a bowl and garnish with cumin and fresh mint.

Brothers Flynn & Flynn enjoying the summer sunshine!


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CSA 2017 – Week 8

There are some weird & wonderful things growing on the farm this season.

For example …

** (None of these vegetables will appear in our CSA shares, as we are not growing quantities of any of them. They will only be available at our farmers’ markets – or not at all if they don’t turn out successfully.)

Cucamelons aka mouse melons, Mexican gherkins or sandiita. Sandiita means little watermelon which is exactly what they look like. The size though is slightly smaller. For comparison …

 

Cucamelons don’t taste like a watermelon, but rather like a tangy cucumber. They can be eaten out of hand or in salads, stir-fries, salsa or pickled.

These little guys are turning out great. We had a few to sell at market last week & they were snapped up in a hurry.

Growing nicely & spreading out on the straw are bitter melons – 5 kinds. We’ve tried growing them before with little success. Maybe this year is our year? While even the name bitter melons does not sound appealing to me, but they are a staple in many cultures & I would really like to be able to offer them to our customers.

Our artichokes were seeded, transplanted into the field and are growing well – but not as well as the weeds. The overwhelming crop of weeds this season, thanks to the abundance of rain, forced us to make choices as to where we would direct our weeding energies. The artichokes were not chosen!

Other less common vegetables that we are growing (or attempting to grow) include fava beans (total crop failure), radicchio (on course for a fall harvest), winter radishes & Asian radishes (to be seeded this week). Some seeds never even made it out of their packages (amaranth, quinoa, sesame, and huauzontle). Maybe next year!

Some crops we have not mentioned lately but are doing well.

We have made 4 seedings of sunflowers this year. Looking forward to these cheerfully bright blooms!

Our new raspberry rows were rescued from the weeds today.

What’s in the box?

Tomatoes, lettuce, onions, zucchini, cucumbers, kale, (beans).

  • There are finally enough tomatoes being harvested to include them in our CSA share this week. Not a lot, but a hint of what is to come.
  • We are still planting lettuce – varieties that are supposed to be able to take the heat. Our hope is to have lettuce off & on for much of the summer. Enjoy your fresh salad again this week.
  • Onions, zucchini & cucumbers are becoming a regular part of the box. A CSA member shared a recipe for zucchini fritters that I have included below. She claims they are great – and she’s right! We made them & loved them. Thanks Rachel!
  • Farmers love kale – easy to grow, dependable, waiting in the field until we need it. Most members love it too. Kale is always a favourite.
  • Beans are a big disappointment this week! We were anticipating big picks all week. However the plants have succumbed to rust & today’s harvest was small & of poor quality. The next planting should be mature for harvesting later in the week. Perhaps Friday pick-up will have beans again?

Speaking of disappointments … other crops are showing signs of stress from all the rains. Zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, even onions & kale are all becoming diseased & declining. New plantings of many of these vegetables are growing, but there may be shortages in the next few weeks. More sunshine & less precipitation would be a big help right now!

Two views from our market stall last Thursday. Not a customer to be seen! We had almost 2 hours of heavy rains. Bad weather means lots of time to visit with the other vendors & share stories of the difficult season. Most growers have lost crops to the rain & some are not able to replant because the ground is so wet. I guess misery loves company – it’s oddly comforting to know we are not alone in our struggles with mother nature!

 

Zucchini Fritters

3 cups grated zucchini

2 eggs

¾ cup shredded cheese

½ cup panko bread crumbs

½ tsp basil

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

 

Grate zucchini and squeeze to remove some of the water

Mix in rest of the ingredients

Scoop out onto parchment lined baking sheet (each fritter about 2 tbsp)

Bake at 425 for about 20 mins (until lightly browned).

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 7

This is a view of the area in front of our workshop/greenhouse. Rows of plug trays filled with seeds & seedlings, trays of pots also containing seeds – some germinated, others newly planted.

Normally (if there is such a thing anymore) most of these seeds would have been sown directly into the ground, out in the fields.

But not this year. It’s just been too wet to get on the land, prepare the soil and seed!

Our options are – wait until things dry up and then seed in the field (which will put us behind) or seed in trays & then transplant the seedlings into the field later (hoping it is dry enough when that time comes). We are doing both!

So far things are working out. Our soil is amazing & requires only a day or two to dry off after a big rain. Some seeds have been sown out on the farm when possible including beans, edamame, some herbs … Under more ideal conditions we certainly would have planted more. And we have managed to transplant most seedlings as necessary. We’ve lost some that had to wait too long – but not a lot! Things are never perfect! But our CSA boxes will be full & the tables at market will have a good variety of produce. All in all we have little to complain about & much to be thankful for!

The forecast this week calls for a lot of sun. We expect to be able to prepare this field for planting in a day or two.

Meanwhile, the weeds are not waiting. They are loving all the moisture & now the warmth and growing like gangbusters. We have finished mulching the peppers & eggplant with straw – out attempt to beat the weeds.

Cabbages, onions & lettuces … that were transplanted last week are also doing well.

We were able to seed buckwheat where the early peas, spinach & lettuce were growing. It has come up nicely. The buckwheat’s role is to smother weeds now, which will reduce weed pressure next year.

What’s in the box?

Green beans, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, salad turnips.

  • The first planting of green beans (we’ve seeded 3 times so far) is ready. It is a reduced harvest – too much competition from weeds & too wet – but things should improve this week. Enjoy!
  • When we checked the cucumbers late last week, surprise! There they were. Last Friday’s pick-up already got a taste. Everyone gets cucumbers this week! Probably my favourite vegetable, I eat them many ways – sliced paper-thin with a dressing of mayonnaise, together with tomatoes (they’re almost ready!) in a vinaigrette with lots of fresh dill, or just as a snack.
  • The onion in your share this week – the first of many – will be the heirloom Ailsa Craig variety that we have been growing for several years now. They are a sweeter onion & very delicious. They are still small, but should be bigger each week.

  • Another planting of lettuce is mature for harvest. After a 2 week break from lettuce it’s back in your CSA share this week.

  • Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini! The harvest keeps increasing & increasing. They have almost outgrown the earlier hail damage – both the plants & the fruit.
  • Broccoli & salad turnips make a continuing appearance in the box. Be aware that the broccoli might contain some “friends” or so we’ve been told. Soak them in some cold salt water if you are concerned and the worms should float to the surface. We figure this is a better way to remove them than spraying a lot of pesticide. I have included a simple recipe for salad turnips – something different then eating them raw.

PAN-ROASTED SALAD TURNIPS WITH HONEY

  • 1 bunch small salad turnips, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 TB honey
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 TB water

Toss turnips with 1 tsp. oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Combine honey, cayenne and water in a small bowl.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining tsp. oil.  Add turnips. Sauté for about 10 minutes, turning turnips frequently, until they are golden brown.

Add honey mixture to turnips and toss them for a few minutes until glazed and tender. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

 (from  https://gourmandistan.com/2013/01/22/rocking-the-winter-csa-with-pan-roasted-hakurei-turnips/ adapted from Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes)

Thank you for returning all containers. We can reuse them!

 

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 6

This week brings us to the middle of July. The summer is flying along!

The farm is lush & green and looking good. Sure there are lots of weeds – we’re understaffed this summer and therefore always behind on the weeding – but we’re trying to embrace the weeds & accept them! More importantly, the crops are doing well overall.

 Raspberry rows with a small field of buckwheat behind. The buckwheat is grown as a cover crop to smother weeds & improve the soil.

Rows of zucchini.

This yellow striped zucchini is a new variety for us. 

New plantings of cabbages & lettuce. Weedy rows to the right!

Are there really brussels sprouts & eggplant hiding in the weeds?

Most of the tomatoes are now staked & tied.

What’s in the box?

Raspberries, zucchini, broccoli/cauliflower, beets & mint,

salad turnips, kohlrabi, green onions.

extras – garlic scapes

  • The raspberries are actually improving! We’re getting bigger picks of better tasting berries. We’re excited to offer them again this week in your box.
  • It is high season for zucchini! We got a massive pick today – of massive zucchini ( and lots of smaller ones too). Don’t be scared of the big ones! They are great for stuffing, grilling on the barbeque, or turning into zucchini bread (or brownies).
  • I admit it. We do not grow the most beautiful broccoli & cauliflower. The broccoli is usually small & the cauliflower is rarely a pristine white. But they do taste good! Our 2nd planting of broccoli is just starting to produce, so there should be broccoli in your share for a few more weeks. Cauliflower might be an option – we’ll see how it is when we pick it tomorrow.
  • The rest of the CSA box this week is roots … (didn’t see that coming!)
  • We’re putting the beets & mint together. While it may seem like a strange combination, our favourite thing to eat these days is a beet salad with fresh mint. Find the recipe below & give it a try. It’s great!
  • Salad turnips – one of our most successful crops this spring! You are telling us that you like them, so we’re pleased to have another bunch in your share this week.
  • The kohlrabi are getting bigger & bigger … So far they continue to be juicy & delicious.
  • This week should finish off our early planting of green onions. There will be more coming but they are still quite small & several weeks away at least.

Fresh Beet Salad with Mint

Ingredients & Instructions

Beets – spiralized or shredded.

Fresh mint – 2 tbsp. chopped.

Dressing – combine in a jar the following:

juice of 1 orange,

1 tsp honey,

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar,

2 tbsp olive oil,

Salt & pepper to taste.

Optional – ¼ cup pistachios (we don’t use these)

Pour dressing over beets & add the chopped mint.

 

Oliver “helping” pick raspberries.

One Flynn catching up on his rest.

The other Flynn keeping watch.

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 5

(Our camera broke today as I was starting to take some pictures for this newsletter. Sorry, no pictures!)

I was determined not to mention the weather today.

But I have to!

Here are some ways it is affecting what is in our CSA share this week – and what isn’t. And what we will be selling at market – and what we won’t.

  1. Raspberries.

It’s raspberry season – those bright red, juicy, sweet berries that just about everybody loves. We were able to pick a few last week, but not enough for our CSA boxes, so we took them to market. This week we hope to have enough for CSA. As we mentioned earlier, the drought last year was hard on our raspberries and we lost most of the patch. The few rows that we kept are not great. This year’s raspberries are produced on the canes that grew last year – and those canes are short & weak. Thus there are few quality berries. Enjoy them because we don’t know if there will be any more.

2. Zucchini.

Zucchini – one day there are none, the next day an abundance of them. This season we have green zucchini, yellow zucchini, long green ones with stripes, yellow with stripes, the round yellow patty pans, and some short, green striped ones. They all taste similar, have similar texture and can be used the same way. They also all got hit with hail last week. It left some of them looking a little rough & beat up, with small gouges in the skin. Fortunately they have healed over nicely. Just cut away the blemish.

3. Hail update.

We were very fortunate to receive minimal damage from last Monday’s hail storm. The zucchini has the most visible damage. Our winter squash were newly transplanted & the leaves were really ripped up but they are growing fast & there are plenty of new, healthy green leaves. Same with the eggplant.

We were most concerned about our tomato plants. Those that were already pruned & tied to the stakes especially had a lot of cuts & wounds on their stems. Wary of blight & other diseases setting in, I sprayed them (and the squash & eggplant) with a protective fungicide. So far they are healing nicely & showing no signs of disease.

What’s in the box?

Raspberries, kale, zucchini, kohlrabi, salad turnips.

– broccoli, radishes?

extras – garlic scapes

  • Enjoy a box of raspberries in your share this week (see above). In the unlikely event that any make it all the way home with you, uneaten, keep them refrigerated and use within a day or two.
  • Kale – we have included a bunch of kale in your box, either plain or curly. We enjoy kale raw in our salads, but it is good cooked too. Kale tastes great with olive oil and garlic, onions or leeks. Combine it with sweet vegetables like corn or carrots. Unless the kale leaves are very small & tender, remove the tougher stems before using. The easiest way is to grasp the stem with 1 hand and use the other hand to strip the leaf away with a quick motion.Store kale in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for 3-4 days. * The longer it is stored, the stronger the flavour becomes.
  • Zucchini (see above).
  • The kohlrabi & salad turnips have grown larger since they last appeared in your CSA share. Here is a link to a recipe for kohlrabi fritters that a CSA member shared last year. Some of you have been asking for it again –  http://honestcooking.com/kohlrabi-fritters-vermont-csa/ . Lots of useful kohlrabi information is included.
  • Broccoli & radishes have a question mark after them. We won’t know until we pick tomorrow how many there will be. Hopefully there will be enough!
  • We still have lots of garlic scapes for those who want some. Garlic scape pesto anyone?

Last week’s CSA share …