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January harvest

We’ve been eating a lot of salads lately.

The lettuce & spinach are freshly picked … from our farm … harvested from the field … not the greenhouse.

And it’s January!

This bed of lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula & bok choy was the last to be set out in 2020 – transplanted around the middle of September. The greens weren’t yet big enough to harvest for our last farmers’ market in October and I almost mowed them down with the rest of the farm. But I spared them, thinking we might get a salad or two if the fall weather was mild enough to allow them to grow. Indeed the fall was mild and the lettuce & spinach especially flourished. (The kale never amounted to much and the arugula & bok choy succumbed to the frost earlier.)

Now, the spinach is still sweet & delicious. The lettuce leaves are slightly tough, but both make amazing salads!

This morning was frosty, but hopefully the greens recover again and continue to feed us. Harvesting in January – thanks to a mild winter!

We are also eating vegetables that we harvested in fall and stored.

Chinese cabbage (so good in coleslaw or stir-fry), and garlic, onions & winter squash. We will miss them when they are gone!

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Around the farm …

Everyone’s enjoying the quieter pace of our off-season!


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The last fall chore

The garlic patch got mulched last week.

We tucked it to bed for the winter under a thick covering of straw. We chose a morning when the ground was frozen but there was no snow. The straw will keep the ground frozen which will prevent the garlic cloves from being pushed out of the ground during the freezing/thawing cycles we experience during our winters. Rodents may burrow into the straw, but not into the frozen soil underneath.

When spring rolls around in a few months, the straw will keep the weeds from growing and make our garlic an almost-work-free crop until harvest.

Of course we had some help spreading the straw …

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Around the farm …

We have had some varied and colourful sunsets recently.

The 1st snowfalls are always the most beautiful.

 


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December

My Dad always reminded me to finish up the outdoor farm work by the end of November because freeze-up happened in early December. With our changing weather patterns this is often not the case anymore, but I still hear his words and try to heed his advice.

Good thing, because this is what we woke up to on December 1!

We have gone from this …

… to this, in a very short time.

From green grass and the last coloured leaves …

… to peaceful whites & greys.

(Of course a day later it’s melting rapidly.)

And our fall chores? I crossed the last item off the list just a couple of days ago.

Now we turn the page and begin to work our way through the list of winter chores. The best part about this list is that there is no immediate hurry – none of these jobs have to be completed today … or tomorrow … or …. ? After 8 months of sticking to the plan, keeping up the pace and getting things done, our winter schedule is a luxury and a privilege we thoroughly enjoy! (I don’t even check the weather forecast every day!

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Around the farm this week – and these past few weeks …

Everyone enjoyed the beautiful fall weather we experienced for much of November.

We had a bit of drainage work done – Sage took advantage of the dirt piles!

Our 6 remaining hens have started laying eggs and are working out their schedule for nest time.

We made a few changes around the barn, removing the bollards from the front …

… and the grasses from the side.

On the colder days, we play in the greenhouse.

Welcome December!

 

 


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Fall

I slept in on Saturday!

For the first time since early June I didn’t have to rise at 4am to load the van and head off to market. It felt great!

Our farmers’ market at Georgetown finished on the 17th – and what a finale it was! The weather was good, lots of people came out and sales were great. (and one customer even baked me a birthday cake!)

After an uncertain start to the season and learning the new COVID-19 rules & protocol, we actually had a very good 20 weeks. The people of Georgetown are amazing – they were happy the market was running and supported it with enthusiasm, adapted quickly to the new rules – and purchased a lot of vegetables! Our sales were up considerably from 2019.

Thank you to all our customers, the market staff, organizers & volunteers for a great season!

And now we are full-time on the farm, finishing up the fall work and putting the farm to bed for the winter.

The first thing we did last week was harvest any remaining vegetables including beets, green onions, spinach, lettuce & peppers. We washed and packaged them and sent everything off to Project Share, a local food bank in Niagara Falls. Then I mowed down the entire farm, finished spreading manure over it all, lightly worked it in – and that’s it. Harvest 2020 is complete and the fields are ready for next season!

The rains we longed for all summer finally came last week as well, preventing us from planting garlic. But this week looks drier and we plan to get about 5500 cloves of garlic in the ground any day now.

It is a beautiful time of year and we are enjoying a more relaxed pace. Of course there is a lengthy list of fall chores that we are working our way through. But each day brings us closer to completing that list – and a time of relaxation.

In fact some of us are already practising for that winter rest …

Around the farm this week …

Cover crop growing well.

Our little pawpaw patch. The crop was light this year but we had a few to bring to market.

Even the blackberry canes show some nice colour.

Ready for play!

 


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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Monday was a beautiful day.

Warm, calm, sunny & dry, it was the perfect day for  …  spreading manure!

Manure is an important part of our farm fertility program. Manure provides nutrients for the soil which in turn feeds the vegetables we grow. It also adds humus or organic matter which improves the texture of the soil and increases its ability to retain moisture (which is very important during dry seasons like this past summer). It can be difficult to source, but we were fortunate to find a new supplier this fall and received 6 large truckloads last week – about 180 tons!

The other parts of our fertility program include straw mulch, wood chips, compost & cover cropping. Mulch prevents weeds from growing, keeps moisture in the soil and adds nutrients & organic matter as it decomposes. Wood chips can do the same thing. We make compost by mixing manure together with our vegetable waste, straw and any leaves, grass clippings etc. that a local lawn care company drops off at our farm.

Cover crops are crops grown specifically for improving the soil. We use mixtures including buckwheat, sudan grass, oats, peas, radishes, hairy vetch, and several clovers. They are grown and then mowed down & worked into the soil. Some provide nutrients, others prevent weeds from growing, or add organic matter or …

Here is our squash patch from this year. After harvesting the squash we mowed everything down, lightly tilled the soil & seeded a cover crop mixture. It is just germinating now. Hopefully we get enough nice weather yet that it will grow larger and cover the soil for the winter. In spring we’ll work it down and plant other vegetables here.

The final component of our fertility program is a liquid fertilizer that we use when we transplant our vegetables. It gives them a quick boost and helps them get a good start, before their roots have grown enough to receive nutrition from the soil.

Growing great vegetables requires healthy soil. We spend a lot of time, effort & money on improving our soil. But the result -healthy & nutrient dense, flavourful & beautiful vegetables is worth it!

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Around the farm this week …

Still vegetables growing in the field – lettuces, spinach, arugula, beets …

… eggplant & peppers.

 

We even had a new crop for market this week – radicchio! 4 varieties of this beautiful and bitter green.

We seeded sunflowers every Monday all spring & summer for a consistent weekly supply. But the plants and the weather don’t always co-operate and it doesn’t always work out. Last week we took 16 pails of sunflower bunches to market and left a lot behind that we couldn’t fit into the van.

This week we had but 1 pail of sunflowers to sell!

For our final market this coming Saturday we hope to have a good supply again ???

The fall colours around the farm are spectacular this year!

 

Fall means relaxation for some of us …

… or playing with friends,

… or enjoying wheelbarrow rides!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 18 – final week!

This is it! The final week of CSA for 2020!

As usual, it has been an interesting season. Not enough rain, too much heat & humidity, the coronavirus … all worked together to make it a challenging year for growing & marketing. Yet at the same time, these same conditions also helped with our growing & marketing. 

We are grateful for the 120+ families that have trusted us to feed them for 18 weeks. Thank you for giving us the privilege of growing your food. Thank you for all your encouragement, comments & critique. 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).

You helped make it a great season for us!

What’s in the box?

Carrots, beans, squash, sweet peppers, green onions, salad greens.

  • We’re pretty thrilled that our later seedings of carrots germinated (with lots of watering), grew (with lots of weeding), and matured in time for our final week of CSA. We last had carrots in the box back in week 11 and I whined (a little) then about the troubles we have growing them. But all is good now that we have some decent carrots, and by next season we’ll be ready to grow lots of amazing carrots – for sure!

  • This will be the 8th time that beans are in the CSA box in 2020. They are always one of our most popular vegetables. While we seeded beans 13 times – usually every Monday – germination was poor during the height of the heat & drought so we grew & harvested less than anticipated. Most of this week’s beans are the yellow-with-purple-stripes Dragon’s Tongue (or mother-in-laws tongue) beans. They are beautiful to look at and taste great! There are some green beans as well. The beans you receive depends on what is ready for your pick-up day.

  • We hope you have enjoyed the opportunity to try some different kinds of winter squash these last few weeks. Again we will have some of the same varieties available as well as several new ones. They will all be labeled and have a brief description. Remember that squash can be stored for weeks – even months – if kept dry & at room temperature or slightly cooler. For most squash the flavour will improve after a few weeks.
  • Sweet peppers, green onions and salad greens (either lettuce, spinach, salad mix or arugula) complete your final CSA share for 2020.

 * Please recycle your CSA box (or drop it off at the farm if you’re passing by).

* Details for CSA 2021 will be emailed to you in late January.

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Around the farm this week …

Yes I love sumac – especially in the fall!

Our pepper display at market.

 

… and squash.

 

Thank you for being part of our CSA this season. We appreciate your support of our family farm. 

Hope to see you all again next season! 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 17 – 2nd last week!

Here’s what we’ve been up to these last few days!

The squash is all in. There’s lots of it and it’s big!! Actually some of them are huge – one weighed almost 36 pounds and another 39. There’s a lot of eating in a squash that size!

We had a light frost this morning. Not enough to do any damage, but a good reminder that it is fall and we should not take this mild weather for granted! We feel fortunate. Some of our farmer friends from Georgetown market and areas north received a killing frost on the weekend which brought their season to an abrupt end.

Our CSA program continues for this week and 1 more, and our farmers’ market at Georgetown carries on until October 17. Here’s hoping for good weather and no more frost, so we have crops to fill our CSA boxes and market tables to the end.

What’s in the box?

Squash, sweet peppers, green onions, salad greens, kale, garlic.

  • Choose several winter squash for your CSA box this week. Take your pick from a few different varieties – either something familiar, or perhaps a new squash that you have not tried before. Squash stores well – keep them dry and at room temperature. Actually the flavour of most squash improves after a few weeks of curing. So no rush to eat them!
  • Our sweet peppers continue to produce! Remember that peppers can keep for several weeks or longer in a plastic bag in the fridge. They also freeze well and are great to use for cooking in the winter. Just remove the stems & seeds and cut into pieces – whatever size you like. Freeze overnight on a baking sheet and bag the next day. Then grab whatever amount you need when cooking – they’re great in anything from omelets, stir-fries, stews, sauces … Or try roasting sweet peppers. It’s a bit of work but worth it – they taste amazing! Find instructions for roasting peppers at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com (a subscription based recipe & information site that is free with your CSA. It includes 900+ recipes, storage & preserving tips etc. Please email us for your access key if you have forgotten it).
  • Green onions, salad greens (maybe lettuce, spinach, salad mix or arugula), kale and garlic complete this week’s CSA share.

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Around the farm this week …

It is starting to look like fall.

 

Good picks of beautiful eggplant – especially for late September.

 

We’re still planting!

Sage with her best friend Milo.

Watching bugs.

 

Remember – next week is the final week for CSA 2020!

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 16

They say that farmers always complain about the weather and are never completely satisfied.

Not true!

I am totally satisfied with the 25mm of much needed rain that we received on Sunday morning, and the comfortable temperatures we enjoyed today, and the sunshine that is in the forecast all week … though it would be helpful if the nights were a little bit warmer … and maybe the days too – just a couple of degrees (to help ripen the peppers) … and we could use another 25mm of precipitation (during the night, of course) … but other than that, I’m totally satisfied 🙂

The rain was a soaking-in kind of rain and the crops responded immediately. The entire farm looks refreshed! Our greens including lettuce, spinach, salad mix, arugula… are loving these seasonal temperatures and growing so well. Even the tomato plants have perked up and don’t look quite as weary & stressed.

What’s in the box?

Flowering broccoli, winter squash, shishito peppers, sweet peppers,

 salad greens, green beans, beets, garlic.

  • Flowering broccoli or hon tsai tai is a new crop for us. Beautiful green leaves & stems with a hint of purple veining, they are tender, mild & juicy with a hint of broccoli taste. These young shoots are delicious in fresh salads, stir-fries and pasta dishes. Ours have no flowers yet but we don’t want to wait, choosing rather to eat them when they are still so tender. Flowering broccoli has become my snack of choice when I’m out in the field!

  • We picked the first of our winter squash today. Turns out that it is a good crop of good-sized squash. This week there are 2 kinds to choose from. There is a mini butternut called Brulee which has a rich, nutty orange flesh with a hint of sweetness and Sweet Dumpling which is a very sweet, small squash with moist, yellow flesh.
  • The shishito peppers were a big hit with many of our CSA members – so we’ve included them again this week. The traditional way to prepare shishitos is to char them whole in a cast-iron skillet with a bit of olive oil. Cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt and maybe a splash of lemon or lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem. Remember that 1 in 10 can be slightly hot! While shishitos are from Japan, we have a market customer who grew up in northern Spain where shishitos are grown as well – with a different name of course!
  • Also included in your CSA share this week …  Sweet peppers – mostly red shepherds which are delicious & sweet, or coloured bell peppers. Salad greens – probably a salad mix which includes a beautiful mix of various greens, or spinach. Green beans – we’re picking a fresh patch of beans this week.  Beets – the beets are larger than we have had previously and therefore not as tender. Our favourite way to prepare them is to cut into smaller pieces, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with (fresh or dried) herbs such as thyme or rosemary and roast slowly in the oven until they are tender & delicious! Garlic – we finally took the time to sort our garlic & set aside what we need to save for seed for next year’s crop. What’s left is enough for the CSA boxes this week (and maybe next), but the bulbs are getting a lot smaller now. That’s because we plant the biggest ones to ensure we get the best garlic next year!
  • Extras – hot peppers

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Around the farm this week …


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CSA 2020 – Week 15

Suddenly it feels like fall!

The nights are getting colder, the morning dews are heavier, it’s still dark long after I get up. Some mornings I even wear a sweatshirt for awhile!

It is beginning to look like fall too.

Along the railroad tracks the goldenrod is turning yellow …

… and is full of bees & other insects.

The sumac is changing colour …

… and the ornamental grass along the barn is blooming.

On the farm the later crops are (mostly) coming along nicely.

Of course there are lots of weeds and messy patches too.

The squash plants are finally dying back and we can see the fruit – an average crop with above average size squash.

The tomato plants are weary and looking dishevelled – but still producing tasty tomatoes.

But the blackberries are finished – just the odd cluster of small berries left.

Some of us are also getting tired!

What’s in the box?

Sweet peppers, Chinese cabbage, kale, beans, bok choy, tomatoes, green onions, garlic.

  • The sweet peppers are coming on strong now – the large bells as well as the red shepherds, which are very sweet …

… and the mini bells too. These are a perfect size for putting in the lunch box, or stuff them with cream cheese etc … for a colourful & delicious hors d’oeuvre.

  • There will be another Chinese cabbage in your share this week. Tender, crisp & mild, they are delicious in salads, slaws or cooked. Stored in a plastic bag in the fridge, Chinese cabbage will keep for several months – so no rush to finish it!

  • This week’s kale is too big to be called baby kale and too small to be bunched like full-sized kale. It is somewhere in between! Still small enough for salads but big enough to be steamed, sauteed, stir fried or …
  • Once again the beans in your box could be green beans or the dragon’s tongue (yellow beans with purple stripes). They are both great but I think the dragon’s tongue are a bit tastier. To preserve the purple stripe, blanch them very briefly. A longer cooking time results in plain yellow beans.
  • Tomatoes, green onions and garlic round out the box this week.
  • Extras – hot peppers

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Around the farm this week …

Cracking garlic for planting next month.

Hiding under an eggplant.