Thiessen Farms

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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. 

 

 

 


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CSA 2016 – week 10

It’s blackberry season & we’re pretty excited about it!

The past 2 years we have had almost no blackberries due to the cold winters. This year finally, we have a good crop. We picked a few last week, and this week they are coming on strong.

Blackberries, as the name suggests are black. They are also large, shiny & delicious!

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Picked properly they are a little sweet & a little tart. If they aren’t quite ripe, they are sour. Too ripe and they are soft & mushy, but incredibly sweet. We try to pick them as ripe as possible, but while still firm. Unlike raspberries, blackberries are not hollow, but have a centre core which is soft & edible.

The only way to eat a blackberry is to pop the whole thing in your mouth. Try to take a small bite, and you are covered in black, staining juice. Blackberries are best eaten fresh, but also make great jam, juice, sauce, ice cream …

Blackberry plants are long canes. Ours are thornless but many kinds including the wild ones, have thorns. We grow the canes on wires similar to grapes.

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Row 8 is before pruning & tying in spring, and row 9 has been pruned & tied to the wires.

This time of year, blackberries are a sight!

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We have been watering the blackberries regularly & it seems to be paying off. Most of the plants are looking healthy & green.

We pick every other day – 3 times each week from early August until mid September most years.

What’s in the box?

Blackberries, lettuce, garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, onions.

extras – kohlrabi.

  • Find the first taste of blackberries in your share this week.
  • A new planting of lettuce is ready & tasting good.
  • How was the fresh garlic last week? There will be a bulb in your box each week now so don’t save it – eat & enjoy!
  • Zucchini, tomatoes & onions – That’s a great salad right there. Add the lettuce & it’s even better!
  • Kohlrabi will be available for those who want it. Kohlrabi has become our go-to meal this summer. We make noodles with our spiralizer & saute them in butter or olive oil with fresh garlic & onions. Then we add tomatoes or tomato sauce & spices. It’s quick & easy & delicious!

Some of the beautiful lettuces in your box this week.

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CSA 2016 – week 9

Almost an inch of rain fell on Sunday morning – enough to really soak into the ground & satisfy the thirst of many of the vegetables. They responded immediately with increased growth & renewed colour – as did the weeds, that seemed to magically appear overnight.

Compare today’s photo of (from the left) green beans, edamame & zucchini  …

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… with this one that I posted last week of the same rows.

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The growth is phenomenal! We quickly began to mulch the zucchini to keep that moisture from disappearing & the weeds from appearing!

The older zucchini patch that we have been picking is quickly finishing, or at least taking a mid-season break. Perhaps yesterday’s rain will give it enough energy to produce more blossoms & zucchini yet?

Other crops that are beginning to produce are sweet & hot peppers, eggplant & even our artichokes.

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We are not harvesting enough of these vegetables yet to put in the CSA boxes  …  maybe in a couple of weeks?

What’s in the box?

Garlic, collards, kohlrabi, tomatoes, beans, beets, onions.

  • Our garlic has been harvested & we have it drying on racks in the barn. The sight & smell of it had many CSA members drooling when they picked up their boxes last week. It’s not dry yet – but why wait!? Your first, fresh garlic bulb will be in your share this week – with many to follow. You will probably want to use it & enjoy it immediately. Because it is not dry 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.
  • We offered collard greens in the basket back in week 6, and gave some instruction then on how they might be cooked.
  • The next planting of kohlrabi is ready to eat. This time we have purple kohlrabi as well. Only the outside is purple – the inside is white. Use it the same as the white kohlrabi – no difference in flavour at all.
  • Tomatoes, beans, beets & onions – summer standards that you will find in your box again this week.

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CSA 2016 – week 8

It was a welcome & long-awaited rain that fell on our part of the earth this morning. When it was over we had received almost 18 mm (or .7 “). This was the first measurable amount of precipitation for us in more than 2 months. While it is not enough to save all our crops, it certainly refreshed them, invigorated many & allowed me to skip watering today – a welcome break from what has become a daily task. We are very thankful for this rain!

Our peppers & eggplant finally mulched last week, which will help preserve today’s rain.

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The next planting of beans & zucchini, with a row of edamame in between. We’ve been watering these almost daily to coax them along.

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Watering & now today’s rain have made the new lettuces – and the weeds – grow!

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What’s in the box?

Tomatoes, onions, beans, broccoli & zucchini.

  • Much of our watering has been concentrated on our tomato plants. As a result they are doing well – healthy & green, growing & producing increasing amounts of fruit.
  • The onions in your share this week will be the heirloom Ailsa Craig variety that we have been growing for several years now. They are a sweeter onion & very delicious.
  • The green beans plants are small & struggling, but producing a surprising amount of beans.
  • We are coming to the end of our broccoli season. As we mentioned last week, several of the plantings matured at the same time making for a quick harvest. The heads are not very pretty or uniform but the flavour is there. Tuesday’s pick-up will get broccoli for sure in their box. For Friday we cannot promise. We are hopeful there will be some …
  • The weekend was warm hot & so the zucchini grew … & grew …. & grew. They are pretty large today. This may be the week to stuff zucchini, or make zucchini brownies?

Last weeks’ CSA box.

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The rain today did not usher in any cooler weather – it was hot & humid again, and everyone felt it!

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CSA 2016 – week 7

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Sunflowers just seem to make people happy!

And we’ve got a long row of them, which is a whole lot of happiness.

They are at their peak right now & looking bright & beautiful. We took about 9 big pails full to market on Saturday – they were to first things to sell & we sold out in a hurry. We had some for sale at CSA pick-up on Friday & lots were snapped up. There’s even some available at the road – self-serve – and they’re moving there too. It seems that people really like sunflowers.

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The plan was to plant a lot of sunflowers this season. We ordered a whole pile of seeds in the winter – 5 or 6 kinds, different colours & sizes. We would seed a row every week to ensure a continuous supply of blooms for much of the summer. Even if sales were poor, the farm would look great!

That was the plan.

The reality was that we seeded that first row – and no more. We got busy … it got dry … so only 1 row. They’re blooming now and by next week they’ll be over.

But for now, that row looks great!

And sunflowers are making us happy!

What’s in the box?

Tomatoes, basil, broccoli, zucchini, green onions & beets.

  • With each pick we are harvesting more & more tomatoes. Along with the early cherry & grape tomatoes, we are now picking salad size & even a few large tomatoes. I know that in a few weeks everyone will be groaning at yet more tomatoes, but at this stage in the season it’s a big hurray!!
  • What goes with tomatoes? Basil! There will be a bunch of fresh basil in your share this week – the beginning of a beautiful tomato-basil salad.
  • While the first planting of broccoli was sparse, the 2nd … & 3rd are maturing together & coming on strong. The heads are not large because of the dry conditions but they taste great. Find several in your box this week.
  • We put another planting of zucchini in the ground last week, but the first patch continues to produce well. Choose from green, yellow or green striped, & maybe a few patty pan summer squash. Different shapes & colours but all taste similar & are used the same way.
  • This is probably the end of the green onions. Next week should see big onions in the share.
  • Beets – we’ll call them baby beets since they don’t seem to be growing at all. Enjoy another bunch this week.

Last week’s box.

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CSA 2016 – week 6

 

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We always get excited when the first tomatoes are ripe & ready for harvest.

The cherry tomatoes lead the way – orange, yellow, pink & red – along with some grape & smaller salad sized fruit. So far there have been just enough to tease our customers at market & prove the old adage – the early bird gets the worm (or tomato in this case). This week we are picking a few more, enough to also tease our CSA members & provide a small taste.

But this week is really a good news/bad news scenario.

Bad news first …

The lack of rainfall or drought as it’s being rightly called, is beginning to have a more noticeable effect on our CSA boxes. We could entitle it “what’s not in the box?

Raspberries are the biggest disappointment. They have come, and almost gone in a hurry. What began as a promising crop has been reduced by 90% – we’re only picking about 10% of an average crop. The rest have dried up. Other crops that have been lost or reduced include fava beans, the first plantings of broccoli & cauliflower, green beans, sweet onions, edamame. Peas – snow, shell & sugar snap – and spinach were good while they lasted, which was about half as long as usual. The losses will be felt right through the season since we have not been able to seed as many vegetables lately as planned. Everything has to be watered now in order to get it to germinate, & water is in short supply! Crops that have been transplanted are faring poorly. About 1/3 of our winter squash didn’t make it along with fennel, some lettuce …

The result is a CSA box that may be getting smaller instead of larger, and a table at the farmers’ market with less instead of more.

But there is good news!

As already noted, the tomato harvest has begun & they are looking good. We are watering them as much as we can & so far it’s paying off. The plants are outdoing themselves.

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Peppers, eggplant & even artichokes have established themselves & are growing – albeit slowly. The winter squash that survived are beginning to runner & spread and have blossoms & small squash. Zucchini, the next plantings of broccoli, kale, collards, beets … are doing well.

Blackberries – one of our biggest crops – are looking good. We remain hopeful but know they require a lot of water as they ripen, more than we can give them.

So now that you know what’s happening on the farm…

What’s in the box?

Raspberries, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, collard greens, lettuce, zucchini, beets, green onions & garlic scapes.

  • We picked raspberries today & were pleasantly surprised to find some nice ones. So there will be a small box in your share this week (Tues pick-up for sure, Friday is uncertain).
  • Since there are only a few cherry tomatoes & a few broccoli, everyone will get one or the other.
  • Collard greens – a delicious green but not as common or well-known as kale or chard or spinach. Collards are a nutritional goldmine, similar to kale & broccoli. They are low in calories, high in fibre, & rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium &  B vitamins. They are rarely eaten raw, but are best prepared by boiling rapidly for 5-10 minutes which preserves nutrients, colour & taste. Then the collards are drained, dried & sautéed in a little oil with other vegetables or herbs & flavourings. Sauteeing collards without boiling first is another cooking method. It results in slightly stronger flavoured greens with a chewier texture.
  • Lettuce makes a return appearance in the box this week – probably small heads rather than the mix we’ve had most weeks.
  • Zucchini, beets, green onions & garlic scapes are all around for another week.

Here are 2 recipes – a simple collard green recipe & one for beet burgers that a CSA member passed on to us (thanks Cory!).

Sautéed Collard Greens

         ingredients

    • collard greens
    • several garlic scapes
    • 1 tablespoon  butter
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

    preparation

    Remove and discard stems and center ribs of collard greens. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. In a kettle of boiling water cook collards 5-10 minutes – until tender, but still bright green – and drain in a colander.

    Mince garlic. In a heavy skillet heat butter and oil over moderately high heat until foam subsides and stir in garlic, collards, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté collard mixture, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

    Drizzle collards with lemon juice and toss well.

Quarter Pound Beet Burgers  

http://www.theppk.com/2012/02/quarter-pounder-beet-burger/

Last week’s CSA box (half share)

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Oliver & one of the Flynns – always reminding us to make time to relax & just chill!

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