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CSA 2019 – Week 16

Would you believe this is our squash patch? Or is it just a weed field?

It was back in mid-June when we transplanted our squash plants here. I cultivated them several times until they started to runner and the tractor couldn’t get down the rows anymore without damaging the plants. Then we hoed & hand weeded them once. After that they were on their own! Squash is not a high value crop so we limit how much time & effort we put into it. All summer we drove past the field – every day – many times a day – and pretended not to see the weeds.

When we finally took a closer look, and ventured into the thicket the other day, we were pleasantly pleased to find a decent crop of squash – all sizes, colours & shapes. (We grew 28 varieties this season.)

We’ve started to pick and pile them to cure in the sun.

Much of the farm is looking empty & bare. We cleaned up a lot of beds today – picking the leftover vegetables and then mowing them down. It looks a lot better now!

The remaining crops are growing well.

And we continue to seed …

What’s in the box?

Squash, bok choy, lettuce, arugula, sweet peppers, onions, garlic.

Extras – hot peppers

  • The first of the winter squash appears in your box this week. (There will be more!) We’ve taste-tested them and they are great! Everyone has their own way of preparing squash but we prefer to bake them. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, place in a baking dish cut side down with a tiny bit of water, and bake at 350 until the squash is tender & soft. Then scoop out the flesh & enjoy! Add seasoning if desired. It’s a simple, easy preparation.
  • Bok choy is back! After taking a break during the heat & humidity of the summer, we have this delicious green again.
  • Other greens in the share this week include lettuce & arugula.
  • Sweet peppers, onions & garlic complete the box this week. We finally took the time to sort through our garlic and set aside the biggest & best for planting next month. The rest will be in the CSA share and we’ll sell at market. Because we started making garlic available earlier, when it was still fresh, we’re going to run out sooner than expected. So enjoy it while it lasts!
  • Hot peppers will be available for those who want a bit of extra heat in their diet!

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A bit more of the beauty of fall …

And the characters of fall!


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CSA 2019 – Week 15

Another Monday – another day of seeding, planting & harvesting (and a bit of weeding too). To be honest, we’re not so excited about it all anymore. It’s been a long season and we’re feeling tired!

But when we see how the recently planted crops – especially the greens – are responding to these cooler, fall temperatures and growing with vigor, we also respond with increased energy and push on …

What’s in the box?

Swiss chard, radishes, sweet peppers & mini sweet peppers, lettuce & arugula, blackberries, onions, and garlic.

  • Swiss chard will never be the most popular green – but it certainly is the brightest & prettiest!
  • Chard is a healthy green, that cooks & tastes similar to spinach in many ways. We usually plant a row, offering it in our CSA once or twice, and selling bunches at market. But it never sells very well (good thing the chickens like it!). This year we tried something different and sold baby chard – chard that is planted quite thickly and then harvested when only a few inches tall. At this size it is very tender and can be eaten raw in salads. But some of it got away on us and now we have some beautiful full size swiss chard. If you are not familiar with chard, here are 2 websites that offer good information & simple recipes.
  • https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/swiss_chard/
  • https://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/simple-sauteed-swiss-chard/
  • Fall radishes (or winter radishes) are different from spring radishes. They takes much longer to mature and the result is a very large, but milder, crispy radish. They are most delicious eaten raw but can also be stir-fried, or roasted. We planted lots, but then lost most of them due to poor germination when it was dry, and then to weeds. As a result this might be the only week they are in your box – so give them a try!
  • This is high season for our sweet peppers! We have shepherds (the long, red, very sweet ones), & bell peppers in several colours. The harvest is plentiful – so expect plenty in the box this week! In a plastic bag in the fridge, peppers keep well for several weeks. They freeze well too – simply cut them up, pop into freezer bags and throw them in the freezer. When winter comes, you’ll be glad to have them for your cooking!
  • We also have mini sweet bell peppers. These tiny peppers in yellow and red taste delicious and are great in lunches or as a snack. You could stuff them with cream cheese & herbs or try this recipe …
  • https://www.skinnytaste.com/mini-bell-pepper-loaded-turkey-nachos/
  • Lettuce mix, arugula, onions, garlic & blackberries complete your share this week. We’re still picking lots of blackberries, but the crop is coming to an abrupt end shortly! This may be the last week for blackberries!
  • There are no tomatoes in the box this week. The cooler days & much cooler nights have slowed the (already weary) plants down and we are picking very, very few. Tomato season is ending!

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We continue to draw energy from the beauty of the farm this time of year!


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CSA 2019 – Week 14

Do you have any bees on your farm?

That’s a question we get asked a lot at market. People are concerned about the bees! I assure them that on our farm there seems to be a lot of bees … and butterflies .. and all sorts of insects.

Right now the sunflowers are teeming with life! So many bees and other flying insects! When we finish picking a patch, I don’t mow it down immediately but leave what remains (misshapen blooms, crooked stems, uglies …) for the bees to work – and they love it!

There are bees in the wild areas too – in the weeds around our pond, along the railroad tracks …

… and in our gardens by the house.

Our water garden – where the water from washing our vegetables drains to – has had an abundance of monarch butterflies lately. They especially like the Joe Pye weed.

What’s in the box?

Lettuce mix, beets, zucchini, shishito peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, blackberries, onions, garlic.

  • Our lettuce mix is back in the box this week! The cooler temperatures of late (especially at night) have been good for lettuce, which prefers this over the heat & humidity. We continue to plant lettuce every week, so there should be lots coming.
  • Today I cleaned up several beet plantings where we had been picking earlier. The beets here, hidden under weeds, are not the prettiest – they are all different shapes & sizes. But we ate some for dinner tonight and they were tender & delicious! Enjoy some beets in your share this week.
  • The zucchini is also looking a bit strange now! The plants are struggling to survive (I’ll put them out of their misery after this week), but still producing fruit – albeit somewhat misshapen & oddly coloured fruit. So this is the last zucchini you’ll get in your box this season.
  • We can’t stop eating shishito peppers. I’m so glad we planted a lot of them! Hopefully you love them too. Most shishito recipes char or blister the peppers. That’s the way we eat them! But here’s a recipe that’s a little different – pickled shishitos. https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/braised-pork-with-ginger-pickled-shishito-peppers
  • Our sweet peppers are ripening faster now – the red shepherds and the coloured bells.
  • The cooler nights have slowed the tomatoes right down. We’re picking a lot less now than a few weeks ago. But there’s still plenty of green fruit remaining on the plants so we’re not done yet – which is good news for all of us tomato lovers!
  • Blackberries, onions & garlic complete the box this week.

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Here’s a recipe for a fresh & easy tomato salad that we eat all summer …

Fresh Tomato Salad

Combine
2 TB red wine vinegar
1.5 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper 
1 clove garlic
Add …
2 cups chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
2 cups chopped cucumbers
2 cups chopped sweet peppers
1/4 cup chopped (red) onion 
1 tin chick peas
Let sit for 2 hours.
Add …
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup feta  

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Our apologies if anyone was missing a few blackberries last week!!


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CSA 2019 – Week 13

It was a wonderful Monday morning with a bright sunrise, heavy dew, cool & fresh temperatures, and no humidity! Everything – even the weeds – looked beautiful in the early morning light.

And like every Monday, it was a full day – of picking, weeding, seeding and transplanting.

Today’s transplanting included arugula & bok choy. Tomorrow we’ll cover this bed with insect netting to keep the leaves from being chewed up.
Lettuce mix that should be ready to pick next week. Under the insect netting is salad mix & arugula for this week.
Spinach, beets, more lettuce … and cabbages & radicchio (here’s hoping for a long fall so these have time to mature) all transplanted about 10 days ago, and growing well.

It’s the end of August – and the farm reflects this. Overall it is looking tired! Many of the vegetable beds are wild & overgrown with weeds but there are still crops hidden there, like beets and onions … Others beds are looking better.

What’s in the box?

Dragon’s tongue beans, salad mix, shishito peppers, sweet peppers, red & yellow onions, carrots, cucumbers, garlic, tomatoes and blackberries.

  • Dragon’s tongue beans (also known as mother-in-laws tongue beans – but we won’t go there!!) are a flat, yellow bean with purple stripes. A beautiful bean, they taste better than any green bean in my opinion. The only downside of them is that the purple disappears when cooked. A very quick blanch sometimes will preserve the colour – if you don’t mind eating your beans a little on the crunchy side!
  • We have a new salad mix this week. It includes such things as mustard, tatsoi, bok choy, etc … These could make it a little spicy, but certainly tasty! Try it and let us know if it is something we should grow again.
  • Our shishito pepper plants are producing an abundance of fruit. That makes us happy as they are a favourite of ours. Check the newsletter from week 11 to review the details on how to prepare them.
  • We’re finally seeing some colour on our sweet peppers! This week’s selection will include green bells and a few red shepherds. Shepherds are long & tapered in shape and have an amazing sweet flavour.
  • Your box will include the usual Ailsa Craig onion, and a nice red onion too this week.
  • Enjoy carrots & cucumbers this week – maybe for the last time? We’re almost at the end of the carrot rows now. And the cucumber plants appear to be giving up!
  • The garlic is about cured now. Keep it dry & at room temperature (or slightly cooler) and the bulbs should last for several months. Another option is to freeze it. Separate & peel each clove and stuff them in a glass jar with a lid (to prevent the entire freezer & contents from smelling like garlic) and put in the freezer. Pull out a clove when you need it. Very easy and they will keep indefinitely.
  • The tomato patch is looking weary – but still producing a lot of delicious fruit! What’s your favourite way to eat tomatoes? One CSA member passed on a recipe for tomato pie. Thanks Amy! See recipe below.
  • Everyone is happy to see blackberries! “A little tart, a little sweet” is how we describe them at market. Enjoy blackberries in your share again this week!

Easy Tomato Pie Recipe

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese 

6 large tomatoes thinly sliced

4 tbsp Helman’s Mayo

3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

I placed the panko and parm in a 9” pie plate and pressed it so that it covered the bottom and sides of the plate. I did not bake the crust but rather began to layer thinly sliced tomatoes, dabs of mayo and salt and pepper into the plate. When the slices filled the plate completely I pressed the slices down firmly with my hands and topped the pie with grated cheddar.

Baked at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

Some additions to the pie could include fresh herbs between the layers, or cooked crumbled bacon. But it is pretty awesome as is. 

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Guess it’s not just the farm that’s tired this time of year. We’re all feeling weary this time of year – catching naps when we can, hitching rides on the carts so we don’t have to walk …


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CSA 2019 – Week 12

We have been selling our produce at various farmers’ markets now for more than 25 years. These last few years we attend 2 markets only – North York on Thursdays and Downtown Georgetown on Saturday mornings. It’s a privilege to deal directly with the persons who will eat the fruit of our labour – to talk and get to know them, and hear their comments & opinions about our vegetables. It’s also a lot of work – from picking & packing the day before, to early rising & loading the day of, and then driving to the market and setting up our stall.

In the spring when the days are longer the sun is rising during our trip in. There can be some beautiful skies!

But by this time of year it’s still dark for the drive in, and even when we arrive at market.

Market itself is usually a lot of fun – when the weather is good! Here are various shots of our market setup this season …

What’s in the box?

Sweet peppers, blackberries, cucumbers, carrots, onions, tomatoes & garlic.

extras – zucchini, & sunflowers

  • Sweet peppers always seem to take so long to ripen & mature. Our plants have been loaded with green fruit for a long while, but are so slow to colour up. We’ve had a handful of purple ones, and last week we picked the first few mini red & yellow peppers, but still we wait for the red shepherds and all their sweetness, and the beautiful orange and yellow bells. So, we’ll pick some more green ones this week and add them to the share. And we’ll continue to wait (im)patiently for more colour.
  • Everyone was excited for the blackberries last week. We have had enough rain & warm temperatures in the last while to ensure large, plump, delicious berries. The canes are heavy with fruit and (barring a bad weather event) we should be picking blackberries well into September.
  • The summer vegetables continue … cucumbers, carrots, onions, and of course tomatoes.
  • Our garlic is drying out nicely, so we are no longer calling it fresh. It’s been airing in the barn a few weeks now and is almost completely dried. There’s no difference in the way you use it, but it means that if kept at room temperature and away from moisture the bulbs will now last for many months. Enjoy!
  • Our CSA members are telling us that they are maybe getting zucchinied out! So we’ll move zucchini over to the “extras table” and you can grab some or not – your choice. However you might want try this recipe for a zucchini pizza crust. We like it a lot – https://kirbiecravings.com/zucchini-crust-pizza
  • We are also hearing that the heirloom cucumbers are not a hit – too big & seedy is the consensus. Thank you for letting us know! Next season we’ll put our efforts into some other crop rather. We always appreciate feedback on the contents of our boxes. It helps us decide what to grow, and how to improve our CSA.
  • There is a chance I overplanted sunflowers! At least it seems we are picking vast amounts each day in this warm weather. Please help yourself to a handful of these bright beauties along with all your vegetables. We have plenty for everyone to enjoy!


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CSA 2019 – Week 11

Abundance is our word of the day – as in we picked an abundance of vegetables and other crops today!! And we will do the same tomorrow, and probably all week. It’s a combination of the time of year (mid-August is prime vegetable season), the abundance of rain we received last week (3+ inches), and the bright sunshine & hot temperatures. Put it all together and the result is abundance!!

Here are some examples …

What’s in the box?

Blackberries, shishito peppers, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, onions, fresh garlic, zucchini.

  • Blackberries are always a highlight of the summer. It seems almost everybody enjoys blackberries. 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 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 …
  • Please note that we do use pesticides on our blackberries. For many years we did not. That was one of the good things about growing blackberries – no spraying necessary! Then along came the spotted wing drosophila. Spotted wing drosophila is an invasive vinegar fly that has the potential to cause extensive damage to many fruit crops – especially soft and dark coloured fruit like blackberries. In the last few years it has been found throughout much of southern Ontario and most of the fruit-growing areas of North America, and has become a chronic pest in berry and tender fruit crops. Effective biological controls are not yet available. There are cultural practices that we use to help reduce the insect populations, but the only effective control right now is chemical. And so we spray regularly to try to kill the spotted wing drosophila and protect our blackberries (and elderberries). We would rather not! But then again, we would rather not have worms in our blackberries!
  • Shishito peppers are a Japanese pepper – bright green, with a sweet, fruity flavour and thin, tender, wrinkled skin. What makes a shishito exciting is that 1 in 10 peppers will be hot! They are simple to prepare and delicious to eat! While you can use them as you would any other sweet pepper, they are at their best when charred in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add some minced fresh garlic. Cook the peppers whole, 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.
  • Cucumbers were not listed as being in the box last week – but there they were! They surprised us with a big & unexpected pick. And here they are again! Returning favourites are the white Silver Slicer, a delicious, crunchy cucumber. They really are great! We also have long green cucumbers – with the beautiful name of Summer Dance – also delicious, but disappointing for us as they get scabby so quick and then look poorly. Lastly we are trying a couple of heirloom varieties. These get rather large and sometimes a bit seedy but like the others they do taste great. If it sounds like I like cucumbers, I sure do. They are one of my favourite vegetables!
  • The remaining vegetables in your box this week are familiar to you – carrots, green beans, tomatoes (various sizes), onions, fresh garlic & zucchini.
  • What isn’t in the box perhaps should also be mentioned. Lettuce was missing last week and is absent again this week and might be for a few more weeks. The extreme heat & humidity we had recently slowed down the lettuce’s germination first and then its growth when it was finally planted. We kept picking earlier plantings longer than we prefer, but now it has caught up to us and there will be this lettuce lull for a while. We are harvesting a small amount from what has recently grown, but not enough for our CSA. It’s a similar story with most of our greens. But they will return …

Some final examples of abundance …

An abundance of straw bales arrived last week – 70 of them, for next year’s weed control.
An abundance of sleep for Flynn & Flynn!!
And an abundance of discovery for the next generation.


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CSA 2019 – Week 10

What’s in the box?

Carrots, green peppers, onions, tomatoes & cherry tomatoes, zucchini, fresh garlic, green beans.

  • Carrots don’t often make an appearance in our CSA shares but enjoy them this week! They are small, tender, sweet, & delicious!
  • Peppers are certainly one of my favourites! We could wait until they turn colour – we’re anticipating red, orange, yellow & purple (and even a few chocolate coloured ones!) – but why not enjoy them now while they are still green? Don’t worry, the peppers are plentiful on the plants so there will be lots of coloured ones too, in a few weeks.
  •  Returning CSA members were excited to see the onions last week. They taste soooo good! (It’s hard to beat an onion & tomato sandwich!)
  • We are picking more large beefsteak tomatoes now – red ones, as well as orange & pink. The cherry tomatoes are also ripening well. Find both sizes of tomatoes in the box this week.
  • Our zucchini plants are truly amazing. After all their struggles with insects earlier, they have come back and are pumping out the fruit. Now the diseases are showing up – mildew especially, which is common in hot & humid weather – but still they produce.
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Our 2nd zucchini planting is kicking in and we harvested a large amount from this small patch today as well. Plus, we have recently seeded a 3rd time. We expect these to begin producing by the middle of September. So there should be zucchini for awhile!

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  • The barn smells deliciously like garlic. That’s because we have racks & racks of fresh garlic drying. The crop is good and we’re still harvesting, so you can expect a garlic bulb in your box each week now.
  • Green beans complete this week’s CSA box.

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I ate my 1st blackberry today and it was amazing! Expect to see blackberries in your box in a couple of weeks!