Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


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Final Pick

It feels good. Really good!

Today we picked all the peppers and eggplant for the last time. There wasn’t much. Then I hitched the mower to the tractor and mowed all the plants down.

In a few minutes our large vegetable patch went from this …

… to this!

Usually I find it hard to mow down the crops, but not this year. The plants were basically empty – picked clean. So I had no problem getting rid of them.

Yesterday I picked the popcorn. It was supposed to be ready for the last week of CSA but didn’t quite make it. Now it’s drying in the greenhouse.

Tomorrow we’ll pick greens from our last beds – spinach, lettuce, arugula, salad mix, bok choy – for our final Saturday market.

Our last planting of sunflowers started opening this week too – just in time for Saturday’s market.

Next week any leftovers from market, any lingering squash in the barn, and whatever greens are still in the field will be packed up and sent off to the food bank.

Then we’re done!

And it feels good!

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Around the farm this week …

A wet day at Georgetown market last Saturday. Here’s hoping for better weather this week!

Thank you Georgetown for a great market season!


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CSA 2021 – Week 18 – final week!

It’s the final week of our CSA for 2021, and we can’t help smiling.

We’re smiling because the year has been a success – in our opinion. We grew, harvested, and prepared enough vegetables to fill 132 boxes each week for 18 weeks – that’s 2376 boxes in total. More than 40 different vegetables, herbs & berries were included in the boxes – an average of 9 each week (plus extras were often available to those who wanted a few more vegetables).

We’re smiling because the year has been a success – in our members’ opinions. At least that is what you have been telling us! Thank you for all the positive & encouraging comments each week and for the suggestions & critiques. One of the best things about CSA is knowing who is eating the food we produce and getting immediate feedback on it.

We’re smiling because our workload is suddenly going to be a whole lot easier. Our Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays will no longer be spent harvesting, washing, sorting, packing, bagging, boxing and distributing … produce. (But no worries – we’ll still have plenty to do!)

We’re smiling because we can take some time to sit & enjoy …

What’s in the box?

Squash, kale or Swiss chard bunches, mini-romaine lettuce, arugula (or salad mix), edamame, beets, onions, garlic, sweet peppers.

We will have several varieties of squash available again this week for you to choose from. It’s possible you have not eaten all the squash yet from the last 2 weeks, but squash stores well – keep it dry and at room temperature or slightly cooler. For most kinds of squash the flavour improves after a few weeks of storage. But remember to keep your eye on it for any soft spots or spoilage. Then use it fast!

We prefer our squash roasted in the oven, (Cut in half, remove the seeds and bake in the oven – cut side down – until tender. Then scoop out the flesh, add seasoning if desired and enjoy!) but squash is also great in soup or in baking (muffins, loaves, scones …).

There will be a bunch of kale or Swiss chard in the box this week. http://www.Cookwithwhatyouhave.com has about 45 recipes for each of these vegetables if you need ideas for preparing them. (With this being the end of CSA, our subscription to this website http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com also ends within 2 weeks. Download & save any recipes you want to keep from this site before they are gone!)

The salad green this week is mini-romaine lettuce. It was last in the box way back in week 5. Always a favourite, mini-romaine is tender, tasty – and beautiful! We have several varieties ready now, in various shades or green & red.

Arugula (or maybe salad mix later in the week) is the other salad green in the box.

Edamame, beets, sweet peppers, onions & garlic complete this final CSA box of 2021.

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Around the farm this week …

Thank you for supporting our CSA!

We hope to see you again next year.

Look for an email with details of CSA 2022 in late January.

 

 


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CSA 2021 – Week 17 – 2nd last week!

The farm looks different at this time of the year.

Since early spring when we began to plant outside in the field, most of the farm has been chock full of vegetables, herbs and flowers. But now there are open patches – lots of open patches where no crops are being grown. There are still some vegetables growing – we are even still planting – but we’re running out of growing time.

To me, the farm looks a little sad.

I prefer to see it full of plants – green & growing, flourishing and waiting for harvest. But late September means the season is winding down, coming to a close. We have only 1 more week of CSA after this one, and 4 more Saturdays of market.

What’s in the box?

Squash, edamame, lettuce, stir-fry mix, green beans,

sweet peppers, onions & garlic.

This week choose 2 squash from the varieties we will have available. Winter squash keeps well if stored properly. Ideal conditions are a temperature of 10C (or a bit warmer) and dry, with low humidity.

We received many positive comments on the edamame that was in your box the other week. We are picking the final planting of edamame now and have included it again. Boil it in salted water for 3-5 minutes, drain, and sprinkle with lime juice. Pop them into your mouth, squeeze the beans out & enjoy! Another option is to toss the boiled pods with sesame oil and soy sauce. Delicious!

Our goal this season was to have lettuce or salad greens of some kind in the box every week – because that is what you have asked for – and we have succeeded! This week we are harvesting the last of the bibb lettuce. If we run out by Friday’s pick up we will have some beautiful mini-romaine lettuce instead.

Our stir-fry mix contains bok choy and various other greens, some mild and others with a bit more flavour. Enjoy it on it’s own or add green beans, sweet peppers, onions & garlic to make a delicious meal!

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Around the farm this week …

The tomato patch looking sad & forlorn. There are still tomatoes on the vines, but they do not taste good – and the heavy rains last week cracked most of them.
The eggplants are not ready to give up yet! They liked all the rain and are blooming again. However the coming cooler weather means these blossoms will not produce fruit.
Sharing a favourite snack!
The chickens are thriving on any spoiled & unsellable vegetables – and watermelon rinds!

This little guy is now big enough to enjoy all the activity in the barn.

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Remember – CSA finishes next week!


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CSA 2021 – Week 16

What’s in the box?

Squash, rapini, bibb lettuce, shishito peppers, sweet peppers,

green beans, onions & garlic.

We have picked the first of our winter squash. Choose either a butternut or a sweet dumpling squash this week.

Butternut (left) is everybody’s favourite squash with rich, orange, nutty flesh. Sweet dumpling (right) is a very sweet, moist squash with yellow flesh. Both are delicious!
We prepare all our squash the same way – cut in half, remove the seeds and bake in the oven until tender. Then scoop out the flesh, add spices if desired and enjoy!

Rapini (also known as broccoli raab) is a green vegetable with edible leaves, buds, flowers & stems with a slightly bitter flavour. Rapini is usually blanched for several minutes in salted, boiling water to reduce it’s bitterness before being sauted, stir-fried or roasted.

5 Ways to Serve Broccoli Rabe (from https://www.masterclass.com)

  1. Sautée it over low heat in extra virgin olive oil with onions, garlic, and black pepper to make a simple and delicious side dish, or to add to a main dish.
  2. Combine it with olive oil and nuts in a blender to make a broccoli rabe pesto.
  3. Roast it like you would broccoli in the oven at medium-high heat until crisp. It can then be served alone, with other roasted vegetables, or added to sandwiches, or as a pizza topping.
  4. Broccoli rabe is commonly a leafy addition to Italian-American pasta, often paired with spicy Italian sausage, parmesan cheese, and black and red pepper.
  5. Sautéed broccoli rabe with red chili flakes, garlic cloves, and guanciale, is a common side dish for pork recipes like grilled ribs, porchetta, and Italian sausages.

Also check https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/category/raab-kale-broccoli-collard for additional recipes.

We are growing several kinds of bibb lettuce this season. Bibb is a beautifully coloured, leafy, ruffled lettuce with a compact, soft heart. Try it and tell us how you like it.

Enjoy some shishito peppers in your share this week. They were last in the box back in week 11. Here’s a quick review of how to best prepare shishitos. Char them in olive oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and a splash of lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.

Sweet peppers, green beans, onions & garlic complete the box this week.

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Around the farm this week …

Our latest planting of assorted salad greens.
Tomatoes & peppers make a colourful display at market.

The morning after a heavy night rain is a beautiful time.


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CSA 2021 – Week 15

Edamame … finally!

Edamame – or fresh green soybeans – are a vegetable we always look forward to. But they take a long time! We seeded them in trays in the greenhouse in early May, transplanted them to the field a few weeks later, then waited until now to harvest them. That’s about 4 months! They should have been ripe & ready to pick a few weeks earlier but because it has been so dry they took their own sweet time to mature. The pods just hung there on the plants for the longest time without plumping up – we actually had about given up on them.

They say edamame has been around for 2000 years or more, first grown in China and then in Japan. There, it is a traditional bar snack eaten lightly steamed and sprinkled with salt.

Edamame are full of protein, fibre and loaded with vitamins & minerals – a very healthy vegetable. And they are easy to prepare. Simply boil the pods in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the water & drain. Then squeeze the pods to pop out the beans and enjoy as a healthy snack. Delicious! We like them sprinkled with lime juice and salt. Or they can be added to soups, stews, salads, noodle dishes …

In Asia they are sold by the plant with the bean pods still attached. We tried that one of the first years we grew them – it didn’t go over very well at market. Now we harvest the entire plant, cutting it off at ground level. We bring them into the barn where we can sit in comfort and pull the pods off the plant. It’s a cushy job – especially on a hot afternoon!

What’s in the box?

Edamame, blackberries, peppers, tomatoes, salad greens,

onions & garlic.

Extras – Hot peppers.

This week’s CSA box includes a paper bag of fresh edamame. It will keep in the fridge in plastic for about a week – but eat them right away for the best flavour (see above for suggestions).

Blackberries have come to an end – this will be the last week for them. A good rain would have prolonged the harvest but unfortunately that never came. Nevertheless it has been a great year for blackberries!

Sweet peppers, tomatoes (also almost finished!), salad greens, onions and garlic complete the box.

We are picking more hot pepper varieties now and these will be available as an extra for those who like a bit of heat!

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Around the farm this week …

The last planting of green beans are almost ready.
Mini romaine lettuce.
Beets.
Last seeding of sunflowers.

Everything was going smoothly with our sunflowers. A new planting was ready for harvest each week just as we planned. Then the heat of August hit and they matured faster & faster causing a sunflower overload. Then the birds dug up and ate the seeds of 2 plantings before they could even germinate! We stretched out some shiny, reflective ribbon for the last planting to try and keep the birds away- it worked! But we will have a sunflower gap at market for a few weeks towards the end of September before these are ready. Not everything goes according to plan!

We enjoyed some beautiful skies today over our farm …
… and over the neighbour’s farm.
Working hard making tomato juice …
… and playing hard!


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CSA 2021 – Week 14

Carrots – the preferred car snack for this little guy. He doesn’t mind that they are misshapen & ugly. They taste great!

Anyone who has been a CSA member here for a few years knows that carrots are not a sure thing for us – for some reason we always struggle to grow a nice carrot. I see no reason to recount the details of our carrot misfortunes again this season. Suffice it to say that there will be no carrots in your box this year.

Actually, we have issues with all the “C” vegetables. Carrots, cabbage, cucumbers – these we attempt yearly with varied results. Cauliflower, celery & celeriac we have given up on. And corn is way easier to buy at market each week.

I do not think our inability to grow these vegetables makes us failures as farmers … it just feels that way sometimes 🙂

So, while carrots & cabbage were scheduled to be in the box this week, there will be no “C” vegetables – not this week … or any week!!

What’s in the box?

Peppers, blackberries, tomatoes, onions, zucchini,

green beans, garlic, salad greens & beets.

Your box this week is similar to last weeks, but there are a few things to note.

The quantity & variety of peppers is still increasing, but blackberries & tomatoes are on the decline. We have a great onion crop so you can expect several onions in your share this week. This is probably the final week for zucchini.

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Around the farm this week …

Today’s planting – lettuce, salad mix, arugula, baby kale & bok choy.
We received approx. 1/3″ rain overnight – not a lot, but enough to freshen things up.
Picking beefsteak tomatoes.
Picking beans.
Signs of fall …
Sometimes it just feels right to sit …


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CSA 2021 – Week 13

Growing up, my siblings and I were expected to help out on the farm starting when we were very young. But my parents were fair, giving us jobs appropriate for our age & experience and paying us for all our work. I remember having to pick 1 basket of cherries before I could run next door to play with my cousin. The next summer it was 2 baskets, then 3 … Each summer the amount of work was increased. By my early teens I was usually working full days. Probably 10 or 11 was the magic age – while I had to work until lunch, in the afternoon I was allowed to ride my bike to the swimming pool at the local Lions Park and swim with my friends. Those were the days!

I was thinking about those times as I sweated in the fields today picking zucchini & tomatoes, transplanting seedlings and weeding. A swim would have been a great way to cool off! Or having the afternoon off would have been good too!

I suppose in a few years I might return to working less hours, at jobs appropriate for my age – but I’m not quite there yet!

But others are …

One of the Flynns was caught resting in the cool shade of the beans & sunflowers. He seemed to feel guilty and immediately jumped up and headed off “hunting”.
Though usually they feel no shame for loafing about on a hot day – or any day!

What’s in the box?

Peppers, blackberries, Chinese broccoli, tomatoes,

onions, zucchini, green beans, garlic, salad greens & beets.

Extras – fennel & hot peppers.

Our peppers are finally ripening. We have bell peppers in red, orange, yellow, purple & green. Shepherd peppers are long, tapered, red, very sweet peppers. We also grow mini-bell peppers in red, yellow & purple. Your box could include any of these this week.

Enjoy another box of blackberries this week. While the plants are still full, we are seeing a sharp decline in quantity & quality. Today’s pick saw us discarding a lot of sun-damaged berries. The lack of rain is beginning to affect the size as well. It appears that blackberries will end sooner than expected.

Another planting of Chinese broccoli has matured and a small bunch will be in your box this week. It has thin stems, large flat leaves and tiny florets. The entire plant is edible. It is best after a quick steam, saute, or in a stir-fry with oyster sauce, fresh ginger & garlic. Add the tomatoes, onions, zucchini, green beans, and garlic from the box for an amazing stir-fry meal!

Salad greens and beets finish off your 13th CSA box of the season.

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Around the farm this week …

The bees are active wherever there are flowers.
New plantings of greens are covered with black shade cloth or white insect netting to try and keep them alive & growing in this heat.
Panoramic view of our entire stall at the Georgetown Farmers’ market.

Thanks to a CSA member for sending this comic. (sorry I don’t know the source to acknowledge it.)


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CSA 2021 – Week 12

What’s in the box?

Green peppers, blackberries, salad greens, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, green beans, garlic.

Our pepper plants are hanging heavy with fruit, though the plants themselves are smaller this year. We will start to pick them now as green peppers. Within the next few weeks they will begin to turn colour (a few already are) – orange, yellow and red.

Blackberry harvest is in full swing and a lot of our time & energy is going into picking them. It’s a good thing they are a pleasant berry to pick. Not as much bending involved as strawberries, and no prickles or thorns like raspberries – almost everyone enjoys picking blackberries!

We keep planting various salad greens and despite the extreme heat last week, most of them are doing well. The shade cloth we put over the lettuce is really helping to keep them alive and even thrive. Find a bag of greens in your box again this week – probably a salad mix with lettuce, arugula, mustard, mizuna …

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Around the farm this week…

Last week’s heat pushed the next sunflowers ahead and most of them were ready to harvest on the weekend instead of throughout this week. The result is 2 long rows of flowers that we mostly can’t pick because they won’t last until Saturday. So we probably won’t have many sunflowers at market this week – but they sure are pretty now!
The weeds are gaining ground (literally) this time of year.
Someone loves golf cart rides – on the roof!


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CSA 2021 – Week 11

He was a grumpy man, and not very friendly.

A carpenter by trade, his passion was growing blackberries – huge, dark, delicious & juicy, thornless blackberries – and his large backyard was taken up with row upon row of them. The plants had come with him (hidden in his socks) when he emigrated from Holland after the war and he carefully propagated replacements as needed – but only for himself. Many people wanted his plants – thornless blackberries were an unusual novelty – but he refused to share. Rumor has it he would even sneek into his neighbour’s yard under cover of darkness and remove any shoots that had spread under the fence. His blackberry plants were only for himself.

Until he decided to share them – with me!

I’m still not sure why. But one day he came to the farm and said he would be giving me blackberry plants. He didn’t ask if I wanted them. He simply told me I would be growing blackberries. And so I did. Gladly! He gave me the plants and taught me everything about growing them.

That was more than 30 years ago now, and while my mentor and his plants are long gone, we are still growing & enjoying blackberries.

What’s in the box?

Blackberries, shishito peppers, tomatoes, beans, salad greens, onions, green onions, garlic, zucchini.

Extras – kohlrabi, eggplant.

It is finally blackberry season! And what a season it is. The berries are bountiful & beautiful – and they taste great! For those not familiar with blackberries, they are a bit sweet & a bit tart. If they aren’t quite ripe they can be 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 soft, edible center core. The only way to eat a blackberry is to pop the whole thing in your mouth. Try to take a small bite and you will be covered in dark, staining juice! While best eaten fresh, blackberries also make great jam, juice, sauce & ice cream. (Lorie has her homemade blackberry jam for sale in the barn.)

*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 number of 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. We would rather not! But then again, we would rather not have worms in our blackberries either!

Shishito peppers are one of our favourite vegetables. They are a small, thin, bright green pepper, with a sweet, fruity flavour and thin, tender, wrinkled skin. What makes a shishito exciting is that 1 in 10 peppers will be slightly hot! They are simple to prepare and delicious to eat! While you can use them as you would any other sweet pepper, they are best eaten charred in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and a splash of lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.

The garlic is now dry and can be stored at room temperature in a dry area for many months. The bulb can be broken open and partially used without the remainder spoiling. Enjoy!

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Around the farm this week …

I mowed the field of cover crop down short and then worked it in and reseeded to buckwheat. Hopefully we get some rain this week to encourage germination. Buckwheat grows quickly – usually faster than the weeds. When it blooms it is a magnet for bees & other pollinating insects.
I transplanted some salad mix, arugula & lettuce early this morning before the heat got too intense.
Then I watered and covered it – the salad & arugula with the white insect cover to prevent bugs from chewing on the leaves and black shade cloth on the lettuce to protect it from the sun.
Everyone needs a drink of cool water on a hot day!


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CSA 2021 – Week 10

This week we begin the 2nd half of our CSA program for 2021.

Saturday will mark the halfway point of our Georgetown farmers’ market.

Yesterday was the 1st of August.

Summer is really half over!

It has been a good summer so far. I know farmers have the reputation of always complaining – especially about the weather – but this year we don’t have much to complain about. While it started out dry, we have recently had some timely rains. After several dry summers this is a welcome change and we continue to be amazed at the growth we are seeing on our vegetables now and the amount of crop they are producing. Eggplant, zucchini, kohlrabi have all been especially productive. Blackberries, tomatoes, peppers … are all looking great so far too. We have been fortunate to have escaped the extreme storms that have hit some areas.

Our CSA is working well – we have a great group of members who are enjoying the vegetable box each week. Business is good at our farmers’ market – Amy & I always look forward to Saturday and seeing all our friends in Georgetown. Our summer work crew of 2 high school students is top notch. And a few faithful volunteers continue to show up and weed weekly.

We are anticipating and looking forward to an equally good 2nd half of the summer!

What’s in the box?

Baby fennel, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, beets, fresh herbs, lettuce, onions, green onions, garlic, zucchini.

extras – eggplant, kohlrabi & sunflowers.

We have reached the height of the summer growing season and this week’s CSA box reflects that, brimming with all sorts of fresh vegetables – plus sunflowers!

It is a colourful box too! The cucumbers might be green or white (don’t dismiss the white – they are crispy & amazing!). The tomatoes will be so many colours – red, pink, orange, yellow, purple, brown, white, green and everything in between – plus colourful stripes too. Along with the green beans we picked some Dragon’s Tongue – yellow with purple stripes. These have a more “beany” flavour than the green though the purple disappears when cooked. Beets come in dark purple, orange and the red & white candy cane striped. As usual we’re picking green zucchini, yellow, green striped and the yellow patty pans. Eggplant isn’t just dark purple, but many shades of purple & pink and green too. We even offer 2 different sunflowers – dark centres & green centres.

They say we eat with our eyes first, then our mouth. If so, then this week’s vegetables will be extra delicious!

One of our CSA members passed along this recipe that she made with our fennel fronds the other week. She says it is delicious!

Fennel Fronds Pesto

https://holycowvegan.net/fennel-fronds-pesto/#recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 packed cups chopped fennel fronds (from two bulbs)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (you can use salted, but dial down the added salt in that case. You can also use nuts like walnuts, pecans, cashews or pine nuts)
  • 4-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. With the blade running, drizzle in the olive oil until you have a coarse paste. Check for salt and pepper and add more if needed.

Notes

You can add more or less olive oil, per your preference. For a runnier pesto, you’ll want to use more oil.

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Around the farm this week …

2nd planting of zucchini almost ready to start harvesting …
… and just in time. The 1st planting is declining rapidly. The insects are moving in. Still picking some great zucchini though.
Awesome stormy sky last evening, glowing over a small patch of buckwheat cover crop all in bloom. Today I mowed most of it down to let it regrow. I left a narrow strip for the bees and other pollinators to enjoy.
Another beautiful sky – this one from last week after a rain.
Sage helping harvest beets.
Flynn helping control the mouse population.
Helping cut the grass – or at least push the new lawnmower around.
Happy to help!