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CSA 2014 – Week 9

It’s a bit wet around here today!

It was raining when we went to bed last evening, and it was still raining when we awoke this morning.

The rain gauge showed …

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… a lot of rain!

Needless to say, things were pretty sloppy around the farm today.

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This is usually a nice, firm, grassy pathway.

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The squash patch.

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The pear orchard. The ditch is the tall, grassy area in the middle – slightly overflowing its banks!

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The path to the house where our workers live.

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This train stopped at about 7:30 am and stayed parked – blocking our road – for most of the day. Apparently a section of the railway tracks was washed out a ways up the line. Finally at 4:30 pm it moved out.

By lunchtime most of the precipitation was over and we headed out to do some harvesting.

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Picking raspberries was a bit of an adventure!

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Much of the vegetables were under water.

But be managed to get most of our produce picked for the East York Farmers’ Market & our CSA on Tuesday.

What’s in the box?

Onions, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant & beans.

  • Guess the onions got washed in the field – zucchini too!
  • Tomatoes were in short supply last week, but there are more this week – everybody gets a few big red ones in their share. We were hoping to include some cherry tomatoes as well, but the rain really cracked them & reduced the quantity.
  • Cucumbers are nobody’s favourite vegetable to pick, but they sure taste good! This year we are growing a beautiful, smooth, green, variety.
  • I stand corrected. Last week I said that eggplant were not popular with our CSA members. But when we offered them as an extra, they were scooped up quickly. And so eggplant are in your share again – all colours, shapes & sizes.
  • The green beans & striped dragon’s tongue beans have been coming along beautifully. We expected to offer a good portion in the box, but right now they are under water – and beans don’t like to get wet! It starts all sorts of diseases, especially rust. So depending on whether or not they dry out, you may or may not get beans this week.

Also damaged by the excess rain was the lettuce. It will not be part of your share this week. There will be more lettuce coming soon though.

We harvested the first peaches today. Maybe by next week there will be enough to offer them in the CSA share.

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Little Bear – who rarely allows her picture to be taken.  She had the misfortune to be outside all night during the storm. She spent the day drying out, feeling sorry for herself, sleeping  … and sneezing.


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CSA 2014 – Week 8

To spray or not to spray, that is the question.

Or at least that was the question this past week.

The potato beetles that previously were found only in our Turkish Orange eggplant, began to march throughout the patch, selecting plants seemingly at whim to decimate. Our choices were to spray or to pick them off by hand.

Because the plants were also full of ladybugs – which would eat any aphids present – and bees – necessary to pollinate the eggplant flowers, I hesitated to spray. Any chemical strong enough to kill the Colorado potato beetle would surely finish off the bees & ladybugs too. But hand picking multitudes of potato beetles, of all stages & sizes, on more than 600 plants would  take an awful lot of time.

In the end we decided not to spray. Instead, every other day we walk through the patch with jars of soapy water & remove by hand any beetles we find.

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While time consuming, it’s good to hear the bees buzzing and see the lady bugs crawling around doing their thing. We seem to be gaining ground on the potato beetles as well. Hopefully victory is ours!

And then there are the rabbits! Those hungry little rabbits!

We have never seen so many rabbits throughout the farm as this year. Where are those coyotes when we need them? (Actually we saw a beautiful, large coyote today – in the neighbour’s strawberry patch). Our edamame that I thought was slow to germinate, was actually being eaten as it popped out of the ground. The green beans were the bunnies next target.

After considering our options, we put a net barrier around the latest vegetable plantings. So far, so good!

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Even some of the edamame is making a comeback!

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But not everything was a struggle with nature this week.

There was enjoyment & pleasure too. The fog this morning enveloped the farm in a beautiful & mysterious mist …

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What’s in the box?

Green beans, onions, lettuce, zucchini, raspberries, maybe tomatoes, and eggplant as an extra

  • The green beans are ready – and they are beautiful!
  • Our shareholders really enjoyed the Ailsa Craig heirloom onions that we grew last season, so we grew them again. They’re still a little small, but each week the size will increase. These onions are a sweet treat!
  • Your box this week again contains lettuce & zucchini and raspberries.
  • We have been picking a few early cherry tomatoes for a while now ( not sufficient quantities for our CSA, but the customers at our farmers’ markets have been enjoying them), but the large red beefsteak tomatoes are a bit slower to ripen. We picked the first of them today. Not enough for everyone, but some boxes will include a tomato. Next week the rest will have a tomato. And soon there will be plenty of tomatoes!
  • Eggplant is something we grow for our markets but don’t often offer in our CSA basket. It seems many of you don’t eat eggplant. This week it will be available as an extra for those who want to try it.

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The bean patch.

 

 

 


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CSA 2014 – Week 7

The farm on Monday 14 July, 2014 …

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 What’s in the box?

 Raspberries, sweet cherries, broccoli, zucchini, lettuce, beets (maybe).

  • Raspberries!  At last Friday’s pick up, shareholders were surprised to find some raspberries in their box already. This week everybody gets raspberries. They are good this season – but not great! As the berries are ripening, we can see that the plants are suffering from the cold winter. They just don’t have the energy to ripen & size the berries the way they should. So while the quality is good, the quantity is lacking.
  • The sweet cherries are almost finished now. It was a good news/bad news story this season. We were able to pick almost all our cherry trees – which we have not done for a few years – but lost much of the fruit to birds, and to splitting & rotting because of the rains. They sure taste good though!
  • The Tuesday boxes this week will get the last of the broccoli. Now everyone has had broccoli twice. Wish we had planted more!
  • Zucchini & lettuce continue. Our goal each year is to have lettuce last longer through the season. So far it’s still doing well & tasting great – and there is more coming.
  • The beets are finally ready. Lorie will pick the first of them tomorrow – here’s hoping there will be lots!

See you at pick up!

 

 


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CSA 2014 – Week 6

Nature is always fascinating, putting on an incredible show. Here on the farm we are privileged to have a front row seat!

Some examples …

1. Remember the black yum yum tomatoes that the groundhogs were feasting on a few weeks ago?

This is what they looked like then …

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Once the groundhogs moved on to other treats, the plants recovered and today they look like this …

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Slightly smaller than the other tomatoes, but catching up fast! Really, there are no other signs of the damage they suffered.

2. We are growing 35 varieties of eggplant this season. One of those 35 is infested with Colorado potato beetles – only 1! (yes, the potato beetle if given a choice, prefers eggplant over potatoes or tomatoes). None of the other eggplants has even 1 potato beetle (yet). Why do the bugs prefer Turkish Orange eggplant?

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At first we thought to pull out those eggplants. Then we reconsidered. If we remove that variety, the potato beetles will move on to other plants – maybe lots of kinds? So we left the plants and picked off the beetles. We’ve done it twice now, and the plants are growing out of their damage quickly. We recheck the plants every day & squish any potato beetles we find.

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3. Cutting the grass in the orchards the other day, the tractor was surrounded by a flock of barn swallows. They followed me for hours, swooping & diving, eating insects that rose up from the grass as I mowed.

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But when I was cultivating the soil and getting it ready to plant, it was the blackbirds that were tailing me – red wings, grackles … They were finding the worms & bugs in the newly disturbed ground.

The birds knew what I was doing and when & how they could benefit from my actions.

4. The cherries are ripe!

While the first variety had a poor crop (about 5% only) due to pollination & birds, the quality was pretty good. The mid season cultivars that we are picking now have a heavier load, but have been significantly affected by the rain.

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The later cherries are still looking okay, but we are hoping for no more rain!

What’s in the box?

Sweet cherries, broccoli and/or zucchini, snow peas, garlic scapes, lettuce mix.

  • Everyone has been waiting for the fruit. Here it is – sweet cherries!
  • Everyone’s box should include a head of broccoli (the little bunnies are quite enjoying it too!) and/or a zucchini.
  • Your share this week includes the last of our snow peas. They have been great this year.
  • Garlic scapes & lettuce continue. Thanks for your comments on the different lettuces & which ones are preferred. This helps us decide what to grow next season.

Remember to return all containers that come with your produce. We can reuse them.

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This is not a skunk under the orchard mower! It’s Meesha hunting for a groundhog that is hiding here. This time of year the young groundhogs are been sent away from home to make their own way in the world & we find them in some unusual spots. Try as she may, Meesha could not get this one.