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CSA 2016 – week 13

It’s week 13 of our CSA.

That means we are well over half way through the season – about 7 weeks left to go.

It’s been a challenging summer, but a good one! While the weather has been the main event of the season – as usual – several other things stand out for us.

  • We have a great group of CSA members! You have supported & encouraged us all season. When it was dry & we were struggling to keep the vegetables alive & the baskets full of quality produce, you understood. In fact, many were surprised & pleased with the contents of the box. Other CSA farmers we know, are dealing with dissatisfied members & their complaints. We have had little of that. Thank you!
  • Several members have assured us they prefer a smaller box of produce. The amounts we have offered other years have sometimes seemed overwhelming & there was waste. That comment has surprised us, but enough people have mentioned that same thing that we are taking notice. The size of the box is always one of our biggest questions & concerns. When you pick up your box this week please let Lorie know how you feel about the quantity of produce in your share. Is it the right amount, or too much or not enough?

What’s in the box?

Kale, blackberries, cherry tomatoes, mini romaine lettuce, beans, garlic, onions, cucumbers or zucchini.

  • This week will be the first time this season we have offered kale. For a change, I won’t blame the drought. I simply neglected to seed enough earlier on. Enjoy it – finally!
  • Blackberries are a part of your share for the 4th week in a row. The plants have done well, but they seem to be running out of energy – the berries are a bit smaller & we’re picking a bit less. They still taste amazing though!
  • The tomato patch is looking wild & unkept as it usually does at this time of year. Cherry tomatoes are plentiful while the larger tomatoes are taking a break. There are less ripening, & many of those have cracked & spoiled from the recent rains.


  • Mini romaine lettuce was a hit last week. Enjoy it again!


  • The beans we are picking now were planted at the height of the drought & required daily watering to get them to germinate & then grow. Our efforts have paid off & there will be a small quantity of beans – green or dragon’s tongue yellow – in your share this week.
  • Cucumbers & zucchini – choose one or the other. Already the new plants are succumbing to disease & we are not able to get enough of either crop.

Last week’s box …


Our latest plantings of vegetables are sprouting …



We are still anticipating …

… cabbages


… sweet peppers


There are a lot of lovely pepper plants – but not many peppers. During all that extreme heat & humidity they aborted most of their blossoms. Now that temperatures have moderated, they are reblooming. Will there be time for the fruit to mature & ripen?

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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 …



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


    • 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
    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


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 …


sweet corn, and maybe cucumbers,


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!


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!




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  …


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


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.


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.