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CSA 2020 – Week 5

Here’s our barn all set up for CSA pick-up … last year!

Here’s what CSA pick-up looks like this year.

Quite a difference!

Instead of the vegetables out on display for our members to choose from to fill their boxes, we have the boxes prepackaged. Grab & go! Easy & safe! No unnecessary touching of the produce or contact. (we still offer “barnside delivery” for those who prefer to remain in their vehicle & have their share placed in their trunk.)

But we miss the old way!

We enjoyed having all the produce on display. We’re proud of what we grow! Plus it’s colourful & beautiful – especially as we get further into the harvest season. Members could choose their own – smaller zucchini for salads or larger ones for the BBQ  … or patty pans rather. Tomatoes – red or orange, white cucumbers or green …

However we will continue prepacking the boxes for now. It seems like the best way to do it. There will still be options & choices as in the past – Lorie will have them available on the table and add them to the box as requested. And we continue to adapt & make changes as necessary and as our members request. Your comments & suggestions are always welcome!

What’s in the box?

Beets, green onions, zucchini or broccoli, garlic scapes, salad turnips, salad greens …

  • The first beets are ready. Beets are considered a rather mundane vegetable, often a love ’em or hate ’em, take them or leave them kind of vegetable. But … freshly pulled, early season baby beets are hard to beat (haha!) – they are tender, juicy and sweet. We often forgo the cooking and eat them raw, usually shredded into salads. And certainly don’t even bother to peel them! The skin is tender and full of nutrients that you don’t want to miss out on. At market we can never have enough beets – they are one of our most popular vegetable. Doesn’t that beat all!
  • Our green onions are a nice size now – and so delicious in salads, or omelets, or sauces …
  • We need to talk about the heat – we’ve had more than our share lately! Zucchini and other hot weather vegetables (cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, eggplant …) love it and are growing wildly now. Cool weather crops such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach, bok choy … are balking at the high temperatures and not doing as well. So while we are starting to harvest zucchini and continuing to harvest broccoli – there is not enough of either for everyone. Choices will have to be made!
  • Garlic scapes we have plenty of! Please ask Lorie if you want an extra bunch for a batch of pesto.
  • We are picking our final planting of salad turnips for this spring. Enjoy another bunch in your share this week.
  • Most salad greens are cool weather crops. This heat of late can quickly turn the lettuce bitter, send the spinach to seed & the bok choy to flower. There will be greens in the box this week – but we can’t say which ones. We have lots of lettuce now – we’ll taste it as we pick & hope it is still sweet. New rows of spinach are ready for Tuesday, but will they still be tender on Friday? Lots of kale – but maybe not “baby kale”. It might be a bit larger. Same with the arugula. So while there will be greens, there will probably be a variation between Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday’s boxes. (And Saturday CSA boxes @ Georgetown market.)

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Around the farm this week …

Staying ahead of the weeds (sometimes)!

Beautiful skies over the farm next door.

CSA boxes in quarantine till next week.

Squash (above) and zucchini (below) enjoying the heat!

At Georgetown market on Saturday.

2 Flynns – each with his own way of hunting!

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 4

 

 

What’s in the box?

Snow peas, garlic scapes, broccoli/Chinese broccoli, stir-fry greens mix, bok choy,

baby kale, salad turnips, lettuce mix, arugula.

  • Snow peas are a delicious snack – just pop the whole pod in your mouth & enjoy! That’s the beauty of snow peas – no shelling, no cooking (unless you want to), just eating! We only made 1 planting of snow peas this year so they will appear in your box only this 1 time.
  • First it was green garlic. Now there are garlic scapes. Scapes grow out of the top of the garlic plant and curl around in a loose coil. If we left them they would eventually flower and go to seed. But we prefer that the plant uses its energy to form large garlic bulbs underground instead, so we remove the scapes. Fortunately they can be eaten and are delicious! Use them wherever garlic bulbs are used – raw or cooked. Their flavour is a bit milder. They are also great on the BBQ. Coat the whole garlic scape with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Grill for a few minutes on each side until well charred & tender.  Garlic scape pesto is a favourite and we have included a recipe below. Here’s a link to an interesting article, “10 things to do with garlic scapes, the best veg you’re not cooking yet”.  https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/garlic-scapes
  • There will be broccoli in your CSA share this week – either the broccoli we are all familiar with, or  Chinese broccoli which is less common. While both broccolis have a similar taste, they look different. Broccoli has thick, crisp stalks with a large head of green florets. Chinese broccoli has thinner stems, large flat leaves and tiny florets. It is best after a quick steam, saute or stir-fry. We have some of both ready for harvest, but probably not enough of either. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care that we would really prefer 140 same-size heads of broccoli, or 140 even bunches of Chinese broccoli for our CSA boxes this week. Once we start picking tomorrow we’ll see what we get & divide things out accordingly! Either way, your broccoli will be fresh & delicious!
  • This is our stir-fry mix!

    This beautiful greens mix includes red & green mustard, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, tatsoi … which give it a variety of colours, textures and flavours. We call it stir-fry mix because that’s probably the best way to enjoy it. Our go-to stir-fry sauce recipe can be found below.
  • Add your bok choy, salad turnips and broccoli to the stir-fry for a really delicious dish!
  • Salad greens this week include lettuce mix, baby kale, arugula. The extreme heat of late has not been kind to the spinach – it quickly becomes oversized and tough and goes to seed. So there will be none this week. But there will be more coming (weather permitting!). Lettuce can also become bitter due to the heat – but so far it’s still tasting good.

 

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1-2 tbsp lemon juice (or lime)

1/4 pound roughly chopped garlic scapes

1/2 cup olive oil

salt to taste

Directions:

Puree scapes, olive oil, & lemon juice in a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. Gently stir in cheese. Taste & adjust juice & salt to taste.

Serve as a spread on bread or crackers, a dip for vegetables, or on pasta or pizza.

Store in refrigerator for 2 -3 days. Pesto can be frozen for longer storage.

Easy Stir-fry Sauce

1 TB cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 tsp brown sugar
1TB lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 TB soy sauce
Mix all ingredients together and add to your vegetables when they are ready.
(I will usually add some fresh grated ginger, a touch of maple syrup and double the soy sauce.)
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Around the farm this week …
Because it’s hot & dry, we have to water the new vegetables when we transplant them.
Even then, some dry up while others flourish.
Edible flowers from last year self-seeded.
Coming soon …
Elderberries in flower.
Still some tomato plants to sell!
A beautiful sunrise on the way to market Saturday.
Too many of these guys hopping around the farm!
A small trial patch of sweet peas.
Flynn sleuthing in the neighbour’s mustard field.
Picking salad turnips!


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CSA 2020 – Week 3

An old pallet hangs on the side of our shop, holding a selection of hand tools – the ones we use most often.

Garden rakes, pitchforks, shovel and hoes – lots of hoes! There are at least 6 in total. Some are newer, while 2 of them are older than me & were used by my parents many, many years ago. And they are still being used today!

If you grow vegetables you need a hoe. There are always weeds growing (usually faster than the vegetables) that need to be removed. A hoe is an efficient & quick way to weed.

A lot of hoeing happens on our farm!

Even more efficient & quicker than a hoe is our double wheel hoe with finger weeders. It rolls down the rows, right over the small vegetable plants, the yellow “fingers” removing tiny little weeds before they grow up & become a big problem.

And sometimes we have to weed with our own fingers. It’s a lot of work & expensive, but sometimes the weeds get away from us & hand weeding is the only way to go.

It’s a good feeling when the fields are relatively weed-free (or at least the weeds are under control) and it makes for easier & faster harvesting as well.

The tomatoes are not only mulched & stakes, but the first pruning (suckering) & tying is complete. They are growing rapidly now & will require pruning & tying almost weekly.

The first planting of zucchini & cucumbers are also mulched …

… eggplant & peppers too.

What’s in the box?

Pea shoots, bok choy, green onions or green garlic,

salad turnips, lettuce mix, spinach, arugula.

  • The box of pea shoots in your share this week is meant to be eaten – not planted!  Place the box outside in partial shade or inside near a window. Keep them well watered & let them reach about 10-12 cm. Then use as desired – cut what you need and add them to your salad or sandwiches … If you cut them about half way down, leaving a stem & some leaves, they will grow back and you can harvest them again. (Cutting them all the way down at soil level gives a larger harvest – but only once.)

  • Bok choy is one of my favourite green vegetables. It can be added to your salads, but most often is sautéed or stir fried. We like to cook some garlic or onion in a bit of oil (olive or sesame) for a couple of minutes, then add the bok choy and continue cooking until it is wilted & still bright green – around 5 minutes or less. Season with salt & pepper to taste. We usually grow several kinds of bok choy – white & green, small & mini, tight heads or looser heads. Some prefer hot weather while others like it cooler. This ensures we always get a harvest.

Check out the bok choy recipes on http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com including: https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/csa/simplest-bok-choy-stir-fry/, https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/csa/sauteed-radishes-andor-turnips-with-bok-choy-and-garlic-scapes/ (As a member of our CSA you have access to this website with 900+ recipes, templates, storage and preserving tips, pantry stocking suggestions and vegetable prep videos, organized by vegetable and created using CSA Produce. Log in using the access key you received in a recent email.)

  • The first green onions are about big enough to harvest. Choose either a bunch of green onions or green garlic for your share this week.
  • There should be radishes in your box again this week – but there isn’t! Radishes are a cool weather crop and while we had some cool weather last week, we also had some hot days resulting in overgrown & hollow radishes. Good thing for salad turnips though! They are more heat tolerant than radishes with a similar taste & texture.
  • Enjoy fresh spring salads with our lettuce mix, spinach & arugula.

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Around the farm this week …

The blackberries are starting to blossom.

A killdeer nest with 4 eggs right beside our vegetables.

Mother killdeer with her “broken wing” trying to lure me away from the nest.

Flynn in the fields trying to lure us toward him, hoping for a belly rub.

Blue flag iris blooming in our water garden.

Sooo happy we get to see this little guy more often again on the farm!

 

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 2

Our roadside stand. The surprise of the season!

We were not really expecting much from this little farmstand. Past experience with a trailer of squash in fall or surplus sunflowers in summer, led us to believe that selling a few dollars worth of plants a day was all that could be expected. But instead we have sold an amazing amount over the last couple of weeks. Who knew!

Without our Toronto farmers’ market we have a surplus of vegetable plants to sell this year. So we filled the stand, and the trailer, clearly labeled everything & added a “self-serve” sign. Apparently gardening is a big thing this year but plants can be difficult to source – so we have benefited from this demand.

This past week was the big start to our selling season. Until now (other than keeping the farmstand stocked), we have had our heads down, working in the greenhouse & fields – seeding, transplanting, watering, weeding … and watching stuff grow. Then last week our CSA began – 3 pick-up days this year to accommodate all of our members safely & to coordinate with the harvest schedule. We finished the week with our 1st farmers’ market of the year on Saturday at Georgetown.

It was a busy week! It was a good week!

We enjoyed seeing all our returning CSA friends and meeting our many new members – though we couldn’t socialize and visit as much as usual.

And market was a different experience as well. One way walking on the street, a limit of 2 customers at our stall at one time, vendors spread out, speaking through facemasks (even more difficult was hearing & understanding people speak through masks while distancing) … But it was good to see familiar faces there as well. Several of our North York market customers even showed up to purchase our plants! Despite the rules & restrictions, sales were brisk and we had a successful 1st market day. Plus we have an online store for our Georgetown customers where they can purchase our products in advance and then pick them up on Saturday at a location separate from the market to avoid the crowds. These online sales are welcome (but a lot of extra work to prepare & package)!

What’s in the box?

Lettuce mix, radishes, salad turnips, baby kale, spinach & arugula.

It’s a salad sort of box this week, with a good mix of flavours, textures, colours, shapes … As usual all our vegetables have been washed once. You may want to wash them again. Store in a bag in the fridge where they will keep well for at least a week.

  • Our lettuce mix is a beautiful & delicious blend of different kinds of red & green lettuces.
  • You may find round, red radishes in your share this week or perhaps the long red & white French breakfast radishes. We have both kinds ready to harvest.
  • Salad turnips are small, round, white turnips that resemble radishes, but without the bite (usually)! Mild in flavour, crisp, and quite tender, they are best eaten raw – simply wash, cut off the tops and enjoy! They can also be stir fried, sautéed, or steamed – both the turnips & the green tops.
  • Our baby kale is tender and best when added to your salad. (Later in the season we’ll have large kale for cooking.)
  • We received many positive comments on the spinach & arugula in last week’s box. Enjoy them again this week.

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A few pictures from around the farm today …

Our lettuce mix.

Eggplant & peppers in the ground finally.

New vegetable plantings.

One of my favourite spots on the farm.

One of Sage’s favourite spots on the farm.

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 1

Our own spinach – fresh, green, juicy – together with the first strawberries of the season – huge, red & sooo sweet … That salad was the star of our dinner!

Our own arugula – tender & spicy – a bunch of local asparagus, a handful of our mint, drizzled with a light dressing …  Outstanding! (recipe link below)

The first fresh produce of the season is always an amazing treat!

While we are privileged to have an almost limitless selection of (domestic & imported) produce available to us year round, there is no denying that fresh, locally grown, in-season produce is the best! By July we might be taking it for granted, but not right now.

It is the 1st week of our CSA program for 2020 and we’re excited – excited and a little scared.

Our numbers are up by more than 2/3. We’d like to say that it is because we grow the best vegetables around. And indeed some of the increase is from members telling their friends & family about their good experience being part of our CSA. But most of the increase is no doubt due to the crazy times we’re living in now. People are concerned about their food. They want to know where it comes from, how it is grown, who has handled it. They have questions about food safety & dependability of supply. Farms & CSAs seem to be the preferable option to grocery stores. We are grateful for the confidence & trust our members have in us – and we’re working hard to keep it.

The weather seems to be settling down. After the prolonged cool spring, we have already experienced some extreme heat, then some very welcome & much needed rain followed by a cold weekend. Now this coming week looks quite good. Everything is growing very fast now (including our nemesis – weeds!) and we’re racing to seed & plant and take advantage of the sunshine.

Tomatoes, zucchini & cucumbers were planted last week.

Now we are mulching & putting in the posts to stake them. Mulching with straw after a good rain is ideal as the straw will prevent the soil from drying out & keep it moist for the tomatoes. It also prevents weeds from growing.

A lot of the tomato plants already have blossoms.

What’s in the box?

Spinach, arugula, green garlic, mint bunches & rhubarb.

  • This is shaping up to be a great year for spinach on our farm. We’ve made 5 or 6 plantings already and every one of them is thriving. (usually we have more success with lettuce than spinach, but this season it’s the opposite and our lettuce is spotty & slow).
  • Arugula is delicious – a bit spicy & nutty. Use it in salads, on pizza … Both the arugula & spinach (and all the greens that you will receive this season) have been rinsed once to remove any field soil. You may want to wash them again. Store them in a bag in the fridge. They usually last at least a week.
  • Green garlic is a fresh garlic plant. At this time of year the bulb has not yet formed below ground, and the green top is still tender enough to eat, like a scallion or green onion. Green garlic is milder than fall garlic bulbs. Use them raw (eg. sliced into salads or mashed with goat cheese for a spread) or cooked (sautéed with scrambled eggs maybe) anywhere you would use garlic. They are also delicious coated with olive oil & tossed whole on the barbecue. Store green garlic in the fridge.
  • We love fresh mint! Delicious & refreshing in fruit salads, drinks etc. We often make a simple syrup with the mint leaves and add it to our iced tea. (recipe below)
  • Rhubarb is a perennial crop which means it grows every year. It’s not a lot of work but yields an abundant crop. Because we have more CSA members this year, there will be less rhubarb in your share. There will not be enough to make a pie, but almost as good and way easier & faster – make a rhubarb crisp or crumble. We also enjoy stewed rhubarb. Chop rhubarb and cook in a saucepan with a bit of water until tender. Add sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup) to taste. We sometimes add apples or other fruit to cut the tartness of the rhubarb. Delicious on it’s own or poured over ice cream, pudding or custard.

MINT SIMPLE SYRUP   

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint, rinsed
  • 1 cup water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add sugar, mint, and water to a small pot.  Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat.
  • Leave the mint leaves in the syrup as it cools for about 15 minutes.  Strain out the leaves, and bottle the syrup.
  • Store mint simple syrup in a glass jar in the fridge.  Use within a year.

    (from https://champagne-tastes.com)

Remember to check out the recipes on http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com. This is a great website with loads of recipes & vegetable information – including that great asparagus, arugula & mint salad we recently enjoyed.  (https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/csa/raw-asparagus-salad-with-arugula-and-mint)

As a member of our CSA you have access to 900+ recipes, templates, storage and preserving tips, pantry stocking suggestions and vegetable prep videos, organized by vegetable and created using CSA Produce. Log in using the access key you received in a recent email.

Our pawpaw trees were in bloom this past week – the most unusual but beautiful blossoms on the farm!