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CSA 2022 – Week 13

It was another very hot day today.

And everyone felt it.

You’d think we would all be used to it by now – there has certainly been plenty of heat this summer. But it was a difficult day all around. Still, we accomplished a lot – mostly picking and some weeding.

Looking forward to cooler temperatures later this week.

What’s in the box?

Edamame, shishito peppers, sweet peppers, green beans, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, salad greens, garlic.

extras – hot peppers

  • Edamame makes a return to the box this week as our 2nd planting is ready. 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 …
Our #1 edamame fan!
  • Shishito peppers are back as well. These delicious peppers are best prepared by charring 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. But remember – 1 in 10 can be a little hot!
  • Last week we were excited to start harvesting our coloured sweet peppers. But our excitement quickly turned to disappointment as the rain last weekend, along with the heat & humidity destroyed the fruit. Most of the peppers were ruined & had to be discarded – at least those that had any colour. Today’s pick was much the same. There will be a pepper in the share this week – but only 1 and it will likely be green.
  • Green beans are looking great though, as is zucchini.
  • The cherry tomatoes continue to produce prodigiously, while the beefsteak tomatoes seem to be taking a bit of a break. But the plants are still looking good, with lots of green fruit so we anticipate there will be more yet to come.
  • Earlier in the season we had lots of great lettuce, but spinach was in short supply. Now it’s the opposite. Each bed of spinach we plant is growing well – but the lettuce is struggling. So the salad green this week will be spinach.
  • Garlic completes the box. Store your bulbs in a dry place and they should last well into the winter.
  • A selection of hot peppers will be available as an extra for those who like things spicy!

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Around the farm this week …

The tomato patch is becoming quite a jungle …
… and some sections are showing the strain of a long season.
The last plantings of sunflowers & beans.
The first goldenrod is coming into bloom. It must almost be fall!


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CSA 2022 – Week 12

I don’t get out much these days.

Some weeks I barely leave the farm.

And that’s ok.

Summer is brief and we only have a few months to do our thing. So the farm gets our full attention. We keep our heads down and get at it. As they say – make hay while the sun shines!

But by the end of the week we are usually ready for a change of scenery – and ready to see some new faces. For Lorie, CSA pick-up is her time to chat & visit with people. Amy & I get our fix at the farmers’ market.

Thank goodness for the farmers’ market! It’s our opportunity to visit with both customers and fellow vendors. This is our 29th year at the Downtown Georgetown Farmers’ Market so needless to say we have plenty of friends there.

It’s surprising how much news can be shared in the few minutes we interact with each customer – and if we aren’t too busy, we can visit longer.

Chatting with other farmers we realize we aren’t alone in both our struggles and our successes – something that is easy to forget when we spend the week isolated on our own farm.

The market is a great way to end our workweek and while it is certainly tiring, it also invigorates us and gives us needed energy for the following week.

Thanks Georgetown!

What’s in the box?

Green beans, fennel, zucchini, sweet peppers, spinach, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, garlic.

  • We weren’t sure we would get any green beans picked today. The plants were too wet first thing and rain was forecast for much of the day. But by midmorning the plants were dry enough, and we were able to get enough picked before the rains came – a beautiful soft rain (only a couple of millimetres, but more beneficial & less damaging than the drenching downpour that areas near us received). Enjoy green beans in your box this week.
  • The next planting of fennel is ready for harvest. Fennel has a beautiful anise or licorice flavour and is wonderful shaved into salads or sliced on a vegetable tray. Roasting or sauteing fennel results in a milder and very delicious flavour. Check out fennel recipes & tips on how to use it at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com.
  • After a couple of weeks without, zucchini is back. The new plants are healthy & producing abundantly!
  • The bell peppers are colouring up nicely – yellow, orange & purple, and the red shepherds as well.
  • Crisp & delicious spinach is the green this week. We have struggled to grow a decent quantity & quality of spinach all season – spinach hates hot, humid & dry weather. Finally, these last few plantings are doing well and there is plenty of spinach to go around.
  • Tomatoes & garlic finish the box this week.

*** We have had a chance to sort and clean some garlic and will have it for sale starting this week – by the bulb or in bags.

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Around the farm this week …

Assorted salad greens growing.

Excited about our radicchio crop. Unfortunately some plants are already bolting and going to seed in the hot weather we’ve had recently.
Waiting out today’s rain under shelter.


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CSA 2022 – Week 11

My favourite crop right now?

Dahlias!

We have a 100′ row of dahlias with the most beautiful, burgundy coloured flowers, just starting to open. They are not for selling – just for us to enjoy.

A little extravagant? Perhaps. But they do wonders for the soul! And they are exactly what we need at this point in our season.

Along with an abundance of other flowers found around the farm, they encourage us, cheer us up, and remind us of the beauty to be seen in our world.

What’s in the box?

Green sweet pepper, hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes,

salad greens, red onion, garlic, beets.

  • The first sweet peppers of the season are in the box this week – sweet green peppers. Did you know that a green pepper is actually an unripe pepper? Most peppers will eventually turn red (or orange or yellow or …) as they mature. That’s why the coloured peppers are sweeter than the green. We will have all the colours in a few weeks as the fruit ripens.
  • Find a hot pepper or two also in the box this week. Not everyone uses hot peppers so feel free to say no to a Jalapeno or Hungarian hot wax (yellow banana) – no hard feelings! The jalapeno will add a little bit of heat to your salad, sauce, soup … but the milder hot wax pepper mostly just adds flavour with almost no heat.
  • Tomatoes, salad greens, a red onion, garlic & beets complete the box.

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Around the farm this week …

Some of our recent plantings. These are mainly salad greens – lettuce & spinach, plus arugula & bok choy under the insect netting.

Lots of empty beds now – these were sunflowers, zucchini and beans.
Mowing the buckwheat field.

Rosemary! Her actions & antics indicate she’s here for a good time – but probably not a long time!

Our #1 helper turns 4 today.


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CSA 2022 – Week 10

It is my earliest farm memory.

And of course it is weather related.

We were all picking cherries – my parents, my siblings and myself. It was a Black Tart tree close to our barn. Black tarts – or more properly Black Tartarian – was a sweet cherry variety that was already passe when this occured (probably 55+ years ago). It was a small, soft, heart-shaped, very sweet, dark coloured cherry. The problem with black tarts was that the fruit cracked & split at the first sign of rain. We probably kept this tree only because it was in the front yard – and my dad loved black tart cherry pie (mother would bake him 1 pie each cherry season – only 1 because sweet cherries are a pain to pit!).

We were trying to get the cherries picked before the coming storm but before we were finished, the rains came and it was a downpour! We grabbed the full baskets of cherries from under the tree and ran the 30 or 40′ to the barn. By the time we got to the barn we were soaked – and the perfect black tarts in the baskets had split & looked like popcorn! Why hadn’t we carried them in before the rain!

That was my first lesson on the damage that weather can cause.

We no longer grow fruit and don’t have to worry about cracked cherries, but weather remains a huge concern for us. These last few years the lack of rain is more often the issue rather than too much. This means we usually we have to water our vegetables when we plant them in the field. We use rainwater that we collect from our barn roofs and store in 2 large cisterns. If we run out we buy water by the truckload.

We continually improve our soil’s water-holding capacity by growing cover crops, and using manure & compost rather than fertilizer and straw to mulch the vegetables rather than plastic. Good soil allows the crops to grow & mature without any additional water (most years!).

This season we have had dry spells but also some timely rains. We have lost a lot of vegetables but managed to grow a lot more! Fortunately we have avoided any damaging storms.

Today I hurried to transplant some lettuce & spinach before it was perfectly watered by a lunchtime rain.

The forecast calls for some more rain overnight followed by sunshine tomorrow – a farmer’s dream!

Here’s hoping!

What’s in the box?

Edamame, shishito peppers, red onion, yellow onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, mini-romaine lettuce, cabbage, beets.

Extras – Fennel (Tuesday only), kohlrabi …

  • Edamame which are fresh, green soybeans have 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 …
  • 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.
  • There will be 2 onions in your CSA share this week. The yellow onion is Ailsa Craig, a mild, Spanish onion. The red onion is a classic Italian variety called Rossa di Milano that has a stronger more pungent flavour than the yellow. You can use them interchangeably in your recipes (keeping in mind the flavour differences).
  • 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!
  • As usual your box will include a selection of tomatoes, both smaller, cherry size in many colours & shapes and the larger beefsteak tomatoes.
  • Your salad green this week is mini-romaine lettuce. While we have lost several plantings of our lettuce mix due to the heat, the mini-romaine is doing great this year.
  • We still have cabbage in the cooler, that we picked a few weeks ago. Cabbage stores well and it is still juicy & tasty!
  • The most asked about vegetable this season is beets. For sure we have not had beets in the box as often as other years – but we do have a lot planted and they are looking good! Enjoy a few this week and expect more in the coming weeks.
  • Extras this week are kohlrabi and fennel.
  • Fennel is a less familiar vegetable to many. It has a beautiful anise or licorice flavour and is wonderful shaved into salads or sliced on a vegetable tray. Roasting or sauteing fennel results in a milder and very delicious flavour. Again, http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com has many recipes and tips for how to use fennel. Unfortunately our 1st planting of fennel did not get the moisture it needed to size up properly. It did get a lot more heat than it needed! The result is small fennel bulbs. (Fennel can be a difficult vegetable to grow anytime!) If you like fennel grab one of these “baby” fennel bulbs. We should have enough for Tuesday’s boxes. Thursday & Friday pick-up will have to wait for the next planting to mature in a few weeks.

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Around the farm this week …

The new row of zucchini is growing well and already has tiny fruit.

Winter squash full of blossoms. The cover crop we planted with the squash is also blooming – buckwheat.

Last years vegetable patch has been planted to various cover crops. In spring we had peas & oats. For the summer we have buckwheat. In fall we’ll seed a mixture of crops to cover the ground for the winter. Each crop has a purpose – either to add different nutrients to the soil, or smother weeds, or add organic matter … The buckwheat is in bloom now and a neighbour brought some beehives. Bees love buckwheat and it makes great honey!

Left picture – our winter cabbage patch last week. Right picture – our winter cabbage patch this week.

Several plantings of green beans growing.
Looking for some shade on these hot days!
Someone is working hard!


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CSA 2022 – Week 9

August has arrived – and caught us by surprise, as usual!

It’s the same every year.

We’ve been keeping our heads down, working, and suddenly the summer is half over before we know it!

This is the height of the growing season and the fields are bursting with abundance.

There is an abundance of garlic as well – drying in the greenhouse and in the barn …

And an abundance of weeds. Hopefully there’s an abundance of winter cabbage under there too!

What’s in the box?

Onions, eggplant, mini romaine lettuce, bok choy, green beans, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, garlic.

Extras – zucchini, kohlrabi, garlic scapes.

  • How about a real onion this week instead of green onions! We picked our first bed of onions today, an heirloom variety (that means they have been around a long time) of Spanish onion – so they are on the milder & sweeter side.
  • We don’t often put eggplant in the CSA box. In fact I’m not sure we have ever included it! This is because eggplant is not a very popular vegetable – many people never eat it. We would hate to include it and have it go uneaten and to waste. So we usually have it available on our extras table for those who enjoy it. But we’re changing things up this week and including eggplant in the box. We would encourage everyone to try it – you just might discover how great eggplant is! (cookwithwhatyouhave.com has lots of useful information about eggplant & 25 recipes to start you off!)
  • Salad greens this week will be mini-romaine lettuce and bok choy. (Bok choy is not a fan of the hot weather we’ve had lately so it has not formed perfectly – but it tastes great!)
  • Green beans and tomatoes – cherry & large beefsteaks are also in the box.
  • We will be including a bulb of garlic in the box every week now. Remember that it is still fresh and not completely dried yet. Once you break the bulb open, use it quickly. Or leave it to dry – room temperature in a spot with good air circulation.
  • Many of our CSA members are saying they have had enough zucchini, kohlrabi and garlic scapes. But they will be available as extras for those who still want them.

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Around the farm this week …

The reward for an early start!
Last week’s CSA box.
Prepackaged CSA boxes – full shares.
New plantings
But not all is abundant. Several plantings of spinach & lettuce struggling .
Mulching the next planting of zucchini.
Cleaning garlic with Omee.