Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


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CSA 2021 – Week 2

There were puddles on the farm last week.

While they didn’t last long it sure was good – for us and especially the vegetables! We had 2 decent rains over the last week totaling just over 30mm, enough to benefit the crops immensely.

The precipitation was followed by heat & humidity – great growing weather, and then strong, drying winds – not so beneficial for the crops or us!

What’s in the box?

Salad greens … green onions, salad turnips, baby broccoli,

(and snow peas by Thursday or Friday?)

Salad greens – there are lots of different kinds this week. Your share could include any of the following – lettuce mix, salad blend, spinach (yup, we saved some from the leaf miners!), mustard, mizuna, arugula, bok choy, baby kale … Everything is freshly picked the morning of your pick up and everything is delicious! Enjoy these abundant spring salads!

The green onions are small & tender – we have so many planted there’s no reason to wait for them to get larger. Let’s eat them now!

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.

Broccoli is a crop that is very sensitive to the weather – especially heat. There are specific varieties to grow in early spring when the weather is cooler, and some for later that can handle the heat of late spring/early summer. Fall broccoli grows best when the days get shorter and the nights cooler. Unfortunately our spring broccoli seed did not arrive on time. (While there is no shortage of seed generally this year, the seed companies were overwhelmed with orders during the winter & early spring. Much seed is on back order & some of our seed – especially broccoli & peppers – arrived too late to plant or never arrived at all.) So we used what we had on hand which was fall broccoli. It is still several weeks away from harvest – if it gives a crop at all during this hot weather!

But we do have baby broccoli or mini broccoli. Same taste (maybe better!) but instead of big heads it forms lots of shoots with tiny little heads. This is great for food prep as they are already the right size for eating, but they are a lot of work to pick. There will be some in your box this week – maybe not a large amount but enough to try. Enjoy them raw or lightly steamed or stir-fried.

The snow peas are just about ready to harvest. Expect them in the box on Thursday or Friday. CSA members who pick up on Tuesday will have to wait until next week to enjoy these delicious peas.

Around the farm this week …

Various weeding equipment including wheel hoe with discs, hand hoe and bulldozer???
The 4th generation on Thiessen Farms enthusiastically learning how to do … everything!
By next summer Isaiah will be teaching his little brother how to farm. Jackson was born in April.
Isaiah is looking forward to meeting his new cousin Tegan who lives in BC. The rest of us are anxious to meet him too!

We hope you enjoyed your 1st CSA share last week.

Please remember to return your box this week, and exchange it for another –

filled with more delicious, healthy, fresh vegetables.


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CSA 2021 – Week 1

Here’s a shot of our compost pile today – perhaps a strange picture to start off our CSA season!

The greens strewn on top are spinach & chard leaves, and a few tomato plants.

The spinach was for the CSA shares this week – beautiful, lush, green, delicious spinach – until it was attacked by bugs (leafminers) and changed to this …

On the underside of the leaves are rows of tiny white eggs waiting to hatch and cause more damage. So we pulled the whole patch. Swiss chard too. And now they’re in the beets.

A bunch of our tomato plants in the field are dying too. We haven’t figured out the cause yet. And the weekend winds possibly ruined the cucumbers (waiting to see if they pull through).

A difficult start to the week!

But stuff happens sometimes!

And now the good news …

There is lots more spinach already growing and we continue to seed weekly. (We spent a few hours this morning covering our next plantings with insect cover to hopefully protect them. Fingers crossed that spinach will be in your CSA box within a week or two.) We’ll seed more chard as well. And we have plenty of tomato plants for replacements.

Most vegetables are looking good! A wonderful, soaking-in rain on Friday provided much needed moisture to the crops. Sunshine is forecast for much of this week, so things will really grow.

Snow peas are in bloom.
The garlic patch.
Vibrant lettuce mix for the box this week.

What’s in the box?

Lettuce mix, radishes, bok choy, arugula, green garlic, rhubarb.

All our lettuce & various greens are rinsed once to remove field dirt. You may want to wash them again. Stored in a plastic bag in the fridge, they should last at least 1 week.

Our lettuce mix is a delicious blend of different kinds of red & green lettuces. It makes a beautiful salad!

The radishes this week are called French Breakfast radishes. Long and pink with a white tip, they have a similar taste & bite to the more common round red radish. In France they prefer them very small, barely as thick as your baby finger, but I think they taste just fine at this size too.

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.

Arugula is delicious – a bit spicy & nutty. Use it in salads, on pizza. If you find the taste a bit strong on its own, combine it with our lettuce mix for an amazing salad.

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.

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. But there should be enough to make a small pie, or – 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.

Here is our go-to recipe for fruit crisp. It is quick & easy and great with our rhubarb!

Aunt Elvira’s Fruit Crisp

Cut up rhubarb (or your choice of fruit) and put in a pie plate.

Mix together:

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup flour

¼  cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Sprinkle on top of the fruit.

Bake for 12 minutes in the microwave, or 20-25 minutes in the oven or toaster oven @ 350F. (while the oven takes longer than the microwave, the top will carmelize nicely and get a lovely brown colour)

*** As a member of our CSA you have access to http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com. This website has 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 at sign up or ask us to send it to you again.

Around the farm this week …

Tomatoes are mostly mulched and we’ve started staking them.
Field of cover crop.
Beautiful & unique pawpaw blossoms.

Flynn & Sage encouraging us to keep our heads up, even on a difficult Monday.

Looking forward to seeing all our returning CSA friends and new CSA members this week.

Georgetown Farmers’ Market also starts this week, Saturday June 5. We’re excited to return for our 29th season!


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May colour

Spring has exploded in a riot of colour here on the farm.

Out in the fields the colour is green …

We have so many vegetables planted out already – more than 2 miles of rows!

Along with all the spring crops – radishes, salad turnips, spinach, pak choy, broccoli, onions, snow peas … the first of the heat-loving vegetables are in. We planted tomatoes this week, the earliest they’ve gone out to the field in quite a few years.

The blackberries are leafing out and growing well. While they are not old, our blackberries do have some disease issues so we set out 2 new rows – about 100 plants – this spring. In about 3 years they will be in production and we will remove these older ones.

Around the farmyard the colours are amazing …

Spring is certainly a most beautiful time of the year!


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April …

It has been 6 weeks since my last posting. Though I have made several attempts at writing, I was stymied each time and never completed a post.

And now I don’t know where to start – it’s April and things are changing so rapidly on the farm that pictures even from a few days ago already seem out of date.

Even yesterday’s pictures …

Our 2 old apricot trees in the backyard are in full bloom.
The same trees this morning. The blossoms are still there – under all that snow!

Or our garlic patch …

Garlic is one of the first crops to make an appearance in spring, so it gets a lot of attention from us. The snow has barely melted when we’re already trying to spy the first spears poking through the straw.

Late March was when we first saw green.
The 1st week in April.
Earlier this week.
And this morning! Snow on the 21st of April – not unheard of, but certainly not welcomed either! The garlic should be just fine under here.

Lots of growth is happening around the farm now …

The spinach that we were enjoying well into January has resumed it’s growth, providing us with delicious, fresh greens. Certainly there are benefits to having a mild winter!
Broccoli is planted. The early leaf broccoli (or baby broccoli) is under the row covers where it’s a bit warmer – to encourage faster growth. Snow peas are also up – weeds too!
The blackberries are pruned, tied and mulched with straw. They are just starting to leaf out now.
The small greenhouse where we start our seeds is always full – even though Amy spends much of her days transplanting and moving plants into the large greenhouse.
Seedlings hardening off (getting used to outdoor weather) on the trailer and ready to be planted – including spinach, pak choy, parsley and cabbages. We decided to wait until the temperatures warm up again before planting in the field. That was a good decision considering all the snow we received overnight.

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Around the farm recently – before today’s snow changed everything!

Preparing the ground for planting. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini …. will go in this field.
Sage has been feeling sorry for herself now that winter was over. (But today she is soooo happy for all the snow!)
Aunt Amy always has a willing & enthusiastic helper – whatever she is doing.


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Spring beginnings

There is a pile of plastic bins stacked up against the desk in our workshop.

These bins contain all of our hopes, our goals, our plans for 2021.

These bins contain all of our seeds!

There are seeds for more than 500 varieties of 41 different vegetables along with 30+  flowers and a few handfuls of herbs. (I explain in a previous post why we grow so many different things. See https://thiessenfarms.com/2020/02/17/csa-2020/)

There are too many seeds to count – but from these seeds we expect to grow enough plants to fill more than 4 acres of our farm, plus a few thousand extra plants to sell & donate.

All these plants should (potentially) produce enough vegetables, herbs & flowers to stuff 150 CSA boxes every week this summer, feed a lot of hungry customers at our farmers’ market and fill an occasional restaurant order.

No pressure – on us or the seeds!

Of course seeds just want to grow. Our job as farmers is to provide them with the right conditions for growing – especially warmth & moisture. We seed in trays which are placed into this germination chamber. It’s just a styrofoam box that is heated with a slow cooker that is plugged into a temperature controller which turns it on & off as required to maintain the proper temperature. The slow cooker is filled with water which provides not only the heat but also humidity. It works great!

Once the seeds have sprouted they are moved to a small greenhouse attached to the shop where they can grow & flourish. Our first peppers, tomatoes, eggplant & onions are up!

From now until the middle of September (approx. 29 weeks) we will be seeding something every few days.

And we never lose our wonder at the miracle of a tiny seed sprouting, growing and yielding an abundant harvest.

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Another new beginning this spring – Thiessen Farms has a new owner!

Amy has purchased the farm from her parents. She is now the 3rd generation to farm this land. Of course Ron & Lorie are not going anywhere (yet). It’s basically business as usual here, but we are all quite excited about this! Please wish Amy well when you see her.

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Around the farm …

The cover crops have mostly died down through the winter and this patch will be ready for planting later in spring.

This will be one of our main growing fields this season. In 2020 it rested from vegetable crops and grew a cover crop all year. Then we spread manure, leaves & compost in fall. We will lightly work it and grow vegetables here this summer.

We will begin pruning blackberries anytime now.

We have enjoyed some lovely sunshine recently.

This fox wandered through our backyard last week.

The Flynns are so done with winter & cold weather! They are getting a little testy with each other at times.

But after some time apart …

They hang out together again.

Sage on the other hand is mourning the end of winter & her beloved snow & cold.

We are still accepting applications for our CSA this summer.

Please sign up soon!


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CSA 2021

It happens every year around this time.

Maybe it starts with a bright, sunny day after a week of gloomy Ontario winter weather … or a box of seeds arriving in the mail … or a craving for a juicy, sun-ripened, fresh tomato …

And suddenly I’m ready for the new season!

I want to feel the soil in my fingers … push some seeds into the ground … inhale the warm, humid air of the greenhouse … see the bright, vibrant green of the emerging seedlings …

In my mind I see the farm looking like this again.

With a harvest like this.

I confess I am always relieved when I feel this way in mid-winter. It means that I’m still loving what I do and not ready yet for a change – like retirement (sorry Lorie).

Perhaps it takes a little longer than it used to for my energy & enthusiasm to return after the busy season, and perhaps I put off completing the list of winter chores until it’s almost spring, and perhaps I really, really enjoy staying in bed until the sun comes up, but here we are in early February and my excitement is back!

Our seeds are ordered, the farm plan is (mostly) mapped out, the planting schedule is being finalized and the greenhouse will be cleaned & readied this week.

CSA 2021 is a go and the response has been amazing. Applications are arriving in our mailbox and our inbox daily. It is both exciting & humbling that people want our produce and are willing to pay upfront & commit to 18 weeks of vegetable boxes.

Let the season begin!

Around the farm this week …

The compost piles doing their thing under the snow.

The Flynns seem to spend an awful lot of time relaxing & sleeping – always in a sheltered, sunny spot.

Sage had an encounter with a coyote this week. Turns out it wasn’t quite the friend she hoped it would be – so now she’s sulking inside.

We are now accepting applications for our CSA program for summer 2021.

Details above, or email thefarm@thiessenfarms.com for information.


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January harvest

We’ve been eating a lot of salads lately.

The lettuce & spinach are freshly picked … from our farm … harvested from the field … not the greenhouse.

And it’s January!

This bed of lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula & bok choy was the last to be set out in 2020 – transplanted around the middle of September. The greens weren’t yet big enough to harvest for our last farmers’ market in October and I almost mowed them down with the rest of the farm. But I spared them, thinking we might get a salad or two if the fall weather was mild enough to allow them to grow. Indeed the fall was mild and the lettuce & spinach especially flourished. (The kale never amounted to much and the arugula & bok choy succumbed to the frost earlier.)

Now, the spinach is still sweet & delicious. The lettuce leaves are slightly tough, but both make amazing salads!

This morning was frosty, but hopefully the greens recover again and continue to feed us. Harvesting in January – thanks to a mild winter!

We are also eating vegetables that we harvested in fall and stored.

Chinese cabbage (so good in coleslaw or stir-fry), and garlic, onions & winter squash. We will miss them when they are gone!

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Around the farm …

Everyone’s enjoying the quieter pace of our off-season!


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The last fall chore

The garlic patch got mulched last week.

We tucked it to bed for the winter under a thick covering of straw. We chose a morning when the ground was frozen but there was no snow. The straw will keep the ground frozen which will prevent the garlic cloves from being pushed out of the ground during the freezing/thawing cycles we experience during our winters. Rodents may burrow into the straw, but not into the frozen soil underneath.

When spring rolls around in a few months, the straw will keep the weeds from growing and make our garlic an almost-work-free crop until harvest.

Of course we had some help spreading the straw …

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Around the farm …

We have had some varied and colourful sunsets recently.

The 1st snowfalls are always the most beautiful.

 


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December

My Dad always reminded me to finish up the outdoor farm work by the end of November because freeze-up happened in early December. With our changing weather patterns this is often not the case anymore, but I still hear his words and try to heed his advice.

Good thing, because this is what we woke up to on December 1!

We have gone from this …

… to this, in a very short time.

From green grass and the last coloured leaves …

… to peaceful whites & greys.

(Of course a day later it’s melting rapidly.)

And our fall chores? I crossed the last item off the list just a couple of days ago.

Now we turn the page and begin to work our way through the list of winter chores. The best part about this list is that there is no immediate hurry – none of these jobs have to be completed today … or tomorrow … or …. ? After 8 months of sticking to the plan, keeping up the pace and getting things done, our winter schedule is a luxury and a privilege we thoroughly enjoy! (I don’t even check the weather forecast every day!

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Around the farm this week – and these past few weeks …

Everyone enjoyed the beautiful fall weather we experienced for much of November.

We had a bit of drainage work done – Sage took advantage of the dirt piles!

Our 6 remaining hens have started laying eggs and are working out their schedule for nest time.

We made a few changes around the barn, removing the bollards from the front …

… and the grasses from the side.

On the colder days, we play in the greenhouse.

Welcome December!