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Winter Reading …

Our early winter reading list looks something like this …

That’s right – seed catalogues!

Don’t mind me while I geek out, but seed catalogues are an awesome read! The amount of information in a good catalogue is astounding. Not only does it list a vast number of varieties of the different vegetables, but all the details & stats of each, along with growing requirements and recommendations, and often the story & history behind the vegetable (especially heirloom varieties). If all that information isn’t enough to pique our interest there’s always the names (check out the names on the seed packets below) and not least of all, pictures. A good seed catalogue is all about the pictures – big, colourful, seductive pictures of perfect produce to tempt the weak ambitious farmer into purchasing.

We succumbed to a few of these …

Purple peppers seem to be a thing this year!

Wasabi radishes sound like the best of both worlds, right?

And along with these green Shawo radishes, we’ll grow pink and purple ones – coloured on both the outside & inside. These are all radishes for the fall.

Every year we trial several new kinds of tomatoes …

… and hot peppers.

Asian vegetables are always a hit especially at our North York market so we will grow more of them again.

And we’ll keep on trying with some that we’ve had a measure of success with and want to improve on …

11 varieties of bitter melons this year and 3 kinds of hairy gourds.

We have no trouble growing nice radicchio – we just seem to get it in the ground too late. Better crop scheduling this year should fix that.

Edible flowers were a real hit last season, so we’ll expand on them this year.

Now , with most of the seed selection completed and much of the ordering too, we can move on to other winter reading.

I’ve got a few books waiting for me …


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Finishing up

-10C but feeling like -20! Winds from the northwest at more than 30 kph gusting to 50!

A perfect evening to stay inside, curl up with a book or a crossword or even (dare I say it?) a Hallmark Christmas movie.

But instead I found myself layering up – T shirt, turtleneck, hoodie sweatshirt, lined jeans, 2 pairs of socks, my heaviest winter coveralls, hat, thick lined boots and a couple pairs of gloves.

Then off I went to the Malivoire Wine Company (malivoire.com) near Beamsville to help with the icewine harvest. And not just me! There were probably close to 30 people there – both locals and from as far as Toronto – all coming for the experience of picking frozen grapes, in the dark, on a cold, cold evening. (What are the chances these same people would be interested in coming to harvest vegetables on a hot, humid July afternoon – just for the experience!?) Many hands make light work and we finished in a few hours. Hot cocoa and refreshments followed back at the winery. And a good time was had by all!

Just as the icewine harvest cannot happen until the temperature has dropped to -10C, (this winter we picked the grapes on December 18. Last winter they had to wait until mid-January.) so we also need the right temperature & conditions to mulch our fall-planted garlic. We had been waiting for the ground to freeze hard, with no snow on the ground. Covering the frozen soil with straw will keep it frozen which discourages the mice from burrowing into it and making a mess of our garlic patch. These conditions were met a few weeks ago and the garlic got mulched. It’s not a big job – 7 large round bales and a morning’s work completed the task. It probably took longer than necessary due to our own volunteer “help”.

It was good we mulched the garlic when we did. Since then we’ve had both ice & snow.

Mulching garlic was the last of the outside farm work on our to-do list for the fall. While there might still be the odd outdoor job (cutting more firewood, plowing snow …) depending on the weather, for the most part we have moved indoors now – cleaning barns (a never-ending chore), equipment maintenance, bookkeeping, and lots of planning & preparing for 2020.

This gives us more time for other things as well …

… like visiting the neighbours,

… hanging out with friends,

… and preparing for Christmas!

And on those cold evenings we’ll stay inside where it’s warm, curl up with a good book or a crossword … and perhaps sip on a glass of icewine.


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First Snow!

People sing songs about it, write poems about it, take pictures of it ….

That first snowfall of the winter is always special – except when it comes in early November!

It began with a light dusting – a reminder that winter was coming.

Then we had the first big snowfall! Monday November 11 to be exact is when we received close to 30cm – and it stayed.

Up until then, the fall weather was quite nice.

We were working our way through the fall chores – the list was almost complete.

Garlic was planted (with some assistance).

The summer crops were all cleaned up, compost was spread, & the farm was nearly ready for winter.

That last planting of greens was finally big enough to harvest, but just a little too late for the final markets (so we have been enjoying a lot of fresh, fall salads).

And then came the snow! Suddenly the farm went from this …

To this …

And our outdoor fall work came to an abrupt end. We moved into the barn where we began cleaning up from the summer, and winterizing & putting equipment away. I spent time in the office and got caught up (finally) on book work.

I will admit that the snow was beautiful.

This week’s warmer temperatures have melted most of it, and we’re back outside again.

Today was milder and we even saw some sun.

Only Sage is unhappy that the snow has disappeared. She’s a big fan of the white stuff & the cold temperatures!

Don’t worry Sage – there will be plenty more before you know it. Predictions are for a cold & snowy winter!


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Last market 2019!

This past Thursday, Oct. 31 was our last market day of the season!

It was bad … and it was good!

We debated whether we would even attend. A special weather statement called for heavy rain. But we went anyway. Being the final market we wanted to be there to say goodbye to all our regular customers & friends. (Besides, the forecast is often wrong.)

Our setup for the market was smaller – mostly in anticipation of precipitation – but still abundant for late fall. Along with the squash, pumpkins & garlic, we had the last of the sweet peppers, freshly picked hot peppers, beets, pawpaws (finally) and lots of greens – lettuce, salad mix, arugula, spinach & baby kale. And buckets & buckets of sunflowers! Who knew we would still be picking sunflowers at the end of October!

Outdoor marketing in the fall is always unpredictable. Some weeks the weather is glorious and we’re so happy be there …

Other weeks are not as much fun … like when it’s so windy that we dare not put our canopies up – even if there’s the possibility of showers. This particular week recently we to tape all our signs down securely, and could not display our small boxes of hot peppers. They blew right off the table!!

… or our last week at Georgetown the other Saturday, when the temperature was -1C on arrival and we couldn’t display our greens on the table. Rather, we wrapped them in a quilt to keep them from freezing until the sun rose & warmed things up!

But this past Thursday turned out ok. There was no wind. It was chilly but not freezing cold. Most importantly, the rain held off until late morning allowing many of our regulars to come do their shopping and say their goodbyes before it started. One brought a bottle of hot sauce she had made with our peppers. Another dropped off coffees on her way to work (thanks Kristina!) Many just wanted to say thanks for feeding them all summer and to wish us a good winter. Then as the rains increased, the customers decreased, giving us a chance to visit with the other vendors. While it was not the ideal final market we wished for, it was pretty good!

We are very happy to be finished markets for the year! After 5+ months, we’re tired. But we will miss seeing our friends – both customers & fellow vendors.

Sage is happy too! No more lonely days of anxiously waiting for Amy to return from market!

Thank you to all our customers at both Georgetown & North York Farmers’ Markets! Thank you for supporting our farm and allowing us to feed you & your families.

See you next spring!


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First Frost

Well that was unexpected!

I checked the forecast again before turning in last evening and was relieved that there was no danger of frost – not even close!

I woke up this morning … to frost! There was frost on the roof, frost on the ground, and frost on the plants!

White on the squash patch where the vines have been mowed down, the ground worked and a cover crop sown for the winter.
Lots of frost on the tomato plants. We’re working on removing bamboo posts & string that were supporting the plants all season. Next we’ll pull the steel posts and mow down the plants.
Eggplant & hot peppers looking a little frosty!

But the sun shone and burned off the frost in a hurry and there was very little damage. Only the bitter melons were finished off (but the plants were about done anyways), and the sweet peppers & eggplant are showing some frost damage. Everything else looks fine – and for this we are thankful! While our CSA is finished, we still have 4 more weeks of farmers markets, and we need some product to sell.

The final planting of greens went into the ground only last Friday, 5 days ago. Whether or not they grow & mature will depend on the temperatures and sunshine over the next few weeks. But they are off to a good start.

The 2nd last planting …
And the one we’re harvesting this weekincluding lettuces, salad mix and baby kale.

This week was the first since early June that we have not harvested and prepared for a CSA pick-up. The 18 weeks went by fast. Now we have a bit more time for other jobs on the farm (and perhaps we will start to slow down and work less hours), but we already miss seeing everyone. One of the best parts of a CSA program is meeting and getting to know the folks who we grow our vegetables for – the ones who eat our produce.

Thank you again to all who joined us this season!

These 2 friends are already slowing down, taking the time to enjoy each others company, and watching the chickens!


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CSA 2019 – Week 18 – final week

This is the last week of our CSA for 2019!

The 18 weeks have gone by quickly. It seems like we were just relishing the first salad greens of the season, eagerly anticipating that early zucchini and still salivating at the thought of a fresh tomato … or juicy blackberry. And now it’s over! Only 1 more box of produce – though it is all vegetables that will store well, and can be enjoyed and savored for an extended time.

What’s in the box?

Squash, sweet peppers, spinach, arugula, onions, garlic.

  • The squash is all harvested and in the barn now. While not all varieties did well, there is more than enough delicious & beautiful squash to satisfy our CSA members & farmers’ market customers. Check them out …
  • We continue to pick sweet peppers – coloured bells (red, yellow, orange & chocolate) and the very sweet shepherds. There will be several in the box again this week. Keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge and they last for weeks! Or cut them up & tuck them in the freezer. The shepherds are great roasted too!
  • Spinach & arugula are the greens for this week.
  • Onions & garlic finish off this last CSA box of the season.

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We have had another week of mostly wonderful fall weather. The leaves are turning colour now, and the autumn flowers are blooming. It’s certainly my favourite time of year!

Thank you to all for being part of our CSA this season.

We appreciate your support of our small family farm, the confidence you place in us to supply your fresh produce, and your commitment to coming out to the farm (or the market) each week to pick up your share.

We hope you enjoyed the taste, variety & surprise of a new box of fresh vegetables each week! 

See you next year! 


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CSA 2019 – Week 17

This is the 2nd last week of CSA!

We have 4 more Saturday farmers’ markets to attend and 6 more Thursday markets (not that we’re counting).

That will take us to the end of October – and the end of our season!

Until then we still have vegetables to seed & plant, weed & harvest. Here’s hoping for a lovely & mild fall so the crops can continue growing & thriving for another month!

Transplanted a few rows today – salad mixes & baby kale.
It’s mostly greens still growing in the fields now.

We have stopped picking blackberries – the quality of the few that remain on the canes is poor & not worth harvesting. We keep saying that the tomatoes are finished too, but the warm weather of the past week has spurred some new growth & ripening. But the big story is the eggplant! The plants, which have been failing for some time are perking up, sending out new blossoms and ripening more fruit – not a lot, but we’ll take it!

We are getting inquiries at market concerning pawpaws. Our little pawpaw patch is thriving (all 9 trees!) and some have a good crop. They appear to be several weeks away from harvest yet.

I was optimistic that this would be the year we got to harvest some nuts from our heartnut & walnut trees. But as usual the squirrels have helped themselves to the the crop, leaving us nothing! There are some hazelnuts though. If all goes well we may even have a few to sell at market later.

What’s in the box?

Squash, salad mix, bok choy, arugula, sweet peppers, onions & garlic.

The CSA box this week is quite similar to last week’s …

  • However, this week’s winter squash selections could be different than the squash you had last week. We continue to pick as we have time (it’s a big job) so there may be other varieties to choose from. Of the 28 kinds we grew, many are abundant but there are several varieties that seem to have just disappeared!
  • The other difference this week is the salad mix. Instead of the usual lettuce mix that we have offered for much of the season (we ran out of seed), we have a new blend that includes some other greens along with the various lettuces.
  • The warm weather of late has been a real bonus for the sweet peppers. There is an abundance of fruit remaining on the plants and it is ripening nicely!

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With the end of the season in sight, some of us on the farm are already in a resting mode …

… while other are focused on play …

… but the dedicated are still hard at work!