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CSA 2017 – Week 7

This is a view of the area in front of our workshop/greenhouse. Rows of plug trays filled with seeds & seedlings, trays of pots also containing seeds – some germinated, others newly planted.

Normally (if there is such a thing anymore) most of these seeds would have been sown directly into the ground, out in the fields.

But not this year. It’s just been too wet to get on the land, prepare the soil and seed!

Our options are – wait until things dry up and then seed in the field (which will put us behind) or seed in trays & then transplant the seedlings into the field later (hoping it is dry enough when that time comes). We are doing both!

So far things are working out. Our soil is amazing & requires only a day or two to dry off after a big rain. Some seeds have been sown out on the farm when possible including beans, edamame, some herbs … Under more ideal conditions we certainly would have planted more. And we have managed to transplant most seedlings as necessary. We’ve lost some that had to wait too long – but not a lot! Things are never perfect! But our CSA boxes will be full & the tables at market will have a good variety of produce. All in all we have little to complain about & much to be thankful for!

The forecast this week calls for a lot of sun. We expect to be able to prepare this field for planting in a day or two.

Meanwhile, the weeds are not waiting. They are loving all the moisture & now the warmth and growing like gangbusters. We have finished mulching the peppers & eggplant with straw – out attempt to beat the weeds.

Cabbages, onions & lettuces … that were transplanted last week are also doing well.

We were able to seed buckwheat where the early peas, spinach & lettuce were growing. It has come up nicely. The buckwheat’s role is to smother weeds now, which will reduce weed pressure next year.

What’s in the box?

Green beans, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, salad turnips.

  • The first planting of green beans (we’ve seeded 3 times so far) is ready. It is a reduced harvest – too much competition from weeds & too wet – but things should improve this week. Enjoy!
  • When we checked the cucumbers late last week, surprise! There they were. Last Friday’s pick-up already got a taste. Everyone gets cucumbers this week! Probably my favourite vegetable, I eat them many ways – sliced paper-thin with a dressing of mayonnaise, together with tomatoes (they’re almost ready!) in a vinaigrette with lots of fresh dill, or just as a snack.
  • The onion in your share this week – the first of many – will be the heirloom Ailsa Craig variety that we have been growing for several years now. They are a sweeter onion & very delicious. They are still small, but should be bigger each week.

  • Another planting of lettuce is mature for harvest. After a 2 week break from lettuce it’s back in your CSA share this week.

  • Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini! The harvest keeps increasing & increasing. They have almost outgrown the earlier hail damage – both the plants & the fruit.
  • Broccoli & salad turnips make a continuing appearance in the box. Be aware that the broccoli might contain some “friends” or so we’ve been told. Soak them in some cold salt water if you are concerned and the worms should float to the surface. We figure this is a better way to remove them than spraying a lot of pesticide. I have included a simple recipe for salad turnips – something different then eating them raw.

PAN-ROASTED SALAD TURNIPS WITH HONEY

  • 1 bunch small salad turnips, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 TB honey
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 TB water

Toss turnips with 1 tsp. oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Combine honey, cayenne and water in a small bowl.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining tsp. oil.  Add turnips. Sauté for about 10 minutes, turning turnips frequently, until they are golden brown.

Add honey mixture to turnips and toss them for a few minutes until glazed and tender. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

 (from  https://gourmandistan.com/2013/01/22/rocking-the-winter-csa-with-pan-roasted-hakurei-turnips/ adapted from Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes)

Thank you for returning all containers. We can reuse them!

 

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 6

This week brings us to the middle of July. The summer is flying along!

The farm is lush & green and looking good. Sure there are lots of weeds – we’re understaffed this summer and therefore always behind on the weeding – but we’re trying to embrace the weeds & accept them! More importantly, the crops are doing well overall.

 Raspberry rows with a small field of buckwheat behind. The buckwheat is grown as a cover crop to smother weeds & improve the soil.

Rows of zucchini.

This yellow striped zucchini is a new variety for us. 

New plantings of cabbages & lettuce. Weedy rows to the right!

Are there really brussels sprouts & eggplant hiding in the weeds?

Most of the tomatoes are now staked & tied.

What’s in the box?

Raspberries, zucchini, broccoli/cauliflower, beets & mint,

salad turnips, kohlrabi, green onions.

extras – garlic scapes

  • The raspberries are actually improving! We’re getting bigger picks of better tasting berries. We’re excited to offer them again this week in your box.
  • It is high season for zucchini! We got a massive pick today – of massive zucchini ( and lots of smaller ones too). Don’t be scared of the big ones! They are great for stuffing, grilling on the barbeque, or turning into zucchini bread (or brownies).
  • I admit it. We do not grow the most beautiful broccoli & cauliflower. The broccoli is usually small & the cauliflower is rarely a pristine white. But they do taste good! Our 2nd planting of broccoli is just starting to produce, so there should be broccoli in your share for a few more weeks. Cauliflower might be an option – we’ll see how it is when we pick it tomorrow.
  • The rest of the CSA box this week is roots … (didn’t see that coming!)
  • We’re putting the beets & mint together. While it may seem like a strange combination, our favourite thing to eat these days is a beet salad with fresh mint. Find the recipe below & give it a try. It’s great!
  • Salad turnips – one of our most successful crops this spring! You are telling us that you like them, so we’re pleased to have another bunch in your share this week.
  • The kohlrabi are getting bigger & bigger … So far they continue to be juicy & delicious.
  • This week should finish off our early planting of green onions. There will be more coming but they are still quite small & several weeks away at least.

Fresh Beet Salad with Mint

Ingredients & Instructions

Beets – spiralized or shredded.

Fresh mint – 2 tbsp. chopped.

Dressing – combine in a jar the following:

juice of 1 orange,

1 tsp honey,

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar,

2 tbsp olive oil,

Salt & pepper to taste.

Optional – ¼ cup pistachios (we don’t use these)

Pour dressing over beets & add the chopped mint.

 

Oliver “helping” pick raspberries.

One Flynn catching up on his rest.

The other Flynn keeping watch.

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 5

(Our camera broke today as I was starting to take some pictures for this newsletter. Sorry, no pictures!)

I was determined not to mention the weather today.

But I have to!

Here are some ways it is affecting what is in our CSA share this week – and what isn’t. And what we will be selling at market – and what we won’t.

  1. Raspberries.

It’s raspberry season – those bright red, juicy, sweet berries that just about everybody loves. We were able to pick a few last week, but not enough for our CSA boxes, so we took them to market. This week we hope to have enough for CSA. As we mentioned earlier, the drought last year was hard on our raspberries and we lost most of the patch. The few rows that we kept are not great. This year’s raspberries are produced on the canes that grew last year – and those canes are short & weak. Thus there are few quality berries. Enjoy them because we don’t know if there will be any more.

2. Zucchini.

Zucchini – one day there are none, the next day an abundance of them. This season we have green zucchini, yellow zucchini, long green ones with stripes, yellow with stripes, the round yellow patty pans, and some short, green striped ones. They all taste similar, have similar texture and can be used the same way. They also all got hit with hail last week. It left some of them looking a little rough & beat up, with small gouges in the skin. Fortunately they have healed over nicely. Just cut away the blemish.

3. Hail update.

We were very fortunate to receive minimal damage from last Monday’s hail storm. The zucchini has the most visible damage. Our winter squash were newly transplanted & the leaves were really ripped up but they are growing fast & there are plenty of new, healthy green leaves. Same with the eggplant.

We were most concerned about our tomato plants. Those that were already pruned & tied to the stakes especially had a lot of cuts & wounds on their stems. Wary of blight & other diseases setting in, I sprayed them (and the squash & eggplant) with a protective fungicide. So far they are healing nicely & showing no signs of disease.

What’s in the box?

Raspberries, kale, zucchini, kohlrabi, salad turnips.

– broccoli, radishes?

extras – garlic scapes

  • Enjoy a box of raspberries in your share this week (see above). In the unlikely event that any make it all the way home with you, uneaten, keep them refrigerated and use within a day or two.
  • Kale – we have included a bunch of kale in your box, either plain or curly. We enjoy kale raw in our salads, but it is good cooked too. Kale tastes great with olive oil and garlic, onions or leeks. Combine it with sweet vegetables like corn or carrots. Unless the kale leaves are very small & tender, remove the tougher stems before using. The easiest way is to grasp the stem with 1 hand and use the other hand to strip the leaf away with a quick motion.Store kale in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for 3-4 days. * The longer it is stored, the stronger the flavour becomes.
  • Zucchini (see above).
  • The kohlrabi & salad turnips have grown larger since they last appeared in your CSA share. Here is a link to a recipe for kohlrabi fritters that a CSA member shared last year. Some of you have been asking for it again –  http://honestcooking.com/kohlrabi-fritters-vermont-csa/ . Lots of useful kohlrabi information is included.
  • Broccoli & radishes have a question mark after them. We won’t know until we pick tomorrow how many there will be. Hopefully there will be enough!
  • We still have lots of garlic scapes for those who want some. Garlic scape pesto anyone?

Last week’s CSA share …

 

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 4

Once again we found ourselves looking up at the skies today.

This afternoon, Amy was in the tomato patch, suckering & tying. I was transplanting lettuce seedlings into the field. But both of us were eyeing the clouds, marvelling at the lightning and listening to the thunder.

Mostly it seemed to be going north, over the lake …

Towards the south all looked clear …

But to the west the storm was building and approaching …

When the lightning got too close for comfort, we headed in to the barn and worked there.

The storm began with a bit of rain which quickly increased in intensity & then turned to hail. The hail lasted 8 minutes (we timed it) and was the size of peas, even large peas! Looking out the barn door, we could see it build up on the ground.

Hail is always an unwelcome event. It can cause a lot of damage, even devastation in a short time. What makes hail particularly cruel is that it usually happens in the summer when crops are ready or almost ready for harvest. It can also be very local and ruin one farm & leave surrounding farms untouched. Hail does not play fair!

Today’s hail appears to have been widespread in our area & caused varying degrees of damage. Some farms in our neighbourhood are reported to be wiped out. We were fortunate and seem to have experienced less damage – mainly rips & holes in leaves. While this will make the vegetable plants more susceptible to disease we think most will be okay. But we will find out the full extent of the damage when we harvest for CSA tomorrow.

After the storm the skies continued to awe.

What’s in the box?

Beets, broccoli/zucchini, snow peas, lettuce,

spinach, garlic scapes, green onions.

  • The first of the red beets will be in your share this week. They will be baby beets, quite small, but very tender & sweet. Enjoy!
  • We are picking broccoli (in fact last Friday’s pick-up got a surprise of broccoli in their box!) & zucchini – but not a lot of either. Depending on how the picking goes tomorrow, each share will have a choice of broccoli or zucchini but probably not both. We’ll see what happens for Friday?
  • This is likely the last week for snow peas. Unfortunately they never last long.
  • Lettuce, spinach, garlic scapes & green onions will all be part of your CSA share again. Remember to wash, dry, & bag them and store them in the refrigerator.

 

Here’s last week’s box.

 

 

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 3

The skies over the farm were beautiful again this evening.

We were hoping the dark clouds contained some rain for us. The hot temperatures we’ve had & the strong winds have really dried out the soil & the vegetables.

Sure enough, a good rain of about 10mm fell, refreshing the ground & the crops.

What’s in the box?

Snow peas, kohlrabi, salad turnips, garlic scapes, green onions & lettuce.

  • Fresh snow peas are always a favourite – perhaps because they are never around too long. Often we get 3 plantings in the ground to try to extend the season. This year we managed only 2. And both plantings are ready at almost the same time. So it will be a short season again! Enjoy your snow peas raw, steamed or stir-fried – but cook them only briefly to preserve the colour, flavour & texture.
  • Kohlrabi is a strange-looking vegetable – sort of like a cross between a little cabbage and a turnip. It is usually considered a root vegetable, though the edible round globe grows above ground.Kohlrabi is usually eaten raw – just peeled & sliced. The taste & texture resembles fresh, crunchy broccoli stems, with a bit of radish thrown in. Use on raw vegetable platters and serve with a creamy dip. Grated kohlrabi can be added to slaws. Kohlrabi can also be steamed or boiled but don’t peel until after they are cooked. When the bulbs are tender, peel skin, and season with butter, salt, and pepper, a cheese sauce, or just enjoy plain. They are good for mashing with other vegetables – parsnips, carrots or potatoes. Kohlrabi absorbs the flavour of other ingredients making it ideal to add to soup, stew and stir-fries. If the leaves attached to the kohlrabi bulb are fresh and green, they can be enjoyed as a cooked green. Wash the leaves and remove the ribs. Blanch in boiling water until just wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze excess water from leaves. Chop leaves, then sauté in a little olive oil or butter. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of vinegar or squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The bulbs should be stored, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the fridge. They will hold for a week.

Our favourite way to eat kohlrabi (other than raw in slices) is to sautée it in butter & garlic scapes               for just a few minutes. Then add just a dash of nutmeg. Delicious!

  • Salad turnips are small, round, white turnips that resemble radishes, but without the bite – usually! This season, due to the recent heat, the turnips have a similar bite to radishes. 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.
  • Garlic scapes are a favourite for many. They are the top of the garlic plant. We cut them off so the garlic puts all it’s energy into forming a nice big bulb underground. Leaving the scapes to grow would produce flowers & seeds instead, which we don’t need or want. Use them wherever garlic bulbs are used – raw or cooked. Their flavour is a bit milder than garlic. We have included our usual recipe for garlic scape pesto which is quite popular.
  • The first onions of the season are green onions, also called bunching onions or scallions. Use the whole thing – the green leaves & the small, bottom white bulb.
  • Enjoy more lettuce in your share again this week.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1-2 tbsp lemon juice (or lime)

1/4 pound roughly chopped 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.

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Here’s something to look forward to…

Our blackberries came through the winter healthy & well. The canes are in bloom now, and full of bees. We anticipate a good crop of these dark, juicy, delicious berries – starting in early August.


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CSA 2017 – Week 2

Monday mornings are always a surprise.

Because we do not work on Sundays (other than making sure the chickens have fresh water & enough food, and watering the seedlings & pots of vegetables in the greenhouse & around the yard), I usually don’t go out on the farm that day. In fact I try not to even think about the farm on Sunday (a day of rest means a day of rest!).

And so on Monday it’s always a surprise to see how much the vegetables have grown, especially this time of year. You wouldn’t think 1 day would show such a difference, but it does.

These 2 rows of beans, for example, were hardly starting to poke through the ground on Saturday. Today they’re all up.

The broccoli is starting to form heads & the green onions are almost ready.

Snow peas are not only blooming – but there are little pea pods hanging thick on the vines.

The zucchini that we planted on black plastic & under row covers also has tiny fruit – almost ready.

The kohlrabi stems are swelling & forming their turnip-like bottoms.

Some surprises were not good!

The fava beans are covered with black aphids, perhaps enough to cause damage.

Something continues to chew on the broccoli stems – both the small, new plantings as well as the larger plants.

And of course the weeds! How they grow! Everywhere we look, there is a carpet of green magically appearing.

But the onions got weeded today. Now they look great!

We’re starting to mulch the tomatoes. The straw will keep the weeds in check, hold the moisture in the ground & keep the tomatoes cleaner.

This year we are experimenting with ground cover. This black, woven plastic fabric allows some water in, but should keep the weeds from growing. Eggplant & peppers are planted here as they should benefit from the extra warm soil that the black covering provides.

What’s in the box?

Green garlic, arugula, pea shoots, lettuce, spinach, radishes.

  • Green garlic is a young garlic plant harvested now – in spring before the large garlic bulb has formed. It resembles a scallion or green onion – lots of flat green leaves with a very small bulb at the bottom. 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)  anywhere you would use garlic. They are also delicious coated with olive oil & tossed whole on the barbecue. Store green garlic in the fridge.
  • Arugula is a spicy salad green. It adds quite a punch to a spring salad, so use it with caution. Arugula makes a very flavourful salad all on it’s own. We also like it in sandwiches in place of lettuce.
  • 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 & use as needed. Simply cut what you need and add them to your salad or sandwiches. Let them reach about 10-12 cm. Then cut them about half way down, leaving stem & some leaves. They will grow back – slowly – and you can harvest them again. Cutting them all the way down at soil level gives a larger harvest – but only once.
  • Enjoy more spinach & radishes & lettuce again this week. The lettuce may be the same salad mix as last week, or lettuce heads and the radishes might pack a bigger bite due to the heat. Remember that all greens have been rinsed once. You will want to wash them more thoroughly & then store in the fridge.

 

Here is a picture of last week’s share.

Please remember to bring your box back each week to hold your fresh vegetables!


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CSA 2017 – Week 1

Thursday 25 May – Our 1st farmers’ market of 2017, North York. The weather – lots of rain all day, very windy, and cold. The results – just enough sales to pay for our gas & our coffee, but not wages … (lots of time to take pictures though!)

Thursday 1 June – Our 2nd farmers’ market of the season, North York. The weather – no rain, but extremely windy, and cold. The results – pretty good sales …  (but no pictures – we were too busy hanging on to our tent to keep it from blowing away!)

Saturday 3 June – Our 3rd farmers’ market of the season, downtown Georgetown. The weather – sunny, no wind, and warm. The results – excellent sales … (but no pictures – we were too busy serving the crowds of customers!)

Tuesday 6 June & Friday 9 June – Our first week of CSA for the season. The weather – chance of showers both days. The results – we already know that our CSA members will be here, excited to pick up the first vegetables of the season. And we’re excited too – excited to see our friends again from other years, and to meet the many new CSA members that are joining us for the first time.

With both markets running, and now our CSA too, the rhythm of the season has begun. Planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing … these will be our main activities for the next 5 months.

We’re ready!

What’s in the box?

Lettuce mix, spinach, bok choy, radishes & rhubarb.

  • Lettuce & spinach – it’s salad time! We will have rinsed it once to remove most of the field soil. You will want to wash it a bit more thoroughly, bag it & store it in the refrigerator.
  • Bok choy grows best when the weather stays constant & a bit cool. When temperatures fluctuate bok choy can quickly go to flower. That’s the story of our spring this year, so your bok choy is a colourful mix of green leaves & yellow flowers. These flowers are beautiful & totally edible along with the green leaves. Flowering bok choy might be less tender though. The simplest way to cook bok choy is to stir-fry it in sesame oil. Or include it in your favourite stir-fry recipe. We will have washed the bok choy once – it will probably need additional washing.
  • Yes, the radishes are big! They could easily have been harvested last week – but nothing else was ready. They are plenty hot too! Soaking them in ice-cold water for 20 minutes will cut some of the sharpness & also make them crisper. Add them to the lettuce & spinach salad. For something different, try roasting the radishes in the oven – see recipe suggestion below.
  • Who remembers munching on raw rhubarb as a child? Now, I prefer my rhubarb in a pie. There will be enough rhubarb in your share this week to make a pie. Or, make a crisp – much quicker & easier and almost as good!

ROASTED RADISHES

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 – 2 bunches medium radishes
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Coarse kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

PREPARATION

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Cut off all but 1/2 inch of green radish tops; reserve trimmed tops and rinse them well, checking for grit. Coarsely chop radish tops and set aside. Cut radishes lengthwise in half and place in medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and toss thoroughly to coat. Place radishes, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Roast until radishes are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Season to taste with more coarse kosher salt, if desired.
    2. Melt butter in heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pinch of coarse kosher salt to skillet and cook until butter browns, swirling skillet frequently to keep butter solids from burning, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice.
    3. Transfer roasted radishes to warmed shallow serving bowl and drizzle brown butter over. Sprinkle with chopped radish tops and serve.
Per serving: 101 calories, 11 g fat, 0.4 g fiber  (from epicurious.com)

Aunt Elvira’s Fruit Crisp

Cut up rhubarb (or any fruit) and half fill a pie plate.

Mix together …

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup flour

¼ cup rolled oats

½ tsp cinnamon

3 TB butter

(adjust the amounts to suit your preferences)

Cover fruit with this mixture.

Bake for approx. 12 minutes in the microwave.

(We sometimes bake it in the oven – 350 F for approx. 30 minutes. The topping gets crispier & browner)


The farm this week …

Tomatoes are planted!