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CSA 2017 – Final week!

This is it!

The final week of CSA for 2017.

Thank you for giving us the privilege of growing your food this season, and for placing your trust in us & our farming. We appreciate it!

Thank you for all your encouragement, comments & critique!

What’s in the box?

Salad turnips, leeks, squash, carrots, peppers, onions, garlic, baby kale.

  • A new planting of salad turnips is ready – just in time! Remember them from earlier in the season? They are white, small, & round, resembling 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.
  • We grew leeks several years ago – and vowed we would not grow them again! But we did! To end up with thick, long, white leeks requires a lot of work & technique. We didn’t do that! We grew them like onions to see what would happen. The results are acceptable (not amazing) – smaller, white leeks that will make a terrific soup.

  • As we mentioned in last weeks newsletter, the squash crop is poor this year. Many farmers around the province are experiencing the same. The wet weather earlier in the season meant poor pollination and a light crop. There will be another squash in your share this week – a small squash.
  • Your final box of this season will also include carrots, peppers, onions, garlic & baby kale.

_______________________________

While our CSA might be coming to an end, our farmers’ markets continue – Georgetown for 2 more weeks until 14 October, and North York right until the end of the month, October 26.

Much of the farm is looking empty …

and increasingly so, as we mow down the crops that are finished. But the warmer, sunny days have brought out a lot of bees & insects, so I have left a lot of the late-blooming weeds, wildflowers & even vegetables to give them a source of food.

There are still vegetables growing for our markets …

… and weeds too!

_______________________

Thank you for being part of our CSA this season.

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

Thank you for making the commitment to drive to our farm each week to pick up your box, and the commitment to then use the vegetables (including the less familiar & perhaps less liked ones).

See you again next year!

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CSA 2017 – Week 17

It’s week 17 of our CSA – only 1 more week left!

Some years we are almost out of vegetables by now and the boxes reflect this.

But this year we are still picking a lot of stuff! In fact, there are 5 new vegetables in the share this week! We’re pretty excited about that.

What’s in the box?

Carrots, corn, squash, shallots, baby kale, peppers, arugula, lettuce, garlic.

  • Carrots are not something usually found in our CSA box. We have not grown them in years. But we tried them again this season – and they turned out great. And they taste even better!

  • We grow 1 planting of corn each year. This season we got it in quite late and weren’t sure it would mature in time. But it has! Enjoy some fresh corn-on-the-cob in your share this week. I’ll give the same warning I do each year – the corn is not sprayed so don’t be surprised if you find a few worms. In the past, most CSA members have said they prefer to cut out a worm or 2, rather than have insecticide on their corn. Please give us your opinion on this.
  • We began to cut the squash today and pile it up in the field to cure. It felt wrong to be harvesting a fall vegetable in such hot & humid conditions (high 30’s C.). It also felt wrong – or at least disappointing – to have such a poor harvest. We planted 27 varieties but picked only about a dozen kinds, and very few squash in total. Butternut squash is one that turned out ok. It is also one of the more popular kinds. It is a delicious squash with a thick, orange flesh, somewhat sweet and nutty. It is very versatile and can be used for roasting, stews & casseroles, and baking (pies, muffins, bread …).

  • Instead of onions there will be shallots in your box this week. Shallots are similar to an onion but perhaps less pungent & a little sweeter, with a hint of garlic. This makes them excellent to use raw, perhaps in salads or dressings. When cooking with shallots, you will notice a finer, smoother texture well suited to sauces, quiches & custards.
  • Baby kale – small leaves & stems that are especially great raw, in salads.
  • There will be both bell peppers & shepherd peppers available again this week. The bells come in more colours, the shepherds only in red. You will notice that many of our peppers are not completely coloured – there is often some green along with the red, yellow or orange. It seems we are not the only ones who enjoy sweet peppers. Mice (and maybe rabbits too) find them tasty! If we leave the peppers on the plant to completely turn colour, they are very often chewed & eaten. As it is we are losing probably a third of our peppers to critters & spoilage. Both peppers taste great but shepherd peppers are a bit sweeter and have a thicker flesh making them the better choice for roasting.

  • Arugula, lettuce & garlic round out the CSA basket this week.

Last week’s CSA box.

Remember – next week is our last week for CSA!


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CSA 2017 – Week 16

A foggy, fall morning on the farm is beautiful …

What’s in the box?

Spinach, bok choy, lettuce, beans, zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic, (maybe tomatoes).

  • There are 3 kinds of greens in the box this week – spinach, bok choy & lettuce. That’s a lot of green! But they are all ready, & beautiful, & delicious, and we couldn’t decide which one to leave out – so we included them all. Bok choy seems to be a little unfamiliar to some of our CSA members. It is best stir-fried either on it’s own or with other vegetables. Actually, the box this week has all the makings for an amazing stir-fry – bok choy, beans, zucchini, peppers, onions & garlic. Save the lettuce, spinach & tomatoes for a salad.

There are many good stir-fry recipes out there, but our quick, easy, go-to recipe is as follows …

Stir-fry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • combine all ingredients and pour over stir-fried vegetables. Heat through till sauce thickens.
  • Serve and enjoy!

There are 2 weeks left in our CSA.

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 15

September is …

  • wet mornings.

The dew is often heavy & lingering, which means a slower start to picking – for our sake, but mostly for the vegetables. Picking vegetables wet can lead to disease on the plants (eg. beans get rust), or mold & spoilage issues with the fruit (eg. blackberries).

But the morning dew & the bright sunshine are also beautiful!

  • the end of the summer vegetables … and blackberries.

Tomatoes – almost over.

Many blackberry plants are almost picked clean, while others still have quite a few berries.

  • Lots more vegetables – fall vegetables …

 

like lettuce, spinach, arugula,

cabbage, bok choy, radicchio ( a new one for us!)

carrots

several kinds of cabbages

and peppers.

  • the end of seeding & planting.

This week we will seed our final crops – lettuce, spinach, arugula, and kale and transplant the last of the cabbages & other lettuces.

What’s in the box?

Chinese cabbage, beets, peppers, beans or zucchini, blackberries, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic.

  • Chinese cabbage is different from our regular cabbage. It is tender, mild & sweet. Enjoy it raw in salads, or in stir-fries or steamed. Because it is so tender it cooks quickly & can turn to mush if overdone!
  • Our new patch of beets includes red beets, yellow beets & candy cane – red & white striped – beets. They are all delicious & sweet!
  • When we go through the pepper patch now, we can finally see lots of colour – and lots of peppers. The forecasted warmth this week should bring them on faster. They are both beautiful & delicious!
  • Beans & zucchini – we have both, but not a lot of either. Choose one or the other this week.
  • Enjoy the blackberries this week – perhaps the final week for them!
  • Lettuce, tomatoes, onions & garlic – part of your CSA share again this week.

This is week 15 of our CSA – 3 more weeks to go!


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CSA 2017 – Week 14

Providing fresh, local, quality produce at a fair price is one of the primary goals of CSA. Along with that is the confidence in knowing where, how and who grows your food.

Often, it seems that our youngest CSA members catch on to this the best – and take it to heart. Here’s a story from a CSA member.

(Olivia (age 4) and her family have been CSA members for a couple of years. Olivia enjoys coming to the farm, bringing Lorie drawings, checking on the chickens & helping to gather the eggs. Her family went to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) this weekend and they toured the agriculture building.)

Her mother writes …

There is a demonstration called “Be a Farmer for a Day”. As you walk through the activities with your plastic sand pail you are asked to plant a seed, pick apples, harvest veg, milk a large model of a cow, pick up a plastic egg from a display of fake chickens, gather wool from a sheep pen, then ride a tractor. Olivia gets quieter and quieter as we go through. Then after the tractor she pulls one of the attendants aside and says. “This is all wrong. It takes more than a day to grow vegetables. The vegetables in the bin are all fake. The chickens …FAKE. The eggs…FAKE! Mrs Thiessen works way harder than this. How are kids supposed to know what this is actually like if all of the stuff is fake. The eggs should be warm. The tomatoes should smell good. Ugh.

Thanks Olivia! That’s the encouragement we needed!

What’s in the box?

Cabbage, beans, bok choy, blackberries, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions.

  • The first of the cabbage is ready for harvest! I’m a big fan of coleslaw so this is good news for me. This weeks cabbage is green cabbage (red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, & savoy cabbage are still ahead). We grow varieties that give smaller heads, thinking that it’s better to finish a smaller cabbage sooner & get a fresh one next week, than eating from a huge head that takes up fridge space.
  • I guess the weather is more to the bean plants liking now. We’re finally getting some serious bean harvests – green beans, and especially the purple striped dragon’s tongue. Treat them the same as a green bean – they just taste better!
  • Perhaps we planted too much bok choy (some people here at Thiessen Farms think so)? It is plentiful now, as well as beautiful & delicious. Enjoy bok choy in your share again this week.
  • Our blackberry canes have given us a lot of blackberries this season. Many of the plants are empty now. Another week or so and blackberries will be finished.
  • We’re seeing more colour appear on the sweet peppers – red, orange, yellow, & purple. Peppers prefer warmer temperatures than we’ve experienced this summer, which is why they are slower & less prolific.
  • The tomato patch is looking sadder & sadder. The plants have almost given up, yet still somehow manage to ripen some fruit. There are less cherry size tomatoes, and more of the larger beefsteak kinds now.
  • The cooler temperatures lately are perfect for growing lettuce. We keep planting more, so there should be lettuce for most of the CSA season!
  • The onions are all picked now. No more green tops, and no more huge bulbs – but lots of smaller, delicious onions for another week or 2.

Here’s a recipe from the current issue of Eating Well magazine that we tried. Turned out great! (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/258537/herbed-tomato-gratin/)

Herbed Tomato Gratin

Vegetable gratin recipes often have a crunchy breadcrumb or crouton topping. But summer tomatoes are too gorgeous to hide, so we tucked crusty cubes of bread underneath them instead. Plus, the bread soaks up all the juicy tomato goodness. If you can’t find marjoram, fresh basil or oregano makes a good substitute.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups crusty whole-grain bread cubes ( ½-inch)
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream (we used milk instead)
  • ½ cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, divided (we used parmesan)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 pounds medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan (or similar-size 3-quart baking dish) with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer the bread to a large bowl. Gently stir in cream, ¼ cup cheese, marjoram, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture in the baking dish. Layer tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup cheese.
  4. Bake the gratin until golden and crispy on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Garnish with marjoram, if desired.

Last week’s box

Oliver & Flynn – each looking forward to CSA pick-up (in their own way!)

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 13

After our morning tour of the farm today (something we do daily, to check on the crops & decide what needs to be done that day …) it was pointed out, that I had not once mentioned, nor moaned or lamented about all the weeds.

Of course not! Embrace the weeds is what I always say!

And WOW! There are lots to embrace!

Weeds grow well in most conditions, but this year they are especially prolific. Due to the abundance of rain earlier, and warm temperatures lately, conditions have been ideal for weed growth. Also, it has often been too wet to get in to cultivate, hoe or even hand weed at times, resulting in more weed pressures.

We lost some crops at the start of the season to weeds, but since then we have been handling them ok. A few extra helping hands and timely weeding have gone a long way to keeping things under control. We concentrate our efforts on the new transplants and seeds that have just come up. Minimizing competition from the weeds for space & sunshine gets the seedlings off to a good start. Then if we can’t get to everything, the larger plants can handle the weeds better. And so far, there has been moisture enough for all!

Our newest crops – happily growing weed-free!

Carrots – which we have not grown for years because of the weeding required – looking clean.

 

Mature vegetables successfully co-existing with the weeds.

Even the onions & leeks which were buried deep under weeds have been successfully saved!

The big problem with allowing some weeds to grow & mature, is that they will go to seed, and we’ll be dealing with them for years to come.

But that’s next year’s problem. This season we embrace the weeds!

What’s in the box?

Blackberries, bok choy, beans, fresh basil, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, onions, garlic.

  • Looks like another big pick of blackberries this week. Enjoy some in your box again! See below for a recipe for Blackberry Lemon poppy-seed Muffins from one of our CSA members (thanks Shelley!).
  • We have a lovely planting of bok choy ready to harvest. Perfect for a delicious stir-fry – maybe with beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions & garlic!
  • A beautiful bunch of basil – perfect for pesto (see recipe below) – is part of your share this week. Choose from lemon basil or regular basil.
  • Summer is salad time – made with our fresh lettuce mix. 

Blackberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

1 and 3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour

1 and 1/2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup (120 g) Greek yogurt

1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup (60ml) milk

2 Tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1 and 1/2 cups (250 g) fresh or frozen blackberries (do not thaw if using frozen)

Glaze

  • 1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 Tablespoons (30-45 ml) fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the muffins: In a large bowl, toss the flour, poppy seeds, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high-speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high-speed until the mixture is combined and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat on low-speed until just about combined. Add the milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and continue to beat on low until combined. Fold in the blackberries with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. They may bleed a little.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into each cup or liner, filling each all the way to the top. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 22-23 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack and drizzle with glaze. Muffins stay fresh stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.
  6. For the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together. Drizzle over muffins.

Make ahead tip: For longer storage, freeze muffins (without glaze) for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or warm up in the microwave if desired. Glaze before serving.  (from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com)

Pesto

1 cup packed fresh basil
1-3 cloves fresh garlic
1/3 cup walnuts, or pine nuts
3-6 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
2 sprigs parsley (optional)
Finely chop in food processor
Gradually add 1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil while the food processor is running. Once it is a thick paste you’re done!
Freezes well in ice-cube trays. Once frozen, pop out and freeze in baggies. Take  out one or two at a time to use in your recipe.

(based on a recipe from Simply in Season cookbook)

A few pictures from Saturday’s market in Georgetown. It’s a beautiful, bountiful & colourful time of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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CSA 2017 – Week 12

Here’s a picture of our tractor & sprayer.

I used to spend more time on this equipment, back when we grew peaches, pears, cherries … and all the other tender fruit. Now that we are concentrating on vegetables, I don’t use the sprayer much. We try to grow our crops without the use of pesticides, whether organic or chemical. Now I mostly use the sprayer for watering – transplants when we put them in the ground, or crops when it gets really dry (like last year – not this year!).

However, we will use the sprayer for its intended purpose – to spray pesticides – when we feel it is necessary. After our first 2 hail events earlier this season, I did apply a fungicide on our tomatoes to try & prevent or at least slow down blight & other diseases.

We also spray our blackberries.

For many years we did not. That was one of the good things about growing blackberries – no spraying necessary!

Then along came the spotted wing drosophila. Spotted wing drosophila is an invasive vinegar fly that has the potential to cause extensive damage to many fruit crops (especially soft fruits like berries and dark coloured fruit like blackberries). In the last few years it has been found throughout much of southern Ontario along with most of the fruit-growing areas of North America. It has become a chronic pest in berry and tender fruit crops in Ontario. Effective biological controls are not yet available. There are cultural practices that we use to help reduce the insect populations, but the only effective control right now is chemical.

And so we spray regularly to try to kill the spotted wing drosophila and protect our blackberries (and elderberries). We would rather not! But then again, we would rather not have worms in our blackberries – would you!?

(not sure why I only remember to take pictures of the blackberries after picking, and not before?)

What’s in the box?

Blackberries, kohlrabi, green beans, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic.

  • The blackberries are great again this week! We harvested a huge amount today – which means another couple pints in your share this week. In the unlikely event that you cannot eat them all, remember that they freeze very well. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze overnight. Then scoop them into a bag. That way you can grab as many as need this coming winter, for using in smoothies, on ice cream, yogurt or pudding, or for baking …
  • Two weeks ago I posted that the new planting of kohlrabi was ready but the rain had cracked & rotted them. It was disappointing to say the least, so I ignored them for a while! But this week you will find a kohlrabi in your box.  While some rotted or were cracked & misshapen beyond use, many are still salvageable. Most do have a crack or 2 and will require a bit of extra peeling & cutting  – which is why we let them get bigger before harvesting them. You will still get a lot of good eating out of them. I know I did when I picked them today!!  (If you have forgotten what to do with kohlrabi, look back at the CSA newsletters of weeks 4 and 5 for suggestions.)
  • A new row of green beans is ready. The quality is great – the quantity not so much. For years we have grown the same variety of green beans, but this year we tried a new kind that promised to be easier to pick with most of the beans held on stems above the leaves. Indeed they are a treat to pick, but unfortunately they don’t produce as heavy a crop. For our next planting, which should be ready in a week or 2, we have returned to our old faithful green beans – harder to pick, but better production. Live & learn!
  • A new crop of lettuce mix is also ready. Enjoy it in a fresh salad along with the other contents of the box – peppers, tomatoes, onions & garlic.

________________

– new zucchini planting

– tomatoes struggling to outgrow the blight.

– last week’s box.