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CSA 2018 – week 18 – the final week!

This is the final week of our CSA for 2018!

Overall it has been a good & successful season and we are satisfied. The feedback from our CSA members would indicate that most are satisfied as well. Certainly we appreciate the comments we get each week about our produce.

Not having to pick & prep the produce twice a week for pick-up eases our workload considerably.

However our farmers’ markets continue – Georgetown until 13 October and North York until the end of October. And so we continue to seed & plant. Things are growing well.

Crops we transplanted this past week & today …

Vegetables we are harvesting now …

It’s quite unusual to have the tomato plants still so lush & green at this time of year. While there are lots of fruit, the quality has diminished – lots of cracking & splitting, softness … and we will stop picking soon.

What’s in the last box?

Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard or kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, arugula, garlic,

sweet peppers, beans, squash.

  • We were hoping the Chinese cabbage would be ready in time. It just made it! Though still quite small & not filled out totally, it is part of the box this week. It was part of the CSA share back in week 6 too. Then the next plantings didn’t survive the drought. But now we have it again. Chinese cabbage is so tender & mild – eat it fresh in a salad instead of lettuce. Use the large leaves as wraps, make it into coleslaw or even cook it (stir-fry, saute …) While the outer leaves are a lovely green colour, the inside is creamy white and delicious!
  • Swiss chard or kale – choose one or the other. Both can be enjoyed raw or cooked. I have included a simple chard recipe below.
  • Kohlrabi always makes a great snack. Just peel and eat! Of course you can turn it into a slaw or saute it or cook & mash it or spiralize it & turn the kohlrabi into noodles. Certainly it’s a versatile vegetable!
  • Many of our CSA members want lettuce every week. This year we managed to include lettuce 13 times out of 18 weeks. Enjoy your last bag of lettuce mix. Add some arugula to your salad to spice it up. There is also garlic and sweet peppers.
  • This week we move into our last planting of beans – how’s that for good timing?! Beans are another popular crop & we included them 8 times this season.

  • We continue to work away at our winter squash harvest. It’s a lot of heavy lifting – there’s a big crop. Choose several squash this week. Stored properly (room temperature & dry) they will last for weeks and even months.

 

Easy Swiss Chard Recipe

(from https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/swiss_chard/#recipe)

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large bunch of fresh Swiss chard
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of whole coriander seeds (The coriander seeds are optional – but coriander is wonderful with chard!)

METHOD

1 Prep the chard stalks and leaves: Rinse out the Swiss chard leaves thoroughly. Either tear or cut away the thick stalks from the leaves. Cut the stalk pieces into 1-inch or smaller pieces. Chop the leaves into narrow strips. Keep the stalks and leaves separate.

2 Sauté garlic and crushed red pepper flakes: Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat. Add garlic slices, crushed red pepper, and coriander seeds (if using), and cook for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant.

3 Add Swiss chard stalks: Add the chopped Swiss chard stalks. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

4 Add the chopped leaves: Add the chopped chard leaves, toss with the oil and garlic in the pan. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Turn the leaves and the stalks over in the pan.

If the chard still needs a bit more cooking (remove a piece and taste it), cover and cook a few more minutes.

Serve immediately.

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Thank you to everyone for a great season! CSA is a great fit for our small, family farm – we not only have the security of knowing that our produce is sold before the season begins, but we also get to meet & know the people who are eating what we grow. Thank you to all our members for being a part of our CSA! Hope to see you in 2019.

Sage has also made some new friends & will miss greeting them each week!

 

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CSA 2018 – week 17

It was a beautiful Monday morning drive around the farm today. The dew was heavy on the plants, the sun was bright, and the colours & textures amazing!

There were some good surprises too!

The long-awaited (at least by us) beets are big enough to begin harvesting, as are the salad turnips.

The Chinese cabbage is almost ready. Maybe by next week – our last CSA pick-up – we can pick some? The other cabbages will not be ready in time.

While CSA is coming to an end, our farmers’ markets continue into October so we’re still planting. We will continue to seed lettuce, arugula, spinach, bok choy & baby kale … for another week or two. This will give us vegetables to harvest until the last market on October 25 (providing we don’t get a heavy frost before then!).

What’s in the box?

Salad turnips, beets, beans, squash, lettuce, sweet peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic.

  • Way back in weeks 3 & 4 we had salad turnips in the CSA box – and now we have them again. They prefer the cooler temperatures of spring & fall rather than the heat of summer, which is why they disappeared for so many weeks. Enjoy them raw as a snack or in a salad. Salad turnips can also be sliced and stir-fried or sautéed. They have the texture & flavour of a radish but are usually much milder.
  • Beets have also not been around for a while. It has been a bad year for beets, at least on our farm. But we finally have some – the usual dark purple (red) beets, yellow beets, and the striped candy cane beets. Regardless of colour, they all taste great!
  • Have you tried the Dragon’s Tongue beans yet? These flat, yellow beans with purple stripes are very tasty – with a more “beany” flavour than the green beans. Both colours will be available this week.
  • We’re picking more varieties of squash now, as they mature & ripen. There will be at least 4 kinds to choose from this week. Right now we have all 4 roasting in the oven so we can give a first-hand report to you on flavour, texture, sweetness etc … Remember that squash stores well. Keep it dry & about at room temperature.
  • Lettuce, sweet peppers, tomatoes (probably only the bigger field tomatoes, not cherries), zucchini & garlic round out the box this week. Still lots of good eating for the middle of September!

Heading out to pick squash on a Monday morning!

 


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CSA 2018 – week 16

The morning rains kept us out of the fields today, so we traded our farming gear for aprons and went to work using some of the leftovers from Saturday market.

Grape tomatoes were slow roasted with olive oil & garlic until they turned absolutely delicious! We’ll eat our fill now and the rest will be tucked into the freezer to be enjoyed during the winter.

An oversize patty pan summer squash became a batch of muffins (recipe below).

The leftover sweet corn from CSA was husked, blanched, cut off the cob and frozen for winter use – enough for 76 + meals. (And the cobs are being enjoyed by the chickens. No waste!)

Tomorrow we’ll scramble to catch up on our picking, and prepare for CSA pick-up. Here’s hoping for sunny weather!

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Saturday morning at market, a regular customer looked at our table and declared that she was finished with all the summer vegetables – the cooler weather had her craving fall flavours! Fortunately, not everyone felt the same way and we had a good market day selling our “summer” products. The CSA box this week continues to offer an abundance of summer vegetables as well as some signs of fall.

There are only 2 weeks left in our CSA after this week. Still to come – weather permitting – are cabbages, beets, more peppers & winter squash …

What’s in the box?

Sweet corn, kale or swiss chard, sweet peppers, winter squash,

summer squash or zucchini, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic.

  • Enjoy a few more ears of sweet corn in your share this week. The flavour is very great – and the quality is good too. While the corn in last Tuesday’s box was perhaps a little young, Friday’s pick was close to the perfect ripeness, and tomorrows pick should be excellent too! Looks like there will be enough good corn for Friday as well.
  • Swiss chard & kale. While kale is more common, chard is not as well-known. The stems come in a rainbow of colours – white, red, pink, yellow & orange. The wrinkled leaves can hold a lot of dirt & grit so they may need several washings. Whereas kale stems are usually removed & not used, chard stems are eaten. But separate the stems from the leaves and cook the stems first, until tender. Then add the leaves as they only take a few minutes. Both kale & chard can be sautéed with onions & garlic in a bit of oil. Perhaps add some tomatoes or even corn to complete the dish.
  • The sweet peppers continue to take their sweet time ripening. That’s why we have more green peppers available right now than red, yellow or orange.
  • The rain kept us out of the winter squash patch today so I can’t say what kind of squash will be in the box this week. But we’ll find something that is ready to pick & be enjoyed.
  • The zucchini & patty pan summer squash have been producing so much these last couple of weeks. Now the plants appear to be losing strength & vigor rapidly. Enjoy them will they last.
  • There are still plenty of beans coming. Beans must be picked when the plants are totally dry, to avoid disease issues. This can be a challenge in fall with the more plentiful rains, and morning dews that sometimes last until afternoon. But as long as they dry in time, we’ll have beans to pick & place in your CSA share.
  • Lettuce, tomatoes & garlic complete the box again this week.

 

Zucchini Lime Muffins  (from http://www.ricardocuisine.com)

I don’t usually favour recipes that include produce we can’t grow here. But I’m a big fan of limes and of Ricardo. This recipe is excellent!!

INGREDIENTS

Muffins

  • 2 cups (260 g) grated zucchini
  • 1 cup (210 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 limes, zest finely grated
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) lime juice
  • 1 3/4 cups (265 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Icing (optional)

  • 2 limes, zest finely grated
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) lime juice
  • 1 cup (130 g) icing sugar

PREPARATION

Muffins

  1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-muffin tin with paper or silicone cups.
  2. Place the zucchini in a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes.
  3. In a food processor, purée the zucchini with the sugar and butter until smooth. Add the eggs, lime zest and juice. Mix for a few seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Divide the batter between the muffin cups (see note). Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Icing

  1. In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Ice the muffins, if desired.

NOTE

For a nice touch, sprinkle the unbaked muffins with grated zucchini. Grate about 3/4 cup (100 g) extra zucchini and divide among the muffins. And don’t forget to add icing for the perfect after-dinner cupcake!
Market on Saturday in downtown Georgetown.
Some of the newer plantings on the farm.
Signs of fall.
Sage getting bored watching us husk corn!


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CSA 2018 – week 15

The skies over the farm were beautiful this afternoon …

… before the storm,

… and after the storm.

The rains came down hard for a short period of time – almost 1″ fell.

I had transplanted in the morning – lettuce, arugula, baby kale, spinach, & baby chard. Then I watered it in … and watered, and watered. The ground on top is very dry.

Thankfully the rain completed the job – and did it far better than I could!

 

Some of the vegetables got flattened by the intense rain, but they’ll be up and straight by tomorrow.

It’s good to see some puddles! They will soak into the dry ground & disappear quickly!

What’s in the box?

Sweet corn, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, garlic, shishito peppers, (winter squash).

extras – hot peppers

  • Those of you who have been a part of our CSA before know that we make 1 planting of sweet corn each year. Depending on how it turns out, it will be in your box for 1 or sometimes 2 weeks. This year it is looking good – the cobs are smaller, but they appear to be cleaner (ie not as many worms) then usual. Good news since we choose not to spray! Your corn will be picked the morning of CSA pick-up (or the day before for North York market pick-up), so you know it will be fresh & delicious!
  • It’s unusual for the 2nd planting of zucchini & patty pan summer squash to be so healthy & lush & producing so heavily – but we’ll take it! The patch is amazing! Enjoy a few zucchini in your box again this week.
  • Tomatoes, beans, lettuce & garlic are the staples of the late summer CSA box and will continue to be for several more weeks.
  • We have been hearing good things about the shishito peppers, so we decided to include them again this week. While you can use them as you would any other sweet pepper, they are at their best when charred in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add some minced fresh garlic. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. Sprinkle with salt (and maybe a splash of lemon or lime juice and some parmesan cheese) and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.
  • There will probably be a winter squash in your share this week too! I don’t recall ever having summer squash/zucchini and winter squash in the box at the same time. But when I walked through the squash field today there appeared to be some that were mature & could be eaten – especially spaghetti & perhaps sweet potato (delicata) squash. So why not have a taste of fall along with all the summer vegetables?!
  • Hot peppers (jalapenos, serranos … ) will be available for those who would like some.

The sweet peppers continue to ripen ever so slowly. We will pick what is ready tomorrow, and perhaps there might be a pepper in the box as well. Here’s hoping! Our cucumbers had a great run, producing much longer than most years. Now the plants have finally given up & the cucumber season is over.

Labour Day was a busy day for us – until the rains gave us a break! But I guess not everyone was busy ….

 

 

 


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CSA 2018 – week 14

“Why are your hot peppers so expensive?”

It’s a question we hear sometimes at market, and we aren’t always sure how to answer it.

On Saturday Amy replied that it’s a lot of work to grow them. The woman who asked the question was amazed that we actually grew our hot peppers, and incredulous that it would involve work. ?? I usually respond by suggesting they really are not expensive.

This season’s pepper patch – smaller plants, with holes where plants have died. But there is a good crop or peppers & still lots of blossoms. If we have a warmer fall there should be peppers for a long time yet.

For the record, we sell our hot peppers individually for 25 cents each. There’s a reason for this. We used to sell the peppers in pints or half pint boxes but realized that people usually just wanted 1 or 2 peppers for a recipe, rather than a whole container. We don’t deal in nickels or dimes at market – for efficiency – so a quarter was the logical amount to charge. Some of the larger peppers sell for 50 cents even. Should a customer want a large amount of peppers, we of course give a better price.  Most customers like the option of being able to try several different kinds of peppers without having to buy a whole box.

Here’s a picture of our hot pepper display the other year at market (peppers in the middle row on the table).12 kinds of hot peppers arranged in order of hotness! (name labels are not visible in the photo).

Peppers have been slow to mature this season. We’ve only been picking a few peppers of the milder varieties for a couple of weeks now and the hotter varieties are still several weeks from harvest.

Peppers so far include (from top left, moving clockwise) poblano, Hungarian hot wax, jalapeno, serrano and shishito.

Shishito peppers are our latest pepper to try. Our son cooked in a restaurant in Vancouver and they are all the rage there, so we tried growing them. They grew well last season and sold quite well too, so we are growing them again this year. They are an heirloom Japanese pepper, bright green, with a sweet, fruity flavour and thin, tender, wrinkled skin. What makes a shishito exciting is that 1 in 10 peppers will be hot – and occasionally quite hot! They are simple to prepare and delicious to eat – certainly my new favourite pepper!

Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add some minced fresh garlic. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. Sprinkle with salt (and maybe a sprinkle of lemon or lime juice) and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.

We are just starting to see the sweet peppers change colour & ripen too. There should be some in the CSA boxes this week or next.

Peppers in the field …

 Shepherd

 Bell

 Mini bell

 Golden Cayenne

 Habanero

 Scotch bonnet

 Ghost

What’s in the box?

Shishito peppers, zucchini, beans, bok choy, lettuce, cucumbers,

tomatoes, blackberries, garlic. 

  • Try these delicious Shishito peppers! See description & recipe above.
  • Our new zucchini plants are growing like weeds and producing large amounts of beautiful & tasty zucchini.

 

  • There will be beans in your box again this week – either green beans or Dragon’s Tongue. These are a flat bean – pale yellow with purple stripes. The flavour is great – flat beans are usually considered to taste better than round beans! Note that the purple stripes will disappear when the beans are cooked.
  • Bok choy is back! Both the bok choy & lettuce prefer the less hot & humid weather we’ve had lately (until today!).
  • Our cucumber plants are finally looking a bit weary. They have been producing prodigious amounts for several weeks now – and continue to do so. But the end is in sight! Enjoy cucumbers in your box again this week.
  • The tomato plants are still healthy – unusual for late August. Lots of new growth with many little tomatoes forming. It has been a great tomato year!
  • The recent rains have been a great help for the blackberry canes. They continue to ripen berries but the amounts are already decreasing. Enjoy a box of berries in your share.
  • We put a garlic bulb in the CSA box each week. Garlic lovers probably eat it all, while others are able to store bulbs to use later in the fall season. Remember to keep it dry and away from any moisture for maximum storage life.

Cleaning garlic is always a welcome job to finish the day – especially a hot Monday!

 

 


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CSA 2018 – week 13. Part 2

Friday night & early Saturday morning saw some much needed rain fall on our farm. It was coming down hard when we left for our Saturday market, but stopped before we reached Georgetown. We had a very successful market day!

The rain refreshed the crops and the ground and caused a jump in growth. Everything looked different this morning – greener, fresher, bigger …

 

… including the vegetables I transplanted on Friday, in anticipation of the rain.

We have covered some of the new plantings with the insect cover – not only to prevent the bugs from chewing the plants, but also to discourage the rabbits which have been feasting on some of our seedlings.

The tomato plants continue to pump out the fruit …

The new zucchini patch is starting to produce.

The next rows of sunflowers are opening. Sunflowers bring a lot of smiles at market!

Some winter squash is showing up now as we drive past the squash field. It’s always a surprise when we finally wade through the vines to see what is there.

The water garden that I mentioned in yesterday’s post was buzzing with bees & butterflies today – lots of them! That is Joe Pye weed they are enjoying.

What’s in the box?

Lettuce mix, arugula, kohlrabi, blackberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic.

  • It’s been a few weeks, but there will be lettuce mix in your share this week! Red & green leaves in an assortment of shapes & sizes, ready to make a tasty & beautiful salad. Add some spicy arugula for even more flavour!
  • Kohlrabi is also back. Peel it and crunch it raw, grate it into a salad or make noodles with your spiralizer (our favourite way to eat them!). We saute them with onions & garlic & fresh tomatoes.
  • Blackberries are amazing! Both sweet & tart, they taste great! I’m sure they get eaten almost immediately – but if not, store them in the fridge. They will keep for a day or two.
  • Our new CSA and farmers’ market customers have been hesitant to try the white cucumbers – but almost everyone who tries them comes back for more. Crunchy & delicious – I can’t get enough of them. We will have lots of big green cucumbers too. Cucumber salad anyone?!
  • Our garlic is mostly dry now. Break off as many cloves as you like to cook with, and keep the rest of the bulb unrefrigerated, and in a dry spot. They should keep well.

Other vegetables coming along are … beans – the next rows of beans are sizing up & we’re picking a few. We have harvested some sweet peppers too. As I mentioned earlier in spring, our peppers got off to a rough start & we ended up with less plants than we wanted/needed. They are now finally starting to ripen. Our new zucchini patch is starting to produce. The sweet corn is forming little ears and should be ready in a few weeks. Look for all these in your box soon.

The animals are all feeling a little jealous this week because …

… we welcomed little Isaiah James to our family on Wednesday.

Isaiah is our first grandchild and we’re excited grandparents! And Amy’s an excited aunt!

 

 


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CSA 2018 – week 13. Part 1 – water

We woke up one morning, a few weeks ago and discovered we had no water. Not one drop came out of our taps!

Our water comes from a well in our yard (about 125′ deep) and services our house, Amy’s house, both barns and the greenhouse. Not having any water is a big problem.

It was a CSA pick up day so there were lots of vegetables that needed to be washed & prepped. It was also the hottest week of the summer. Water was a necessity!

We formulated a plan. Friends who live one road over and have town water allowed us to wash our vegetables in their yard. My in-laws around the corner let us shower at their house, and my sister, who lives in the city brought us pails of water for drinking. It was awkward & inconvenient but it worked.

Water is something can be easily taken for granted – until it’s in short supply!

On our farm we are mostly dependant on the rains to provide enough moisture for the crops. While we have no control over the amount or rain that falls, there are steps we have taken to make the best use of the precipitation we receive.

The most important is to build up our soil.

By using manure & compost (instead of just chemical fertilizers) we increase not only fertility but also the soil’s organic matter which improves its ability to hold moisture. Because manure is increasingly difficult to source, we grow cover crops and green manures. These are non-vegetable producing plants that we grow for a season or part season and then work into the ground to add organic matter. A portion of our farm is always growing cover crop instead of vegetables. The next season we grow vegetables there and plant cover crop on another area.

We also use a lot of straw mulch. This keeps the moisture in the soil and prevents it from evaporating and drying in the hot sun. In fall the straw is worked into the ground again providing organic matter & improving the soil.

Cultivating or disturbing the soil is something we try to do less & less of. Keeping the ground covered with something – be it cover crop, vegetables or even weeds – keeps it from drying out. It doesn’t always make the farm look as nice as freshly worked dirt, but it’s healthier for the farm.

This summer has been quite dry overall and we can see how our soil improvements are helping to retain moisture and save our crops.

We collect water as well, so it is available when needed for watering vegetables & crops. Most of the rain that falls on our barn roofs is saved in cisterns – one at the end of each barn.

From there we pump it into a raised tank from which we can easily fill the sprayer/water tank and then water new transplants or other vegetables as needed.

We wash all our vegetables outside, beside the barn (an indoor washing room is in the plans for the future). The dirty water is sent to our water garden – a sunken area filled with moisture-loving native plants that use all this waste water and thrive!

Beautiful in early spring too!

Our well was not fixed (new pump) until later the following day. We were 2 days without running water, and still marvel each time we turn the tap and water flows out!