Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


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CSA 2020 – Week 10

 

An inch (26mm) of rain fell on the farm over the weekend – a very, very welcome inch of rain! All the crops (and weeds too) are looking refreshed and healthier this morning. While an inch isn’t a lot after so many weeks of drought, it will still go a long way to helping all our vegetables and the blackberries.

What’s in the box ?

Jalapeno peppers, fresh cut herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro…), tomatoes, beets, zucchini, onions, fresh garlic, salad greens.

extras – kohlrabi, sunflowers, basil ?

  • We don’t often put hot peppers in our CSA box, offering them as an extra rather, since many people do not prefer them. But our jalapenos are so beautiful this summer we couldn’t resist. You will find just a couple in your share this week. Jalapenos are usually on the milder end of the hot pepper spectrum – but they can sometimes pack a punch! It’s a bit of a surprise! Slice them into your salad, or morning eggs, or whatever sauce or dish you are cooking for a little something extra. We like to scrape out the seeds and stuff them with whatever cheese is around, wrap them with bacon and bake or roast them until the bacon is cooked and the cheese is melted. Or instead of cheese we’ll use a piece of fruit.
  • Choose a bunch of fresh cut herbs this week – parsley, dill, cilantro …
  • The rest of your CSA share includes the bounty of summer – tomatoes, juicy & flavourful, sweetened by the sun, beets, zucchini (amazing how some hot sun & a bit of rain on the weekend plumped them up. Most of them are grilling size – perfect for the BBQ), onions, and fresh garlic. The salad greens this week will be either spinach or a lettuce mix. Most of the spinach & lettuce we have planted in the last few weeks has succumbed to the heat and lack of moisture (despite our efforts to water & keep it growing) but a few small patches made it! Maybe they were planted at the right time & caught the few raindrops we had the other week, maybe the moon was right, maybe they were in better soil, maybe I watered them a bit more or prayed over them more ???? But enjoy a mid-summer salad this week. This weekend’s rain will certainly benefit the salad greens and hopefully increase production again in the next few weeks.
  • Also available for those who choose are kohlrabi, sunflowers & maybe basil (weather dependant).

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Around the farm this week …

Blackberry harvest has begun! We will pick blackberries every Monday, Wednesday & Friday now, until the season is over – usually mid-September. It may take a another week or 2 until we get enough for our CSA boxes.

Lettuce patch ready to harvest – the first nice lettuce we’ve had in a few weeks.

 

Other crops have struggled.

Transplanted these vegetables last Thursday. Thanks to the rain they are (mostly) doing well.

77 large round bales were delivered – for mulching crops next year.

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 9

If it won’t rain we have to make our own!

It’s been a long, loooong time since we have had a good soaking rain on the farm – and the crops are showing it! New transplants especially have an almost impossible chance of getting established and growing well. But we keep trying, and give them a daily watering for the first week or so. Success is limited!

Rainwater is collected from all our barn roofs and stored in several large cisterns. Then we fill our old sprayer and use a hose to water the little seedlings – usually from the tractor seat, though sometimes we have to drag the hose down the rows. It’s the easiest & most efficient way for us to get life-saving moisture to the vegetables. However if a good rain doesn’t come soon, we will have to start watering even the established vegetables like tomatoes & peppers and the blackberries too. That will mean buying water by the truckload (if it’s available) which gets expensive. Plus it is a time consuming task during an already busy season.

Come on rain!!!

What’s in the box?

Mini red romaine lettuce, Spanish onion, beets, tomatoes, fresh garlic, basil.

green beans? salad greens?

extras – kohlrabi, eggplant, zucchini.

  • Another variety of mini romaine lettuce is ready. This one is a very dark red/burgundy colour.
  • We have been waiting for our big Spanish onions to grow larger – but without rain, growth has stopped and the tops are drying off rapidly. So we will pick them! Most years we have onions for several weeks, sometimes even for the rest of the season. However this year the seeds germinated poorly and then more seed was not available during the height of the pandemic. By the time we could get seed, it was too late to plant. So we will have big onions only for a week or two. But we’re still planting green onions and will have them in the box again soon.
  • More beets are ready for harvesting. Beets continue to be one of our most popular vegetables for CSA and at the market. This week we will have orange beets and candy cane (red & white striped), along with the usual dark purple (red) beets.
  • Tomatoes big & tomatoes small, this week we’ll have them all – lots of cherry sized fruit especially, and the first few larger beefsteak tomatoes too.
  • Everyone was excited for the fresh garlic last week. We will be including a bulb in each CSA box for the rest of the season. Garlic lovers can enjoy the strong, fresh flavour now – but the bulbs can also be dried for using later in the year. Keep them at room temperature away from any moisture and they will dry out nicely in a few weeks.
  • Basil is one crop that really, really likes this dry weather. There will be another bunch in your share this week – either lemon (which was a big hit!!) or regular Genovese basil (also delicious!).
  • Green beans are starting – but there will probably not be enough for everyone this week. We seed beans every week – 8 times so far, and will continue to seed them for another 3 or 4 weeks. So there will be lots of beans coming. Same with other salad greens. These continue to struggle through the heat but there should be some ready (later) this week.
  • Extras this week include kohlrabi, eggplant & zucchini. Some members have had enough of them (kohlrabi) or have lots in their own gardens (zucchini) or don’t really enjoy them (eggplant) but we will have them available for those who would like them.

** Please remember to return your vegetable containers & boxes so we can re-use them!

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We enjoy tomato salads these days. Here are our 2 favourite recipes.

1. Quick Tomato Salad

Chop some tomatoes – any size, shape, colour, quantity … Add a handfull of dill … For the dressing combine equal parts sugar & vinegar (or less sugar depending on taste). Salt & pepper to taste.

2. Tomato Salad

For the dressing combine –

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1½ tablespoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon each salt & pepper

Salad

1 clove fresh garlic

2 cups chopped tomatoes

2 cups chopped cucumbers

½ cup each chopped green & red pepper

¼ cup chopped (red) onion

1 can chickpeas (drained)

Combine and add to the dressing. Marinate for 2 hours.

Then add ½ cup chopped parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

½ cup feta cheese.

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Around the farm this week …

The blackberries are beginning to show some colour! Usually their season starts during the 2nd week of August. They sure could use a few inches of rain to help them get some size and energize the canes.

It’s Japanese beetle season – they show up in July, do their damage and disappear sometime in August. Here they are on the edamame (soybeans). Sunflowers are another favourite of theirs.

 

Most of the greens have to be covered now. The insects are hungry & thirsty and are even eating the kale  and other crops that normally are pest-free!

A new sweet pepper we are trying – candy cane!

Hot peppers and a new planting of cucumbers in the greenhouse. They both need weeding but it’s too hot to work in there these days  😦

Can you spot Sage hiding in the squash?

Everyone likes ice coffee on a hot day!

Georgetown market

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 8

A bright green field against a background of dark green trees under a perfect blue sky with white fluffy clouds. Not a bad place to spend some time this afternoon!

This field is not growing any vegetables in 2020. We are fortunate to have enough acreage available that we can take fields out of production and grow cover crops for a year, both to give them a rest, and to improve the soil. I seeded this field back in May to a mixture of oats, peas, several kinds of clover, buckwheat and hairy vetch. The plants grow and bloom and then I mow them down before they go to seed. This afternoon was the 3rd or 4th time I’ve done this. And I’ll keep doing it until fall. Then I might till the plants into the soil, spread manure or compost and reseed another cover crop for the winter. Or if this one is still growing well, I might leave it until next spring. Then I’ll work the ground and we’ll grow vegetables here again.

We grew a mixture of cover crops because they each provide some benefit. Some are good at smothering weeds. Others provide nitrogen to the soil, or have deep roots that bring nutrients closer to the surface for our vegetables. All add organic matter which will decompose and improve the texture of the soil. On our farm we can see the improvements the cover crops have made, especially how our soil can hold moisture and keep our vegetables growing better even during this dry spell.

When I mow the cover crop down I usually leave a section unmowed, letting these plants flower to provide food & shelter for insects. As I mowed today there were all sorts of insects, moths, dragonflies … flying around. A flock of barn swallows followed the tractor, swooping & diving, catching insects to eat. A hawk soared overhead and then landed next to me – looking for mice. It is amazing how much life there can be in such a small area.

Not a bad place at all to spend some time this afternoon!

A few sunflowers self-seeded from last summer’s crop.

What’s in the box?

It’s mystery box week!

Fresh garlic, tomatoes, basil, zucchini, plus …?

  • We picked all our garlic last week – and it looks great! Lots & lots of beautiful bulbs! Fresh garlic has wonderful strong, pungent garlic flavour – much stronger than the garlic scapes you have been receiving in your box. Because it has just been pulled and is not dry, it should be kept at room temperature, and in a place with good air circulation. You can leave it there and it will slowly cure & dry. Or enjoy it right away in your cooking, but know that once the bulb is broken open it should be used within a few days. Enjoy!
  • The tomatoes are ripening faster & faster now and we are picking more & more. It is still mostly the smaller tomatoes that are ready, but the big beefsteaks are not far behind!
  • What goes with tomatoes? Basil. Great in a simple tomato salad. Or use your basil in bruschetta, a frittata or of course pesto. (lots of recipes & suggestions at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com) *Treat basil like you would a bouquet of flowers – in a jar with water. DON’T put it in the fridge – the cold temperatures will turn it black.
  • plus … The remainder of the CSA box this week is a bit of a mystery. Mostly due to the weather we will have a bit of this and a bit of that. So the CSA boxes will contain different vegetables on each pick-up day …
  • There will be zucchini.
  • There should be some salad greens – probably lettuce, or baby kale, arugula or a greens mix. While we lost several new plantings during the heat the other week, some greens managed to grow & even regrow after cutting and are now ready for harvest – or will be later in the week.
  • We are finishing up with the 2nd planting of kohlrabi and just grabbing a few that are big enough from the 3rd.
  • Cucumbers are a failure for us so far this season. The 1st planting which we are picking now, suffered a lot of insect damage which affected both quality & quantity of the harvest. We are picking some nice ones now – but not many! The 2nd planting all died in the heatwave. A 3rd planting is doing great, growing in the greenhouse, but still a long ways from harvest. We have even seeded a 4th time now. Cucumbers are one of my favourite vegetables so we are not giving up!
  • The heat has also been hard on the broccoli (a cool weather crop). We are picking a smaller quantity.
  • And eggplant is just starting to come into season. Any of these vegetables might appear in your share this week.

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Around the farm this week …

Is it groundhogs or rabbits that have been tasting the sunflowers? Fortunately they are just nibbling at a few plants next to the train tracks and leaving the rest alone – so I’ll leave them alone!

Pink sunrise this morning.

A beautiful sunrise the other Saturday on our way to market in Georgetown.

Our market setup this week.

Wild skies resulted in only a few raindrops – but no damaging storms either!

Sage enjoys cooling off at Lake Ontario …

… or chilling on the deck.

But Flynn can relax anywhere.


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CSA 2020 – Week 7

Out in our yard sits a trailer full of vegetable seedlings ready to be transplanted into the field this week.

Another trailer of plants sits in the loading dock of the barn, under the roof where it is protected from the hot sun (and the forecasted storms of this past weekend). Most of them are ready to be planted now!

And in the little greenhouse, tucked under the tables, hidden somewhat from the sun & heat are another dozen trays, that have just germinated.

It’s a bit of a backlog right now – 75 trays, each holding 265 little seedlings. That’s close to 20,000 plants looking for a home out on the farm. That’s a bit more than usual!

The reason they have collected is because of the heat last week. We tried transplanting early in the week, but the ground was so dry & dusty and so hot to the touch that the plants couldn’t survive – even with daily watering. (Of course the weeds flourished still!)

So we had to stop and wait for cooler temperatures and/or rain. Thursday night a half inch fell and I planted again on Friday. Another half inch Friday night was very beneficial – see how much better this planting looks.

So with that bit of moisture in the soil & slightly cooler temperatures forecast for this week, we hope to get most of these seedlings into the ground in the next few days.

Today was spent preparing the fields – and it was quite some work! Because it has been so dry, when we have finished harvesting a crop of late, we simply mow it down rather than working it under. This is to conserve moisture. Soil that is covered with plants retains more moisture. Cultivating or rototilling the soil and leaving it bare, dries it out much faster.

But now that we are replanting our fields, we need to have clean, bare soil to transplant into. Today that meant bringing out the tractor & disc which is very harsh on the soil & all the microscopic life that it contains. Then we had to remove weeds & vegetation by hand even, but our crew did an amazing job.

What looked like this in the morning …

… looks ready to plant now.

Overall, the extreme heat & lack of precipitation we’ve been experiencing, will affect the quantity & quality of the vegetables in your CSA share this week, and for the next several weeks.

What’s in the box?

Tomatoes, basil, zucchini, kohlrabi, beets, green onions, salad greens??

extras – garlic scapes.

  • It’s tomato time! We picked the first few for our weekend market , and now there’s enough cherry tomatoes for everyone – just a taste, a tease … a promise of what is to come. Enjoy the first of our sun-sweetened tomatoes of the season.
  • What goes with tomatoes? Basil! Top your tomatoes with some fresh leaves, add them to your salad, sprinkle them over your pizza, or make a batch of pesto. Your box will have a bunch of basil – either the common Genovese or lemon basil. Both are excellent!
  • Zucchini is one crop that thrives in the heat and pumps out the fruit. (Last week I posted a picture of wilting plants. Some appear to have recovered while some still look unhealthy. Fingers crossed they keep on producing – at least until the next planting is ready to harvest.)
  • How did you enjoy the kohlrabi last week? It’s often an unknown vegetable for our new CSA members – and often becomes a favourite. It’s a great snack – simply peel and eat!
  • Beets & green onions are vegetables we keep planting all summer. A lot of those trays of seedlings on the trailer pictured above are beets & green onions. Enjoy both in your box again this week. Hopefully that inch of rain will be enough to get them growing again!
  • Our salad greens are the most affected by the weather. The lettuce gets stronger flavoured and even bitter, spinach, bok choy & arugula go to seed rather than grow lush & large, and baby kale  gets tougher. ( for example … only a few CSA boxes contained a small bag of spinach last Friday. Where we would normally expect to harvest 150 bags, we picked about a dozen.) But we will do our best to find some tasty greens for the box this week.
  • This is probably the last week for garlic scapes. Grab a bunch if you would like some.

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Around the farm this week …

Peppers & eggplant enjoying the sun!

Tomatoes too!

Milkweed in bloom.

Our next planting of zucchini & cucumbers. 100% of the cucumber plants died, but almost half the zucchini survived and are now growing well – good thing we planted more than usual!

Sage deciding on her next adventure …

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 6

Monday started out as “one of those days!”

The weather forecast promised more hot, humid temperatures with no relief and no rain in the foreseeable future.

Then our early morning drive around the farm to check things out revealed a lot of bad news …

… weeds that seem to have sprung up overnight,

… struggling & dying plants,

… and lots of insect damage.

Hot dry weather is hard on humans, animals and plants. But it encourages insects which are always more plentiful in these conditions.

I allowed myself a time of wallowing, before continuing with the day.

And it wasn’t all bad news …

The winter squash is being attacked by squash/cucumber beetles – but only certain varieties (we’re growing about 20 kinds this year) and they should be big enough to withstand the pressure. And notice the water droplets around the edges of the leaves – morning dew that refreshes the plants. It’s not a lot but is very beneficial.

I’ve never seen Chinese cabbage go to seed but it is this year. There won’t be enough left to supply our CSA, but we’ll take any good ones to market. Hopefully the next plantings will do better. Summer cabbage is always risky. Fall crops are a surer bet.

We transplanted a second planting of zucchini & cucumbers last week. They continue to struggle to get established in this heat despite my watering them. Many have died but the rest seem to be improving.

In the morning they look great and then each afternoon they wilt. This is a plants way of coping with heat & drought – preserving themselves by conserving moisture.

Beefsteak tomatoes are in abundance on the plants, though still some weeks away from ripening. We did pick a small basket of cherry tomatoes today, which are always the earliest to mature.

 

Monday ended up okay! A slight breeze kept the temperatures bearable. Work included weeding, pruning & tying tomatoes, seeding (Chinese broccoli, beets, green onions, bok choy, kohlrabi, cucumbers), transplanting (lettuce, stir-fry mix, arugula) and harvesting (tomatoes, zucchini, kohlrabi). And lots of watering too!

What’s in the box?

Mini romaine lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, zucchini, beets,

green onions, garlic scapes, salad greens.

  • “Pomegranate crunch”. How could we not grow a lettuce with a name like that! And it turned out great – a crunchy mini-romaine lettuce with dark red outer leaves surrounding a red/green heart and just big enough for 1 beautiful salad. We’re tempted to let them grow a little bigger – but in this heat they might bolt & go to seed.
  • 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. We like to spiralize our kohlrabi and use it instead of pasta. 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. 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 for just a few minutes. Then add just a dash of nutmeg. Delicious!
  • We have included a bunch of kale in your box, either plain or curly. We enjoy kale 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. Store kale in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for 3-4 days. But be aware – the longer it is stored, the stronger the flavour becomes. Need a recipe suggestion? http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com (subscription included with your CSA membership) has 38 kale recipes to choose from plus lots of useful information!
  • Zucchini (green or yellow) and yellow patty pan summer squash – those are the options this week. They come in various sizes too. Choose a smaller, tender one if you prefer to eat it in your salad. Larger ones are great sauteed or on the BBQ.  And if zucchini bread or muffins are on the menu, opt for the biggest one.
  •  The beets would really benefit from some rainfall. As it is, they are smaller – but oh so delicious! Along with the common dark beets we also have orange beets & candy cane beets, which are red & white striped. They can all be used the same & taste similar as well.
  • Green onions, garlic scapes & salad greens finish up the box this week. Salad greens could include lettuce mix, arugula, or bok choy depending on what is ready and of good quality on your pick-up day.

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Around the farm this week …

One foggy morning resulted in some beautiful photos.

For 1 brief moment we seemed to have all the weeds under control!

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 5

Here’s our barn all set up for CSA pick-up … last year!

Here’s what CSA pick-up looks like this year.

Quite a difference!

Instead of the vegetables out on display for our members to choose from to fill their boxes, we have the boxes prepackaged. Grab & go! Easy & safe! No unnecessary touching of the produce or contact. (we still offer “barnside delivery” for those who prefer to remain in their vehicle & have their share placed in their trunk.)

But we miss the old way!

We enjoyed having all the produce on display. We’re proud of what we grow! Plus it’s colourful & beautiful – especially as we get further into the harvest season. Members could choose their own – smaller zucchini for salads or larger ones for the BBQ  … or patty pans rather. Tomatoes – red or orange, white cucumbers or green …

However we will continue prepacking the boxes for now. It seems like the best way to do it. There will still be options & choices as in the past – Lorie will have them available on the table and add them to the box as requested. And we continue to adapt & make changes as necessary and as our members request. Your comments & suggestions are always welcome!

What’s in the box?

Beets, green onions, zucchini or broccoli, garlic scapes, salad turnips, salad greens …

  • The first beets are ready. Beets are considered a rather mundane vegetable, often a love ’em or hate ’em, take them or leave them kind of vegetable. But … freshly pulled, early season baby beets are hard to beat (haha!) – they are tender, juicy and sweet. We often forgo the cooking and eat them raw, usually shredded into salads. And certainly don’t even bother to peel them! The skin is tender and full of nutrients that you don’t want to miss out on. At market we can never have enough beets – they are one of our most popular vegetable. Doesn’t that beat all!
  • Our green onions are a nice size now – and so delicious in salads, or omelets, or sauces …
  • We need to talk about the heat – we’ve had more than our share lately! Zucchini and other hot weather vegetables (cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, eggplant …) love it and are growing wildly now. Cool weather crops such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach, bok choy … are balking at the high temperatures and not doing as well. So while we are starting to harvest zucchini and continuing to harvest broccoli – there is not enough of either for everyone. Choices will have to be made!
  • Garlic scapes we have plenty of! Please ask Lorie if you want an extra bunch for a batch of pesto.
  • We are picking our final planting of salad turnips for this spring. Enjoy another bunch in your share this week.
  • Most salad greens are cool weather crops. This heat of late can quickly turn the lettuce bitter, send the spinach to seed & the bok choy to flower. There will be greens in the box this week – but we can’t say which ones. We have lots of lettuce now – we’ll taste it as we pick & hope it is still sweet. New rows of spinach are ready for Tuesday, but will they still be tender on Friday? Lots of kale – but maybe not “baby kale”. It might be a bit larger. Same with the arugula. So while there will be greens, there will probably be a variation between Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday’s boxes. (And Saturday CSA boxes @ Georgetown market.)

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Around the farm this week …

Staying ahead of the weeds (sometimes)!

Beautiful skies over the farm next door.

CSA boxes in quarantine till next week.

Squash (above) and zucchini (below) enjoying the heat!

At Georgetown market on Saturday.

2 Flynns – each with his own way of hunting!

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 4

 

 

What’s in the box?

Snow peas, garlic scapes, broccoli/Chinese broccoli, stir-fry greens mix, bok choy,

baby kale, salad turnips, lettuce mix, arugula.

  • Snow peas are a delicious snack – just pop the whole pod in your mouth & enjoy! That’s the beauty of snow peas – no shelling, no cooking (unless you want to), just eating! We only made 1 planting of snow peas this year so they will appear in your box only this 1 time.
  • First it was green garlic. Now there are garlic scapes. Scapes grow out of the top of the garlic plant and curl around in a loose coil. If we left them they would eventually flower and go to seed. But we prefer that the plant uses its energy to form large garlic bulbs underground instead, so we remove the scapes. Fortunately they can be eaten and are delicious! Use them wherever garlic bulbs are used – raw or cooked. Their flavour is a bit milder. They are also great on the BBQ. Coat the whole garlic scape with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Grill for a few minutes on each side until well charred & tender.  Garlic scape pesto is a favourite and we have included a recipe below. Here’s a link to an interesting article, “10 things to do with garlic scapes, the best veg you’re not cooking yet”.  https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/garlic-scapes
  • There will be broccoli in your CSA share this week – either the broccoli we are all familiar with, or  Chinese broccoli which is less common. While both broccolis have a similar taste, they look different. Broccoli has thick, crisp stalks with a large head of green florets. Chinese broccoli has thinner stems, large flat leaves and tiny florets. It is best after a quick steam, saute or stir-fry. We have some of both ready for harvest, but probably not enough of either. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care that we would really prefer 140 same-size heads of broccoli, or 140 even bunches of Chinese broccoli for our CSA boxes this week. Once we start picking tomorrow we’ll see what we get & divide things out accordingly! Either way, your broccoli will be fresh & delicious!
  • This is our stir-fry mix!

    This beautiful greens mix includes red & green mustard, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, tatsoi … which give it a variety of colours, textures and flavours. We call it stir-fry mix because that’s probably the best way to enjoy it. Our go-to stir-fry sauce recipe can be found below.
  • Add your bok choy, salad turnips and broccoli to the stir-fry for a really delicious dish!
  • Salad greens this week include lettuce mix, baby kale, arugula. The extreme heat of late has not been kind to the spinach – it quickly becomes oversized and tough and goes to seed. So there will be none this week. But there will be more coming (weather permitting!). Lettuce can also become bitter due to the heat – but so far it’s still tasting good.

 

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1-2 tbsp lemon juice (or lime)

1/4 pound roughly chopped garlic 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.

Easy Stir-fry Sauce

1 TB cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 tsp brown sugar
1TB lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 TB soy sauce
Mix all ingredients together and add to your vegetables when they are ready.
(I will usually add some fresh grated ginger, a touch of maple syrup and double the soy sauce.)
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Around the farm this week …
Because it’s hot & dry, we have to water the new vegetables when we transplant them.
Even then, some dry up while others flourish.
Edible flowers from last year self-seeded.
Coming soon …
Elderberries in flower.
Still some tomato plants to sell!
A beautiful sunrise on the way to market Saturday.
Too many of these guys hopping around the farm!
A small trial patch of sweet peas.
Flynn sleuthing in the neighbour’s mustard field.
Picking salad turnips!


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CSA 2020 – Week 3

An old pallet hangs on the side of our shop, holding a selection of hand tools – the ones we use most often.

Garden rakes, pitchforks, shovel and hoes – lots of hoes! There are at least 6 in total. Some are newer, while 2 of them are older than me & were used by my parents many, many years ago. And they are still being used today!

If you grow vegetables you need a hoe. There are always weeds growing (usually faster than the vegetables) that need to be removed. A hoe is an efficient & quick way to weed.

A lot of hoeing happens on our farm!

Even more efficient & quicker than a hoe is our double wheel hoe with finger weeders. It rolls down the rows, right over the small vegetable plants, the yellow “fingers” removing tiny little weeds before they grow up & become a big problem.

And sometimes we have to weed with our own fingers. It’s a lot of work & expensive, but sometimes the weeds get away from us & hand weeding is the only way to go.

It’s a good feeling when the fields are relatively weed-free (or at least the weeds are under control) and it makes for easier & faster harvesting as well.

The tomatoes are not only mulched & stakes, but the first pruning (suckering) & tying is complete. They are growing rapidly now & will require pruning & tying almost weekly.

The first planting of zucchini & cucumbers are also mulched …

… eggplant & peppers too.

What’s in the box?

Pea shoots, bok choy, green onions or green garlic,

salad turnips, lettuce mix, spinach, arugula.

  • 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 & let them reach about 10-12 cm. Then use as desired – cut what you need and add them to your salad or sandwiches … If you cut them about half way down, leaving a stem & some leaves, they will grow back and you can harvest them again. (Cutting them all the way down at soil level gives a larger harvest – but only once.)

  • 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.

Check out the bok choy recipes on http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com including: https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/csa/simplest-bok-choy-stir-fry/, https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/csa/sauteed-radishes-andor-turnips-with-bok-choy-and-garlic-scapes/ (As a member of our CSA you have access to this website with 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 in a recent email.)

  • The first green onions are about big enough to harvest. Choose either a bunch of green onions or green garlic for your share this week.
  • There should be radishes in your box again this week – but there isn’t! Radishes are a cool weather crop and while we had some cool weather last week, we also had some hot days resulting in overgrown & hollow radishes. Good thing for salad turnips though! They are more heat tolerant than radishes with a similar taste & texture.
  • Enjoy fresh spring salads with our lettuce mix, spinach & arugula.

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Around the farm this week …

The blackberries are starting to blossom.

A killdeer nest with 4 eggs right beside our vegetables.

Mother killdeer with her “broken wing” trying to lure me away from the nest.

Flynn in the fields trying to lure us toward him, hoping for a belly rub.

Blue flag iris blooming in our water garden.

Sooo happy we get to see this little guy more often again on the farm!

 

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 2

Our roadside stand. The surprise of the season!

We were not really expecting much from this little farmstand. Past experience with a trailer of squash in fall or surplus sunflowers in summer, led us to believe that selling a few dollars worth of plants a day was all that could be expected. But instead we have sold an amazing amount over the last couple of weeks. Who knew!

Without our Toronto farmers’ market we have a surplus of vegetable plants to sell this year. So we filled the stand, and the trailer, clearly labeled everything & added a “self-serve” sign. Apparently gardening is a big thing this year but plants can be difficult to source – so we have benefited from this demand.

This past week was the big start to our selling season. Until now (other than keeping the farmstand stocked), we have had our heads down, working in the greenhouse & fields – seeding, transplanting, watering, weeding … and watching stuff grow. Then last week our CSA began – 3 pick-up days this year to accommodate all of our members safely & to coordinate with the harvest schedule. We finished the week with our 1st farmers’ market of the year on Saturday at Georgetown.

It was a busy week! It was a good week!

We enjoyed seeing all our returning CSA friends and meeting our many new members – though we couldn’t socialize and visit as much as usual.

And market was a different experience as well. One way walking on the street, a limit of 2 customers at our stall at one time, vendors spread out, speaking through facemasks (even more difficult was hearing & understanding people speak through masks while distancing) … But it was good to see familiar faces there as well. Several of our North York market customers even showed up to purchase our plants! Despite the rules & restrictions, sales were brisk and we had a successful 1st market day. Plus we have an online store for our Georgetown customers where they can purchase our products in advance and then pick them up on Saturday at a location separate from the market to avoid the crowds. These online sales are welcome (but a lot of extra work to prepare & package)!

What’s in the box?

Lettuce mix, radishes, salad turnips, baby kale, spinach & arugula.

It’s a salad sort of box this week, with a good mix of flavours, textures, colours, shapes … As usual all our vegetables have been washed once. You may want to wash them again. Store in a bag in the fridge where they will keep well for at least a week.

  • Our lettuce mix is a beautiful & delicious blend of different kinds of red & green lettuces.
  • You may find round, red radishes in your share this week or perhaps the long red & white French breakfast radishes. We have both kinds ready to harvest.
  • 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.
  • Our baby kale is tender and best when added to your salad. (Later in the season we’ll have large kale for cooking.)
  • We received many positive comments on the spinach & arugula in last week’s box. Enjoy them again this week.

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A few pictures from around the farm today …

Our lettuce mix.

Eggplant & peppers in the ground finally.

New vegetable plantings.

One of my favourite spots on the farm.

One of Sage’s favourite spots on the farm.

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 1

Our own spinach – fresh, green, juicy – together with the first strawberries of the season – huge, red & sooo sweet … That salad was the star of our dinner!

Our own arugula – tender & spicy – a bunch of local asparagus, a handful of our mint, drizzled with a light dressing …  Outstanding! (recipe link below)

The first fresh produce of the season is always an amazing treat!

While we are privileged to have an almost limitless selection of (domestic & imported) produce available to us year round, there is no denying that fresh, locally grown, in-season produce is the best! By July we might be taking it for granted, but not right now.

It is the 1st week of our CSA program for 2020 and we’re excited – excited and a little scared.

Our numbers are up by more than 2/3. We’d like to say that it is because we grow the best vegetables around. And indeed some of the increase is from members telling their friends & family about their good experience being part of our CSA. But most of the increase is no doubt due to the crazy times we’re living in now. People are concerned about their food. They want to know where it comes from, how it is grown, who has handled it. They have questions about food safety & dependability of supply. Farms & CSAs seem to be the preferable option to grocery stores. We are grateful for the confidence & trust our members have in us – and we’re working hard to keep it.

The weather seems to be settling down. After the prolonged cool spring, we have already experienced some extreme heat, then some very welcome & much needed rain followed by a cold weekend. Now this coming week looks quite good. Everything is growing very fast now (including our nemesis – weeds!) and we’re racing to seed & plant and take advantage of the sunshine.

Tomatoes, zucchini & cucumbers were planted last week.

Now we are mulching & putting in the posts to stake them. Mulching with straw after a good rain is ideal as the straw will prevent the soil from drying out & keep it moist for the tomatoes. It also prevents weeds from growing.

A lot of the tomato plants already have blossoms.

What’s in the box?

Spinach, arugula, green garlic, mint bunches & rhubarb.

  • This is shaping up to be a great year for spinach on our farm. We’ve made 5 or 6 plantings already and every one of them is thriving. (usually we have more success with lettuce than spinach, but this season it’s the opposite and our lettuce is spotty & slow).
  • Arugula is delicious – a bit spicy & nutty. Use it in salads, on pizza … Both the arugula & spinach (and all the greens that you will receive this season) have been rinsed once to remove any field soil. You may want to wash them again. Store them in a bag in the fridge. They usually last at least a week.
  • 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.
  • We love fresh mint! Delicious & refreshing in fruit salads, drinks etc. We often make a simple syrup with the mint leaves and add it to our iced tea. (recipe below)
  • 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. There will not be enough to make a pie, but 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.

MINT SIMPLE SYRUP   

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint, rinsed
  • 1 cup water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add sugar, mint, and water to a small pot.  Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat.
  • Leave the mint leaves in the syrup as it cools for about 15 minutes.  Strain out the leaves, and bottle the syrup.
  • Store mint simple syrup in a glass jar in the fridge.  Use within a year.

    (from https://champagne-tastes.com)

Remember to check out the recipes on http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com. This is a great website with loads of recipes & vegetable information – including that great asparagus, arugula & mint salad we recently enjoyed.  (https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/csa/raw-asparagus-salad-with-arugula-and-mint)

As a member of our CSA you have access to 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 in a recent email.

Our pawpaw trees were in bloom this past week – the most unusual but beautiful blossoms on the farm!