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CSA 2022 – Week 5

What’s in the box

Kohlrabi, cabbage, zucchini, salad turnips,

salad greens, green onions & garlic scapes.

  • Kohlrabi is a strange-looking vegetable – sort of like a cross between a little cabbage and a turnip. It is considered a root vegetable, though the edible round globe grows above ground. Kohlrabi is most often 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 – 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 cook kohlrabi is to sautée it in butter & garlic(scapes) for just a few minutes. Then add just a dash of nutmeg. Delicious!
  • The early cabbages are ready! You have told us you prefer smaller cabbages, so that’s what we grow. These are a good size, just right for a meal or two.
  • Zucchini are coming on strong! Green, yellow and striped – they all taste similar and can be used the same way. Enjoy!
  • We’re coming to the end of our salad turnips. Enjoy them in your box for perhaps the final time.
  • Salad greens of some kind, green onions and garlic scapes complete the box this week.

*** As a member of our CSA you have access to http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com. This website has 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 at sign up or ask us to send it to you again.

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Around the farm this week …

Eggplant & peppers.
Lots of fruit on the field tomatoes! We even picked our 1st cherry tomatoes – just a very few.
The garlic scapes are all harvested and the garlic is beginning to turn yellow. Another couple weeks and it will be ready to pull.
We covered a bed of lettuce & mini-romaine with a dark shade cloth to protect them from the hot sun. Extreme sunshine & heat turn the lettuce leaves bitter and cause the romaine to stretch and go to seed.
Edible flowers growing …
… and packaged, ready for the market.
Transplanting vegetables today with my helper!
The soil is quite dry now. I have to water the tiny seedlings for several days after transplanting to help them get established.
The new chickens are big enough to come outside now – and they’re loving it!
Rosemary rarely sits still long enough to allow us to snap a photo – she’s a little terror!


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CSA 2022 – Week 4

It happens every week at the farmers’ market.

Someone will buy a bunch of beets and ask us to remove the tops. They will acknowledge that the greens are edible – even delicious – but apologize for not wanting them. We tell them not to worry – someone else is sure to come along and ask if we have any extra beet greens. It usually works out.

We are all aware of food waste these days, and want to do our part to reduce or eliminate it.

Our CSA program is one way we reduce our food waste.

Since we know how many boxes have to be filled each week, we can grow vegetables accordingly. In season we harvest exactly what we need for the boxes each day. (That’s why we like to know if someone isn’t planning to pick up their box that week.)

We often set up a table with “extras” that people can help themselves to. It might be vegetables that we have in abundance or less popular vegetables (hot peppers, eggplant …) that not everyone wants. Sometimes we will include blemished or insect damaged vegetables in the CSA box – providing they are still edible – along with an explanation for our members.

For the farmers’ market we keep accurate records of what is sold each market day which helps us determine how many vegetables to bring. When we do bring product home we will often give it to the neighbour’s work crew. Or if sales were bad for some reason and we return with a lot, we will donate it to the food bank.

And then there are our chickens – always willing to look after any vegetables that still remain. The compost pile is the final step for spoiled & rotten produce – and even that really isn’t wasted. It becomes fertilizer that is returned to the land to provide nutrients for next year’s crop.

What’s in the box?

Kale, salad greens, arugula, green onions, garlic scapes,

zucchini (or broccoli or beets or kohlrabi).

  • Kale is the new green in your box. We could call it baby kale as the leaves are small – small enough and tender enough to eat fresh in a salad. Our kale is a mix of several varieties with different colours and leaf shapes. Enjoy this beautiful, tasty and healthy green!
  • We’ll just say salad greens this week. It may be lettuce, spinach, mini romaine, mixed salad or … depending on what is ready to be harvested on your pick-up day.
  • Arugula, green onions and garlic scapes are also in your share this week.
  • The big news is that we are beginning to pick zucchini. So far there is not enough for everyone – but we all know how fast zucchini comes on … If we are short on zucchini there are a few heads of broccoli. Back in the 1st CSA newsletter of this year I mentioned that we had lost our entire broccoli crop due to insects damage. However there were a few plants (maybe 30) that I put with the cabbage so they were protected with the insect cover and spared. Now they are producing some lovely heads of broccoli (next year we cover ALL the broccoli!). We have also been picking some beets – again, not enough for every share, and kohlrabi is about ready to pick as well. So, surprise!! Your box will contain 1 of these new vegetables!

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Around the farm this week …

Meet Rosemary the newest addition to our farm. She was found abandoned along a country road by a neighbour. Now she’s ours!
Sage is not at all accepting of Rosemary …
… while the the Flynns are unsure but trying.
But we think she’s great!


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CSA 2022 – Week 3

We picked snow peas today, for the 3rd and final time. Ever!

Snow peas are a crop we all love to hate! As one of the first vegetables to be planted each spring, there is much excitement & anticipation as we eagerly wait for them to germinate and poke their heads out of the ground.

We love to eat snow peas – mostly out in the patch, freshly picked. Even those that make it into the kitchen are rarely cooked. We prefer them raw.

But nobody likes picking snow peas. It’s slow, tedious and hard on the back. And it’s usually just us around to pick them. Our summer labour force is still in school and not available to help yet.

We used to make 3 plantings. Then we cut it down to 2. These last few years we make only one planting – that still is too much at picking time!! And so the decision has been made to stop growing snow peas – a decision we make every year at this time, but somehow we end up planting them anyway.

What will happen next spring??

It is a jungle out in the snow pea patch! We grow the peas in a wide row, so by this 3rd picking the plants are getting scraggly and falling all over. The Asian greens next to them have mostly been picked but whatever was left has gone to flower. The row of kale from last season has finished flowering and gone to seed. The plants are weakening and falling over. There’s also weeds – just a few 🙂 – cropping up.

Overall it looks quite messy and people who visit the farm must shake their heads at areas like this. But we like it and leave it this way purposely. It’s a haven for insects and pollinators of all types. They need areas like this for food & shelter. Their presence benefits us so we need to create habitat for them. Now that we’ve finished with the peas we will probably mow everything down and prepare the soil for the next vegetables to be planted here – providing there is another nearby spot for the insects to move to. It isn’t a neat & tidy way to farm, but we feel it is a good way!

What’s in the box?

Garlic scapes, arugula, radishes, salad turnips, spicy salad mix,

mini romaine lettuce, green onions,

Snow peas – Tuesday only.

  • 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. They 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 also a good way to use the scapes. 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
  • Arugula is delicious – a bit spicy & nutty. Use it in salads, on pizza. If you find the taste a bit strong on its own, combine it with our lettuce for an amazing salad.
  • Enjoy the last of our spring radishes – as a snack, in your salad or sliced in sandwiches. Soak them in ice-cold water for 20 minutes to cut some of the sharpness & also make them crisper.
  • Salad turnips are similar to radishes, but usually milder. We like to eat them raw, but they can also be stir fried, sautéed, or steamed.
  • This week’s salad mix is the same colourful lettuce blend as the first 2 weeks – plus! We call it spicy salad mix with the spice or sharpness coming from arugula, mizuna, endive and mustards … which we have added to kick the flavour up a notch. Let us know how you like it!
  • Mini-romaine lettuce & green onions complete the box this week,
  • … except for those who pick up on Tuesday. You will also have a small bag of snow peas – which everyone else received last week.

*** Remember – all our greens have been washed & spun dry once. You may want to wash them again. Store them in a bag in the fridge and they should keep for at least a week.

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Around the farm this week …

The eggplant are already blooming – probably one of the prettiest plants & blossoms we grow!
The tomato plants have an abundance of tomatoes
Last year we were picking tomatoes by middle of July. That’s only a month away! Hoping we get them even sooner this year!
The first cabbages are coming along nicely. They should be in your box in a week or two.
Sunflowers and beans get seeded every week. We’ve seeded 4 times already with maybe 8 or 9 more times to go.


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CSA 2022 – Week 2

Today was a great day!

The weather was perfect – very little wind, not too hot nor too cold, and lots of sun – and we accomplished a lot!

We had a crew of 4 men working which was a real bonus.

They mulched the zucchini & cucumbers with straw.

The eggplant & peppers got mulched too. The timing was perfect! The soil was moist from the recent rains so the straw will hold that moisture and benefit the plants. The weeds had not started growing there yet and now the straw will prevent them, keeping the patch neat, clean and weed free for most of the season. It is far more pleasant & efficient to pick vegetables without weeds getting in the way.

The tomatoes are mulched, staked, and most have been pruned & tied once. Pruning (or suckering) and tying will be an ongoing job for the next month at least, as the plants continue to grow.

Harvesting bok choy today.

Yes, there are a lot of weeds here (mostly between the rows). Crops like bok choy, lettuce, spinach and various greens are planted, harvested and gone rather quickly – within a month or so. For that reason weeding them is not a priority if we fall behind or get really busy. We always concentrate on keeping the longer term crops clean as they are more affected by the weed competition. Obviously we would prefer that the entire farm was weed-free and perfect – but that surely won’t ever happen! And with the abundance of precipitation this past week the weeds are going crazy!

What’s in the box?

Green onions, salad turnips, bok choy, red mini romaine lettuce, lettuce mix,

snow peas?

  • The first onions of the season are green onions, also called bunching onions or scallions. Eat everything – the green leaves & the small, bottom white bulb.
  • 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.
  • 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 but 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. Growing several kinds ensures we always get a harvest. But all of them react to big temperature swings and can bolt & go to flower in a day or two. Needless to say we have had a lot in flower already this spring season. The flowers are totally edible, so be sure to use them if some show up in the bag.
  • Mini romaine lettuce looks like regular romaine – just smaller. It has the same crunch and the same great flavour. This week’s mini romaine is a beautiful dark red variety.
  • Spring is salad season! There will also be another bag of lettuce mix in your share this week.
  • The snow peas are sizing up nicely. They won’t quite be ready for Tuesday’s CSA box – but there should be snow peas for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then next Tuesday. Snow peas are a great spring treat. We prefer to snack on them raw, but they’re excellent in a stir fry or lightly cooked. We just made one planting again this season so they will be a one time treat!

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Around the farm this week…

We’ll lead with the bad news. There will be no blackberries this year!

As this picture shows, most of the fruit bearing canes are dead – killed by the winter’s cold. Even those that leafed out this spring and looked healthy, are now turning yellow. The green growth at the base of each plant are new canes that will produce blackberries – next year. At first we were anticipating about a 25% crop, but now it appears there will be almost a total loss.

We’re trying something new here. A bed of vegetables was harvested, mowed down as short as possible and then covered. The warmth under the black ground cover will encourage weeds to germinate but without light they will quickly die. In several weeks we will remove the cover and replant into clean, weed free soil. That’s the plan anyway!

The field where we grew a lot of our vegetables last year is resting this year. Earlier in spring I seeded it to oats & peas. This week I mowed it down for the first time. I left several strips uncut so the pollinators and various insects still have a place to be and a source of food as the peas and other “weeds” bloom & flower. The mown peas & oats will decompose, adding organic matter & nutrients to the soil.

As I mowed the air was full of barn swallows swooping and catching insects that were disturbed by my tractor & mower.

However, very little disturbs Flynn & Flynn when they’re napping!
Wet & unhappy

Looking forward to seeing everyone for our 2nd CSA pick up!


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CSA 2022 – Week 1

Here we go again!

Week 1 of a new season of our CSA program.

The 1st CSA applications starting arriving way back in January. Our 1st vegetables were seeded in the greenhouse in February. Early April was when we planted our 1st outdoor crop – snow peas (picture below).

But the 1st pick-up is when it feels like we’re really starting – when we hand over those 1st boxes with the 1st fresh vegetables of the season. It’s what we have been working towards and it’s what you have been waiting for.

We’re excited – and we’re ready! We know you are too!

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With a lot of rain in the forecast for Tuesday – our biggest CSA pick-up day – the decision was made to pick some of the vegetables for Tuesday’s box, today. So Amy picked while Lorie washed and bagged.

I spent the day transplanting. Two trailers full of seedlings were waiting for me.

I got most of them in the ground – about 2000′ of vegetable rows! Hoping they get watered by the rain overnight so I don’t have to do it tomorrow!
Most of these vegetables will get covered with insect cover (the white tunnels seen in the right of the picture) to protect them from hungry mouths! It’s a lot of work, but well worth the effort.

Kohlrabi is a vegetable we don’t usually cover as bugs don’t prefer it – except this year! Our broccoli was also unprotected, and eaten. Both have had enough damage that they are no longer growing – a total crop loss.

But overall the vegetables are growing well & looking good.

What’s in the box?

Lettuce mix, other salad greens, radishes, green garlic, mint bunches.

  • It’s salad time! All our lettuce and other greens have been rinsed once to remove most of the field soil. You may want to wash them more thoroughly, bag them & store in the refrigerator. They should last at least a week. Everyone will receive a bag of colourful & delicious lettuce mix.
  • Each CSA share will also receive a second bag of greens. Tuesday’s box will contain a stir-fry mix. This combination of bok choy, Chinese cabbage leaves, spring raab … is a great start for a delicious stir fry. Add the radishes and green garlic too! The recipe for our favourite stir fry sauce is below.
  • Thursday & Friday (and Saturday market) boxes may contain stir fry mix, or bok choy, or some other green. They are all growing so quickly now and we want to pick whatever is at it’s prime!
  • The radishes could easily have been harvested last week – but nothing else was ready. They are plenty hot too! Soaking them in ice-cold water for 20 minutes will cut some of the sharpness & also make them crisper.
  • 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)

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)

STIR FRY SAUCE

  • 5 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch

Whisk ingredients together. Great on any stir fried vegetables.

*** As a member of our CSA you have access to http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com. This website has 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 at sign up or ask us to send it to you again.

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Around the farm this week ….

Snow peas in bloom.
Last year’s kale gone to flower. We leave it for the bees and other insects & pollinators. Under the white insect cover the bok choy & spring raab are also flowering – due to the hot temperatures last week. But they are still great for eating, especially stir fry.
Elderflowers
Volunteer bachelor’s buttons, an edible flower that reseeded from last year.
Our 1st Georgetown Farmers’ Market this past Saturday.
Remember the robin’s nest just outside our shop door? Things moved fast – from eggs to birds in a few weeks. Today the last ones left the nest for good.

Flynn waiting on the driveway to welcome all our CSA members to 1st pick-up.

See you soon!


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Beautiful May

It has almost been a month since I last posted.

Time flies when you’re having fun busy!

Tomatoes are planted. Snapped this photo last week. Since then we have pounded in posts and mulched most of them with straw. And WOW they are growing! Today we planted the eggplant and some sweet peppers.

Everything is growing like gangbusters right now.

While these pictures are only a few days old, the crops have almost doubled in size since. It’s hard to keep up!

Snowpeas
Garlic

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Around the farm this week …

May is a beautiful month. So many flowers & trees to enjoy!

Pawpaws
Heartnut tree

Just enjoying the sun …

… or a catnip induced stupor!
Morning chores – feeding the baby chicks.

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We are looking forward to seeing all our friends again

this Saturday 4 June – opening day of the Georgetown Farmers’ Market,

and at our 1st CSA pick up the following week.


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Spring, please!

Impatient. Frustrated. Anxious …

We have perhaps been feeling like this lately.

It has been a cold spring – cold enough to put us behind on our spring planting. The ground has just been too cold & too wet to do much.

We even had snow just 2 weeks ago!

Certainly we are ready – and have been ready for awhile!

These seedlings have been waiting for transplanting into the field for several weeks now. And there are plenty more waiting in the greenhouse. For some of them the wait has been too long and we had to throw them on the compost pile.
But finally this week conditions were right and we were able to get a lot planted. Now it’s raining (but not too much hopefully) which is great for getting them established.

Lettuce, pak choy, cabbage, broccoli, green onions, radishes … are in the ground now. And as soon as these rains are over and the soil has dried we’ll continue our planting with beets, spinach, kohlrabi, arugula …

The snow peas that were seeded early in April are growing slowly but surely.

And the garlic is doing very well.

In the greenhouse the tomato plants are looking great. Will the weather allow us to get them out in the field in a couple of weeks?

We cannot change the weather.

But we can choose to stay calm & focused.

Good growing weather is ahead!

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Around the farm this week …

Coffee break in the barn – wearing winter clothes …

… while spring flowers & dandelions bloom on the farm.

The killdeer are back. This one lets us know she has a nest nearby – but we have not been able to find it.
Unlike this bird which is building it’s nest in a most unlikely spot – the tool caddy just outside our shop door. Guess we won’t be using this shovel for awhile!

Catching sunshine wherever we can!


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April

I’m weary and I hurt all over.

It must be spring!

After the winter – a most enjoyable winter, with little physical work (though plenty of mental exercise) and a good share of relaxation – our bodies take some time adjusting to being active again. We fall into bed tired at an early hour and rise in the morning stiff & sore. (Age could have something to do with it as well?)

But it doesn’t take long to adapt and get back in the swing of things!

Amy spends a lot of time in the greenhouse transplanting – tomatoes, eggplant, peppers …
The blackberries have been mulched.
Preparing the ground to plant snow peas.

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Around the farm this week …

The garlic is up and growing.
The field where we grew vegetables last year has been seeded down to a cover crop of oats & peas.
Burning the brush pile.

Warm spring weather is best enjoyed cruising with the top down …

… or just relaxing in the sunshine!


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Spring?

“Come on spring! Come here. I just want to play and dig in the dirt”

This plaintive comment came from our 3 year old grandson recently, while driving with his dad on a snowy day.

I think he expressed how many of us are feeling. After a long, cold & snowy winter, we are all ready for some warmth – and digging in the dirt!

Fortunately for us, until spring does arrive, we have greenhouses to be in. (Technically they are hoophouses, not greenhouses, as we have no source of heat in them, except for the sun!) No matter the temperatures outside, they are cozy and springtime-warm inside – when the sun is shining.

Isaiah has been busy all winter playing there, having a wonderful time digging!

The Flynns enjoy their naps there.

And now it’s our turn as well. Amy has been seeding – onions, tomatoes, peppers & eggplant – and they are all coming up! It looks great & smells great in the greenhouse and it feels great to be back working with seed & soil.

The calendar shows that it is officially spring now, and it is beginning to feel like it too – both in the greenhouse and outdoors.

Come on spring!

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Around the farm this week …

The last bit of snow on the farm.
The garlic patch – no sign of green shoots yet!
Pruning blackberries – very little winter damage but some mouse damage (no doubt the Flynns spent too much time napping in the greenhouse instead of hunting in the blackberries!).
Best sign of spring yet 🙂


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What’s new?

Potatoes were the first vegetable I ever grew to sell.

It was many years ago that my siblings and I grew a patch of potatoes, doing all of the work ourselves (with some assistance from Dad). We planted, weeded, hilled, harvested & sold potatoes, and then divided up the profits – according to amount of work we each put in.

I remember working diligently during harvest, digging through the soft dirt with hands & feet to find the hidden potatoes, dragging the heavy bushels down the seemingly endless rows, for hours & hours.

My brother remembers me sitting and complaining rather than working.

My sister remembers my brother throwing potatoes at me to “encourage” more work, and her crying & pleading with me to get busy and for him to stop throwing potatoes.

I also remember receiving very little money for my efforts.

We next grew potatoes when I was a teenager, delivering them to the first Harveys fast food restaurant in St. Catharines.

We have not grown potatoes on our farm since.

Every year around this time people ask what new vegetables we will be growing this season.

And we certainly do love trying new things!

Through the years we have tested out all sorts of crops. Some have been a success and we continue to grow them – recent examples are edible flowers, sunflowers, mini broccoli, mini-bell peppers & various new greens & lettuces – while others are dropped after a season or two. We have a long list of crops that haven’t made the cut including artichokes, fava beans, cauliflower, kalettes, gourds, melons …

This year’s new picks are brussels sprouts and parsnips. We need some later crops for our new fall CSA so we will trial a few varieties of each and see how they turn out. To gain – and keep – a regular spot on the list, a vegetable has to both grow well and sell well for us. It needs to fit in to our farm work schedule and our farm acreage. And it has to make us some money! Brussels sprouts have failed before – will they be a success in 2022?

… or maybe we should grow potatoes!

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Around the farm this week …

Flynn & Flynn soaking up some sunshine in the greenhouse.
Someone else enjoying it as well!

We are still accepting applications for our CSA this summer.

Information & application above

or email thefarm@thiessenfarms.com