(And lately in the news too – big weather events have been making headlines.)
At the farmers’ market, we greet each other by asking about the weather. All summer the question was, “Did you get any rain this week?” Lately the question has changed to, “Any frost yet?”
Already 2 Saturdays ago there was frost for some farmers resulting in crop losses. Here in Niagara frost often holds off until early October and a hard freeze comes even later.
With our Fall CSA beginning this week and running until early November, we have been hoping for no early frosts and a month of pleasant weather. There are still a lot of vegetables growing in the field that we would like to harvest. We are counting on these vegetables to fill our CSA boxes!
But this morning we awoke to frost – a frost that was neither forecast nor expected. It was a fairly heavy frost, enough to do some damage. Fortunatelymost of our crops will recover – this time.
Welcome to our fall CSA.
It’s all about the weather.
Frost is both damaging and beautiful!
What’s in the box?
Cabbage, green beans, sweet peppers, fall radishes, salad greens, green onions, squash.
Our fall cabbages are still small – it was very dry when we planted them and they got off to a slow start. But they taste great! We have green cabbage this week with red yet to come.
The green bean plants were damaged by the frost, but we were able to pick off the beans. Same with the sweet peppers – we picked what we could and there should be enough for a few weeks.
Fall radishes, most salad greens & green onions were not hurt by this frost and are included in your share.
The final week of CSA brings mixed emotions – as usual.
Certainly we are happy & excited to be finished – the picking, washing, & packing of the vegetables, along with setting up for CSA pick-up and the actual pick-up itself. Together with the growing – seeding, planting, weeding, watering … it has been a busy time.
Of course Lorie enjoys seeing and visiting with all our CSA members and will miss this part of it very much.
But while the summer CSA program winds up this week, our new fall CSA begins next week. So there is really no rest – yet. We had a good response to this new venture (it is now full & no more applications are being accepted), and are looking forward to it.
Plus, we still have 3 more weeks at the Georgetown Farmers’ Market to grow & prep for.
Thank you to all our CSA members!
Thank you for your confidence in us to grow safe, healthy & delicious food for you & your family, for your dedication to coming to the farm each week to pick up your box, and for your willingness to eat whatever you found in the box. CSA is a big commitment for the members as well as the farmers.
What’s in the box?
Winter squash, sweet peppers, edamame, salad greens, garlic, green onions
Choose from several varieties of winter squash again this week. We will have them labelled along with a brief description to help you make your choice.
Today was a good day. When I picked sweet peppers I was putting more in the basket than I was throwing away – that’s a first for this season! There are even some coloured peppers (Thursday & Friday pick-up last week saw a few of these already).
The last CSA box of the season includes the last of the edamame. That worked out well!
The salad greens are enjoying this cooler weather. Lettuce is still in short supply, but there could be spinach, bok choy, arugula, or mixed salad … in the box.
Garlic has been part of the box for 11 weeks now. Keep it dry and at room temperature or slightly cooler and it should last well into the winter. If at some point you feel it is getting soft and are worried it might spoil, then freeze it. Break the bulbs apart, peel the cloves and put them in a glass jar in the freezer. Then whenever you need garlic for a recipe grab as many cloves as you need. We suggest using a glass jar because the strong garlic odor can seep out of a plastic jar or bag into the other food in your freezer.
Green onions complete this final CSA box .
Extras– eggplant, tomatoes, hot peppers …
Around the farm this week …
At this time of year the farm includes both nice, clean, new beds of vegetables (above) and tired & weedy vegetables (below).
The passing of time can be marked in various ways – by weeks, or months, or seasons …
But here on the farm we most often measure time by crops.
And right now it is squash time (otherwise known as fall).
While our customers have been asking about it for awhile, we have been in no hurry for squash. Our stock answer is that we haven’t even looked at the squash patch since we planted it. And that is not far from the truth.
We started the squash seeds in the greenhouse at the end of May and then transplanted the seedlings to the field a few weeks later. A mixed cover crop was seeded into the field about the same time. We hoed the squash once and then never set foot into the patch until last week.
This is what it looked like, so we really had no idea if there was any squash there or not.
Why do we neglect our squash? Because squash is not a high value crop. It takes up a lot of space, for a long time, with little return. So it is not worth putting much time or effort into raising it. Fortunately squash doesn’t demand much attention. We grow it because it matures at the end of our season, when we need to fill our tables at market and need a new vegetable for our CSA box. It looks beautiful, tastes great and people love squash – especially the heirloom varieties we grow.
When we finally ventured into the patch last week, we discovered a decent crop of most varieties. (We grew 15 kinds this year.)
And the real reason we are never in a hurry for squash season? Harvesting squash involves a lot of bending & heavy lifting and we are tired & weary from the long season. But we finally got at it and squash will be available at the farmers’ market this week and in the CSA box.
What’s in the box?
Winter squash, green onions, fennel, fall radishes, salad greens, beets,green peppers, tomatoes, garlic.
Here’s part of our squash harvest so far. Choose from several varieties this week. We will have them labelled along with a brief description to help you make your choice.
Green onions are back after a long absence. They don’t grow well in the hot weather but are looking good now.
Another crop of fennel is ready for harvest. Fennel has a beautiful anise or licorice flavour and is wonderful shaved into salads or sliced on a vegetable tray. Roasting or sauteing fennel results in a milder and very delicious flavour. The green fronds are also delicious and often cooked with fish or added to salads. Check out fennel recipes & tips on how to use it at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com.
How did you like the fall radishes? Enjoy another radish in your box this week.
There will be a bag of salad greens in the box – maybe spinach, bok choy, or baby kale …
Beets, green peppers (the coloured ones continue to spoil from the rains), tomatoes & garlic complete the box.
Around the farm this week …
Our market stall at Georgetown this past Saturday.
After this week, there is just 1 more week of CSA!
Life is quiet and peaceful on the farm this time of year.
It’s just us here. Our summer student crew has long since returned to school. It is off-season for the strawberry farm next door, so no activity there. Across the road, the neighbour’s peaches are picked and the orchard is empty – of both fruit and people. It is quiet all around.
Depending on the wind direction we might hear the kids playing outside at recess at the school just down the road. Of course the trains go by and whistle for the crossing, but we barely notice. The occasional flock of Canada geese flies over honking. And that’s about it for noise.
Friday was different. It was neither quiet nor peaceful.
The neighbours had come the previous night and removed their bee hives from our buckwheat field. Whether some bees were left behind or perhaps some returned looking for their home I’m not sure, but there were a lot of loud and aggressive bees on the farm Friday. And they took their aggression & anger out on us! Vegetables had to be picked – for CSA pick-up and for Saturday market – but the bees wouldn’t leave us alone. We resorted to wearing complete hazmat suits, with only our faces exposed. Not very comfortable on a hot, humid day! We would rush out to the patch, pick for a few minutes until the bees found us then return to the barn for a break, bees chasing us all the way. This continued all day. We never did get everything picked. Finally by late afternoon the neighbours returned with some empty hives for the bees to hopefully gather in.
I suppose it sounds funny and probably looked funny too – but we failed to see the humour. We were hurting from the many bee stings we all received.
Here’s hoping any remaining bees have settled down and are calm for our vegetable picking this week.
Or else your CSA box just might be empty!
What’s in the box?
Fall radishes, kale, salad greens, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers, garlic.
Tuesday only – green beans
Fall radishes (often called winter radishes – but I can’t bear to say that in September!) are large, beautiful and delicious. They have the same flavour as spring radishes – but slightly stronger & sharper. Slice them thinly into salads or slaw, or roast them along with other vegetables. Check for recipes at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com. (Look under daikon or watermelon radishes.) Choose from 3 colours – pink, white or purple. Wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge they can keep for a month or more.
This will be the first time we’ve offered bunches of kale in the CSA box this season. Earlier we had bags of baby kale and often there is baby kale in the salad mix. But this week it’s full size kale. Eat it for the great taste and eat it because it is healthy! We are growing black kale (pictured below) – also known as dinosaur kale – as well as curly kale.
We know you have been missing our lettuce. It is back! This week’s box will include a bag of salad mix – mostly lettuce, plus some add-ins such as arugula, mizuna, mustard, baby kale … Enjoy!
Jalapeno peppers (for those who want the heat), tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers & garlic round out the box this week.
There will also be green beans for Tuesday’s pick-up only. Thursday, Friday & Saturday members received beans last week. (There are still several plantings of beans growing. Depending on the weather they may appear in the box again this season (there are only 2 more weeks after this week) and will certainly be a part of our fall CSA.)
Around the farm this week …
Rosemary continues to amuse us with her kitten antics!
After this week, there are just 2 more weeks of CSA!
It’s raining today – a lovely, slow, soft, steady rain.
This rain is very welcome.
While we had some rain last week and the week before, it is ideal to get rain every week in the summer when the crops are growing – and thirsty.
The downside of this rain is the damage it can cause to the vegetables – tomatoes tend to crack, peppers rot, greens too. The weeds will flourish. Our picking schedule is thrown off.
And since Monday is the day we finalize the contents of the CSA box for the week, this precipitation causes some uncertainty there.
What’s in the box?
(Here is our best estimation for the box – but it could be different at pick-up!)
Beets, salad greens, sweet peppers, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic,
… and ???
Beets are back in the box this week. We are picking 3 varieties – the common red beets, which are a lovely dark colour, golden beets, and the candy cane which are red & white striped. You may find any of these or a mixture in your share. They all taste similar (perhaps the candy cane are slightly sweeter?) and are delicious!
We are hoping to include 2 salad greens this week. There could be mini-romaine lettuce, lettuce mix, spinach, arugula or bok choy.
Sweet peppers will continue to be picked green rather than waiting for them to ripen and turn colour and risk losing more to rot.
Another planting of green beans is ready to harvest – when the weather allows.
There are plenty of tomatoes on the plants in the field. Many will crack & spoil in today’s rain but there should still be enough for the boxes this week.
You’d think we would all be used to it by now – there has certainly been plenty of heat this summer. But it was a difficult day all around. Still, we accomplished a lot – mostly picking and some weeding.
Looking forward to cooler temperatures later this week.
Edamame makes a return to the box this week as our 2nd planting is ready. Edamame are full of protein, fibre and loaded with vitamins & minerals – a very healthy vegetable. And they are easy to prepare! Simply boil the pods in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the water & drain. Then squeeze the pods to pop out the beans and enjoy as a healthy snack. Delicious! We like them sprinkled with lime juice and salt. Or they can be added to soups, stews, salads, noodle dishes …
Shishito peppers are back as well. These delicious peppers are best prepared by charring in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and a splash of lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem. But remember – 1 in 10 can be a little hot!
Last week we were excited to start harvesting our coloured sweet peppers. But our excitement quickly turned to disappointment as the rain last weekend, along with the heat & humidity destroyed the fruit. Most of the peppers were ruined & had to be discarded – at least those that had any colour. Today’s pick was much the same. There will be a pepper in the share this week – but only 1 and it will likely be green.
Green beans are looking great though, as is zucchini.
The cherry tomatoes continue to produce prodigiously, while the beefsteak tomatoes seem to be taking a bit of a break. But the plants are still looking good, with lots of green fruit so we anticipate there will be more yet to come.
Earlier in the season we had lots of great lettuce, but spinach was in short supply. Now it’s the opposite. Each bed of spinach we plant is growing well – but the lettuce is struggling. So the salad green this week will be spinach.
Garlic completes the box. Store your bulbs in a dry place and they should last well into the winter.
A selection of hot peppers will be available as an extra for those who like things spicy!
Summer is brief and we only have a few months to do our thing. So the farm gets our full attention. We keep our heads down and get at it. As they say – make hay while the sun shines!
But by the end of the week we are usually ready for a change of scenery – and ready to see some new faces. For Lorie, CSA pick-up is her time to chat & visit with people. Amy & I get our fix at the farmers’ market.
Thank goodness for the farmers’ market! It’s our opportunity to visit with both customers and fellow vendors. This is our 29th year at the Downtown Georgetown Farmers’ Market so needless to say we have plenty of friends there.
It’s surprising how much news can be shared in the few minutes we interact with each customer – and if we aren’t too busy, we can visit longer.
Chatting with other farmers we realize we aren’t alone in both our struggles and our successes – something that is easy to forget when we spend the week isolated on our own farm.
The market is a great way to end our workweek and while it is certainly tiring, it also invigorates us and gives us needed energy for the following week.
We weren’t sure we would get any green beans picked today. The plants were too wet first thing and rain was forecast for much of the day. But by midmorning the plants were dry enough, and we were able to get enough picked before the rains came – a beautiful soft rain (only a couple of millimetres, but more beneficial & less damaging than the drenching downpour that areas near us received). Enjoy green beans in your box this week.
The next planting of fennel is ready for harvest. Fennel has a beautiful anise or licorice flavour and is wonderful shaved into salads or sliced on a vegetable tray. Roasting or sauteing fennel results in a milder and very delicious flavour. Check out fennel recipes & tips on how to use it at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com.
After a couple of weeks without, zucchini is back. The new plants are healthy & producing abundantly!
The bell peppers are colouring up nicely – yellow, orange & purple, and the red shepherds as well.
Crisp & delicious spinach is the green this week. We have struggled to grow a decent quantity & quality of spinach all season – spinach hates hot, humid & dry weather. Finally, these last few plantings are doing well and there is plenty of spinach to go around.
Tomatoes & garlic finish the box this week.
*** We have had a chance to sort and clean some garlic and will have it for sale starting this week – by the bulb or in bags.
We have a 100′ row of dahlias with the most beautiful, burgundy coloured flowers, just starting to open. They are not for selling – just for us to enjoy.
A little extravagant? Perhaps. But they do wonders for the soul! And they are exactly what we need at this point in our season.
Along with an abundance of other flowers found around the farm, they encourage us, cheer us up, and remind us of the beauty to be seen in our world.
What’s in the box?
Green sweet pepper, hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes,
salad greens,red onion, garlic, beets.
The first sweet peppers of the season are in the box this week – sweet green peppers. Did you know that a green pepper is actually an unripe pepper? Most peppers will eventually turn red (or orange or yellow or …) as they mature. That’s why the coloured peppers are sweeter than the green. We will have all the colours in a few weeks as the fruit ripens.
Find a hot pepper or two also in the box this week. Not everyone uses hot peppers so feel free to say no to a Jalapeno or Hungarian hot wax (yellow banana) – no hard feelings! The jalapeno will add a little bit of heat to your salad, sauce, soup … but the milder hot wax pepper mostly just adds flavour with almost no heat.
Tomatoes, salad greens, a red onion, garlic & beets complete the box.
Around the farm this week …
Some of our recent plantings. These are mainly salad greens – lettuce & spinach, plus arugula & bok choy under the insect netting.
Rosemary! Her actions & antics indicate she’s here for a good time – but probably not a long time!
We were all picking cherries – my parents, my siblings and myself. It was a Black Tart tree close to our barn. Black tarts – or more properly Black Tartarian – was a sweet cherry variety that was already passe when this occured (probably 55+ years ago). It was a small, soft, heart-shaped, very sweet, dark coloured cherry. The problem with black tarts was that the fruit cracked & split at the first sign of rain. We probably kept this tree only because it was in the front yard – and my dad loved black tart cherry pie (mother would bake him 1 pie each cherry season – only 1 because sweet cherries are a pain to pit!).
We were trying to get the cherries picked before the coming storm but before we were finished, the rains came and it was a downpour! We grabbed the full baskets of cherries from under the tree and ran the 30 or 40′ to the barn. By the time we got to the barn we were soaked – and the perfect black tarts in the baskets had split & looked like popcorn! Why hadn’t we carried them in before the rain!
That was my first lesson on the damage that weather can cause.
We no longer grow fruit and don’t have to worry about cracked cherries, but weather remains a huge concern for us. These last few years the lack of rain is more often the issue rather than too much. This means we usually we have to water our vegetables when we plant them in the field. We use rainwater that we collect from our barn roofs and store in 2 large cisterns. If we run out we buy water by the truckload.
We continually improve our soil’s water-holding capacity by growing cover crops, and using manure & compost rather than fertilizer and straw to mulch the vegetables rather than plastic. Good soil allows the crops to grow & mature without any additional water (most years!).
This season we have had dry spells but also some timely rains. We have lost a lot of vegetables but managed to grow a lot more! Fortunately we have avoided any damaging storms.
Today I hurried to transplant some lettuce & spinach before it was perfectly watered by a lunchtime rain.
The forecast calls for some more rain overnight followed by sunshine tomorrow – a farmer’s dream!
Edamame which are fresh, green soybeans have been around for 2000 years or more, first grown in China and then in Japan. There, it is a traditional bar snack eaten lightly steamed and sprinkled with salt. Edamame are full of protein, fibre and loaded with vitamins & minerals – a very healthy vegetable. And they are easy to prepare! Simply boil the pods in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the water & drain. Then squeeze the pods to pop out the beans and enjoy as a healthy snack. Delicious! We like them sprinkled with lime juice and salt. Or they can be added to soups, stews, salads, noodle dishes …
Shishito peppers are one of our favourite vegetables. They are a small, thin, bright green pepper, with a sweet, fruity flavour and thin, tender, wrinkled skin. What makes a shishito exciting is that 1 in 10 peppers will be slightly hot! They are simple to prepare and delicious to eat! While you can use them as you would any other sweet pepper, they are best eaten charred in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and a splash of lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.
There will be 2 onions in your CSA share this week.The yellow onion is Ailsa Craig, a mild, Spanishonion. The red onion is a classic Italian variety called Rossa di Milano that has a stronger more pungent flavour than the yellow. You can use them interchangeably in your recipes (keeping in mind the flavour differences).
The garlic is now dry and can be stored at room temperature in a dry area for many months. The bulb can be broken open and partially used without the remainder spoiling. Enjoy!
As usual your box will include a selection of tomatoes, both smaller, cherry size in many colours & shapes and the larger beefsteak tomatoes.
Your salad green this week is mini-romaine lettuce. While we have lost several plantings of our lettuce mix due to the heat, the mini-romaine is doing great this year.
We still have cabbage in the cooler, that we picked a few weeks ago. Cabbage stores well and it is still juicy & tasty!
The most asked about vegetable this season is beets. For sure we have not had beets in the box as often as other years – but we do have a lot planted and they are looking good! Enjoy a few this week and expect more in the coming weeks.
Extras this week are kohlrabi and fennel.
Fennel is a less familiar vegetable to many. It has a beautiful anise or licorice flavour and is wonderful shaved into salads or sliced on a vegetable tray. Roasting or sauteing fennel results in a milder and very delicious flavour. Again, http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com has many recipes and tips for how to use fennel. Unfortunately our 1st planting of fennel did not get the moisture it needed to size up properly. It did get a lot more heat than it needed! The result is small fennel bulbs. (Fennel can be a difficult vegetable to grow anytime!) If you like fennel grab one of these “baby” fennel bulbs. We should have enough for Tuesday’s boxes. Thursday & Friday pick-up will have to wait for the next planting to mature in a few weeks.
Around the farm this week …
The new row of zucchini is growing well and already has tiny fruit.
Last years vegetable patch has been planted to various cover crops. In spring we had peas & oats. For the summer we have buckwheat. In fall we’ll seed a mixture of crops to cover the ground for the winter. Each crop has a purpose – either to add different nutrients to the soil, or smother weeds, or add organic matter … The buckwheat is in bloom now and a neighbour brought some beehives. Bees love buckwheat and it makes great honey!
Left picture – our winter cabbage patch last week. Right picture – our winter cabbage patch this week.
August has arrived – and caught us by surprise, as usual!
It’s the same every year.
We’ve been keeping our heads down, working, and suddenly the summer is half over before we know it!
This is the height of the growing season and the fields are bursting with abundance.
There is an abundance of garlic as well – drying in the greenhouse and in the barn …
And an abundance of weeds. Hopefully there’s an abundance of winter cabbage under there too!
What’s in the box?
Onions, eggplant, mini romaine lettuce, bok choy, green beans, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, garlic.
Extras – zucchini, kohlrabi, garlic scapes.
How about a real onion this week instead of green onions! We picked our first bed of onions today, an heirloom variety (that means they have been around a long time) of Spanish onion – so they are on the milder & sweeter side.
We don’t often put eggplant in the CSA box. In fact I’m not sure we have ever included it! This is because eggplant is not a very popular vegetable – many people never eat it. We would hate to include it and have it go uneaten and to waste. So we usually have it available on our extras table for those who enjoy it. But we’re changing things up this week and including eggplant in the box. We would encourage everyone to try it – you just might discover how great eggplant is! (cookwithwhatyouhave.com has lots of useful information about eggplant & 25 recipes to start you off!)
Salad greens this week will be mini-romaine lettuce and bok choy. (Bok choy is not a fan of the hot weather we’ve had lately so it has not formed perfectly – but it tastes great!)
Green beans and tomatoes – cherry & large beefsteaks are also in the box.
We will be including a bulb of garlic in the box every week now. Remember that it is still fresh and not completely dried yet. Once you break the bulb open, use it quickly. Or leave it to dry – room temperature in a spot with good air circulation.
Many of our CSA members are saying they have had enough zucchini, kohlrabi and garlic scapes. But they will be available as extras for those who still want them.