Update from the Garden

This past week has been a lot of the same – cleanup and fall prep. I did seed some extra arugula and mustard greens because they are too yummy! I am now moving on to tilling and forming the new beds on the new plot, where I intend to plant squash next year. So far it’s going well but it’s going to take time, for sure.

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Red Kuri squash coming soon!

I have also been doing one of my favourite tasks – ripping out spent squash plants and vines. Ah I love this so much. Those things are such a mess and all over the place. It feel so good to get them tidy in the compost.

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I can see a frost is on the horizon for the weekend and so I’ll be busy the next couple days bringing more things in and blanketing what is left out there. This weekend there is the Carp Fair and so there is no Farmers’ Market. First Saturday off since before Mother’s Day! I’m looking forward to a slow breakfast with the kids and spending the day in the glorious village of Beachburg!

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…another obsessive cover crop photo – but that coverage! (oats & peas)

This week’s tip: Freeze that celery
You can use the entire celery that you received this week. The bulb part can be treated like a root veg and be roasted. I highly recommend chopping the stems up and freezing them. Chop the leaves and freeze them separately. The next time you are making stew, stock or soup, grab a handful for max flavour. I didn’t buy a single celery stalk last winter because I had this potent stuff in the freezer.

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Getting the arugula washed.

This week’s share:
1 box Beets OR Peppers
1 head Romaine
1 box Tomatoes
1 bag Arugula
1 Celery
1 box Pattypans
1 bunch Radishes
1 item from the Choice Shelf
Large ONLY: 1 tray Microgreens & 1 box Cucumbers

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This week’s share! 

What to make this week
A customer at the farmers’ market last week verbally gave me this recipe and I have to pass it on, it’s sooo good! I don’t know anything about quantities, so you’ll have to make it to taste. For the dressing, I did use a lemon/garlic oil “bread dipper” from Kricklewood Farm, possibly available for sale at Wilkie’s, downtown Pembroke.

Roasted Pattypan & Arugula Salad

Ingredients:
Pattypan, sliced for the grill
Arugula – a handful or so
Pear(s) – sliced in pieces
Goat Cheese
Nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews etc.) – possibly toasted and candied with honey
Dressing: lemon, olive oil, salt & pepper

Grill your pattypan slices on the BBQ or in a pan. Meanwhile, toast the nuts on a frypan. I drizzled the nuts with some honey to make them extra yummy. Once your squash are grilled but still firm, toss them with the arugula, thereby wilting the arugula. Place the pattypans and arugula in a shallow serving dish. Top with pieces of pear, lumps of goat cheese and drizzle with the lemony dressing. I also did a drizzle of honey. SO GOOD!

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Update from the garden
Last week I was honoured to be a bridesmaid in my dear friends’ wedding on Saturday, which of course cued mother nature to bring on the season’s first frost! Woohoo. I am usually prepared for this sort of thing and have the row cover on hand, etc. to easily cover the sensitive crops, but last week was a little different as at the time I would normally be covering the garden (around 6pm), I was to be standing in a wedding! As such, covering the garden became an early Saturday morning job with Dad and his pal Rick and my questionably helpful 4 year old – who reeeeally loved the floaty row covers. The wind joined – as it always does when I have 100ft x 20ft sheets of thin fleece to handle. I would have rather been off getting hair and makeup done but alas, that’s farming. And I love it. And I did make it in time for mimosas and hair and all the great things! In the end, I only lost my basil and much of the beans, which I had no row cover for. That is all OK and it just means that I can now mow down the beans and incorporate the entire plant into the garden bed for fertilizer.

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This is row cover in action on my peppers and eggplant.

The threat of frost however also hastened my harvesting of winter squashes. Friday was supposed to be a light harvesting day – getting the last things I needed to send to market – but suddenly turned into a huge final harvest of all our squashes and pumpkins. Good thing that’s my favourite thing ever to harvest!! All those items are now sun-curing in the greenhouse.

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Evidence of frost! This is basil that probably should have been harvested.

This week, for the first time since April, I took some time to clean up around the farm. I had plenty of mess up in the hay mow, where I had dried garlic back in August. I had all kinds of things that needed to find homes. I even spent some time cleaning straw out of the hay mow from 15 years ago. We don’t need it up there and all it does is provide accommodation for mice. No thanks. Mathias and I took a look up there today and are making some plans for next season’s garlic drying racks. Already looking ahead, so fun!

This week’s tip: pizza and quiche
The tip is simply this: when in doubt, put it on pizza or in a quiche. My family eats an insane amount of pizza but it’s such a perfect seasonal dish that is fun to prepare and very satisfying. Dough is easy to make – especially using a kitchen aid – and you can make enough for a couple days. We do a lot of canned tomato sauces and that helps make it convenient and extra delicious too. But generally, pizza and quiche can handle all the veggies – even if you may need to pre-roast some things.

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“Giant Red Mustard” – in your CSA share this week.

This week’s share:
1 box New Potatoes (yellow or red fingerlings)
1 box Cherry Tomatoes
1 box Beans
3 or so Peppers
1 bag of Romaine Lettuce (a pair)
1 bunch Radishes
1 bag Spicy Mix (arugula and mustard greens)
1 item from the choice shelf (kohlrabi, kale, cabbage, bok choy, onions, shishito peppers)
Large ONLY: take 1 extra box Tomatoes, 1 bag Parsley, 1 Cucumber, 2 Onions

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Experimental hops of mine ready for drying.

Deconstructed Baked Potato (Food & Drink Magazine)
Super great recipe for those baby potatoes…

12 long skewers
12 baby potatoes – Yukon Gold
3 slices of thick cut bacon
6 green onions (or the thick stalk parts of the young onions)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
freshly ground black pepper

Soak the skewers in warm water for 20 minutes and in the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F.
Slice each potato in half. Cut bacon into 4 sections. Cut the green onions into 2 inch pieces.
To make the skewer, simply thread on the potato, bacon, and onion. Place the skewers on a baking sheet and lightly brush them with oil.
Bake the skewers for about 18 minutes until the potatoes are almost fork tender and the bacon is almost crisp. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the potatoes. Bake another 5 minutes until the potatoes are soft, bacon crisp, and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with gresh ground pepper and serve.
Makes 12 appetizer servings.

Update from the Garden

First off, this is week 13 of 18 to help you follow along. That means 5 more weeks of CSA, with our final pick up on October 10th.

You have to agree that the tomatoes are fully in season! Our cherry tomato plants are weighted in loads and loads of gorgeous gems and because of this, everyone gets 2 containers of them this week. I think I harvested 130 containers this week so far! The larger tomatoes just didn’t perform for us this year. I think they got majorly set back during the drought times and they didn’t seem to benefit enough from our drip irrigation. The cherry tomatoes made an impressive come back though.

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Hot pepper mix – we will have more next week too!

This past week, I finally finished turning in my 2nd new plot of the year – which will be used for planting squash next season. For now I will leave the grasses turned over and allow them to decompose slightly before I do a harrow or rototill… followed by bed shaping. My plan is to prepare all the squash beds this fall for planting next May 24th. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m in constant pursuit of ways to spread my work over the year and to “get ahead” for the coming season.

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Lettuces coming along nicely for the final weeks of CSA.

I also spent some time this week starting to harvest squashes. All the kuri, delicata and spaghetti are looking great. Our pie pumpkins too. Acorn are good and the mini-blue hubbards turned out well. We have very few butternut this year but I will be able to confirm that once I get to harvesting them – though they tend to mature a little later than the others.

This week’s tip: blanche and freeze
Some things can be easily blanched (boiled briefly and flash cooled) and then put away in bags or yogourt containers and into the freezer for the winter. Beets and carrots can be done this way. Kale can too. If you feel like you want to squirrel away a few things – you can google the procedure. If you have too many cherry tomatoes – give them a rinse, dry and throw them in a zip lock for a pasta over winter.

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Pretty cabbages – one of the choice items this week.

This week’s share
1 box New Potatoes (3 varieties)
1 bunch Carrots
1 bunch Beets
1 bunch Kale
2 boxes Cherry Tomatoes
1 box Grapes
4 Peppers
Hot Peppers – taken as needed
1 Choice Item (Eggplant, Beans, Shishito Peppers, Cucumbers, Kohlrabi, Cabbage)
Large ONLY: Take 2 extra items from the choice shelf

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Lush kale bunches as night temperatures cool.

Grapes
We do grow a few grapes for the family on the farm but these grapes this week came from Francie Hawkins – she has the farm on Highway 41, with the thousands of gladiolas growing out front. The grapes were actually grown by her husband, Harry Hawkins, whom many of you may know passed away about a month ago. If you knew Harry, you would know how great of a person he was and how many amazing hobbies and pastimes he enjoyed, including growing all kinds of things (often in large quantities!). Growing grapes was one of his many things and I hope you all enjoy them this week, in memory of this incredible person and mentor of mine.

This kind of grape is more tart than the typical grocery store grapes and they also have seeds. Fine for snacking if that’s your thing – cave people were fine with seeds – but here is an awesome grape syrup my mom made this week to put on top of ice cream or yogourt, etc.

Grape Syrup
Remove your grapes from the stem and place them in a pot with enough water so it doesn’t burn (possibly 1/4 cup). Bring to a boil and cover and simmer about 15 minutes until all grapes have released their juice. Strain the grapes using a sieve and a wooden spoon or perhaps some cheese cloth. Put your hot grape juice back in the pot and sweeten ideally with sugar but you can try other sweeteners. The recipe we have says 3/4 cup sugar for 1 cup juice but we used less. Boil for another 10 minutes or so until it’s syrupy. Be careful not to boil too long or it will turn to jelly. Will store in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Update from the Garden
Ah, another grand week of early fall-type work. We’ve been pulling out old/dead plants, and “ploughing down” the rows where the sugar snap peas once grew (or attempted to, during the drought weeks). We did some cultivating in the older carrot beds, etc. where the bed is not empty and have planted some oats/peas in it’s place to cover the soil until frost comes. I just noticed how our Kuri squash stems have started to dry and the colour is getting richer… it’s about time to harvest those guys! Seems early.

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Radish cover crop going in on a former snap pea bed.

This week I ploughed a whole new plot (in addition to the new plot for garlic). This new 100ft x 100ft plot will contain beds for squash next season. That includes zucchini, pattypans, cucumber, melons and all our winter squash. I have been finding that the garden is getting crowded and we have little space for rotation, so I had occasionally been planting in a less than ideal bed for certain crops – for example, carrots in a bed that was relatively weedy in the previous season. It just creates more work and kills efficiency, and so adding new plots will give me more space to select the right spaces for the right crops. The unused beds will be seeded with several rounds of buckwheat next season.

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This is how we store irrigation lines and garden tarps – off the ground so they don’t get lost in the grass.

This weeks tip: Freeze your herbs
This little gem of a tip comes both from my 91 year old Omi and a CSA member who’s been with us since Day 1. You can freeze herbs like parsley and dill very easily. Wash them, let them dry and then put them in a mason jar and straight into the freezer My Omi recommends a pinch of salt to take up any remaining moisture. Herbs come out fresh-fresh all winter long.

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This week’s share:
1 box Potatoes (Fingerlings/Yukon Gold)
1 box Tomatoes
1 box Summer Squash
1 Kohlrabi
1 bag Herbs – mainly Parsley
1 box Beans
2 Peppers
Large ONLY: Take extra Tomatoes & Potatoes

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Tabouleh – use that parsley!
For Tabouleh, I recommend adjusting quantities to what you prefer but make it mainly parsley. Here is what I do…

1 bag Parsley – chopped fairly fine
Handful of cherry tomatoes – chopped small
1 clove garlic – minced fine
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of cooked bulger
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Olive Oil
Salt & pepper – to taste

Combine all ingredients and adjust the oil/lemon/salt & pepper to taste. Stores well for several days too. Great served with naan bread & hummus. Also lovely as a little side salad, in a wrap or on toasted bread.

Update from the garden
Super fun week in the garden. It was a total hustle getting all our cover crops and fall plantings in before the rain but it has paid off. In the photos you can see the tiny seeds of radish, etc. coming up. I also finished ploughing the new garlic plot and thanks to Keanan and Reuben Stone at Valley Bio in Cobden, I was able to get some last minute oats and peas to finish cover cropping the area just hours before the rain arrived…. and happily it is all coming up! I love it. Again, I am planting peas and oats before planting garlic, etc. to help add organic matter and nutrients. Peas are nitrogen fixing (they can take nitrogen from the air) and so when we plough it down in a few weeks and turn it into the soil, it will release nitrogen for our crops to consume. Free fertilizer all around us!

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Just 6 days later.

We got in the last of our onions today too so they are drying both in the greenhouse and the hay mow. Not very big this season, that’s for sure, but delicious nonetheless.

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Babies on their way.

This week I also fully realized how weird the eggplants are this season. It seems that the huge beautiful plants dropped their flowers at some point, likely during the drought months, and so there are pretty much no eggplants. Perhaps that’s great news to some CSA members, but I for one am totally disappointed! It looks like more flowers did develop at some point and there are a few small plants coming along but it’s a little sad for sure.

Finally, would you like some hot peppers? I can offer them in your CSA share but I would prefer a direct request before I harvest them. I have some red chillies,  “Santa Fe” peppers and also some Habaneros (peppers are mentioned in order from mildest to hottest). If you are interested, shoot me a message please.

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Former garlic beds…

This week’s tip: try something different
If you are getting tired of the same old dish you make with a veg don’t be shy to try something new. For example, one CSA member was talking about how you can prepare a fake apple sauce using stewed zucchini. Another mentioned… deep fried kale! Roasting is a great prep method for most things if you are bored with steaming and pan frying. Ask around – someone may have some interesting ideas!

This week’s share
1 Zucchini
2 Pattypan Squashes
1 box Tomatoes
4 Cucumbers
1 Melon
Carrots OR Beets
1 Choice Item (Cabbage, Peppers, Kale)
1 box Beans
Large ONLY: 1 head Romaine, 1 extra box Beans, 2 extra Cucumbers

Fish Cakes  (the kids approved)
While fish cakes may not really use many CSA ingredients, I made these last night with a side of green beans and had the leftovers tonight with pan fried pattypan squashes and it was just sooo good. I also know many of you have your own herb gardens and fish cakes are pals with dill, parsley and tarragon. This recipe of course came from one of our fabulous Scandinavian cookbooks. Try and enjoy!

600g white fish filets
2 spring onions, chopped
2 eggs
100ml 18% cream
2 Tbsp finely chopped tarragon
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp. potato flour (I used wheat flour)

Use 30g butter and veg oil for frying.

Chop the fish filets finely with a sharp knife. Put in a mixing bowl with spring onions, eggs, cream, herbs and lemon juice. Fold together gently. Add the flour, 2 tsp. salt (*I found the result a little salty) and 1 tsp. pepper and fold again. You may need to add more flour to get the right consistency.

To fry, heat the butter and oil in a fry pan and shape the mixture into 12 small balls using a spoon and your hands (mine was too runny so I just plopped them in the pan). Gently cook the fishcakes for 4 minutes on each side.

 

Update from the Garden
The seasons are slowly switching over in the garden. As August marches on, this past week we were busy flipping beds. This means we were pulling out the pea trellis, pulling old cabbage plants, pulling lettuces that have went to seed etc. and doing some cultivating and cover cropping to restore nutrients and build organic matter. We have been planting hundreds of transplants including lettuces, bok choy and kohlrabi. We also direct seeded some arugula, radishes, and some fancy spicy red mustards for the fall. All of these crops love the cooler weather and will hold us over until the end of October. We are also finally turning in a new plot to incorporate into our rotations. We will cover crop it and then aim to plant garlic in the fall. We would have liked to have had this cover cropped since June but it was just too dry. The field is currently in hay production and free of weeds, so we’re hoping it will work out nicely… if we get the cover crop seeds in before this week’s rain!

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Ploughing a new plot… cover cropping with an oat/pea mixture.

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Many of our squash plants have relaxed slightly and are revealing loads of gorgeous squash beneath. We did a bit of research for our pie pumpkins and have sought out a market gardener’s favourite (and best tasting) variety: Winter Luxury. Check out the pretty lace skin on these squashes, which are coming along nicely.

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Finally, the Garlic Fest was a huge success for us. We sold all our garlic (about 3,000 bulbs), which was totally crazy. Many many people were returning customers, which was great to see. Our fancy garlic braids and single garlics earned several ribbons. Of course we are planting even more this coming fall!

This week’s share
1 Zucchini
2 Cucumbers
1 Head Lettuce
1 box Tomatoes
1 bunch Garlic
1 bunch Onions
1 bunch Carrots or 1 bunch Beets
1 item from the Choice Shelf
Large ONLY: 1 extra Zucchini, 1 bunch Basil, 1 extra bunch Carrot/Beet

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Our cucumbers being harvested. We never trellis our cucumbers due to intense cucumber beetle pressure, but boy do they do well!

Claudia’s Beet Salad
This recipe was created by our German WWOOFer from a few years ago.

1 bunch beets – half steamed & roughly chopped, half raw and grated
1 medium onion – sliced thin
1 avocado – chopped
Dressing: 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt & pepper

Update from the Garden
Wow, like that the CSA is already at the half-way mark! We are in the heart of the summer – where we get all the summer crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash. I love it.

The garlic season is almost complete, which means that we are moving on to fall prep. This includes flipping beds into fall plantings like spinach, lettuces, turnips, arugula, radishes, kohlrabi, etc. I like this time of year because weed and bug pressure somewhat subside. We do have a lot of garden catch up to do since all this rain came.

This is also the time for me to plant our cover crops on beds and areas that are done for the year. The cover crop will be a combination of peas and oats. We basically plant peas and oats and allow them to grow until the frost kills them. These crops will mop up nutrients and grow… then when they die, they will return nutrients and lots of organic matter to the soil. Helps build soil health and suppresses weeds. I absolutely love cover cropping!

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Upstairs in our awesome hay mow, where I dry and process garlic. Lots of lumber drying here too.

This week’s tip: Eat it raw
Figure out what you can eat raw and go for it.
 If you are unsure about which foods to eat raw, start with dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale or try carrots, turnips, and cucumbers. Technically you can eat almost any vegetable raw, in its naked, natural state (careful around rhubarb!). It’s just a matter of taste and how well your body digests it. Just make sure to chew your food well to aid your body in digestion.

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Pepper plants are getting very heavy with fruits.

This week’s share:
1 bunch Carrots
1 bunch Garlic
1 Zucchini
1 box Pattypan Squash
1 Cucumber
1 pint Tomatoes
2 Peppers
1 Choice Item: Bok Choy/Kale/Beans/Cabbage
Large ONLY: 1 extra Cucumber, 1 head Romaine, 1 bag Basil

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Little Pete out for a tractor ride with Opa…. 

Dark Chocolate Zucchini (or Pattypan) Brownies
These are seriously delicious brownies – a recipe that a CSA member gave me in my first season, about 7 years ago!

2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup whole spelt flour (or an additional 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I used a combo of chips and chopped up 100% cocoa chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8 inch square baking pan. Grate zucchini. Dump into a mesh colander and squeeze it with a towel to get rid of excess moisture. Fluff it back up
with a fork.
In a large bowl, beat together the wet ingredients (oil, eggs, honey and vanilla). Stir in the zucchini.
In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (whole wheat pastry and spelt flour, cocoa, salt, baking
powder and cinnamon). Pour the dry mixture into the wet/zucchini mixture. Stir just until combined, and then stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine was done baking at 30 minutes).
Let cool completely before serving.

 

Few notes:
We have been having experiencing wi-fi issues at the farm and so it’s been impossible for me to send out newsletters during the day – hence them coming now in the evening from my home in Beachburg.

Please, if you could, return any wooden containers as we love to re-use them!

Please ensure your name is checked off the list when you pick up veggies so we can track who is still to come and make sure everyone gets their goodies.

Thank you, you are all such fantastic CSA members!!

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Next generation market gardener with her “shop”.

Update from the garden

Oh glorious rain, where have you been? It’s funny because I spent last Sunday morning (before last week’s CSA), writing a poem for the Beachburg Fair, expressing my thoughts and feelings about farming in drought conditions. As soon as I finished writing it, down came the rain! Forget rain dances in the future, let’s all pick up pens.

As you know, I had done numerous extra seedings of carrots and beets to try to make up for the poor growth of our early plantings. I’m relieved that this rain has allowed many of these seeds to germinate well. I seeded some more cilantro last week too as the earlier plantings all went to seed/got such scorched.

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Variety of Santa Fe hot peppers “Havasu”.

Normally I would have harvested my garlic but I left anything that looked green (alive) in the beds, in hopes that some rain would come and size them up. The bulbs I had been pulling looked very healthy but also very small compared to past years. You can imagine that slow growing dry bulbs would get a shock from a big rain, but very few of the garlic have cracked. Surprisingly, I still have quite a few in the ground – still waiting for them to mature.

This week’s tip: Seal it up
A lot of things in the CSA do not come in bags but pretty much all of it would benefit from being sealed in a container – especially carrots, cucumbers and all things leafy. If you get a wilty item, dunk or rinse it in cold water, shake it off, and put it in a bag or container in the fridge. This helps immensely! Remember to keep your tomatoes and basil out of the fridge though. Winter squashes too, when they begin to appear come September.

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This week’s cabbage, still under fine exclusion netting.

This week’s #8 Share
1 head Lettuce OR 1 Romaine
1 bunch Rainbow Carrots
1 bunch Beets OR 1 Savoyed Cabbage
1 bunch Herbs – choice of basil, mint or parsley
1 Zucchini
1 Pattypan Squashes
2 Green Peppers
1 cluster of Garlic (Russian Red)
1 Choice: beans, pea shoots, kale, onions, cippolini onions, cucumbers
Large ONLY: Take an extra bunch of carrots & extra bunch of beets
Free to take if you can use: extra zucchinis and pattypan squash.

Last Week #7’s share just FYI
1 bag Spring Mix
1 bunch Carrots
1 pint Tomatoes OR 1 Combo of Large Tomato + 2 Onions
1 Cucumber
2 Zucchinis
1 pint Beans
1 bunch Rainbow Chard
Large ONLY: 1 extra bunch Carrots, 1 extra Bean
Free to take if you can use: extra zucchinis and large pattypans – great for baking!

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Beauty herbs this week. So proud of the basil & parsley!

Zucchini Fritters
This is a big go-to for us when we have lots of summer squash around. It uses a good amount of squash, it cooks easy, and you can dress them up as much as you want i.e. bacon & sour cream.

Prepare these using any combination of zucchini, large pattypan squashes, carrots, beets, kale, cabbage, onion, garlic… anything that can be greated or chopped fine. Here is a starter recipe:

1 large zucchini or pattypan, grated
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 egg
3 Tbsp. flour

Grate squash and salt it. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and then drain and squeeze out the moisture. Toss the squash with the remaining ingredients. At this point, you may wish to add other grated veggies. Add more or less flour and egg to get the right consistency. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat and fry the fritters/latkes until golden brown. These cook much quicker than potato pancakes. Serve with sour cream.

 

Update from the Garden

Yet another week revolving around a strict irrigation schedule. The couple showers we did have were definitely some relief but Saturday AM’s check of the rain gauge in the garden only showed 3mm (25mm in an inch).  I’m sharing the numbers because I remember before I relied on weather for my livelihood, I didn’t realise how dry the weather could be and what the implications were! In fact, I barely even noticed weather patterns! How times have changed….

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This is our celery today – the first ever grown on our farm, which of course I chose to do in a drought year!

I have replanted hundreds of feet of carrots in hopes that we won’t run out this season. I have also put in more beets and herbs. Once August comes, I’ll get to do all our fall planting, which is my favourite time to seed – the flea beetles will have basically buggered off for the year, allowing me to grow turnips, arugula, mustards, etc. without a daily panic of “did the bugs get under the netting??”. We even did some lettuce transplanting today, which is looking great.

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Beans are now starting to produce and the cucumbers and zucchinis are bringing more fruits each week. I can already see the winter squashes like Delicata and Kuri starting to form. The plants look strong. It’s amazing how well the giant squash plants retain moisture and cover the soil so well.

Soon the big garlic harvest will be underway and so this week I am preparing our garlic processing area. Here the garlic will undergo curing, cleaning, grading, braiding, and labelling. Best to get all that prepared ahead of time because once the bulbs start coming out, it’s go-time.

This week’s share
1 pint Tomatoes
1 large Slicing Tomato
1 half pint Red Currants
1 Cucumber
1 Zucchini
1 bunch Carrots
1 pint Beans
1 bag Basil

**Our friends, Grant and Dorothy Dobson at Connaught Nursery in Cobden grew the gorgeous tomatoes and some of the basil in our CSA shares this week. Our tomatoes are coming along slowly but surely!

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This week’s tip: freeze some for later
If there is a week where you are not making too many meals for one reason or another, there are some quick things you can do to freeze items. A great trick for zucchini is to grate the zucchini in a pre-measured amount (1 cup). Then, make a ball with the zucchini on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, you can put the ball into a bag with others and it’s super easy to grab it again for baking or soups. You can do the same thing with blanched kale and chard.

Red Currants and their special place on our farm
We haven’t had red currants in the CSA for some time mainly due to production (we need LOTS for CSA) but for some reason they are loving this hot weather and have gorgeous plump berries for us all to enjoy. This is old news to many returning CSA members, but red currants are a berry of my childhood… my dad’s… and my Omi’s… and I’m certain, generations before that. My Omi and Opi had emigrated from Europe to our farm after WWII. My Omi had been separated from her family during the war and at the time they immigrated to Canada, she did not know if they were still alive (they were eventually reconnected through the Red Cross, 15 years later). My Omi is originally from Latvia – one of three small Baltic countries in Eastern Europe. Red and Black currants are very popular there and very much part of Latvian and Northern Europe’s cuisine and culture. When my Omi came to Canada, she could not find any red currants and so of course, she did what any sensible person would do – she planted her own. These are still the same currants that we are sharing with everyone today.

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So what to do with them? Red Currants are tart berries, so best to enjoy them with a little sweet. Great on icecream, on yogourt, on oatmeal, in a smoothie, decorating a cake, mixed with raspberries in a jam, or even in a crepe – which is how my family enjoyed them on Sunday morning. Hope you find something yummy to do with them 🙂

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Update from the garden
It’s no surprise that the big activity over the last week has been watering. Everything. Morning and night. Since we live off-farm, my dad has been Mr. Waterworks for us in the evenings. During the heat wave I did lose over 200 lettuce transplants but another 200 or so survived so I’m calling that a win!

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Irrigation lines, providing water from 2 different sources.

I noticed a section of my garlic looked very dry until I remembered that I had planted some new “softneck” varieties, which mature much sooner than the usual “hardneck” varieties that I grow, so we got pulling. Without the chickens around this year, the big, well-ventilated coop is going to be the perfect place for drying the racks of garlic. We have 5,000 in the ground and garlic will be appearing in the CSA around the end of this month. Most of our garlic is marketed at the big Garlic Festival, the 2nd weekend in August at the Carp Farmers’ Market. So far it all looks surprisingly good coming out of the ground, so I’m very pleased.

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Cucumbers majorly busting out of their protective netting. Lots of blooms and soon loads of cucumbers!

I’ve also started doing some more seedings of beets and carrots. Both this season are very small and the fear of running out has been seeding any space I can get. It’s difficult to get seeds to germinate in such dry conditions but I’m planning to irrigate those areas every day and then cover them with some of our “row cover” to help retain moisture. Hoping that works!

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The asparagus experiment is going well. This was all rototilled just a few weeks ago and it has all come back. We are waiting for rain to germinate the oats and pea cover crop beneath.

This week’s tip – Keeping it crispy
Often cucumbers you buy in the store have a wax coating on them or plastic to keep them crispy. Obviously this is not the case for our cucumbers so make sure you store them in a sealed bag or container to prevent them from going rubbery. For carrots, remove the tops and store them in a container as well. Greens like kale and chard should also be stored in a sealed bag or container.

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Pattypan squashes just starting.

This week’s share
1 bunch Young Onions
1 bag Spring Mix
1 Cucumber
1 Zucchini
1 pint Tomatoes
1 bunch Lacinato Kale OR 1 bunch Rainbow Chard
1 Herb: basil/dill/tarragon/mint/thyme
Weekly ONLY: Carrots
Bi-Weekly ONLY: Sugar Snap Peas
Large ONLY: extra Carrots, Scapes, and 1 extra Zucchini

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We have 3 kinds of hot peppers this year. This is our “Red Ember” starting out. If you want some hot ones, let me know!

How to make Kale Chips
Kale chips were extremely popular several years ago but they are still a solid go-to, especially when you have this nice “Dino” or “Tuscan” or “Black” or Lacinato Kale. This particular kale is found to be more tender and flavourful and does not contain oxalic acid, which sometimes bothers some people. I found this recipe for Cheesy Kale Chips, which sounds pretty delicious. I would also add maybe a little honey to it…

1 head Kale
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Nutrional Yeast
1 tsp. Onion Powder
3/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
Salt to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Wash the kale and dry thoroughly with a towel or spinner.
  3. Place the dry kale leaves in a large bowl and add the olive oil, nutritional yeast, onion powder, and garlic powder. Use your hands to mix, making sure each leaf gets some of the coating on it.
  4. Spread kale in a single layer on the cookie sheets, making sure that they are spread out without touching.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes. Check on them periodically so they don’t burn. When they are crisp, remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt. Let cool for a few minutes before eating.