Archives for the month of: July, 2018

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.

Update from the garden
Hot weather is obviously great for many summer plants but totally a struggle when it’s so dry for so long. I am looking back at my rain gauge notes and the last time we had real rain was about a month ago (30mm around June 3rd). Since then it’s been all a few mm here and there. As such, we’re irrigating every day. It’s a bit tricky with the transplants that have been going out but we’re been paying extra attention to those and making sure those areas see the water first. When lawns start to fry, we know it’s time for some decent rain… will it come?

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The winter squash plants starting to creep around. Soon it will be one giant mass.

We are normally irrigating from the main farm drilled well. It has lots of water and it takes in ground water (sweats into the well) but we tend to lose pressure when using overhead sprinklers with the garden. Actually, we ran into problems with it on Friday night at 7pm (I’m on the road for market on Sat. morning at 5:30am so I was pretty thrilled as you can imagine). Dad and I ended up rigging up another farm well with clean water and had it working by midnight. I’m hoping to dig a big irrigation pond within the next couple of years. It will take significant research and planning. I find that watering right now is enough to keep things from wilting but not enough to have them thrive and so things like beets and carrots are a little behind this season unfortunately. Cucumbers are very happy though! Zucchini too look well on their way so look forward to more variety shortly!

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Also, I finally planted out some hops as an experiment. I figure they will need more trellis but this is a start. They are auto-irrigated from the run off of the wash station.

This week’s tip: when you have too much, share
The other day I told a friend that I had a lot of something. He said, well we have a lot of chicken, do you want to trade? I thought that was so nice! If you find yourself having too much cabbage for example, make a big coleslaw and invite a friend/family over for a small potluck. Not only do you get a little more variety, but it’s a good step towards building stronger community… and it’s just fun.

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Forever mowing pathways to let some new clover establish.

This week’s share:
1 bag Spring Mix or 1 Head Romaine
1 bunch Garlic Scapes
1 bunch Hakurei Turnips
1 bunch Scallions
1 Zucchini (lots more coming)
CHOICE: 1 bag Peashoots OR 1 head Bok Choy
Bi-weekly ONLY: Savoyed Cabbage
Weekly ONLY: 1 bag Sugar Snap Peas (bi-weekly these will come in your next basket)
Large ONLY: 1 bag Sugar Snap Peas AND 1 bunch Beets

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Delightful elderflowers everywhere! Elderberries will appear in the shares again this season.

What to do with… a lot of cilantro.
I can highly recommend this Jamie Oliver recipe. Due to time constraints, I often omit the bean and rice part, which really ends up making just a wrap, but it’s up to you! What I really love is the tomato-cucumber-cilantro-scallion-lime salad part, which is quick, delicious, and CSA friendly. You can already find local greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers at the Farmers’ Markets. Our field versions are coming along!

Cracking Chicken Burritos
(Jamie Oliver)

  • 4 skinless, boneless free-range chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • ½ a tablespoon ground cumin
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 x 400 g tin of pinto or black beans
  • 200 g leftover white or brown rice , chilled
  • 1 lime
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 little gem lettuce
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 80 g mature Cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

Method

  1. Preheat a griddle pan over a high heat. Meanwhile, place the chicken thighs between two sheets of greaseproof paper, then bash with the base of a heavy pan to roughly ½cm thick. Pop into a bowl, sprinkle over the paprika, cumin and a lug of oil, and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Mix well to coat, then place the chicken onto the hot griddle. Cook for 10 minutes, or until charred and cooked through, turning halfway. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the garlic. Pick the coriander leaves and set aside, then finely slice the stalks. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and coriander stalks and fry for 1 minute.
  4. Drain, rinse and add the beans, then fry for a further few minutes. Add the rice and cook for 5 minutes, or until crisp and piping hot through, stirring occasionally. Finely grate in the lime zest, roughly chop and add half the coriander leaves. Stir well and remove from the heat.
  5. Roughly chop the tomatoes and trim and finely slice the spring onions, then add to a bowl with the juice of the lime. Roughly chop and add the remaining coriander leaves, mix well and season to taste. Shred the lettuce and cooled chicken.
  6. Pop a tortilla onto the griddle for 1 minute to soften, then place onto a board. Spoon one-quarter of the fried rice and beans along the middle, top with a generous spoonful of salsa, a handful of lettuce and one of the shredded chicken thighs. Grate over some cheese and add a spoon of yoghurt.
  7. Wrap up the burrito, then tuck in. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, serving as you go.