Archives for category: This week’s update

Well, the CSA and market may be done but the work continues!

Yes, fall time is time for garden cleanup! We have been out pulling up all the plants in the garden and making big stacks to remove from the garden. This year we experienced and exceptionally bad infestation of the cucumber beetle, you may remember from the spring when it devastated our cucumber plantings 3 times and set back our zucchinis and pattypans by weeks.  These unwelcome guests over-winter in garden debris. One way to help manage these populations is to keep the garden clean – so all plants and vines are being removed and brought down to the bush property to compost. This way, the bugs are far from the garden in case any do survive in the compost heap, which is likely.

Piles of tomato vines

Mom and I were also out digging up a few of the last items in the garden for our own storage: a few potatoes, carrots, kale and turnip. We also dug up our seed stock for Jerusalem Artichokes, which we plan to offer in the 2013 CSA!

Harvesting a few final red potatoes for our winter storage.

You know, one thing about start up farming is that you really learn a lot. For example, just this week I learned that waiting for ALL the produce to finish in the garden (kales and other frost hardy plants) means that it is likely too late to plant fall rye. It is important to use cover crops in organic farming to help smother weeds, return nutrients to the soil and improve tilth, so I had planned to put in some fall rye this month. Some farmers tell me that it is still possible to plant fall rye in late october but you won’t really get much growth, others say it will germinate and die, others say it’s just not possible. As such I am taking this as a lesson and making a better plan for next year to isolate my late growing crops, so that the rest of my garden can be under cover crops by the end of September/start of October. As for this year, I will leave the field “naked” and plant an early cover crop of buckwheat in the spring.

Garlic planting will come as soon as the field dries out a bit and we can plough and disk – stay tuned!

Interesting past week we have had on the farm… between the CSA, the Carp Market, my 27th birthday and a Paleo Event on the farm with L.E.A.P. High Performance!

On Sunday we hosted an event with L.E.A.P. High Performance – an athlete focused gym in Pembroke that offers a variety of coaching, including a CrossFit program. From what I have experienced, L.E.A.P. is a fitness centre with a more holistic view on health and fitness and athletes’ goals. They aim to create a REAL community for its athletes including building relationships with the farmers, such as myself, who provide nutritious local food!  I personally learned a lot at the event, as we had Dr. Steve Olsen, a local chiropractor and nutritionist in Cobden, give a talk on nutrition and paleo diet in general.

Tour in the garden – admiring what is left from the season!


Paleo diet is something I only learned of a couple months ago but it seems to make a lot of sense. In simple terms our diet should as close as possible resemble the diets that we evolved to eat: meat, fruit, vegetables, and nuts. It is understood that when our diets changed to incorporate food groups that we did not evolve to eat, we started to develop a lot of man-made diseases and complications – especially inflammatory diseases and related disorders. It is a lot to get into in such a short blog post, but there is plenty of info available online if you would like to learn more about this approach to your diet. I may try to have a guest blog by a Paleo eater at some point as I find this approach very interesting and eye-opening…

Enjoying a talk about nutrition and paleo diet by Dr. Steven Olsen.

So on Sunday we had a little farm tour, followed by a nutrition talk, and topped off with a delicious Paleo meal, which consisted of beef (from Dobson’s Grassfed Beef), pork (from Pork of Yore), salad and squash from Hedgeview Farm, pumpkin soup and an amazing dessert involving cocoa and coconut milk. We held the event at the yurt and we hope this to be the first of many!

Cozy harvest dinner in the yurt.

On to CSA preparations this week – the final CSA of 2012 if you can believe it! Lots of goodies for Thanksgiving weekend!

We will have extra produce available for your Thanksgiving weekend/winter storage, so if you are interested in any of the following, please contact me before Thursday: Carrots, Beets, Acorn Squash, Delicata Squash, Festival Squash, Kuri Squash, and Swiss Chard.

It has been a very yurty week.

We’ve had a big crew on the farm working steady at getting the yurt connected with water, heat, and electricity. The plan was to connect the yurt to the existing well and also connect it to the existing outdoor furnace on the farm. Naturally the cold water pipe needs to be below the frost line, so Rick (a long time family friend and BIG help around the farm) and my father were very busy digging a 230ft trench, 6ft deep! Don’t worry, there was a backhoe involved, but still – what a pile of work. As of today, we have the cold water pipe in, as well as the hot water pipe. Central Boiler will be back to do our radiant heat hookups in a few days. If you notice the yard looks like it was flipped upside down, this is why!

230ft trench, running right beside the cool room!

We had a fairly hard frost Monday night, so this week is likely be the last field tomatoes we will see for a while. We harvested the final eggplant as well. I still find it amazing how plentiful September is. Before I started this business, I always made the false assumption that July and August were the most plentiful, but check out the colour and variety that September brings! Incomparable. With everything we still have in the garden, it’s hard to believe that Fall is here and plenty more frosty nights are right around the corner…

September’s Rainbow – another shot from last week’s CSA pick up.

Little busy this fine Tuesday morning as the abattoir is on its way to process the chickens. All 145 of them are looking good and quite healthy, so I’m happy about it. Shame for the rain – that always makes for a kind of messy day, but I’ll be glad when everyone gets their chickens 🙂

Chicken sale booth

This past week has involved a lot of garden cleanup. Not just squash vines and finished plants but also equipment (stakes, rocks, tools, etc.) and lots of bed prep for winter. I’ve been spending time in the asparagus patch, which was somewhat left on the back burner this summer during the drought. Due to necessary neglect, lots of weeds have infiltrated my 700-asparagus patch and it is in dire need of some attention. I will post some before and after shots of the bed prep later. Hoping this holds off the thistle infestation for next year….

I have been checking up on my rutabaga, which I have tried growing again worm-free. Unfortunately, even with a late planting and using a row cover, the rutabaga are still suffering from wormies. They aren’t quite ready yet, so I’ll give them another week or two and we can see where they are at. Rutabaga is a very tricky veggie to grow organically, so if anyone out there has any tips for me, please pass them along.

Other things are doing better in the garden these days. The carrots are finally maturing and getting to a nice size. We have a beautiful variety of bok choy in the wings as well as a new variety of kale. We hope for more leek in the CSA and some new varieties of winter squashes are on their way too!

Still lots to look forward to in the final 4 weeks of my season!

One thing I’ve learned in the last couple years with this farming thing is that you never ever have time to do everything you would like to do or even should do. There is always more that one could do on a farm especially when you are in your start up years and the sky is the limit!

Well, I suppose the most exciting event this past week has been learning about one more thing that needs to be done on a regular basis: tightening the automatic chicken waterers.  Now, it’s something that I certainly know needs to be done but this summer has been quite hectic with the weather conditions, new business and learning curve. Anyway, I haven’t really been tightening the waterers.

Last Wednesday evening, my mom headed out to tuck the laying hens into bed and she heard some “water running” in my broiler chicken barn. I would say that in general the sound of running water on a farm is more than often a bad sound – especially in a what is supposed to be dry and cozy chicken barn. I was already in my pajamas and about to do one final check on the birds before bed…. when we really discovered that the barn had flooded. Luckily I had last checked the barn 2 hours previous so we knew the water had not been running long but still… at 10pm, in the dark, shoveling liquid chicken sh*t in my pajamas is not high on my bucket list!!

Well it became a family event – dad with the shovel, mom collecting dry shavings from the mill, me taking loads of the manure to the pile… it was a classic flooded barn clean out. Dad recounted many stories of when our dairy barn flooded. I had my own recollections of coming home from school on a rainy day and heading straight out the barn to bail liquid cow sh*t out of the gutter for a few hours. Try getting that smell off you before school the next day. Good times!

Within 45 minutes we had the barn emptied and re-bedded with fresh dry shavings, the waterer – which had come loose from the hose – was reattached and safely providing water again while the chickens settled in.

So like I said, one more thing for my routine – check and tighten waterers every couple weeks!

Progress on the yurt was made this past week. Mathias and I finished putting all the boards on the yurt part of the platform and spent Sunday sanding it and planing the wood for the cedar deck. Almost ready for our next round of building inspection and then… putting the yurt up! We’re hoping to pass inspection later this week and then build it over the long weekend.

The yurt deck’s latest progress

Farm tour at Rainbow Heritage Garden
I attended an interesting farmers’ tour at Rainbow Heritage Garden today. RHG is a certified organic market garden in Cobden with a large and successful CSA program. Zach showed us their amazing root cellar, gardens, and farm centre. It was exciting and motivating to hear about their learning process and plans! Weed management and irrigation were two huge issues I have been dealing with this year and I left with some new ideas and strategies that I hope to develop and apply for next year. I picked up just a few bulbs of a new garlic variety: Korean Purple. I will be planting this variety this fall to start a new crop of my own for the future CSA.

New things coming in the CSA baskets
Looks like this week we’ll be seeing some melons – mini watermelon and honeydew. I’m planning to include a few varieties of eggplant. We also have head lettuce back. We will also be seeing more colourful carrots as they slowly but surely mature!

I just want to comment on how neat it is to share, learn, and cooperate with so many local young farmers. I read recently in a farming magazine that my demographic of farmer (35 and under) makes up only 8% of all farmers in Ontario. That is a sad and scary figure but nonetheless those who comprise that 8% are so determined and creative and being new to the young farmers crowd, I feel so much support from this next generation of farmers.

After the tour today I feel motivated for next year’s plans already. It’s a great and exciting time to be a young farmer I think.

Excited young farmer triumphantly holding an oversized pattypan, knowing it will bring forth many relishes and chocolate cakes!

Hi everyone! It’s been a great week on the farm – relaxing and productive thanks to the regular rains and cooler weather. It has given us all a chance to catch up with some much needed yard work. We have the Children’s Garden – a children’s care centre in Pembroke – coming to the farm on Monday, so it’s a little extra motivation to get to the yard jobs that have been staring at us for the last while!

One big project we have been working on for months is getting our “yurt workshop” built. We thought building the platform would be quite straight forward but we ended up needing to have our flooring all milled, dried, and tongue and grooved… so needless to say things have gone slower than we expected. However, we now have our wagon of amazing lumber (thanks to Harry Hawkins!) and have spent the last days putting on our flooring. Almost there. Check it out:

Yurt deck, almost complete – just need to add the last few planks and trim the outside.

The lettuce plantings are doing amazing and Mathias and I enjoyed the first picking of the latest planting tonight in a salad. It was a treat to taste those little tender leaves again.

Picking some meslun for supper.

Marlo is growing is now 15lbs, for those who are keeping track!

Marlo doing what she does best.

As for chickens, gratefully no losses to report for the last several weeks. They are growing slower than planned but they are so clean, soft, and healthy, that I just can’t complain!

Chickens enjoying some fresh bedding in the barn.

We have more herbs on the way in the coming weeks: thyme, summer savoury, more parsley, and lemon balm. I also have perhaps some more bee balm for tea, since I have had a positive response for it.

Thyme, which will appear in your CSA baskets soon. Yum!

Tomorrow we will continue tidying in the yard and garden and then it will be CSA time. See you all Thursday!

The garden is rocking the rain!

On Saturday I took a stroll in the garden with a visiting CSA member and wow, could you ever see the new growth – just in the past week or two. It’s especially obvious on the winter squashes where there are these tender lighter green leaves growing everywhere. Many plants are finally starting to flow outward and produce flowers and fruit. We are seeing many spaghetti squash, festival squash, and acorn. The delicata plants are really taking off now as well. By the way, thanks Dan for the visit and delicious organic ruby stout! Filthy farmers do need the odd break 🙂

Delicata winter squash growing away

Spaghetti Squashers are on the go!

Another interesting discovery was a patch of beets, which I had planted 7 weeks ago (and given up on since the seeds refused to germinate in the heat and drought) are actually coming up! I really had abandoned the patch but have now had to go back and weed out the area. It really is amazing what this rain has done. I had actually forgotten what it was like to have the weather on your side. I will never take the rain for granted again.

Surprise beets! Update: the row is now weeded and the babies are growing.

I skipped on the Garlic Festival this past weekend due to drought related lower yields (saving everything for CSA!) so I spent the weekend weeding and planting some things for the fall. I’m excited to see how the fall plantings do since I never did them last year. We’ll see some of those cool weather spring time things, which will be a nice fresh contrast with the fall squashes, leek, and rutabaga, which are on their way.

These mini “Fairytale” eggplants are also on their way!

The chickens are also doing extremely well. This is my best batch yet. Very very low losses compared to other batches and the birds in general are much healthier and more active. Especially in the cooler weather, the birds are spending even more time outside and exploring the pasture area around the chicken barn. This means healthier, leaner more muscular birds… which means more flavour and meat. We like that and the chickens are much happier.

Chickens enjoying a little “pond” thanks to the rain!

Good rainy evening folks!

Thanks to the rain, I’m taking a little time “off”. This week I’m sleeping a little more, and trying to take it a little easier to get geared up for the remainder of the season. This week marks the halfway point and I think we’ve made it past the most difficult point so far – the drought! While the garden will never recover all that was lost in the last 2 months, the rain does bring some hope for the many winter squashes and fall plantings I’m making. So far, I’ve done another planting of beets, kohlrabi, salad mixes, radicchio, komatsuna and even some beans. I will be putting in some more bok choy by weekend.

My little “break” this week was inspired by an inflamed shoulder I had due to overstressing… after some physio and rest, she’s back working comfortably. I am often grateful for these minor injuries as they remind me to stretch, rest, and take care of myself as farming is a long and physical life! This little resting week is about investing in my most important piece of farm equipment – myself!

The warm weather and rain has brought about lots of growth and ripening so we have a larger than normal share this week to help make up for some of the smaller ones earlier this season. Here we go:

This week’s CSA share:
Brassica Stirfry Mix
Meslcun – Spicy Parisian Market mix, or Mild mix
Arugula – very spicy!
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes
Medium sized Heirloom Tomatoes
Swiss Chard
New Potatoes
Sweet Peppers OR Carrots
Dutch Heirloom Beans – Dragon’s Tongue
French Filet Beans OR Purple Beans
Beets with tops

“When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is” – Alice Waters

I read this quote and it completely inspired me this week to cook a simple meal, which did indeed taste completely extraordinary. I thought it fun for the CSA as it uses many of the ingredients. You can use this as inspiration by adding or removing any ingredients and also preparing in any quantity that suits.

Check out our BBQ from Tuesday. Prep details follow….

Mixed veggies ready for the BBQ

Read to eat. Steamed beet tops with BBQ baked tomatoes on the left. Spicy salad with BBQ roasted beets and cherry tomatoes. BBQ mixed veggies on the bottom.

Beet tops with BBQ baked Tomatoes
Beet Tops
1 Tbsp Butter
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Toss your tomatoes in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and then wrap them in a bit of foil. Place on the BBQ for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, drop a Tbsp. of butter in a hot skillet. Once melted, add the beet tops and cover for 4 minutes or so. Lay the tops on your plate, top with the baked tomatoes.

BBQ Mixed Vegetables
For this combo we used:
Onions – halved
Carrots – whole or halved
Garlic – whole cloves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Toss all your mixed veggies in some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a metal BBQ try or on some aluminum foil about 25 minutes or less. Toss a couple times in between. The garlic cloves will turn to candy. You can add or remove what you like and adjust to your desired serving.

Parisian Market Mix Salad with BBQ Roasted Beets
This salad is quite simple, but it’s a great way to use the beets. Wash the beets and wrap them whole in some foil. Place on the BBQ for about 15 minutes. Remove them, cool them in cold water and slip the skins off. Cut the beets in half and decorate the salad mix. Add some halved cherry tomatoes.

Dressing idea: Try 2 Tbsp Local Honey, 1 tsp. Olive Oil, 1 tsp. Strong Irish Mustard, 1 tsp. White Wine Vinegar. The dressing comes out very honey-ish but it’s great with everything in this meal idea. You can even drizzle it over the BBQ veggie mix.

Simple food, extraordinary meals. A great inspiration for all our summer time cooking.

The drought carries on… and so does the watering and weeding!
Despite being grateful for the sprinkle we had last week, I’m starting to really notice the heartbreaking effects of this drought. The winter squash plants are certainly not where I expected them to be at this point and I have noticed stunted growth over many of the crops. Due to hot weather we received early and for so long, I would say that after 2 plantings, we are experiencing crop failure for the cauliflower and broccoli. We do however have a third planting of broccoli that seems to be doing OK, so we’ll see if we don’t get some crowns yet.

To mitigate losses we are working extra long days to keep up with all the watering and weeding. As I am still in the start-up phase of this market garden business, I don’t quite have an irrigation system yet. What we do have here is a fantastic well, so we have been running hoses out to the field and thankfully there is enough pressure that we can water most of the beds. We also use large water troughs to fill watering cans for hand watering isolated areas as well as driving rain barrels full of water to the back to water our new fruit orchard area. It is quite the production and is very time consuming so naturally this will be a key focus area for investment next year.

One of our big field tubs of water. Next year we plant to invest in soaker hoses to begin developing an irrigation system.

On a more positive note…
I am seeing the eggplants producing as well as peppers. I have been out (with the help of Mathias’ father) twice a day picking the potato bugs off the eggplants so that we can see some fruits in a few weeks. Carrots are coming along and we continue to water them regularly to keep pushing them. We experienced some blossom end rot on the peppers but the peppers that are coming now seem to be intact. I am also seeing some new growth on our zucchini plants (after they were devastated by a cucumber beetle infestation this spring), so we should be seeing more summer squash at some point. As for the winter squash, Mathias’ parents were out in the rain last week removing weeds to help reduce the competition and we’re focussing on keeping them well watered this week!

Our rainy day weeding team! Thanks for all the hard work!!

Placing focus on our Community Supported Agriculture stakeholders.
Finding balance between our Thursday CSA shares and our Saturday market table is a challenge, but we are certainly placing our focus on our many CSA stakeholders. We brought a few things to market still last Saturday – things that were ripe and that we had extra of. Therefore we still had a good day at market with some of our colourful goodies!

Just 1 table this week instead of 2 but still very grateful for what we do have extra for market during this drought! Beautiful gladiolas compliments of Francie Hawkins – thanks again! Everyone loved them.

New addition to the farm…
Meet Marlo! Our new puppy. She’s a big help, especially with keeping spirits up during such a challenging year! She will be outside the cool room to greet our CSA stakeholders from here on in.

Our full time WWOOFer!