This is the busy time of the year for curing crops in the greenhouse. The garlic is being trimmed and packed away for storage and that has freed up space for me to harvest most of the storage onions. By the end of the week, all the storage onions will be curing in the greenhouse and soon appearing in your shares. And on their heels are the winter squash and pumpkins. We taste tested a spaghetti squash the other day and it was delicious. I tried a new variety this year which matured sooner and has a deeper yellow skin and flesh than the previous variety we grew.
We have had a fair amount of rain in the last week and this is knocking back the cucumbers, chard, and zucchini. The rain causes fungal diseases to proliferate and the plants just give up producing. We will have a few cucumbers in the trade-in bin this week and then the plants will be ripped out. The zucchini may hold on for another week or two but then they will be done too.
The kale has been infested with some late season flea beetles and grasshoppers which are making the leaves a poor quality. Once we get a frost or two, these pests will disappear and the leaves should improve. For now, we're going to take a week or two off bunched greens (except those with greens add-ons). Luckily, we have both salad mix and beets with lovely greens making an appearance in this week's share so you should still get your greens fix!
Sweet peppers are a favourite here in our household and I always try to roast and then freeze some for winter use. These frozen, roasted peppers make delicious dips and vegan 'cheese' sauces. At their simplest, peppers can be diced into salad, thrown into soups and stews, or eaten raw with dip. If you are looking for some additional ways to use them up, try these recipes:
Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Roasted Red Pepper, Chicken, and Mozzarella Sandwich
Tomato and Roasted Pepper Salad
We are halfway through the CSA season! As always, the summer has flown by and we are approaching the harvesting of fall crops. But don't worry, we definitely still have a few weeks of summer crops to enjoy! Within the next week or two I will be planting some spinach, beets, lettuce, arugula, baby kale, mustard, and winter radishes. Once these are planted that's all the planting for the year! Well, except for garlic which we plant in mid-October.
The tomatoes are still going strong and the sweet peppers are making an appearance this week. Sweet peppers are a struggle for us each year - either the peppers barely ripen before the frost or they produce very few peppers. This summer the heat seems to be helping them along and the peppers are looking pretty great.
We are down to our last few frozen roasting chickens and we won't have more until July 2019. If you would like some, please place an order with me in person or via email. Most of the remaining chickens are between 5.5 to 7lbs and cost $5/lb.
Eggplants tend to be a love it or hate it vegetable but I think many people are just not sure what to do with an eggplant. A very simple use for an eggplant is to slice into 1/4" rounds, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive and sprinkle with sea salt. In a preheated 425 degree oven roast for 15 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden brown. We then use these slices on sandwiches, burgers, and wraps just like you would a tomato slice. You are also getting all the ingredients you need this week to make a great batch of ratatouille. Try one of the recipes below!
Chickpea Ratatouille Nicoise
Over the last few weeks I have been pleased to see the pollinator populations expand on our property. Early in the season, there was a dearth honeybees and other pollinators due partly to the loss of our hives and partly to unknown reasons. But slowly over the last little while I have seen honeybees, bumblebees, and other wild bees.
To help replace our lost hives, Rob purchased 3 queen cells and 1 nuc. These, combined with our one surviving hive, are all doing well so we now have 5 hives. We have many plantings just for the bees but they are also enjoying the winter squash flowers and holy basil flowers in particular. Hopefully the rest of the season is good for the pollinators and they can go into the winter healthy and with sufficient resources.
Our garlic is looking fantastic and we will have some bulk quantities available for sale shortly. Share members will receive garlic in their shares periodically for the last half of the season but those who are dedicated garlic lovers may want to purchase some extra for use now or winter storage. Our garlic is $2/bulb or $25 per kg (approximately 16 bulbs per kilogram). If you are interested in extra quantities, please submit your order to me. Orders will be available starting the beginning of September.
We also have a few Fall Boxes still available for purchase. The Fall Box is delivered on the last week of our regular shares and includes a selection of winter storage vegetables such as winter squash, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, rhutabaga, and more. Boxes are $45 and can be reserved by emailing me or chatting with me at pickup.
The tomatoes are plentiful and delicious so we'd better enjoy them while we can! My favourite way to enjoy summer fresh tomatoes are in a sandwich, on top of salad, or straight from the vine. But I also freeze many tomatoes for winter use. If you have extra tomatoes you can't use up in a given week, just throw them in the freezer. I freeze in two ways. In large ziploc bags I toss halved and cored full-size tomatoes (no need to peel or seed). These full bags are the perfect quantity for making tomato sauce in the winter. Simply thaw and use straight from the bag. I also dice tomatoes (again, unpeeled/unseeded) and put them into medium ziploc bags. These I use in any recipe that calls for a can of diced or crushed tomatoes. For other tomato ideas, check out these recipes:
Tasty Marinated Tomatoes
Roasted Tomato Soup
August already! The vegetables are rolling in as fast as ever: I hope you are enjoying the bounty! The last couple shares have been fairly generous with an extra item each week plus large quantities of certain vegetables (I'm looking at you, zucchini and cucumber). The zucchini will still be around for a few more weeks but they will start to slow down. After another week or so we will probably be back to just eight items plus herbs rather than nine. Until then, we enjoy that summer veggies that only last for a finite amount of time!
One vegetable we will be without for about 3 weeks is lettuce. The heat caused our last planting of lettuce to bolt and the next planting is not nearly big enough. I have also seeded some salad mix but it will be at least two weeks until it's ready. While we wait, I recommend making delicious, crisp salads with things like kale, chard, cabbage, and cucumbers.
You will notice that your beets come topped this week - we are seeing some disease in our beet and chard greens which are making them not particularly beautiful. When this happens with beets, we simply remove the tops and eat the bottoms are they are unaffected. The chard is another story. I hope to have enough for everyone but I may have to make it a choice between kale or chard if there aren't enough lovely chard greens.
Our garlic is all harvested and looking nice. The garlic cures under the shade we have strung up in the greenhouse, filling the space with the smell of garlic. The onions are also sizing up well and will be the next vegetables to use the greenhouse to dry and cure. I also tried to peer into our ocean of winter squash vines and what I can see looks great. They have about another month of growing and ripening to do and then they also will spend some time curing in the greenhouse.
Since we without lettuce for a couple weeks, I thought I would share some 'salad' recipes that use ingredients other than lettuce. These are perfect accompaniments to simple meals of grilled meats or sandwiches. No need to turn on the oven or spend much time in the kitchen.
Kale Caesar Salad
Shredded Beet and Carrot Salad
Tomato Cucumber Salad
Mediterranean Chard Salad