We are back from our holiday on Prince Edward Island and it is decidedly fall! The trip was lovely and we had a great time exploring the eastern portion of the island. We walked many beaches, ate lots of local seafood, hiked, went apple picking, and visited several on-farm businesses. Now back to the CSA for 5 more weeks!
There are many parts of fall that I love, but cold, rainy harvest days are not one of them. Rainy harvest days in the summer are not ideal but are manageable. Rain on a cold fall day though makes harvesting tough. The biggest challenge is keeping my hands warm. Many harvesting tasks can't be done with gloves and it doesn't take long before cold, wet hands become completely immobile. While I was harvesting for our Mount Forest members today (Monday), I had to make several trips inside to run my hands under hot water so that they would work again! Some years I have gorgeous, relatively warm weather right until the last harvest and other years I'm harvesting in wet snow.
You will see some big, beautiful winter kohlrabi in your shares this week. Unlike spring kohlrabi, you will want to peel winter kohlrabi as the skin is thicker and tougher. Under the tough skin is a juicy, crisp treat. I really like kohlrabi at this time of year as it is a great foil to the heavier, starchy vegetables that dominate. When we are having a fairly starchy supper, I often make a raw kohlrabi and apple slaw to accompany it. If raw kohlrabi isn't your thing, it also roasts up nicely and is great combined with other root vegetables.
I know many people will be excited to see arugula and spinach making a fall come-back. They are personal favourites of mine and we will see more of them before the season ends. We also have some head lettuce that is sizing up nicely as well as some salad mix, baby kale, and mustard greens. So each of the following weeks will have a nice variety of leafy greens.
Our winter squash harvest has been great this year and we will have lots of variety to choose from over the next few weeks. If you find that you don't eat all your squash each week, don't worry: they are cured for storage and will store well into the new year. Never put squash in the fridge or any other cold and/or humid location. Squash store best at slightly cool room temperature. A kitchen cabinet, closet, pantry, or other similar location will be just fine. To remind yourself of the squash varieties we grow, you can read this previous blog post. For squash recipe ideas, visit these sites:
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Top 20 Winter Squash Recipes
Roasted Black Futsu Squash with Hazelnut Sage Pesto
Soft Pumpkin Cookies
A reminder to all share members that next week there will be no share deliveries! We will be back on for the remainder of the season starting the week of October 1st (I can not believe it is getting that close to October!) In the meantime, we are going to enjoy the last of the summer crops in this week's share. Once we return, we will be done with the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, and moving on to winter squash, fall greens, kohlrabi, radish, storage onions, and lots more root crops.
I spent the weekend trimming and crating the red and yellow storage onions. The harvest was plentiful and there will be lots to for everyone in October. We will also be selling bulk quantities of yellow storage onions. Let me know if you would like to place an order. They are $4 per kg. We also still have a couple fall boxes still available, which will include some bulk onions. Fall boxes are $45.
Now that the onions are trimmed, the greenhouse is transitioning from onion curing to squash and pumpkin curing. This weekend I harvested the pie pumpkins plus two other varieties of squash. The remaining squash will be harvested later this week with the help of the students in the LEAF program at Norwell District High School. LEAF stands for Local Environmental Agriculture & Food and students earn credits while learning more about local agriculture and connect them with the various methods of food production. To learn more about the program, you can go here. The students will be joining for a morning where they will tour our farm, learn more about our ecological approach to farming, and then help us out with a farm task.
Our beets have done spectacularly well this summer. This makes me happy since the last couple years have been relatively poor beet crops. While I know not everyone loves beets, I think beets add some great beauty and nutrition to a meal. For those that aren't sure what to do with beets, check the links below. Topped beets will last for a long time in your fridge if you put them in an airtight container or bag.
Pink Beet Pancakes
Carrots and Beet Latkes
Beet, Ginger, Coconut Milk Soup
20 Beet Recipes
Brrrrrr! It seems it became fall over night! Although I think there are still some warm summery days in store for us. With the cool, damp weather the tomatoes and peppers are slowing down although we will still have both for a week or two. The fall greens, though, are thriving with the cooler temperatures and moisture. It won't be too long and we will be enjoying some arugula, spinach, baby kale, and more. I find all of these greens are at their finest in the fall and love to eat my fill before the cold days of winter make green salads a scarcity.
We had our 2018 organic inspection this past week and all went well. During the inspection, the inspector walks throughout the farm and verifies that the information we submitted in our annual application matches what they see on the farm. They also sit down with me and look our record keeping and paperwork. The records required for an organic grower are time-consuming but they make me a better farmer. I know, down to the kilogram, what I harvested from each bed and of each crop for every year. This information makes future decisions regarding planting to be based on facts rather than guesses. It's also pretty fulfilling to see the entire weight of all the vegetables we harvest in a given season - it's a lot!
I am super excited to be including cantaloupe or watermelons in your share this week! Melons are a tricky crop for us as they like lots of heat units and we don't always get enough. Some seasons I haven't even bothered to plant any because they aren't a guaranteed harvest. I decided to give them a try again this year and we lucked out with the weather. They are sweet and delicious and the cantaloupes in particular are plentiful. We lost many of the watermelon plants early in the season when we had a strong wind storm shortly after transplanting. The wind broke the tender stems of many of the plants but those that survived have produced some lovely watermelon.
As usual, our potatoes are plentiful and beautiful. Our soils seem to grow potatoes really well and we managed to avoid the major pests that can decimate a potato crop. Most people know what to do with potatoes but in case you are looking for some inspiration, check out these recipes:
Creamy Herb Potato Salad
Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Creamy Potato Soup
For many people, September feels like a major shift from the summer months. Time for cooler weather, pumpkin spice everything, and a back-to-school shift. For a market gardener, September still feels much like summer. There are plenty (if not more) harvesting tasks, the weeds are still present, and the last field plantings are happening. For the past 5 years I have homeschooled our two boys and 'school' doesn't look like much until well into October which contributes to September feeling a part of summer. This year, however, our oldest son Terran is heading off to Grade 8 at the elementary school in Mount Forest! And our youngest, Rowan is going to be attending a 1 day per week homeschool program at the Guelph Outdoor School. This past week has been filled with more back-to-school preparations that we've seen in many years! Thankfully, the heat has meant that I haven't felt compelled to break out the pumpkin spice.
We are currently offering a promotion on our 2017 honey: Buy 2, Get One Free! We still have a bit of stock from last summer that we need to move since storage space is limited. Honey has no expiration date and ours is still delicious and spreadable. We offer two sizes: 500g ($8) and 1kg ($15). Stock up for all your winter honey needs! Honey also makes great housewarming, Christmas, and teacher gifts.
You will notice that your carrots come topped this week. This current planting of carrots has been in the ground for a while and the leaves are becoming brittle and don't bunch well. Once this planting is harvested we will be back to carrots with tops. On the tomato front, we are still getting lots of ripe, beautiful tomatoes. The plants are showing signs of decline and more tomatoes are rotting on the vines. This is a sure sign that tomatoes will be slowing down shortly. I imagine we will have two more weeks of tomatoes before we say goodbye to these summer beauties.
The first of the winter squash are being previewed in your shares this week: Spaghetti Squash. It will be a few weeks until the rest of the squash appear but Spaghetti Squash are a fun early treat. I am pleased with the new variety I have tried this year. This particular variety is sweet and flavourful with a beautiful deep orange colour. At its simplest, spaghetti squash can be cut in half, roasted, the strands of flesh separated with a fork, and toss with sauce of your choosing. For more ideas, try these recipes:
Spaghetti Squash Boats [YouTube link]
Creamy Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
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