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
The end of July is a bountiful time of the summer! Many summer crops are reliably producing every day and fall crops are getting bigger. I also find the end of the July to be a time of reckoning on the farm. There is daily harvesting that needs to be done to stay on top of vegetables like cucumbers and zucchini, large scale harvests like garlic are happening, many of the fall crops needs to be planted now, and any small weeding jobs that were left undone in June are now full scale weed forests that have to be dealt with immediately. The end of July is often when I feel like my 'to-do' list is growing much faster than I am crossing items off. But we need to endure a few more weeks of this frenzy and then we turn the corner. By the end of August things start to settle into a more relaxed rhythm for the remainder of the season.
Despite the frenzy of late July, I love the variety of vegetables that are available. Sometimes I think if I sat quietly in the fields I should be able to see the zucchini growing and the tomatoes ripening before my eyes.
Speaking of tomatoes, they are ready and will be in everyone's share this week! This is about two weeks earlier than we normally have enough for all share members. I imagine the hot weather we have had is the reason for the early harvest. We have been enjoying the early, lonely ripe tomatoes and they are delicious! We grow three varieties of cherry tomatoes, and seven varieties of larger slicing tomatoes. Most are heirloom varieties which means that their flavour is superb but sometimes they can look a little funny. Don't pass up the unusual looking tomatoes: they are often the yummiest.
Just like we had many zucchinis last week, we have plentiful cucumbers this week. If you love to snack on sliced cucumber than you will be in cucumber heaven. But if you're not sure how to get through numerous cucumbers you may want to try one the recipes below.
Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie
Asian Cucumber Salad
The Best Greek Salad
Veggie Nori Rolls
Summer is here in full force on the farm! The summer vegetables are all producing or nearly ready. If fact, our tomatoes are ahead of the game this year. You will see some tomatoes in the trade in bin this week with tomatoes for everyone starting in the next week or two. Later this week I will be tackling the garlic harvest. So far, the garlic looks great and once it is cured you will see some regularly in your shares.
We had a lovely 3 days away in Frontenac Provincial Park: the weather was fantastic, there were hardly any insects, and our site had a nice little rocky beach and swimming area. Now, back to reality!
Since the zucchini went into overdrive while we had our week off, you will receive extra zucchini in your shares this week. Don't worry, I won't force this much zucchini on you every week! For now, dig out your zucchini recipes.
We are still having some beautiful, warm summer weather but the humidity has broken which has made the last few days of fieldwork much more pleasant! The summer vegetables have appreciated the heat and are all looking great.
A reminder to all share members that next week (week of July 16) is a vacation week for us, so there will be no share deliveries. We are taking a few days to go camping in Frontenac Provincial Park and the remaining time to catch up on farm tasks. Deliveries will resume as usual the following week. When we return you will notice that many summer vegetables will be making their appearances in your share. In the two to three shares after our return you can expect to begin receiving zucchini, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, eggplant, fennel, beans, and, finally, tomatoes.
We have had a plentiful run with snap peas this year and I thought I'd include a couple recipes in case you are tiring of just eating them out of hand. This past weekend I made a snap pea salad for a potluck and it turned out great. I didn't follow a specific recipe so I don't have exact measurements: below are my closest guesses. I think it would be pretty forgiving and easy to make in all quantities.
Snap Pea and Radish Salad
3 - 4 cups snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh dill
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in bowl and toss to serve.
For another snap pea recipe, try Grilled Sugar Snap Peas with Spicy Peanut Sauce or Garlic Parmesan Sugar Snap Peas