The last week has felt decidedly like fall around the farm! I am hoping for the last breaths of summer to hang on a few weeks longer so that we can be sure to enjoy the summer crops for a while longer. When I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to leave for the Aberfoyle Farmers' Market it was 3 degrees! That is unseasonably cold and we managed to avoid a frost because it was a cloudy night. For perspective, our first frost is typically around September 17th or so.
If the weather behaves we will have some green beans again in a week or two and a few more weeks of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. We will be starting our bulk potato and onion harvest soon and both look to be great yields. The potatoes in particular have done very well with all the moisture and you can expect them in most shares going forward and in greater quantities. Later this week I also intend to start cleaning all our cured garlic and that will begin to appear in shares. We may also have additional larger quantities available for share members to purchase. Our carrots are doing fantastic and will be featured in most shares in the fall. We also have some green cabbages that are sizing up nicely and will be available in a few weeks time. And the brussel sprouts are looking to be a great crop this year.
For all the crops that are doing well, we also have a few that are struggling. Our chard has developed cercospora leaf spot, which is a fungal disease of the leaves which causes spots and lesions (largely due to the wet summer). I still hope to harvest some chard here and there but we won't be able to have it in any great quantities going forward. Our kale has also been less than stellar this year but I have planted a new crop and hope that by fall we will have lots of kale to enjoy. For now, we are taking a break from the leafy greens. In their absence I have also planted spinach, arugula, salad mix, baby salad kale, and baby mustard greens so that we will have lots of greens variety for the last half of the season. Our winter squash is also struggling due to being planted late because the fields were too wet. We will have some squash for the fall but not in the quantities we usually enjoy. As for beets, we are challenged with some nutrient issue for the second year running and have not had a great crop. I do have some in the ground now that look great and should be ready for October!
A reminder to those that have leafy greens add-ons to ask me for it at the share pickup! When greens are not in the regular share I still bring the add-ons and keep behind the table. I went home with some greens last week so I know a couple people forgot to ask for them.
Just a heads up that we will have limited chicken eggs available for purchase this week. Duck eggs will still be available.
Eggplants are one crop that are either loved or hated by share members. But enough people love them (including me) to keep growing them! For those that are looking for a few new ideas for preparing eggplant, check out these recipes:
Martha Stewart's Eggplant Recipes
17 Delicious Eggplant Recipes Everyone Will Love
We are officially half way through the CSA season! The zucchini and cucumbers are winding down, the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are just getting started, and the fall cabbages and winter squash are starting to size up. All of these are sure signs that we are half way through the season!
This past week was poultry processing week. The broiler chickens plus some older laying hens and mean roosters went to the processors to be butchered. We keep the laying hens and roosters for ourselves to be ground and used to make sausages and jerky. The broiler chickens are frozen and ready to be sold to CSA members and others alike! To order chickens from us, simply email me and I will bring to our CSA pickup location.
We are proud to raise top-quality chickens in a sustainable and ethical manner that taste fantastic. We have received feedback from many who say that they are the most flavourful chicken they have ever eaten. Our chickens are housed in a hoophouse in our pasture, which allows them access to sunlight, grass, and insects as they choose. To supplement, we feed them 100% certified organic grains sourced from a local farmer.
We sell our chickens in two ways: whole, frozen roasting chickens (sizes range between 4 - 7lbs) and pieced chickens. The whole chickens are $5/lb with organ meats included. The pieced chickens are sold with 2 chickens per package and are $75. The pieced chickens have like parts packaged together (ie. all breasts together, all wings together, etc.) for ease of preparing certain recipes without thawing the entire package. All of the chickens are vacuum packaged to maintain freshness in storage.
While most people don't need a recipe to use up the potatoes in their shares, I thought I would tell you a little more about the different varieties of potatoes we grow. This year we are growing 5 varieties of potatoes: an early red, an early white, some fingerlings, and a storage yellow and storage red. We tend to include potatoes much more frequently in our shares than many other CSA farms and every year I think about cutting back but never do! There are many good reasons that small-scale farms choose to grow little to no potatoes: organic seed potatoes are quite expensive (our seed potatoes this year were one-third of our entire seed costs), potatoes take up a lot of space and are in the ground for the entire season, and most of all, potatoes are back breaking to harvest when all you are using is a digging fork and your own strength! I know at every year I dread potato harvest time and have a perpetually sore back for the duration. This year I will be harvesting 3200 feet of potatoes - wish me luck! Despite these really good reasons to grow less potatoes, I still continue to grow a lot. First, our soil grows really great potatoes. While not completely fool proof, I typically don't worry about our potato production nearly as much as other crops. Secondly, we try to store as much food as possible for ourselves to eat throughout the winter and potatoes are a big part of this plan. And, for some reason, I find the lowly potato to be one of the most beautiful crops to harvest. It's a bit like a treasure hunt as brightly coloured jewels pop from the soil! For those that are looking for some new recipe ideas, check these links out:
Our 20 Best New Potato Recipes
Crunchy New Potatoes
We have some tomatoes this week in shares! This is an exciting addition that I know many share members have been anticipating! As the tomatoes are just starting to ripen we will just have a taste of the first tomatoes this week with greater quantities following in future weeks. We have had some slug damage to the tomatoes and I will sort out the worst. However, if I have to bring some damaged tomatoes (they have 1 - 2 small holes eaten in the side) I ask that each share member takes at least one tomato with some damage so that everyone gets a mix of both lovely and unlovely tomatoes. These damaged tomatoes should then be used first.
And the carrots are back again! I know carrots are also a sought after item for a lot of share members. You can expect carrots in most shares (but not every share) between now and the end of the season. And those with a carrot add-on will start receiving it this week. The zucchini and cucumber are starting to slow down a bit as the plants get older and disease moves into the patch. I am experimenting with a small second planting of cucumbers in one of our caterpillar tunnels so I'm hoping we can add some more cucumbers to shares in early September before our first frost hits. Our peppers are still looking pretty green but I see a hint of colour starting here and there so we may have the first sweet peppers in two weeks.
The garlic has all been harvested: special thanks to share member Ali for helping get the harvest finished! It will cure for another couple weeks and then we will have garlic in the shares off and on for the rest of the season.
Rob has been busy digging loads of burdock out of the pasture in an attempt to keep the alpaca from getting burrs in their fleece. Earlier in the summer we had the alpaca sheared and took the fleece to a local processor to have it cleaned, sorted, and made into both socks and yarn. If we're lucky, we should have some back before the end of the CSA season and available for share members to purchase. Alpaca fleece is warmer than sheep's wool and has the added benefit of being super soft without any of the scratchiness of sheep's wool.
A big task on the agenda this week is to do some of the last plantings of crops for the end of the season. We will be transplanting or seeding the following crops this week: broccoli, kale, winter kohlrabi, winter radishes, spinach, beets, lettuce, and arugula. These crops will provide a nice complement to the storage crops that are already in the field waiting for the fall shares. These storage crops include: potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, garlic, winter squash, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage. It's pretty amazing how many different crops we can pack into a 20-week season!
After a few weeks of green and yellow beans, I thought share members would be interested in some new recipes and ideas for using up the beans. After this week we will take a week or two break from beans but then we will return with some green beans for a couple more weeks, once our second planting starts producing. I see beans as the classic sign that summer vegetables are on the horizon and grocery store beans in the mid-winter do not even compare to freshly picked beans. Here are some recipes to try:
Green and Yellow Beans with Wild Mushrooms
Lacto-Fermented Dilly Beans
Green Bean Casserole
After a week of lovely summer weather, we have returned to something that feels much like fall! The last few days on the farm have been cool and rainy. We're hoping for at least another month of warm summer temperatures so that we can enjoy the summer crops for as long as possible! The tomatoes and eggplants are coming soon but we have been invaded by slugs due to the wet weather and they are doing damage to both of these crops. I'm hoping that once the plants start ripening in earnest they will grow faster than the slugs can do damage. If not, we may have some delicious but ugly vegetables!
For those that don't follow us on social media, I thought I would include some recent photos from around the farm.
We are excited to have cauliflower to everyone this week in the shares! I find cauliflower to be one on the trickier vegetables to grow because it can be very finicky about temperature and moisture. I am always pleasantly surprised when it does well! Cauliflower is a favourite vegetable of ours and we most often eat it roasted. Simply toss with olive oil, sea salt, and nutritional yeast (optional) and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown.
Here are some other delicious ways to use your cauliflower:
Spring Detox Cauliflower Salad
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta