It's now officially fall but the weather is feeling much more like summer! It's been a lovely week here with warm sunny days and cooler nights, which make field work a pleasure. In fact, we haven't had our first frost yet which is a bit unusual. But I'm not complaining: a few extra days of warmth keeps some vegetables producing!
Over the next 3 weeks we will be enjoying many of the classic fall vegetables with some absolutely lovely greens thrown in for contrast. The spinach in particular is delicious and beautiful. While winter squash is normally a reliable workhorse for our farm, we had a particularly bad winter squash crop this season. The poor crop seems to be a results of a variety of factors. I planted it too close to a large sugar maple tree, which it didn't like. And then we had heavy cucumber beetle pressure, which killed the already struggling vines. Our butternut squash did really well and the spaghetti and red kuri did OK. But the other varieties didn't produce. To compensate for this I have bought in some lovely organic winter squash from Reroot Organic Farm. So we will still have lots of squash to go around, just not all of it was grown on this farm.
I also made the decision this year to grow enough potatoes for early potatoes but to purchase fall potatoes from another farm. This saves my back from the pain of harvesting by hand and freed up my time and energy for other crops. For the last two weeks we will have lots of great organic potatoes from Zocalo Organics.
And on the final 'farmers trading vegetables' front, Salad Days Farm needed some storage onions, which we had extra, so later in the season we will be enjoying some carrots and salad mix from their organic farm. This is the first year I have used produce from other local farms but I think it's a really important part of the organic farming community. For every farmers that experiences a crop failure or other issue, there is another farmer who has a surplus that they don't want to go to waste. With the challenges of unpredictable weather and other vagaries of nature it's nice to know that there are other farmers that can help keep our share members' bellies full!
You can see from this share that we are straddling the line between summer and fall vegetables! Next week is an OFF week for the CSA and we will be firmly on the fall side of the line when the shares resume.
It may seem a little early to be thinking of the 2020 season yet, but the next season is always at the back of my mind and I wanted to share some informal details about my plans. As mentioned earlier, we received a grant to extend our greenhouse, which means that I will now have the ability to extend the growing season. This excites me because it allows me to level my workload across the year rather than concentrate it all within a shorter period. It also excites me because it means more fresh, local vegetables for longer! Here are the basic plans for next year (exact prices and dates will follow later in the fall):
The first of the winter squash are in your shares this week and I am excited! Winter squash are a favourite of mine. This week, you can choose between Spaghetti Squash or Red Kuri Squash. As the name suggests, Spaghetti Squash are perfect as a pasta replacement and are commonly served with your favourite tomato sauce. Red Kuri are my hands-down favourite for soup. Their flesh is rich and delicious and the skin is thin and tender so you don't need to peel - simply puree the skin into the soup. For further inspiration, check out these recipes:
Roasted Kuri Squash Soup with Harissa and Crispy Chickpeas
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Eggplant Puttanesca
How to Roast Spaghetti Squash
A Simple Recipe for Roasting Red Kuri Squash
I haven't mentioned our bees lately but it I am happy to report that they have done well this summer. They started the spring strong, with all of our hives surviving the winter. They have steadily built their numbers and stored honey. One hive has grown particularly tall and may require a step stool to lift off the top box of honey!
I have had several requests recently for honey and I wanted to provide an update: Rob will be harvesting and spinning the honey within the next couple weeks and we should have fresh, bottled honey to sell by the end of September. We sell honey in 500g, 1kg, and 5kg containers.
While honey itself is a precious resource (and priced accordingly), the cost of packaging (jars and labelling) is not an insignificant cost. I wish we were able to reuse our honey jars as I know many of you would be happy to return them to us. However, food safety prevents us from doing this as we have no sterilization method here on the farm. Plus, our labels are nearly impossible to remove cleanly. If I find a source for dissolvable labels that will work with our label printer then perhaps we can take our jars to a certified processing kitchen and sterilize them. Until then, I hope you can find a good use for your empty honey jars rather than just recycling because that is neither cost-effective nor sustainable.
On the vegetable front, all are doing well and enjoying the slightly cooler temperatures and rain that we have received in the last two weeks. The tomatoes are still going strong and the peppers are doing well. Our eggplants this year have not done well. We lost a number of the plants early on due to rodents eating the entire tender transplant. And the remaining plants have not thrived. As a result, we have not had nearly as much eggplant to go around this year than normal. For some of you, this is probably something to celebrate ;) but for the rest of you we will have some small eggplants as a choice item in the shares this week. Well, there is always next season for bigger and better eggplants!
,Rather than sharing some specific recipes this week, I wanted to share a few websites and blogs that I particularly enjoy for recipes, food inspiration, and food growing and preserving information. I hope some of you may find these enjoyable too.
Feasting at Home The recipes on this website are absolutely beautiful to look at even if you don't cook a single one. But that would be a mistake because they are also delicious. My favourite aspects of these recipes are their seasonality, the plentiful and creative use of vegetables, the easily customizable options for meat vs. vegetarian, and their ease of preparation.
North Ridge Farm This blog includes recipes, seasonal thoughts and homestead happenings. There is great inspiration for eating seasonally and simply and lots of ideas for preserving the harvest for the winter months.
Venison for Dinner This website mostly acts as a recipe file for recipes that Venison for Dinner talks about on her instagram and youtube videos. While not heavy on the vegetables, these recipes are great staple recipes for things like sourdough bread, yogurt making, making use of unusual cuts of meat, and other important homesteading eating necessities.