We have our first harvest of cherry tomatoes in the shares this week! This is always a reason for celebration! This week will be a small taste for everyone and then we should see more ripening for next week. The slicing tomatoes also are showing signs of being ready in a week or two.
You will notice that everyone receives a green pepper this week as well. To encourage our pepper plants to ripen the remaining peppers, we like to harvest a green pepper or two from each plant. I expect we will have red, yellow, and orange peppers in a couple weeks' time.
I know many share members are anxiously waiting for potatoes and carrots. While I can't make any promises (weather and vegetables seem to have minds of their own), I anticipate we will have baby potatoes next week and carrots the following week. Then, you can expect them frequently until the end of the season. Head lettuce will also be making a reappearance next week and for the remainder of the season.
In other farm news, we have welcomed two new baby alpacas in the last couple weeks. They are possibly the softest and cutest little babies you've ever seen. With their long, wobbly legs and baby soft fleece, they are a treat to watch skip through the pasture. The first alpaca was born to Dragonfly and we have named her Butterfly. She is now two weeks old and full of energy like most baby animals. Then, just this morning, I went into the drive shed to discover that another alpaca, Bucca, had given birth to her new little one (yet un-named). If you are ever in our neck-of-the-woods stop by and visit these cuties! The pictures below are both within an hour of birth, when they are not quite at their cutest :) I will share some better pics with everyone next week.
Quick drought update: It's very, very, dry. That pretty much sums it up. Oh, and our well is now drawing in air, which tells us we are using water faster than it's being replenished. So this means we have to reduce our irrigation and household usage to be sure that we don't burn the motor out on the well pump or cause other mechanical problems. This has most definitely been the most challenging year so far in my short farming career and I am grateful it has come in year 4, not year 1 or 2. Other than two plantings of spinach, we haven't lost any crops in their entirety to the drought thus far. But we are seeing significantly slower re-growth of 'cut and come again' crops like kale, chard, and collards. Plus many crops are showing slower or unpredictable growth overall or are going to seed/bolting before their time. Despite these challenges, we still have food to feed our family and 60 share member families (probably 200+ people in total)! It is dedicated share members like you and the CSA model which allows small scale farmers to persevere through difficult weather conditions and all the other challenges of farming. Thank-you!
Pickling Cucumbers: We will have pickling cucumbers available for purchase again this week. $5/kg.
Eggs: Duck and chicken eggs are available again. I will continue with the 1 dozen limit again this week and see how it goes. $6/doz.
Coming soon... In about 3 week's time we should have both roasting chickens and honey available!
Garlic is a favourite crop for us to grow and you are receiving the first of many weeks of our cured garlic. This year we grew 6+ varieties of garlic to trial which ones performed best in our soil and climate. While all the garlic did well this year, our favourite varieties are: 'Music', 'Portugal', 'Ivan', and 'Newfoundland'. We also grew a French Rocambole, which you will be receiving in your shares this week. It didn't make the cut to be listed as one of our favourites, so we will be including it in the shares since we won't be saving any for seed next year. It tastes delicious but is inconsistent in size, which is not ideal for a CSA farm.
In addition to being common ingredient in many cooks' dishes, garlic offers great nutritional and medicinal benefits. Garlic is known for it's anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. Not to mention, it boosts the immune system and can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol! To receive these benefits, you must use your garlic raw. Crush or minced the garlic and let sit for 10 seconds before adding to any acids (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) to allow the beneficial compounds to combine and reach their optimum levels. Whenever we feel a tickle in the throat, we crush a clove of garlic in a tablespoon of our raw honey and swallow. It seems to do the trick! Although lacking in the medicinal benefits, cooking with garlic is still a mainstay in our kitchen. Here are some ideas for using your garlic: