You know that it is peak summer when tomatoes, beans, and basil appear in your shares! We get our first taste of tomatoes this week with greater quantities in following weeks. They look (and taste) fantastic and make a delicious sandwich or salad topping. Although I'm sure I don't need to tell you how to use up your tomatoes...
This week we learned that we had been approved for a grant from the Carrot Cache to help in the cost of expanding our greenhouse. Our plan is the double the size of our current greenhouse and use the expanded portion as a permanent growing area for tomatoes and peppers in the summer, as well as cool crops in the early spring and late fall. Compared to our current caterpillar tunnels for tomatoes, the greenhouse will provide greater height to allow us to use a more efficient trellising system and, thereby, increase yields. This will also free up the caterpillar space for other crops such as cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, and others that will benefit from covered growing.
I'm very excited about this addition (even though it means extra construction tasks this summer and fall) because it will also allow me to extend the CSA season. I am still working out the details but you can expect more options and more weeks of production for the 2020 season. My long-term goal is to maintain the current share numbers but expand them over a longer period of time. Compared to a high number of share members just in the summer months, this helps to balance my work load more evenly across the year.
Kale and Chard make regular appearances in our shares throughout the season and many people enjoy them lightly sauteed with garlic, added to a smoothie, or in soups and stews. But if you are looking for other ways to use these delicious and nutritious greens, try one of the recipes below:
12 Favourite Kale Salads
Feta and Kale Dip
Swiss Chard Pesto
13 Creative Swiss Chard Recipes
The heat has broken and we have had a couple good rains so the fields and vegetables are happy! We have some delicious new potatoes with tender skin and great flavour this week and the cucumbers are producing in full force. You will notice that the skin of the cucumbers has some blemishes on it. This from the cucumber beetles, which nibble on the cucumbers when they are very small. While it doesn't look pretty, it is purely an aesthetic issue and the cucumbers are delicious!
I have tried a new early cabbage variety this year called Caraflex. The best thing about these cabbages is that they are cone-head shaped cabbages with tender leaves. They are also a smaller variety of cabbage which won't overwhelm you with it's size. Perfect for summer coleslaws, eggrolls, or stirfrys!
Within the next week or so I will be harvesting the garlic and I look forward to sharing it with you once it has cured. The few test bulbs that I pulled look great so I am hopeful we will have a great crop this year.
July is a month that is always packed full of tasks: the weeds are growing like, well, weeds; the zucchini, cucumber, and green beans require near constant harvesting; the fall crops need to be planted; the tomatoes need regular pruning; and the garlic is harvested. Once we get through July, things become a little less manic on the farm and we breathe a sigh of relief.
This week we have a choice between eggplant and fennel in the shares. Both of these veggies tend to be a little unloved but I think if properly prepared they can be wonderful. This week will be pretty much your only chance at fennel, unless I plant a few in the fall. Eggplant will make appearances throughout the summer. For inspiration, check out these recipes:
Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, and Chickpea Wraps
Persian Eggplant Dip
Apple Fennel Salad with Walnuts & Honey
Orecchiette with Roasted Fennel and Sausage
Welcome back after our week break! We were able to tackle some tasks around the farm that are hard to get to when I'm harvesting in full swing. And we also were able to do a day trip with the boys to Canada's Wonderland - a first for them.
The summer vegetables are all starting to make their appearance this week and there are many more great items coming over the next 3 weeks or so. I'm particularly happy with the napa cabbage, which are big and beautiful. Don't worry if you can't use it all in one week: napa stores for weeks if tightly wrapped and stored in your crisper! We also have the first beets which look wonderful and thick green onions which are perfect for grilling. The zucchini started producing a bit earlier than expected so I have been stockpiling zucchini over this past week and everyone will get one more zucchini than normal this week. This is the perfect time to make zucchini loaf, grilled zucchini steaks on the BBQ, or zucchini fritters.
Finally, this week contains a new salad mix I am trying (and I'm already sold on it). Unlike typical baby salad greens, this mix is grown from full heads that have been bred to break into perfect salad size pieces when harvested. You will find that this mix is crisp and very flavourful and will have a much longer shelf life than your average baby mix. Enjoy!
I am seeing the first blush of colour on the slicing tomatoes so it won't be too much longer and we will get to add tomatoes to shares. I can't wait!
I'm excited to include an English Cucumber in everyone's share this week. These cucumbers are greenhouse cucumbers that were grown in the back of our propagation greenhouse. This is my first year experimenting with them and overall I am really happy with them. Unfortunately, pill bugs killed half of the new transplants despite my regular application of diatomaceous earth. But the plants that did survive are cranking out the cucumbers. Now, the cucumber beetles have found them so who knows how long this will last but we will enjoy these until the field cucumbers are ready. We also have the first peas - yeah! This is also the first week for bonus herbs. Just a reminder that these are a 'take or leave' item and cannot be traded-in.
Reminder to everyone that next week (the week of July 8th) is an off week for the CSA and your veggies will resume on the following week. I tried to make this week a generous week so that you have enough veggies to see you through to the next pickup. Plus, this gives you an opportunity to use up those kohlrabi or turnips that are languishing at the back of your fridge ;) When the veggies return the week of July 15th you will see some exciting new vegetables take centre stage!
SOUP CHICKEN BLOW-OUT! We need to clean out our freezers in preparation for the butchering of this year's meat chickens in early August. To do this, we have two types of chicken available:
1. Chicken Carcasses: these are the carcass with meat removed and packaged by our butcher. These are perfect for making bone broth and come frozen. $2 each.
2. Soup Hens: these are laying hens (therefore less meat than a meat bird) that are suitable for making chicken soup or stew and come frozen. $3 each.
If you are interested in some of these, please email me with the type and quantity you would like and I will bring to pickup.
We've had some lovely, warm days over this past week and the vegetables are growing well. The snap peas were growing slowly but are now fully flowering and I see some tiny peas forming. Hopefully we will have some to share soon. The beets are sizing up and the zucchini plants have some tiny fruits on them. Before you know it, we will be swimming in summer vegetables!
I have been noticing higher than normal pest pressure this year. This seems to come in waves: we will have a few years with minimal insect and other pest pressure and then a bad year and then back to normal again. It's been 3 years since our last bad pest year so that seems about right! The curcubits (squash, melons, cucumbers, zucchini) are being plagued by cucumber beetles but so far the plants are winning. This can occasionally mean some scarring on fruit but we will wait to see as the fruit grow.
We have also had a year of high rodent pressure around the farm. The rodents have been eating some of the new transplants right at the base and just generally being destructive. Hopefully we don't lose too many more plants: I tell them that there is lots of other vegetation around to eat but they apparently prefer the tender vegetable plants.
Thank-you to all the share members for accommodating my decision to not provide plastic bags. I know it's a bit more awkward to fill other containers but everyone is adapting well. Over the next couple weeks there will fewer items that will need individual bags, which will make the process easier.
Every year I like to try at least one or two new vegetables and this year endive is it! Many people will have eaten endive without knowing it. The variety that I have grown is a Frisee type endive. Frisee (or curly) endive is a common ingredient in mesclun and salad mixes. It is the crunchy, frizzy green you see in those mixes. So, if in doubt, simply chop the endive and add to your lettuce salads. But endive is also known for being a green that handles heat well. Which means that there are lots of great ways to prepare this vegetable.
Warm Frisee Lardon Salad
Dutch Potato Puree with Curly Endive & Bacon
Endive Salad with Crispy Chickpeas