Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First CSA Pick-up

I just got home from our first Charlottetown CSA pick-up, it was great to see old friends and meet new members. Below are some pictures and further explanation for this weeks veggies.

Beet Greens - Make sure to wash these really well before steaming, otherwise you'll be eating very gritty greens. Just steam until they wilt. We usually cut the roots off before steaming.

Chinese Cabbage - See below for a great recipie.

Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad
3 packages (3 oz each) chicken- flavour noodle soup mixture
8 cups shredded Chinese (Napa) cabbage (1 medium head)
4 cups cut-up cooked chicken
1 cup shredded carrots
1⁄2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup sesame-ginger dressing (purchased or use recipe below)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup wasabi peas (optional- available at Bulk Barn)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds toasted (to toast, sprinkle in ungreased skillet. Cook over
medium low heat 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until browning begins, then stirring
constantly until golden brown.)

In 2 quart saucepan, heat 1 1⁄2 cups water to boiling over high heat. Break apart noodles before opening soup packages. Stir 2 of the seasoning packets and all of the noodles into boiling water. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until noodles are tender. Do not drain.

In large bowl, toss noodles, cabbage, chicken, carrots and onion. In small bowl, stir together 1 cup of dressing, sugar, and remaining seasoning packet. Toss dressing with salad.

Cover and refrigerate. Stir in wasabi peas and sesame seed just before serving.

Ginger-Sesame Dressing
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Process until smooth.

Garlic Scapes - Simply chop and use as you would garlic

Green Onions - Use the greens chopped in a salad or excellent in scrambled eggs. Use the white part as you would a regular onion

Joi Choi - A form of bok choi, a super star or the stir-fry. Make sure to separate green leaves from the white stalk. Chop stalks into 1 inch wide diagonal chunks. First saute onions until they begin to soften. Add stems, chicken, beef or pork pieces, soy sauce and grated ginger root. Add the leaves last. Serve with rice or noodles.

Lettuce mix - If fast food was a vegetable this would be it. Simply serve and enjoy

Spinach - Great in a salad or steamed

Daikon Radish - Use as you would regular radish, its just a bit more spicy

Tatsoi - An early season Asian green,

Tatsoi Frittata(spinach could also be used)
1/2 onion
1 bag or bunch of tatsoi
¼ cup cheddar cheese, cubed
½ cup ham, diced
6 eggs

Fry the onion and ham in a small amount of butter until the onion is soft. Stir in the tatosi and stir until it cooks down. Stir the eggs in a bowl until mixed and add in the cheese. Add the egg and cheese mixture to the tatsoi and let it cook slowly in the pan until it starts to cook along the sides. Put the frying pan under the broiler until the middle is cooked. Cut the fritata in piece and serve with a salad. Super easy and tastes fantastic.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Busy days

We are keeping quite busy trying to keep up with the weeds, transplanting, scouting for disease and insects and wrangling the babies. We have accomplished alot in the last two weeks and are looking forward to our CSA program getting started this week. This past Saturday was our last farmers market day for the season, we had a great time and sold out pretty much every week we were there. We will miss our market friends but are really looking forward to focusing on the CSA.

Our strawberries are just starting and that will keep us busy during any spare time, I can already feel the lower back pain, at least no humongous belly in the way this year.

Here are a few pictures of the gardens. I hope everything is good in your corner of the world.

Beet greens

A rare moment where Ben & Jake are dressed alike, could not resist the thing 1 and thing 2 outfits

The boys enjoying the swingset

Cabbage is looking good

The garlic is growing really well

Garlic scape

Thing 2 "Jake"

Middle section, onions, leeks, peas, spinach, lettuce mix and others

Middle section

Lovely looking tatsoi

Tomatoes in the front section just weeded by the Eco

More pics of the middle section

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eco's Debut

Friday afternoon in between getting ready for market and the boy's nap time we set up the Eco weeder and had our first weeding run with actual plants. We successfully weeded a bed of lettuce and I must say the first run was rather smooth. You have to be able to drive pretty darn straight or you can quickly come too close to the plants with the eco wheels, which we did a few times, which then comes the trick of getting back in the proper line to continue weeding. Luckily Derek is pretty steady so it didn't happen very often. Most people with the Eco weeder only use it to weed one row/bed but because our tractor tires are set fairly wide only doing 1 row would be a huge waste of space. We simply push the arms of the tractor over as far as they can go and lock them inplace and then drive down one side of the bed, turn around at the end and come back along the other side. Our off set which Derek built will do the same thing but we did not have the new longer pto shaft that we needed.

Lettuce bed before weeding

Tiny lettuce plants, hard to see but there was alot of tiny corn spurry and pig weed seedlings

After the first side was done

Uprooted weed next to lettuce plant, no we did not stage this photo

Action shot of the discs

Derek doing a final inspection

We did find that it threw a bit of dirt on top of the plants so we are going to experiment with different sized buckets over the discs to see if we can't solve that problem but all in all we are very pleased with the weeder.

Yea for the "Eco Weeder"


Another new advneture had here on the farm last week was using the flame weeder. A fairly simple looking device but it was actually rather intimidating. The barbeque tank is super heavy when full and trying to haul that along with a torch was rather awkward, so I enlisted the help of a friend and our wheelbarrow. He pushed the wheel barrow with the propane tank and I walked ahead with the wand in the row of not yet emerged carrots and flamed away. It was a little scarry just getting it started and a slight turn of the knob sent the mild flame into a jet plane sounding roar. It was exciting to see the weeds wither and die and I could hear my back thanking me for all the hours that will not be spent bent over hand weeding the rows. We flamed the carrots and the parsnips. I would have liked to have flamed the beets as well but they had already emerged so I was too late. One row of carrots had also emerged so it should show the difference between the flamed and non flamed carrots rows. I'm a little worried I may have had the heat on too high and cooked the tiny seedlings that had not yet emerged, time will tell.

Derek also used the flamer on the asparagus as seen below. The flamer works the best on broad leaf weeds such as pig weed and corn spurry (our two main weeds) but not so well on grasses.

I'll post more pictures as the carrots grow to show the flamed carrots rows verses the unflamed carrots row. I'm also going to try it on onions, they are getting quite big and its hard to get the hoe between the plants so I think I might try putting the flamer on a row to see how successful that will be. I've read that onions can take quite a bit of heat without being damaged. I'm also going to try it on potatoes for weed and beetle control.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Results from the heavy rain

We had a crazy night on the farm with thunder, lightening and heavy rains. I put my head under the pillow and prayed my garden would still be there when I woke up. Upon inspection this morning we did have some washouts and it brings me back to last year when the same thing happened. But the difference this year is this should not have happened or at least I feel it should not have happened. Last year we planted that field for the first time and didn't really take into account the natural slope and planted up and down the field instead of across. We didn't really think it would matter since the slope was gentle and the field was not that big. Well after torrental rains we learned our lesson the hard way, several beds of carrots were washed out and precious topsoil was washed away into our neighbours ditch.

So this year we did a few things different in hopeful expectation the washouts would not return. First off last year we established permanent grassed strips between the garden sections which we thought would catch any sediment that might wash out and slow down the water before it reached the next garden section, well that didn't work, it may have helped a bit but not as well as I had expected.

The permanent grassed strips
We also changed the way we planted the field by making the beds across rather than up and down the field. The good thing about the way the water ran is it only took out or damaged a few feet of several beds instead of 2-3 beds as last year.

In the grand scale of things its not the end of the world but its just frustrating when you think you've learned your lesson and make improvements to ensure it does not happen again. Oh mother nature, would a gentle rain not suffice???

Poor little broccoli plant was almost buried in the mud

The worst of the washout

The plants under the rowcover didn't stand a chance

So, time for a deep breath, relax and move on to the next matter at hand. Has anyone ever heard of a sun dance??? We sure could use some heat soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

First Market Day - It was great to be back

Saturday was my first day back at the market and it was so great to see so many of our market friends that we haven't seen in awhile. We had a very successful first market day selling out of all our greens and radishes and I was quite surprised at how many tomato and herb plants that sold. I was very pleased and am looking forward already to next Saturday.

Beautiful plants ready for the garden

The market table at the beginning of the day

One of the markets most colourful characters - Pleasant Pork's famous farmer Ranald and meat cutter extraordinaire Kim

Katimavik strikes again

After working all day and still in good spirits

We had a chance to host the Summerside Katimavik group here on the farm again this year. They came out on Saturday to help Derek do some projects around the farm. They were a great group of young people and they successfully weeded many trouble spots including the arugula, tatsoi, komatsuna, beet greens and a few strawberry rows. They picked up rocks, put compost around the raspberry plants, weeded asparagus, washed CSA totes and cleaned the horse barn. Not bad for a days work. I was gone to the market so I missed out on most of the fun.

When I got home from the market this is what I saw, lots of shoes and a shovel. I should have know ice cream sandwiches would have something to do with it.

Washing CSA totes

Thanks Summerside Katimavik group for all your hard work!!!!

Shop time for Derek = Offset

Our new eco weeder is meant for weeding 1 row between the tractor tires but since our tractor tires are set at 72" centre to centre its a hugh waste of space so you can purchase a piece of equiptment called an offset which will attach to the three point hitch arms and the eco will then be offest to the tractor. The offset will allow you to weed two rows which makes more sense at our current spacing. The main problem with the offset was the $1200 purchase price plus tax and shipping from Quebec, so Derek decided to build one himself.

Lots of measuring before leaving the farm to go buy steel

more measuring

Drilling holes and cutting steel

Finished project, still needs paint and a few finishing touches

See how the Eco is off set from the tractor. To weed two rows we'll drive down the bed once weeding on the right side, then turn around and weed the other side. We're anxious to try it out, as soon as the sun shines and dries out the soil a bit well be out there weeding up a storm.