Tuesday, October 23, 2012

18th CSA Week - It's all over for another season

This week marks the final CSA deliveries for the 2012 season.  Eighteen weeks does not sound that long but it can be a struggle to keep the shares full of variety, high quality and not too repetitive week after week.  It's a challenge that I enjoy but it can also be stressful knowing that I have to fill 75 bins each week.  I really like our grab box system as I feel that it takes some of the stress out of my job by allowing members to customize their "shares". 

The season officially began over seven months ago when I planted the first seeds (leeks) of the year on March 6 and here are are now harvesting the last of them this week.  Back in March the last week of October was not in my thoughts but now it's here and another season is already on my mind waiting to be organized. I've taken a lot of notes this season comparing different varieties, harvest dates, what did and did not work well so hopefully 2013 planning will go a little smoother than it has in the past. It seems that planning never gets fully underway until late January or February but I'm aiming to start the first full week of November and be finished by the end of the month.  That will be my Christmas present to myself!!!
March plantings (lettuce)
This weeks final share has carrots, parsnips, beets, bok choy, red scarlet turnips, white hakurei turnips, a pepper (greenhouse), winter squash and leeks.  The grab boxes were overflowing and I actually had to leave stuff at home as the truck was completely packed with veggies.  I had winter squash jammed in every spare nook and cranny!!  The grab boxes included celery, celariac, chinese cabbage, coloured carrots, dill, cilantro, parsley, lettuce heads, lettuce mix, arugula, baby kale, large kale, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, purple cabbage and more of the above mentioned veggies. 

Some folks were given delicata squash with their share tonight.  Here is a link to a nice tasty recipe.  http://summertomato.com/better-than-butternut-roasted-delicata-squash-recipe/  I cooked some last week but I just cut them in half, scooped out the seeds and put a bit of brown sugar and butter and cook them cut side up until soft.  I let the butter/sugar mixture settle into the meat of the squash and then cut them up and put on a plate, very pretty and very yummy. 

A very yummy looking dish that I'm going to try this weekend for baked apples, no veggies in this recipe but its looks amazing none the less.  http://ohsheglows.com/

Here are some pictures to enjoy of the last weeks harvest and farm adventures.

Beautiful bok choy waiting to be harvested

All lined up pretty and headed for the wash station

Red scarlet turnips

Yummy & beautiful turnips
Stir-fry anyone??

Having the best time running in the leaves

And then stealing the pumpkins

I love being so close to my family.  They were digging potatoes right next door so Ben, Jake and myself hopped in for a drive
Hard to see but we're all squished in the cab with Dad to take a trip around the field while Dad winrows some spuds.  Nice ride eh!!!

Ben & Jake's Halloween craft project made while at Grammy's. 

Can you spot all six kittens?  We only have three left now to find homes for. 
 Well, its been an amazing growing season.  By far the best since we started back in 2003 on that tiny little plot behind my grandparents house.  I have no idea why our vegetables grew so well with the lack of rain and intense heat but I'm so very glad that they did.  We had an abundance of vegetables and I've heard so many great comments about this season from our members that I can only hope to repeat again next season.  Thanks to all our members for supporting us this season and we look forward to seeing you all next year. 

Jen, Derek, Ben & Jake

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

17th CSA Week

Week # 17 eh.  Crazyness.  I can hardly believe that next week will be the final pick-up for the 2012 season.  Lost of folks were asking me tonight if I was going to be glad to be done.  Honestly, yes I am very happy that next week will be the final pick-up.  My back is sore, my fingers and hands are dry and cracked making for everyday tasks like buttons and shoe laces to be a rather slow and painful experience.  I've got the nightly bag balm treatment in effect but its not really helping.  Derek says my hands feel like sand paper, how romantic : )  But on the flip side I'm also going to miss my weekly routine and the free workout!!!  Nothing like hauling bins filled with vegetables around to keep one in tip top shape.  I love working outside and getting a good 12 hour work day out in the elements sure makes for a great nights sleep.  I will of course miss everyone at pick-up.  I have so enjoyed this season and all the members and their families that I get to see each week.  I feel so blessed to have such a great group of supportive customers!!! 

So what will I do after next week?  Well, that list is WAY too long but it involves planting garlic, digging the rest of the veggies that are in the field (which in terms of carrots is going to be a big job!!!), paper work paper work and more paper work, did I mention paper work??? and planning for next season just to name a few.  I'll also have more time to focus on my other little side line job that I do helping potato growers get ready for their on-farm food safety audits.  It's something I've been doing since 2008 and I love it!!  I've got a few speaking engagements in November which I'm looking forward to and then its off to the ski park in the new year where I work in the rental shop (that is if it snows!!).  So, needless to say I keep busy and I'm sure Ben & Jake will enjoy having me around more and not having to share me with vegetables!!

So, what's in this weeks large share?  Carrots, parsnips, hakuri turnips, beets, acorn winter squash, lettuce mix, peppers & leeks.  The grab boxes had purple cabbage, hot peppers, dill, cilantro, parsley, winter squash (spaghetti, buttercup, butternut, hubbard, delicata and pie pumpkins), celery, celeriac, fennel, bok choy, chinese cabbage, radishes, tatsoi, some tomatoes and more of the above mentioned veggies. 

Grab boxes


It's pretty nice to have Hakurei turnips back in the mix of things.  They sure are pretty little things. 

Celeriac, what an ugly vegetable eh!!  It's a variety of celery that is grown for it's root, some folks call it celery root but seed catalogues call it celeriac.  I have grown it a few times but it never gets any bigger than a large marble so its nice to have some decent sized ones to give out.  Just peel them, chop them up and add to potatoes when boiling and mash into mashed potatoes.  Or chop them up and add into a soup and puree for a nice fresh celery flavour. 

Let's hope the sun sticks around a bit to help dry out the land so that the potato farmers can get their crop out of the ground.   Bone dry summer and then it rains every second day this fall.  Good old mother nature is always up to something. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

16th CSA Week

Well, there is no denying that fall has arrived with last nights cold temperatures and this mornings chill!!!  We did not have frost here but in Shamrock, where I drop the boys off, it was very heavy.  It's only a matter of time before we get a good hard frost which will change the look of the garden.  Some veggies can handle a frost such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, turnips and some can not handle any frost at all such as basil, tomatoes & peppers.  I harvested all of the winter squash on the weekend and took what was left of the onions.  Last night I thought there was going to be frost so I harvested all of the outside peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and the last four zucchini.  I could not believe how many peppers that I got, this has been an amazing pepper year for us, and so many red ones.

Variety of winter squash
It sure was chilly harvesting Monday evening.  Had to search for my toque but I found it!!

Just a few of the peppers harvested Monday evening

This weeks large share has carrots, butternut squash, leeks, red onion or shallots, bok choy, peppers, broccoli, hardy mix and tomatoes.  The grab boxes were filled with all kinds of yummy veggies including: dill, cilantro, parsley, mixed winter squash, cucumbers, zucchini, hot peppers, cauliflower, celery, parsnips, beets, kale, swiss chard, cabbage, arugula and more of the above veggies.

Tonnes of veggies in the grab boxes
Beautiful rainbow swiss chard
Brussel sprouts after being harvested last week, my poor fingers are still sore!!
 My sister in law sent me this great looking recipe for roasted butternut squash soup that uses quite a few of this weeks veggies.  Check it out at this blog.  http://www.outtolunchcreations.com/recipes/roasted-butternut-squash-soup/

We've got two weeks left of the CSA, how crazy is that!!  It's been a great season and its been so nice to have such a great variety of veggies to offer.  The wheels are already turning for next year and I'm planning on doing the end of season survey soon, you'll get a chance to let me know what worked and what didn't work this season.  We really enjoy reading all the surveys each year and there is always a lot of positive feedback and great suggestions on how to improve the program.  So start thinking about that and we look forward to hearing what you have to say. 

Garlic planting is the next project in the wings.  Garlic is planted in the fall, mulched with straw and then left to hang out for the winter.  It's the first thing to poke out of the ground in the spring and then harvested the last week of July or the first week of August.  It's hard to think of planting at this time of year when the ground is so cold and my fingers are so numb!!!  I'm starting from scratch this year as this past garlic harvest was pretty dismal with some very small and disappointing bulbs.  Normally I would grow enough garlic to have 12 weeks of bulbs for the CSA and enough to replant for the following year, well not this time George!!!

We had a great thanksgiving weekend and actually took the boys to Arlington to go apple picking.  They were pretty excited about the whole thing and loved seeing all the little stuffed creatures hanging out in and around the orchard.  Oh to be a kid again when a giant plastic dinosaur is the best thing since sliced bread.
Apple picking with the monsters
Ben reaching for the biggest apples

Picture perfect squash
I'm going to end this newsletter tonight with a shout out to my friends and CSA members who have been fighting so hard over the Plan B highway realignment.  I've been following the updates on facebook and get my weekly updates at the pick-ups.  I am very proud to say that I know folks that have been so vocal in their concerns of this project and to know they stood up for what they believe in.  I was saddened to hear on the news tonight of the charges laid to the protesters and hope everyone stays safe during the next few days.  So thanks to Chris & Art and their family and to Dave & Sharon for showing me that when you truly believe in something its worth fighting for and taking a stand.  I honked for all I was worth driving by the site today!!!!!

Enjoy this weeks veggies and I hope your all ready for the chilly weather!!  I'm sitting here typing with my hot water bottle on my lap and wishing I had another for my feet, brrrrrrr!!!

Spending some quality time with Grampy in the field.  Memory makers for sure!!

Playing at Kool Breeze in the hay maze last week

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

15th CSA Week

Did you see that moon tonight???  Incredible.  So, its the Thanksgiving harvest this week!!!  I hope your all going to be able to celebrate with your families and lots of farm fresh veggies!!!  We are planning on having supper with my family Sunday night at my brother's house so that should be nice.  Thanksgiving isn't something we've celebrated much in the past as our family was always digging potatoes and no one had the energy or the time to cook a big supper and have people over but this year seems to be different.  Lots to be thankful for this year.  New farm, closer to family, super productive land, healthy kids, working tractors, tomatoes, etc etc etc. 

This weeks large share has hardy mix (mix of tatsoi, arugula, lettuce mix, purple mustard and red kale), broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips, peppers, tomatoes, pie pumpkin & a cabbage (green or purple).  The grab bins had leeks, beets, a few cauliflower, kale, parsley, cilantro, dill, easter egg radishes, coloured carrots and winter squash.  We hope everyone was able to create a nice colourful share of veggies for your Thanksgiving meals. 

The brussel sprouts gave us a run for our money today!!  They grow on tall stalks and are very close together.  The stalks are very tough and we could not cut them down, I had originally wanted to give a stalk/family in the bins this week.  So, we slowly snapped off each little sprouts from about 1/3 of the plants giving each large share just about 1lb of sprouts.  There was some on the grab table as well.  The remaining plants are a different variety so I"m hoping they will be as nice as the ones we harvested today. 
Brussel sprouts
The easter egg radishes were so beautiful to harvest.  They were like a little happy rainbow hiding under the row cover and Sally and I couldn't get over how pretty they looked while we were harvesting.
Easter egg radishes with a few french breakfast thrown in

Each large share has a pie pumpkin in it.  You can either use it as a beautiful centre piece on your table, for carving for Halloween or in a pie!!!  I'm pumped about making a pie this weekend.  I'm not exactly the best cook but Sally has given me her pumpkin pie recipe and I'm really looking forward to trying it out. 

We started harvesting rutabaga's this morning, other wise known as turnip.  They were the ugliest things I have ever seen!!!!  Turnips and rutabaga's are a magnet for the root maggot fly who lays her eggs at the base of the plant and then they hatch and turn into maggots and feed off the bottom of the root.  Needless to say it was very gross and did not make it into the shares.  A real bummer as I've been weeding and taking care of these silly plants for a few months now.  I guess next year I'll have to go back to keeping them covered with row cover all year!!  I kept them covered for all spring and into the summer but I thought the heat would be hard on them, seems the maggots had a great summer!!!  So, sorry that there is no rutabagas this year!!! 

The tomatoes have really slowed down alot!!  They did not ripen much over the weekend with the overcast weather but hopefully this weeks sun will pick them up.  It's been a banner tomato year but I'm hoping to have some for the rest of the next three pick-ups, at least for the grab box. 

I had an amazing day on Sunday at Farm Day in the City.  It was so nice to be out and about and the crowds were great and we sold a boat load of carrots which was great.  We have alot of coloured carrots (yellow and purple) left in the ground so it was nice to be able to sell some of those.  People could not get over the colour of the carrots, I had no idea that so many people have never seen those varieties before. 
Farm day in the city
Lots of carrots!!!

Good times

Leeks from the field. 
Hard to tell but its was pouring in this picture.  I was filthy but happy to be working in the rain. 
Well, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and farm fresh veggies : )

Here are just a few pictures from this past weekend/week.  Enjoy.

Tiny decorating pumpkins

Savoy Cabbage

Lots of very big beautiful broccoli harvested today

Parsnips and coloured carrots

Ben squinting for the camera

Jake, apple face.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

14th CSA Week

Sure was alot of rain over the weekend!!!  The garden was soaked for a few days but was not too bad to work in today.  Lovely harvest weather today although the winds this evening were a tad chilly at the Culinary pick-up location.

This weeks large share had carrots, French breakfast radishes, parsnips, winter squash (choice between; red kuri, butternut, acorn, buttercup, spaghetti, delicata and pie pumpkins), leeks, tomatoes, lettuce mix, hardy mix (baby tatsoi, purple mustard and red kale), peppers & broccoli or cauliflower.  The grab bins were busting at the seams with kale, dill, cilantro, parsley, onions, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, cucumbers & more of the above mentioned veggies.  I had to bring a third table to be able to hold all of the grab choices.

The french breakfast radishes were pristine.  I had covered them right after planting with hoops and row covers to ensure "nobody" would munch the leaves making them less than pretty.  They looked amazing and are so crisp and tasty!!  Lovely.

Parsnips usually taste better after a frost as they tend to become sweeter but I thought I would start harvesting them this week to give people something new in the boxes.  Almost everyone was so excited to see them in the boxes!!  We have three rows of about 260' length each and we discovered while digging on Monday that one row has much bigger parsnips.  I looked in my planting map and it showed that I had planted two different varieties.  One variety must have a bit smaller seed so more seeds fell through the seed plate.  Good thing for field notes as I'll not want to plant the smaller seeded parsnips next year, they really should have been thinned about 1 month ago to ensure good size.  Oh the things we learn.

This coming Sunday is farm day in the city in downtown Charlottetown from 11-5pm.  It's part of the fall flavours events and I will be there along with a few fellow growers so stop on by and say hello if you get a chance.  I'm really hoping for nice weather but of course as of right now its saying "periods of rain".  I'm just hoping the weather man is wrong and it'll turn out to be a lovely day.

Red kuri & pie pumpkins

Delicata winter squash


The first of the winter squash got harvested late last week.  Still a tonne left to pick.

Pie pumpkins!!!

We live in a very popular spot for geese.  The fields all around us are a frequent stop over on their journey.  The boys love hearing them fly over.

Fall greens being uncovered for the first time since planting.  They looked perfect.

Purple mustard, part of our "hardy mix"

Cauliflower ready for harvest

Still wrapped up and not quite ready

Still cucumbers and zucchini although their plants are quickly dying off.

Ben was sitting down reading one of my seed catalogues the other day.  He was obsessed with the two tomato pages.