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. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

13th CSA Week

It was great to see everyone who was able to come out to Saturday's CSA farm day.  Ben & Jake loved having so many people at "their farm".  I think they thought we were having a birthday party because they kept asking where the balloons were and when we got to have cake.  Pretty disappointed little boys when everyone went home and they realised there was no party.  But on the upside there was a bouncy castle which was awesome, thanks Sara, Duane and Angus for letting us borrow that for Saturday's event!!!

This weeks large share has lettuce mix, potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, cooking celery, cabbage and cucumbers.  The grab box had a few broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, beets, kale, dill, cilantro, hot peppers, parsley, basil and more of the above veggies.  As the cool weather returns veggie growth slows down quite a bit.  The zucchini pretty much stopped growing since the end of last week and I could not believe that I didn't have enough today to put in the boxes, sure is a different story from a few weeks ago when I took over 100 to the soup kitchen!!!  But I guess that's what seasonal eating is all about.  

Weighing out tomatoes

Today's grab boxes.  Towels are used to keep the veggies from wilting

I have to say I really love the view from my second Tuesday pick-up location at the Culinary.  So beautiful there!!!
Peppers just keep getting better every week.  More and more red peppers.  Yummy
Tomatoes are still doing awesome but they sure have slowed down ripening.  If the frost can hold off we sure have a tonne of tomatoes left to ripen.  We have another planting of broccoli and cauliflower yet to mature so we can still look forward to a few weeks of eating from those plants.  The planting we were picking this week is pretty much cleaned up so we might have to wait a week or two until the next planting is all ready. 

There should have some new greens coming along soon, I planted arugula, tatsoi, purple mustard, red kale, bok choy and chinese cabbage about 4 weeks ago and they are growing quite well.  They are all under row covers to protect from flea beetles and to help insulate a bit from the cooler winds.  I had hoped to have had mixed hardy greens today but when we went to harvest they were still way too small.  Maybe next week!!  We will for sure have radishes next week and the baby turnips are doing really well as well.  So, still a few new things to come yet. 

Cooking celery.  It's definitely not your grocery store celery.  We have not had much luck in the past with celery except for last year, it was awesome but it did rain like every other day and celery likes "wet feet" so last year was a great celery year.  This year not so much.  But what it lacks in the looks department it sure makes up for in intense celery flavour.  It's quite tough and strong so eating raw might be a bit much but its amazing in soups, stews, chili's and what I discovered on the weekend, salsa!!!  It added a really nice flavour to my salsa and I can't wait to make another big batch this weekend.
Cooking celery
I made a new salsa recipe on the weekend and it has what I would consider a few "cheater" elements like tomato paste and thickening with cornstarch at the end but what mattered to me was that I only had to cook it for 15 minutes and the end result was, amazing!!!  Grammy also said she put all of the tomatoes in the food processor, no peeling or seeding.  I thought she was a bit crazy so I only did 1/2 the tomatoes in the processor and half the old school way of peeling and seeding.  Well, the food processor took about 30 seconds for 6 cups of tomatoes and the other way took at least 1/2 hour.  I thought that maybe the skins would still be there (and I do not enjoy skins in my salsa) but no skins at all, brilliant.  Next time I make this I'm putting all 12 cups in the food processor!!!  Way too easy and saves so much work and mess.
Leeks.  Do you like them?  We are going to be having leeks for the remainder of the CSA pick-ups.  If your not sure what to do with them just use them like an onion.  This hasn't been our best onion year so just chop up some leeks and try them instead.  If you find you can't keep up they freeze really well.   I just chop the white/light green parts up in to 1/4" rounds and put them on a cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer.  Once they are frozen then I put them in a freezer bag, that way they are not all frozen together and its easier to take them out and use them as you need them.  They make a great addition to any stock or any stir-fry.  My favourite is still potato leek soup!!  But if your not a fan just leave them behind and take something else from the grab boxes that you'd rather use.  No sense taking home veggies that you don't want.

We had a great time on Sunday at open farm day.  We went to Ranald MacFarlane's farm, Pleasant Pork, in Fernwood.  The boys had a wicked time.  There were dairy cows being milked, a pig about to give birth, baby pigs running around outside in their pens and big giant pigs sitting in the mud.  There were chickens and roosters running around and a wack of farm toys to play with.  We must have been there for over two hours and they still did not want to go.  If you get a chance next year make sure to stop by their farm, its a great place for kids to just be kids on a farm!!!

Pleasant Pork

Feeding the pigs apples

Derek's brother dropped off a new bike for the boys.  They sure love it.  They say its their new "motorcycle" and insist that theirs is faster.  Too funny. 
Never too young to learn

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

12th CSA Week

What a nice day it turned out to be!!  After yesterday's heavy rains and sloppy conditions today was down right lovely to work in.  We did not get as much rain yesterday as the Charlottetown and eastern areas but it was still enough to really slow things down.  The sun and wind today were welcome to try and help dry everything up again.

This weeks large share has leeks, dill, onion, garlic, cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, carrots, peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce mix, tomatoes, fennel and potatoes.  The grab box had hot peppers, kale, beets, parsley, cilantro, basil and lots of the above mentioned veggies. 

I made a really yummy pizza last night. I just took pocketless pitas and put sauce, lots of fresh basil, tonnes of tomatoes, a bit of ham and mushrooms and some grated cheddar cheese.  Into the oven for about 20 minutes and dinner was served!!  Totally didn't need to be in the oven that long but I forgot about it, just even on broil for a while will do the trick!!!  It was so fast, easy and best of all tasty.  Check out this blog for 10 tomato recipes that look amazing.  http://ohsheglows.com/2012/09/05/10-tomato-recipes-to-knock-your-socks-off/  Here is also a good one for a fritatta that uses tomatoes  http://howtoeat.ca/

Here is a recipe shared by Lisa for "Zucchini Bites"
2 c. grated zucchini
2 eggs
1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. grated cheddar or parmesan
1/2 c. bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 and coat 2 mini muffin pans w/ spray or veg oil
Squeeze zucchini in batches into a dishtowel to squeeze out excess liquid
Combine all ingredients in bowl
Fill muffin cups to top-- makes 24 bites
Bake ~18 min.

I had the best kale dish ever today.  Sandie brought Sally and I a dish of kale salad that she had made last night.  To be honest I was very sceptical, but the first bite was amazing and it did not take Sally and I long to finish off the dish, both asking for the recipe.  So, if you grabbed some kale today here is the recipe.  I think I may even have shared this earlier this season as its one Sandie recommended early on but here it is again. 

Kale Salad
7 or 8 kale leaves, torn, stems removed
1 full red pepper (or less if not a fave)
1or 2 carrot, shredded
2 green onion
1 14oz can chick peas (or less)
1/4 - 1/3 c pumpkin seeds
Feta cheese (I used half a block of goat feta in brine)
Dressing - couple tablespoons each light oil, braggs soy sauce, lemon juice
Mix dressing and adjust to suit taste.  Mix with kale and other ingredients.  Yummy!!!!

The winter squash are doing really well and should be ready soon.  Tomatoes are still growing strong and the peppers in the greenhouse are just starting to size up.  It's very odd that the peppers outside set so heavy while the inside peppers, in the preferred protected environment, took longer and seemed to set much lighter.  I'm hoping that when the first frosts come and the outside peppers and tomatoes are killed off that the plants in the greenhouse will continue to produce for much longer.  
Enjoy this weeks veggies and check out the pics below to see what we've been up to.

A different view of the large share

These are paprika peppers.  Very yummy.

Poor sad weedy greenhouse.  A few hours of elbow grease on Sunday and its looking much better. 

bye bye weeds!!

The pepper plants were starting to fall over so Derek made a nice little fence for them

Golden cherry tomatoes.  They are downright amazing!!!

Peppers all happy to be now standing up instead of falling over

Working on Sunday during the downpour!!  Good rain gear is a must



Brand new tiny kittens

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

11th CSA Week

It's been a very long day today so I'm afraid this blog is going to be rather "slim".  It was a great harvest day and the weather was awesome, not too hot but just perfect t-shirt weather.  The next few days sound rather "damp" so the rain gear will be getting used for the first time in a very long time!!

This weeks large share had carrots, tomatoes, sweet peppers (some green and some red), onion, zucchini, cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, small bag of yellow beans, beets, broccoli, lettuce mix and kohlrabi.  The grab box had leeks, cauliflower, green onions, hot peppers, golden beets, green and purple cabbage, garlic, kale, swiss chard, dill, cilantro, parsley and basil.  I had planned on having fennel as well but it never made it so sorry for anyone who was expecting it in the shares. 

The winter squash is doing very well and after the wind on the weekend I could actually see just how well they are growing.  The plants took quite a beating in the wind and today I saw some very nice looking butternut squash and some beautiful Red Kuri!!!  It'll be squash season very soon. 

I was very excited to see so many red peppers on the plants today.  We've never had great luck in the past getting peppers to mature from green to red but this is the year!!!   Tomatoes are also doing great, I just wish I had more that would ripen at once.  It seems that every week folks are getting 1-1.5 pounds each but never enough to offer up any for salsa or canning which I had really wanted to do!!!  There are tonnes of green ones still to ripen so hopefully there will be more weekly quantity available soon.

Here are some pictures of this weeks farm adventures and today's harvest.   

Super sweet carrots!!  I roasted up a pan full of these carrots and potatoes on the weekend, amazing!!!

I roasted up the coloured ones as well, just amazing.

Finally, red peppers.  Lots more are turning on the plants now

Finally starting to harvest our "seed" onions.  The set onions we a bit of a disaster this year. 

Broccoli and cauliflower in the grab box

Loading up on this week's veggies!!
Beautiful tomatoes, those little orange guys are amazing


More tomatoes, sure wish I could grow these year round.

Our oat cover crop is starting to take off.

Some items from one of the grab boxes

Fun golden beet we found in the field this morning

Giant zucchini!!!

Oh Sally, you really do love beets don't you!!

Packing bins

That beautiful tomato is called "Mortgage Lifter", not very pretty, prone to cracking but oh so tasty!!

Herb bin had dill, parsley, cilantro and basil today

Fresh salsa I made yesterday

Happy boys playing in the dirt

My giant tomato plant

Good times in the dirt

My boys!!!