Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The final CSA Week

It's hard to believe the 2010 CSA season is coming to a close this week. At the Charlottetown pick-up tonight lots of people asked if I was happy to be done. I have to say I have mixed feelings, it's always nice to complete something so on one hand I am happy to be done but I"m really going to miss my Tuesday and Thursday "social hours". It's been a great summer and fall seeing everyone each week. Sometimes its a quick hello and off they go with their veggies and sometimes its an in-depth conversation about how to control crows, new and interesting recipes they tried that week, updates on what their kids were up to, etc. etc. etc. This was our third CSA season and my favourite so far. I'm not sure if its because I'm more confident in my product or because the members seemed more "into" it this year. I have had a great season and am really looking forward to next year.

The response from the surveys has been great, I'm seeing that cabbage needs to be grown less, broccoli and cauliflower more, more garlic, more potatoes. We have gotten over 50% of the surveys back which is by far the highest return rate yet. Thank you everyone for taking the time to fill them out.

This weeks large box had lettuce mix, carrots (Hughes Hill Farm), parsnips, beets, rutabaga, stir fry mix (baby spinach, baby swiss chard, baby tatsoi), yellow & red onion, shallot, baby bok choy and a leek. The grab box was filled with goodies including winter squash, kale, swiss chard, green peppers, parsley, daikon radish and more of the above mentioned veggies. Someone commented today at the pick-up that they were surprised there were still greens in the baskets at this time of the year. Greens are surprisingly hardy and do quite well this time of year. Many greens are sensitive to the heat and will turn bitter or bolt making them inedible. If I had been on the ball when I planted some of my greens and covered them with some floating row cover I could have had much bigger lettuce mix plants and would have been able to give out bigger bags. That is one thing I am hoping to improve on for next year, better season extension to have better greens such as spinach, lettuce mix and Asian greens longer in the season. With a bit of protection we could easily eat fresh salad at Christmas!!!

One little experiment that worked really well for me this year was pepper plants potted and left in my greenhouse shed for the summer. I had three different sized pots; small, medium and large. I kept them watered but not overly looked after. The small and medium potted plants are quite small but they each produced 2-3 peppers which are now a brilliant shade of red. The large pots each produced 5-6 peppers and they are also now red. We have been enjoying the nice red sweet treat and I will miss them when they are all picked. Next season when all of the rest of the seedlings get transplanted to the garden I am going to fill up the back of my greenhouse shed with potted pepper plants and then at the end of the season when all of the field peppers are long gone and the plants are frost burnt I'll be able to put nice fresh red peppers in the CSA baskets. Definitely something to look forward to. *** Did you know that a red pepper is just a green pepper that has fully ripened ***

Daikon Radish - nice and spicy

The final Tuesday harvest - all washed and ready to pack into the CSA bins

Kale and Swiss chard soaking

Baby bok choy

I'll continue to blog during the winter but it might not be at my regular weekly Tuesday evening but check back often to keep updated on our farm adventures. We're hoping to have a work party this weekend to work on the barn so hopefully some updated pictures will soon be posted.

I've said it before and I'll say it again that we have the NICEST CSA members ever. This season I have been treated with fresh zucchini bread, fresh biscuits, jams, dried herbs, homemade cookies, countless new recipes and tonight a very special treat indeed. A super cute basket filled with preserves including strawberry and raspberry jam, dill pickles, ultra cute farm fridge magnets and a loaf of yummy bread. Now you tell me I don't have the nicest CSA members ever!! Thanks to everyone for a great CSA season.

End of season gift, thanks Terry!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

17th CSA Week

I can't believe next week is the final CSA week. This season has just flown by. I'm going to miss seeing all of our CSA members every week. It's really been my social life which is pretty sad considering I'm only delivering veggies but none the less it really was the highlight of my week. The CSA baskets were a bit on the slim side today but the grab boxes were full so everyone had the chance to fill up on goodies such as winter squash, kale, swiss chard, daikon radish, tomatoes and hot peppers. The large share this week had a small bag of lettuce mix, either spinach or tatsoi, green sweet peppers, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, beets, leeks and onions. We almost had enough of our own carrots for today's pick-up but a few came freshly dug this morning from Hughes Hill Farm in Kelly's Cross. The rest of the carrots for the next week will be coming from their farm. Thanks to Gary & Kelly for their carrot supply!! Many of our members asked why we ran out this year when last year we were over run with carrots at the end of the season. It basically comes down to old seed maybe playing a bit of a part but mainly I used a flame weeder and I think I may have "flamed" a bit too hot causing cooked seeds. I do plan to try the flamer again next season but on a much more of a "trial" bases. Not having carrots in the CSA shares is just a big no no!!!!

The weather today was nice and sunny but by the time it came to wash the vegetables it was darn right cold!! It's that time of year again where the insulated wash gloves return along with toques and down filled vests. I feel very lucky that the majority of harvest days this season have been pretty nice.

Survey Results. We have received back a good number of surveys which is great. I had a pretty big question in which I asked the members to rate each vegetable/herb we grow based on weather they wanted to eat that vegetable every week, often but not every week, only now and then or not at all. I was not surprised at all to see the more common vegetables top the list including carrots, potatoes, lettuce, onions, broccoli, etc.as wanting to be eaten every week but a few things did surprise me including leeks being either only once in a while or not at all. Of course there were the leek fans in there wanting them every week as well. I'm hoping to get a few more surveys back to get more vegetable ratings to be able to plan better for next year. One thing I have noticed and gotten feed back from members is about beets. People say they like them but not every week please. That kind of feedback is very important so that next year I can plan better and not plant as many. That's where the beauty of the grab box comes in, if you don't like beets just leave them behind for a beet lover who may be coming behind you. Thanks to everyone who already filled out the survey last week. Great feedback!!!

I'll leave you with a few pictures of the boys. Until next week enjoy your veggies!!!


Ben enjoying his carrot

Going for a drive around the farm

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

16th CSA Week

What a beautiful harvest day. The sun was shinning, a calm breeze and even though it was chilly first thing it warmed up to be an awesome day. There was definitely frost out side this morning but the only thing it might have affected was the winter squash, the tomatoes and peppers seemed fine thankfully. Over the weekend we used a tomato press for the first time, what a marvellous invention. It separates the skins and seeds from the pulp by the turn of the crank. We are now currently cooking a gigantic pot of tomato sauce for winter eating. Yum Yum Yum.

This weeks large shares have carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, garlic, red and yellow onions, kale, arugula or komatsuna, lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes and green peppers. The grab box has swiss chard, leeks, pea shoots, winter squash and more of the above mentioned veggies. Normally this would be our last CSA week but this year we decided to go for two extra weeks as last time at this year we had lots of veggies in the field. We still do have lots of certain types of veggies like parsnips, beets and rutabaga but we're quickly running out of carrots, lettuce mix, garlic, winter squash, leeks and others. It looks like my veggie planning may have been on the low side but I'll do my best to fill the baskets right till the end.

Portuguese Kale & Sausage Soup (uses slow cooker)

Saute in 2 Tbsp. olive oil:
-2 med. onions, finely chopped
-4 med. carrots finely chopped
-1 lb. smoked sausage, chorizo, or andouille sausage, cut into 1/2" rounds
(I used chorizo...and only had about 1/2 lb. on hand...the soup still had lots of heat!)
til onion is translucent.

Transfer above to lg. slow cooker (5-7 quart). Add:
-1 lb. kale, chopped into 1" pieces (I used our portion from the box...not sure of weight)
-6 cups chicken broth
-5 med. potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
-2 bay leaves.

Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, until potatoes are tender.
Remove bay leaves and stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro.
Serves 8.
(source: Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever, by Diane Phillips) **Thanks for Sue for this awesome recipe**

Komatsuna Saute:

2 cloves garlic
1tbs butter
1 large bunch komatsuna (chopped)
sea salt
Melt butter in large sauce pan or wok. Add chopped garlic and saute until tender, approx 3 minutes. Add komatsuna and mix with tongs until they wilt down. Add a dash of salt and pepper and enjoy. We had leftover pasta with sausage along with this meal but I think serving the greens over a nice bed of rice would be excellent. For a nutty flavor add in chopped peanuts.

Yearly Inspection: We successfully completed another organic inspection on Saturday, I always get super nervous before the inspector comes as I'm afraid my paper work will be sketchy, that data will be missing and that something glaring and obvious will be found and we'll lose our organic certification. But of course I always worry about nothing as it went well and our inspector said things were great. We do need to work on our organic seed orders however, currently we order about 50% seeds from certified organic sources but we should be aiming for 100%. So I'll have to buckle down next year when I'm seed orderning and do a better job!!!

Elizabeth and I reviewing paper work on the farm tour. It was a chilly morning. Brrrr

Survey Time!!! Every year we ask our CSA members to fill out a season end survey so we can get a feel for how we did in regards to quality, quantity, vegetable preference etc. I am using survey monkey this year so poeple can fill it out online. I am very curious to see the results and suggestions and comments members have about the 2010 season.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

15th CSA Week

It was another beautiful harvest day here at the farm with the sun shining full force and a light breeze. The veggies are holding on and the CSA baskets were above value yet again. This week everyone gets a nice big pumpkin so you can either save it for a jack-o-lantern or slice it up for a nice Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. I've been told that pie-pumpkins are the preferred pumpkin for a pie but jack-o-lanterns are fine as long as you add a bit more sugar and its a bit of a grainyer texture so try putting it through a food processor first to smooth it out.

This weeks large share includes: arugula, radish, carrots, parsnips, beets, a rutabaga, pint of cherry tomatoes, 6 large slicing tomatoes, onions, leeks and a choice between a butternut, buttercup, blue hubbard and bush delicta winter squash. The grab box had lettuce mix, cilantro, parsley, swiss chard, cabbage and lots of the above mentioned veggies.

Check out the two recipes below sent in by two CSA members.

Squash Casserole

1 box stuffing mix (don't use one with bits of rice in it)
1/2 cup butter
1 squash
1 small onion
250 mL sour cream
1 tin cream of chicken soup

Melt butter and use it to moisten stuffing mix. Put this on bottom layer of casserole dish.
Dice and boil squash, mash. Cut onion into small pieces and mix with mashed squash. Put this on top of the stuffing layer. Mix sour cream and soup together. Pour on top of casserole.
Bake for approx, 20-25 minutes at 375. You'll know it's done as the top will be starting to boil.
**Thanks to Carolyn for sending this along**

Veggie Drawer Root Vegetable Clean-out:

It's very forgiving, and very adaptable:

Find all the root vegetables lurking in your fridge: beets, turnip, parsnips, carrots, etc. and potatoes if you need more veggies
Flavorable things like: onions, peppers, fennel bulb, mushrooms, garlic cloves
Olive oil, salt and pepper, any herbs you like.
Orange juice -- optional

Get out a really large roasting pan or a few smaller ones like 9x13inch
Quickly wash and peel the root veggies, cut everything into chunks -- maybe 2cm by 2cm by 3cm -- and throw in pan. Peel onion and quarter, slice fennel, leave garlic cloves and mushrooms whole. Drizzle with a decent amount of olive oil and add salt and pepper, and toss with hands to coat thoroughly.

Cover pan with tight lid or with foil, can cook at 350 for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours. You can adjust the temperature down if you are baking something else.

Stir (making sure things aren't sticking) and add some orange juice, if desired, after an hour or so. Test for doneness towards the end (be careful of steam when opening foil).

Serves four generous servings.

This is very basic, but if you feel like you can't bear to open your crisper because of the root vegetables taking space, this will use up a lot and is pretty tasty. Leftovers can be added to soup or a stirfry. It goes well with a salad and meat, or a salad and a grain dish.
**Thanks to Chris for sending this along today**


Variety of winter squash

The barn now has the trusses attached and is about 75% strapped. The steel arrived Friday night and I was hoping that progress would have been greater to actually start putting the steel on Sunday but Derek was still strapping the roof so that job will have to wait for awhile yet. It seems pretty straight forward but I think there are probably a million little odd jobs that need to be done before its actually time for the steel. Its starting to really look like something. Derek's brothers Ronnie and John came out last week to help out which was great.

Waiting in the fog for the trusses to arrive.

The crane setting the trusses in place

Derek's brother John came out to help

Inside the barn

The front side of the roof strapped

Ben & Jake enjoying the wheel barrow

So serious - hair cut anyone?

Jake rocking the pink rubber boots

A friend of ours was taking a hike through the hills and took this great shot of the farm. Thanks Greg

If your in need of a chicken for Thanksgiving Barnyard Organics will be selling their organic chickens (and lamb) from the freezer on their truck this Thursday from 4-5:30pm near the Harbour Quay building which is right across the confederation trail from our CSA pick-up. How convenient!!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and we hope your long weekend is filled with family and farm fresh veggies.