Thursday, July 31, 2014

CSA For The Last Day of July!

Everyday starts and ends this way..for about another month!
It finally feels like summer! We had to wait until the end of July - but summer seems to be here!  Lovely and warm today, very little breeze, not a lot of bugs - fantastic day for harvesting for our families!  We were actually late for Tuesday's meet-up because there is so much to harvest right now!  We used our time a bit more wisely today and think we'll be on time!  There's so much labour-intensive veggies to harvest right now we could sure use some help - especially with raspberries!  If you'd like to find more raspberries in your basket and have time on Thursday mornings please let us know!

Beans will come hot-and-heavy for the next few weeks.  Here's a great link, with links at the bottom of the page, to a lot of ways to keep beans for winter use!  We've never dehydrated beans, but it seems like a good idea! They'll take up shelf space only, and a small space at that!  We regularly freeze beans and pack them in portions in freezer bags.  They stack nicely in the freezer, thaw quickly for use in soups, stews and stir fries!  We've picked the first of the Dragons Tongue - a Romano type bean, big and flat but tender and tasty!  Treat just like any other bean; unfortunately the purple stripes fade on cooking.

Our growing partners Amanda and Ed have provided beautiful cabbage again today.  They've also brought the first harvest of some fresh herbs.  The ferny leaf of the dill will be wonderful chopped for the new potatoes or in your salad - very different from the dried dill in the stores.  The heads of dill will flavor jars of the 'Dilly Beans' from the link above or a wonder to flavour vinegar for homemade salad dressing.  The flat leaf Parsley will be excellent chopped into salads or sprinkled on grilled chicken or pork.  It's also excellent for stuffing a roast chicken and I believe the first chickens from Luna Field Farm are available this week.  The herb with the flowers is Greek oregano - a zesty herb that will also be excellent in your salads.  It's fantastic to add a little Greek flavour to meats and pastas.  Try a little of the herb in your box straight, to give you an idea of the flavour.

The first share of new potatoes for Thursday's families- a lovely red Norland.  Please don't over-cook young potatoes.  We usually simply steam them for about fifteen minutes but you can boil them, too, just not too long!  New potatoes sometimes can get mushy if roasted in tin foil on the BBQ, so perhaps wait a couple of weeks until we've got older spuds for you!

Last week everyone got Boyne raspberries - the standard hardy raspberry for the Prairies grown here for decades.  For this Thursday, we got a small pick on Mammoth, a newer variety developed at the U of S.  There's just enough today for the Full Shares.  We'll be interested to see if you notice a difference.  We won't make any comment here 'cause we don't want to influence you!

So, for the Full Shares: Lg. cabbage, 3/4 lb. each of green, yellow, Royal Burgundy and Dragon's Tongue beans, 4 lbs. new potatoes, Lg. Mammoth raspberries, bag each Mesclun mixed lettuces and Grand Rapids, fresh dill.

For the Part Shares:  Lg. cabbage, 1/2 lb. each green, Royal Burgundy and Dragon's Tongue beans, 3/4 lb. yellow wax beans, 3 lbs. new potatoes, 1 lb. shelling peas, Boyne raspberries, bag each Mesclun Mix and Grand Rapids lettuce, fresh flat leaf parsley.

For the Single Shares: Sm. cabbage, 1/2 lb each green, yellow wax, Royal Burgundy and Dragon's Tongue beans, 3 lbs. new potatoes, Boyne raspberries, bag each Mesclun Mix and Grand Rapids lettuce, fresh Greek oregano.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

CSA for the Last Tuesday in July!

New Game in Town: Chasing Baby Goats From The Raspberries!
Hard to believe July is almost done!  We've hardly had any summer at all.  The local flooding, the storms, the lateness of the gardens make it feel like late Spring, maybe end of June!  However, vegetables are starting to come on strong now.  First pick of beans, first dig of baby potatoes, first couple of little Hungarian Hot peppers - good things are happening!  Right now it's a matter of time - many of these veggies take a while to pick so we could have had a bigger basket but just ran out of time!  Of course we had a couple of interruptions: The baby goats, led by that mischievous  Pygmy goat Dan-Dan, have developed a taste for raspberry leaves.  Every chance they get they're breaking out and heading for the north row!  Fortunately, they same to have to interest in the berries, just the leaves.

We've got a great pick on snap beans for everyone!  I'm sure you've all had the basic yellow wax bean and probably the common green bean.  The purple bean, Royal Burgundy, may be new to some.  Similar in flavour to the green bean, it will turn a dark green when it cooks.  That's always been such a disappointment to me because I love the colour purple!  Tasty, tasty bean, though!  The beans will be prolific over the next two to three weeks.  If they get to be a bit much for fresh eating please, please, please freeze some to enjoy in the winter!  Here's some great, simple instructions for freezing beans.  Of course, you can water-bath can beans - in vinegar, pickled!  If you've got a pressure canner, you can pressure can beans in water - just like store bought.  We freeze beans in the zippered plastic bags; we do a portion appropriate for the two of us, and freeze flat for good stacking in the freezer!  Don't want to can?  Here's an easy refrigerator Dilled Bean, which will last in the refrigerator for a couple of months!

So, for the Full Shares:  Large cabbage, 3 lbs. Norland baby potatoes, a few wee Hungarian Hot peppers, large bag mixed yellow and green beans, medium bag purple beans, bag each of Grand Rapids, Buttercrunch, and Mesclun mixed lettuce, pound of shelling peas, large Red Mammoth raspberries.

For the Part Shares:  Large cabbage, 2 lbs. Norland Red baby potatoes, medium bag mixed yellow and green beans, bag each of Grand Rapids, Buttercrunch and Mesclun mixed lettuces, pound of shelling peas, regular size Boyne raspberries.

For the Single Shares: Medium cabbage, 1.5 lbs. Norland baby potatoes, mixed yellow and green beans, bag each of Grand Rapids, Buttercrunch and Mesclun mixed lettuces, Snow Peas, reg. Boyne raspberries.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's CSA Thursday!

Some of Amanda and Ed's lovely cabbage!
A dreary, damp morning for CSA!  We had The Odd Job Squad out today to help pick raspberries.  This is a government program to help find work and activities for kids under sixteen.  Nice group of kids!  If you have 'odd jobs', chores, cleaning, packing, stacking, gardening or other such work please do consider giving them a call at 726-6199.  The kids get paid minimum wage, of course, and are enthusiastic and industrious.  They could be a boon, too, for small businesses looking for a little help packing orders or something!  Anyway, we were picking raspberries in a light rain so we highly recommend that you get them out of the containers and spread out on a cookie sheet or towel, because we're quite afraid mould will start quickly in the bottom layers!

Returning members will know this from previous years but for new members: our neighbours, Amanda and Ed, help grow for our CSA.  They are a retired couple, like-minded in terms of not using chemicals, they are enthusiastic, experienced gardeners and we're so happy to have them grow for you!  Once again this year, they've come up with some beautiful cabbage.  Amanda keeps these looking so good with a mix of flour and cayenne pepper to keep the bugs off!  Everyone is getting a lovely summer cabbage today!  Here's a round up of coleslaw recipes from simple to spicy Asian and more!  Of course, there is cabbage soup (along with the blogger's 7-day diet plan), cabbage fried, in sautees or steamed and cabbage rolls!  You'll probably get more cabbage, at least next week, so familiarize yourself with some recipes!  It stores well just in the fridge, so you don't need to get frantic about using it up in the next few days!

So, for today: for the Full Shares: a large cabbage, bag of Grande Rapids lettuce, bundle of baby Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, onions, large bag of shelling peas, small bag of snow peas, 2 pints raspberries.

For the Part Shares: large cabbage, bag of Grande Rapids lettuce, bundle of baby Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, onions, medium bag of shelling peas, two pints raspberries.

For the Single Shares:  small cabbage, bag of Grande Rapids lettuce, bundle of baby Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, onions, small bag of shelling peas, pint of raspberries.

We've got volunteer opportunities next week!  If you'd like to come help at the farm we need raspberry pickers on both Tuesday and Thursday mornings!  Volunteers always go home with bonuses!  We're also looking for help on Weeding Wednesdays, morning or evening come help pull a few of those weeds!  Pet a baby goat, cluck at a chicken, play with a small doggie or pet a barn cat - lots to do while you're here!  Email us if you're interested!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CSA, July 22nd.

Peas are coming nicely!
A couple of hot days, a couple of cool days, lots of bugs...not much has changed in the gardens since last Tuesday!  However, it's a day of firsts: 1st pick on the raspberries, 1st pick on the shelling peas!  Neither are big picks - but both are coming nicely!  We don't think it's going to be a great year for raspberries, but it will be a decent year!  We had trouble getting into the raspberries early on for pruning and weeding: it was just too wet and mucky!  We're also seeing lots of mechanical damage: berries have been 'smacked' into surrounding bushes and canes by the extreme high winds of some of our recent storms.  Lots of bits and pieces of willow have been blown in, breaking branches.  We're also seeing a bit of 'bloom' on the berries: a whitish tinge to the berry.  That's a cold, wet weather thing, not pretty but totally edible.  Bit of a mess in the raspberry rows!

We got a wee pick on snow peas for Saturday's Global Market.  Got another wee pick today, just enough for the Part Shares.  Shelling peas we got a better pick so enough for a decent share for all the Full Shares.  Sorry, no peas for Single Shares this week, but we'll keep you top of mind next week!

We've got some lovely baby Romaine lettuce for everyone today.  Of course, it's the main ingredient in a classic Caesar Salad!  It's got more crunch that the Grand Rapids, which you're also getting!  We've actually pulled the Romaine lettuce - roots and all.  Stand it in a vase or glass of water like a bouquet, with the roots just covered, for maximum freshness!

So, for the Full Shares:  Small bag of Swiss Chard, shelling peas, Romaine lettuce, Grand Rapids lettuce, bundle of onions, container of raspberries.

For the Part Shares:  Small bag of Swiss Chard, Snow peas, Romaine lettuce, Grand Rapids lettuce, bundle of onions, container of raspberries.

Single Shares:  Small bag of Swiss Chard, Romaine lettuce, Grand Rapids lettuce, bundle of onions, container of raspberries.

If you're looking for volunteer opportunities...we'd love some help picking raspberries the next few weeks.  They are quite labour intensive, so the more help the more berries for everybody.  Volunteers go home with a bonus!  Plus, every Wednesday here is Weeding Wednesday.  Lots of jobs, big and small, day or evening if you'd like to come out and pull a few, we'd welcome you!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CSA Today: Looks a Lot Like Tuesday's Share!

We're looking forward to meeting some new members today!  I always think it is rather incredible that people will give us money to grow their food without meeting us face to face!  I've had lots of email 'conversations' with people but we've never actually met!  Today is the day!

Not much development in the last two days.  Thursday's CSA share looks, well, exactly like Tuesdays! Check out Tuesdays' blog post for some great tips on storing fresh veggies throughout the season, as well as a nice link for homemade salad dressings where you can control the amount of sugar and other ingredients!

Although flooding continues in this region, water levels are receding slowly.  What remains is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes - and they are out in clouds.  Forget 'The Cloud' or the 'iCloud'! Brandon has numerous clouds.  Sand flies are also a huge problem today: the little nuisances are getting into ears, noses, behind glasses, down shirts!  The worst is when you try to talk to your harvesting companion and they fly in your mouth!  Not exactly the kind of protein I'm looking for!

Today's heat may help the vegetables.  Our worry is that in all the cool, wet soil plants didn't root very deeply and will now not be able to withstand high heat and little rain.  Our irrigation system is acting up (again!) so we'll have to have a visit from our pals at D & B Sprinklers real soon!

We were kind of surprised by the number of Tuesday's members who weren't familiar with Swiss Chard.  It's a nutrition super food, just not getting the attention kale seems to be getting right now!  Here's some detailed information on the health benefits of Chard!  You may have seen big, white-ribbed leaves in Grandma's garden, but we grow a variety called 'Bright Lights' with colourful stems and a milder taste.  Chard can be used raw in salads or cooked - like spinach.  Here's a great link with five easy Chard preparations!

So, today's share, everybody gets the same thing: a large bag of bright green 'Grand Rapids' lettuce, a bag of 'Red Sails' lettuce, a bag of Swiss Chard called 'Bright Lights' and a bundle of winter onions.  These onions have been in the ground all winter and are very tasty.  However, a few are getting ready to bloom and the stem may be hard.  The bulb and the greens still completely usable!

Enjoy your first taste of fresh-from-the-farm for this season!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

First CSA Share of 2014 - Not Much in the Basket!

We're sorry - the spinach didn't make it!
The first CSA share of the season! Later than most years due to odd, very odd, weather!  And not a big share, at that.  This year has seemed more of a struggle then any other.  After a long cold winter, a long cold spring has made gardening challenging.  In the last month, a few weird storms have set us back even more.  At least we're not flooding, like some of our neighbours!

Veggies struggled early on.  We basically lost the spinach: it was tiny and yellowed and much died in cold, wet soil.  As the temperatures have improved, some has come back but only to go straight to seed!  I've never seen spinach two inches high with four poor leaves flowering.  It's a goner!  Some of our winter squash was washed out, as well as some of the beets and carrots.  We've replanted all, but it's rather amusing to see Delicata squash coming up eight feet down the hill from where it was planted!  The early planting of radishes have cracked from too much rain and have baby bugs tunnelling in them, so they're getting plowed under.

There's not a lot to say about today's harvest so I figured we'd start with some basics.  Here's a great link to storing and keeping your fresh vegetables and fruits:  This one is worth bookmarking: it has basic tips as well as links for specific vegetables and fruits.  We bring our vegetables as 'fresh from the field' as we can, with a basic rinse but I wouldn't consider them well washed.  We recommend getting everything out of plastic as soon as you can.  Here's a good link for vegetable 'washes', very useful for store-bought veggies which are more likely to have waxes, pesticide residues and such.  Our veggies are just...somewhat dirty but the washes are helpful to keep them fresh longer.  Since this first few weeks will be all about greens here's a great link for DIY salad dressings.  Homemade salad dressings can be made free of extra sugar and additives, and can be made fresh in small quantities.

The rejected lettuce will make excellent goat food!
So today is simple: Everyone gets a bag of Grand Rapids lettuce, a bright green, frilly lettuce perfect for salads or sandwiches.  Everyone gets a bag of Red Sails lettuce, pretty in a salad.  There are winter onions, in the ground since last fall.  Some are starting to go to seed, so if the stem is very hard it cannot be used, otherwise all parts will be very tasty in salads or cooking.  Everyone is getting Swiss Chard, a variety called Rainbow Lights with bright coloured stems.  Chard can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach: braised, sauteed or simply steamed.  We've used it in a quiche and it was very good!

So, a slow start to our CSA, but it's all fresh and chemical-free!  Just FYI...the raspberries and the beans are coming very well.......