Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CSA Week 6 and on the Farm

I haven't been particularly good about writing on my blog this season. My trusted Macbook was in for repairs, expensive ones at that, and well, of course I have been watering. And watering. Too occupied to write I guess.

It sure is dry. It nearly seems like a bad dream sort of dry. Many things are doing well, but only because I am watering as much as possible. Some things are struggling. The corn is starting to tassel and it is only 2 feet high. That's not a good sign.

When I plan how I am going to plant in the spring, I consider a typical year. As my land is somewhat rolling, there are low spots that I anticipate will be too wet for certain crops. Not this year though. Those low spots are the best spots this year. I am also grateful for my clay, which with its' fine particles, is holding onto that moisture unlike a sandy soil.

You can see the effects of he drought as you drive through the country. The big farmers with their soybeans and corn are struggling. I read in the paper that 80% of the soy crop this year is a write-off. I am sure the corn is much the same. What a shame.

At least I can water, and I am much happier to have a dry year than a wet one.

It has been a bit of a difficult month beyond the drought here as we had to say good-bye to my dear piggy Joey, who had a heart attack one very hot day about 2 weeks ago. I know people will miss seeing him when they come to visit the farm, and I am missing him every single day. He was loved.

In the baskets this week was an interesting assortment of veggies. Not all baskets were the same, but there were some common ingredients in them all. Lettuce, fresh garlic heads, radishes, chard,  tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplants, broccoli, artichokes, beets, cucumbers, zucchini, New Zealand spinach, papalo and parsley. I think that covers what you may find.

The beets may have been your more standard fare, or perhaps the beets above.  If you didn't get them this week, you will. The white beets are sugar beets, and when you eat them, you'll know. They are super sweet and good. The yellows are Golden Grex, and are much longer and less bulbous than I figured  they would be. Very pretty though.

Papalo is an interesting herb, similar in flavour to cilantro, but clearly a different look and a stronger taste. This herb is native to Mexico, and is best not cooked. Add it to your salsa in the place of cilantro.

It surprises me when people tell me they don't care for chard. I can admit there is a lot of it in the summer, and my attempt is not to dole it out weekly. But it was so beautiful and big this week, that I added it in anyways.

Here is one way to use up some of that chard, recipe from Laurel's Kitchen. If you are vegan, sub accordingly!

Chard Cheese Pie
6 cups lightly steamed chard, well drained
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
2 eggs beaten
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs

Beat together cottage cheese, lemon juice,eggs and salt.stir a cup of this mixture into the chard and press it down in a well greased 8x8 pan. Spread the remaining cottage cheese mixture evenly over the top and sprinkle on bread crmbs and paprika. Bake for 1/2 an hour or until set. Allow to stand for several minutes before slicing into squares.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

CSA Week 2 and on the Farm

This blog post may be brief, due to the fact I am working on an Ipad, rather unfamiliar territory to me.
Yes indeed, the good less than 2 year old Apple Macbook died  and I am trying to get by on this, but it is testing my patience.
There certainly is a reason I don't work on computers all day and much prefer to be in the garden. It sure has invaded my business regardless though, and I depend on technology a great deal.

The garden remains dry, but I am watering recently seeded crops to get them to pop. Lots is growing well, weeds included, and the routine is weed, water and mulch.

Mulching will be vital this year in helping to retain soil moisture and regulating soil temperatures.
It was a challenge today to get things done and get out the door with the veggie baskets, primarily on account of a chicken named Ruby, Rubes for short.
That girl.
Percy, my orange kitty busted through the screen door into the garage last year so he could come and go at will. ruby was quick to discover the hole and pops in frequently to check in on the cat food sitution. She loves cat food.
Amazingly enough, on Sunday I cleaned out my garage which was quite an undertaking. I have a great table to work on in the garage, and now enough room to assemble the shares, right beside my cooler and my weigh scale.
It really is nice though to work in the garage with the large overhead door open, which presented me with the challenge of keeping Rubes out. Not only was the cat food there to tempt, but also the freshly picked greens would deserve a peck no doubt.
I set up a simple barracade, but she figured that out by hopping over. So I doubled the height of the barricade, and she spent hours assessing the situation, cocking her head this way and that, and bolting
for the door as I walked in and out closing the screen door and the wood door behind me.
That girl. She is a special one.


 The baskets today were spring, even though it is the first day of summer. Lettuce mix, greens (either kale or chard), garlic scapes, greens onions, radishes, cilantro and basil. I hope the cilantro lovers out there are happy because it is one thing I grow I don't really care for, and cutting it was tough...as was driving around with that smell in my vehicle. I guess you either love it or hate it.

The good news is that the tomatoes are coming, Stupice of course and from the greenhouse. Soon a nice sampling will appear in the baskets.
My patience has reached an end. Until next week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

CSA Week One and On the Farm

Today was week one of shares for my Tuesday CSA people, and tomorrow is week two for my Wednesday folks.

Indeed it is spring and this is apparent from the basket contents. There is ample lettuce...most of it my favourite variety, Bronze Arrowhead, radishes, greens, (kale, chard, chicory), microgreens, rhubarb and a bit of parsley and basil.

It has taken a whole lot of watering to get to this point.  It is dry, dry, dry.
I am grateful for my clay which holds the water well, but regardless the lettuce takes lots of watering, as do any newly seeded areas.

I do a lot of hand watering because I find it keeps me tuned in well to what is happening in the garden, and I also find it relaxing, a nice way to end the day. The water I use is from a well I had dug many years ago, not the Welland River that I live on. I pump from my very deep well, into my pond which warms the water up, then out into the garden.

I have sent back a few sprinklers this year that have been very disappointing and flimsy, and am awaiting another right now in the mail.  In the meantime, for smaller areas I am using a fantastic sprinkler that I got  from the dollar store. In 15 minutes it totally saturates an area of about 120 square feet and is very efficient. You just never know. As much as hand watering is what I prefer, it is time consuming and many times I just need to be doing something else.

The anticipated rain on Thursday would do wonders. I am really hoping.

The garden is pretty much in, but as crops come off, I continue to plant. Lettuce is seeded weekly as are microgreens. Weeding is in full gear, and I am trying to mulch as much as I can to cut down on the necessity of weeding and conserve moisture.

Today as I scrambled to get things ready for my shares and store deliveries, a few things distracted me. My big orange friend Percy was sitting on the grass twitching his tail and gazing at something he had no doubt caught. As I approached him, I couldn't believe my eyes. It took a few minutes to register, but then it did. This big bruiser of a cat caught a weasel! Weasels are pretty vicious little things, and I know have been responsible for the loss of some of my hens and bunnies in the past. It is sad, but it does worry me to know they are around. One less now though.

Then as I was walking past some long grass, some movement caught my eye. A baby robin with an injured leg, not yet able to fly. Oh, this is so difficult.
But with Percy cruising the area, I had to intervene, and I scooped up the little guy. I hope I made him comfortable in a cage, and I gave him strawberries, which I figured must be okay, because all the other little robins are eating my crop. He ate a good bit, worms too, and I am hoping he can get strong enough to head out on his own. It's hard with baby birds, but I am hoping.

Pray for rain and have a great week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Need Heirloom Tomato Seedlings? Tomato Days 2016, May 21 and on!

For the past three months I have been busy seeding tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and all kinds of wonderful things. And in just over 1 week I begin selling some pretty great seedlings. Next Saturday, May 21st at 8 am I begin selling, and I will continue on all weekend and for at least the next month thereafter.

My organically grown plants are super green and healthy, stocky and strong as they should be. When you receive them they are hardened off and ready to go in your garden, weather permitting.  They are in 3 1/2 pots and most of the plants are 6-8 inches tall (now) depending on the variety.

This year there are more than 500 varieties of tomatoes to choose from....and how do you choose? It is so tough that I struggle with that one myself. There are so many very, very good ones.  I have reds, oranges, yellows, whites, greens, blacks, browns, blues, pinks and purples. There are striped and fuzzy, very large, teeny tiny, early and late. There are excellent paste and canning types in every colour. Do you want that old fashioned taste? Yes, I have that. Something with less of an acid kick? I have that too.

I have grown all of them and many more over the years. Want to talk tomatoes? I am always happy to do that!

When you arrive please pick up a listing with variety descriptions. The descriptions are brief and to the point, and if you need more details, I can help you.

I have many varieties that are so rare they are not available commercially. Some gleaned from years of involvement in seed exchanges or from personal encounters with seed developers are very special to me. They are heirloom treasures indeed.

As I do grow so many varieties and am a small grower, all varieties are limited quantity. So if you are coming out for the first time, expect that Saturday morning there will be a crowd. Many people know exactly what they are looking for and come early to find it.  It is a bit of mayhem. But fun tomato mayhem.

If you just want something great, there are lots of those, thousands in fact. I never run sell out of tomatoes....there are oodles.  I hope you will leave with something that makes your summer sandwiches and salads delightful indeed. Your sauces sing...you get it.

In addition to tomatoes, I have much much more. I have a huge selection of hot peppers this year, sweet peppers too. There are eggplants, melons, zucchini and cucumbers, mouse melons, broccoli, lettuce,kales, cauliflower, ground cherries, cape gooseberries, tomatillos, basils and a small selection of flowers. And more.

I will also be selling my seed. I have lots of veggies that are best direct seeded, including radishes, peas, carrots, beets, beans, cuke seed and again, lots more. Even a farm original bean.

I'm always so happy to see return customers and hear about your experiences with the tomatoes. But if you are a new gardener, I can guide you in making good selections and help out with growing advice.

I am delighted as well that there will be other vendors joining in on the Saturday opening day. Again there will be some large potted perennials for sale, coffee and snacks, soaps, alpaca products and possibly a bit more.

I look forward to welcoming you to Wainfleet. ( GPS address: 74038 Creek Rd Wainfleet) I am situated just outside the village of Wellandport. You may park at the third  grassy laneway on the left after the two paved driveways into the church parking lot, courtesy of Riverside Church. Watch for the signs.

Sales are cash or cheque only, I am sorry but I remain low tech here.

See you then!