Tuesday, October 6, 2015

CSA Week 19 and Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

I haven't been on here in a while. It's funny how time seems to just slip away.
One week I am meditating in Tobermory, the next I am back and working in the garden, amazed by how much food needs to be gathered and dealt with.
Honestly, I will say....it is the best of times. There is so much food, the weather is great to work in again, with the heat of the summer a memory.
But it is also the worst of times as my closest friend has been diagnosed with leukemia and is undergoing treatment. Chemo is tough. I've been through it with my mom and it is a worry. One of my friends said to me that in a hundred years people may look back on our cancer treatments of today as being primitive and I hope that is true. I hope it gets better for people struggling to get well.
I think about her a lot when I am in the garden. The garden is a place of peace for me, especially at this time of year.
The girls are both back in school, the conservation area down the road is closed up for the season and it is just quieter here.
I'm getting ready for the winter. 6 cords of wood are stacked and there has been the occasional fire in the wood stove on a chilly night.

I've dealt with some of the food that needs to be tucked away for the winter...squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes and apples. Oh, the apples. I've made apple butter, applesauce, apple cider and am working on a brew of hard cider. Wish me luck.
I tried my hand at making soy milk too. Its easy and I have enough soybeans to keep me in soy milk for the whole year. My thing is though the soybeans are green, not your typical beige and the milk has a nice green tinge too. Mollie is not impressed. I told her I could also use my black soybeans. She was less impressed.
If you want to try your hand at making soy milk, I am happy to add soybeans to you CSA share next week. I'll tell you how to do it too.

I've still got lots of greens in the garden, carrots, beets, tons of peppers, still a few tomatoes, tomatillos, and other assorted small fruit. I am hoping for a good spell of sunny and warm to get all the beans dried. There's lots and lots. Some for seed and many more to eat as dried beans in the winter.
Today is the second to last delivery of the 2015 season.

Sometimes early in the season, I can carry multiple baskets at a time up to the drop off locations. Today it was one at a time. There was lots of food.
Squash, carrots, jerusalem artichokes, onions, thyme, parsley, chives, rosemary, sage, horseradish, watermelon, hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, kale or chard and cut lettuce mix filled the baskets, boxes and the odd-assorted containers nicely.
The jerusalem artichokes are good in many ways. Mashed or fried and I have even been known to crunch on them raw. They have a nice distinctive and nutty flavour. Or perhaps roasted?

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes
Scrub and cut chokes into bit sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, sea salt, onion or garlic and chopped thyme.
Layer on a baking sheet and roast them for 35 or so minutes at 350. Carrots are nice to add to this too.

Enjoy and we'll chat next week! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

CSA week 14- Mollie's Guest Post and Potato and Green Bean Saute

    This week my mom has gone to a retreat centre up in Tobermory, lots of yoga, meditation etc. etc.
I know she'd be having a great time, things like this are just up her alley, and she deserves to get away sometimes. So this week the baskets were the responsibility of me and my lovely sister Emily. But mom still ended up doing most of the work for us on Sunday, oh well, I can't complain about that.
This summer I've been getting up pretty late and going to bed pretty late, I'm not gonna lie. But because my mom is away I've had to wake up early to take care of the animals and water the plants. At first that wasn't very fun, but around 7:00 I was out picking apples to put on the top of the CSA baskets and started to notice the little things all around me, like the dew collected in the spider webs hanging between the branches and the flowers that had just bloomed through that night. It's amazing the things you notice when you aren't too focused on anything else.

Back to the baskets, so this week they each contain lots o'beans, some potatoes, tomatillos and ground cherries, summer squash/zucchini, peppers (hot and sweet), cabbage, a few herbs and some tomatoes like the cherries on top.
There is probably more, forgive me for what I missed.
Anyways, the recipe I found this week is from a website called food.com, here it is:


lb potato, halvedlb  fresh green beans, trimmed12teaspoons  extra virgin olive oilgarlic clove, mincedsalt, to tastefresh ground black pepper, to tastetablespoons  fresh basil, chopped


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add potatoes; cook about 15 minutes, or until almost tender.
  3. Add beans; cook about 3 minutes, or until tender; drain well.
  4. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
  5. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  6. Add potatoes, beans, and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cook about 2 minutes, or until heated through, tossing to coat.
  8. Add basil and toss once more before serving.

The post tonight will be cut short, it's getting quite late and though we're many miles away I know that my mom has been asleep for a while now. 

Enjoy your veggies!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

CSA Week 13 and Beet Carrot Burgers

Always good to have a little help
It is a time of plenty.
The gardens are in full swing, and tomatoes and beans are plentiful indeed.

This year I have a few very interesting tomatoes that I am trying for the first time.
The tomato pictured below is a stunner. I sure wish I knew what it is.  I think when I was hoeing around the plants I must have buried the tags, and despite a bit of digging around the plant, I haven't unearthed the tags. My winter job is to figure it out. No matter, I am saving seeds.

Blue Green Zebra is another very pretty tomato.

Zebra Rita too. This gal seeded herself this year and is producing very well, pretty much at the same time as the others started in March.

It surprises me really the number of things that I direct seeded and how strongly they came on. I did some peppers, tomatoes, litchi tomatoes and eggplants and they are pretty much where the earlier seeded crops are. To me this seems to be a change. The world is changing, that is for sure, and if you tune into your backyard garden you will feel it too.
Other changes in my area are very evident.
When we moved here 20 years ago, I couldn't imagine this being anything but a quiet little hamlet.
It sure has changed, and this summer working in the garden, there are times that the noise has been deafening.
Next to me now is a Retreat Centre, and it required a vey large septic bed, with tandem trucks bring in soil, day after day. Now the trucks rumble down the road because of the wind turbine being installed.
On a whim, I went to look at a hobby farm for sale last weekend in an area a bit more remote and a wee bit quieter.
Doing something like that is good, because it helps me put it all in perspective.
I have it pretty good here. It would be hard to leave the river, hard to leave the trees from my parents farm, hard to leave my apple trees...the list goes on.
I am pretty settled here for now. It is pretty good.

Today's baskets were brimming with food. Lots of tomatoes, beans, sweet and hot peppers, carrots, beets, basil, leaf celery, dahlias and maybe something else too.
Perhaps something a little bit different to do with the carrots and beets?
This recipe is adapted from "Farmer John's Cookbook".

Baked Beet and Carrot Burgers

oil for baking sheet
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups peeled grated beets
2 cups grated carrots
2 eggs or substitute
1 cup brown rice
1 cup grated vegan or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
hot pepper to taste

Preheat oven, grease baking sheet.
Toast sesame seeds in a hot skillet, transfer to a dish to cool
Repeat the process with the sunflower seeds.
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Shape them into patties, and bake at 350 for 20 or so minutes.

There-you got your veggies!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CSA Week 12 and Pictures

The heat, the torrential rain-today we had it all.
Sadly I didn't get all the baskets done before the rain and I think trying to rush it along messed me up.
I left the house without some of the Bamboo Natural Food store order, figuring that out about 20 minutes away from home. So I came back, only to end up in St Catharines without one of the shares.
Thanks to Linda (so much!) for helping out with that.
But it all landed where it needed to. The shares, the store orders and the rain. Again, we needed it.
The garden is producing a whole lot right now and there is lots of food in the shares at this time of year. I put all the ingredients in for fresh salsa...loads of tomatoes, peppers hot and sweet, onions and garlic. Shares also included summer squash, a mix of heirloom beans, beets, mixed  cut lettuce and other items as well.
Now...pictures. I hope you enjoy looking at them!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Around the Farm and CSA Week 11

The nights are getting cooler. Could it be that fall is on the way?
There are a few things that I still want to plant outside as the empty spaces from onions and garlic now harvested are tilled up.
Late August is the ideal time to sow a few of my favourite things. I may put in a few more beets, although there are quite a few in already. If I do it will be the nice long Cylindra, which are perfect for pickled beets.
Definitely going in will be assorted turnips, but definitely Red Round, Watermelon radishes and more kohlrabi. These are all cool weather crops and they should thrive doing most of their growing in the month of September.
It seems crazy to me to be thinking about fall....but that is what I am thinking of. Time to get the wood ordered and stacked, get as many things canned and in the freezer as I can and plant crops for the fall.
As I get older, the summer and the years seem to fly by even more quickly. This summer has been going by at record speed and the CSA season is more than half over now.
It has been a reasonable growing season...not horrible, but not superb.
There are signs of blight on the tomatoes, some of the greens have slowed down with the last very dry spell we have had, and yes, the insect pests are out there. I have been picking Colorado Potato Beetle larvae, squishing squash bug nymphs, and feeding the occasional tomato hornworm to my chickens. They are delighted.
Now...pictures. This weeks baskets contained the following:

These carrots are grown from seed that an acquaintance brought back from a trip to India. They are Indian Red, but some are mottled with purple, most are rooty and gnarled, but they taste very good.

Thanks to Mary for this zucchini in your basket. She had told me about this cool striped zucchini at a Seedy Saturday event last winter, then this spring, brought me a package. Gardening friends are pretty great. It has done well.

Yes, the black radishes have appeared. You may grate them finely and eat raw, but they cook up very well too and taste more than vaguely reminiscent of rutabaga.  Tomatoes of course figure prominently in the baskets too.

The beans are mostly two very rare varieties, on the left Blue Ribbon, a thicker, meatier bean and on the right, Bobis D'Albenga. A few yellows and purples may have made their way into your baskets too.
Rounding out the baskets were hot and sweet peppers, cut lettuce mix, chard/kale and herbs.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Around the Farm and CSA Week 10

Organic Gardening, the magazine, ceased to exist this year. A trusted and reliable source for information over the years, I guess it was no longer relevant, although that is a matter of opinion. Perhaps more likely, sales were down and it needed to relate to a wider audience to pull in readers, not just the hippie-folk who practised organic gardening.
For me, it was a tense time. I had been a test gardener for Organic Gardening for 8 or so years, along with a cast of folks from Las Vegas (Leslie), to California (Nan), to Washington State, North Carolina and all points in between.
If you are a gardener, you would understand how wonderful it is to get a big parcel of free seeds to trial in the mail every year. Most years it is upward of 40 different items, including veggies, herbs and flowers.
Many of these would be things I wouldn't likely have tried otherwise, although as the years go by the parcel includes more heirlooms as they increase in popularity.
It's wonderful too, to have a long standing connection with amazing gardeners and people across the US who are growing and testing the same seeds as you are, many times under very, very different conditions. The communications have been terrific. They are a great group of people, whom I have known for 9 years now, but never met.
It was great to get the word that the trial garden program would continue with the birth of the new "Organic Life" magazine, although how exactly the results will show up in the magazine, I am not sure.
No matter though.
There are definitely some real winners this year, and if you are in my CSA, you may have eaten some of them.

My first favourite in the test garden is the "Roxanne" radishes (F1). These radishes were an AAS winner for 2015, and definitely live up to the hype. They grow large and uniform, with a pure white flesh and are never pithy. I liked them so much, that I purchased another large pack for fall growing.
Another standout is the "Korist" kohlrabi, again a hybrid. This is a quick growing, smooth skinned premium kohlrabi. I received the seeds quite late in the season, so direct seeded, not sure what to expect. But the kohlrabi grew quickly and well. I was impressed.
"Purple Tee Pee" beans were also on the list to try. This is a nice purple bean that I am quite familiar with. It did well, as it always does, but I remain partial to "Velour", a slimmer, longer and more prolific bean.
I am still waiting for a few more things which I hope will stand out, squashes, tomatoes and carrots.
The lettuces, dandelion and basil were fine, but perhaps not any more special or as good as some I already grow.

Harvesting in the garden today was ideal. I wrapped it all up, delivered everything, returned to work a bit more in the garden and then the rains came. Nice. It doesn't always work like that so I choose to see it as a good omen.
The baskets today were full and heavy. It was lots of food.

Most baskets had a few different things in them than others, but there were some basic items that everyone received. These were onions, garlic, summer squash, a quart of tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, chard, apples, kale, and basil. Beyond that you will have received some of the following: beans, eggplant, potatoes, kohlrabi, beets and likely some other things too.
The summer squash is coming on strong right now.
One good idea to use it up and enjoy it at the same time is to roast it.
Cut it up into chunks, chop up some garlic and add, coat it lightly with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and pop it in a roasting pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Sometimes I'll add some herbs to this too...basils is always nice.
Our new friend at Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Around the Farm and CSA Week 9

You honestly can't believe how many seeds I have.
And up until a month and a bit ago, seeds were driving me nuts. Absolutely nuts.
Considering I have worked away at this job for the last 18 years, and never once in all those years have I planted all the seeds I had, over the years this tends to be a bit of an accumulation.
There has never been a year in which I didn't acquire some new seeds....there are always things I want to try, and some times I double order, thinking for two years in a row how cool a certain thing would be to grow, not realizing I have the seed, but didn't plant it.
This year I threw caution, and seeds, to the wind, and cleaned up lots of seed at the same time.
When my friend came to plough up my fields for me in the spring, he ploughed up an area I wasn't expecting to be ploughed. It sat there until one day I rototilled it. I looked at it and then did what I have wanted to do for a long time.
I came into the house, grabbed hundreds of packets of old seed, some as old as 15 years, ripped open the packages and dumped them all into a bowl. It was an attractive mix of seed-squash, beans, greens of every sort, corn, herbs, flowers. I honestly don't know what all.
Out I went to my awaiting bare patch and scattered the seed. It was a wee bit challenging because the chickens were interested too, so I lightly raked over the patch. The rains came beautifully and the seeds popped.
Lots of seed. A surprising amount.
Let this be a lesson to you. You don't need to buy new seed every year. Some seeds remain viable for a long, long time.
Although inevitably some weeds have appeared in this patch and are growing happily too, I call this my garden of dreams.  I always dreamt of doing this and I am constantly surprised by some of the things I am finding in this garden. Today I found a "hot as hades" white round radish, likely 3 inches in diameter.
A pea is blooming here and there, the spigiarello is everywhere, searingly hot mustards colour the patch with there purples.
I won't get too much from it I don't think. It's pretty thickly seeded so things will likely remain small as they lack much room to grow, but I'll interfere very little and let it do it's thing. I am thinking too that I will leave everything I can in the patch and let it go to seed there, so the garden remains a perpetual surprise garden. But try to get some of the weeds out so they don't go to seed too. What is the saying? One year's seed is seven year's weed.

The greens in todays basket were from this garden and will be good sauteed, giving you interesting and bold flavours.
I sure hope they weren't too wilted, but it is tough for them in this extreme heat.

The baskets also contained zucchini of some sort, onions, garlic, beans, basil flowers which are intended for either your flower vase, or to flavour oil or vinegar, carrots, cilantro, basil jelly (please return the jars), tomatoes and possibly something else I am not remembering.

Last year, I bought a kitchen tool that spiralizes veggies, and I barely looked at it at all. My intention was to make zucchini noodles and this year I have finally done it.
After using it to make the zucchini into nice curly long strips, I sautéed them in a bit of oil, popped on my fresh pasta sauce, and it was a hit. Definitely worth a try when the zucchini is coming on strong.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On the Farm and CSA Week 8

Every year in the garden is different, but the same in some ways too.
Every spring I till my garden, plant my seeds and imagine exactly what the garden will look like when it grows.
It never does look that way though.
The reason is never looks that way is because the weeds grow. And this year the weeds have been amazing. Big healthy strong weeds courtesy of the rain.

 I am glad we can eat some of them..the lamb quarters for example and the pigweed (which is in the amaranth family), but I'm not eating many of them at this point because of course there are too many other things in the garden to eat. If I want greens...well...right now it is chard. I sure have lots.
So, out with the weeds.
I've fed some to Joey and the chickens...pretty much all they can handle. The chickens, to tell the truth, are not that interested. Really, why would they be? They wander around the property and have been known to pop into the garden on occasion to peck off some strawberries, tomatoes or nice tender lettuce. Weeds? Pfft. Who am I kidding? Maybe in February weeds would seem like a feast to them Not now. Not in mid-July.
I will say my weed profile has changed on this property since I started growing on it some 20 years ago. When I first started growing on my heavy clay, I was cursed with sow thistle and quack grass...signs of a heavy compacted soil.  As the soil lightened up because of years of compost, green manures and mulches being turned in, the pig weed, lamb quarters another annual weeds arrived. Generally as I pull them, I leave them on the soil, because they are good too, to turn into the soil. But this year this technique has been a bit flawed as some of them are rerooting with all the rain. So I pull them twice. C'est la vie.
Will I catch up with the weeds? No-I won't. Ideally I'll get them before they go to seed...or I'll go down trying. My motto is "I do the best I can." I sure am working hard.

A bit more summer was in the baskets today. Yes, again a good big bundle of chard, also beans-mostly Dragon Tongue, a superb Dutch heirloom, onions, basil, beets-mostly white ones, sweet peppers, cukes, cutting celery and likely a wee bit more.

With the appearance of beans, I'll post one of my favourite recipes for beans. I hope you like it.

Roasted (Green) Beans

Beans, topped and tailed.
Olive oil
Sea or kosher salt

Heat oven to 450 F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil and lay beans in a single layer on it.
Drizzle them with oil until they are evenly coated.
Cook for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.
When roasted, remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

CSA Week 7 and Garden News

Joey says hello!

And the rain poureth.
When you are outside working everyday as I do, you try to keep track of the weather forecasts, but this year it seems to me the prognosticators have been a little less than accurate.
I could swear that yesterday when I looked at the forecast the chance of rain last night and today was around 30%. When I want rain, 30% never means rain. But this rain I could have done without....a harvest day rain is never that pleasant.
But at least the weed pulling will be easy tomorrow, and with all the rain this year the weeds have germinated like crazy.
I am glad I got around to a late planting of tomatoes in one of the hoop houses. They've been growing like weeds, surviving the days of crazy heat without much water at all. The tomatoes outside are growing well, but I think it's important this year with all the rain, to get the bottom leaves off, as lots of diseases start lower down on the plant and are made worse by the rain. That won't be a problem in the hoophouse.

I'm seeing a few yellow leaves on the bottom of some of the tomatoes, and I know rain is the problem, as well as weeds, which have been inhibiting good air circulation. Yesterday I started going through the tomatoes, weeding and stripping all the lower leaves off the plants and I am hoping for a dose of good dry warm weather to make them jump. I'll finish that job tomorrow.
We have had tomatoes already though. The first tomato to produce was "House", a dwarf plant which is absolutely loaded with nice and good tasting little cherry sized fruit.  The nice thing about these little plants is that they can be potted up in the fall and brought inside to winter in the house. Hence the name.  You'll get a taste of tomato over the winter if you do that. Tomatoes in February? Sure. But this year because the plants are so compact and tightly formed, the damp conditions are being tough on them. Lots of leaf stripping to try to keep them healthy.
Some of the Stupice are producing too, and those first Stupice are just the best tasting of the whole year. They truly are summer to me.
The baskets today contained beets, baby carrots, chard, basil, lettuce, rat tailed radishes, a sampling of tomatoes, dandelion (yes-domesticated), mint and likely something else.

This time of year when the greens are so plentiful, I eat lots of them, but also drink them for lunch most days. The formula I use is based on the "Green Monster" smoothie recipe from the "Oh She Glows" cookbook.
I do vary the ingredients to add interest, but the basic recipe involved a green (kale or chard), a cup of non-dairy milk (I use soy), 1 Tbsp or so of chia seeds, I Tbsp of nut butter,  a banana and ice cubes.
I blend it in my Vitamix, maybe add a bit of cinnamon and lunch is served. I usually use way too much kale, and end up spooning a lot of it out of the glass. But no matter. It still tastes good and gives me a good feeling. I know I'm doing something good and it keeps me going till supper. Which is really something, because I'm working very hard.
And will be tomorrow too.