August 22, 2012
We trust everyone is enjoying the return of salad greens; we definitely are here at the farm! We’ve been having cooler mornings out in the county, which is definitely good for our greens. We’re seeing a lot of recovery in our kale. It was particularly hard-hit by flea beetles for most of July. It’s not up to full production yet, but it’s getting there and seeing as the flavour of kale actually improves after the first frost, we’re looking at a great fall crop.
Finally, this week, the tomatoes are beginning to mean serious business. This week we have Cherokee Purple for you. They are a beefsteak tomato, and as most heirlooms are, absolutely stunning to look at while packing some intense flavour. These have a rich, malty sweetness. They are a favourite for sandwiches! When we are harvesting tomatoes we often find many that are not market quality. These seconds often make their way into the farm kitchen and we have been making fresh salsas to go with practically every meal. Fresh salsa is our intern Vanessa’s favourite condiment in the summer. It’s not quite as brine-y as a cooked salsa, and really packs a tomato punch. Here’s a recipe for her Fresh Tomato Peach Salsa, a great way to make use of those tomatoes that may be less than perfectly shaped! If you like a milder salsa, be careful to leave out the seeds of the hot pepper. Conversely, if you like it hotter leave the pith (the white part that attaches the seeds) in, as it will definitely bring the heat!
Tomato Peach Salsa
- 2 C roughly diced tomatoes
- 1 C chopped peaches
- ½ C finely diced onion or scallion
- 1 finely diced hot pepper (jalapeno or paprika work well!)
- Juice of one lime
- ½ C chopped cilantro
- ¼ C fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stir. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit your preferences! Serve with taco chips, fresh tortillas, sandwiches or on a salad!
In this week’s box you will find a bunch of either kale or swiss chard, onions, lettuce mix, a gorgeous (and tasty!) small bag of edible nasturtium flowers, a cucumber, a bag of scallopinis, tomatoes, ground cherries, Jalapeno hot peppers, cilantro and parsley. The scallopinis are beautiful. If you blanche them quickly before sautéing, they hold their colour in the most fantastic way!
August 29, 2012
Life in farming is never dull. On Tuesday we took Vanessa’s batch of 49 broiler birds to the abattoir. The drive was going wonderfully well until this head popped into view out of the dark just to the right of the van. We had enough time to register in our minds “DEER!” before we heard it run face first into the side cargo door. There was a crash and thud followed by an adrenaline rush. I looked back to see a stunned but very functional deer pick itself up off of the road and continue on its merry way. Our van was left with a few cosmetic dents, but nothing functional was damaged. We just have a little more character on the road now along with a few tufts of fur.
I was very happy to return to the garden after that adventure for a good long day of harvesting. It takes a lot of time these days as there is a lot to bring in for both you, our CSA members, and for market. We put together what I think is our best box yet! This week you will find some lovely salad mix, Swiss chard, basil, parsley, cilantro, cucumber, carrots, beets, Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers (they are long, thin, red, and at first glance you’d think they were a hot pepper but they’re sweet), jalapeno pepper, a bag of mixed salad tomatoes (in the mix you’ll find red and green – ripe when soft to touch as they stay green – zebras, yellow perfection, and indigo rose), onions, ground cherries, nasturtium flowers (a refreshing edible flower with a slight peppery flavour for salads or garnish), and some tomatillos. The last item is the main ingredient in our recipe for the week. Tomatillos are common in Mexican cuisine and are most prominently found in salsa verde or “green salsa”. This version is super simple and deliscious. We made it on Monday and served it as a sauce on roasted chicken. I was very happy with the results. (recipe on back)
If you have an interest in one of Vanessa’s chickens please let us know by phone or email and we’ll arrange delivery. These birds will be slightly smaller than our last batch averaging likely 3-4lbs rather than the 6-7lbs we had last time.
September 5, 2012
Rain is a wonderful thing. On this past Tuesday September 4th we enjoyed being poured on for nearly nine hours straight during harvest. In total some 38mm of rain fell on our little farm. It had been 23 days since our last rainfall. On August 11th-12th we saw 20mm fall on our farm. We do a little happy dance every time we pass 1mm of rain. For our plants to be happy and vibrant they need rain. Irrigation keeps them alive and can help speed them along in a normal year, but the little we add disappears fast with our depleted water table.
A moist soil is alive. There are millions and billions of micro organisms in the soil that establish symbiotic relationships with our foods. Our plants need these organisms in order to extract nutrients from the soil. Water is essential to plant growth, but it also ensures an active soil culture that can keep our plants thriving. A good rain like today brings life back to the dry soil I was looking at when I awoke. As I was walking in with the last of the harvest I swear the plants looked greener and more vibrant already.
Your box this week is a bonanza of garden wonders: Mesclun Mix, Kale, Parsley, Cilantro, Tomatillos, Tomatoes (big bag of Roma’s for saucing and some Green or Red Zebra Salad Tomatoes with a Brandywine Beefsteak), Cucumber, French Fillet Beans, Yellow Wax Beans, Bunched Carrots, Onions, Ground Cherries, Sweet Pepper (either yellow bell or a Jimmy Nardello), Jalapeno, and beets!
We are moving into the next phase of the year. We are still planting greens, but a lot of major harvests are underway. Keep your taste buds on edge with the soon to arrive waves of squash and potatoes. You can expect leeks to make an appearance soon too.
September 12, 2012I am happy to report that last weeks rains have quite rejuvenated our gardens. Our kale, chard, and lettuce beds are growing fast and producing very well. With help from our WWOOFers (volunteer farmers) Rebecca and Nick we’ve been out pulling in major bulk harvest in preparation for the fall leg of our CSA. We are looking forward to sharing a selection of squashes, potatoes, and turnips with you from now until our CSA season ends.
The times are certainly busy here on the farm. We harvest four days a week now to bring in the full diversity of produce that you’ve been enjoying in your baskets of late. Mondays and Thursdays usually see us harvesting our non-perishables while Tuesdays and Fridays see us harvesting our tender greens and packaging up all of the deliciousness you have been seeing in your baskets of late. It takes a good deal of time, but the results have been more than worth while.
This week we are happy to see the return of a favourite item and the arrival of a new item. Returning this week is our friend the potato. All of our beds are now ready for harvest and this is the week we are doing it! We started late this afternoon with part of our fingerling bed and were able to sneak a pint of Banana Fingerling Potatoes into this week’s basket. The fingerling is a category of potatoes that are slender and elongated. They are very tender and are amazing if done at a slow simmer in a pan with butter. Just slice the fingerling into rounds and enjoy; I know I will be J
You will also find some mesclune salad mix, kale, chard, beets, carrots, yellow beans, onions, ground cherries, cayenne hot pepper (labeled “Hot” on the bag), sweet peppers, one spaghetti squash, cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes, and Leeks. Yes, the new item is the leek. They are just entering into edible size and this fall treat will make a wonderful addition to soups, stir frys, and as a garnish.
September 19, 2012
September is more than half way gone and it appears that things in the garden are still moving along at a good clip. Our summer crops continue to produce well and we are starting to see our fall crop plantings near harvest size. We have also enjoyed semi regular rains so far this month. I believe we have had more rain this month than we did all July and August combined. The abundance of moisture has come with a few wonderful surprises. The principle of which is the fact that the cabbage and brussel srpouts that we assumed we dead and gone to the drought appear to be thriving again. My fingers are crossed, but I am hoping that some of these beauties will find their way into baskets come October.
As I write this newsletter we are about to see our WWOOFers Rebecca and Nick depart for Nova Scotia. They have just finished a two week stint here at the farm and we’ll miss them. They were excellent field hands and great people to trade stories with. Nick was a great help in loading and unloading our pigs for their trip to the abattoir. Together they picked epic amounts of beans, tomatillos, tomatoes, ground cherries and carrots.
This week we are happy to see the first appearance of Turnips in the boxes. These turnips have a wonderful bite and full flavour. Along with them you will find some ground cherries, potatoes, onions, leeks, mesclune salad mix, beets, kale, Swiss chard, beefsteak and salad tomatoes, and carrots.
September 26, 2012
It is now officially fall. Myself and many other vendors at the Junction Farmers’ Market noted the traverse of the equator by the sun, the actual time of the equinox, with a mix of emotions. For many of us it signaled the beginning of the end for our gardens and the shift from planting and cultivating to harvest and closing mode. I think one of the biggest emotions was that of relief and celebration. Many of you know that it has been a challenging year for our little farm due to a confluence of circumstances from drought, equipment failures, and the inevitable startup struggles every small enterprise faces. This summer was a seventy hour a week marathon that holds promise of winding down with the coming of fall. The work has been great and I have been lucky to have the chance to meet so many wonderful people as a result through both you, our CSA members, and through the customers who frequent our market stands. With the start of fall I am celebrating our successes this year, reflecting on our failures, and beginning to dream about round two in 2013.
We wake these days to cool crisp mornings. The dew is heavy and our greens look vibrant. Growth is slow due to the low light levels and low heat. Lettuce, turnips, and beets are all looking healthy and are moving along at a steady pace. We started harvesting a new bed of carrots this week. Our tomatoes are still on the vines and we watch the weather reports religiously for any signs of frost. Soon we will have to clear the vines to allow the fruits to ripen inside and with luck will have tomatoes well into October.
This week we are focusing on one last hurrah of summer’s bounty as we close on that chapter of the year and move on to the final fall leg of produce. Tomatillos are back for a final appearance this week, next week too for our full share members, and you’ll find some roma tomatoes for roasting, drying, or saucing as you like. You will also find what I am happy to call CSA staples such as carrots, beets, ground cherries, and mesclun salad mix. You will also find squash, turnips, kale, a sweet bell pepper, cayenne hot peppers, Onaway potatoes, onions, scallions, a pie pumpkin for those not receiving a basket next week. If you are a full share member you will receive your pie pumpkin next week in preparation for Thanksgiving. It is early this year so enjoy with some pie!
October 3, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving! It came early this year and we are happy to say that the full bounty of 2012 has made its way into your boxes. As a farmer thanksgiving is a time to look back on the season that is ending and to reassert my humbleness before nature. At times we people can be a little self assertive in our demands on nature. I know that I have been critical of the heat and low rain we were dealt this year. It is easy to get focused on the things that went wrong than those that went well. Thanksgiving is a time for me to say my thanks to those I am indebted to and whose charity I have gained from.
I think firstly, on behalf of us all, I should send out thanks to our departing intern Vanessa. Vanessa has been a solid presence on the farm since May and has been instrumental in making these weekly boxes happen. I am thankful for her dedication to the farm and her willingness to persevere through difficult times. Coming to intern on a farm during its first year is always brave and to do so through drought and heat is a serious test of character. The food we have all enjoyed this summer was made possible through her hard work and we here at the farm wish her well as she moves on to bigger and better things.
Secondly I owe thanks to the family, friends, and volunteers who have made Fiddlehead Farm their temporary home throughout this past season. They came to work, visit, and often times eat with us. Their contributions helped to enrich our lives and our farm. I can only hope to have as many positive encounters in 2013.
Thirdly, I believe that thanks are owed for the land, the sun, and the rain (that which did fall) that ultimately made the garden flourish in tough times. There were a few rains where I was out doing a little happy dance. These rains helped to breathe life into the crops that we are now enjoying. Without the land and weather there would be no food so we must always remain thankful for them.
Lastly, I want to express my thankfulness for you our CSA members. This was a challenging year for our farm and I feel that your support and understanding has helped me to fell secure in our project. Even when the weather was difficult we knew that our desire to grow good food organically and sustainably was the right one because we had people like you standing behind us. Thank you for you support.
This is our climax box. From here we will begin the denouement as crops die out and settle down for winter. You will find mesclun mix, kale, beets, carrots, parsley, turnips, a small cabbage, fingerling and norland potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pie pumpkin, hot and sweet peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes, scallions, leeks, onions, and ground cherries.
October 10, 2012
On October 8th, this past Monday, we experienced our first frost of the fall season. It was expected. October 8th is actually the average date for the frost to return in our area. The arrival of frost signals a shift in our garden work. Several plants were killed and a few others were knocked back. Our fall brassicas (radishes, kale, turnips, mesclun) are doing very well, but our peppers and tomatoes are half dead. We have begun the process of stripping the vines in hopes of getting some fruit. You will find the results of this labour in your baskets this week. Frost marks the real beginning of fall here on the farm. Lots to do still, but the beginning of the end is here.
Thanksgiving came and went fast on the farm. I work weekends attending farmers’ markets so I only had a little time with family, but it was quality time. I hope that you were all able to make use of the extra large boxes last week and that many a great meal was had from them. We have only a few weeks left in our CSA and you can look forward to lots of greens, some root veggies, and hopefully I can still pull off a surprise or two.
In this weeks box you will find mesclun salad mix, a stir fry mix (mixed spicy mustard greens), red and green peppers, a squash, potatoes, carrots, kale, beets, scallions, some thyme, and watermelon radish. Yes, watermelon radish is our new item for the week. The watermelon radish is an Asian radish related to the Daikon. It gets its name from that fact that underneath its dull white skin is a bright red centre. It is a wonderful radish that plays with your taste buds. It is both sweet and spicy shifting from one to the other as you chew. I am very happy with how it performed and we can look forward to a steady flow of them from now through to the end of our CSA run.
October 17, 2012
The end to our 2012 CSA half shares has come upon us fast and by surprise as always. We started way back in June, survived a historically significant drought together, and all the while got to enjoy wonderful organic produce. I hope that you have all enjoyed the year as much as I have. The CSA program is a central part of our farm. It enables us to fund our yearly seed costs and ensures a stable destination for our produce. I hope that you have all found the experience rewarding. It was important for the farm to offer unique foods that were both tasty and nutritious. I hope the winter months treat you all well and I want to thank you all for your support and feedback throughout this season. I want to invite thoughts and suggestions on how we can improve our young CSA for next year. Thank you all for being a part of our inaugural year.
It is amazing at how fast this farming season has flow past. We were hit with a hard frost last Saturday morning. I woke to my final day at the Junction Farmers’ Market and crunched by way across the frozen four in the morning grass to load the van. It was a conclusive end to our heat loving crops. Our peppers and tomatoes had been limping along last week and I did manage to save a large amount of both before the frost finally killed the plants and the fruits. We enjoyed much from both of these favourites and it will be another ten months before we are able to enjoy them again.
We welcomed two volunteer guests to the farm over the weekend as well. Stefan and Felix are visiting us from Germany and have already been a great help in the field. While I’ve been focusing on harvests they’ve been starting to put the irrigation equipment away. This ensures that we will soon be able to turn under this year’s garden and begin our preparations for 2013 in earnest.
The biggest point of excitement in terms of 2013 preparations is the imminent arrival of garlic to the farm. We are especially pleased to be purchasing some Fish Lake III. Fish Lake III is a garlic variety developed not just here in Prince Edward County, but on the property directly next door to us. Keeping local food culture alive is something I am very excited to be taking part in. Only nine months until we can start enjoying it!
In this week’s basket you will find beets, carrots, leeks, turnips, cabbage, thyme, watermelon radishes, potatoes, onions, hot peppers, green peppers, and a squash. It is still quite a full basket despite the frost. I hope all is enjoyed.
Some recipe suggestions would be stuffed peppers, a good vegetable soup with the roots, and radish with a little lime and salt on them. I also enjoy the radish sliced and eaten as a snack. Watch for the little heat at the end 😉
October 24, 2012
Here we are, the second to last CSA box for our full share members and the last box for our Belleville half share members. I hope that everyone has enjoyed their boxes this year. Please send us feed back on what you liked and did not like about this year’s program. As we start to reflect on next year your input will help us grow and improve our CSA box program. We will be in touch during the winter months with 2013 program details.
I still cannot believe that we are in the full grip of fall. The days are chilly even though frosts are still few and far between. In the field our team of German WWOOFers has been rolling up thousands of feet of drip tape from our irrigation system for winter storage. The drip roller has evolved in fits as each incarnation of our makeshift device breaks or shows flaws. The biggest challenge has been to build a handle that won’t sheer from the weight of the full rolls. I think the Mark III might be the winning design. I hope 😉
Soon I will be back on the plow turning under this year’s garden with visions of 2013 in my head. I am excited to have this time to work on the garden. We did not have access to the garden in the fall of 2011 to prep fields or build infrastructure. We hit the ground running in February and have not stopped since. Preparing the garden now means more time to focus on planting and cultivating in the spring. Even though I am ready for a rest after a full season of farming I am still getting excited about 2013 and starting it all over again. Yay!
For our second to last full and last half box we are still showing a decent array of produce. We started into a new bed of carrots today and were happy to find some decent sized yaya carrots ready for eating. Scallions, leeks, beets, turnips, parsley, watermelon radish, potatoes, green peppers, mixed greens of Red Russian Kale and Spicy Mustard for cooking, and a goodly sized Kohlrabi. Sadly our salad greens are looking a bit tired and tough for harvest these days. If you find yourself in a pinch for some extra cooking greens try the radish greens they are a bit tough for salad in my opinion, but they do cook up nicely.
Eat well and thank you for supporting us in our first year. We enjoyed ourselves and I hope you have too.
For our full share members there is still one more delivery to look forward to. Lucky ducks.
October 31, 2012
The final delivery of the year has arrived. I am happy to say that we have managed to keep a good level of variety into November. While our CSA is only a short 18 weeks it has seen a dramatic range of weather, struggles, and successes. I am thankful to you our inaugural CSA members for your bravery in supporting us in our first year and for weathering the summer drought with patience and understanding. I am already formulating crop plans for next year and I am eager to hear requests or suggestions that you may have. We might not be able to do it all for next year, but every year we build in our complexity, competency, and quality. Your feed back will help us with this 😉
Life is changing gears here at the farm. I still have some local markets to attend, but the weeks now are largely focused on preparation for winter. We put the greenhouse to bed with all of our seedling trays cleaned and stacked waiting for spring to put them back into full use. The WWOOFers and I spent this week pulling deadwood out of the forest for winter fires. Our old farm house has no central heating, so to avoid the cold we are about a third of our way to a full wood shed. It took a few sore muscles to get there and it will be a few more before we finish.
I think Fergus and Willow have been enjoying the wood hauling the most. For those of you not in the know, Fergus and Willow are our 11 month old pups. They generally spend their days in the garden with us. The forest has been a wondrous new world for them. I think they also enjoy watching us human folk work while they play.
In your box this week you will find some familiar friends: we have watermelon radish, turnips, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, thyme, leeks, fingerling potatoes, onions, and cabbage.
Thank you for enjoying the bounty of 2012 with us. We hope to grace your table again in 2013.