We have new arrivals on the farm - 23 baby pigs! They really love their new home and are doing great. Of all our animals pigs seem to have the most personality. We provided organic grain to another farmer and committed to take two litters worth of piglets. Last year we committed to one sow's litter and ended up with 5 pigs. This year we ended up with 23 from two sows!
Our broiler chickens are going to be processed this week so we should have chicken available again this weekend and next week for Add Ons for those picking up from the bus. We are raising a lot more chickens this year so we hope to be able to have a supply year round.
In vegetable news, our melons are coming along really well. We hope to have our first melons ready during the first week of August if this hot weather keeps up. This field was quite well sheltered from the stormy winds so the crop was not set back much. Pollination is not as good as I'd like, so I've asked my brother to move one of the bee hives there. Bees are critical to getting good pollination for melons, squash, and cucumbers.
The silks on our early sweet corn came out over the weekend which puts us about 18-21 days from harvest. Again, if the warm weather keeps up we could have sweet corn as early as August 1 - probably the earliest sweet corn we've ever had. Crop looks really good too! Now we just have to keep the worms out, the birds away, and the raccoons out so that we can enjoy it. Sweet corn is probably our #1 item in the boxes but it is also #1 on the menu for quite a few other critters....
We have an abundance of Chinese cabbage so I asked Kirsten to make it for supper tonight so that we can share a recipe. You can use it raw to make salads if you wish. Just go to allrecipes.com and search for Chinese Cabbage and you will find some very interesting recipes.
Here is the cooked recipe Kirsten made for supper which was really tasty. We finished the pot down to the last!
1/2 head Chinese (nappa) cabbage, sliced across leaves
4 small Tomatoes
1/2 - 3/4 lb Smoked Polish sausage (Strawberry Hill Farm)
1 tsp Greek seasoning or similar
1/2 tsp Seasoned salt
Splash Balsamic or red wine vinegar
Pour a little oil in the bottom of a pot. Add Chinese cabbage, cover pot and heat on medium until cabbage starts to soften. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking until cabbage is tender and meat is heated through.
Serve alone or over rice or pasta.
We had a request from a customer who was looking for zucchini blossoms to fry with anchovies. We love to hear how our customers are enjoying the produce and if there is something unusual you'd like to try, we will do our best to help you out. It was my first time selling Zucchini blossoms so it was fun to see how they turned out.
I thought we were safe from hurricanes living way up in Canada and 2 hours from the coast! This just gives me a lot more appreciation for those people who have to regularly go through this and worse. I don`t think we will lose too much from the crops even though they are a bit torn up by the wind. Gratefully we did not lose any structures or greenhouses - just a door on our greenhouse.
I`m at an employees home writing this tonight since our internet, phone, and power are still down since Saturday morning. Cell phone service came back on this afternoon which was great.
The screen came off the pepper tunnel and this is how the plants look. As you can see, they are blown a bit, but I think they will be OK. We just hope they don`t abort their young fruit - peppers can tend to do this.
Zucchini, Summer Squash, and cucumbers are also wind blown quite badly but again, I think they will spring back. We have never had cukes and zucchini this early that I can remember. For all those new to the program, the yellow zucchini are often called summer squash and are really good in stir fries and can even be roasted on the grill. We will send recipes in a later update but hopefully google can get you by this week...
Onions were probably some of the hardest hit. The constant blowing broke a lot of leaves and broke some of the plants right off.
On a more positive note, we had a very good first cutting of hay and got it all in the barn before the storm. We now have enough good quality hay in the barn for the entire winter. If we get a second cut, that will be bonus.
This week`s blog post is going to be short since we are haying this week We have our first organic Strawberry harvest! While our crop is not large, the berries are by far the sweetest berries we have tasted in years! I`ve gone from end to end of the field and tasted all varieties and they all taste remarkably good.
We`ve been told organic strawberries in this area are an impossibility. We battled poor establishment, weeds, and bugs so it is rewarding to taste the fruit. Unfortunately we will have lost money on this crop, but at least we will have learned a lot and you our customers should all get to enjoy some tasty fruit without chemicals. Our challenge for next year is to change our growing methods so we not only have great tasting berries but so we can also make a little money doing it....
We made the switch this year and are baling most of our hay in round bales. We simply don`t have time to deal with all the small square bales during this busy time of the year and by using a small round bale, I can roll the bales in the barn and avoid starting the tractor to feed cows. We have about 70 bales done now with 25 or 30 more to bale today. This should complete what we need for the cows this winter. The hay quality looks really good and we are so happy to have it all done in one go rather than dragging out through the summer months!
I don`t have time for recipes today, but did want to mention that there will be quite a bit of Swiss Chard this week. It can be a little more bitter than beet greens or spinach but this is also a quality that makes it very healthy for you. If you steam it, I think you will find that a little butter and balsamic vinegar will help to cut the bitter taste.
This is the first week of our summer/fall boxes and we have lots of great veggies for you all! This first box will contain more greens and salad items, but they are good for you and we hope you will enjoy them all.
There are a couple of less familiar veggies coming this week so here are some use ideas for them:
Rapini is a green vegetable that is often steamed or added to a stir fry. It has a small broccoli type head but the entire stem and leaves are tender and the whole thing is eaten.
The picture here is a delicious sausage rapini stir fry on a crepe.
Mild white radish is another lesser known vegetable that quickly becomes a favourite. These white tubers are crisp and have a sweet spicy taste. They are milder than a regular red radish. The entire plant including the bulb and leaves can be eaten if you wish. The tops are steamed. The bottoms can be sliced thin and eaten raw or they can be cooked in a cream sauce. You can also chop them up in salads raw or add them to a stir fry for a little extra flavour.
Bok Choi and Parsnips should be pretty straight forward for you all this week. The parsnips will store well in the fridge but the Bok Choi should be used fairly soon. It will need to be bagged or it will wilt within a day or two in the fridge.
The garlic stems are used like a green onion. A little bit will go a long way in whatever you want to use them.
Things are growing well on the farm and it looks like we will have a good year with the exception of our strawberries. Unfortunately the strawberry crop is less than we had hoped for. Growing organic strawberries has proven to be a real challenge! We are changing our growing system for 2015 crop but the crop this year looks like it is going to be fairly small. We are not planning to supplement with conventional strawberries this year but we do expect there will be enough for you all to have some just probably not as many as you have had in the past. We appreciate your patience as we work to find effective solutions and alternatives to chemicals.
Raspberries are looking great. My brother just delivered the bees this last week and they have found the raspberry flowers as you can see in this picture. We have decided not to try to raise bees ourselves but rather to work with my brother to supply bee flowers and he provide the bees - hopefully this will be a win-win situation for both of us.
Here is a Rhubarb recipe from Kirsten which we all enjoyed very much.
Rhubarb Oat Bars
1 1/2 cups Rhubarb, cut into chunks
1/2 cup Brown sugar
3 Tb Water
1 tsp Lemon juice
Bring above ingredient to a boil in a pot over medium heat, then reduce heat and
simmer until rhubarb is tender.
4 tsp Cornstarch
1 TB Cold water
Combine cornstarch and water and slowly stir into rhubarb mixture. Cook until thickened.
1 cup Quick oats
3/4 cup White flour
1/2 cup Flaked coconut
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Coconut oil, butter, or margarine, melted
Mix above ingredients together. Press half into a greased 8 X 8 or 9 X 9 pan. Pour
rhubarb mixture over and sprinkle remaining crumble mix on top. Gently press into
Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown.
The gardens are growing well in spite of the late spring. We are pleased to see how most crops are doing including the peas and beans pictured here. Unfortunately the ground hogs thought they were good too. The ground hogs tested everything and then singled out the purple beans as being best! This is the first year we've grown purple beans so maybe we will think they are best too... As much as I like wild life, I figure they need to find their own food and not eat ours so we put up a fence to keep them out. They managed to get through the first two wire fence but I think we have now outsmarted them with our coon fence that uses electrified netting...
Melons are doing very well too with the first flowers showing. If all goes well we should have melons in early August!
We planted about an acre of sweet potatoes last week. They don't look like much when we get them - just stick with a few brown leaves. In a few short days, however, there will be new shoots coming out the leaf nodes that will grow into a large plant to fill out the rows.
We still have some room in the program for a few more sign ups if anyone else would like to join. We look forward to seeing many of you in a week!