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Archive for the ‘Crops’ Category

Fall has arrived but it seems the weather has decided that we need more Summer and I’m happy about that.

By September we see what experiments and new techniques have failed or succeeded in the gardens.

Big failures were Cucumbers, Squash, and Melons. The companion planting technique of growing radishes nearby didn’t stop the voracious appetite of the Cucumber Beetle, not even a little. Without a Winter-kill these insects have HIGH numbers and they not only munch on blossoms (so that fruit doesn’t set) but they also eat tender fruits. Cucumber beetles enjoy the whole Cucurbit family which includes Cucumbers, Zucchini, Squash, and Melons like Cantaloupes. The Squash Vine Borers put the nail in the coffin of any hope of having Squash and Pumpkins this year. It seems that the best strategy will be to not grow any of these crops for a number of years in order to discourage the insects by not giving them their favourite foods to eat.

It was also a bad year for Watermelons and a sad year for us as we grew out the last of the seeds that Farmer Faenin has been saving for 8 years. Not sure what happened with the Watermelons – raised bed, too much shade, not enough water, something else? – but they were a failure.

Fortunately other techniques and crops worked out very well.

These Marigolds successfully kept away insects from the Pole Bean seed crop.

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Alyssum made a wonderful companion in many beds, to many veggies.

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This was the first year that Tomatoes and Peppers were grown in the raised beds and at first I was skeptical that they would turn out due to the high nitrogen in the beds (which encourages leafy growth and discourages fruit production). I was very pleasantly wrong!

The Sweet Peppers were a bumper crop again this year! They love the heat and don’t mind not getting rained on!

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We theorized that we wouldn’t have many Hornworms this year, as the Tomatoes were planted quite far away from any place they’ve been planted ever, but they arrived anyway. It wouldn’t be Summer without a pic of these creatures.

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The Tomato plants and fruits were the largest we’ve ever seen. Tomatoes that should have been on the smaller size were as large as any other Beefsteak. Some grew like Tree trunks!

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In Fall we see new blossoms and new blooms.

From the Wild Area….

Some unknown flowers

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Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)

This wildflower has really taken off and spread despite 2 years of drought.

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Colourful Yarrow still producing blooms. Two different colours on the same stalk.

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There are many new creatures, and food for the creatures.

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The Lemon Balm is also thriving despite 2 droughts and getting frost-bitten in April.

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Hummingbirds enjoy visiting this Nasturtium Forest.

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Fennel is planted as a host plant (food source) for Swallowtails and a late season treat for humans.

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Fennel fronds are beautiful and tasty.

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Behind the Fennel you can see a small “tunnel”, it’s a way to protect crops from insects but also from frost. We have a small patch of Red Cabbage, Napa Cabbage, and Cauliflower that we’ll be harvesting and eating in to November.

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Can’t get enough of the Praying Mantis. This female is in her Fall colour and looking for a suitable place to lay her eggs.

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From the Veggie-Table….

Our beautiful Garlic can’t be beat, be sure to stock up and get bulk amounts to last until next June!

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Farmer Andrea having fun with Peppers …. “Hello, Operator? These Peppers are off the hook!”

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Despite what heat alerts say, Fall has indeed arrived and we are getting less and less Sunlight every day …. There’s something about Fall shadows ….

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Monarda (Bee Balm) in Fall colours.

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Yarrow flowers in Fall colours.

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Soft and fuzzy Yarrow leaves.

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My last chance to get dirty and enjoy the heat before Winter sets in …

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The big excitement on the farm recently has been the discovery of a Fox Snake nesting site. We estimate there are 100 eggs laid by 8-10 adult female Fox Snakes in one location. Fox Snakes are Endangered with 70% of their population in Ontario. Luckily for us, and them, they are very common on our farm, and it pleases us greatly to know that we have been providing them with the right conditions to mate, hatch, feed, and overwinter.

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Photo of newly hatched Fox Snakes by Andrea Nickerson

August in our Family Garden has been more munching on veggies, and weeding, and watering (such a dry Summer, with every Rain Storm passing over our farm), rather than picture taking. Also, family adventures off the farm. Here are some shots of various Summer Squash with interesting shapes and colours. All photos by rashel t.

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One of the only Winter Squashes to produce any fruit – a Delicata – but we’re only going to get 2 Squash from a number of plants.

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The pest pressure on Summer Squash (Zucchini etc), Winter Squash, Pumpkins, and Melons has been the worst in recent memory. Between Cucumber Beetles who eat and destroy blossoms before the plant can set fruit and the Squash Vine Borer ….. these plants didn’t have a chance. Thankfully we didn’t grow them counting on them for food. They were planted in troublesome spots to help control Thistles (which they’ve done) and in areas with fresh compost (where other plants wouldn’t grow), so they have served their purpose. Still, it’s not easy to see them decimated by high insect populations, despite our efforts to control their numbers.

Below are the eggs of the Squash Vine Borer, usually laid on the underside of a leaf.

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Adolescent Squash Vine Borers.

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These aren’t the adults who bore in to the vines and kill the plants but they do grow up to be them. The adults resemble moths or hornets and they are pleasant to look at to watch …. if you don’t know who they are.

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A big downside of using any kind of plastic in agriculture is having to dispose of it. There are pros and cons to any method of agriculture and we continually strive to make more sustainable and ecological choices. We buy more expensive plastic so that it can be used for several seasons (and a surprise benefit is that it creates habitat for moles, voles, and snakes) but there are weed pressure issues that still need to be worked out. And when it comes time to remove the plastic …. well … we start to search for alternatives. We got together a large group of young people to have a “party” to remove most of the plastic. Their highlights were the creatures they found.

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Highlights of farmer Andrea’s Veggie-Table this month …aug 1 promo.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colourful Carrots.20626927_911678987424_1840938460693547923_oThe first of the Heirloom Tomatoes.20643276_911679057284_8019747055134273626_oPlum Trees that finally produced a bumper crop were a wonderful surprise!August 23 promo.jpgSpicy Salad Mix.21106535_1424229367697746_7177734924980830587_n.jpgColourful Tomatoes.21151676_1424229361031080_927617431668031181_n

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Summer’s almost over! Some of us are happy about and others of us are not. May the veggies continue to be plentiful for all!

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June has come and gone too quickly. The rain has mostly missed us, besides a few gentle showers. Every day it looks like it will rain but the gardens are so very thirsty. Others who live not far from here are experiencing the opposite. We do our best to be adaptable to whatever the weather brings.

Farmer Andrea started the CSA this month, here are some highlights …

Veg-Head Andrea

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Garlic Scapes, Peas, Lettuce, very HOT days

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Photos by Andrea Nickerson

The most beautiful Kohlrabi I’ve ever seen, ‘Azur Star‘, pictures cannot do it justice.

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Photo by Andrea Nickerson

Market Set-up for Week 1 of fresh, local produce

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Photo by Andrea Nickerson

The Farm Toddler helping with the Garlic Scape harvest + cleaning

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Photo by Andrea Nickerson

Andrea also took some beautiful panoramic pictures of the raised beds …

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Our family gardens are coming along nicely. We’ve eaten our fill of pea shoots and sugar snap peas and are leaving the plants as a seed crop. We’ve also been collecting onion seeds. We found this beautiful surprise in our ‘Rattlesnake‘ Pole Beans, little leaves that resemble the seeds and bean pods …

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A look at our Pole Bean bed, using a re-purposed swing set, with marigolds as a companion plant to deter bean beetles …

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And the view from the other end of the bed …

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Most of the beans in this bed will be a seed crop as we need to grow out the ‘Trail of Tears‘ beans we started saving in 2008, and we’re starting to save the seeds from other varieties so we have seeds that are regionally-adapted. Beans are the perfect starter seed-saving crop as they’re super easy to save.

A teeny tiny Lunchbox Pepper on a tiny little plant …

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A new favourite, an heirloom Lettuce “Grandma Hadley” from Seed Savers Exchange

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Another example of companion planting that Rashel has wanted to try for many years, but couldn’t make feasible on a larger scale, is using radishes as a trap crop to protect Cucumbers from flea beetles, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs. The radishes will be left to go to seed and be another seed crop.

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In the trellised Cucumber bed we’ve also planted Lettuce as a companion but there were these beautiful “weeds” – 2 Sunflowers and a blooming Cilantro – that we decided to leave in the bed because they were just too nice to pull out.

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While we’ve seen many Insect friends – especially a variety of Swallowtails – we only got this one picture is a newly hatched Praying Mantis.

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We’ve had our first Lavender blossom harvest of the season …

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A medicinal plant harvest of Yarrow, Wormwood, Bergamot, St. John’s Wort, Red Clover, Plantain, and Comfrey. Most of these will be dried for later use and some will be infused in oil for later use. All but the Comfrey have come from the new wild area Rashel started in 2016.

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We are harvesting Chamomile and Calendula every couple of days, and dehydrating them to use later in teas and salves. In honour of the Summer Solstice why not try some of these recipes using a variety of edible blossoms ~ Sweet Magic: Honey Cookies

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Farmer Andrea has been busy this Spring getting ready for the 2017 CSA + Market Season! Spreadsheets, Seed Catalogues, Sterilizing Seedling Trays, SEEDS, Planting, all part of the Farm Lyfe.

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Photo credit: Andrea Nickerson + rashel t

Seedlings Indoors …

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Photo credit: Andrea Nickerson + rashel t

Seedlings Outdoors …

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Photo credit: Andrea Nickerson

Over-wintered and self-seeded Spring surprises …

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Scallions, Gorgeous Lettuces that popped up in beds, outside of beds, gorgeous Lettuce everywhere! Photo credit: rashel t.

Every year we let a couple of broody Hens hatch out a clutch of eggs. We don’t purposely breed them so they become Tremblay Farm Mixies. Farm child Oddy wanted to make sure we had some new chicks this season and Farmer Mike (Pepe) helped get them all set up before his major heart surgery this Spring.

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These Mamas are very protective of their babies. Here they are showing their newly hatched offspring how to scratch and forage for grains and seeds. After eating very little while incubating their eggs these Mamas are ravenous! Photo credit rashel t.

 

Interesting things found around the farm in May …

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Wallflower, ancient Pear Tree covered in blossoms, Wild Ginger, Fungus, Lilac, Chives with Busy Bees, Kildeer eggs, Scat, Insect Eggs. Photo credit: rashel t.

While Farmer Rashel is taking a break from Market Gardening they are turning their focus towards creating and maintaining a new Wild Space in an awkward part of the farm. This will serve as an Insectary (habitat) for beneficial insects + pollinators, as well as a space for Medicinal Plants. The focus is primarily on Indigenous Perennials and self-seeding annuals with the goal of having the space be self-sufficient and diverse, as well as a place to learn from and harvest medicines.

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Plantain infusing in oil, Chamomile, Nettles. Photo credit: rashel t.

This blog will have a different focus in 2017. Instead of being a weekly round-up of farm happenings and seasonal veggies it will be a monthly update of interesting things found around the farm, musings on gardening with children, current experimentations in permaculture and sustainable ecological food growing.

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Our “little” garden this year – only 15 4×18 ft beds – and our new little helper. Toddler S is a natural forager! Photo credit: rashel t.

More fun around the farm in May …

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The big farm children take the toddler on adventures, pea shoot snacks, plants in flower / seed saving, rainbow, potatoes planted by Rashel + Toddler S in an experimental hay bale bed, carrots, flooding. Photo credit: Mike Tremblay, rashel t.

Unsurprisingly Rashel’s favourite bed is the most diverse one. Lettuce self-seeded, Parsley over-wintered, Sunflowers showed up, and Rashel didn’t want to remove anything so they planted seedlings in the available spaces. Trying out Celeriac + storage Kohlrabi for the first time. Also planted Collards, Brussel Sprouts, and Radnips.

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Photo credit: rashel t

A new experiment this year is Trench Composting. This bed was in need of remediation so it was the perfect first experiment. A trench was dug out of the middle of the bed and in it’s place we placed unfinished compost and seaweed. Various squashes have been planted in to the middle where the compost is. If this is successful we will do a variation on this in years to come. Each year one third of a bed will be dug out and composting materials thrown in as the season progresses. The following year we will plant on top of the trench, rotating which area gets the compost from year to year.

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Photo credit: rashel t

We are also experimenting with more Companion Planting, with plants in closer quarters in our 4 by 18 foot raised beds. Some friends include: Peas + Carrots with Lettuce; Cucumbers + Squash with Radishes + Beans; Alyssum all over but especially near Lettuces; Garlic + Tomatoes with Basil; Marigolds + Pole Beans.

Looking forward to sharing more Cute Creatures, Garden Stories, and Farm Lyfe with everyone 🙂

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Newly hatched Praying Mantis in a pot of Succulents. Photo credit: Andrea Nickerson.

 

 

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VEGGIE OF THE WEEK IS CHERRY TOMATOES

There is a reason we call them ‘candy’, this is nature’s finest candy. We select the most delicious heirlooms varieties, mixing up the colours, the flavours, and the shapes to make eye-engaging and taste-bud pleasing treats. Did you know that botanically speaking tomatoes are berries? It’s true! Check out the definition of Berry from Wikipedia. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for turning into sundried tomatoes treats as well – 2 boxes fill 1 tray so 8 boxes fill a standard dehydrator. These sweeties will blow you away with how much sweeter they are than grocery store fare. Lucky for you they are at their peak right now – peak sweetness and peak production – so we’ve been selling them at a discount. We’ll have small amounts of sundried tomatoes for sampling so you can see just how easy and tasty it is to turn the cherries into dried snacks. One slice and they’re ready!

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There are new links up on the Veggies! page for new ways to use tomatoes including drink ideas and how to use over-ripe tomatoes. This page also has links to the varieties we’re growing, check it out as some of them have lovely historical stories behind them. We’ll tell you all about them at our Heirloom Tomato Taste-Test Fest on Saturday September 3rd!

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Eat The Rainbow?

A lovely farm friend said this week that when they go to the grocery store that it seems “wrong” and “weird” to see only red or only yellow or only orange tomatoes for sale. We agree, our colourful mixes are the only way to go, especially when you want to Eat The Rainbow.

Are you still looking to can tomatoes? We’ve got some extra hampers for sale for this Saturday – tomorrow! – August 27th, swing by the farm during our market hours of 8 am to 2 pm.

We’ll be joined by Another Way for a special Crystal event tomorrow too!

And we’ll also be joined by Neo-Vintage Artistry ~ one of a kind, hand-crafted jewelry!

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While we love the flavours of Summer finally ripening it’s also been challenging as a few of us have severe allergies and growing organically means weeds, like ragweed, and it’s doing a number not just on our sinuses but harvesting leaves us with prickly rashes, which means we have to have several cold showers with the hose to get the yuckies off (we’re even allergic to tomato plants!) …

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With some of the harvest.

“Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing.”

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We gave away all of our melon harvest this past week. It was quite sad to see all the plants dead but we were happy to hear that most of the melons were ripe, sweet, and delicious. And since we can’t have melons as veggie of the week here are the jokes we’ve been saving …

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Another surprise this week was Spaghetti Squash and Delicata and Sweet Dumplings. These are not long-term storage squash but they will last up to a month in dry, cool conditions. They have thin rinds and you can eat the rind of the Delicata and Sweet Dumplings. They are great for stuffing. More recipes on the Veggies! page. These will be available until they’re all gone. We also harvested most of our long-term storage squash and they’re currently curing. More on those later but for now a sneak peek ….

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With many thanks to Joce, Nat, Lennon, Faenin, and Oddy for pulling in this harvest!

Before we get to the pick list, we came across a wonderful article on being part of a CSA and ideas for Hearty Vegetarian Dinner from the Kitchn.

Veggies available this week: Cherry Tomatoes, Tomatoes for Canning, Snap Beans, Sweet Peppers (still producing prolifically!), Scallions, Kale + Chard, Succulent Salad Mix, Fennel (bulbs and in salad mixes), Fresh Herbs, Dried Herbs, Squash (mostly Spaghetti), Eggplant + Patty Pans, Garlic, and very HOT hot Peppers.

 

 

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It’s August 12th and we’re on our 12th week of fresh, local, weekly vegetables. It’s also the halfway point of the season – peak time for Summer goodies.

“Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel, so have some beans with every meal.”

Can you guess what the veggie of the week is?

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Farmer Rashel waits every year for the first bean to be ready, it’s a rite of Summer to eat Beans, and they’ve always been Rashel’s very favourite thing to eat straight out of the garden. It’s no wonder we grow such a large variety of them every year! We are growing bush beans, snap beans, string beans, pole beans, dried beans (to come later in the season), purple + yellow + green + red + of course multi-coloured beans, and mostly heirloom + historical varieties. These resilient creatures grow despite drastic drought and no irrigation. Many thanks to an old friend who introduced me to Rattlesnake beans when we made a friendly exchange a number of years ago – they are a super producing and tasty pole bean. Every year we grow more varieties because we just can’t get enough.

Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Bean
Bean who?
Bean a while since I last saw ya!

Q: What’s a tailor’s favorite kind of vegetable?
A: A string bean!
When it comes to certain veggies we are at a loss about what to tell people how to use them because we eat them in the car before we even make it home! Beans are one of those. The farm baby has been cutting their little teeth on beans (under close supervision, in case of choking), and lightly cooked beans are a great baby food for children who want to feed themselves. They can be canned and pickled, and they are great in salads. Some other ideas include:  Vegan Chinese Green Beans, Fermented Dragon Beans, and 13 Fresh Beans Recipes (that include a number of other seasonally available veggies), Spicy Pickled Beans.
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Every Bean is hand-picked and super chilled for longer freshness.

To go with many of the bean recipes above we still have GARLIC. This is a great keeper and a great way to use up some of your credits. Us farmers eat the damaged Garlic and it keeps well until June so stock up for all your Winter needs. We came across this interesting Garlic recipe that we think you’ll like, too – Garlic Confit is the Magic Secret to Loving Any Vegetable. We’ll have Portabello Mushrooms and mini-cucumbers for a short time only.
Now is the time to send us a message letting us know if you want hampers of Tomatoes for canning, making sauce, or for sun-drying. This is another great way to use up credits. We’ll be hitting peak tomato time in the next 2 weeks. We have a wonderful and delicious variety of heirlooms this year, in preparation for the Heirloom Tomato Taste-Test Fest!
You must try our ‘Candy’ Cherry Tomatoes, their sun-ripened goodness cannot be beat!
Sweet Peppers and Hot Peppers will be available in bulk quantities as well, please let us know if you’d like a large quantity of either for canning or freezing.
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These “glow” orange peppers have really caught our attention this year!

If you’ve been wondering what these strange “umbels” are in your Salad Mixes it’s the forming seed head of Parsley. We took a taste and found them quite pleasing with a mild Parsley taste. We’re making a lot more seed than we need so we thought we’d throw them in for a taste punch in the salad mixes.
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We have small quantities of Kale and Chard and mixes of the two; also small quantities of eggplant and summer squash. Our trusty staple, Scallions, as well as Fennel (bulb and fronds), Basil, fresh Mint, assorted fresh herbs, and our gorgeous Sunflowers and other fresh flower mixes. Dried Nettle Tea is also available again.

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Styled and Photographed by farm child Faenin (11) – Fennel, Beans, Garlic, Kale, Lunchbox Sweet Peppers, Scallions, Cherry Tomatoes, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Portabella Mushroom, Salad Mix, mini-Cucumbers.

 

 

Good things to come … things we hope and dream for in these unbearably hot days ….

 

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The Coriander crop is ready and has been harvested. All that’s left is stripping the seeds and letting them dry before they’re ready to be sold.

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So far our first year growing Celery has been successful. Though we must take care to water it every single day. They still have some time to go but we can’t wait to take a bite out of this forest of crunchy goodness. Or maybe that’s the heat talking ….

 

 

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Today, Friday August 5th, was yet another “heat alert” in our area. But when it’s harvesting day we have to work, no matter the weather. We take more breaks, drink more water, and take cold hose showers, but we still suffer the side effects of dehydration. On most days even a simple walk down a row of Tomatoes leaves us covered in sweat. This unending heat wave would be more bearable if we weren’t also in extreme drought conditions. But, we must harvest to meet our commitments to our dear members. And we hope that you, dear members, understand that we might not harvest as much, and that our crops are also suffering from the weather conditions.

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How we feel: as slow as a snail and desperately looking for water.

We also feel like Squidget ….

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Reposted from Andrea N’s Instagram: “Oh the life of a farm cat. This expert hunter is relaxing in the shade after a job well done. She was very proud of herself this morning by showing off her bounty before snuggling in for her afternoon siesta.”

This snake was also looking for shade and water and knew that the lettuce is the best place to find both …

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I hope the newest members of the farm survive the heat ….

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We are pleased to be offering a very special and unique calendar again this year. Photographs and descriptions by Naturalist and Blogger P. Allen Woodliffe, the 2017 calendars highlight the wonders and beauty of Rondeau Provincial Park. Calendars are always available at our on-farm market and will soon find their way to our ShopEco market tables as well. There are limited numbers of these calendars printed so get yours before we sell out! If you pick up at ShopEco you can ask us to bring one in for you! To find out more about Allen and about the calendars check out his website ~ http://pawsnaturenuggets.blogspot.ca/2016/05/rondeaunaturally-photos.html

A few of the photographic highlights ….

 

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Now on to the veggies available this week! Including the VEGGIE OF THE WEEK – FENNEL!

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There are many ways to enjoy Fennel including: using the fronds in salads or in pesto; grilling the bulbs on the barbeque; Apple Fennel Slaw; Soups, Pasta, Salads; 15 Fab Fennel Recipes from Canadian Living; and Martha Stewart’s take on this delectable herb. This delightful herb is a favourite of the farm children as a “passing-by snack”. Fennel is also very good for the digestive system, soothing sore tummies and colicky babies, as well as a great natural way to boost milk production in breastfeeding mothers (in honour of World Breastfeeding Week going on now!). If you’re not sure you’ll like the anise/licorice flavour just sample a small bit of the frond and see if the sweet flavour appeals to your palate. We’ll be selling this as whole bulbs with fronds as well as bunches of fronds.

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Eat The Rainbow!

Other veggies this week include: Heirloom Cherry ‘Candy’ Tomatoes + Beefsteak / Slicers (these are still slow coming on as we had several delays that were out of our control); Sweet Peppers (we’ve had weather + insect pressure that have made many of our early peppers unappealing and instead of throwing them all out we’ve discounted them from $8/lb to $1/lb); Hot Peppers (must be pre-ordered and they are VERY HOT); Kale + Chard; Salad Mix is back!; Scallions; Garlic (cured + fresh); hand-picked, heirloom, multi-coloured Snap Beans (for raw snacks but also for light cooking); Eggplant; Summer Squash (Again this year, what should be a reliable producer, has taken a hit. Striped Cucumber Beetles aka Fornicating F******, after a mild Winter, have attacked our Summer Squash seedlings, blossoms, and fruit.); Broccoli; Savoy Cabbage; fresh herbs such as Mint, Basil, and Sorrel; Kohlrabi; and fresh flowers (including Sunflowers).

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A few quick notes before we bid you all a most wonderful and delicious week …

We are planning an Heirloom Tomato Taste-Testing Day during a farm market in late August so please keep an eye on our Facebook page for event details. There will be a large variety of Heirloom Tomatoes available to taste and to rate and we’ll announce the winners at the end of the market (and online). This event may coincide with a Tomato Canning event for those of you interested in learning how to preserve the bounty and in making your own sauce to make Summer’s goodness last all Winter long. We’ll be taking orders for bulk tomatoes (hampers) in the next few weeks once the harvest is plentiful. Bulk garlic is also available by special request. If you are a member using the credit system you can order any veggie we have in large quantities and apply it to your credit, please let us know if you’re interested!

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