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Thursday
Oct112012

30 Days On My Small Farm - Day 14 (Dig that chicory and plant the garlic)


You never know in the business I'm in what is going to come your way in any particular season.

Point in case. Today I was digging the chicory with Diana from Balzacs Coffee Roasters .
Diana called me sometime last winter asking about root chicory. Did I know where to get the seed, and better yet, could I grow it? She was interested in blending it with her coffee for a new product.
Well I never really know if I can grow something new until I try and of course I am always game to try.
In fact more than game. I love growing new things.

But I kinda thought this one I could do. My mom grew chicory as a coffee substitute and although my soil is heavier than that on our family farm I figured it would be okay.
I found the seed and ordered it from Italy.
Today was "the dig".
Long roots that chicory! It was tough to get them without some breakage, but it was fun. Diana is a cool person with very good coffee. Does it get better than that? And she arrived with some of her "Farmer's Blend" coffee for me. Yum!
She's got some work on her hands to sort out the drying of it. I hope it works out well...I am anxious to try it.

Diana's got the roots!

Then this afternoon was time to get the garlic planted. As will be tomorrow and the day after that.
One can never have too much garlic!
The ground turned up beautifully.


Draw the rows...


Separate the heads into cloves, pointed end up!



I'm planting lots of different varieties this year, maybe 25 different ones or so.
It's beautiful stuff.



A couple thousand cloves will go in.
I can't wait to try these distinct varieties next year!

Wednesday
Oct102012

30 Days On My Small Farm-Day 13 (Eat well this Winter)

There is no time of year that makes me feel more of a connection to my pioneer foremothers.
Shoring up for the winter and all.
My 5 cord of wood that I hope will get me through the winter is stacked.
And when my friend Suzanne came this morning to get her veggies and Jo just now, they both had the same message.
"It's coming Linda-they are calling for frost!"

My joy of...was that only yesterday?....was short lived.

Local food movement be damned, with your hype, gimmicks and marketing manoeuvres.  I eat my own food as much as I can and depend on it for the winter. I do it because...well.....it's obvious isn't it? I save money, we eat very well, and I like the food I grow. I like how I grow it too.

But please...scream at me if I start posting pictures of my meals.

Today was hitting the fields. More peppers picked and popped in the cooler. Some will be frozen for the winter, some will be preserved and tonight I am going to make the recipe you will find below for Stovetop Hot Pepper Jelly.


Finally time to get the squash in...



The walnuts keep falling too. I thought they were all down, but when the winds hit as they have today they keep coming down, seemingly from nowhere at all.


I'm still finding tomatoes and am glad to still have that summer taste.

Lots of the root crops will stay in the ground for a good time yet. They will be happy to get the frost.

Seeds for next years crop need to come in though.

cardoon

leeks

See 'em? Sesame seeds!
The greens are flourishing now. Chards, kales, mustard greens, broccoli love this weather and are better for it.  Their newly planted counterparts are growing well in the hoophouses, but are a good ways from maturity yet.
It will be a while before I need them though, and I'm debating if I'll put up some low tunnels over my gorgeous brassica patch outdoors. It is so lovely.

I digress.

On to the jelly recipe!
(from www.loveveggiesandyoga.com)


Stovetop Hot Pepper Jelly (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups jelly, depending on cooking time and how much volume you choose to reduce
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 small jalepeno peppers, diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook mixture over medium-low heat until the mixture has reduced by half. (This took about 25 minutes for me, but in the future, I will stop cooking after about 20 minutes, since the jelly is quite thick. It’s hard to tell when it’s boiling and bubbling how thick it will be after it has been jarred and has cooled). Carefully pour the mixture into a glass jar or suitable container with a lid. I store my jelly in the refrigerator and surmise it will last for many weeks; use common sense.

Tuesday
Oct092012

30 Days On My Small Farm Day-Day 12 (Fall CSA Week 1)

There's lots of vegetables in them thar' fields.
This is a very, very good dilemma to have.
The way I planned my planting (and I do use the term "planned loosely), I felt quite sure that frost would have devastated the tender crops such as tomatoes and peppers by now. I planted more greens, such as mustard greens, turnips and radishes to take up the slack in the Fall baskets which began today.
Here we sit however at October 9th and no frost. 
This time of year I am very overly zealous about keeping track of the weather, particularly when it concerns a possible frost.
It may change of course, but at this point it doesn't seem like frost is in the long term forecast here. Wow.

So lots of peppers in the baskets today and some tomatoes, but they have not fared as well in the cold.
Here's some "did you know" pepper facts.
Did you know that a green pepper has an entire days worth of Vitamin C, as well as a good dose of lutein and Vitamin K?
My peppers, as all my produce, are grown without any chemicals, including pesticides. 
 If you purchase Canadian peppers, grown conventionally they have a Dietary Risk Index (DRI) of 53 as assessed by the USDA because of  pesticide residue. (The DRI scale takes into consideration average pesticide levels in an edible portion of the food, the toxicity of each pesticide and how frequently residues are present.)
Imported peppers from the US have a DRI of 90, while peppers imported from Mexico have a rating of 608. A rating of 100 is considered acceptable.
Mexican produce though is far from the worst though. In fact Mexican carrots are virtually pesticide free, having a DRI of 0, whereas carrots from Canada have a DRI of 12, US carrots 3.
Typically Canada and the US have more stringent pesticide laws than other countries, but produce from those countries can still come in.
If pesticide use on your food is a concern of yours, where your food comes from is very important.
Food for thought.

Todays baskets also had broccoli in one form or another. Some of the broccoli was Piricicaba with a nice long stem, some was Spigiarello without a head, and some was good old broccoli side shoots.
There were also onions, carrots, radishes, greens for braising (mustards and chard), lettuces and likely something else I can't remember.


Here's an idea for those carrots...and tops!

Carrot Top Soup
(Adapted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors)

1 bunch of carrots, tops included (about six 6-inch carrots)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
2 large leeks or onions
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh dill 
3 tablespoons rice
6 cups vegetable stock 
) Salt and pepper to taste

Pull or pluck the lacy leaves of the carrots greens off their stems. (You should have between 2 and 3 cups, loosely packed.)
Finely chop the carrots, carrot tops, leeks, thyme, and dill in a food processor. Melt the butter in a soup pot.
Add the vegetable and herb mixture. Cook for several minutes stirring a few times to prevent sticking, then season with 11⁄2 teaspoons salt. Add the rice and stock to the pot.
Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is cooked, 16 to 18 minutes. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Serve immediately.

For a totally creamy version: Remove soup from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. This creamy version is good at room temperature.

For a creamy/chunky version: Remove the soup from the heat and place half of it in a heat safe bowl. Puree the remaining soup in the pot with an immersion blender and then add back the soup reserved in the bowl. This is best served warm.
Makes about 2 quarts of soup.




Monday
Oct082012

30 Days On My Small Farm - Day 11 (Thanks!)


I recognize fully that I missed writing on my blog yesterday and failed in my attempt to write for 30 days in a row.
Jo's post counts for a lot I know though!
On we go here without skipping a beat...
Happy Thanksgiving.
And thanks...

...for the wonderful memories

...my girls

.... inspiring friends I've met
..friends who need me as I need them

.....bounty
...diversity
...beauty
.....kitties


...the chance to do what I love
I have so much to be grateful for....


I am!

Sunday
Oct072012

Guest Post-Jo Shares The Abundance



What happened to the summer season?  Both my CSA summer season and the *actual* summer season?  A friend came and helped me take the enormous window air conditioner out today, and I'm under several blankies right now contemplating turning the heat on or at least plugging in the electric blanket.

I spent what felt like all of August and September sick.  I work for a school board, so I usually catch whatever's going around, and then usually it lands in my lungs and escalates to bronchitis.  I also got a sinus infection which was new to me, and I have newfound compassion for anyone who suffers from them, or migraines, or any head pain of any fashion.  Since my birthday in August, I'd been 40 for 65 days and sick for 27 of them.  I was sick of being sick.  And my forties were looking to kind of suck.  LOL

Through it all, I did manage to get an extra bushel of tomatoes from Linda and I "did the sauce".  I'd only ever done that once before.  It's a large job.  My friend Marilyn sent me a short email saying, "Put a sheet on the floor before you start!" and did I listen?  No.  I also didn't wear an apron.  I don't know what I was thinking.  But I managed to go through what felt like hundreds of tomatoes... tiny ones to huge ones -- blanching, peeling, then simmering for hours.  I added tons of Linda's basil, too, and it came out divine.  Once it all reduced in the pots, I wound up with a scant three litres (wow) but I'm saving at least one of those for a cold January night when I want to remember those juicy heirlooms from Summer '012.  :)

At one point there while I was ailing, I couldn't get my sister's half of the CSA basket delivered to her in a timely fashion.  I think I spent that whole week in bed anyhow, and I didn't even touch the basket.  It was in my fridge in the same state Linda had given it to me.  When the second one arrived, it became apparent I wasn't going to get her half to her that week either, and suddenly I was SWIMMING in veggies.  I am allergic to peppers, and if you read this blog with any frequency, you know Linda had a bumper crop of peppers, so I was in a bit of a quandary.  My sister texted me to find a home for them before they went bad... maybe give them to my colleagues.

So I took from the baskets what I would eat (daaaammmn I will never ever ever get sick of organic cabbage) and made up a basket to give away.  I got to work and overturned it on a huge platter and put a sign on it.  "Free organic Heirloom vegetables.  From Tree & Twig Farm, Wellandport ON  HELP YOURSELF".  I'm not in an office all day, but I was there for the first hour, and put the all call out.  It was kind of funny.  Some of my coworkers LOVE this sort of thing.  There was a huge buzz over the table while people pondered what *that* was (I suspected tomatillo).  Then there were a few coworkers who'd never seen anything like that before in their lives.  One asked what "heirloom" meant.  He thought it meant old, and thought the veggies were *actually* old.  Ahem.  Another guy quickly glanced at the bounty and muttered, "What's with all the mutant vegetables?"

I work with all sorts, it would appear.

But I don't judge.  It's true.  Most people have never seen stuff outside of the frankenclones they see on their grocery shelves.  I explained to one coworker that the reason it all looks the same in the stores is it's genetically modified to be that way.  Heirloom organic is the way nature intended... sometimes imperfect, sometimes small, sometimes twisted or weirdly shaped.  But ALWAYS delicious.


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