Monday, August 20, 2012

Watershed Farm CSA - 21 August 2012 - Delivery #10

Hello everyone!

My grandma gave me her electric typewriter, which she got a couple of years before she got her first computer (and she was the first person I knew with a computer!).  As I put the first exclamation point in your newsletter I thought of how happy I am that my computer has one: My typewriter does not!  I'm sure I couldn't convey how excited I am about all our great produce if I didn't have an exclamation point.

The sunset we got to look at while packing your bags tonight!

As I'm sure you know, CSA baskets are also referred to as "farm share" programs.  By sharing in a part of our farm, you get to enjoy the many rewards (our beautiful harvest, updates and photos from the farm, being connected to your food, supporting a local farmer, etc), and occasionally the less desirable outcomes (such as the effects of weather/climate, crop failures, and other bumps along the way).  Whenever possible, we will do everything we can to correct our shortcomings (I'm talking about your sub-par potatoes last week!), and are glad that you stick with us on the crazy journey of growing your food.  Once more, our apologies for last week's potatoes, and we've sent along a replacement this week, which I know you will find up to the quality you expect from Watershed Farm.

On that note, I thought I'd send along an update about how the fields are making out this year.  As you know, it's been a hot and dry year, which has posed some challenges for us, but overall I hear it has been a much better growing year than last year (we don't have much to base it on, this being our first year farming in Nova Scotia).  Us, and nearly every other farmer I know have had trouble growing lettuce in this heat (and we also have a bit of a rabbit problem in some places, which hasn't helped).  We do keep planting and plan to have our great salad mix return to your bags later in the season, as well as head lettuce and hopefully some stir-fry mix and/or arugula. 
I have never had to deal with striped cucumber beetle before, and they are also, quite the pest.  It seems like in complement to the fantastic climate and growing conditions in Nova Scotia, we also have a great deal more pests: so I suppose it evens out!  They carry a bacterial wilt in their gut, so it's not only that they chew on the plants, they actually cause them to wilt and die eventually, too... a double whammy!  Anyhow, they've gotten a few of our cucumbers and winter squash, and they seem to like the zucchini, but you shouldn't notice a difference in your share of the harvest.
We're (finally) getting a handle on our weeding again, which always gets out of hand once there's lots to harvest: harvesting tends to always take priority.  A lot of our beds are now turning over to late plantings of cool-season crops, so you may see a repeat of radishes, spinach, peas, et cetera in your later bags (no promises!).  Working with a limited amount of space, some beds get turned over up to 3 or 4 times in a season, which makes our little space a very productive one!  We're learning which fields are better for early-season crops, which have fertility issues, and which are-- as we call it in Manitoba-- "turbo-dirt".  Of course there's loads of things we would do differently next season, but that's just part of growing on a new piece of land.
As we speak, a number of people are out working at putting in a drilled well on the property.  I'm not 100% sure how it all works, but I know that it will at least solve the water shortage problem for the people and animals living on the farm.  Also, our irrigation pond went dry last week, which is a bit scary in the middle of the season, so hopefully there will be a way to tap into that well if not this year, then next. 

Apples basking in the setting sun.  I feel this is a good metaphor for our farm right now: green on top of green, on top of green!

Overall, we've been having a very successful year at Watershed, which I'm sure you were able to gather from the produce you've been eating! 

One last thing before I get to the good stuff: It is Lisa's birthday in a couple of weeks, and she's looking for a recommendation for a great bed and breakfast: Let me know if you know of one!

In your basket this week:
You can't live without this if you are Ukrainian, Italian, German, East Indian, Hungarian, Spanish, et cetera...  I'm pretty certain it's a universal Yum! to all cultures. 

We're giving you all the makings of one of my favourite salads this week- tomatoes, cucumber, basil (add your peppers and throw in some feta and olives to make it Greek if you're a full share!).  I'm pretty sure fresh basil is one of the favourite herbs of most people, and that you have a million different things planned to do with it- tomato sauce, chopped on top of pizza, in your salad, pesto... dare I go on?  We grow a variety of different types, the most striking being the purple, which you may have in your bag. 


There's just no substitute for farm-fresh tomatoes.  We want to send them to you every possible time that we can, because I know how far superior they are.  Because we grow so many heirloom varieties, I hope you get a different mix from one week to the next.  A note on storing them: fresh tomatoes should only be stored in the fridge as a last resort (as in, you're going away for the weekend and you can't take them with you and you think they won't make it 'til Monday).  Otherwise, keep them in the paper bag we send them to you in, or in your fruit bowl (though watch out for fruit flies).  Most of ours are picked perfectly ripe, so they should stand at least a few days, and you should always eat them in order of ripest first.  With most of the heirlooms, you can't go on colour, so it's the (gentle) squeeze test to find out if it's ripe (I once yelled at a woman at a farmer's market who was squeezing our tomatoes too hard... so please be gentle!).  An unripe tomato will have virtually no give, but a ripe one will give ever-so-slightly when squeezed. 
Also, to cut your ripe tomato, you're going to need a serrated knife, like a bread knife.  Jon thought he was the only one who knew this, until Lisa and I told him that we think it's general knowledge.  But just in case you didn't know, it makes it much easier to get picture-perfect tomato slices!  And please, for my sake, DO marvel at how beautiful your tomatoes are on the inside as well as the outside: a lot of the heirlooms have coloured marbelling throughout, or complex lobes of seeds and meat that are really truly gorgeous.

The weather gods will not let us have lettuce, so this is a good substitute for now.  Lisa stayed home the other night to make sauerkraut; I'm quite certain she's secretly a 90 year old lady!  However, we discussed today that the fermented veggies must be doing her a lot of good: she's been experimenting with adding some former no-no's back into her diet, with much success.  Like it or not, it's good for you, and sometimes that's just enough to make you want to eat it.  If Lisa can find time to make sauerkraut, you can too! 
Or, you can do what I did for supper tonight, which was "lazy cabbage rolls":  Basically, I made some rice, sauteed some chopped cabbage, made a fantastic tomato sauce out of our heirloom tomates, and layered the three into a casserole dish, and baked at 350 until the edges start to brown (I've seen this made other ways, but this was the amount of lazy I felt like being tonight).

Again, rainbow bunches with tops on, if you're so inclined to devour those, too.  Our white carrots are actually very beautiful and delicious: I used them in Jon's birthday carrot cake a couple of weeks ago, with no complaints (though, who among us would dare complain about cake?!).  I think it's particularly interesting (from a farming point of view) to see the varietal differences in the carrots: our orange ones lag behind those beefy white ones by quite a bit (they were planted at the same time).  However, I'm sure most of you are just excited to see a trio of colour on your dinner plates, and that's okay, too!  Lisa said these are the best-tasting carrots we've had yet, so see if you agree!

I wanted to tell you something really exciting about onions, so of course I consulted wikipedia.  I learned that when an onion is cut it's cells are broken, which releases a gas that is an eye irritant and causes tears to form.  Some ways to prevent this from happening (other than wearing goggles, of course!) are: cut the onion under running water or in a bowl of water, chill or freeze the onion, use a sharp knife which will damage less cells and release less gas, or avoid cutting the root off until the very end, as more of the enzymes that release the gas are concentrated in the root.  The first thing I always do is cut the root off first, so perhaps I will change my strategy after learning this! 

What's fresher tasting than a cucumber in mid-summer?  It pairs so well with your basil and tomatoes, or you can make a traditional cucumber salad, which is really just sliced cucumber and very thinly sliced onion, with a creamy dressing.  We had one tonight with supper, and Lisa and I made a lemon-poppyseed dressing to go with it that was delicious.  For something different, you can liven up your water with some slices floating amongst the ice cubes.

Leeks are one of my favourite members of the onion family, especially small ones.  Those big ones are good for big pots of soup (or clubbing people!), but these are nice little guys that are just perfect for a stir-fry or salad or sauteed with your potatoes.  The correct way to slice a leek is to remove the end (very end part where the roots are), cut the top where the greens darken, and then slice length-wise (the long way) in half so you can wash and remove any sand or dirt from the leaves at the top.  Then you lay flat on a cutting board and slice away.  You can use the tops, too, they are a more fibrous texture and might go better in soup stock or must be sliced very thinly.

Full-size baskets also get:

This is the first fruitful result of a later season planting of radishes.  They are very spicy, reflecting the heat that they endured to grow in.

We're excited to be shipping you the first of our pepper harvest!  There's a few different ones that may greet you in your full-share bag: a purple sweet bell, a yellow banana that has mild heat, and some spicy green ones.

Filet beans (the very skinny ones in your basket this week) are one of our true stars of the harvest this season.  They are a pain in the butt to pick, overshadowed only by how excited everyone is to see them, and how quickly they fly off the table at the farmer's market, thus making it all worth it.  I can see why people get excited over them: they are truly a gourmet item!

A bride walked down the aisle on Saturday with flowers from Watershed Farm: What an honor for us!

Hope you have a great week and enjoy all the bounty in your basket!

Teri Dillon

Watershed Farm
768 Allen Frausel Road
Baker Settlement, Nova Scotia
B4V 7H8
c. 902.212.2301 | p. 902.685.3901
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1 comment:

  1. Hey Teri, John and Lisa, thanks for the blog, we always look forward to hearing what's happening on the farm. Hope you get some rain this week so you can continue to share the wonderful food you all work so hard to grow !
    Cheers to you guys!