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
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
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
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
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!