February has the reputation of a rather dreary month. Governments and universities have tried to help by creating holidays like reading week and Family Day (today!), but there is no denying that many of us are simply feeling ready for winter to be over with.
February can also be a rather discouraging month in the locavore’s pantry. For Largo Farm members, the glory of fall pick-up with its carload of squash, pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, greens, roots, and more is but a faded memory and the winter veggie bags are beginning to feel more than a tad uninspired.
This winter is particularly challenging due to last spring’s weather conditions. Because of the drought, it was incredibly late before we were able to seed the winter carrots, beets, and rutabaga and we were not at all sure how they would fare.
The rutabaga in particular seemed ill-fated. The seedlings were attacked by worms. We squished what we could while thinning the rows of struggling plans, but feared that our efforts were in vain. Miraculously, many survived, and the remaining plants were far less wormy than usual at harvest time. Still, the yield was not tremendous.
And although the late-seeded carrots and beets surpassed our expectations, there were nowhere near as many of them as we would have liked. The garlic didn’t like the drought either, so we aren’t able to send bonus garlic through the winter like we did last year, when we had a tremendous crop.
So where does that leave us this February? The onions have all been sent out, as we don’t have good enough storage conditions to allow us to keep them through the winter. The garlic all went out at fall pick-up, though we did look through what we had kept for ourselves and figured we had enough to send you a couple bonus cloves this month. The parsnips are gone until we dig more in the spring, and the last of the rutabaga were sent out this month. We have carrots and beets for at least a couple more months, and the sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes/sunflower tubers will be back in March.
We knew this lull was coming, and have tried to compensate for it somewhat by sending extra beans to our full-year members in the summer and adding in an extra October pick-up. We will try to find a little something extra to add in the coming months as well, but the reality is that this is a low point in the local diet.
Which means that it’s not a great time to be asking you to renew your memberships for next year. But, ironically, this is the time when we need to know who we’ve got on board for next year so that we can do our planning and, before we know it, our planting! So please, think back to the abundance of summer and fall (and even previous winters!) as you consider your plans for next year.
And if you haven’t already done so (with thanks to everyone who has already responded!) please do let us know your intentions for next year as soon as possible. Even if you will not be renewing, we very much appreciate knowing so. Prices go up for returning members after March 1 (including for winter-only shares), so please do let us know asap!
It is looking like we will have room for a few new members as well, so if you know anyone in the Battlefords, Turtleford (a new group this year!), or Saskatoon areas who might be interested, please encourage them to get in touch.
And, to keep focused on the bright side, we did have one very strong crop last year: potatoes. We’ve still got lots of potatoes for you to enjoy throughout the winter and spring. If you’re looking for some new ways to use them, check out the recipe section of this blog, or try this simple vegetable loaf:
1 1/2 cups diced raw potatoes
2 cups diced raw carrots
1/4 cup melted butter
1-2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup beef, chicken, or veggie stock
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper (opt)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp savory (or any herb you like — but here’s a dish for some of that savory you dried last summer!)
1 cup oats
Cook the potatoes and carrots in a small amount of boiling water until barely tender. Drain. Combine with remaining ingredients and spoon into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for one hour or until set. Slice thickly and serve drizzled with a sauce.
And if you still have sunchokes kicking around from previous months (they do keep well!), here is a recipe we tried recently from The Zero Mile Cookbook:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lb sunchokes, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp basil
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 fresh tomatoes, chopped (I used canned)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water (probably not needed with canned tomatoes)
Saute onion and garlic in heated oil until soft. Add sliced sunchokes, nutmeg, herbs, salt and pepper. Saute another 10 minutes. Place in a casserole dish and toss with tomatoes, wine and water. Cover and bake at 350 for one hour, until water has evaporated.