Harvest has begun

onions and garlic.JPG

Really, we have been harvesting vegetables ever since the first asparagus stalk achieved several inches of height back in May, but this past week or two the harvest season has launched in earnest. Large stretches of our north garden have been emptied as we have harvested spent pea vines (fodder for the pigs and milk cow), seed peas, broad bean stalks (again, for the pigs), onions, garlic, and a variety of other seeds (poppy, parsnip, spinach, radish, and mustard). Seeds have been carried indoors or onto barrows in the sun to dry and onions and garlic are curing in dry parts of the garden. Tom has cultivated the empty spaces with the team of horses, making everything look beautiful and clean and, more importantly, removing the vast majority of the weeds before they have a chance to set seed.

Our kitchens have also been feeling the effect of harvest. Though we don’t have many apple trees of our own (we planted a couple last year and one of them has six fruits on it – triple last year’s yield!), others have generously offered access to theirs. I spent Friday in a canning marathon, putting up 57 quarts of applesauce. I don’t recommend trying this at home! I have been drying kale and apples, and look forward to drying some celery and corn in the near future. I did make one attempt at celery but an oversight on my part lost me the celery and two of my drying screens all in one go. I use the heat reserves in our wood-burning stove to dry produce, putting my drying screens in when the oven drops to about 200 and leaving them there until the stove is next lit. I place a piece of wood on the stove top as a reminder to check the oven before lighting the fire. Unfortunately, in my haste, I omitted this step and am now down two drying racks, as the screening melted when the oven heated up. (This is not the first time this has occurred, and unfortunately by last fall I had used up all the excess screening material left from when Christopher built me the screens.)

As for vegetables, this week’s order looks remarkably similar to last week’s: potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, corn, cukes, zucchini, beans, Swiss chard, perpetual spinach, kale, parsley, summer savory, basil, purple basil, green onions, and tomatoes. To protect the tomatoes, we send them separately, in a box. Sometimes they get sorted into bags before you arrive to pick up and sometimes they’re still in the box. Be sure to check and make sure you’ve got yours!

A few other notes: we have been sending celery by the full head this year, to save the trouble of dividing it. This means that you have been getting larger amounts less frequently, rather than a few stalks each week. We hope this is working ok for you.

We have been sending a lot of corn and summer savory, as the plants are nearing maturity. This will be the last week for both of these, unless you would like some additional mature corn for freezing. Let me know if this is the case. The summer savory dries very easily (just place the stalks in a paper bag and leave to dry, then strip the leaves off the stems) for enjoyment in winter soups and stews. We have also been sending a fair number of green onions, though not nearly as many as we could. If you would like extras, please let me know. There is no cost; we just don’t want to overwhelm anyone with the abundance.

Our hot weather crops (tomatoes, peppers, basil, melons) are all a little slow this year. The basil has finally recovered from its touch of frost early in the season, but it is not yet certain whether we will have the abundance we have in the past. But if the fall frost holds off a few weeks longer, we may have enough for pesto yet. Same goes for the peppers. Although we planted what we thought was a ridiculously large number, they are growing slowly. Given that they are a special treat at fall pick-up, we may wait until then to send them. On that note, please mark your calendars for fall pick-up the afternoon of Sunday, October 1. And we are still looking for a few winter members, especially in Saskatoon. Your help in spreading the word is most appreciated!

Part of my contribution to the seed saving we do for Prairie Garden Seeds is growing about a dozen varieties of tomatoes and saving their seed. This work is also beginning to take off. For those who are unfamiliar with tomato seed saving, it entails scooping the seeds of several very ripe tomatoes into a jar, adding a bit of water, letting it ferment for three days, rinsing, straining the seed, and drying it. We are aiming for seed from 40 tomatoes of each variety that we are growing, so this adds up to a lot of tomatoes! If you are wondering why my menus include more tomatoes than your have been receiving, this is the explanation. I generally can most of the tomatoes (as sauce or juice), but so far we’ve been able to keep up with eating them. I expect this will change soon.

We have been receiving several requests from non-members for tomatoes. Usually we have lots of extras, but it’s always hard to know until we see what the September weather is like. Members have top priority for our tomatoes (your 20 lbs/full winter share, plus any extras you would like for preserving). It would be helpful for our planning if those wanting extra tomatoes (we sell them for $1/lb) could let us know quantities.

This week’s eating was a bit unusual in that Shawn and I went for our annual anniversary get-away (to the exciting metropolis of North Battleford!). We bribe the kids to look after themselves with a wide array of store bought foods I don’t care to describe, and eat our meals in a restaurant. That took care of Monday supper and Tuesday lunch. Tuesday evening was farm meeting at Tom and Judy’s, so it was Wednesday before I really began cooking (other than the Greek salad I made on Sunday). On Wednesday Shawn made a tomato, bean, zucchini, and corn soup for lunch. Unfortunately, he does not use recipes, so I’m not able to share the details with you. Supper was corn on the cob, cooked carrots, broad beans (still in our cellar from the last order they were sent – oops!), and another Greek salad. On Thursday Shawn made a curried potato zucchini soup with Great Northern beans for lunch. We had black bean and corn salad (see recipe below), the final peas of the season, and boiled beets for supper. Friday’s lunch was the leftover soup, thickened up with some pasta. Shawn and the kids went to the fair while I canned applesauce, and I ate leftover bean salad for my supper. Saturday we finished off the curried pasta for lunch, and had a variation of garlicky garbanzos and kale for supper.

Black bean and corn salad

2 generous cups cooked black beans (I like black coco)

2 cups corn (boiled, then cut off the cob)

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (if you have any, unfortunately our third seeding is not coming along that well)

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Garlicky garbanzos and kale

1 bunch kale, finely chopped (I used all the greens from a full share but found I prefer the dish wehn made with only kale)

1 tsp oil (I used bacon grease – thanks Candace!)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 cups cooked chick peas (I used black coco, but think it works better with chick peas or maybe a white bean)

1 tsp soy sauce (I used Bragg’s)

Heat the oil. Saute garlic and ginger. Stir in tomatoes and chick peas with a small amount of extra liquid if needed. Cook 5 minutes. Add soy sauce. Spread the kale on top and cook until tender.

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