From staking vampires to staking tomatoes!

Blog #13 I believe!!! Crazy!

Okay, so normally I try to keep track of what we do all week so that when it comes to blogging by the end of the week I can easily recall what we did. This week I made no such list so I will have to rely on my trusty old noggin. Let me see…

Well you all should know by now that on Wednesdays and Fridays we harvest. Wednesday is CSA day, start at 7AM, get everything done by 3PM, head out to drop off points (I went this week) and finish the day around 7/730. Friday we also start at 7AM and do a whole bunch of harvesting for the markets. This Friday we got everything done pretty early. Johnny and Daizy both had family in town and so we finished early which was very nice and much appreciated!

Rebecca was off Saturday and so it was just Chloe and I in the field. We started off the day sowing some more bok choy! Yay! I love bok choy so much. We had it for a week or two already but it is a cooler weather crop and so we won’t have it again until later on in the season. Then we transplanted the last batch of the cucumbers and melons. They should last most of the summer. This coming week will be the first week we give out cucumbers in the CSA! And then we hoed a bed of beets.

Beets are another veggie which I have discovered this year, along with kale. The only beets we ever have at home are pickled beets with our curry. And pickled beets are delicious but so are roasted beets, and boiled beets. You can eat beets all alone with just a touch of salt, or as a beet salad with goat cheese, or roasted with other veg. AND you can use the beet juice/water (if you boil them) when making rice or quinoa to give it a beautiful purple color. (I am writing all this with much excitement!)

Last but not least we began to weed the carrots…once again…because they still aren’t all done. We shall finish them this week on Thursday though! It will be done! We also finished off the day harvesting some more veg so that we would have enough for Sundays market which both Chloe and I went to. Like I said, Johnny and Daizy had family in from Toronto, and so I went with Chloe to the market.

We had a great day at the market. I got the most amazing chocolate almond croissant from ArtIsIn. So good. My mission is to try all of their pastries by the end of the summer. I’ve already had their raisin scone and raspberry scone, which are both delish. For lunch I had a green mango salad, which was unfortunately not very authentic. I can make a much better one, if I do say so myself. And in the afternoon we cooled down with an Icicool popsicle. Chloe had the lemonade rosemary one, which is very refreshing and I had the lime pie one. I was hot by then and not feeling too well so I was hoping it would simply be limey, but instead it was a creamy lime (no surprise seeing as it is called “lime pie”) but it was soo delicious I devoured it in seconds. Yum Yum Yum. Plus Michael (our jam neighbour) fed us food all day and we got to go home with a BBQ sauce that he just recently came up with. We are going to have pulled pork tomorrow night for dinner and use it then. I am very excited. We also got feta from Joseph, one of which is a garlic feta. And we got some apples and an apple pie for all of us. Plus (sorry it never ends) Chloe and I also got ourselves corn on the cob! We’d actually had out first of the season the night before. It was so delicious, covered in butter and salt. I am going to make myself some tonight as well actually.

Back to farm life though, not that food isn’t part of farm life, it very much is. But enough about what i’ve been eating and more about what i’ve been doing. Tuesday and Thursday are difficult to recall, but by process of elimination…ah yes! Now I remember. Both days were dominated by staking tomatoes and killing potato beetles.

We had 6 beds of tomatoes to stake, each 180ft long with a 6ft stake that we needed to drive 1ft into the ground placed every 5ft or so. Poor Johnny. I’m sure he was pretty sore after those two days. We (the girls) did pound a few into the ground, and I’m speaking literally, we all did about 3 out of the 250 stakes that we had to do. And Johnny did the rest. We got them into the ground but if it had’ve been left to us, it probably would’ve taken all week. And we killed more potato beetles because no matter how hard you try, inevitably, some eggs get left unsquished and more potato beetles pop up. The important thing is to keep their numbers low to prevent excessive damage.

So yes that was the week. And now for some of Sara’s ramblings.

Have any of you seen the movie “Waking Life”? If you have, isn’t it interesting? And if you haven’t, you should definitely check it out.

Granted, it’s an animated film that is done in a way that can be quite “trippy”. It’s a film that can be watched and would be interesting to watch in a different state of mind, however I was very happy to watch it while eating my pizza and drinking a glass of wine. Any other state and I think I might have horked my cookies. Or maybe the imagery would’ve been clearer, I’m not sure.

Anywho, I was very much expecting to like the film but at first was slightly unimpressed (due to my high expectations most likely). It begins with a whole bunch of different characters simply speaking about life, as you would to a friend. Some of them present similar viewpoints, some of them present different viewpoints. Many of the thoughts and ideas, I have had myself or have come across in the past. I had been expecting to be hit with something new/revolutionary but felt like I had heard it all before.

But then you begin to realize what is happening to the main character and the main idea emerges. I won’t tell you what it is because I don’t want to give it away. It’s a topic that I’ve come across before, but never cared much for I guess. But after having watched the film, I think I have begun to take it much more seriously and the repercussions are simply amazing. For if you believe in a sense what is being said, then a whole new world opens up to you. I’m very happy I watched it, and even if you were to not like the film, or not connect to it, I still believe it is a film worth watching.

So that was my ramble. I could ramble some more about a whole bunch of other things but will save them for future blogs so as not to bombard you.

Hope you are all having a wonderful summer. And if you have started a garden, I hope it is treating you to lots of delicious food.

Sayonara!(I had to google the spelling for this, the first attempt was Sianara)

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Kimchi!

I know this title might have you thinking that I’ve flown back to Korea, but no, I am simply excited to make kimchi from our big and beautiful Napa Cabbages that we have grown.

I am heading home for the weekend with a bag full of yummy veg, including some Napa Cabbage that I plan to make kimchi out of. It’s quite a simple recipe actually, it doesn’t require any crazy ingredients, and though it you can let it ferment for quite a few months, you can also eat it as soon as your taste buds like. It requires a minimum of 6 hrs to sit in a brine before you add in the rest of the ingredients and then you can taste it every day until you are satisfied with the taste. At least that’s the recipe I have so far, I will test it out and let you know how it is, seeing as I am the Kimchi expert and all.

So what happened this week?

Well on Tuesday we transplanted some more kohlrabi, cabbage, cauliflower and cucurbits. We washed all our bins to get them clean for the CSA and market this week and we harvested snap peas (that are delish). Snap peas aren’t really an economical crop, because like strawberries and such they take a long time to harvest. But they are delish so I will definitely grow some for myself in the future and if ever I were to get big enough to sell, I think I would invite people to come harvest the snap peas themselves.

Also on Tuesday, Daizy made some super yummy sweet and savoury crepes. Oh my! I’m drooling just thinking about them. Our dinner was crepes with swiss chard, cheese, bacon (and i’m sure scapes, kale and others) which we covered in either siracha sauce or maple syrup, alongside some kimchi. And our dessert, oh me oh my, was more crepes with a whole assortment of jams and organic maple syrup from up near my cottage. So Tuesday was a good day 🙂

Wednesday was, as usual, CSA day. We harvested a bunch of our Napa Cabbages along with kale (I am soo excited to have kale again) and spinach and many others.

I had never eaten kale until this year. I knew it was really good for you and I was up for trying it but I felt like I didn’t know how to use it. I had heard that you needed to massage it, which I didn’t feel like I knew how to do and I didn’t have any good recipes for it. However, Chloe showed me early on when we had it in the greenhouse that you could simply massage it with some avocado (which acts as a dressing) and eat it just like that. So my favorite salad is now kale, massaged with some avocado (it takes 30 secs), with some chopped up avocado and a sprinkle of salt. It is delicious! I know I use the word “delicious” a lot, but it’s true.

On Thursday we cracked down on the weeds in the carrot beds. We’ve been putting it off for awhile, simply because there is always something else that needs to be done it seems, but we needed to save the carrots from the weeds. And so, we got down on our hands and knees for 8 hours, and tackled 3 beds out of 6. We started the 4th but only put a dent in it. I tell you, these carrots are going to be the best carrots you ever tasted based on all the hard work we are putting into them. Weeding them all day wasn’t so bad, the bad part was getting to the end of the bed where there are these horrible, no good, very bad, evil prickly weeds that are simply horrendous to deal with. One must be wearing gloves when attempting to remove them and one must make sure not to accidentally kneel on them afterwards. Trust me I know.

Then Friday was harvest and today (because I am actually getting this blog done on time for once) we killed potato beetles once again. We killed them last week but if you even miss just one little leaf with a bunch of eggs on it, you’re in trouble. So we had to go back over them today. Thankfully, as hard as it is to see the eggs sometimes, potato beetles are very easy to kill. They do not move! At all! I think their only mechanism of defence is to freeze, fall off the leaf and act as if they are dead. Unfortunately though, we didn’t even get through half of the potatoes. Last time we were able to finish in a day, but this time, we were down one man, plus there were more plants to check (as more have grown), the plants themselves are bigger and it was much hotter in comparison to the other day. However, I am no longer very worried about the potatoe beetles, as there are very few, and am more worried about pesky flea beetles which are devouring our potatoes and eating everything else as well. I would kill them all if I could but they jump (as fleas do) and thus are difficult to squish. Just thinking about them makes me angry.

So to change the subject, let’s talk about something that makes me happy. You guessed it, food! On Friday night Oma (Johnny’s mom) came over and made a seafood chowder lasagna. Now, I love seafood, and I love pasta, but I’m not normally a fan of the two together. However, this lasagna was delicious, okay what’s a synonym for delicious, hmm, scrumptious! And afterwards I made a wild berry crumble from a bunch of berries that Chloe had collected from around the house. And we had it alongside some of Rebecca’s vanilla ice cream. It was…delightful! (I’m using Word’s synonyms for delicious).

And last but not least I made homemade basil pesto which turned out great and I used it for pasta, stir fry and sandwiches. I still had some goat cheese left from last week, so I toasted p my Crazy Grain bread from ArtIsIn, smeared some goat cheese on one toast, some pesto on another, and made a sandwich out of cooked spinach and tomatoes. Yummy yum yum.

Okidokes, that’s my farm and food ramblings for this week. Hope you enjoyed!

I will let you know how the kimchi worked out in next week’s blog. Take Care!

Potato Beetles!

This past week passed by really fast. Now that we are harvesting for CSA on Wednesdays I have a feeling that the weeks are going to fly by. Hoe Tuesday, harvest Wednesday, hoe Thursday, harvest Friday and hoe Saturday. We break up Tuesdays hoeing with washing bins so that they can be used throughout the week. And even on Thursdays and Saturdays we sometimes need to attend to other things.

For example, this Thursday we had to smush potato beetles all day. We have rows upon rows of potatoes and we had to thoroughly inspect each plant for adult beetles, teens and eggs (which are found on the underside of the leaves). The adults remind me of beetle juice, they are shaped like extra large ladybugs but have white and black stripes on their back. Instead of smushing them, we actually placed them in water buckets so that we could feed them to the chickens afterwards. (Their fate stays the same, but at least their bodies aren’t going to waste.) The teens have a transparent shell and are all red. You had to be careful when smushing them so as not to get red beetle guts on your face. The eggs are bright yellow and orange, which thankfully makes them a bit easier to find in comparison to if they were green, but sometimes they would be hidden under the smallest leaves on the smallest plants, so you really had to be careful to check everywhere.

By the end of the day I felt like mafia woman, with blood stained heads. It was a massacre. But alas, if we hadn’t killed them, they would have devoured our potatoes. Such is the life of an organic farmer. And so there is your explanation for why organic is more expensive than conventional. We don’ rely on insecticides and chemicals to get rid of weeds and pests, we take care of it ourselves, one plant at a time. (haha, I just reread that sentence, LOVE it! sounds like a slogan)

Oh! and this week we started harvesting our snap peas and swiss chard! The snap peas are so delicious, it was very difficult to not eat our harvest. And the swiss chard is so pretty. You can use swiss chard to make pesto (garlic scape and swiss chard pesto) or you can throw it in soups or stews. However there are so many leafy greens that you can do such things with, and I prefer the taste of say kale and spinach and so I wouldn’t grow swiss chard for the taste per say. But I would grow it because it is so gosh darn pretty. Depending on the variety the stems can be white, yellow, red or even striped like a candy cane (pink and white). It looks so good in the field. I think I’d grow it just to make the garden look pretty.

And I was the one who went to market this week. Last time I brought a bunch of food with me so as to save money. But then I got there and there was just so much good food around. So this week I simply made myself the usual morning smoothie (seeing as we were up at 515AM) to give myself a kick start to the day but indulged myself at the market for the rest of the day. I had a raisin scone from ArtIsIn (http://www.artisinbakery.com/) and then a veggie crepe (with pesto, egg, tomato and cheese) for breakfast. We cooled off with a nice popsicle from Icicool (http://www.karumba.ca/icicools.html). I had strawberry basil and Daizy had grapefruit mint. Delish. And for lunch I had some yummy Pad Thai from Sawadee, a food vendor, and an Apple Ginger Iced Tea from another. The market ends at 3PM and so around 230 I started walking around to see who was interested in trading. I got the girls and I some feta cheese from Joseph, some Brazilian Coffee from PapaBean (http://poppabean.ca/) and 3 mini pies (sugar/pecan, blueberry and cherry) form Savoury Pursuits (http://www.savourypursuits.com/). I also bought a jug of apple cider and a large basil plant so that I could make a stir fry tonight for Johnny and Daizy and some yummy pesto for the week.

I was surrounded by food all day. Therefore it was an awesome day. I realized earlier in the week my 3 passions: 1) eating food, 2) cooking food, and 3) growing food. So i’m thinking i’m on the right track.

I was pooped though by the end of the day on Sunday and spent the evening chilling out in the trailer. I added some hot sauce and bok choy to my left over Pad Thai, opened my bottle of organic wine (Fuzion make ones) and watched episode after episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because I have fallen back into my old addiction. I can’t get enough of Angel. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

But you don’t need to hear about that. I’m sure you’d much rather hear about the Coconut korma curry that I made. It was delish. I had some korma paste (Thank You Terry White) so I warmed that up in a soup pot with some extra garlic and ginger. Threw in some green onions and then added a can of coconut milk and an equal amount of water. Then I threw in the few veggies that I had (broccoli, potatoes and raisins) and let it come to a boil. Then it simmered until the potatoes were cooked through and it had thickened up a bit. It was awesome. It’s definitely going in my recipe book. And on Friday night the girls and I had dinner together. My lovely father had sent me back this week with some fresh caught bass from his fishing trip! So I patted it dry, covered it in flour, then egg and then tossed it in a bread crumb seasoning and pan fried it in oil on each side for 2 min. Fresh fish is so much better than store bought fish. Um Um good!

So I realize that most of this post is about food. Hope you enjoyed anyway and hope I haven’t made you too hungry.
Till next time!

PS: autocorrect is telling me that “smush” isn’t a word. I figured. I should be using “squish” but I like “smush” more, so it stays.

Happy Canada Day!

Ok. I know last week’s blog was short, hoping that this week’s blog makes up for it!

The week started off grey and wet. We took it pretty easy, washing bins, cleaning up and harvesting scapes. Wednesday was our first CSA so we got up early in order to get all of our harvesting, washing and bagging done by 3PM. Then Johnny dropped me off at the Rockliffe pick-up where I got to meet 9 of our lovely CSA members. This week one of the other girls will go to Rockliffe and I will stay here at the farm where about 20+ members come to pick up their boxes.

I don’t remember what we did on Thursday… we probably hoed. But I do remember that I made a homemade French onion soup that turned out pretty decent for my first try. I caramelized a whole bunch of onions in butter for about 30 min, adding in sugar, garlic and flour along the way. Then dumped everything into a crock-pot, deglazed the pot with vermouth and threw that into the crock-pot along with beef stock. For some final touches I added bay leaves, thyme and salt and pepper. Next time I think I will be more generous with the spices, and possible try some different ones to give the broth a rich flavor. And then I just let it simmer in the crock pot for about 6 hrs until we were ready to eat!

Oh yes, the sun also came out on Thursday and stayed the rest of the week. By Saturday at lunch it was 33degrees outside and we were working hard. Johnny goes to market on Saturdays so it’s just us 3 girls out in the field. We were trying to catch up on our hoeing, which we have let get out of hand a little bit (ok a lot). The weeds in the pathways between the mulch are horrendous. They are taller than the plants. It would be impossible to hoe them with tools; the weeds are so long they would get stuck in the holes/stirrups. And so we have to mow them to keep them at bay and also make them easier to hoe.

Now, I’ve started a lawn mower before, but our lawn mower at the farm is no regular lawn mower, it looks like one, but doesn’t start as easy as one. It even took Johnny a few attempts before he could get it started. We girls however, banded together; one would push the lawn mower away while the other would pull the string. It took a few tries but we were able to get it started. After lunch I was even so pumped to tackle the weeds that I was able to start it on my own. Needless to say, my right arm is still sore even though we are Tuesday now. I’m scared that by the end of the year my right arm will be much bigger than my left. I will have to become ambidextrous.
So we had a busy week, filled with harvesting, hoeing and muscle building. And as tiring as it was, it was also very rewarding.

Now, doing the repetitive tasks we do, there is a lot of time for thinking. We sometimes listen to music or chit chat while we work, but there is inevitably time for thought and reflection. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts/ideas with you.

I’m learning a lot here and I am very excited to come back home and put what I have learnt into practice on my own. I am planning on writing to Lufa Farms and Equiterre in the hopes of working for them, or in the very least getting involved with them. I would like to find a “green” job that simply pays the rent and gives me time to do side projects.

I’m hoping to clear out the piece of land beside my house and grow food for my family next summer. I might even look into gardening up north at my cottage. Furthermore, I plan to read up on backyard and inhouse gardening and, depending on how much time I have, offer my services and knowledge to as many people as I can. I would love to educate and demonstrate to anyone interested how to grow food on your own. I recently saw a photo on Facebook of Geneva, Switzerland. It was an aerial photo of a suburb. All the backyards had been converted into gardens and the community would communicate and coordinate together. I love this idea and would love to help my hometown reach this point.

I have often thought about moving away. One reason for this is that I would love to be able to garden all year long in a more temperate climate near a body of water. But another reason is that I have always wanted to get away from where I grew up. And I think a lot of us feel this way sometimes. We grow up learning that it is good to get away from where you were born (and I do believe it is). But I have also begun to realize that instead of trying to leave my hometown behind and find a “better” community, maybe I should stay and help my community become a better place. The grass will always be greener on the other side and I’ve done quite a bit of travelling for someone my age and I’ve already learned that there is no “better” place. That all places are the same. There are pros and cons to everything, everyone, and every place.

There’s definitely not enough organic produce or knowledge of the benefits of buying/growing organic in Deux-Montagnes (and surrounding areas) and so I’m thinking that I want to change that. Hopefully I will. It’s something I’m pretty excited about. However, we have just entered July, I still have about 4+ months left interning and still have a lot to learn. One step at a time they say. But I am excited. Hopefully those of you reading this are too. Maybe I will garden for you next summer and you can eat fresh produce all summer long. Yum Yum!

I wish you all a wonderful week and hope you had a wonderful Canada Day!