Friday, 28 October 2016

Snow on the ground? Seriously - sigh

I don't really mind the snow, if I don't have to go out in it.  Snow tires on going on next Tuesday.  But, tomorrow's high is 15C - it's hard to keep track.

We've been pretty busy around here.  I'll copy/paste the last couple of weeks' worth of emails to catch you up.  

October 12, 2016
We are saving seeds from both flowers and vegetables.  It’s pretty time consuming so I’m really glad for this warm spell.  

It seems those plants which survived the two really chilly nights have sent out their SOSs accordingly.  The last of their fruits have tried so hard to ripen and start new buds and flowers before their ending.  Although some tomatoes on the vines grew larger, there just isn’t time for them to turn their true colour.  So – we’re going to pick every unripe and green tomato tomorrow and make Salsa Verdi.  I made this a few years ago and it was delicious.   I’ll let you know in a week or so how that goes.  

We get pretty excited around here when we find a praying mantis on a plant or a mantis casing on a stem or stake in the garden.  Well, this morning I bumped into one of those green girls on a hot pepper plant in the Greenhouse.  She moved slightly so I didn’t harm her by mistake.  I took a picture of her and what should peek around another leaf on the same plant but another green praying mantis!  One thing I learned this summer is that we have green and brown praying mantids.   They are one of the best predators to keep bugs at bay.  I’ve never seen so many in the gardens as this year.  
Do you see her, upside down on the branch in the middle?
Now see the one on the left as well - they are so wonderful.

I have not taken educational courses on gardening, farming, horticulture, agriculture or any culture at all.  I learn as I go, but have been learning for most of my life.  I’ve always been fascinated by plants and how they progress in their lifetime and how you really have to neglect a plant for it to die on you.  They are pretty self-sufficient and strong.  The cold days and nights basically stopped the plants in the Greenhouse for a time being and then with the warm sunny days and with my help keeping them warm at night they’ve produced clusters of new leaves and sometimes flowers.  That’s pretty cool, but cold is cold.  When the temps drop drastically as they will in a few weeks, that’ll be it for the peppers and tomatoes.  

The cherry tomatoes are holding their own.  It must be because they’re protected by so many leaves.  The leaves are damaged now but the cherries do go on.  We’ll pick all that we can for you tomorrow.  Several of the pepper plants in the north Nightshade Garden have been frostbitten, particularly the rows on the west end from where the wind blows hardest.  

So that’s the sad part I spoke of several weeks ago.  

It is, however, time to move on with our next plans – some in the gardens, some inside the greenhouses and inside the house.  Last week we seeded arugula and spinach in the east Roots Garden now that two rows of carrots and several turnips and beets are gone.  Call me crazy but I couldn’t resist knowing how warm it was last Fall.  The Chard and Kale are thriving.  The pumpkins we didn’t plant are doing great.  The last full section of carrots should be ready in a week or two and will taste wonderfully sweet from the cold nights they’ll have been snapped with by that time. 

Other than the sprouts which I’ll keep producing for you, I plan on experimenting with different types and growing more shoots and micro-greens regularly.  I have the setup for starting seeds so I may as well use what I have rather than letting all that equipment sit for several months.  I found out more about those carrots sprouts.  Apparently they need to be treated differently than the other sprouts I grow so I’ll be working on that too.   

I must share something with you about the Quebec apples we bought last week.  I peeled, chopped and cooked the first bag of about 100 apples last Tuesday.  I emailed you with applesauce on the menu Wednesday and you ordered Thursday.  After that Carol and I were peeling the next bag of apples and discovered a few had labels on them.  We’re at a loss as to why the person packing these bags would have put store bought apples in the mix.  Was it to top up the bags?  We wonder if all the apples were store bought which would make no sense or money for them.  All I can say is that the first bag had no labels and no evidence they were store bought.  I do apologize if this freaks you out since the labelled apples are not organic.  When I buy apples during the winter months I buy as many organic as possible, next I turn to local, either Ontario or Quebec.  I was told by Niagara Region fruit growers at the Ottawa Market that this spring was so dry they didn’t really need to spray for bugs, so I’m going with this thought and hoping our apples were as good for us as we’d like.  If you know of anyone nearby growing organic apples, please let me know.  

October 19, 2016

You may not believe this, I hardly do.  We have Salad Greens this week.  Removing the old patch of Greens has been on my To Do List for weeks now but no one has had the time to actually do it.  Lo and behold I was watering in the greenhouses and spotted the Greens patch and it looked so lush I plucked a few leaves, bit into them, then picked some more, added some flowers and herbs and sorrel, washed them and drizzled some balsamic vinegar over the whole affair.   Tom and I tested them for you at supper and they taste fine.  The thing is the little Salad Greens are only picked for about three weeks, a month tops, before they start to taste bitter.  We then move on to the next available patch of new leaves and keep up the routine as such.  This particular area of Salad Greens had its leaves come to an end many weeks ago BUT with the lovely cool nights and all the warmth we’ve been having new leaves have sprouted from the old stems and they’re as good as if they were from fresh seeds.  Again I say “go figure”.  I say that a lot.  

We have a new Dine and Discover dinner scheduled – it’s Saturday October 29, 4:30 p.m.  

Every day I try to bring a dish down to its simplest form.  This is the best one yet.  When I roast the tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and herbs in olive oil and a bit of salt for our tomato sauce, I now save the “juice” drained before the veggies go into the food processor.  I used to throw it out.  What a waste.  Last night I made tomato rice soup.  It’s so easy, it’s brilliant!

1.       Pour a jar of tomato sauce “juice” into pot.  I now call this tomato-based vegetable stock.
2.      Add one cup of cooked rice of your choice.
3.      If you’re not vegan, toss in that parmesan cheese rind you have in the freezer, remove it before serving.  

Ta Da!  That’s it.  The flavours are already in the stock, the rice is delicious and the cheese rind makes the soup somewhat creamy.  Serve this with a salad and a slab of hearty bread and you’ve got a good meal.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I really enjoy cooking and trying new extremely complicated recipes with ingredients I may not have on hand.  But who has time for that during busy week nights?  This is what our Dine and Discover dinners are about – making sure you don’t feel stressed about cooking or by not having a long list of ingredients in your cupboard.  If you haven’t been to a Dine and Discover, we show you the easiest way to get the nutritional value from your meals.  We cook a lot of what we grow here at Day Brighteners Farm or what’s in season from your local market.  Carol gets into the nitty gritty of what particular nutrition is in each item and why certain foods should be eaten together, why you should eat a variety, basically keeping your food intake in good balance – it’s all about the gut.  We’re looking out for you and want to help in every way we can.   

I must say that I absolutely love it when you write back to me.  It tells me you read my emails, which is terrific.  And you provide such interesting information and advice.  We all learn from each other.  Thank you for that.  

We’ve had more praying mantis sightings as well as their casings on various items, including one on a pepper.  It fell off so I’ll keep it out of harm’s way over the Winter and hope for the best come Spring.  

I learned today that marigold flowers are no longer flowers after cold weather.  I saved so many seeds on the weekend, we’re good for a long while now.   The ones in the greenhouse are still blooming like it’s August.  They’re so pretty.  

I’m spending most of my days at the kitchen counter chopping, sautéing, roasting and canning.  I miss being outside.  I do, however, open the greenhouses each morning and study what’s growing on in there like the chard and celery, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, some kale and I walk the garden rows whispering farewell to the once-luscious tomato and pepper plants and congratulate the hardy beets, chard, kale and turnips in the field for staying strong and the arugula and spinach for beginning.   I spend an hour at each day’s end free-ranging with the chickens.  I rake up some leaves and they follow me around picking worms.  We have five broody girls out of twelve hens right now and we get two eggs per day from the eight non-broodies, yes I said two – good grief.   

The Salsa Verde turned out great.  Green tomatoes don’t require the urgency of getting them cut and cooked as much as the red ones.  They’re not going anywhere very fast, so we’ll keep making the Salsa as long as we have the green tomatoes we picked.  

Here’s what to make next, this is a real thing – Nasturtium Pesto – so many leaves, so many flowers.  Stay tuned.  

October 26, 2016
OCTOBER - Outside and In

9:30 a.m.  Should I go out to look?  I don’t know.  It can’t be good.  I believe I picked the very last of the Cherry Tomatoes in the Greenhouse yesterday.  It was 30C in there by late afternoon yesterday when I was closing up and the tops of the plants had been bitten by the cold and were looking pretty sad.  I pulled off the many Hot Peppers that were either turning red or were of substantial size that they will turn red in the house.  Despite the rain which flooded the floors of both greenhouses on the weekend, I still need to water in there today or tomorrow.  

Last Thursday we planted several sections of Mesclun Mix, Cress, Green Mizuna and Ruby Streaks Mizuna, hoping they will be ready to eat next month.  We also sowed three kinds of Carrots and two types of spring Onions which should be ready in February or March.  Talk about planning ahead, eh.  

Indoors, we started Sunflower seeds and Peas for ShootsKale and Arugula for micro-greens.  These might be ready by Friday, it’s a guess at this point.  How about I add them to the list, if you order them and they are available, you’ll get them.  If they are not ready, then I’ll get them to you next week.  I’m not in the indoor planting routine quite yet.  

It looks like everyone, except Arlington Five, is taking a break from sprouts this week.  I do grow the Sandwich Booster Sprouts regularly each week and most likely have an extra bag or two.  Let me know if you’d like to order some.  Otherwise, I won’t grow the other kinds unless you specifically order them, for now.

The Spinach and Arugula in the field rows are growing wonderfully.  I think the next week or two might be the time to start cutting them for our meals.  The Kale is good and the Carrots need a little more time to grow.  

Here’s what I learned since last email:  written under Arugula on my seed packet is “The original love potion, Aphrodisiac of the Ancients”.  Well, it’s no wonder dining is Montreal and Quebec City is so wonderful, they put Arugula on every plate of food.  Even the mid-month Food & Drink magazine has it on an apple dish.  

It’s a fact that we are meant to keep moving.  When I’m out walking or running from garden to garden, yanking up weeds, dragging around 200 feet of garden hose, pulling a garden cart of freshly picked veggies or hauling bales of straw from the van to the chicken coop I feel absolutely wonderful.  When night comes and movement is halted by dinner, Netflix, reading or that darkness-inspired tired – that’s when the stiffness sets in.  Now is the time to get back to The Workshop Dance Studio to keep moving.   Tonight is the night to start back into the Aerobics.  Tom and I both enjoy the Saturday morning class too.  It sets the pace for the rest of the day, leaving us invigorated and ready to take on the world, or maybe a small corner of it anyway.  We’re also looking forward to the Thriller Dance Class October 31st.  

We have a couple of spaces left for the Fab Fall Flavours Dine & Discover taking place here this Saturday, October 29 at 4:30.  See poster attached for details.  The cost is $25 which includes Soup, Main Course and Dessert focusing on fall harvest plus some time-saving cooking tips.  Carol Pillar is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with her business, Wholesum Approach, and will be providing excellent health-wise advice for each item during the meal.  

To keep your body healthy this week, we have the following: 

Chard  $3/bag
Garlic  $2 each  
Herbs, fresh:  Citrus Thyme, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Sage, Savory, Sorrel, Thyme  $2/bunch or $5/mixed bag
Kale   $3/bag 
Mustard Greens  $3/bag
Onions, white and/or yellow  $2.50/pound  
Peppers, Sweet  $4/pound
Tomatoes, Green  $3/pound 
Applesauce:  (apples simmered gently with a cinnamon stick)  $4 / 500mL jar

Tomato Sauce  $6 500/mL jar:  (tomatoes, onions, garlic, sweet peppers, hot pepper, basil and/or parsley and/or oregano all grown here, organic olive oil and sea salt)  The sauce is sealed in jars and will keep for a year on the shelf.

Granola, with fruit   $8 / 500mL jar  
Granola, with nuts and fruit   $10 / 500mL jar

Salsa, sealed in jars  (heirloom/organic tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, apple cider vinegar, organic lemon juice, Tomato  paste,  jalapenos, garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin, brown sugar, paprika, sea salt)  $8 / 500mL jar
Salsa VERDE, sealed in jars  (heirloom/organic green (unripe) tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, sweet peppers, garlic, fresh cilantro, lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, sea salt, cumin, oregano, pepper, cayenne, sugar)  $8 / 500mL jar

Day Brighteners is a non-certified organic farm, where we practice sustainability and environmentally-friendly farming.  We use non-GMO seeds and products and take pride in all we do.  When I need to buy ingredients for sauces I prefer to buy organic.  If organic is not available I try to buy local.  You are very welcome to drop by most days, but if it’s picking/packing/delivery day you take your chances on the tour.  Calling or emailing first is a good idea.  We do appreciate your business very much and would like to hear from you with any comments you have.  

11:00 a.m.  I did check on the Greenhouse.  The cold has snapped the tops off the cherry tomato plants so there will be no more cherry tomatoes this year.  We had a pretty good run with them though.  I do, however, have about 50 pounds of green tomatoes if you’re in need.   The salad seeds we sowed last week are just starting to germinate so I covered them to keep them a bit warmer since there’s no sunshine today.  Hooray for Salads-to-be.  

If you'd like to purchase any of the above items, I'd be happy to provide them if available after our regular customers have ordered.  Perhaps you might like to be added to our Weekly Delivery List.  I send my email out every Wednesday, collect orders Thursdays and deliver Fridays (or another day convenient to us and you if you're not too close to home).  See Contact information and email or call me.  Thanks.
Until next post, have a great every day.  

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