Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Spring IS getting closer

I find the weeks are going by so fast.  The days really are getting longer, by several minutes every day’s beginning and end.  The chickens know it too and I keep reminding them Spring is on the way but there are no blades of grass or worms to be found outside their Pen, they just have to wait.  They suspect I might be lying to them, I wouldn’t lie to anyone, especially chickens.

Those Green Bags I bought to test out – big fail.  I guess the thing they’re noted for is decomposing, but I want them to keep my greens green, oddly enough.  They definitely don’t do that.  Lettuce was brown the very next day!  I will not be buying those for this business.  Has anyone had experience with these bags?

As you know, organic food does not last as long on the shelf as conventionally grown foods.  There’s a reason for that, but that’s another subject which we can talk about over a pot of tea (organic of course) or you can visit the library and pick up a few books by Michael Pollen or read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver.  When I visit Farm Boy, I buy several organic veggies and fruits from the discount bin.  They’re just slightly past their prime but still good.  It’s just the new shipment has come in and they need to clear the shelves for the new stuff.  I immediately peel, wash and freeze these so I can practise making Smoothies.  I’ll have this mastered by the time one actually wants to enjoy an ice cold energy promoting nutrition filled drink, more when the weather heats up around here.   We certainly need to incorporate Smoothies into our next Dine & Discover.  One thing though.  If your phone rings while you’re filling the cup to your Magic Bullet, remove the spoon before answering the phone and closing the cup and grinding your Smoothie.  It makes an awful noise if you don’t.  Just don’t ask me how I know this.

Aside from the hundreds of Hot Peppers I supply to Wilf & Ada’s Diner, I do keep some for powder.  I ground the D’espellettes out in the Greenhouse today.  I’ll do another kind each day.  This can’t be done indoors without consequence, they are HOT.  It never fails that you get something in your eye when you handle hot peppers.  Do Not Rub your eye - it's a trick your eye is playing on you - your eye has a sense of humour.  I wasn't expecting this but I went to drink out of my water bottle while grinding these peppers.  Bad idea - there must have been some hot pepper dust on my lips because that water hurt my lips.  When I was done this project and was back in the house, I put yogurt on my lips.  That's the right thing to do.  I also rubbed some yogurt on my fingers.  I'm still not touching my eyes until much later today, after I've washed my hands, at least ten, no maybe fifteen times.  

D'espellettes are my favourite hot pepper - to look at - they're so beautiful, deep dark red.  They almost look like chocolate - red chocolate - ya.  
The table is set.

Wearing plastic gloves would be ideal to
handle these peppers, but they're so awkward
I chose to not.  

ground nicely, not too fine

the finished result - ready to go
So, truth is I don't eat a lot of hot peppers.  I've grown them for years now but that's it.  I appreciate the beauty of them.  I'm grateful to those who buy the plants and peppers from me.  I do use the teeniest of tads in my cooking and enjoy the odd jalapeno on home-made pizzas and definitely in the salsa we make here.  Hey, you can't eat everything on the menu, eh?

Seeds for the season are on their way, so Canada Post tells me!  I’ll be selling plants quite intentionally this spring and, at your request, over and above the heirlooms have included larger tomatoes in the mix such as 4” and 5” round tomatoes as well as more sweet peppers and more colours for your gardens and tables.  So many of you asked for kale plants last year, I can do that too.  Herb pots – yes.  Lettuce pots – yup. 

A bit of shameless horn-tooting ahead - Just before Christmas I received an email from a photographer/past-farmer/websiteur (new word again) who saw Day Brighteners mentioned in the Ottawa Cooks magazine.  I wasn’t aware that Dominic from Wilf & Ada’s had mentioned us, but was so thrilled to find this out that I bought the book.  So Pat came out a couple of weekends ago to talk to me about D’espellette peppers and took pictures of me grinding peppers, some farm equipment and dead pepper plants in the field.  I told him he really should come back in a few months when things are a bit more colourful around here.  He said he would.  In the meantime he’s writing an article about our little farm and it should be out next week.  I’ll let you know how to find it. 

I’m very excited that we have a new hard-working gardener happy to join our team part-time this spring.  I also interviewed some wonderfully keen and interesting people this past weekend who would like to work here full-time.  While planning the upcoming gardens, I also need to plan staff and work schedules.  This is where you become part of the process.  Thanks to you who sent your detailed weekly wish lists.  I see some of you out and about and you’ve given me the verbal nod and a list of your wants and needs.  I thank you for this.  I also need a commitment from more of you before I hire and plan.  Please take the a few minutes to let me know if you’re on board.  I totally get it if you want to keep things the same as they’ve been, but would like to know that for sure.  I appreciate that some of you have let me know this.  

Could you please do me a favour and let your family and neighbours know about Day Brighteners Farm.  If I’m delivering to you, perhaps someone else you know would enjoy our food.  A few people in Merrickville are committing but I really need to make this trip worth my time.  I say no order is too small, but it’s more the time it takes out of my day when I travel out of my realm and the fact that I need to be in the garden most of the time.  If I hire people full-time I need to know I can pay them.  There’s probably a term economists call this but I call it “Please Let Me Know I Have A Valid Business This Year”.   I’m serious.  I have to either Step Forward or Step Back.  I would like to Step Forward. 

The basil plants look good enough for me.  I’m making Pesto this week – oh yum.  Pea Shoots will be ready next week.  I’m having a hard time with the Sunflower Shoots.  Apparently the batch of seeds was bad from the supplier.  Unfortunately, I transferred all of my seeds into glass jars since I don’t like plastic much so I can’t tell when I’m done the bad batch and when the new batch starts.  I’ll keep trying although it’s very frustrating in the meantime.  I’ll keep you posted.

What’s for eats this week?  Here goes:
Garlic  $2 and $1 each or $10 / pound  
Herbs, fresh:  Citrus Thyme, Thyme  $2/bunch
Applesauce (organic apples gently simmered with a cinnamon stick)  $4 500mL jar
Granola, with fruit  $8 /500mL jar  
Granola, with nuts and fruit  $10 /500mL jar
I make the granola fresh when you order it. 

Pesto, basil  $4.50 /125ml jar

Sprouts  $3 /bag
Sandwich Booster  (clover, alfalfa, radish and mustard)  
Spring Salad Mix  (broccoli, radish, alfalfa & clover) 
I start the Sprouts Sunday so it’s always a guess, other than those of you who pre-ordered.

Please remember, no order is too small.  I’m out near you anyway and always happy to see you. 

Day Brighteners is a non-certified organic farm, where we practice sustainability and environmentally-friendly farming.  We always use non-GMO seeds and products and take pride in all we do.  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.  

To get you up to speed, I'll copy/paste excerpts from my last couple of emails so you know what I'm talking about here.  

JANUARY 11 2017
And so it begins - again

I just love saying that, I never get tired of it, every Spring when the seed sowing starts.  What you see in the pictures is trays of sunflowers and peas preparing to be shoots for you.  Also there is a lovely set of basil plants, oh they smell soooo good.  A little more growing and they’ll be ready for pesto-making.

Tomorrow and in the many weeks to follow, we’ll be sowing seeds of kale, garlic chives, thyme, daikon radish, chard and many edible flowers like pansies, sweet william, calendula, marigolds, bachelor buttons - some for micro-greens, some for transplanting once they’re big enough.  We’ll start some lettuces to keep up happy until next month (well maybe March) when we get the plants into the ground somewhere, whether it be the outside greenhouse or outside outside.   When the tomato and pepper seeds come in, they’ll take priority and the plant room will become a nursery, literally.  They get more attention and coddling than any other plants.  We use blankets to keep them warm, fans to make sure they’re not too warm, check them constantly – like babies. 

Carol and I did seed inventory last Friday which enabled me to order seeds for the entire growing season. I’ll be putting together “the garden plan” in the coming weeks.  This is the time of year to listen to farm podcasts and learn from others while sowing those hundreds and hundreds of seeds and up-potting seedlings.  The weather outside can be frightful but the grow lights are so delightful . . . 

What a wonderful response from you regarding weekly and bi-weekly orders.  I love that you’re about excited to enjoy excellent food delivered to you as I am to grow and provide it.  Thank you for your kind comments too.  If you didn’t have a chance to reply to me, I’m happy to hear from you in the next week or so.  There will still be the option to order at will, it’s just that if you let me know what you want in advance you’ll be more likely to receive your choices. 

Remember when you’re planning your own garden that I sell plants, non-GMO heirloom/organic vegetable, herb and edible flower plants, which will be available to you in May.  You can pre-order to make sure I put yours aside away from the hustle and bustle of transplanting. 

Here’s a question for you.  Do you re-use the plastic bags from the produce I deliver?  I re-use them for my own purposes, many times, but you get fresh bags for everything I deliver.  Knowing how much plastic is floating around out there in the lakes and oceans and how much damage plastic is doing to the environment and its creatures, I’m wondering if we can do something about this.  I’m currently testing out some “green bags” I bought to see if they last longer than the ones I’ve been using.  The thing is they are expensive.  I’ve put the question out to facebook groups to which I belong and will see what others around the world do.   Interesting topic – any suggestions?

Here’s news – we’re hiring here at Day Brighteners Farm – if you or someone you know loves to be outdoors all the time, loves to get their hands and feet and clothes covered in soil, enjoys the smell of fresh greenery, doesn’t mind the elements, is strong of body, has good work ethics, is reliable, cares a great deal about the organic food movement and is passionate about gardening – let them know about us.  It’s time to interview before we get too busy to see straight.  Carol and I are pretty hard-working gals but we can’t do everything.  Son Thomas is now working full-time at his new office job and husband Tom is so busy with his two offices, we’re in need of the help we’ve lost. 

JANUARY 4 2017
Warning - long email ahead

We’re not totally back to normal, yet.  I still had to look at the calendar for today’s date.  Next week will be okay.

My head is busy thinking these days.  If you know me, I eat, sleep, dream, walk, talk and live organic healthy foods (even chocolate J)

Sit down, get a cuppa something.  This will be a rambling email, but for just cause.

I have a few ideas and want some of yours.  Going on seven years now I’ve supplied to you what you individually want to eat/buy according to your specific orders.  The idea of receiving a box or basket of food which I didn’t choose doesn’t appeal to me at all, so I assume others don’t want to shop that way either. 

A couple of years ago I asked if any of you would like to receive a box of indeterminate food weekly and some of you said yes.  Well, that didn’t work out so well.  I get excited picking out fresh food for myself but have a hard time shopping for someone else.  I was at a loss as to how many of what you might possibly want and ended up asking which brought us back to the individual ordering again.  Over the years I’ve also heard people say to me they are switching their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) provider because they received too much of one thing they disliked or got tired of certain other things or liked someone else’s certain thing better than what they were getting through their CSA.  I think CSA boxes are wonderful, but it hasn’t been the way I roll here.  I don’t want someone getting tired of what I bring them, I still want you to get only what you want in your order. 

I’ve asked a few of you in my path over the last couple of weeks what you would like me to do and have received a couple of interesting viable ideas. 

I’ve read a market gardener should pick FIVE (5) – I repeat five - vegetables to grow and put every effort into those five.  How can I grow five things?  Here’s my list so far:

Garlic – all good, all planted in the fall – done.
Onions – all good, maybe three varieties – will plant in the spring.
Tomatoes – I regret not growing as many last year and miss the sauces and frozen ones.  I’ll grow more this year for that reason.
Peppers – hot ones are guaranteed to sell, sweet ones not so much.  No problem deciding here, lots of one, not so much of the other.
Herbs – most herbs are perennial and are already established in my Herb Garden.  Annuals like Basils and Rosemary are a must – I already have those – will continue to grow and reap basil all year. 
Have you noticed I’ve reached five already – the next one is really tough. 
GREENS – this encompasses: salad mix, mustards, Lettuces (includes 7 main types/dozens of varieites within each type), kale, spinach green and red, celery, endives, purslane, arugula (which is a class of its own), cresses, cukes – all things you put in a salad as well as the aforementioned tomatoes, peppers, herbs and onions. 
Then there’s the next ones:
Sprouts, Shoots, Micro-Greens – Aside from Salad Greens, these little lovelies are my biggest seller so I’ll be continuing those f o r e v e r .
Edible Flowers – I’m still going here, I consider flowers food. 
This could be my finished list. 

I’m about to order my seeds for the year and need to know how much of what to order.  I’ve had trouble in the past fulfilling your orders or have fed the chickens certain things which I wasn’t able to sell.  It’s not economically sound for me to not have enough food or to have too much.  It’s going to happen no matter what but I can plan for better deliveries if I know you’ll be happy to receive my designated produce each week, or maybe every other week.  Many, I mean most, of you do this already but I’d like a commitment from you before I order my seeds that you’ll stick with me through the season, pretty much from March through to October and/or beyond. The commitment I’m referring to is, in part, a dollar amount.   I’d like you to pre-pay, perhaps monthly or more, to ensure you’ll receive your preferences.  The following is a rough guide of how a box might look, knowing that you can add or subtract at your wish.  Some items are seasonal, some are all available all year. 
March/April/May:         $5 Salad Greens bag (equals 4 small salads or 2 large)
$3 bag of Sprouts or Shoots
$2 Garlic
$8 Granola with fruit OR $10 Granola with fruit and nuts
$4.5 125mL jar of pesto
$3 bag of Kale
$3 bag mixed fresh Herbs
$3 bag spinach, red and/or green

June/July/August and   Plants for your garden if you like
some in September:      $3 bag of chard
$5 Salad Greens
$3 bag of Lettuce heads of choice
$3 bag of Sprouts or Shoots
$2 Garlic
$8 Granola with fruit OR $10 Granola with fruit and nuts
$4.5 125mL jar of pesto
$3 bag mixed fresh Herbs
$3 / pound heirloom tomatoes
$3 bag of snow peas
$2.50 / pound onions
$3 / pound beans (I know they weren’t on the grow list)
$3 bag of carrots (not on the grow list but you have to grow beans and carrots)
$4 / pound sweet peppers
$2 bunch of celery

September/October:      $3 bag of chard
$5 Salad Greens
$3 bag of Sprouts or Shoots
$2 Garlic
$4.5 125mL jar of pesto
$3 bag mixed fresh Herbs
$2.50 / pound onions
$4 / 500mL jar Applesauce
$8 Granola with fruit OR $10 Granola with fruit and nuts
$6 500mL jar of Tomato Sauce
                                    $8 500mL jar of Salsa

Some items will continue through the winter months like tomato sauce, salsa, sprouts, shoots and granola.  There will be other items not listed here like garlic scapes, mustard greens, red orach, sorrel and others that either I’ve forgotten we grow or will end up growing faster than they were meant to and we would sell separately.

So, you can see what you would want on the list (most people order 2 or 3 bags of salad), now add up how many of each you would like, then you know how much each order will be.  If I don’t hear from you weekly, I’ll know you want everything on the list J.  Otherwise, you can set a “default order” for yourself and that’s what you’ll get each time. 

Back to today - January 18 2017

Now you're up to speed on the happenings here at Day Brighteners Farm.  

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.  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.  

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.  Oh and Happiest of New Years to you.  

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