Monday, July 25, 2016

CSA Newsletter ~ Week 7

Just under half an inch of rain!
As we get this weeks newsletter together we can actually say we have had rain this morning! This does not mean that the drought is over! We still need so much more.  We received under half an inch of rain at 5am this morning but by the afternoon the sun is out the wind is up and the humidity has spiked and the ground begins to dry again which means that even with the rain this morning the sprinklers will be back on this evening!
Over the weekend our CSA Member families received our drought update e-mail.  
We have to say a huge "Thank You" to all our CSA members who have sent e-mails of encouragement and support over the last few days and have also offered the use of their showers (we are hoping we don't smell that bad!) ;-)
We are so touched and humbled by the support and it makes heading out to the market garden for a days work a little easier knowing as one of our members said "Count me in for the long haul whatever it looks like."
We appreciate that it is not only our CSA families that read these newsletters/blog posts so we have added a few extracts of the CSA e-mail to this weeks newsletter.

"We have been growing full time at this location for 8 years and have been growing for a total of 12 years and this is our second drought in five years. 
We learnt a lot from the 2012 drought. We started to grow varieties that are more heat tolerant, we moved into a raised bed system and we purchased landscape fabric not only for the weed suppression but also to help maintain moisture in the soil, but even with all these things when we started this year with a low water table due to the lack of snow and mild winter we thought we might have a harder growing year this year compared to last!
At present we are watering around 1500ft-2000ft per evening, but with the continuous hot days and hot high humid winds it is drying the ground out quicker than we can water.  We are unable to water the main growing area in the day time due to the heat drying the ground but it also causes the plants to scorch as we use overhead sprinklers for our crops. The hoop houses are given a good watering by watering can once a week.  To give you an idea of the amount of water needed for one hoop house it takes a 1000litres to cover 400ft of vegetables in each.
For vegetables to grow they need an inch of rain a week. We have been watering our field with sprinklers since the start of April.  We have a rain gauge at the farm and we have listed the total amounts of rain we have received at the farm for the last few months.
Rainfall received at Strattons Farm.
April 1 inch
May 1/4 inch
June 3 inches
July so far 3/4 inch as of the 24th July as of today we can now say we have had an 1 inch of rain for July.
We have done some of our fall transplanting and they are just holding on but we have not transplanted everything yet as we are hoping for some major rain! Direct seeding is just sitting in the ground and not germinating.  Due to the heat we have already lost 800ft of parsnips, we do not think we will have celery this year as it requires huge amounts of water, celeriac is not growing and what cabbages are heading are very small, even our Zucchini patch it saying enough is enough.  We are now trying to grow crops that have a shorter day to maturity so that your boxes remain full for the season.
It is not only keeping the summer vegetables growing but we are also trying to grow for the November CSA boxes as well as our bulk storage boxes, as this is how we make an income for the rest of the year and how we make our living year round and how our farm ultimately survives."

Please return your tubs! Thank You
This weeks basket, may be subject to change but this is what we are hoping for!
Sorry no recipes this week but feel free to browse through past years newsletters for ideas!
Salad Onions
Beets - For some reason these have thrived in the drought!
Zucchini - We have 300ft in the field and it is really suffering with the drought and high winds.  We have just transplanted a second seeding so we are hoping that they hold on to help balance out the plants we are losing from the main patch.
We are hoping to be able to do both of the following
Cabbage -  have headed up but they are so small they are resembling very large Brussel sprouts! We have a few Chinese cabbage so it might be a choice between the two varieties !
Eggplant - Again we have a mixture of sizes so we are hoping we will have enough largish ones for everyone.

Monday, July 18, 2016

CSA Newsletter ~ Week 6

Weeding, seeding, transplanting still continue but all the vegetables and two farmers are longing for a proper dose of rain, we need about two to three days worth of gentle rain.  
We did finally got some rain on Friday evening, only 45 minutes and it was still under half an inch but it was an odd feeling not to be getting up every 30 minutes and moving water lines! The overcast day on Saturday gave it a chance to soak in but we had to put the sprinklers back on on Sunday evening. The high heat this week and again the 48+kph winds drying the ground, causes the vegetables to look very unhappy and with no rain in the forecast it looks like we will be running the sprinklers every evening for the foreseeable future!  
What always amazes us is the crops we do not water as much.  This years melon patch is growing well the bees are busy pollinating it and we have already started to spot the odd watermelon in the patch!

Several of our CSA families have started new business this year.   Jess and Nate are the proud owners of the new Yoga studio Creekside Yoga which has opened in Stirling and Kevin has just launched Primal Crunch which you will be able to purchase at farm pickups.  It will work on a honesty system so we will leave a jar next to the crunch, if you take a bag (each bag is 400g) please leave your $12.00 (please bring the correct change with you) in the jar for Kevin.
What is Primal Crunch? It is a premium granola, designed as a healthy alternative to traditional breakfast cereal. The mix of nuts and seeds with all natural sweeteners makes a delicious meal that is grain-free, oat-free, gluten-free and low-carb. Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a handful of berries for a meal that will keep you going all morning long.  It also makes for a great snack when you're on the go.

This weeks basket:
Zucchini - Zucchini chips
Salad Onions
Cabbage - This is on my list of things to make this year! How to make Sauerkraut
Eggplant - We love eggplant! There are so many things you can do with it, we will try and post a different recipe to try each time eggplant is in your boxes! First up is Ratatouille
This might be subject to change as we may have fennel but it is not very happy due to heat and lack of regular rain.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

CSA Newsletter ~ Week 5

Sorry for the delay in posting, the internet has been painfully slow over the last two days, it has taken three hours to load one picture!!!

Lots of you have been checking in to see if we got rain at the weekend! The answer is "Yes" but don't get too excited. We only got 1/4" which really is nothing and by Sunday afternoon the market garden was back to being as dry as a bone again.  We are still watering every evening but our system is not an elaborate one.  It is a long hose with a sprinkler head that we move every 30 minutes! We are hoping that all the vegetables hold on through this next dose of high heat and hot winds and we are praying for a break in the weather, but I am not sure it is going to come soon enough! At this stage we really do need a good few days of gentle rain. 

This weeks basket:
Fennel - can be eaten raw, or you could try baked fennel with parmesan.
Cucumbers - This year we have moved some of our cucumbers into our hoop houses and also trying new varieties as well.  So you may find you get some short dark green cucumbers.  This variety is designed for greenhouses and even though we have found it sweet to eat we are finding it is yielding less than our other ones!
Kale -Kale salad, not in the mood with this heat to cook your kale just tear into small pieces season with sea salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil massage into the kale and eat!
Carrots -   Carrot, chickpea and tahini salad  Don't forget to use your carrot tops to make pesto!
Zucchini - They do love heat
Salad Onions
Peas - This is looking like the last week of peas.
Tomatoes or Eggplant - Tomatoes are still a little slow to ripen in the hoop houses but they are starting.  So we are hoping to have enough for everyone this week, if we do not we have a few eggplant which are ready to be harvest as well.
BONUS - We will have a tub of scapes at the farm and at each pick up this week.  Please just help yourselves to what you need this will be the last of the scapes for the 2016 season.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

CSA Newsletter ~ Week 4

We finally got around to unloading the last wagon of hay! 608 bales later thanks to our neighbours who cut, rake and bale our hay for us.  Next up will be second cut as long as we get enough rain!
Rain is still on our minds even though we did get to see some last week. The water table is still very very low for this time of year.  The Weather network report on the drought. Explains and shows how little rain this area has received this year.  So gentle rains dances again would be appreciated!

This weeks basket:
Chard - Spanish style swiss chard chickpeas.
Zucchini - Yes they are finally here!
Spring turnips - We have had issues with aphids this year so we have taken the leaves off as the root themselves are still really tasty.
Te You Flowering broccoli/Chinese broccoli - This is a new one for us to grow.  We did start off growing broccoli raab or rapini this spring, it was meant to take 45 days to grow but thanks to the early heat it grew in 25 and then bolted, so our bees had a really good feast on the flowers and then the pigs enjoyed the rest of it.  We will be seeding the rapini again in the Fall.
Escarole - Is stunning and we introduced it to the boxes last year.  This week it is replacing lettuce as again due to the heat the lettuce has bolted.  Escarole can be eaten raw and it is really nice covered in oil and grilled on the BBQ.  We then chopped it up and added turnips, raw beets and kohlrabi and finished with olive oil and a fig balsamic dressing.

Scapes -If you want to preserve these for winter then just chop up and place in a food processor, add oil and blitz then freeze in ice cube trays.
Chinese/Napa Cabbage -We love Chinese cabbage in salads, kimchi but by far when grilled on the BBQ the same as the escarole.  Then cover with the following dressing! YUM!
Cut the cabbage in half and then quarters.  Brush lightly with olive oil.  For the glaze you will need 3 tbsp of mustard (we used Dijon) 1 tbsp of honey, 1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves chopped and 2 tbsp of chopped basil.  Mix the glaze ingredients all together.  Place your cabbage quarters on a hot grill/BBQ cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, all depends on how charred you like it.  Remove cabbage from the grill brush with the glaze and Enjoy!
Beets - Why not try beets as a dessert we will be making Beet Halwa this week! We recommend replacing the sugar with honey.