Sunday, March 3, 2013

Up & At 'Em ....

Yesterday RUF awoke to a new year of Urban Agriculture. We received our load of turkey manure and with the kind help of our buddies, Alex and Denis ... we made short work of wheelbarrowing the nutrient rich goodness onto the rows. Then Luc treated us to lunch at the neighbourhood Chinese Restaurant. It was good to launch the 2013 growing season!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

We are 3/4 way through with our 7th Summer Harvest ...

The summer bounty is in ... have made about three rounds of pesto. Some have already been consumed and others have been frozen in large zip lock bags, spread thin and with all the air squeezed out so that the pesto  stays bright green and we can easily break off chunks to add to future meals.

I have already made a liter and a half of tomato sauce. One liter for home and a half liter I exchanged with Kareno for some calendula oil for the baby's bum.

The delphinium are blooming again and the zinnias are in, though nowhere near as prolific as last year.

Luc and I have been very gratified to receive kind acknowledgement from our clients this year, one of them have not ever even met as our paths do not cross. We lay out the harvest and folks come to collect after we have gone.

This one from Greta, our Mexican client with a large and happy family ... they know their food.

"Susan and Luc,

I just have to tell you guys, thank you so much for the wonderful bounty!  We (Pedro and I) were overjoyed and ecstatic with the absolutely delicious, flavourful, sublime vegetables from our harvest box.  We just washed and mix the greens (only no kale), sliced carrots, beets, and added snap peas, chopped scallion and parsley, a couple of extra tomatoes  I had, sunflower seeds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, drops of avocado oil, a touch of ground sea salt and pepper.  It was heaven.

Thank you so much.  I am sure my kids will fight over carrots and the few snap peas left.

Greta and family."
 ... and this one from Kelly, who we have not met as yet:
" Hi Susan and Luc,
We are enjoying our summer boxes so much, it's amazing what you can produce. We are very interested in learning more about maximizing our garden at home as well, and were wondering if you are available to help us with some tips and techniques as we admire what you are doing.
Thanks again,

Kelly's feedback has given me a good idea for a new workshop for the spring round of presentations.

Honouring our Garden Patron ... Joyce.

Joyce has lived in her present home and raised her children there for her entire married life. Jake built the veggie garden at the end of the plot behind the tall row of cedars and we fortunately inherited it a few years after his passing. We felt so lucky to have to come into a garden with concrete pathways and irrigation system, compost bin, greenhouse and even an area under the old tree where we could comfortably process and display the harvest.

Earlier this month Joyce's family came from all over to spend some time with her. One harvest day I arrived to harvest and she was in her glory ... chatting away with some of the grand daughters, baking up a storm in her kitchen making batches of the  favorite cookie of each of the daughters soon to arrive from out of town.

Then Luc and I received surreptitious phone calls from one of the daughters ... plans were afoot for a surprise birthday party for Joyce ... which she should never have gotten wind of as it was about a month early ... but she did, due to an unguarded phone conversation with an unknowing family member. But nothing would have damped the pleasure the occasion gave Joyce, to have all the family together and many life long friends as well.

Reflections On This Summer's Harvest ...

This growing season has had its challenges and not because of the garden but because of the circumstances Luc and I have each had to juggle ... him 14 hour days at work and me a new grandchild delivered by cesarean, living at home. We have been taking up the slack for each other and the garden and harvests have progressed seamlessly.

Every year we learn what we will do better next time ... such as planting the sweet peas and string beans, both upwardly vining plants, further apart so the rows between them get enough sunlight. Not planting the broccoli and cauliflower so densely. Starting out lettuce and cabbage succession earlier so as not to run out. Planting much more scallion, cilantro and parsley at a time. Remembering to go back under the rows of remay covered turnips and carrots and thinning to allow for fuller veggies. We did that admirably with the beets, even successfully replanting the thinnings.j

We have had to rely on Luc's garden quite a bit this year to fill in the gaps. His basil has been amazing and he had cucumber and zucchini way before our garden produced any. In fact, zucchini produced very poorly despite being planted in the compost bin ... go figure!

Our successes and improvements on the year before however have been encouraging. We are growing a greater range of veggies than ever, with each week introducing a new veggie. This week, for the first time ever we offered parsnips ... they were small but there is time for them to bulk up. Luc also planted two varieties of cauliflower one an early producer and one a later producer so we should be able to offer cauliflower late in the season.

Our carrots have been very bountiful this year; unaffected by pests, large, crisp and legion. The real prize winner this year has been the radishes. We have finally learned to grow smaller block of radish in quicker successions. The spring succession was amazing. We deliberately planted them deeper so the radishes remained below the soil level and undiscovered by the slugs that also love them. The spring weather conditions this year seems to have favoured the radishes.

The lettuce held very well this year and the row of seedlings we transplanted in spring have only just run out.
More lettuce is on the way. In the interim we are able to offer a salad mix of young lettuce, mizuna and mibuna with smattering of wild greens: magenta spreen, and purslane.

We have made a concerted effort to tackle the waves ... because they do come in waves, over and over through out the season, of weeds. The seasonal conditions of each year seem to favor certain weeds. This year we have an upsurge of a weed from the nightshade family ... never prolific in the past, perhpas it came in with this year's manure. We hope our efforts at thwarting weed seed production will pay off in less weeds next year. You would not believe me were you to see the garden at the moment. The further wave is in progress and our motivation is waning as we see the end of the growing season coming in to view.

This season we have provided nine brassicas: bok choi, gai lan, kale, mizuna, mibuna, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radish ... as well as spinach, chard and beets ... and overwintered onions, garlic scapes, garlic, chives and scallion ... rhubarb ... different varieties of lettuce ... potato, sugar snap peas, beets, carrots, parsnip and summer string beans, tomato, zucchini and cucumber ... still to make an appearance (perhapas) green and hot peppers and eggplant. Herb wise, we have offered: dill, parsley, cilantro, mint, thyme and mint. A very satisfying and productive endeavour providing fresh, local food grown by organic methods for seven families counting myself on just under 2,000 square feet. Luc mostly supplies all his personal needs from what he has called his Taj Mahal, the raised beds he built in his yard lavished with amazing soil.

We are anticipating that this year, we should be able to offer beyond our original 10 weeks of CSA boxes which will be a bit of a windfall for our customers ... and for us.