Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Meet last week's vegetables

Had a bit of a 'production' problem with the blog entry last week. Here's what you got in last week's basket:

  • Spicy salad mix
  • Mild salad mix This is the mix we've been eating a lot lately, tender baby leaf lettuce and spinach.
  • 1 quart mixed potatoes
  • Easter egg radishes
  • Red beets
  • White globe purple top turnip — One of the best tasting turnips in our opion
  • Mixed heirloom carrots
  • Cooking celery — The size is a little behind schedule this year because of the drought, but the flavour is fanstastic. Use it for soups or stews to add a lot of taste.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Spinach — With a couple of frosts now behind us, this is the best time of year for this cool weather crop. The frost brings out the sugars in the spinach, giving it a great flavour
  • Easter egg radishes
  • Nantes carrots
  • Butternut winter squash
  • Mixed red and yellow potatoes
  • Rutabaga
  • Red onion
  • Garlic

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Fall Salad mix A blend of lettuce, mustard greens, spinach and arugula.
  • French breakfast radishes— After a recent trip to Paris, a family member confirmed that they are indeed quite popular there. These mild radishes are often sold from carts on the streets of Paris, like you would find a hot dog vendor here.
  • RutabagaPerfect for a roast, or mashed with potatoes.
  • Heirloom carrot mix 
  • Brussels sprout stock (Some of you will get them off the stock)
  • 1 quart of mixed new potatoesGerman butterballs, french fingerlings and Russian blues
  • Onion

Local food and local jobs

Local food is on the rise, there's no doubt about it. But it's worth considering what exactly we're after when we say that local is important. Particularly during an election cycle, when we hear a lot about jobs, I find it interesting that despite all the talk about so called 'green jobs', producing value from Ontario's greatest natural resource, it's farmland, is rarely brought up. More and more of the actual work on labour-intensive farm operations is being carried out by temporary seasonal workers. Farmers Forum, a newspaper for the Eastern Ontario farming community recently reported that there are now 23,000 temporary foreign workers in Ontario.
It begs the question, if green jobs are such a priority, why not get more folks working on the original green job, the farm.
Ohio farmer, author and rural philosopher Gene Logsdon recently wrote a piece on his blog about what a return to small-scale farming could do for the dismal US job situation. Mr. Logsdon is not just another blogger, dishing out half-baked ideas of the kind that make up most internet commentary. He has written a veritable library of farm-related titles covering everything from berry growing to pasturing animals since the 1970's. I'd love to see a political platform for Ontario based on his ideas.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Baby leaf salad mix A blend of baby lettuce, mustard greens and arugula. This is one of the best times of the year for salad greens. With ample rain, cool nights, and the days getting shorter, the greens are in their prime!
  • Red globe radishes
  • Golden Beets 
  • Oxheart carrot — An heirloom carrot with an intriguing shape, and an amazing crunch. Great for stews, soups and roasts, as well as raw. This variety is becoming increasingly rare, as the seed has become almost impossible to come by. Luckily, we stocked up a couple of years ago, and still have some left.
  • Sweet peppers
  • 1 quart of German butterball potatoes
  • Torpedo onion
  • garlic

Feast of Fields

We're taking part in Feast of Fields, an event which pairs organic farmers and chefs for an event of great food and a good cause too! The event features food made by area chefs from the products that come from local farms, and serves as a fundraiser for COG, the Canadian Organic Growers. We have been paired with chef Chris Archer, of Tennessy Willems on Wellington Street in Ottawa.
This is our first year attending the event, and we're looking forward to seeing what Chris comes up with!
Sunday, Sept. 11,  at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Baby arugula
  • 1 quart mixed beans
  • 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pint mixed new potatoes
  • 1 bunch Nantes carrots
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 sweet peppers
  •  2 hot peppers
  • 1 heirloom melon or watermelon

Heirloom melons

Our later melons are coming in now, including some like the famous Montreal melon, which needs a good hot summer to rippen to its potential. From left (open green melon) to right:
Montreal melon, Amish melon, Crane melon, sugar baby watermelon, honeydew and charantais.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Torpedo onions — Prized in Mediterranean cuisine, these fine-grained onions have a great texture and flavour.
  • Thibodeau du Comté Beauce Bean — Originally from Comté de Beauce in Quebec, with a unique coloring.
  • 1 pint mixed new potatoes — German butterballs, French fingerlings and Russian blues
  • 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • Mixed heirloom tomatoes
  • Red Malabar Spinach — Another summer spinach with a vine growing habit. An heirloom variety from India, Red Malabar makes a great addition to stir-frys, lasagna, or just on it's own. You can eat it raw, but we prefer it cooked, and you can use the whole plant, including the stem.
  • Minnesota midget melon

Scenes of summer

Some of last succession crops are going in the ground, the rains have finally returned, and our ram is getting frisky. All signs that a change of seasons is just around the corner. A few images from this past summer at Hoople Creek Farm.

Jamie digging carrots

Garlic drying on the haywagon


Spencer with German bi-colour

Iris pruning tomato plants in the hoophouse. Iris has been working on the farm this summer,
and has done an amazing job keeping plants and weeds in check.

The first apples from the orchard. Organically-grown with no sprays of any kind.
We hope to have a big enough crop to sell next summer.

A hawk circles over a field with newly planted beds tucked under row-covers, as storm clouds approach.
Finally, the drought is over, and we expect to be complaning about too much rain very soon!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 hot peppers  — Hungarian yellow hot was and jalapeno
  • 1 quart mixed beans
  • 1 pint German butterball new potatoes —A delicious potato with a buttery flavour.  Won first place in Rodals’s Organic Gardening “Taste Off.”
  • Sugar baby watermelon!
  • Early Hanover melon. — An old fashioned 'muskmelon' with a delicate taste similar to a pear. An endangered variety.
  • Rainbow swiss chard

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Heirloom mesclun salad mix
  • Broccoli
  • New Zealand spinach  — High Vitamin A, B1 and B2, this summer spinach has a vine-like growing habit. Pick off the leaves and it's great in a salad, or cooked you can use the whole stalk. It's especially good for lasagna, since it holds it's volume well compared to regular spinach. Also makes a great freezer.
  • Mixed heirloom tomatoes
  • Sweet  peppers
  • Carrots
  • Sweet onion
  • Garlic
  • Minnesota midget melon

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Red cabbage
  • Cauliflower —They're a little small this time around, the drought we're experiencing right now is taking it's toll on some crops.
  • 1 pint of mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 1 quart of heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of beets
  • Sweet peppers
  • 1 hot pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 patty-pan squash
  • Fresh basil


This time of year, you might find yourself with a little more veggies on your hands than you can use right away. Don't let them go to waste, put them in the freezer, and in February those carrots will be almost as fresh as the day they were picked! I honestly don't know how they manage to make supermarket frozen vegetables taste so bad. You can freeze almost anything, other than lettuce.
- Chop up carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, etc. Peas, beans, etc. can be frozen whole.
- Boil a pot of water, and throw in the veggies for 30 sec.
- Drain the water, and let air dry for a few minutes.
- Put them into  zip-lock freezer bags. Use a large straw, those big slurpee straws are perfect, to suck out the air as you close the bag.
- Put in the freezer, and enjoy it anytime. We find it's best to use them up within a year.

Heirloom Tomatoes!

Tomato season is in full swing right now, with a near-perfect growing conditions for that heat-loving plant.
What I find really amazing, is that tomatoes taste like they look. The yellow German bicolor has an almost fruity flavour, the rich-red Brandywines have a full-bodied classic tomato flavour, and the blacks have a deep, almost smokey flavour with subtle undertones.
Here's a selection of the heirloom tomatoes coming out of the garden right now. Clockwise from left to right:
Black brandywine
Black from Tula
Mary Robinson's German bicolor
Gilbertie Paste — Not just a paste tomato. Some of our customers have renamed this the Gilbertie griller, since it's firm flesh and shape makes it perfect for the BBQ.
Yellow Brandywine
Black cherry
Brown cherry

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Dragon carrot — This heirloom carrot , originally from China, has a beautiful reddish-purple exterior, purple-hued tops and yellowish-orange interior. We find red carrots taste best when cooked.
  • Zucchini
  • Green & purple beans
  • Mixed heirloom tomatoes
  • Yellow & white sweet onions
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Kohlrabi
  • Fresh garlic
  • Sweet pepper
  • Hot pepper

Diatomaceous earth

Growing summer squash, winter squash and cucumbers organically can be something of a challenge due to a pest called the striped cucumber beetle. They have been particularly difficult to deal with this year, since they seem to enjoy hot, dry weather. They eat the plants, and worse yet, spread bacterial wilt which causes the plants to wilt and die.
You will occasionally see a bit of a white residue on cucumbers and zucchini. It is diatomaceous earth, a mineral powder which we sometimes use to help reduce the amount of damage cucumber beetles do to the plants. Food grade diatomaceous earth is completely non-toxic, and is approved for use in organic growing.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Sun Gold cherry tomatoes
  • Green and Royal Burgundy snap beans
  • Zuchinni
  • Carrots
  • Red beets
  • Bell pepper
  • Sweet onion
  • Cyklon hot pepper  A little hotter than last week's, this is a Polish heirloom that is quite hot with great flavor. Remember to treat fresh hot peppers carefully. Don't touch your face, and wash your hands, especially after handling the seeds.
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh Basil

A very different summer

When it's 36 degrees in the shade, you gotta do what you can to keep cool!

This is the first hot dry summer we've had since we started the farm, so we're using our irrigation system for the first time. It's a drip system which conserves water and allows us to irrigate a large field all at once.

It might feel a little uncomfortable to us, but for many plants, this weather is ideal. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are happy as can be. And these melons will be ripening up in no time!
We use a plastic mulch for some crops, which blocks out weeds, holds moisture and warms the soil in the spring.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Crisphead lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Green and yellow zucchini
  • Rainbow chard & red Russian kale
  • Bell pepper and a Hungarian yellow hot wax pepper — A mild hot pepper. 
  • Sierra Blanca sweet onion 
  • Fresh Russian red garlic  — This is garlic that hasn't been dried yet. Keep fresh garlic in a dry place, not the refrigerator.
  • A sampling of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes  —  They're just starting to come in, and although we don't have a lot yet, I consider the official start of summer to be when the Sun Golds start to ripen.

Lunchtime vegetable medley

When you don't have a lot of time, here's a quick and easy way to enjoy some of the garden's summer bounty. It's a little something I do quite often for a quick and delicious lunch.

Chop up one sweet onion and a couple of cloves of fresh garlic.

Slice up whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand. One of my favorite combinations is zuchinni, bell pepper, hot pepper, tomatoes and eggplant. Swiss chard, kale, peas, beans, and beet greens are great additions as well.

Heat a pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and throw in the onion and garlic. Toss them a round a few times until slightly browned.

Add the veggies, let them brown just a little, then add a little water and a dash of soya sauce. Toss them around a couple of times, and cook until softened, but not mushy.

Serve immediately. Today, my vegetable medley is being served with a slice of organic spinach quiche from Savoury Pursuits in Almonte, and some marinated sheep's milk Jibneh from Canreg Station in Finch. All of these delicacies are available at the Ottawa Farmers' Market.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Heirloom leaf lettuce mix
  • Golden Beets — Extra sweet beets, and the colour doesn't run!
  • Walla Walla sweet onion — The famous variety named for Walla Walla, Washington.
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Zucchini
  • Radishes
  • Garlic scapes — last week of scapes.
  • Fresh basil

Doing double duty

People sometimes ask us why we keep sheep. Especially people who know a thing or two about the economics of livestock nowadays. When we were young and naive (4 years ago) we imagined that sheep farming would be a bigger part of our farming business than it is today. Although we have kept our flock small, what they contribute to our farming operation is substantial. By using a portable electric fence, our sheep keep the areas around the gardens clean and free of weed seeds. They consume perennial grasses and even swamp grass, nettles, small trees and weeds of all sorts, and turn them into a valuable, high-nitrogen fertilizer.You can't ask for a better deal than that.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Heirloom Mesclun Mix — The delicate leaf lettuce and the spice in the mustard greens and arugula come together nicely with a red wine vinaigrette.
  • Bronze Arrow head lettuce — with oak-leaf shaped leaves, and a velvety-soft texture, a perfect summer lettuce.
  • Fresh sweet Spanish onion
  • Sugar snap peas — A variety of peas that combine the sweetness of shelling peas with an eatable pod. Can be eaten raw or cooked, if you can keep them around that long!
  • Baby beets
  • Carrots
  • Garlic scapes

The great scape

As they begin to enlarge their bulbs, garlic plants produce a flower stalk, or scape. By cutting the scape, all of the plant's energy is directed towards enlarging the bulb. The scapes are delicious, and are only available for a couple of weeks until we've cut them all.

Ontario has a perfect climate for growing hard-neck garlic like our Russian Reds. Surprisingly, finding anything other than a low-quality garlic from China requires a trip to a farmers market. Without import restrictions, cheap Chinese garlic pretty much put the Ontario garlic industry out of business.

Traditionally, there are very few pests that will trouble garlic, but last year, a new pest which has been moving East arrived on our farm, the leek moth. The leek moth is a pest of all the plants in the Allium family: Onions, garlic, leeks, etc. There are no organic controls to date other than covering, but we have found that manually removing the pests to be an effective control.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Heirloom leaf lettuce mix — The mix is changing a little, we grow different varieties for early spring, summer, and fall.
  • Red bib head lettuce
  • Zucchini  — Our first pickings of the season!
  • Rainbow Swiss chard — Great steamed, boiled or stir-fried
  • Hakurei turnip — AKA the salad turnip. A delicious japanese white-flesh turnip that can be eaten raw. The greens can be eaten as well, and are great in a stir-fry.
  • Kohlrabi — We like to cut it in sticks and eat raw, or you can steam or stir-fry.
  • Spanish onion  — Before they've dried-down, fresh onions are two onions in one. Use the greens like you would a green onion.
  • Garlic scapes — The flower of the garlic plant. Scapes can be eaten raw or cooked, lending a delicious, mild garlic flavour.
  • Herbs: Cilantro & mixed basil

Potato Leaf

With all the heat we've had in June this year, the tomatoes are motoring right along. Here's Spencer, who's turning 5 next week, showing just how big the leaves of the 'Stupice' variety can get. 
Many heirloom tomato plants are referred to as 'potato leaved' because their leaves look like the leaves of potato plants.   This extra early, cold-tolerant tomato was bred in the Czech Republic, and has a  wonderful, low-acid flavour.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Baby carrots — Our first carrots of the season! They're a little funny looking, but hey, we'd all be funny looking if we were stuck in the ground in early April!
  • Rouge Grenobloise head lettuce
  • Baby beets
  • Spring onions
  • Green garlic — This is garlic that hasn't matured yet, you can use the shank as you would a green onion, but with a mild garlic taste.
  • Collard greens— An underapreciated vegetable, collards are extremely nutritious. They're great in salads, steamed or boiled.
  • Parsley 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Heirloom leaf lettuce mix
  • Heirloom spicy mesclun mix —  A mix of mustard greens, baby chard, baby kale, a little lettuce, and anything green and tasty gets thrown in. A little hotter this week and even more variety!
  • Spinach
  • Green onions
  • Beets
  • Snow peas
  • Radishes
  • Fresh mint  — Use it fresh, or dry or freeze it for later use.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Heirloom leaf lettuce mix
  • Spinach mix —  A mix of savoy and Bordeaux spinach
  • Easter egg radishes
  • Rainbow Swiss chard
  • Mixed Kale — Red Russian, black palm and Siberian
  • Snow peas!
  • Cilantro 

The politics of food

We're usually working too hard on the farm to spend much time thinking about the politics of food, but luckily, there are people who do. One of them is independent Canadian journalist Stephen Leahy, who writes from his home in Uxbridge, Ontario, mostly only with the support of his readers. This week, he has published a story that although is about agriculture in Europe, has relevance to the future of food in Canada as well.


Our farm is a member of the NFU, the National Farmers Union. It's president, Terry Boehm, sounded the alarm about an ongoing trade deal the Canadian government is working to forge with the EU. The laws threatening Europe's food system could be making their way here as well. I think you'll agree, this is a issue that needs to get more exposure.


A taste of things to come

In 2009, we planted a small orchard, including some sweet cherries. Mind you, this tree did get some special treatment, and these are the only two it produced this year, but there you have it, our first sweet cherries. And yes, they taste as good as they look!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Meet this week's vegetables!

  • Grandpa Admire’s lettuce — An heirloom head lettuce named for a Civil War veteran, George Admire. His 90-year old granddaughter gave his lettuce seed to Seed Savers Exchange in 1977.
  • Baby bib lettuce
  • Spring onions
  • Easter egg radishes
  • Less babyish beets — We like to cut them length-wise, to get bit of beet and greens in every bite. The greens are delicious and very nutritious.
  • Arugula — We’re excited about our first arugula pickings of the season.  A salad green used since Roman times (the Romans though it was an aphrodisiac) with a slightly peppery taste. Mix it with your salad, delicious in sauces, or divine wilted over pasta or pizza. Arugula is high in Vitamins A and C
  • Parsley

Bugs and weeds are free!

In some ways gardening in March and April are the easiest, because of the absence of pests and low weed pressure. At this time of year, both of these elements begin their effort to reclaim what was once their fields. We gently try to remind them that we're using this soil for the time being. They remind us that it's theirs. Repeat.
We do our best to keep weeds and insects out of our produce, but because we grow organically, we never use anything that would kill them. We inspect and sort everything that we sell, but there's always a chance that something or 'someone' might get through. When you think about it, the really scary thing is produce that never has holes, bugs or weeds in it!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Spring micro mix — Our first pickings from the field! A blend of claytonia, mâche, baby spinach and baby lettuce.
  •  Romaine lettuce
  •  Green onions
  •  Chinese Cabbage
  •  Baby beets & baby chard mix
  •  Dill
  • Cilantro 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A little look back

We're grateful for the dry weather we had last week that allowed us to get in the fields, but what a change from last year! At this time last May we were going through something of a little drought, and we were scrambling to install a new irrigation system. Of course, it started raining as soon as we had it set up. At least we know how to make it rain now!

A little look back at some moments on the farm over the past few years. And not one in the rain. :)

Spencer and Lindsay plowing our first vegetable plot.

Spencer and Spot in a test of wills.

The flock heading back to the barn at the end of the day.

Our chicken tractor, a movable chicken coop that gives the hens shelter at night and free range during the day.

Jamie raking stones out of a bed. Like much of Eastern Ontario, our farm has a generous supply.
Most of the heavy work was done generations ago, as great piles of rocks stretch along every fenceline.

Sheep make great lawn mowers. Break time's up girls!

Lindsay and Spencer digging into a Crane melon, which is the kids' favorite.

Tomatoes in the hoophouse. After the great late blight outbreak of 2009,
we now grow most of our tomatoes under cover.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Meet this week's vegetables

  • Heirloom leaf lettuce mix
  • Heirloom spicy mesclun mix — Our ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ mix. You'll notice that it's a little spicier this week. The warm weather in the past few days week really heats up those mustard greens!
  • Rouge Grenobloise head lettuce — A french heirloom lettuce that is both heat and cold tolerant, perfect for early spring growing. A beautiful green on the bottom and red on top, with deeply crinkled leaves.
  • Spring onions — Last week was the last of our over-wintered onions, this week we’re starting on our new crop sown this year. We always grow from seed for the best quality and taste.
  • Rainbow Swiss chard — Great steamed, boiled or stir-fried. Even better with a little butter!
  • Pak choi — An Asian vegetable that is perfect for a stir-fry.
  • Dill & parsley. — Throw them in a salad, or great in many dishes.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Spring has sprung and a taste of summer

Just look at that weather forecast! That means things will be getting real busy around here. There are fields to work, thousands of transplants to go in the ground, and weeds in the early seedings are starting to creep up on us.
It was great to meet many of our new CSA customers on Saturday, and we hope you enjoyed your first taste from our gardens.

For our market customers, we will be coming soon!

With plenty of moisture in the ground, and temperatures beginning to climb, the garlic is growing quickly, and seems noticeably taller by the day.
 We grow a variety called Red Russian that is both pungent and sweet. It's a hard-neck variety that keeps really well. Our supply from last summer still looks as good today as when it was picked.
Garlic is planted in the fall, and we mulch with leaves to protect it from winter frost and keep the weeds down.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Meet this week's vegetables!

· Heirloom lettuce mix
· Heirloom mesclun mix
· Green Onions
· Baby beets
· Parsley
· Chives
· Sorrel
Sorrel is a tart, slightly sour spring herb.
Try it in your salad or wilted on your fish or chicken. Here is a delicious sauce that you can try with salmon.
Salmon with Fresh Sorrel Sauce
  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped sorrel
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
  • Fish:
  • 8 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • To prepare sauce, combine first 10 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.
  • Preheat broiler.
  • To prepare fish, sprinkle fish with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sorrel sauce.