From time to time, we like to let our customers know whats happening, here on the farm. I've been doing a lot of weed management this summer, and am using some techniques that I thought some might find interesting.
A new tool we got this year, is a tractor mounted flame weeder. This has four propane jets, that floats a couple of inches above the ground and cooks the weeds as we drive over them. Backpack flame weeders have been popular on organic farms for a while, but not many farms have a flamer that goes on a tractor. We use it in a number of ways. The main way is flaming a bed, after its been seeded, but before the seeds emerge. That way we can cook all those little weeds, that have already come up before the crop. We've also used it on our potatoes. Because the potato plants are big and juicy, the damage to the crop is minimal, while the damage to the weeds is detrimental.
We also have an antique Alice Chambers 'G', cultivating tractor. It uses a tool bar underneath the belly of the tractor, with cultivating teeth on it. Because its mounted under the belly, your able to see where the teeth are, and can weed between rows, four at a time.
Of course, no farm can get away without weeding by hand. This is very labour intensive, but thanks to our team, we are usually able to keep it under control. We've also had one of our CSA members, Sylvia, doing a work share, where she pays for her share through farm labour. She's spent a lot of time weeding this spring and has made a huge difference in the field this spring.
<< Sylvia weeding carrots this past Saturday. She comes prepared with the necessary gear to avoid the rampant no-see-ums we are currently being harrassed by!
There is the 'many little hammers' method of weed control, where a number of tools, each with a different purpose, all play a part in managing weeds on the farm. Until they come up with one tool that can weed all of our different crops, we will always need many little hammers.
Jon and I get an entree veggie share as part of working at the farm. With zucchini in season, and a few weekly bonuses of these abundant vegetables, we ended up with a whole lot in our crisper, and my valiant efforts making stir fry, zucchini pasta sauce, zucchini lasagna, and zucchini cake still left some in the fridge! I reached out on Facebook and Dionne shared her recipe for zucchini relish with me. Can't wait, and it uses 10 cups of zucchini which will help get through the glut!
10 cups grated zucchini, peels too
1 cup grated carrots
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green peppers
1 cup chopped red peppers
1/4 cup pickling salt
Place vegetables in a large bowl. Add pickling salt. Leave overnight. In morning, rinse in cold water; drain well.
Mix dressing in large pot on stove; add rinsed vegetables and boil 5 to 10 minutes. Seal in jars. Makes 6-7 500ml jars.
The recipe is quite old… I process it in a hot water bath for 10 minutes even though it doesn't call for it. I think it might just be that the recipe is from way back when people figured if the seal on the jar "popped" it was safe enough.
Once again, I want to say how much we are enjoying the CSA. We are a Saturday pickup and I spend most of Saturday afternoon washing, packaging, cooking, deciding when we are going to eat what etc. We are trying really hard not to waste anything… I never like wasting food but when I had to throw out almost a whole head of lettuce one week because I had been sick and not eating, I felt as if I were wasting all the time and effort all the people at Taproot put into making sure we have fresh food every week.
And what an abundance this week! Let me tell you what I did with our box: bok choy, broccoli and sugar snap peas went into a chicken stir fry, along with some garlic. The carrots and some of the green onion made their way into my weekly carrot recipe for The Community Carrot Co-op. Apple pie and cherry galette (which is an easy way to impress people) were the highlight of a family dessert and coffee evening. Zucchini bread went into the freezer. Lettuce washed and packaged for easy salad makings. Raspberries, blueberries and cherries also made their way into my morning cereal or lunch time salad.
Fennel was a mystery, then I made this yesterday in my slow cooker with a half chicken from my share a few weeks ago and last week's fennel:
4 bone in chicken breasts, skin removed (I used a half chicken and took the skin off, you could use a whole duck or thighs or anything, really)
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, smashed
Tblsp fennel fronds, chopped
1 onion thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chicken broth (i just used more wine)
juice of another lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Lay fennel, garlic and onion in bottom of slowcooker, layer lemon over top. Place chicken on top of this and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix wine, broth, water, oil, lemon juice and fennel fronds and more salt and pepper, pour over chicken. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5.