After a few years of dwindling corn yields, I am pleased to announced that our stratagem seems to be working; as a result, you will be able to munch on your cobs shortly…Without going into technical detail, it seems that the success of our electrification scheme had less to do with the 110-volt hook-up, and more to do with the addition of a third, higher, rung on the fence – a solution born of a quick brainstorming session amongst farm employees who noted that the simple act of electrifying the previously solar-powered-only fence had not had the desired effect, i.e. raccoon festivities had begun, albeit (fortunately) on a very small scale. Three rungs spaced 6 inches apart, electrified to boot, seem to have finally stopped the critters in their tracks. All the same, we remain vigilant, raccoons can be wily creatures…
August has begun as it is often wont to do, i.e. with hot days and cool nights, a clear reminder for us market farmers that we are already heading towards fall. I know, I know – we have to enjoy summer while it lasts, we who live in these northern climes where summers are so short and winters so long. In agricultural terms, though, the cooler nights also signal to the plants that they have to think of their progeny, and weeds heed that clarion call more than most, revving up for one last hurrah before they drop their seeds and are spent. Despite all this, your baskets will have corn and many other things to remind us that summer is still in full swing.
We had been waiting for rain for weeks, and it finally came on Sunday afternoon in the form of a sudden thunderstorm which lifted netting even as it dropped bucketfuls of thirst-quenching water. Indeed, our corn, squash, blueberries and carrots had all been standing still, desperately waiting for water-filled clouds to appear and break open above them. Truth be told, it was a small rainstorm as rainstorms go, so we’ll need many more to see our fields turn green again, but a little rain is certainly better than no rain at all. The other newsworthy development is the harvesting of our garlic. All it took was a few hours, and the harvested bulbs are drying on the tractor ramps of our old red barn, where they will be left to slowly cure over the next few weeks.
Our corn is beautiful, tassled and growing fast…and yet, we worry about our corn nemesis, the raccoon – corn thief par excellence, this farmer’s Public Enemy No. 1, and most likely the bane of every market gardener’s existence. Following the havoc wrought on our 2018 crop by this pest – i.e., the total destruction of nearly 20 000 cobs by invading hordes in the space of a few weeks despite frenzied attempts to somehow stem the onslaught – we have decided to bring in the heavy artillery this year. No more solar-powered trip wires, whose zap was no more than a tickle. Instead, we are opting for bona fide 110-volt fencing this year. The shock will not be deadly, but it should be a significantly more powerful deterrent than our well-intentioned, but completely ineffective, ecological line of defence. And if they manage to get past THAT, it will simply be proof positive that raccoons really are the smartest animals to walk the face of the earth!
While our first zucchinis and cucumbers provided a foretaste of summer, this week’s offering of tomatoes and eggplant should convince you that summer has indeed arrived. Tomatoes and eggplant are my two favourite vegetables/fruits, the possibilities they open up are endless, and we will be serving them to you until the plants yield no more. Unlike the zukes and cukes, which we succession plant, our solanaceas offer a continuous harvest from the same plant which just keeps on giving, week after week, until the first frost.
I sowed carrots again this weekend. Carrots are one of the very few vegetables that we do not/cannot start in our seedling greenhouse. They are very uncompromising, carrots – an all or nothing kind of vegetable. Either you get it right with your seeder, or …you are forever trying to get it right. This year has seen more of the latter, and carrots are becoming the bane of my existence, I kid you not. Poor germination, overwhelming weeds – to name but two sources of carrot-related frustration. And so this weekend, I sowed carrots, again. In the quiet of a late afternoon, it was just my seeder, my soil and me. A farmer friend told me not to fight it, to step smoothly, to gently guide the seeder in the furrow in a steady but flowing motion…and let the seeds do the rest. Saturday, I sowed my carrots and felt that perhaps I was getting better at it.
A scant two or three days over 30◦C and already, you’d think we’re at the height of summer! All of a sudden we’re faced with full-on heat, humidity, scarce rains and trying to figure out how to deal with it all. Fortunately, over the years we’ve developed something of a Pavlovian reflex: as soon as we see hot weather settling in, we move to unwind our ‘layflat’ tubing, hook up the drip tapes and turn on the pumps in our irrigation ponds. A technical break from field work that is a life-saver for our plants, but that always begs the question : ‘what will we do if the well/pond runs dry?’ – a question which is sometimes not just a rhetorical question, as demonstrated by last year’s record-breaking July drought. To water or not to water, when to water, how much to water: it’s a calculated risk we take, we’ll deal with the fallout later if necessary.
The pressure has just gone up a few notches at the farm – as if we needed that – but for a great reason: namely, the impending opening of our two farm stands at Atwater and Jean Talon markets, next Friday, as the florists and nursery owners who inaugurate the outdoor market season give way to the produce growers like us who close it out when the wind turns in October…And so it is that we’ve been busy sawing, sanding, staining, painting and hammering away… nothing to do with anything agricultural per se, but all in the hopes that our stands will catch the eye of Sunday shoppers and loyal customers alike. The market season launch is both similar to, but different from, our basket season launch – it’s essentially the same produce served up to ‘regulars’ and new customers, albeit in a different setting from that of our CSA basket deliveries.
Lest we forget to remind you: we are already planning the resumption of our annual méchoui, a tradition we had let lapse with the opening of our Atwater farm stand three years ago, but which we are pleased to be reinstating this year – specifically on September 2nd, Labour Day Monday. It’s a byob potluck affair: we provide the roast meats, you bring your favourite side dishes to share and we take you all on a tour of the farm. Details to follow.
The farm has abruptly tipped into summer, without warning or fanfare. Overnight, it seems, we’ve gone from rainy days and chilly nights to balmy weather with hints of the dog days of summer to come. Our solanaceae have suddenly regained vigor and strength, and our cool-weather-loving brassicas are even looking like they may bolt. For your market gardeners, all these signs are encouraging indicators of a morale-boosting return to normalcy in the fields. And yet we are ambivalent : these same signs herald the beginning of our annual, always epic, battle of the weeds – in which we will be engaged until Fall frosts bring the skirmishes to a definitive close. And so it is that last week ended in a flurry of hoe blades, as we took advantage of the warm sunny weather before rain scheduled to fall again later this week.
This week’s basket is an ode to kale. We produce four varieties of kale, and would like to have you sample two or three of them, depending on your respective basket sizes. While kale-based smoothies are still trendy, we find kale a welcome addition to braised or stewed dishes and a great ingredient in hearty mixed salads. We’ll be serving up other brassicas, too, as we continue to await the imminent arrival of strawberries. We look forward to seeing you all again.
Just as we were beginning to despair, the sun finally appeared, and some heat, too. As we toured the fields today, Sunday, we felt Mother Nature bursting at the seams, impatient to make up for lost time. Like us, she is all too aware that summer is short in our northern climes and that a successful season means taking advantage of every minute of every hour of sunshine that the weather will allow. We’ve already had a few unwelcome visitors – potato beetles in our eggplants, cucumber beetles in our winter squash. Isn’t it early, you may ask – indeed it is, but climate change oblige, past is no longer prologue. They have arrived, and we’ll have to make do. Beetles notwithstanding, the season is finally launched, and we’re glad.
Yo-yoing weather forecasts, mad transplanting dashes between scattered rain showers and an all-around schizophrenic spring – that about sums up the world we’ve been living in for the past several weeks. Things are progressing nonetheless, and as I write these lines, having taken advantage of the rare sunny moments and selected the least humid of our vegetable beds, we’ve managed to stay abreast of our planting schedule so far – with everything needing to be planted actually planted. That includes our first brassicas, a whole lot of leafy greens, our early solanaceas as well as our early cucurbits (i.e. cukes and zukes). The days are still cool, the nights coooler still – our veggies are feeling the chill and their growth is sluggish. There is still a long list of veggies waiting to be (trans)planted to the fields, but we’ll need some help from Mother Nature before we can say mission accomplished. All the while, we’ve been having flashbacks to 2017, a season that started out just as wet, albeit a bit warmer, if memory serves me.
Things had been pretty zen until this week at Arlington Gardens – the weather having conspired against us, the rain and the cold having kept us chomping at our bit. Zen doesn’t mean not busy, it just means not insanely busy, with seeding in the greenouse continuing apace, and transplanting too – herbs, root celery, tomatoes, eggplant, even. These are the moments I prefer, of quiet solitude and intense concentration. Transplanting means giving the seedling more space to grow, then watching it spread its wings, so to speak, and fly. While the exercise seems fraught, to worry is to understimate plants – they are far more resilient than they seem. Yanking it from its cocoon, moving it from the known to the unknown – ie creating a bit of stress – triggers the plant’s instinct of survival and then some. In just a few days, they are thriving again…
Our registrations have been ticking along – we’re at approximately two thirds of our target for the 2019 season. Only 5 weeks to go before deliveries begin, so hurry up and if you haven’t already. 21 organic produce baskets starting June 12 and ending November 3rd, along with the organic sourdough breads of , flexibility to accommodate your vacation schedules and most of all, good cheer at all our drop-off locations! See you soon.
We’re living under grey skies, and there is still a definitive chill in the air, just as Environment Canada had predicted. Nothing to presage the start of a new season. But it’s all appearances, and appearances can be deceiving. Signs of life are everywhere, starting with the hordes of blackbirds which descend on the farm daily, raucously chirping and calling out to each other as they settle and rise in unison. The blue jays are also back in force, we’re expecting the cardinals any day now. The fields have begun to thaw slowly, changing to muddy boot-sucking flats where it is best not to tread for the time being. Meanwhile, it’s full speed ahead in our seedling greenhouse, where we are starting to plant our tomatoes and eggplants, sunshine plants par excellence. Things are going so fast, in fact, that we may run out of greenhouse space by the end of April at this rate. Rumour has it there may be a greenhouse addition in the offing…
If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to for the 2019 season which starts in less than 8 weeks. 21 organic CSA baskets, delivered June 12th to November 3rd – fresh veggies, berries, melons and watermelons, generous exchange baskets, and a standing invitation to come visit us from time to time at Atwater Market from July through October. The sourdough breads of Capitaine Levain are also available once again – if you’re interested in signing up for a bread basket, click . Last but not least, don’t forget to circle September 2nd on your calendars – as it is when we will mark the 10th year of our existence as an organic farm. Planned festivities will include a méchoui at the farm, one huge potluck to test your culinary talents – and a farm visit. We look forward to seeing you soon.
We’ve fired up our seedling greenhouse, just as the maple sugaring season is ramping up. For some farmers who do both at this time of year – and we know a few – the seasonal rush is even greater, as doing both keeps them working nearly round the clock. We don’t do both, but even so, just starting our onions and leeks this week has kept us busy. Swept out the greenhouse – check; verified our heating systems – check; defrosted the water pipes – check. We’re off to the races, the season is already looking good – intense, but good. Among other things, we’ll be readying ourselves for a seedling sale at the farm, the weekend of May 18-19. We’ll provide a list of available plants in short order.
Meanwhile, registration for CSA baskets is in full swing – you can sign up here if you haven’t done so already. Our 21-basket season will run from June 12 to November 3. This year, we want to focus on the diversity of content in the baskets and in our exchange basket – which will be larger and more varied than in the past – to ensure a larger selection of vegetables throughout the season. Another focal point this season will be the use of plastic in our baskets, which we hope to reduce to a minimum or eliminate, even. More on our zero waste efforts to come. Registration for the sourdough organic breads of Capitaine Levain has also begun, you’ll find their Arlington Gardens sign-up links here (paniers surprises and paniers au choix) as well as on our own bread basket sign-up tab.
We hope to see you back in droves at our drop-off locations. It’s been a long winter, spring is almost here – we’re sooooooo looking forward to summer and to seeing you all again.
Drum roll #1 : the 2019 CSA basket season at Arlington Gardens has begun! Drum roll #2 : we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year! Indeed, it was a little over 10 years ago that we moved to Stanbridge East to sow a few seeds and offer up the fruits of our labour. We will also be celebrating 10 years of your generous support, a solidarity that moves us and helps sustain us in our mission, transcending both the mundane and the complex challenges of our daily farm existence. So be sure to mark your calendars : planning is already underway for a celebratory farm event in September, on Labour Day Monday.
The launch of the 2019 season means you can sign up for your CSA basket here & now. This year, we are back to a regular CSA programme of 21 weeks for all, beginning Wednesday, June 13 and ending Sunday, November 2. Mother Nature’s unpredictable end-of-season climatic variations were making November deliveries increasingly hasardous as most of our drop-off locations are outdoors. Delivery days, times and locations are otherwise unchanged. We are happy to announce the return of sourdough breads from Capitaine Levain, our farm-fresh eggs and, if all goes as planned, honey from our very own beehives. Last but certainly not least, following on a zero-waste drive we started last year, we will be calling on all of you to help us get rid of the last of the plastic bags which we were still using in our weekly deliveries and at the market. Stay tuned – we’ll get back to you with details on that front in due course.
From now on, we will keep you apprised of our seasonal farm prep via regular emails invite you to follow us on facebook and instagram. We hope to see you back in droves, and look forward to sharing the earth’s bounty and the summer’s warmth with you all.
Amidst the clamours of the Cassandras who assail us daily, one occasionally happens upon a piece of news, an analysis or a commentary which gives hope and warms the heart. I stumbled upon one such piece of information in The Guardian mid-month: an article that confirms what I already knew – namely, that Mother Nature really does do things well. Indeed, it just so happens that the human body can rid itself of almost all the harmful pesticides found in conventionally-grown fruit and vegetables simply by switching to a diet composed of organic produce and foodstuffs in…get this…fewer than just ten days! IMHO, the article makes an open-shut case for first, an increased share of shelf-space for organics and second, greater citizen choice.
We cannot change things unless we name them, understand them, confront them. Nonetheless, the news is disheartening, to say the least : unless we radically alter course, by the end of the century, there won’t be any insects left to pollinate any thing. For greater clarity, we’re talking about 40% of insects that will not survive current agricultural practices and the havoc they wreak. This conclusion stems from a recent study published by the scientific magazine Biological Conservation. Hardest hit will be lepidopters (butterflies, et al.), hymenopters (bees, bumblebees, et al.) et coleopters (ladybugs, etc.), not to mention the parallel universe of imperiled marine insects. According to the research, urbanisation, the loss of natural habitats (including swamps and wetlands) and widespread pesticide use are the main culprits of insect demise and disappearance. What can we do, you ask? More soon…
Last week’s release of Health Canada’s new Food Guide should provide a welcome boost to the fruit and vegetable sector, in terms of both local production and imports. Although some say the guide hasn’t gone far enough in its recommendations, the new and improved version is undeniably a boon for the sector, given the number of Canadians, at both a personal and institutional level, who rely on it for their everyday food choices, including those whose New Year resolutions include getting (or staying) healthy…
Three things we really like about the new guide : first and foremost, the emphasis placed on fresh vegetables; second, the importance accorded to the daily consumption of pulses (so sorry, Lise Ravary) and cereals; and third, the lesser relative importance of meat and dairy products in our daily diet.
Apparently Health Canada decided to exclude the dairy industry from its review process to avoid being unduly influenced…an interesting concept considering the former’s recent decision to re-authorise the use of glyphosate for aother 15 years based on ‘studies’ financed by another industry. Go figure. Policy contradictions aside, the new guide is a great step towards healthier eating. What we’re hoping for next : better food labeling rules…
January started as expected, with everyone wondering what winter would bring. Well, winter has replied – first with bone-chilling temperatures and now, since yesterday, with a full-on blustery winter storm. Amongst shades of white and glimpses of shimmering greens, greys and browns, the windswept countryside is transformed. This morning our housebound youth was hoping for a ped day, to hit the slopes and assess the height/depth of the snow drifts. But the school authorities have decided otherwise : classes are on.
On the farm front, Arlington Garden is preparing for the 2019 season launch. No real rush yet, although we do have to finalize our seed orders – we’re running a bit late this year – and we’ll be tinkering on our website and related digital properties over the next few weeks. Who would have thought, some 10 years ago, that internet and social media would become such essential elements of a small business strategy? We’ve come a long way since printed sign-up forms and cheques in the mail…all swept away by a tsunami, leaving us caught in the swirling eddies of continuous updates…We’ll be back soon to fill you in on our plans for the season, and remind you that 2019 marks our 10th anniversary at Arlington Gardens…
I am still in denial – but the forecast is calling for -12 degrees Celsius during the night between Wednesday and Thursday, here at the farm – an unseasonally cold and way-below-average mid-November forecast. This week’s basket deliveries will seem more like a Christmas bazaar than a CSA basket pick-up…In anticipation of such extraordinary lows, we’ve already harvested this week’s leeks and today we’ll be harvesting all the lettuce and other leafy greens in our unheated greenhouse that are unlikely to survive a deep freeze. Everything else, i.e. our remaining winter squash and root vegetables, is already in cold storage at a steady, and much warmer, 4 degrees Celsius. Indeed, the packing of our last November baskets will be done in our largest cold room – where 4 degrees seems balmy in comparison to the -1 reading in the rest of the warehouse (note to self for next year’s to do list : insulation work)…This week’s update includes news of the departure of our two last Mexican employees, Crescencio and Gregorio, who are already reunited with their families under warmer skies. The last few weeks were a challenge for all – rainy, cold, with late harvests and last plantings under difficult conditions. But such travails will quickly be forgotten in the Mexican sunshine…
While we can’t shake the rotten weather, we’re moving right along, harvesting root vegetables and leafy greens from our greenhouse to fill your basket. It’s a bit frustrating, all the same, to realize that Mother Nature is refusing to give us a break. In hindsight, Sunday’s sunny weather was just a teaser, as this morning’s rain, and its consequences – water-logged roads, muddy boots and numbed body parts – attest. The forecast is for more of the same for another week. So we might as well forget about the El Niño effect previously mentioned – clearly borne of some wild and woolly imaginings…
That said, I toured our woods this weekend, if for no other reason than to let any trespassing hunters know that the owner was afoot, and would not tolerate any uninvited hunterly activities. The excursion was a success, as nary a soul was seen, which was exactly as I hoped it would be. The woods revealed their sad beauty, hidden all summer by the insolent greenery, but revealed at last as one walks through them, dripping wet in the autumn chill. Winter is fast approaching, and with it, the prospect of many more woodland wanderings.
Cooler weather but relatively sunny skies mark the end of the regular CSA basket season at Arlington Gardens. Twenty full weeks, sometimes wet but mostly hot and dry, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in several years. We’ll do a seasonal post-mortem in a month or two, once winter will have settled in, as we contemplate snow-filled fields – but already, in terms of lessons learned, we know we’ll have to be prepared for just about anything next year, given this year’s prolonged dry spell following on the previous year’s monsoon-like weather. Growing vegetables in these here parts has become part gamble, part obstacle course, definitely not for the faint of heart. That said, it’s a challenge we continue to take up, and we are already thinking of improvements for next year.
We extend a hearfelt thanks to those of you who will be ending your baskets this week. We wish you a great winter and hope to see you again next year, ready to share in our agricultural adventure. For those of you continuing with us for the extended season which starts next week and ends November 22, you will continue to receive our weekly missive, reminding you to pick up your baskets and informing you of their contents. We look forward to seeing you all again.
Early Monday morning routine calls for a farmer’s tour of the fields, although said tour takes less time, nowadays. As the wet grass drenches my boots, I know already that some pressing farm work will not get done. Three days without rain are not enough to dry out several recently harvested plots. I’m chomping at the proverbial bit, but will have to wait for better weather, a wait that can be trying as fall progresses. Yet hope springs eternal, particularly with Environment Canada forecasting a warming El Niño effect scheduled to start soon. All in all, today’s walk is a good one, with sightings of vegetables still growing in the fields and in our unheated greenhouse against a backdrop of reds and golds in the woods that surround the farm. Needless to say, our contemplation of fall’s colours is always too brief, but glimpses of the brilliant hues make the day seem a bit less grey.
On this Thanksgiving Monday, while I could thank Mother Nature for her gifts and generosity, I would rather mention those without whom our family enterprise would flounder, our four seasonal employees, Mexicans all, who form the backbone of this farm. That’s not to say that we don’t have other employees. At the season’s peak, we number roughly 10 hard-working humans in the fields, doing our organic farming thing – i.e., planting, harvesting, weeding, irrigating and ultimately, packing your baskets. But if I draw your attention to our seasonal workers – Jhenrri, Crescencio, Carmelino and Gregorio – it’s because they are my closest collaborators in the fields, a reality that has earned them a status that differs from that of the others who join us mid-season, for two or maybe three months, often as coop agronomy students or simply as summer job-seekers. In contrast, our Mexican workers arrive in early spring and depart in late fall, like the migratory birds who follow a similar flight path between the Canadian Great North and warmer climes along the Eastern American seaboard and even further south. I raise my hat to all four of them, to their kindness, their courage and their hard work. Tomorrow morning, at dawn, the first to depart will be returning to his family after a six-month absence. Indeed, I cannot thank them enough.
Fall has arrived suddenly at the farm, like an unexpected guest. In just the past few days, we’ve had to switch from shorts to pants and from comfortable shoes to heavy boots. Don’t mistake me, the grass is still green, thanks to abundant morning dews and nocturnal rains, but our fields are no longer as luxuriant as they once were, the cooler temperatures having affected each and all of their inhabitants, without exception. Well, almost all : there are some leafy greens who relish the cold, which draws out the sweetness hidden within. We’ll be serving them up in succession over coming weeks. The cooler temperatures also signal that it’s time to move seriously into field clean-up mode, patch by patch, sowing green manure as we go. Next week will see us begin to dismantle our low tunnels, yet another Herculean farm task.
In your baskets, then, roots and leafy greens, the freshly harvested rutabaga, or swede, and the shapely butternut, the squash lover’s ultimate favourite, particularly well-know in North America, and super-sweet to boot.
I know I’ve been talking about if for a while now, but it was only this past weekend that we truly finished harvesting our winter squash, under the blazing sun. To be more precise, more than a week ago we had cut the squash off their vines and left them in the field to cure a bit, waiting for the right moment to actually bring them in from the field, into the empty bins waiting to receive them in the cool shade of the barn. But with the infinite (or so it seems) list of things to do on the farm, we woke up Friday morning with a sudden sense of urgency, realizing that while it’s okay to let a butternut cure for a few days, it’s not okay to let it roast in 35-degree heat. And so we rallied the troops, and some 10 tractor-loads later, the stress level abated…Although I must admit that as I contemplated the once luxuriant squash patch, I realized how messy a crop winter squash can be…a battlefield, I thought, observing the weeds competing with the trailing vines, rotten squash here and there having succumbed to some disease or another, squished squash (sic) having fallen under the wheels of our Farmall. A veritable carnage, I tell you, albeit quickly forgotten as the next chore beckoned, and a distant memory once we sow the green manure and make amends…
Meanwhile, your basket is a Fall one, with Kuri squash, carrots and arugula – my favourite leafy green, which will soon dethrone the tomato in my vegetable kingdom.
Even as the forecast is calling for yet another summery weekend, this week’s basket reminds us that fall is looming. Beyond last Saturday’s first frost, it is the general state of our solanaceas and cucurbits that is the true harbinger of fall — plants that have given so much during the peak season have started to falter, readying themselves for an imminent shutdown. In any event, we’ve completed our harvest of winter squash, and I am pleased to report that Mother Nature has been most generous. Butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash, buttercup squash, sweet dumplings and sundry pumpkins will all grace your basket in due course over the coming weeks. For the Brussels sprouts aficionados amongst you, know that we have just clipped the tops of the plants to redirect their energies downwards again, towards the budding sprouts. Another bountiful harvest in the making. We’ve held off on the celeriac for now, fragrant but still too small. A bit of rain and another week should see them come to maturity. All that said, summer still lingers, and with it tomatoes and cucumbers…although our squash and eggplants are bowing out. There is still time to order your Italian paste tomatoes – and next week will see us start to fulfill your conservation garlic orders.
As I write these lines, the much anticipated winter squash harvest, heralded last week, has yet to be done. A build-up in farm chores, each more pressing than the next over the past few days, has been such that we have decided to harvest them one at a time, starting with this week’s special, our spaghetti squash. The others will follow in due course…and truth be told, there’s no particular rush, yet. This week’s basket bridges from summer into fall, with potatoes and onions on the fall side, and other items reminders that summer is still with us. Some of you will be relieved to hear of a notable decrease in the productivity of our summer squash and our eggplant. Say what you will, you cannot complain of a lack of them…but all good things come to an end, and the cooler nights of the past week have finally slowed our solanaceas down, not to mention the presence of the tarnished plant bug (TPB), who is particularly fond of delicate mauve and yellow eggplant flowers. While these vegetables have not yet come to an end, they will be served up less frequently until their inevitable demise. The question of the timing of the inevitable demise of our tomatoes has likewise begun to haunt us – as the slightest inflection in a hitherto bountiful yield causes existential angst, a fear of what will no longer be, our very own Paradise Lost…So like the ant of La Fontaine’s fable, we will gather them up fresh in copious quantities now, knowing that we will have to make due with their by-products when winter winds come.
High season at the farm continues, unabated. A sticky heat, with a humidex reading through the roof, makes these late August days bear an uncanny resemblance to the dog days* of July. Before writing these lines, I tour the fields to take in the sounds and smells of the late afternoon and surprise, surprise – there are signs of an early, and bountiful, winter squash harvest. Just a few days ago, our squash plants seemed to be full of vim and vigour, bright green and ready to weather the month of September. All it took was a rainshower or two to make them collectively decide that the time had come to call it a day and let their farmer reap the fruits of his labour. I will keep you posted, but plans are in the making for a weekend of squash picking, an enjoyable task, believe it or not – a symphony for the senses, a mix of colours and textures, shapes and sizes. In short, a pleasant way to spend a day, or two, in the fields.
In this week’s basket, we give you a glimpse of the fall that is yet to come with our first real harvest of summer leeks, with their white stems turning to green, light and delicious. And to make amends for our blueberry shortcomings, we offer up a third serving of watermelons, sans seeds, courtesy of our friend Gabriel Samson et Fils, our trusted supplier of the best organic potatoes in Quebec. I do not grow the seedless variety myself, given a nostalgic preference for the old-fashioned one with seeds, no doubt nourished by memories of seed-spitting competitions with my brothers, and the effort made to crunch nary a seed as we wolfed down slice after seed-filled slice of our favourite fruit…back in the day when life’s simple pleasures made us happy.
*To the Greeks and Romans, near the time when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, i.e. in late July
We’ve reached the peak of the season, a time when we begin to anticipate the ebb which will inevitably follow the flow — and quite frankly, this year’s succession of hot, steamy days is bordering on the obscene. This week will be yet another dry one, with little to no precipitation in sight. That said, we won’t exaggerate — already the cooler nights of August are bringing wisps of fog at sundown, and heavy dew at dawn. These contrasts are creating confusion in our plant kingdom as some crops don’t know whether they are coming or going. Indeed, by farmer’s almanach standards, we could well be a mere four weeks away from the first frosts of autumn. But we anticipate too much, we should let nature follow its course, however erratic said course may seem at times. And we’ll cheat a bit, harvesting our onions even as they stand ramrod straight — usually, they begin to topple over as the days shorten — and we’ll soon do the same with our winter squash, despite their showing no signs of slowing down, seemingly blissfully unaware of their imminent demise.
This week’s basket will be bountiful, we hope you appreciate its festive nature. We look forward to seeing you all again.