Saturday, September 24, 2011

End of September Round Up

We had an offer of horse manure a few weeks ago so off to Blandford!... driving up, up, up to a beautiful farm with a view for miles and miles and miles, where we could see as far away as Ironbound and Tancook. Truly splendid!
The Contributors, Sheila and Frosty
It's a great gift, receiving composted goodness for the garden, and appreciated very much. Some, we dug by hand but the rest was loaded by tractor..... a team effort for sure. The ladies supervised  ;-)
It's that time of year when my thoughts are turning to next year's garden. I listen and talk, as I walk and harvest. "Why didn't you taste better" I asked the tomatoes. "Too much rain" they said back. Yes..too much rain. I didn't know it would water down the flavor, but it makes perfect sense. The paste tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes didn't seem too affected but some of the heirlooms were.
Mexico Midget, Black Cherry and Sun Gold tomatoes with Fortex Beans
Speaking of  cherry tomatoes, we are barely keeping up with eating them fresh, but I have been slicing them in half, tossing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and roasting in a single layer (shallow dish) for twenty minutes at 400 f oven.  Quite a lovely lovely dish served with crusty bread and a bit of basil. Adding some garlic wouldn't hurt either, now that I think of it. The tomatoes should still have their shape, but soft inside.

Inside the cottage garden, the veg love is resting, mostly, waiting to be harvested and preserved, or eaten.  Highlights, along with Verbena Bonariensis and spilling nasturtium, include Amaranthus grown from a spring planted, variety pack. Months ago it didn't look as if  it would turn into much. Come September though, it has the most beautiful tassels and as far as I know, all Amaranthus are edible. The Goldfinch and even the Junco's hang from the stems eating the miniscule seeds of this plant commonly called Love Lies Bleeding.
There is one rather exciting triumph in the garden. Back on the bean wall, where we trellised tomatoes this year, a few beans, cucumbers and one Trombocino squash for the first time...well I don't know which I love more about this squash...the leaves reaching for the sky, shadows dancing in the sun....
....or the outstanding fruit of the vine which hangs rather frighteningly from the supports. This is edible, but the jury is out on the taste...some say great, others say yuk! I grew it mostly as a novelty, something I rarely do, but it makes me smile. How big will it grow?????
So that's a bit of a roundup in the garden. Still lots to eat for a family of two, sometimes four..... beet greens, beets, chard, summer squash, last of the beans, kale, leeks, last of tomatoes, a few baby eggplant, cabbage, potatoes and fingers crossed, maybe some Brussels sprouts. That's another story.  Arugula, mache and spinach were planted a week or so ago and  have germinated; so, late season salads will soon be on the menu.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Open Farm Day!

Farm view from the bay

Bay view from the farm
For quite a few years now, we've passed a local farm, when out in our picnic boat. It's at the end of a dead end road so unless you were visiting the farm, you wouldn't get a chance to see it, except from the water. I didn't realize it was a productive farm until a few years ago, when I could hear roosters and peacocks calling from across the voices that would creep into my subconscious in the dawn hours loosening memories of our past farm life. Sometimes, when motoring by, sheep hugged the slope, and more recently, a big beautiful work horse has appeared.
Near the top, sits a small Gothic roofed children's play house; behind the trees you can just make out the old white farm house. Sometimes, when we would go by, a man would be sitting under the apple tree near the shore, and we would wave, happy to see him, a picture of contentment returning his pleasure with a wave back.
Then, a few days ago, a sign was posted beside the road ..."Open Farm Day" your farmer!  Now, I know, not everyone enjoys visiting a working farm, cause there are a few ick factors involved...poo for instance (flip flops not encouraged))). But if you really want to experience where your food comes from or in this instance, view show quality birds with names like Columbian, Barred, Patridge and White Rocks; Black Breasted, White and Silver Phoenix; Silver Spangled Hamburgs; Buff Brahma Bantams; Khaki Campbells and Rouen, East Indies and Pekin Ducks... then Circle Pond Farm was the place to be today!
A Beautiful Silver Laced Wyandotte in foreground
 I have never been on a farm where breeding of Purebred Heritage Poultry, Turkeys, Pheasants, Ducks and Guinea fowl provided farm income...this was clearly a labour of love.
Geese waltzed around acting like they owned the place
The Emus were everyone's favorite
One Emu sported a red and blue a heritage breed. Seems he or she couldn't keep out of the way when 'someone' was painting outside! Funny birds...they liked to be petted, seemed so domesticated, happy and carefree. Certainly, like the geese, they had the run of the place, much to our pleasure.

The intent of the Open Farm, and "meet your farmer" initiative, is certainly to introduce and make his or her acquaintance but what stood out for me, were the children. They were everywhere, encouraged by their parents, engaged by the animals, delighting in the whole experience. Games were played, hot dogs and burgers served, history lessons on various heritage poultry craftily taught, and a 4 H petting zoo was certainly a highlight.

So...which breed was Benjamin Franklin's choice as the United States National Bird?......first question on the Chicken Challenge..

And NOW....for the Answer!!!

As the sign says..and I can attest to this...yes...we can hear the turkeys a mile away..and the roosters, and the Peacocks and the Guinea Fowl..but you know...I'm good with that. The pleasure is all mine.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tomato Fest in Nova Scotia

Where else, but at a Tomato Fest, would you get the opportunity to taste over fifty varieties of tomatoes! Although it was a bit of a drive from the South Shore to Middleton, in the Annapolis Valley, I wouldn't have missed this FIRST Time event for the world. The sky was blissfully blue, and the temperature just perfect for a fine get together with like minded tomato fanatics!
Click on photos to zoom in on named varieties
Tomato Heaven!
Of course, the merits of each variety were poured over....color, depth of taste, acid or sweet, perhaps a little of both? Do you want a sandwich size, or a pop in your mouth size? Paste did you say....San Marzano, Amish Paste or Speckled Roman to name just a few.   Black, Snow White and Sunshine Yellow Cherry begged to be eaten ;-).  Tiny Mexico Midget and Chiapis Wild, Giant Berkeley Tie Dye and almost equally huge Pineapple to satisfy your craving. The names alone, felt like a journey around the world and through time.
Mayan Indian, Cherokee Purple, Viva Italia...  One guest made a plate of tastes for her hubby who couldn't attend. Now why didn't I think of that?

Seedsman Owen Bridge, conducted a work shop "Saving your tomato seeds"; a peek in his greenhouse showed stacks of seeds drying, waiting to be placed in packets to send out to growers like you and I.

For a much fuller description of the tomatoes grown by Owen at Annapolis Seeds, go here. want to know my favourite out of allllll those I tasted do you?  My final decision...Black Cherry and Costoluto....both juicy and perfectly delicious. Next year....well let's just say, I have my list started.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just Vegging

Variety of Tomatoes from the Garden
Finally!! Summer arrived here in Nova Scotia two weeks ago. We've had hardly a hint of rain since (except for today))); the sea warmed up to seventy'ish, and the days unfolded hot and perfect. Such Bliss for the bones and the spirit. Blogging simply got pushed to the side, as did a lot of "should do" jobs and you know, they can always wait. Autumn is right over the next hill and coming on much quicker than I want it to.

The last few sunny days have encouraged the tomatoes to ripen fast. Tasmanian Chocolates were one of the earliest, but for our climate or perhaps with all the rain, they didn't live up to the flavor or texture I had expected. The Woodle Orange are wonderful, delicious and a good hand size, but not unblemished like the photo on the seedpack ;-). OSU Blue.... also beautiful and prolific. Not boring as I have read, at least not here in our garden of quick draining and acid soil...more robust than expected, and even more so, used in a salsa when just about ripe...tart, tangy and firm, with a good zing.

The earliest tomatoes were Sungold cherry, Super Eary Latah and Mexico Midget. The latter's name applies to the size of the tomato (think blueberry)...not to the size of the plant which has climbed to about ten feet. A real plus, according to the Chief, is their dainty size fruit which continue to ripen even at the lower branches. He checks regularly for red ones.... just the right size to pick off and eat.
Finally, having four days of sunshine in a row, the deck got stained. Thank heaven! I was beginning to despair of it ever getting finished; just a light driftwood grey, but it makes all the difference. Now we can get the furniture back on, and have our 'last of the summer' meals outdoors.
The mosquitoes have been a bit fierce know, those big ones with the striped legs that come from the sea grass along the water...but a few cold nights should knock them back. In the meantime, the Captain has been taking care of us ladies when we go out on the picnic boat.
"Cheers to the Captain"...pats to the Chief!