Saturday, September 18, 2010

September Rainy Day Fun

Judging by the Abbotsford weather report, you might need something fun to do inside this weekend. If you are in the Valley and like delicious food, then check out EAT! Fraser Valley at the Tradex in Abbotsford this weekend. We will be there all weekend at the Farm Start BC booth. Stop by and say can enter to win some prizes including a basket o' veggies from Skeeter Farm.

Here's something else you might want to plan to do this weekend or sometime soon: Save seed! All you home gardeners out there growing your favorite heirloom tomatoes or other crops should consider trying your hand at seed saving this season. There is something really satisfying about planting seeds from fruits that you carefully selected the year before for their taste and characteristics...and its really not that hard.

I started saving seed last year from my home garden and from the farm and had varied results with the crops this year. The tomatoes from the seed I saved from my garden were by far the best, and in my opinion, the most fun to try to save.

Select varieties that are Open Pollinated  (marked OP on your seed packet) and use the internet to search for tips and tricks on how to best collect the seeds.

As for tomatoes, you want to select ripe tomatoes from plants that did well, lack signs of disease, produced the best tasting tomatoes and/or the best looking tomatoes. Its a good idea to take tomatoes from several plants (if you have more than one).

Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp from the cavities into containers (I use mason jars). If there isn't much juice in the jar, add a little bit of water so the seeds can float. Carefully label the jars so you don't lose track of the varieties that you are saving and then store the jars for 5 days or so until a layer of mold forms on the top (the seeds need to ferment before they will be able to germinate). Once a nice layer of mold fully covers the top of your container, you can scoop the layer off, pour the remaining seeds/juice into a strainer and rinse the seeds. The last step is to dry the seeds on a plate, giving them a little shake every day to keep them from clumping together. Once the seeds are fully dry, put your little seeds into a labelled envelope for safe keeping until its time to plant next year.

Just think, if you save a few varieties each season, you'll build up an impressive tomato collection in no time!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beet Season!

Hey folks! The root veggies are upon us, hey? The sign of fall. Fall greens, squashes, potoatoes, and beets. I have to admit, as the farming months have passed, I have become really appreciative of beets. I am really loving the varities our farm has chosen to grow. Fabulous striped varities, golden beets, long cylindrical beets, the classic detroit. Awesome. You know you are tasting the earth with each bite. You can taste the goodness. But what about the greens, you ask...?

Well, again, fabulous stir fried, steamed, tossed with cooked pasta, in soups. Opportunities, endless. Like any other green, beet greens are loaded with nutrients. Rich with fiber, calcium and anitoxidants A, C, E, they are yummy pan fried with olive oil, lemon juice and topped with feta. How can you go wrong? Or, use them instead of romaine lettuce in a Ceasar salad. Heaven on a plate.

Beets have been around forever. Many people remember having beets and equate them with such an unpleasant memory, but the classic beet root is coming around again, and with huge style. Golden beets grated in a wonderful raw beetroot salad, mixed with green onion and vinigarette, beets roasted tossed with olive oil and fresh rosemary, dill pickeled beets, golden and detroit beets layered in a terrine with herbed goat's cheese. But here's an idea: add a 1/2 cup of grated beetroot and minus 1/4 cup of milk from your next chocolate cake, and wow, can you think of a better way to add beets to your week?

So next time when you see beets at a farmer's market or see them again in your CSA bag, please don't think, 'ohhhh MORE beets'. Buy, or use your bunch in a great new way that will mix up your regular routine or make you forget about the dreadful memories of you as a kid at the dining room table.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September Farm Update

Holy dina! Is it September already? Let's see....Spiders making their home in the hoophouse, Jamie and I returning to school (Jamie to teach, me to learn), strong desires to eat soup and wear cozy sweaters. Yep, all signs point to fall out here in Abbotsford.

In the past two weeks the farm has taken a turn and we can start to see certain crops nearing the end of their production. The late season has a certain bittersweet feel to it. Some of our favorites, like tomatoes, might only make it another couple of weeks. While at the same time we have an awesome collection of fall and winter squashes just starting to come ready. I think all of us are ready for a break from the farm work, but at the same time, I know I will be envious and anxious for the fun summer times at the farm while I am slaving away over the books in dreary January.

Okay, enough of the pity party. We still have a lot of great veggies coming your way before we take a break. Greens are looking fantastic and we have lots of kale, chard, arugula, spinach and collards to take us into the fall. I am also really excited about the harvest of the Amaranth. This is our first time trying out grain and planted Quinoa and Amaranth back in the spring. Unfortunately the Quinoa didn't do too well in the wet June weather, but the Amaranth is going strong and hopefully will be ready to harvest before the real wet weather hits.

Today marked our last Abbotsford Farmers market for the season. We will miss all of our regular customers there but still have a few West End and Coquitlam markets before the real end. Just 6 weeks left in our CSA program, so enjoy the bounty while you can folks!

Okay, thats it for now. 
Heres hoping that your fall is as delicious as a roasted butternut squash. 
With Love, from Skeeter Farm.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Friday Nights

Friday night has a whole new meaning when you are a farmer selling at the markets. Harvest days are long and tough, and often involve multiple layers of bug protection, sore backs and headlamps. This Friday there was a short break in the craziness of the harvest when the four of us decided to break and taste test a watermelon (I've been trying to nail down how to tell when these things are actually ripe). Hands down the best watermelon we've ever tasted, not that we're biased or anything.

Moments like this put the season in perspective and reaffirm that what we are doing is so very much worth it. 

Friday nights may not be for parties anymore, and Saturday mornings are certainly not for sleeping in - these are the small sacrifices we have made peace with in order for us farmers to do as we do.