Another potato harvest came in yesterday. We had a great yield this year; 1600 lbs approximately. For years we have planted Yukon Gold; they are our faves for storage potatoes.
First we clear the mulch, load it onto a tarp and haul it off the garden.
Then we pick the potatoes that are sitting on the surface – often these are green and so we separate these out.
Sashah does the first pass with the chisels and the kids scramble behind grabbing potatoes before they get buried again. This happens over and over…
Then we go through each bed picking and digging.
The pile mounts and the sorting begins – compost, seconds, storage & for sale.
The (heavy!) sacks are loaded into the truck to be weighed and put away for storage and for sale.
Wash beets, trim root and stem ends. Cut beet in half, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium, cover partially and cook until tender when pierced with a fork (about 15 minutes). Drain in colander, when cool enough to handle slip skins off. Cut into wedges, cubes or slices, toss in a bowl with balsamic, maple, olive oil and sea salt.
I like to chill the beets for a little while but they are also great served at room temperature. These beets are absolutely delicious on their own, but at this time of year I like to serve them on a bed of our finely chopped kale or autumn salad greens. Topped with a shaving of Montana , Feta or a little creamy Gorgonzola cheese and a handful of local hazelnuts turns this salad into a perfect autumn meal. Serves 4
It’s dark these days. The clocks have gone back and the clouds have been thick and heavy. The gardens are quiet. We had some frost the other week that pretty much put an end to our salad mix for the season. And rain. Lots of rain. In between we’ve been gathering pears off the ground so that they can ripen, bringing in the last of the tomatoes, taking out the plants finally, picking peppers and apples. It feels like a beautiful little burst of abundance at the end of it all.
Tomatoes in all their subtle colours.
Some of the last picking of the year.
Sorting peppers for sale.
This is the time of year for drying, freezing and canning, for getting the vegetables that are coming out of the garden away for the winter. There are plans to pickle beets and beans, roast peppers and freeze pesto. These days we have all been busy processing tomatoes. Our beautiful paste varieties, Viva Italia, Roma and Maria’s, are so abundant right now, the fruits are just dripping off the vines. We take turns harvesting week to week so that everyone gets their share to put away. At the end of it all, it is so satisfying to have a shelf full of jars of your very own tomato sauce for the winter months ahead.
The very full pot on the stove.
We visited with Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds just the other day. It is such a treat to visit other farms on the island; getting to see all the variations of the land here on Salt Spring and carving out the time to hang-out with other farmers during this crazy, busy time of year is so special. His farm is at the base of Mt. Maxwell and feels like it; in a basin that edges the hills, its beauty is so different than what we have here. The farmed areas are interspersed with beautiful structures for hanging garlic, record keeping, storing tools, greenhouse crops, drying & processing seeds and even a sweet little hut for yoga and meditation. We sat with Dan, in the hot August sun overlooking the fields, and he spoke about all the crops that he saves for seed, some of his farming methods and his philosophy on maintaining old varieties and maintaining the diversity within these varieties. Rupert, who was worked with Dan for years, was also about when we visited and he gave us a tour of his part of the garden; one devoted to herbal medicinal plants that he turns into tinctures and sells through the catalogue. It is truly inspiring to see the scale of Dan’s operation, the love that he has for what he is doing and to know that we are part of it!
Sitting in the sun.
This greenhouse has CHIA growing in it among other things.
Many different screens are used for drying and processing seeds.
The meditation hut.
An umbel forest.
An endangered species of echinacea, E. tenesseensis.
We had the pleasure to visit beautiful Foxglove Farm yesterday and have a fabulous tour by Michael Ableman. It is always inspiring to visit another farm and see what is going on. In this case A LOT is going on and we laughed about whether it was inspiring or overwhelming. I think the consensus was inspiring and we took away many little tips from Michael. He shared with us his tried and true varieties, his irrigation tricks, his failures and successes and he let our 4 children in tow run free in the raspberry patch!! But last but not least he shared time with us and we deeply value spending time with someone so connected to the land and growing the best food possible.
Michael sharing one of the first precious cantaloupes with us. We all had to close our eyes and smell it first- it was divine. Meeting the other farmers and apprentices and making plans to share a meal together.
One of the many raspberries enjoyed.
More sharing and learning
This is us at this time of year – busy putting everything to bed for the winter. The incredible fall that we had out here has extended our season by weeks and certain crops, that would have been long gone other years, are just coming to an end now.
Our gardens that we need for first crops in the spring are mulched, the others have lush cover-crops growing strong. Winter vegetables are tucked into the ground awaiting the weeks and months of harvest to come.
Carrot tops hide under floating row cover, brussel sprouts wait for hands to pick them, zucchini plants are finally ready to come out, kale and chard stand firmly in place.
Greenhouse crops linger, the last of the tomatoes and pepper still being enjoyed. Autumn jobs begin – re-jigging our greenhouse so that it lasts us many more years, tools wait for winter maintenance. The season, in its own beauty, unfolds before us.
When we arrived in Keremeos my Dad had already the peaches laid out ripening to perfection. He had gleaned them from a new orchard that was not being harvested- almost like farming ‘dumpster diving’. The outside woodstove fire was lit at 7am the next morning.
We sipped our mate, began peeling and cutting the peaches and waited for the fire to get roaring hot and the hot water bath to boil. Each batch was carefully placed in the boiling water.
For me, canning becomes more about the shared experience, old timeless skills and the connection to food than the end product. Of course all winter my family and friends will savour the sweet taste of Summer.
We spent last Thursday digging through soil for treasures that will feed us and others through the winter. Two of our favourite varieties come out of this garden; Yukon Gold and Fingerlings.
We dug first with hands and feet so as to minimize damage, then we moved on to forks and lastly we brought out the chisels. Then we had some very enthusiastic “sand crawlers” who followed behind the tractor and collected what came up. Very dirty, very tired, very happy potato diggers we were.