Monday, September 23, 2013

Seed saving

Seeds!  Beautiful, powerful, amazing seeds.  Now is the season for saving seeds from the garden.  While we don't save seeds from everything in our garden (it's difficult, given that some of our plant varieties such as squash are too close together so could cross-pollinate), we do like to save many of our favourites each year.  Seeds we do save include unique varieties of tomatoes (those black cherry and Mennonite Orange were so delicious and not always easy to buy), heirloom beans, lettuce, arugula and other greens, kale, sunflowers, and loads of herbs and flowers. 

Then there are seeds we save like fennel, coriander, dill, rosehips and amaranth, where we like to harvest enough seed that we can use some directly in cooking, teas or herbal medicines, as well as having enough to plant again next year.  We also like to leave plenty of seeds standing in the garden for winter foraging for the birds.  Depending on the seed, there are different ways to harvest, dry and store them.  Some can be left on the plant to dry (e.g. some herb and flower seeds, beans in pods, sunflowers, lettuce), but others (e.g. tomatoes) are a little more tricky and need to be harvested fresh from the best quality fruit, then dried out, and stored when fully dry.  For more seed saving tips you can read great information at the Seeds of Diversity website.

Pumpkin harvest!

One of this weekend's projects around here was starting to clean up the garden.  This included the last potato harvest, storage potatoes and fingerling potatoes!  Cleaning up finished zucchini and squash vines, picking the last basil and tomatoes, and harvesting our pumpkins.  The pumpkin project was our daughter's this year.  At the top of her garden list back in January was to grow pumpkins, even if it meant losing space to other things.  She has been waiting patiently all season, watering them, watching them ripen, checking each day in the past few weeks to see if they are ready yet.  She had a nice harvest of 9 pumpkins and felt quite pleased with it!  She had wanted to try "milk feeding" them just like in the book Farmer Boy (Little House on the Prairie series), but that would really only be economical if we had an abundance of milk, which we do not. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Potatoes and peppers

Potato and pepper harvest!

A little get away

It was time for our September jaunt to the woods - near lovely Georgian Bay and the Bruce Trail, and a chance to catch up with good friends.  Fall is definitely here, the leaves were turning to yellow and red, and the nights camping were cold but perfect for cozying up near the fire!  We also make sure to stop by Harvest Moon Bakery, our favourite stop for beautiful organic baked goods just past Lion's Head as you near the National Park.  Spending time near these ancient rock beaches and dense cedar forests always rejuvinates us.  This little get away was a perfect break from the hectic pace we've been having wrapping up our harvest season. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Wild apple bounty

The past few days have seen baskets and bins of apples piling up on our counters.  The wild apple harvest is on, and this year is proving to be an bountiful one.  We've taken to carrying extra bags with us everywhere we go, just in case we need to do some spontaneous foraging.  We, as a family, have gathered fruit from at least 10 different types of apple trees in various locations around town, all which are walkable or bikeable from our place.  There is such abundance hidden in the city, and I love sharing this experience with our daughter.  We often meet others who are also wild foraging, including a group yesterday who was picking wild apples for their annual cider-making event. 

I just love the different colours, textures and tastes - the red and white striped markings on the apples held in the hand below is especially pretty.  Our own big old apple tree is in it's fullest year yet.  Most of these apples we use for sauce, since they do have blemishes and are not long-keeping varieties - and occasionally there is a pie.  Mmmmmm, pie.   That makes today an exceptional day.

New Fall Workshop Series - Sustainability, Homesteading Skills & Good Food!

Want to hone your skills for simple living, sustainability at home, homesteading arts, and making really great healthful whole food?  Consider taking one of our fall workshops here at Little City Farm.  These workshops are not only a great way to learn new skills, but also a gathering place for meeting others in the community interested in these topics and lifestyle.  Go to our website here for more workshop details and registration.

Exciting topics coming up in the fall:

Cost: $25 Limited space - pre-registration required.
With Anna-Maria Schulteis.
This workshop will start with questions from participants about fruit tree care. Then the workshop will move into three main areas. What fruit trees will be successful in Ontario (Kitchener/Waterloo region)? What conditions are required before planting fruit trees (soil, compost, amendments, layout)? What are the most sustainable practices for growing and maintaining healthy fruit trees? Please note this is an outdoor workshop, rain or shine. Participants are asked to dress for the weather.

SAT, SEPT 21 from 1-3 pm - FALL WILD EDIBLES
Cost: $25 Limited space - pre-registration required.
With Jackie McMillan, local wild foods enthusiast.
We're surrounded by plants that are much more nutrient dense than what we can get from a supermarket, our garden, or even an organic farmer. Learn how to identify wild plants (greens, flowers, tubers/roots, bark, berries) that are tasty and easy additions to your diet, how to balance your body's needs with those of the ecosystem, and get some recipes to try at home. Wild food samples will be available for show and tell, and nibbling. Please note this is an outdoor workshop, rain or shine. Participants are asked to dress for the weather.

Cost: $25 - Limited space - Pre-registration required.
With Karin Kliewer, from Little City Farm.
Do you want to make nourishing, hearty wholegrain bread at home? In this hands-on workshop we'll talk about using and maintaining sourdough starter cultures, and make a batch of bread using local organic whole grains. Each participant will get a chance to grind fresh flour using a hand-crank grain mill, plus take home recipes, their own loaf of bread freshly baked, and a jar of sourdough starter culture.

Cost: $35 - Limited space - Price includes your own shiitake log to take home.
With Taarini Chopra, local foods advocate.
Grow your own edible mushrooms at home using simple effective techniques. We'll demonstrate growing shiitake mushrooms on oak logs, and oyster mushrooms on sawdust blocks. Participants will learn how to innoculate logs with mushroom spores, how to store and maintain logs, and how to harvest and use mushrooms. Each participant will take home an innoculated shiitake log at the end of the workshop.

SAT, NOV 2 from 1-3 pm - LET'S MAKE PIE!
Cost: $20 - Limited space - Pre-registration required.
With Karin Kliewer, from Little City Farm.
Want to make great pies using organic and wholegrain ingredients? In this hands-on workshop we'll be talking about how to make the perfect healthful pie crust, including vegan and gluten-free options. Each participant will make their own vegan pie to take home, using a crust made with organic coconut oil and local wholegrain organic flour. Participants will get a chance to grind fresh spelt flour using a hand-crank grain mill. Recipes included!

Cost: $30 - Limited space - Pre-registration required.
With Karin Kliewer, from Little City Farm.
During this workshop join local herbalist to talk about how to prepare for winter coughs, colds and flu. We'll make several simple effective herbal remedies including elderberry syrup, sage-horehound cough drops, and echinacea tincture. Participant will take home recipes and samples of herbal remedies we make together during the workshop.

SAT, NOV 16 from 1-4 pm - INTRO TO TRADITIONAL SOAP MAKING (workshop full)
Cost: $50 - Limited space - Pre-registration required.
With Karin Kliewer, from Little City Farm.
Learn to make beautiful all-natural healing soaps using nourishing oils, organic botanicals, and pure essential oils. During this popular busy hands-on workshop each participant will make their own 2 lb batch of cold process soap from scratch using recipe and ingredients provided. We'll talk about various soap making techniques, where to source ingredients, and the properties that various ingredients such as clays, botanicals, oils and essential oils add to your soap. Participant will be asked to bring their own soap mold with lid, and a large old towel. More details provided upon registration.

Free annual event! Help spread the word!
Held at Little City Farm.
Drop by our 12th annual Handmade Holiday Sale to see multiple artists and crafters displaying their wares! Previous sales have included organic baked goods, natural soaps, handmade clothing for children, woolen reconstructed clothing for women and children, wooden items, pure beeswax candles, handmade slippers, vegan truffles. More updates coming closer to the date.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Harvest foods

Now that our Symposium is over and the calendar page has turned to September, it's time to work on finishing our garden harvest, canning & preserving, drying, fermenting & pickling for the winter months.  The greenhouse shelves are stacked with drying racks layered with herbs; our kitchen counters are lined with jars of beans and cucumbers that are being lacto-fermented; our counters are covered in bowls and containers brimming with tomatoes, basil, eggplant and beans to be preserved into sauce, pesto and ratatouille.

And our meals these days are simple, but fresh and glorious with the abundant garden harvest - kale, chard, beans, various pestos, tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes every day!  Using these veggies on different kinds of pizzas has been a fun way to experiment lately.  We were recently at a wedding in Muskoka where pizza was served by All Fired Up, a portable wood-fired pizza catering business.  We loved their pear-pesto-arugula-goat cheese pizza, and made our own version of it last night using all these ingredients sourced from our yard (we even have our own pears this year!).  Yumm!

Fresh Pear-Pesto-Arugula Goat Cheese Pizza

Fresh pears, 2 sliced thinly
Freshly made Pesto (our version uses fresh basil, sunflower seeds, olive oil, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, sea salt)
Fresh arugula, about 20 leaves (we used Surrey Greens, a spicy arugula-type leafy green)
Fresh soft goat cheese

Roll out thin whole-grain pizza dough.  Let rest 15 minutes on your pizza pan, pizza stone, or peel.  Spread with thin layer of pesto to cover whole dough.   Cover in concentric circles with sliced pears.  Sprinkle with arugula leaves, and dot with clumps of fresh soft goat cheese.  Bake at 500F for about 6 minutes!  Serve hot with fresh arugula leaves tossed on top.