(Blowing dust from the keyboard) I’ve been gone for more than a little while - my last post was in July and I’d like to chalk things up to a busy summer cultivating the fields, but I think that that excuse is a few months past honest. 

One of the things that I have done is develop a new website where I can organize my content so that it can more easily be used as a resource for the would-be gardener. 

Since July, the garden beds have moved from summer veg into cool-season crops. Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, romanesco, potatoes, garlic, leeks, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, and dill are currently flourishing in the cool, moist weather that we’ve been having. The searingly-hot Southern Californian summer is fast approaching. Transplanting tomatoes into the bed where I am currently growing cabbage is but three weeks away. 

I’ve also been bringing the camera into the kitchen and using it to make short films. My next post will be a short film that I’ve just made. 

Thank you to those who encouraged me to keep posting. 

I was always planning on continuing but the nudges were inspiring. With camera snapping and keys clicking, I am in the saddle once again!

Farm Stand Today….

…and the tomatoes are pumping out the fruit! Eighty-five plants gave me around 150 pounds of delicious heirloom fruit today. We also had bell and chile peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, onions, and honey.

Some of My Favourite Heirloom Tomato Varieties

  • Costoluto Genovese - Red and fluted/scalloped variety in the third photo
  • Black Krim - A widely celebrated heirloom that is lightly scalloped with a purple skin (last photo)
  • Reisetomate - The clustered variety in the bottom left corner of the second photo. Individual fruits are like fused clusters of cherry tomatoes.

Summer is well underway and the farm stand is colouring up nicely.

Here is some of the beautiful food:

  1. Sunflowers - Not exactly food at this stage, but pretty anyhow
  2. Honey - Our delicious wildflower honey; this stuff flies of the shelf!
  3. Potatoes - Colorado Rose, All-Blue, Binje
  4. Peppers - Too many varieties to name (or more honestly, remember)
  5. Leeks - A handful of leeks are the last of the winter crops to come out of the ground

Visit to Kiler Canyon Farms

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Kiler Canyon Farm, an idyllic expanse of fertile vegetable beds, pasture, and oak-covered hillsides just outside of Paso Robles, California. I was invited by a friend of mine who is one of two interns on the farm (thanks Rory!). The family that tends and owns the farm gave me a tour and welcomed me into their home. When I imagine farming on my own land in a beautiful and rural place this is what I picture. 

The vegetable beds were diverse, planted to the gills, and thriving. A vegetable CSA is the basis of the farm but the family also keeps a few healthy dairy cows, chickens, and pigs. The best loaves of bread that I have seen since I have lived in the US came out of the farms wood-fired oven shortly before I arrived. On top of the bread I had a gruyere-like cheese that had just come out of the cheese cave where it had been ripening for a year.

I left the farm with a gallon of fresh milk from the farm’s Jersey cow. The milk was topped by a thick layer of golden cream for which the Jersey cow is famous. I guzzled the majority of the gallon and made yoghurt with the rest. 

If you live near Paso Robles or Atascadero (or have a friend that does) you can (and should) eat the incredible food grown organically by Kiler Canyon Farm. You can do so by purchasing a share of the harvest through the farm’s CSA - http://kilercanyonfarm.com/csashares.html. All of our food should be grown by people like this.

Farm Stand Today!

Onions - Red Southern Belle along with some Texas Super Sweets (not pictured)

Sugarsnap Peas - Super sweet and snappy 

Parsnips - The roots aren’t over yet

Premium Late Flat Dutch Cabbage - These are over 6 pounds a piece

More Sub-Tropical Fruit in Spring

The plants in the sub-tropical fruit grove have been flowering and setting fruit. 

  1. This one’s got a heap of names: Indiana Banana, Hoosier Banana, Poor-Man’s Banana, Pawpaw. It is the largest of the edible fruits of North America and not even closely related to bananas. It is native to the southeastern and midwestern U.S. but can also be found growing in the Carolinian forest of the very southern tip of Ontario, Canada - the province of which I am also native. The pawpaw’s texture is very similar to a ripe mango with a wonderful tangy flavour. 
  2. Rose apple - Belonging to the nutmeg family, this fruit is related to neither roses nor apples. This fruits aroma is overwhelmingly similar to roses with a snappy apple-like texture. An interesting fruit, certainly; one that I want to eat a whole bucket of, certainly not. 

More Sub-Tropical Fruit in Spring

The plants in the sub-tropical fruit grove have been flowering and setting fruit. 

  1. The macadamia nuts flowered recently and have just set fruit. This photos shows the fruits (follicles) beginning to develop. 
  2. The Surinam cherry is not a cherry at all but belongs to the nutmeg family (Myrtaceae). The cultivated fruits of this family always seem to have strong, distinct “myrtaceous” flavours that I can only describe as resinous or “turpentine-y”. They’re certainly unique and not unpleasant. If you love turpentine, they’re delicious. 

Sub-Tropical Fruit in Spring

The plants in the sub-tropical fruit grove have been flowering and setting fruit. 

  1. Bananas flower throughout the spring and summer - this is the first plant to flower this season. The Cavendish bananas that you get in the grocery store are just an example of how a banana can taste. Ours have a smoother, moister flesh with a more acidic flavour. 
  2. Pineapple guavas (not a true guava) or feijoas are my favourite fruit in the grove. These will be ready in the late summer. They have a stony texture like a guava or pear with a moist, gelatinous interior. The flavour is certainly reminiscent of pineapples. 

Farm Stand Today!

The reign of the roots has come to a close - bulbs and tubers to soon ascend.

  1. Rainbow of Carrots - Amarillo, Atomic Red, Berlicum 2
  2. Artichokes - Violetta Precoce and Green Globe
  3. Sugarcane
  4. Turnips - Milan Purple Top and Japanese White
  5. The harvest board for today

It’s almost summer - Get outside and plant some peppers!

*See my previous post for full instructions on planting peppers.

Photos

  • Newly planted pepper
  • Good looking roots - make sure your transplants have a well developed root system but still have a plenty of room in the pot.
  • Plant your transplants at soil level and baby the root system; don’t break up the root ball or otherwise disturb the roots and water immediately. 
  • I cover the base of my plants with sand. This keeps the army of pill bugs (they’re actually crustaceans and they’re good for your soil) from nibbling the roots.
  • Until they’re established, I cover the plants with floating row cover to keep rabbits and pests at bay.