The unseasonably cool nights in the last half of July and moist conditions have been hard on the garlic, tomatoes, cantaloupe and cucumbers. We hope that warmer weather helps stop the spread of Late Blight and Downy Mildew! Good news is that the sweet corn is coming along and we expect to have some for the August 1st pick-up. The gladiolas are slow to start, but I do see some flowers coming. We have pick-your-own sunflowers in the garden to the north of the house. A tip is to re-cut the stem when you get home and put them into warm/hot water.

Ken had to hook up his team of wooden horses to pull out one of our really big zucchini this year as the pictures shows! We have lots of Zucchini and Summer Squash, both can be used in the following recipe Jolianne has made this on her cooking night and it has been a big hit here at Orchard Hill Farm


Italian Zucchini Pie

From Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert

Yields 2 pies

¼ cup warm water

1-tablespoon active dry yeast

Mix until yeast dissolves. Set aside.

¼ cup milk

1-tablespoon olive oil

1 egg (beaten)

Combine in a mixing bowl or food processor. Add dissolved yeast and stir.

¼ cup whole-wheat flour

¼ cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

1-teaspoon salt

1 –2 teaspoons fresh basil (chopped)

Blend in.

2 cups bread flour

Add ½ cup at a time to make a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Place in a greased bowl, turn to grease both sides, cover with a damp cloth, and place in a warm place while preparing the zucchini filling.

¼ cup butter

9 cups zucchini (thinly sliced)

1-2 cups onion (chopped)

Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and onions and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 tablespoon each fresh basil and oregano (chopped; or ½ teaspoon dried)

1-teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Stir in.

5 large eggs (beaten)

4 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)

Combine in a separate bowl, then stir into zucchini mixture.

Divide dough in half. Place each half on a lightly floured surface and roll into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Place each into a lightly greased 10-inch pie dish.

4 teaspoons prepared mustard

¼ cup Parmesan cheese (grated; optional)

Spread the pie crests with mustard. Divide the zucchini mixture between the two crests. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top, if using. Bake in preheated oven at 375F until center is set 18-20 minutes. If crust begins to brown before center is done, cover edges with aluminum foil. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Our apprentices are busy putting the final coat of sand/clay plaster on the interior straw bale walls in the bunkhouse. CSA members are welcome to go and have a look when they come to the farm.

Another week has rolled around. The garden is producing well. The zucchini and summer squash have kicked into gear. Any new recipes are always welcome. Remember to look at the side index of our blog to see past postings with recipes. Cucumbers will be the next new addition to the pick-ups.

Some of you may be wondering about the saga of the laying hens…as you may have noticed the layers have moved up to the north end of the farm again. After Ken spent the better part of a week building a special hawk proof movable hoop house we found that the laying hens didn’t like it and they essentially quit laying eggs. So…we moved them back to their old hen house and put up an electric poultry fence around it. In order to give them more free range we took down the fence, as we have done in past years, as soon as we did that we lost a hen a day to the hawk. So…we put them back into the fence that was good for about a week, but then the hawk decided that the fence wasn’t a deterrent after all and we lost two hens in one day. I guess the hawk was making up for lost time. Now we have moved them up near the house hoping that the proximity to the activity in the yard and maybe Caesar, our dog, will keep the hawk away. However, Caesar seems more interested in mice when he isn’t flaked out sleeping in the pick-up room.

The portable hawk proof hoop house is now housing a meat chicken pilot project. Anna, our senior apprentice decided that she would like to try and raise some meat birds this year for our own use. Since the day old chicks arrived Anna has been their mother hen and has done a fine job of nurturing them along. After spending their first three weeks in the workshop with a heat lamp they moved out to the hoop house. All was well for over a week until the chicks piled up next to the edge, pushed out the aviary netting, touched the electric fence that was put around the outside to keep the raccoons away at night and three died of electric shock in one night! So…we now have a secondary fence inside to keep the chicks from pushing into the electric fence.

The next time you buy free-range chicken and or eggs you can wonder how the farmer kept away all the other creatures that love chicken and still managed to have free-range chicken!

Erin and Liam Harder are pictured with Ken as the meat chicks are on their way from the workshop to the hoop house.

Edible Flowers are an eye catching addition to set off a salad. In the picture are Canada Lilies, Nasturtiums, Blue Borage Flowers and some burgundy Red Amaranth leaves, that were just picked from the side garden at Orchard Hill Farm.

The garden is growing well with all the rain. We expect to have our first summer squash and zucchini this Saturday! The strawberry season is just about over. We hope you are enjoying the early broccoli. Cauliflower and summer cabbage will be coming soon.

Due to all the rain (three inches in 14 days) we have delayed cutting the last of our first cut hay. As soon as it drys up we will hope to get it in the barn! Bunkhouse work on the dry wall has started again and we hope to have time to do some more mudding in July.

We have an Ontario CRAFT(Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) day at the farm next Wednesday. Apprentices from other farms, who are part of the CRAFT apprentice network that we belong to, will be coming here for a tour and workshop. We expect to have the apprentices pull a walking plow to see what’s like to be a draft horse as part of the fun for the day.