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Getting the lowdown on harvest

It's a sunny-ish day at the farmette. Supposed to rain later this morning. Lately, we've had better temperatures - less scorching hot.

As the COVID-19 pandemic gets worse and worse south of the border, things are getting a bit better up here in Canada. In Ontario, we are in what they call Stage Three, which means most restaurants, pubs and shops are now out of lockdown. The lack of a plan for child care has many working parents extremely anxious.

Here at the farmette, life goes on, and vegetables don't care if there's a human virus running through the population. They keep doing their thing - growing and providing us with nutritious goodness. It's amazing how we forget the sweet taste of freshly pulled potatoes and carrots. While we always shop locally, the veggies out of the back yard are still crunchier and obviously fresher.

So today, I thought I'd do a little piece about the lovely bits I harvested yesterday.

Black caps: These are actually wild raspberries, and you can't get them in any store (at least I've never seen them). They're smaller than regular raspberries and I'd say the canes are actually pricklier. Their Latin name is rubus occidentalis and they're a member of the rose family. Apparently, they also pack quite a punch as an immune booster and have even been found to slow cancer growth in rodents. Who knew?

Carrots: These orange beauties started as purple wild roots in and around Afghanistan. Between the 10th and 16th century, the roots were small and bitter, so the tops were actually used as an herb to help with kidney stones, heal animal bites, and various and sundry other ailments. The orange veggie has quite the story, including being an integral part of the Victory Gardens during the war years - seems appropriate that we're growing them now during our 'war' on a virus. It's such a venerated veg that there's even a virtual World Carrot Museum, based in the U.K.

Radishes: While the origins of the red, pink or white globule are a mystery, this member of the brassicaceae family really got rooted in southeast Asia. I can tell you from experience that they germinate and grow really quickly, so you have to make sure you pull them before they get all huge and woody. The ones in the picture are my second harvest. They pack a nutritious punch, too, with ascorbic and folic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium. There's even a festival in December in Oaxaca, Mexico in which the locals carve cool sculptures out of radishes. Again, who knew?

Potatoes: Rob, being Scottish, loves this root crop, which is why he put in two huge long rows of them this year. I 'guddled' these particular tasty treats - basically stole them from under living plants. They're especially nice when they're smaller and harder. They have an extraordinarily long history - having been cultivated by the Incans in Peru between 8,000 and 5,000 B.C. Then, the Conquistadors ravaged the indigenous population and did what colonizers do - stole the potato and took it back to Spain for their own use. Sir Walter Raleigh actually introduced them in their numbers in Ireland in the 1500s, and we all know how that worked out. Still, I do like the fact that, while it's mostly (79 per cent) water, it does have vitamins B6 and C and you don't actually have to buy potato seed. Just save the ones from this year and plant the 'eyes' (root buds) next spring. Cool, eh?

So that's about it for this little trip down information alley. We are fortunate to be able to grow our food in such good soil, while getting enough rain (so far!) and lots and lots of sunny sunshine. With no crazy orange-faced leaders to muck things up pandemic-wise. Until next week.


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