Listening to an interview about the global shipping crunch driving up prices of consumer goods this Christmas shopping season, Ben couldn’t help but think this might be a good year to rethink the traditional gift exchange.

What is on these hundreds of thousands of shipping containers backed up at the port? For the most part, nothing that we desperately need.

We still love gift-giving, but this year we are thinking about things a little differently.
For starters, it’s not too late to think about preserving the harvest for the winter.

These products are the perfect gift – homemade pickles and jams were a hit as favours at Ben and Sam’s wedding, and they can be at Christmas too. People appreciate the thoughtfulness and work that goes into homemade preserves, as well as consumables that don’t add clutter to our homes and help cutback the grocery bill – which is expected to grow with inflation this winter. 
Fair enough, we hear you. The tomato, cucumber, bean and pepper harvest is long past. But with the mild fall we have had, there are still plenty of fresh herbs in planters across much of the country.

Drying down home-grown herbs is something that Ben reminds people is one of the best opportunities for extending the harvest. Not only is it easy – usually it involves a baking sheet in your oven at its lowest setting until the basil, oregano, dill, etc. crumbles in a mortar and pestle – but the product it replaces from the grocery store is generally of unknown origin, with weak flavour that is cut with cheaper substitutes.

A home-grown, home-dried herb & spice rack for Christmas this season? Just an idea…

Alternatively, take a look at some of the gifting possibilities offered by a cause we care deeply about- Communities in Bloom. No international shipping required!  Visit their Auction until October 18.
Get dressed – with compost. Remember – we don’t dig compost into the soil anymore, we simply apply a thick top layer and allow the earthworms and microbes do the rest of the work. Now is a perfect time of year to apply a generous layer of compost if you have a batch ripe in the composter. Even if it’s only “almost-ripe”, you are allowing it the winter to finish on the soil surface while you backfill the composter with fresh fallen leaves and Thanksgiving kitchen scraps.

Harvest your pumpkins and squash. By now your pumpkins and squash will have given you all they’ve got, so pick them before this wet weather brings about rot.

Setup a heat tunnel to keep the greens coming, if you still have kale, lettuce, chard etc. they will keep giving well into late November if given a cozy place under a poly tunnel. Doesn’t need to be fancy.

Save your seeds! With the seed shortage of the last two spring planting seasons, it is a good time to think about getting into seed saving. Beans and peas that are still in the garden can be left to dry down and harden in the pod – simply pick out those that are biggest and healthiest. 

Tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and melons can be saved provided they are not hybridized varieties and you did not grow more than one variety in the same bed this year as cross-pollinating can lead to unpredictable results. Simply scoop them out and spread them in a well-ventilated space to dry down. Keep an eye out on local gardening Facebook pages and newsletters for seedy Saturdays come early spring, where you will have the opportunity to sell or trade with other local seed collectors. 
Rain, rain here in Ontario has our growers feeling a little impatient. Where conventional growers can spray desiccants to dry down the crop for an earlier harvest, organic methods dictate that the beans dry down naturally on the plant – creating more exposure to fall weather. Here’s hoping we catch a break this weekend or early next week to finish off the harvest….
Cullen's Foods is proud to be Title Sponsor for A Night At WindReach Farm virtual gala.

We hope you will join us November 6 and help support the impactful programs and services provided by WindReach Farm!

Tickets are only $25.00 and the event is just an hour long.
Your support goes a long way!
Old Growth Forests with Nicole Rycroft
This week we had the opportunity to talk to Nicole Rycroft, Founder and Executive Director of environmental not-for-profit Canopy.

In addition to being a member of the UBS Global Visionaries Program, Nicole is an Ashoka Fellow, the recipient of a Canadian Environment Award Gold Medal, winner of the 2020 Climate Breakthrough Award, and a recipient of the Meritorious Service Cross of Canada

We talk about the logging of old growth forests in BC – why it matters, the largest civil disobedience case in Canadian history, and what we can do to help. An important issue for all Canadians, and Nicole is the expert to help us understand this subject. 

Tune in - on Apple, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.

Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty