They’re (finally!) happening.
Daily Farm Foto
Spent the day working with Matilda at our plot on Waitara Farm. The wet spring has prevented us from doing much cultivation so it was pretty weedy. At the end of a long day it was very satisfying to see the progress we had made. That’s one of the satisfying aspects of farming – physical transformation as a direct result of effort spent.
With a little help from our friends – Chef Steve Boudreau from Poets’ Cove, Sam and Steve’s wife Julie – we were able to get most of the planting done in the greenhouse. Just in time – so it seems – as the weather appears to be improving. All that’s left now is putting in irrigation and filling in a few remaining gaps with peppers and melons. I may also build just one more bed to accommodate some Picolino cucumbers that we couldn’t fit in…
Microgreens are tiny vegetables grown in flats of soil that are harvested at the seedling stage, when they are about 1 to 2 weeks old and their first leaves or cotyledons have just developed. Microgreens are larger than “sprouts” which are not grown in soil but smaller than older “baby greens.” For their small size, they have amazingly big flavour and taste. They are a bit tricky and expensive to produce, as a result they are a bit pricey.
We’ve been considering growing microgreens for a while now – but were unsure of how they would be received on Pender. This year, with a little encouragement from Poets’ Cove Resort‘s Chef Steve Boudreau, we finally decided to give it a go. We are exceedingly happy with our initial experience. Depending on local interest and demand we hope to have more available – possibly even at the market!.
Apart from being bouyed Elizabeth May’s decisive win in our riding (go, go Green Power!), the rise of the NDP and celebrating Michelle’s birthday, I was incredibly depressed by yesterday’s election results.
This morning in an effort to repurpose abandoned election flotsam for good, I gathered election signs.We will eventually transform their heavy wire frames into wickets, which we use to elevate protective remay covers above our crops during the cooler fall and winter months.
We’re back! Mother Nature hasn’t been too kind to us lately – what with this cold, wet spring. But the weather and the slugs haven’t been able to stop us from providing the first of many boxes of produce. We took time away from prepping our new digs at the greenhouse across from the Community Hall to harvest and pack your greens and veggies. They’re all safe inside your appropriately sized and shaped boxes down in the cool root cellar – ready to be picked up and eaten by you and yours!
Yesterday I received a call from my friend Josh Volk, who normally farms in Portland but is on a self described busman’s holiday in California visiting and - I presume – working on organic farms. During the course of the call he let it slip that he was enjoying – no I think his exact words were “basking in” – the first sunshine of his rainy trip. I jokingly requested that he send some sunshine or at least dry weather our way. Well apparently Josh has some pull with the Big Guy. Because less that 24 hours later, the clouds parted over little Pender Island and out came the sun. Thank you Josh! Keep ‘er coming!!
Thanks to Josh and his gift of sunshine we caught a glimpse of the first Thamnophis ordinoides (Northwestern Garter Snake) of the season in one of the polyhouses this afternoon – another one of our local tell-tale signs of spring.
It’s been dry enough to take the Grillo and the Bertha rotary plough out for a spin on the small patch (18′ x 25′) that has been recently vacated by our chickens.
For the past 7 years we have moved chickens around the gardens at Hope Bay to improve our poor (class 5) soils. This involves penning the chooks up in an area we want “improved” and feeding them a steady supply of kitchen scraps, garden gleanings, weeds and waste hay from the sheep over the next 12 months. At the end of that period a layer of up to 8 – 10″ of organic matter has been accumulated that is partially composted and “blended” with nitrogen-rich chicken poop. After the chickens are moved on to a new plot, we till up the area, lift it with a broad fork and then seed with fall rye. We allow the rye to grow for up to a month before mowing it down and tilling it in. We then plant the area with nitrogen-loving crops like sweet corn and squash. In the fall, the area is planted with garlic.
This year I wanted to use our newly acquired rotary plough for the initial or primary tillage over these “chickened” areas as it can be quite a bear using a tiller – the layers of organic matter can bind up the tines and you can’t to any great depth.
Well I’m happy to report that the rotary plough worked well. However, the area was a bit too small to really operate the machine effectively in. I also discovered quite quickly that using a plough is much different than using a tiller. A plough leave a furrow, which you not only have to account for but deal with as the tractor has a tendency to high center and get stuck if you don’t approach the furrow the right way. This issue was exacerbated by the depth and softness of the 10′ organic layer. To make a long story short, the result was I spent over an hour literally wrestling the machine around the plot, high centering at least 20-30 times. By the end of the “session” I was beet-red and sweating like a pig. The experience increased my appreciation and desire for long, straight beds. More room – I need more room!
Prior to starting the “wrestling” match I discovered a fairly extensive patch of Calystegia sepium L. R. Br. or hedge bindweed – an incredibly invasive weed. To avoid spreading it with the plough I spent a good half hour hand digging the rhizomes up which if cut up and scattered, say by a plough or tiller, can parent a completely new plant. Horrible stuff. To be avoided at all cost.