Monday, April 26, 2010

Finally, dirty fingers

I finally got some outside seeding done yesterday and it felt great to have dirt under my fingernails once again. I planted onion sets and early carrots and this morning I seeded some lettuce mix and spinach. We planted the onion sets on drills and also on a flat bed and it will be interesting to see if there is any difference. We normally plant everything, besides potatoes, on a flat 3.5ft bed but we thought we would try drills for a few things this year. I covered the lettuce mix with a floating row cover which helps to retain moisture, raise the day time temperature and also helps to protect the tiny plants from cold night time temperatures. The row cover will also protect the lettuce mix from any flying insects which may decided the tender leaves would make a nice light lunch.

Notice the wheel barrow. After shoveling compost for a few minutes the tractor and manure spreader came out.

The peppers and eggplants have been potted on to their own cells in 36 size trays.

3 week old eggplant & peppers, before being potted on

3 week old pepper plants, looking good

Peppers potted on

The plants always look a little beat up after being potted on but by a day after being put into their new home they will start to look vibrant once again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Controlling Weeds

A few months ago Derek and I sat down and tried to work on a goals list for the farm. Where do we want to be in 5 years and in 10 years. It was a hard project to work on and I imagine it will be an evolving list as the season and year goes on. One of the major items we know we need to improve on is our weed management. Every season it seems the weeds get away from us which only hurts us the following year as the weed seeds drop and germinate and cuase even more havoc the following season. In the past we have used several hand held wedding tools which have worked well but take an awful lot of man hours which would be better spent harvesting or seeding. We are currently trying to decide on a wedding system that will work best for our system of growing. We have been looking online and talking to fellow growers about their wedding equipment and we think we have finally decided on a Eco Weeder or a Reigi Weeder as they are often referred as.

It attaches to the three point hitch on the tractor and someone sits on the weeder and moves the handles in and out around the plants such as broccoli or alongside the rows of carrots. The round finger disks are powered by the PTO and from what we have heard and read its a great tool. We would have to change the way we plant going from a 3.5ft bed system where we usually plant at least 3 rows of vegetables such as lettuce mix, spinach, carrots to a row system where we would only plant 1 rows between the tractor tires. The new system would take alot more land but the time spent wedding would be cut back by 80-90% leaving more time for other important tasks around the farm. At our current scale one might think this piece of equipment is a bit over the top but we do have lofty expansion goals and one of the main things keeping us from expanding is the concern about weed management.

We'll keep you posted and hope to have pictures of the Eco Weeder in action soon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Way too many tomatoes, again

Every year I have the same battle, choosing tomato varities to plant in the garden. Every year I say this will be the year where I settle down and chose 3-4 good varities and stear clear of the over 20 differnt kinds I usually grow. Well once again I didn't listen to my better judgement and have planted 16 different types of tomatoes. It's like trying to decide which child you like better!!! So for your entertainment I'll list all of the varieties we'll be growing for the CSA this season.

Cherry tomatoes
: Golden Cherry, Cherry Grande, Sungold, Sun Sugar, Sweet Chelsea, Sweet Olive

Medium - Large slicing: Scotia, Pilgrim, Duchess, Sweet Cluster, First Lady II Hybrid, Quebec, Tigerella

Plum (sauce tomatoes
): Viva Italia, Plum Dandy & Roma V.F.N

Approximately 350 seeds in this one tray. Now that's alot of tomato sandwiches

Once the plants reach their first true leaf stage I will be transplanting to a larger tray where each plant will have its own space. For right now seeding like this saves a lot of valuable space in our growing room.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Progress, slow and steady

The peppers and eggplant seedlings are doing very well. The parsley so far has not germinated but it is a fairly slow germinating crop so not to worry yet. Lettuce, green onions, broccoli and tomatoes have all been recently seeded in their growing trays and I am awaiting germination. Our outside greenhouse shed has been recently insulated which will allow the tiny transplants to grow in a sunnier warmer environment than our front sunny living room.

Derek finishing up insulating the shed

If tiny transplants do not get enough direct overhead sun they will become leggy & spindly from searching for the sun. They will also grow stockier and will be more hardy when they eventually get transplanted to the fields if they have more access to the direct overhead sun.

And seeding begins for the 2010 season, eggplant, peppers and parlsey are the first things planted

Pepper seeds

I can almost taste the sweet crunch of a ripe red pepper, yum

Pepper and Eggplant seedlings - 10 days after planting

Tiny eggplant seedlings - 10 days after seeding

Up and close personal with eggplant and pepper seedlings

Music Garlic popping out of the straw

Rhubarb finally making an appearance

Saturday, April 10, 2010

And I thought I could do it all!

As the boys are getting older I am quickly realizing my limitations. This time last year I had lots of seeds planted, all paperwork organized and garden planning finished. This year I have a few seeds planted, some paper work organized and a little bit of garden planning done. People used to say "you think your busy now, wait till you have kids", well I always resented those words and I hate to admit it but people were right. While I know I was busy before I had the boys I'm realizing my expectations of being a great mom/wife, organic vegetable farmer, farmers market board member and doing a good job at all were totally off base. I thought "of course I can do it all" how hard could it be? So far this year I have had to leave my position on the board of the farmers market, give up my booth at the farmers market for this coming season, cutback production and keep the CSA membership numbers the same instead of increasing like I had planned. Some days I get overwhelmed when I think of the coming growing season and wonder, can I manage and get all the work done? Luckily I have many sane influences in my life including a great friend Sally who takes time to reassure me that life with kids and farming can be achieved and it might just take awhile before things get back to "normal". Until "normal" returns I've decided to take one day at a time and enjoy the moments as they arrive. Taking more time to play with the boys, making use of every second of nap time by planting seeds, hanging laundry and taking time to enjoy pretty sunsets. The good news is I've survived the first 9 months of being a Mom of twins and I"m still smiling!!!

Honoured to be honoured

Derek and I were honoured this past week by the Federation of Agriculture for the 2010 agriculture awareness award. We were very surprised to receive the call Tuesday saying we had been nominated and chosen to receive this award. It is our first award and we were very excited. We had a great time at the award ceremony which honoured many well deserving farmers and people involved in the agricultural world. We were served a great meal and I think it was the first time since the babies were born 9 months ago that we were both out together after 5pm. We were nominated for the award for several reasons including our work with the Summerside Farmers Market, our direct marketing efforts with the CSA and for participating in last years summer series on CBC's Island Morning show which highlighted our farming adventures from seeding to harvest. Many people commented to use through the summer that it was a great series which people enjoyed listening to. We loved being involved and were very grateful to Karen Mair and the rest of the Island Morning Gang for all their time and efforts making the series a reality. While we feel rather undeserving of the award it is nice to have your efforts noticed and recognized. Now where to hang the award?