Thursday, May 27, 2010

Garden Ramblings

The salad days of spring seem to be moving along quickly. In fact, where did spring go ?
Yesterday and today were so warm that some of tips of my red lettuces are burning-yikes. I am watering the salad mix at least 5 times a day to keep it fresh and crisp. Tomorrow hopefully , if the weather man is correct, the heat will give in a bit.
I have been very busy trying to get garden in now that the bulk of my transplant sales are over and done with.
Yesterday I planted the Organic Gardening Magazine test garden-8 tomato varieties, 4 peppers, a broccoli, 4 lettuces, watermelon, numerous beans and a few flowers. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the results, particularly with the watermelon, which is an AAS winner, as are the zinnias.
I am also very curious about one tomato in particular. It is a hybrid, one of the few in my garden, from Burpee, called Tye Dye. I grow a number of the "created heirloom"varieties of Berkeley Tie Dyes, and can't wait to compare.
But of course I will stick with the open pollinated varieties regardless.
Today it was till and till on my trusty John Deere tractor, and plant. We got in close to 300 plants of brassica type plants-kales, collards,broccoli, and more. A productive day, but with the heat I was certainly feeling a bit light headed.
Then, off to market tonight. It was a bit quieter, and it may well be my last night as transplant sales are slowing down. My goal is to focus on my market here and restaurant sales primarily.
My big field is getting readied for tomato planting, so I am hoping that will begin on the weekend. Tomorrow , we finish the brassicas, work on the peppers and eggplants and whatever else there is time for. So many very cool things to plant!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tomatoes...and more.

Another little tradition has come and gone here on the farm; Tomato Days!
This past weekend we saw hundreds of folks come and leave with a great assortment of heirloom tomato plants and other goodies. Other veg plants, seeds, pies, breads and more....I can't thank you enough for coming out and delving head first into the world of heirloom tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes show you the fabulous potential of one small seed. From something a bit more expect- like a beautiful red tomato, such as Bonnie Best or Glamour, to a completely new experience such as Reisetomate, (a lumpy, bumpy mass of tomato) to the fuzzy and stripy wonder of the Red Furry Hog.
I totally enjoyed speaking to you all. But I am so happy to talk to those of you who seek a favourite that is the same every year- like my Wainfleet Stupice , Beefsteak and Shepherd pepper couple (I know it when I see you walk up the driveway), to my Thai Pink Egg lady from Fonthill. And also those who say "only red for me!" but after a bit of cajoling from me they return to pick up their new favourites this year-not red!
I love talking to new gardeners, good for you! I must have repeated "plant 'em DEEP!" a hundred times to their surprise. Especially the young gal who had never planted anything in her life, and was ready to dive in. After a discussion about deep holes, and rows and planting depth for beans...compost and watering- you'll be good!
And you'll be good because seeds are meant to grow! We can mess up, not follow rules or instructions, but seeds troop on and do what nature intended. Isn't it just such an incredible miracle?
And what feels miraculous to me too is that you all came! I truly appreciate your enthusiasm and support. Especially those of you too, who I have met because I do this and you have become friends. Thanks for giving up your precious time and helping out. Incredible!
Thanks too for those who come out year after year and continue the annual ritual of the heirloom tomato treasure hunt. I always say I only sell to nice people, as corny as it sounds.
And now on we go to the next ritual, the planting, watering, weeding and watching the weather.May all your harvests be bountiful, and I'm hoping we'll see you again soon!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You're fired!

My husband told me today that if he was the president(God forbid!) of Tree and Twig that he would fire me. It is because, you see, he is a business man and his contention is that I don't run my farm business like a business.
When you do what I do there is lots of good will, and the expectation I think, that you share what you know what you have learned. Of course you want other people to get into farming, and you hope of course, that they will be decent about it and not stab you in the back after taking off with your pearls of wisdom. And in his business, if an employee was sharing company secrets with "the competition", adios amigo!
I have talked to Farmstart about my farming experiences in the hope that sharing will help those starting out. I have had a steady stream of folks through over the years who ask both general and sometimes very specific questions about what I do. Sometimes these folks do end up in the growing business and sometimes they don't for whatever reason.
But I have been burnt sometimes. I had a gal here years ago asking for advice. She came out many times to talk, but then never showed up again after I gave her hundreds of dollars of tomato plants in exchange for work.
I had a gal asking me about my best tomatoes, I gave her seed and then 20 minutes from my home she begins selling the transplants the next year. Not mentioned to me! Some of this seed cost me literally hundreds of dollars because of associations I have to join and work I do in these organizations. Do I feel used? Sure do.
A fellow was here this winter asking me about growing heirloom tomatoes and then a few weeks later I get an email saying he is offering heirloom tomato gardening a hefty cost.
I could go on, but don't want to. My husband would call these folks "the scufflers"....knocking over whoever they have to, to make a run for the top.
I never envisioned growers like this. When I was a kid growing up, our harvest table was always full with farmers who stopped by to help my dad out. My dad did the same.
I have also run into some tremendous people, who have gone out of their way to help and I do try to focus on this. But it troubles me. I don't want to stop talking to people...but this is my living too. I work awful darn hard, and it has taken me years to figure some things out. I'm still learning-every year you do.
I have to muddle my way through this one and hope to continue offering good will to other growers. But the way it looks, if I keep on-I may be jobless! Or husbandless!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tomato Days approaches

May 22 and 23 are the dates of my annual heirloom tomato/plant sale this year.
The picture to the left was taken this evening of the tomatoes in my hoophouse. They are coming along splendidly and are healthy and strong. Also for sale is a good selection of peppers eggplants, cukes, brassicas of all sorts (kales, broccolis, etc), the marvellous ground cherries, some funky flowers, seeds and more.
If you are unable to come out that weekend, remember the farm market here at Tree and Twig is now open, Saturday mornings from 8 am-noon. In addition to select tomato plants, and seeds, there is also baking (pies!) yummy bread made by Wolfgang Sterr, Bee Baron honey, heirloom tomato jam...and of course seasonal produce isn't far off.
I'll also see folks at the Pelham Market with plants for the first 5 weeks of market, then I'm only at the farm on Saturday mornings. Of course you are always welcome to call and order a veg basket, or special order produce, especially HEIRLOOM TOMATOES!!! Hope to see you soon!