Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seed is for Sharing--Late Planting Challenge

Well, here is the thing.

I am super happy the postal strike is over.  Super sad the cheques haven't found me yet, but the bills have.

The cheques have been in the mail a long, long time.

Let's celebrate anyways!

It does seem late to plant, but my message in the last blog post was that really, when it comes to gardening, forget the hard and fast rules. Just try things and have fun.

Especially this year.  Here in Southern Ontario it has been a dismal spring. Corn down my road will not be the coveted "knee high by the first of July."

I find myself with an excess of good old Detroit Dark Red beet seeds.

Would other people out there like to try a late planting, if you have a little spot (or a great big pot)?

I will send a good healthy package of seed to the first ten people, anywhere in the world, who respond to  this message.  How about a close-to simultaneous planting?  July 15th is the plant date, and if those who respond can track their plants progress I'll compare our results here on the blog.

It will be interesting to see how different conditions effect germination and growth rate.  Who will have the biggest beets, say by the 65th day which most seed companies indicate is the "days to maturity" for this particular beet.

If I am calculating this properly, that brings us to September 18th.

Please comment on this blog post to let me know, and other people as well, that you are interested.  If I don't get 10 people that's okay too.  Just you and me!

Then privately, send me an email at  with your address, and I'll immediately get the seed out to you.

It is a great beet! And September the 18th is the best date to harvest beets of all!!

Just saying.

Detroit Dark Red Beets BT5-50

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today is June 28th, 2011-keep planting!

And it is. And I am.

To me though, it feels like it must be much much earlier in the season.  Should I not have been doing these things a month ago, or more?

Only this week am I getting the majority of the beans in. Today I was still planting peppers...what the heck, a few more, or twenty tomato plants, still have more cabbage-type things I'll put in, and one field I still can't get to, because it is just lousy-wet.

Is it too late?  No, not at all.  But if I was going to market I sure wouldn't have the early advantage.

I was surprised today at the number of people who came out today to purchase plants.  (And why not?  The prices are right, let me tell you!)

When I spoke to my friend Kevin Maniaci tonight, the clever executive chef at "On the Twenty, he said the pickin's are slim.  Not many of the regular growers have a whole lot of anything right now.  Either it has been planted...and lost because it was too wet, or, like me, growers have waited. 

I'm thankful I sell microgreens which are not weather dependant.  Bit of cash coming in regardless.

Today as I worked alone I felt optimistic.  What I have planted is good.  The tomatoes have grown by leaps and bounds, Stupice in the hoop house are going to ripen within the week, and there is still time.
I will plant more beans, make that LOTS more beans, carrots, beets and any and all little remaining veg plants I can squeeze in.  The Lime basil and the Korean Licorice mint are awesome finds.  Love 'em!

Today rain threatened again.  I could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance, and a neighbour stopping by told me that Beamsville got clobbered.

So I planted in high ridges. Peppers, Spring Flowering Cabbages, Green Goliath broccoli, are sitting pretty, I sincerely hope, on 8" ridges.

I am feeling really good about it now as I hear the winds blowing outside.  To me, they sound like the kind of winds that bring rain.

So what can you plant now? So much, really.  Greens, beans, brassicas, carrots, potatoes, beets...the list goes on.  In fact, in my mind carrots and potatoes are best planted now...the pest problems are minimized.  Last year I planted my potatoes towards the beginning of July and had no problems at all with the nasty Colorado Potato Beetle. And the carrot rust fly doesn't seem to be an issue either with later planted carrots. Might as well celebrate late planting as a clever thing, even though this year there wasn't a whole lot of choice.

Stay tuned.  As I toil alone in the fields, I am thinking...always thinking.( "I feel like one who treads alone, some banquet hall deserted"-a soulful quote  oft repeated by my late loved father, which sums up my mood in the garden.)  Had to fit it in...I say it in my head 50 times a day.

I see free seed in the future for those who want to play around with late planting....more tomorrow!

How smart is Canada about SmartStax Corn? News from CBAN

Risks of Monsanto's Eight-Trait GM SmartStax Corn Remain Unexamined: New Report from Europe Uncovers Remaining Safety Questions

You can write to the Minister of Health instantly by going here:

In addition to the below press release, two background documents relating to the report are posted at with links to the German report and other background about SmartStax. 

Press Release 

Report Exposes Unstudied Risks of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified “SmartStax” Corn

EU Members State critiques and leaked industry documents uncover safety questions

Ottawa, June 28, 2011. German group Testbiotech today released a critical new report that exposes unstudied questions in confidential industry documents from Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences on their genetically modified (GM) eight-trait corn called “SmartStax”, approved in Canada in 2009.

The GM SmartStax corn produces six different insecticidal toxins and is tolerant to two herbicides. It was allowed onto the market in Canada without a safety evaluation from Health Canada.

Testbiotech gained access to some confidential science evaluations prepared by Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences and presented to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for risk assessment of the GM corn. The group also examined a series of critiques from EU Member States of the EFSA decision and industry documents. In September 2010, EFSA declared the GM corn safe for human and animal consumption. However, the Testbiotech report concludes that the investigations carried out by industry were inadequate for examining health risks.

“Unlike European regulators, Health Canada didn’t even pretend to assess the safety of this new GM corn. The department just presumed that Monsanto’s SmartStax corn is a harmless amalgam of eight previously approved GM traits,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “The new report exposes the depth of Health Canada’s ignorance on the safety of SmartStax corn. The significant human health and environmental risk questions raised by EU Members States were never asked by Health Canada.”

“The documents show alarming deficiencies in risk evaluations performed by both industry and EU regulators,” said Christoph Then of Testbiotech. “The documents reveal insufficient assessment of risks to human and animal health. For example, the corn was fed to poultry to test nutritional efficiency but there was no investigation of potential health risks.”

Today’s Testbiotech report also states that, “The industry dossiers not only have major defects in study design, they also lack independent quality controls.” In their report, Testbiotech raises the question of possible manipulation of data as one industry document states that, “…oversight ensured that the data were consistent with expectations.” The science submitted by industry is not peer-reviewed.

The data show a tenfold or even twentyfold variation in the content of the insecticidal toxins. The exact range of variation under changing environmental conditions was not determined, leaving questions about the genetic stability of the GM corn plants. There are no evaluated protocols to enable independent measurements of the content of the toxins.

“EFSA based its conclusion of safety to a large extent on data derived from the parental plants. But this approach is highly complicated since SmartStax has many insecticidal toxins, thus more interactions can to be expected. These interactions remain unstudied,” said Then. “Despite this limitation, the results of the risk assessment of parental plants alone show a wide range of uncertainties. For example, in one case even damage in kidneys is under discussion.”

“The critical comments from European countries provide important insights into the limitations of Monsanto’s data and the questions that Health Canada shrugged off,” said Sharratt. “Health Canada needs to immediately remove authorization for SmartStax and begin the human health risk assessment that it never bothered to perform,” said Sharratt.


For more information: Christoph Then, Testbiotech, +49 151 54 63 80 40, ; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext Link to the report and the documents: Background on SmartStax in Canada

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator 
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) 
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice 
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor 
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5 
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
Fax: 613 241 2506 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Week in Pictures

This is the barn that Bob built-new chicken digs

Yes, it is a tomato plant-"Stick"

Another tomato plant with cool foliage-potato leaf and angora. No name!

A 2" high Micro-Tom plugging away

I have 'em-Szechuan Buttons!

Pretty little 'Tom Thumb" lettuce

This rose was a gift from my mom. We drove to Pickering to pick it up 15 yrs ago.

Walking onions. Love 'em.

Lots of scapes now

...and soon gooseberries

It's true. When we moved here, there was not a single garden.
THIS is my front lawn now, 16 yrs later!

CBAN (Canadian Biotechnology Action Network) GM Food Primer

Our government does not require labeling.
But you can still make a choice:
1. Eating certified organic food is one way you can avoid GM food because GM is prohibited in organic farming. This includes organic dairy, eggs and meat because animals in organic farming are not fed GM grains like corn
or soy.
2. You can avoid eating processed foods with corn, canola and soy ingredients.
3. You can buy cane sugar to avoid eating sugar from GM sugarbeets
4. Support farmers who fight GM: buy food directly from farmers who do not plant GM corn, canola or soy or use GM grains for meat, dairy or egg production.
More info at
WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP GM FOODS? 1. Make choices to eat Non-GM foods.
2. Talk to your friends and family about GM foods. Subscribe for online news and action:
3. Connectwithagroupinyourcommunityto share information and action. Contact CBAN for materials and strategic action ideas.
4. Join the campaign to stop GM animals. 5. Donate today!
More action at
Stop the introduction of GM animals such as the GM salmon and the GM “Enviropig”.
Stop Monsanto’s GM Alfalfa and GM Wheat. Provide consumers with reliable
Ban Terminator Technology in Canada.
Fight corporate control over seeds and protect organic farming.
SaveOur Bacon!
ACT for the Earth (Toronto), Biofreedom (Edmonton), Canadian Organic Growers, Check Your Head, Coalition for Safe Food (B.C.), Council of Canadians, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Food Action Committee of Ecology Action Centre, Halifax, GE Free Yukon, GeneAction (Toronto), Greenpeace Canada, Inter Pares, National Farmers Union, P.E.I. Coalition for a GMO-Free Province, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, Society for a
G.E. Free B.C., Union Paysanne, USC Canada.
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
431 Gilmour St, 2nd Floor Ottawa, ON K2P 0R5
613 241 2267 ext. 6
This flyer was produced with support from:
Genetic modification (GM) is recombinant DNA technology, also called genetic engineering or GE.
With genetic engineering scientists can change plants or animals at the molecular level by inserting genes or DNA segments from other organisms. Unlike conventional breeding and hybridization, the process of genetic engineer- ing enables the direct transfer of genes from organisms in entirely different species or kingdoms that would not breed in nature.
Three major GM crops are grown in Canada: soy, canola and corn. These are widely used as ingredients in processed foods. Right now there is also some GM sugar on the market in Canada from GM white sugar beets. GM cotton, papaya and some types of squash are grown in the U.S. and can be imported, mostly as processed food ingredients. There are no GM vegetables or fruits grown or sold as produce
in Canada.
X GM Tomatoes: There are no GM tomatoes on the market anywhere in the world.
X GM Potatoes: Monsanto took GM potatoes off the market because of consumer rejection.
X GM Wheat: In 2004, Monsanto withdrew its request for approval of GM wheat in Canada and the US because of consumer and farmer protest. Monsanto has relaunched its GM wheat research.
X The GM corn grown in Canada is hard corn used for animal feed and processed food ingredients. There is no GM popcorn on the market. There is one seed company that could be selling GM sweetcorn.
There are many serious unanswered safety questions. We don’t know what, if any, impacts GM foods could have on our health.
Many scientists warn that:
The process of genetic engineering can create new allergens.
Foreign DNA can survive in the human gut. Animal feeding studies indicate liver and
kidney problems.
GM foods are approved for human consumption based on company-produced science. The data is secret and is not peer-reviewed by independent scientists. Health Canada does not do its own testing. There is no mandatory labelling in Canada, and no tracking or monitoring of possible health impacts.
Once GM plants are released into the environ- ment they cannot be controled or recalled. Genetic pollution is irreversible living pollution that self-replicates. Contamination of other plants is a major problem because the genes from any crop can move, via seed and pollen flow. GM crops are resulting in increased pesticide use, herbicide tolerant weeds,
and expansion of industrial farming.
GM technology facilitates corporate control because patents on genetic sequences mean that corporations can own seeds. Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world and owns about 86% of GM seeds sown globally.
1. Corn
2. Canola
3. Soy
4. Sugar beet
Insect resistant, herbicide tolerant
Corn flakes • Corn chips • Cornstarch • Corn syrup • Corn oil and other corn ingredients in processed foods • Sweeteners like glucose and fructose • Eggs, milk and meat
Canola oil • Eggs, milk and meat
Soy oil • Soy protein • Soy lecithin • Tofu • Soy beverages • Soy puddings • Eggs, milk and meat
Check for updates
Herbicide tolerant
Herbicide tolerant
Herbicide tolerant
U.S. (Hawaii)
5. Cottonseed oil U.S.
6. Papaya
7. Squash
8. Milk products (Bovine Growth Hormone)
Cottonseed oil • Vegetable oil in processed foods such as potato chips
Papaya in fruit juices and other processed foods
Some zucchini • Yellow crookneck and straightneck squash
Milk solids and powder • Frozen desserts with dairy • Imported mixed drinks with milk ingredients
Check for updates

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tomato of the week-Fablonelstyni... and life on the farm


We've been busy this week.

Finally the clay is turning up the way it should, and the last 2 weeks or so have been a bit of a planting frenzy.

Tom Thumb lettuce in the raised beds

Tilling ..please don't tell me it is mid-June.

Without all the help, where would I be? Not where I am, that's for sure.
To me it is rather unbelievable that some very kind folks have given up many hours this week to come out and help with the tomatoes. Digging holes, pitching compost and planting.

It's back-breaking work and long, long days.  It is also honest work, satisfying work and true accomplishment when you can look over the field and see what has been done.

But wait till you come back.  In one weeks, two weeks, a month.  The change is going to be astounding.
No paper shuffling here. Food is a growin'!

Attitude is everything and the people who come to help are just so very inspiring. And likely too a bit amazed that this clay can grow things the way it does. Thank goodness it does.
But now they also understand why there aren't too many (any!) more vegetable farms in Wellandport.

For the "Tomato of the Week" I had to choose a special tomato because of course the time has morphed it into the "Tomato of the Week and a Half". Been really busy.

Fablonelstyni is the wonderful little tomato I'll talk about this week. Love it.

I must love it to be able to spell it without looking at the name on a piece of paper. Big name.
Great Russian tomato!

It is one of those very unique tomatoes that is truly unlike any other. First of all it is just extremely cute.
Each fruit on the plant resembles a little beefsteak tomato- but of course is more along the size of a cherry  tomato. There is some difference from fruit to fruit..each one is just a bit different.

The plants are huge, indeterminate types, but also huge producers.  The fruit is mild flavoured, sweet and pop in your mouth good.

One of the best things about being involved in the seed exchanges is to get to know other tomato lovers and growers around the world.  For many years I have relied on the wisdom of Bill Minkey, from Wisconsin who has grown out hundreds, likely thousands of tomatoes over the years.
Bill is wise in the ways of tomatoes, and I always love talking to him on the phone or by letters back and forth.

Bill is responsible for bringing many family heirlooms back from the edge of extinction.  It was Bill who introduced Aunt Ruby's German Green tomato to the fabulous Seed Savers Exchange many many years ago, the tomato having been grown for generations in the family of Ruby Arnold of Tennessee.  And of course Aunt Ruby is likely the best known green when ripe tomato.

And it is Bill's advice I rely on when I am looking for good ones to try here in the clay fields of Wellandport.  Bill who introduced me to Fablonelstyni quite a few years ago now, and Bill hasn't steered me wrong.  This little tomato is worth a try, and worthy of seed saving.

Bet you can't say it ten times...Fablonelstyni, Fablonesltyni, Fab...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Life is rich

This is a blog post I wrote , gee, a good year and a half ago for a different blog I used to contribute to."La plus ca change, la plus ca reste le meme. "Still pluggin' along at those 70's Dairy Queen wages, despite the fact I'm told there was money in farming last year! All good, people.  All good.

 Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pretty Little Greens

Prior to my reincarnation as a grower, I worked as a social worker for the local Children's Aid, a job I swore I would never do when I graduated from university.

As life happened, circumstances saw me stick around in the job for about 13 years — a baby, a house, the whole deal.

It was a stressful job for sure. I lost a lot of sleep over some of my charges. They ran, they abused drugs, they committed suicide — things this old farm girl from Harper's Corners couldn't imagine.

The red tape of the job was mind-boggling, but my friends tell me it is nothing compared to today.

But I was paid reasonably well — well enough to fulfill all my obligations to my growing family and then some.

As I transitioned out of social work into farming, I continued to work at the CAS part-time. But of course the growing ended up taking more and more time with the financial remuneration not really keeping pace. It got to the point I would look at my CAS cheque with surprise. It really started to seem awfully big the more I farmed.
Which brings me to today. On this drizzly November 25, this gal found herself picking gorgeous small leaves in the hoophouse; beautiful purple mizuna, frilly kyona mizuna, mustards of every hue and texture. Leaf by leaf. A wonderful chef I deal with had asked for these very small leaves and the only way to get it right is to hunch over and pinch off one leaf at a time. 

After an hour of this, I headed up to the garage and my scale to see where I was at, weight-wise. I needed three pounds. I was hopeful. Surely I had hit two pounds? But no, just over one pound.

So, I began to think, what do I charge for these very special little gems that are so darn time-consuming to pick? My usual price that I charge for the bigger leaves that I pick inmuch less time wasn't really going to cut it. But as a grower, I can only charge so much before people rebel...and I must admit I feel bad if I do charge too much more than that.

But say I chose to charge $10 a pound for those greens. Well it took me an hour to pick them, an extra bit of time to wash and spin them (in water produced by a water system installed for that purpose), but I also had to buy or save the seed, fertilize the soil with compost and minerals, plant the seed, water and weed and put the roof over the heads of these lovely little greens in the form of a hoophouse. And there are the incidental costs too: bags, baskets, labels, invoice books. On it could go.

So I ask myself what my husband always asks me,"What did I pay myself for this job?"

And of course, I really am not sure. This seems to be one thing that farmers don't get paid for a lot: their time. It definitely isn't going to be $10 an hour. I figure I am somewhere around the wage I made when I was 16 and working my first job at the Dairy Queen in Waterdown.

But I am not complaining. I wouldn't go back to social work for all the money in the world. What I do is in my blood — I grew up on a farm and this is the best fit for me. I LOVE to be outside, I love the physical work and the meaning this has.

I'm sure, though, that we underpay farmers for what they do and have expectations of cheap and plentiful food. That does come at a price for all of us, I believe.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rant.."Hey, what about us?!"

The world works in funny ways. Some things that don't make sense happen, and things that appear to be common sense,...well, you know.
Think about these things.
Interesting article in The Hamilton Spectator about a $97,000 payment to two families wanting to start up a "visionary organic farm and teaching centre" outside of Hamilton. Read about it here.
No problem..I'm happy the Ministry of Ag is helping out a poor farmer to set up this teaching farm.
Oh wait. Not farmers.
One family is a chef from Hamilton, who with the other family makes up a corporation who own 4 restaurant ventures, and have just purchased a fifth.
And this money is going to be used to set up a farm so he can supply his own restaurants. Thus cutting out anybody supplying him now and may depend on that a farmer?
And as non farmers they are going to teach the masses about organic growing...or will hire folks to do this?
Something isn't fitting together for me here. These people, who have a whack of money, are getting government money to set up a farm so they can supply their own restaurants.
If there is money floating around, I'm sure I would love to know about it, as would other farmers (who are farmers and live below the poverty line.)
I have lots of "visionary ideas", but fund them myself.  Where the hell do you find out about all this money that is floating around out there?
And I'm wondering if the farm they have purchased is my own family farm. I shudder.
I'd LOVE to set up a farm to teach people about heirlooms, growing heirlooms, saving seed and much more. Kinda do some of that already, I guess.  Anybody that comes, I'm talking.
Just went on a website tonight, and saw that lots of new growers are pulling people to their farms by teaching "workshops".Ahh-the new income. $225 for a 2 day workshop to learn about growing your own food?
People!! Save your money, come here and I'll tell you for free.
If you know it, and you want other people to know it, then share the info.  This is important.  Not just rich people should know how to do this.  Perhaps it is more important for folks that don't have much money to buy food.  Why, oh why is everything to make a buck?
Community is built by sharing knowledge. Wisdom is passed down from generation to generation. Relationships are based on trust, mutual support and help. You get what you give.
So give.

And Ministry of Agriculture-wow. Splashy announcement and sad. You've neglected the farmers.
I'm hoping I can get a grant to open up a restaurant so my farm can supply it! I know a whole lot about food.
I really do.

"It don't make no sense that common sense don't make no sense no more"
                                                                                                 (John Prine)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Ellie, Darwin and Bandit assure me there is light at the end of the tunnel

"Nuff to make you want to be a pot farmer. Not that kind of pot...veggies in pots!

Sorry, can't quite do it is nearly wordless.  Compare today's pictures to last Wednesday's.
We've had some drying going on and (hallelujah!) have about 500 tomato plants in the ground. Certainly many more to go.
Tractors are buzzing around Wellandport, but make no mistake.  This crappy spring has taken it's toll on farmers and our ability to get crops in the ground.  
Business as usual this year?  No.  Not at all.
Read here. Weather affects farmers.  The disconnect between some consumers and their food is so great that not everyone understands that.
Weather affects farmers.  And what weather we've had!

The good old days. Who cares about the weather!
Moved the baby hoophouse for something to do.
Finally tilling. The ducks lead the way.

But in one of the hoop houses-Stupice tomatoes!

Jelly melons!



Outside-beet seed
Yummy garlic scapes

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2000s Archive: "The Price of Tomatoes"

This is a great article...worth a read! Worth a LOT of thought.
The price people working on tomato farms pay for our off season tomatoes is clearly too high.

2000s Archive:

Tomato of the Week- Stupice!

How many times, I'm sure you wonder, is this woman going to write about the Stupice (Stoo-peach-ka) variety of tomato? I make no promises this is the last time.  In fact it won't be because when they are ready this year (oh yes!) I'll be reporting about it.

I have about a hundred or so Stupice in one of the hoop houses now, fruiting and blossoming like crazy.
To say this spring has thrown off my planting schedule is a tad bit of an understatement. 
My general rule with the early Stupice is to seed them indoors on Feb 15th (check), transplant them in bigger pots March 15th (check), and plant them in the hoop house April 15th .

No check.

This year it was just too darn cold and it made more sense to keep them in the pots and keep them warm, than it did to risk total annihilation at the mercy of the elements despite the plastic protection.

I suppose I finally got them in the ground in the hoop house by May 1st or so.  

No matter. 

Now they are huge.  To wit....

Well, they are actually a bit bigger than this as of today, but Mollie has been using my camera a whole lot to take fabulous videos (see above).  So the battery is recharging right now.

Ahh, yes. Stupice. This is one charitable little Czechoslovakian tomato (rajce!). A giver. I've heard it said that it will set fruit in 38 degree F temperatures, I know it produces like mad all season, then carries on and takes just a bit more cool weather in our Canadian climate.  

It is a reasonably compact plant for an indeterminate tomato, about 4 ft tall and distinctive because of it's potato leaf, like the well- known Brandywine tomato.

I know it isn't fancy, fuzzy, stripy or anything but a simple small red tomato.  But I have huge respect and admiration for it. When other plants are thinking about growing, it surges to get that very fine flavoured fruit out to you. A workhorse. It makes me happy.   I anticipate that it will, as it is every year, be the first tomato I eat this year. It will also be the last.  There will be many in between, but truly none I enjoy quite as much.

Something about firsts.  First loves, first pets and first tomatoes.

There are other early tomatoes that I know people rave about. Latah, Early Wonder, Sophies Choice.  All good, I grow them all. 

I just like Stupice more.

My Stupice plants are sold out for this year.  Every year I grow more and more and it just seems to me that other people feel the same way as I do about them once they try them.

But tune back in again soon for a report on how the first tomato of my year tastes.  I'm anticipating rich, juicy and just darn good tomato-ey flavour.  Lots of green tomatoes...waiting for the red!

Stupice is a tomato to try.  Growing it this year?  Let me know when you bite into your first Stupice!

(AND, I still have tomato plants for sale..."lycopersicon for a loonie sale". Translated that is "a buck a tomato plant." )

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (nearly)

Warning: Some images may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Hail and lots of rain again last night

Sitting idle

Waiting to be planted

Lovely waterlogged clay

Yes, tomatoes are growing!

....and there will be strawberries

Wow. I love peonies!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brock University talk, June 15, 2011

I have been invited to speak at the annual Brock University Wellness Conference, June 15, 20111.
My Talk is entitled "Moving Beyond Aisle One", and I'll talk about (what else?) heirlooms vegetables, growing organically, saving seed and more.  Handouts!  People love handouts, I was told. Here's a peek at mine, with some ideas for container gardening using heirlooms.

Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm
Don’t just think about it- do it! -No garden space? Virtually any vegetables can be grown in pots, if the pots are sufficiently deep -For large pots, try Stupice tomato, early small Czech variety, 55 days from transplant. Other early varieties are Early Wonder, Siberian, Sophie’s Choice. Chard varieties to consider are “5 Color Silverbeet”, Rhubarb.
-Shallow pots-Sweet Tumbler, Micro Tom, Red Robin and Red Supreme tomato. -Great eggplants for small containers include Slim Jim and Bambino. -Lettuces do well in the cooler spring and fall in shallow containers...water and cut frequently. SSE Lettuce Mix is a favourite.
-Paris Market carrot is a small round variety for containers, or tougher clay soil. -Tom Thumb pea is a classic for pots..produces small plants and pea pods.
Planting in the ground? Tomato Tips
-Plant deep! Remove all lower leaves and sink entire lower stem in the soil. I will root all the way up the buried stem, producing a stronger plant. Enrich your planting hole with a good scoop of compost.
-Mulch. When your plant is growing and established, mulch to a depth of 8” around your plant. Straw is recommended.
-Water only minimally. The less you water, the better your tomatoes will
taste! For growing tips, farm news and

Mollie's tomato poem

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It is June 4 2011

My beautiful Ellie

No crazy titles this time. Just to the point. 
It is, or was, June the 4th today.  Depending on when you read this.
How was your day?

Here's mine.

When I get up in the morning, after the mandatory cup of Bridgehead coffee which I incidentally order by the 5 lb bag, I head out to do my small little routine of chores. 


Joey is the first up.  He really has to be. In fact he demands it, as does his faithful companion Mama Duck. I can hear him squealing as I throw open the overhead door to get to the feed. He's on a bit of a to get grain this morning is a treat. Lately it has been grass and he is totally underwhelmed. Try putting a pig on a diet.  It is all about limiting choices and serving size. 

Old girl eggs

Mottled javas-the old girls
Next up are the old girls, my 3 Mottled Javas. I'm not sure what is up with them lately.  They are 10 year old chickens and must be terribly pleased about something. They have laid 10 eggs in the last 2 weeks. Funny little eggs, narrow and long, but eggs nonetheless.

Out they scoot into their courtyard. and after food and water, including lots of grass and comfrey plants, it is on to the   younger chickens (2 yrs old), then Poley (Napoleon) the bunny

 and the 3 Indian Runner ducks, who scurry to their dish by the pond as I pour in the grain.
I know when I get back in the house, Darwin will be sitting by the door, simply anticipating my next move

My beagle boys, Darwin and Bandit
On go the 3 leashes and down the road we go, to see what waits for us this morning. There is the good..the waves from passing cars, the bad...a squished painted turtle and then a goldfinch.  Damn.

When I get back, my sister Sue is working on my flower beds, which is in fact my entire front lawn.  When we moved here in 1995, there was only some very sad grass.  Now it is a jungle, one which every summer my sister attempts to tame and beautify with her weeding and flower planting. I have the best sisters.

My goal today was to see if I can till my fields yet - what a spring. June the 4th and I haven't been able to work the soil.

I pop on my little John Deere tractor and am pleasantly surprised. Looks good. Like really good. Maybe the garden will get planted this year.

I'm off the tractor a few times when I see people come for the veg plants. Lots of deals. My first customer only has $18 instead of the $20 I ask. Close enough.
He shouldn't have stopped at Tim Hortons for a coffee he says, and he would've had enough. 

It is really quite okay.  This last week, I've been giving people good deals..really good deals. Or I've tried. Most people just don't accept that and give me more than I ask. It's true. 

Back on the tractor I hear the rumble of thunder and see the lightening in the distance. Ding dong bell.  Really? More rain?

I keep going as long as I can, but when the lightening gets closer and the wind whips up, that's it.  Into the house I go, but turn around when the doorbell rings. A lady has driven from Niagara on the Lake for plants, so we both get soaked to the bone looking for her choices.  At least they are well watered now.

Garden Making cover

Lots more people come. Neighbours, more folks from around Niagara, and a dog loving couple who made the trek out our way to come here and also hit Big Country Kennels in nearby St Anns, for raw dog food for their dog, who had just been operated on for a brain tumour. I enjoyed talking to them.  Dog lovers are kindred spirits. I've got to check out Big Country. 7 minutes away they tell me. They show me their copy of Garden Making Magazine (summer issue), which has a great article about tomatoes and mentions me.  This is cool.
Great magazine.  Beckie Fox, the editor was out on 'Tomato Days" and lives in Niagara on the Lake.

Another customer from Niagara on the Lake comes in. We talk about animal manure alternatives such as worm castings and compost, then she wonders what else there is to do out my way, now she's driven this far out. Wellandport Home Hardware I say, half-jokingly. But not really. It is the best store ever.  They have everything and are the friendliest store I know.  Well...they are tied with Minor Brothers for that title I guess.  The feedmill.

Neither are her cup of tea, so I direct her back to Bowridge Herbs  to see Roxanne and her great collection.

I puddle in the hoop house..weeding, planting, puddling.

That's a day.  Hope tomorrow the sun shines.  And I can get on the tractor again in a few days.  But for now, I'm stopped up again.

I keep thinking about my favourite verse from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1-8.                                

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
ecclesiastes 3:1-8
What is the reason for this season turning out this way..this day? I have no doubt the reason will become apparent to me at some point.  

So I wait. Again.

How was your day-your June 4, 2011?