Monday, April 30, 2012

The Wacky Weather Continues

Still the salad days

I think the weather is confusing everyone.
Plants, animals and definitely people too.  I consider myself to be in one of those categories, and confused too.




Last year's plants 

Lots of people are inquiring about picking up their tomato plants now...but I've only just finished the transplanting. The plants are still quite small. Besides, with a good 4 weeks to go until they should actually be put in the ground wouldn't it be better I take the risks with the plants and this crazy weather before you plunk your hard earned cash down?

I am growing these plants in an unheated hoop house, so the past few weeks have been most interesting. The fans have been whirring smoothly in an effort to pull the hot air through the hoop house, but over the weekend, with three hard frosts in a row,  I didn't want to take too many chances.

Over top of my greenhouse tables are hoops, on top of which I layered agricultural fabric and plastic to protect my plants. There was a bit of plant loss along the edges sadly where the plastic was touching on some of the plants, but I suspect it was less than 1% and I always plant lots.
Still I slept very little over the weekend, being the worrier that I am. I knew logically that it all was fine, but...well, they are my babies.


On the bright side, it does look like this week's more overcast and warmer conditions will be absolutely the best for hardening off the plants, that is, getting them used to the outside conditions.

It was so nice this morning to read the weather report and realize that-hallelujiah- I don't have to cover up the plants tonight. It may sound easy, but it's not.

As it pours outside, I wonder. Is this the next phase of wacky weather we have in store? Maybe. We've had too warm, too dry, too cold and now too wet?

I hope not. I can do too dry, cold or warm. But too wet? No can do.  There are no answers to that one.

But regardless, I'll sleep tonight on this first night of pounding rain.  A week of it though may be a different story.



But please-no rain on Tomato Days!



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Transplantin' time!


Lemon Catnip


It has been an interesting week.

Last week concluded in a sweaty haze, while this week I stood huddled and shivering in the hoop house while the snow whipped around outside. Transplanting tomatoes. Ha, ha.

Funny. What can you do?

I really don't let the weather get me down too much. It's impact is huge on what I do; it can make or break a season.  And has.

But I'm not in control, and I relax with that knowledge. I just carry on.

This week is 7 in my spring CSA, for some week 8. I liked the baskets and hope those receiving them did too. There were some tasty buds-spigiarello, non heading cabbage florets, some zesty red and Indian mustards, arugula, salad greens and more milder varieties of mustards. And whoa. A hint of summer-basil! Tasty green garlic too, which I just love with my greens.

Of course this cold weather has slowed down the rate of growth of my radishes, spinach, turnips, beets, carrots, and other crops outside. Eating seasonally means eating with the weather. And the weather says slow down.

When not harvesting veggies, I'm working hard at getting the transplanting done with my intern Maris.
This week he felt a bit under the weather, but carried on bravely. (I sure hope it wasn't my cooking!)

We've done thousands of plants. He fills the pots with the soil less mix, while I pop the tiny peppers, eggplants and tomatoes in the pots, pressing them in gently and watering them with my kelp solution.

Last week the door to the hoop house was wide open, fan purring at full throttle, while this week it has been locked up tightly with my ag fabric covering the plants for protection. It's always a tremendous juggling act, this season we call spring. Warm up, cool down, apply shade, remove shade.

I keep telling Maris that this is not the way the "big guys" do it. We are the technology. We don't have it- we are it!

Milk Thistle

But the plants look very good.

I get excited when I see certain plants. Today I took a walk on the dark side- Hell Frucht, Bloody Butcher, Jersey Devil, Egyptian Tomb.  Love, love, love the names.

Tomorrow we are at it again, Friday too. But after that it is smaller bit of things- basils, more brassicas, ground cherries and huckleberries. Then on to other things. The season rolls along!








Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's busy April!

Today was week 6  in the spring session of my CSA.


Baskets today were well represented by the colour green, which in my opinion is the official colour of spring.

Cut lettuces, pea shoots, sorrel, swiss chard, mizuna, mispoona, onions, green garlic, and a bit of rosemary.
A whole lot of healthy eating...are you green yet?

It is a busy time on my little farm. Besides growing the vegetables and getting the baskets out, lots of other things are happening too.

I was happy this week to have my help begin. I am so pleased to have an intern working with me this year, and it seems like it is going to work out really well.

He is here to learn about what I do, but really more importantly start to think about what he can do on his family's farm.

If you come out to any events at the farm, or pop by for any reason, you'll meet Maris.

We'll be busy this week, and for the next several weeks doing the transplanting.  He fills the pots with the soil-less mix, I transplant. We scramble to get labels done, and my sweet little Mollie gets some labels printed up when she pops off the bus after school too.

But we won't get the labels all done as we do the transplanting. It is just too time consuming to do it that way and the thousands of tomato plants are screaming "get me out of this little cell!"

Bored? Time on your hands? Want to be part of a labelling party? Apply within-it's fun. Well...it could be!

What I do is so very labour intensive. Good-but labour intensive.

I popped on my tractor last week. Glad it started. It's an old tractor and one never knows.
But it decided to carry on, and the soil turned up beautifully. In fact didn't really look like the clay it is.
In all my years working this soil, it has never turned up like this in mid-April. Wow.




So in went spinach, more radishes, more carrots, and salad. The peas are up nicely, and the beets as well. But things outdoors will grow slowly because the nights are downright cold. Tonight sure is.

Inside my unheated hoophouses, the tender eggplants and peppers already transplanted are doubly protected with 2 layers of Remay, under the double poly.
We can't take chances...it's early still.

Interesting April.

I wait with baited breath to see what this year brings. Every year is different.
In the garden, in life. I feel optimistic about it all!





Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4-Pictures on a Spring Day

Winter mustards are going to seed. Smells good!

Bloody Dock-bloody-well growing wherever it can.

A knife that hasn't been seen since last summer-discovered!

Must be spring.

Beedy Camden Kale made it through this "winter"

A confused bean has sprouted. It's too early!

Purple mizuna in the hoop house

Peas are up

Todays basket


Monday, April 2, 2012

CSA Week 4-Salad Days are Here!



It's nice to be able to put lettuces in the baskets this week. It's a sure sign that spring is here.

The winter crops are definitely fading..you can tell which they are because of the heat that the greens pack. The mustards are ultra-zesty.

The baskets today have the first lettuces of the season. There are also some nice things you can chop up and add to your salad should you wish; mizuna, mispoona, chards, spinach or the red mustard.
The green garlic I wouldn't attempt to add. It's zingy too.
As I drove into town with the baskets, my car smelled like the garlic-mobile. Always good.

 You could stick with the "mom" salad which my girls also call "bowl o' lettuce." I always figure if lettuce is good, it doesn't need a whole lot else.

And the lettuce right now is pretty tender. I can tell this in two ways-it's softness when I cut it, and of course, like you, when I eat it!

I like a simple vinaigrette on my salad. I don't care how delightful Kraft makes their "new and improved" bottles look, it doesn't change what's really in those dressings.  Lots of it just ain't pretty or pronounceable.

Simple Herb Vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp good wine vinegar
herbs such as chopped basil, parsley, rosemary or thyme (whatever you like!)
salt and pepper to taste.

Sometimes I'll add chopped onion or garlic, or use balsamic vinegar. The balsamic makes it's way in when Mollie isn't home!

There will be baskets for the next bunch of weeks, maybe straight through to the end of week 15 for the spring session.

I replanted radishes today, the initial planting flew up during the March-mild spell, but the growth was too tender, and didn't care for the super chilly night we had. So interesting really, because some beans have sprouted and survived in the small very cool hoophouse, beans being a very tender crop.




This season is a bit of a mystery. But bring it on!




GM Pigs Shut Down in Canada-CBAN Alert







GM Pigs Didn’t Fly – Thanks to you!    ***Le message fran├žais suit***

GM Pigs Shut Down in Canada: Major victory in the struggle against genetic engineering

April 2, 2012

Thanks to your support and actions we have stopped the GM Pig! Active research on the genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) pig called “Enviropig” is being abandoned. 

Read and circulate the press release at http://www.cban.ca/Press/Press-Releases/Genetically-Modified-Pig-Shelved

The hog industry group called Ontario Pork has stopped funding GM pig research at the University of Guelph. The university is now closing down its active research and ending its breeding program of the GM pig called "Enviropig." The pig was engineered with genetic material from a mouse to reduce phosphorous in its feces and could have become the first GM food animal approved in the world. For background and more information about the Enviropig visit www.cban.ca/enviropig

CBAN (the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network) works hand in hand with farmer, environmental, community and social justice organizations and with the concerned public to research and monitor, educate and mobilize, and create strategic opportunities for your action.

We also work behind the scenes. CBAN’s direct interventions with decision-makers at the university and in the farming community supported your actions to lead to today’s shutdown of the GM pig. In the last few months a small amount of extra funding allowed us to hire additional part-time staff to help us focus on our recent actions. Our focus will now be to stop GM Atlantic salmon and GM alfalfa. We are working to stop the corporate control of our food and environment. Just a little extra funding helped to stop GM pigs - with more help, we can do so much more together. Donate today at www.cban.ca/donate

Please still send us your signed petitions to the University of Guelph. Find more action at www.cban.ca/Take-Action

Read more about what this success means and what’s next:

This is one of many important successes in Canada

This is the fourth major success for Canadians in the global struggle against genetic engineering. We have also stopped Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone in Canada (2001) and Monsanto’s GM insect resistant “New Leaf” potatoes (2005). In 2004, we stopped Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant “Roundup Ready” wheat with our U.S. friends; but the industry is trying hard again to push GM wheat and we may need to re-activate our campaign. We have proven time and time again that people’s actions are effective. In the absence of democratic decision-making on genetic engineering, we can still make change happen. Our successes in Canada have an important and lasting global impact.

Genetic engineering is not the solution

Solutions to the major environmental and food security challenges of our time already exist in ecological agriculture, and each new GMO approval puts ecological farming at risk. Genetic engineering is an environmentally hazardous, economically risky and unnecessary technology that facilitates corporate control. Genetic engineering does not belong in a healthy, sustainable food system.

Through our successful campaign, we have exposed the futility of GM animal experimentation. GM food animals are neither commercially viable nor socially acceptable. They provide no economic benefit to farmers and a recent government poll shows that 64% of Canadians do not approve of the genetic modification of animals. GM animal experiments are a waste of human talent, animal lives, and public funds.

This victory comes at a critical moment

There are key fights before us in Canada. We can still stop GM alfalfa – a crop that was introduced in the U.S. but not yet in Canada. We need to stop GM alfalfa to protect organic food and family farms that are at the frontlines of GM resistance in North America and are central to the economic revival of our farm sector.

The first GM food animal could still be introduced in North America if we do not stop the small U.S. company AquaBounty from getting approval for its GM Atlantic salmon. Just like the GM pig, the GM salmon is designed to support factory farming.  It is not wanted by consumers or the aquaculture industry. If a GM fish is introduced, it will also be harder for us to stop other GM foods, crops and animals.

Corporations are seeking to genetically engineer staple crops such as wheat and rice but they are meeting formidable global resistance. Around the world, people are successfully keeping new GM foods from being introduced. For example, Indian farmers and consumers successfully protested Monsanto Bt brijal (eggplant) in India.

Our victory over the GM “Enviropig” shows that Canadians are prepared to fight genetically engineered food, crops and animals – and we will win. We can stop genetic engineering. We are already succeeding.

You can help us build our movement - join us now! Donate today at www.cban.ca/donate