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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Has Definitely Sprung!


I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted here...in my defense, I have been putting lots of information out on our Facebook page.

Yes, spring is definitely here. The robins and chipping sparrows wake us up every morning, saying, "Get up, get up, there's SO much to do!" And then the day just never seems long enough, although my body is grateful for bedtime as a break from all the chores outside. The spring flowers are so vibrantly colourful, each day provides new beauty...

On the farm, we are very pleased with the new brown oyster mushrooms we have started growing recently. Beautiful flower-like petals of tan/brown set them apart from the blue oysters. I have yet to do a side-by-side taste comparison, but I'm sure they are going to be a big hit at the markets this summer. I will put up pictures soon...

Gardening season means compost top-dressing season. On Friday, we delivered to a landscaper who has bought our mushroom compost for her clients for the past two years. She says the difference it makes in the gardens is like night and day, with water retention, robust growth through extra fertility and ease of handling all making a winning combination. We have also been taking calls from friends and neighbours who have bought our compost for their vegetable and flower gardens in the past, and are now regular customers. The new greenhouse had a thick layer applied before we worked up the soil, so the new transplants are all off to a great start.
Speaking of the new greehouse, it was finally completed in time for Mother's Day. The boys spent several days framing in the metal structure in preparation for the plastic sheet that they pulled up and over it. They built two doors at each end, each 5 feet wide, so that we can open it right up and have good air flow through the greenhouse. Inspired by Elliot Coleman's The Winter Harvest Handbook, we have designed the greenhouse to have 6 rows for planting, with 18 " footpaths running down the length of the house. The tomato plants, which will be mulched with chopped straw soon, to help with water conservation, will be clipped to string hanging from above. The heirloom varieties I started from seed are indeterminate growers, which means they will not stop growing at 3 feet or so as popular varieties, but can attain heights over 7 feet!


Once the rows and pathways were established, I was eager to start sowing : mixed lettuces, 3 varieties of beets, heirloom carrots, pak choy, radish and spinach were all seeded on Saturday. On Wednesday, I saw the first emerging bit of green, from the pak choy. I did a little dance, I was so excited! Over the next few days, all but the carrots and spinach have come up. I've also started Italian Parsley, cilantro, bunching onions, basil, 5 varieties of peppers, brussel sprouts and dill. A "Mojito" mint plant was my homage to the Cuban drink and 6 climbing strawberry plants are Ralph's indulgence...Baby tiger and patty pan squash are yet to emerge from their sunny corner.

Outside (take a deep breath), I've started bush peas, 3 varieties of Swiss chard, spinach, leeks and Spanish onions (leeks started from seed this winter). I have yet to plant the lemon cucumber and watermelon seedlings - will definitely wait a few weeks, until the risk of frost has passed. 25 new asparagus roots went in beside the greenhouse, too. Oh, and Natalie bought me two beautiful fruiting mulberry trees for Mother's Day, which I planted at the entrance to the greenhouse. Potatoes will have to wait until the ground dries up from the rain we had today (and all next week, by the sounds of it). Oh well, I can finish planting the pole beans and cabbages inside the greenhouse and enjoy the progress of the emerging seedlings.

If it sounds like that's alot of food for one family, you're absolutely right! I do plan on preserving a bit more than last year, especially the tomatoes, but we certainly won't be able to eat everything I've planted. I have grown lots extra, so that I can sell our bounty at the two Farmers' Markets I will be at this summer. The Inglewood Market is having it's Spring Festival tomorrow, with the regular market season starting on June 15, and our Grand Valley Community Harvest market will be starting on June 2. I've got my mushroom dips and pastries ready to go, and will pick some mushrooms tomorrow morning for the "season opener". Really looking forward to seeing friends from previous years, and meeting new ones!

On a closing note, I wasn't the only one hard at work. The men managed to get their spring planting underway. There were many long days, as they tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather we had all week. Before the rain arrived last night, they managed to plant some heritage open-pollinated corn and some oats. Lots more to go...We'll all catch our breath while it rains and be back at it as soon as the sun starts shining. Remember, if you ate today, you can thank a farmer (even if it's you!)