Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Seed Starter and Seedlings and Sprouts - Oh My!


It's not just about plunking seeds into some soil-less seed starter mix.  There's the hours of that final wash, even though we did clean up in the fall, the pots and trays just sitting garage gathered a few bits of this and that moth and spider webbing.  My hands are a bit tender today, must remember to pick up rubber gloves for next time.

all washed and ready to grow
trays eagerly waiting for tomorrow

Leeks are the first to be seeded, they take the longest to grow.  We started the seeds at the end of February, hundreds of them.  They should be ready by September for our wonderful soups and stews.

hundreds of happy little basils
 Of course, herbs can be grown anytime.  We plan on having a very large selection of basils this year so why not get started as soon as possible, right?  We'll have all of the popular herbs as well.  I'm not sure if the rosemary survived the winter in the greenhouse in their pots, we'll see in about a week, it looks pretty good out there.

Our celery went to seed in the greenhouse last year so I tested to see if the seeds were good.  Yup, looking pretty good.  Celery here we come.  
celery and arugula

The hot peppers were started just after the leeks, our season is so short.  I'll put as many into the small greenhouse as I can to let them get the maximum heat they need, respecting their required space at the same time.  Some will go into the garden and will need special care during the late summer/fall nights.  

We started some of the edible flowers that will be enveloped into the Salad Greens.  They're coming along quite nicely.   


I thought you might be interested in the sprout growing process.  I'd never grown sprouts before January this year, was really itching to have something growing before the spring salads began and I wanted to eat green food that came from my own doing.  So, enter sprouts.

I had seen the sprouting packages at Rainbow Foods while shopping there for the most possible local kale and remembered my friend Cynthia telling me how easy it was to sprout.  I had my doubts, did some research and made the commitment by telling my customers I would soon have sprouts for them.  There was no turning back at that point.

I began with a couple of selections of Mumm's Sprouting Seeds; Crunchy Bean Mix and Spring Salad Mix.  I learned very quickly that if I began the process Sunday evening for the Salad Mix, we'd all have Sprouts by Friday.  The Crunchy Bean Mix was different, they actually come about in about two days.
I believed I had this down to a science when lo and behold the days started to get longer.  Apparently longer days means that Sprouts take less actual days to develop.  Now I'm soaking them Tuesday and Wednesday to be ready for delivery Friday.

Sprout seeds waiting to grow their "tails" in a north window.  
The Spring Salad Mix is soaked for 2 to 6 hours, then rinsed at least twice per day (I rinse about 4 times per day, I'm a little nutty about that).  The Crunchy Bean Mix is soaked for 8 hours or overnight and rinsed twice (aka 4X) a day.
Sprouts are so nutritious, all of the goodness of the entire plant is in each teeny tinny little bitty seed - wow.  And they taste wonderful!

Oh and I do end up buying kale each time I get more sprout seeds.  Thank goodness for those Quebec farmers who have the means to grow for us through the winter.  Oh, I can hardly wait until I can go out to the field and pick my own.

 I'll report in soon after the Big Plant-athon tomorrow.  Have a great every day from now until then.

March = Mud

usually, but not so much this March with all the snow, ice and more snow.  BUT there is definitely mud under all of that surface stuff.  I know because I step in it, slip on it and bring it into the house every time I check the coop for eggs or check the greenhouse for temperature or get more pots and trays from the garage.  The mud is there waiting patiently for the big melt, more patiently than am I.  
We've been constantly planting and planning for the upcoming season.

So far all planting has been done in the house, except for the experimental seeds started in the old greenhouse last week - they're not up yet.  Tomorrow, finally, we'll be starting any new seeding in the greenhouses.  The daytime temps in the greenhouses are in the teens or low 20C ) and outside ranging from -3C up to +9C during the day and down to -17C !!! tonight.  Hopefully the warm days' air will hold it all together through the cold hours. There's just so much more room out there than inside.

 We up-potted all the ready hot peppers last week and a few more stragglers yesterday.  There will be more next week I'm sure.  Hot peppers always keep you wondering:  was the seed good?  was the soil too wet, too dry?  did you plant the seed too deep?  then voila they pop up when you were just about to toss the soil mix into your compost.  

The hundreds of leeks will be ousted from the house this week which I'm sure will make them very happy.  Once germinated and up to their current height, heat isn't their friend.  The leeks, onions, mustards and pre-seeded Salad Greens will be the first to be plunked into the soil, once we can see the ground.

We started more herbs, getting ready for the North Grenville Sustainability Fair Sunday April 26 and some sweet and paprika peppers, more edible flowers and some ornamental flowers (I can't resist if I have the seeds).  We'll plant tomatoes and lots of brassicas tomorrow.  I love those early cabbages with the pointed tops, the leaves are so tender.  They are definitely meant to be eaten raw, not cooked, too delicious to cook.  

Our plans include squashes of all kind, particularly the delicata which I discovered last fall from the Ottawa Market was The Most Delicious squash Ever.  You'll see us grow cucumber varieties, several colourful heirloom tomatoes, huge numbers of paste tomatoes for canning, yellow and green beans, snow peas (yum), lots and lots of herbs, carrots, beets and, of course, our ever popular washed-and-table-ready Salad Greens.  

We're still accepting customers for the upcoming eatin' season and have moved into the "CSA" weekly or bi-weekly boxes for those interested.  Some of our customers want to stay on the weekly email/order list and that's perfectly fine too.  Let me know if you're in by emailing me: joanne.daybrighteners

I`ll report in next week, or before.  Have a great every day from now until then.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

and then POOF it's Spring

One day we're scraping and shoveling and racing from car to building and from building to car, warming up the car first - then a couple of days later, we're shedding a layer of clothing and our mitts get left behind as the day warms us.  Spring - bouncy, sproingy, can't make up it's mind Spring.  And we've just begun.  
The unheated greenhouses are now, in fact, heated by the sun, that wonderful star of ours which is holding on to every last hour of daylight with us and keeping the greenhouses at about +20C these days - that's with the doors open too!
The seeds I started indoors over the last month are growing well and some will be up-potted tomorrow.  More seeds will be planted this week and next week and more the next week and the next week . . . you get the picture.

I have several goals set right now:
a.  to keep the Sprouts growing for you - they are nice to keep us healthy in the meantime;
b.  to have potted Herbs and Salad Greens ready for our booth at the SNG Sustainability Fair - Sunday April 26;
c.  to have hundreds of Vegetable, Herb and Edible Flower plants available for our Annual Plant Sale - May 23 to May 31;
d.  to start each plant indoors to be ready for transplanting outdoors at the precisely correct date;
e.  to start and maintain plants in the greenhouse until the soil outdoors is ready, get them out of there in time to transplant the plants waiting indoors to be deposited into the greenhouse;   
f.  to get all the gardens started in time to ensure a good harvest;
g.  to keep all of you happy and well fed over the next nine or more months; and 
h.  all the other stuff that isn't coming to mind right now and there's a lot.  
Whew, that's a big plate to fill and a good portion of this "planning" is left to the weather.  

I now have all seeds I need for the upcoming season, that's a good start.  This will be my first year with the Market Garden full-time.  I'm looking forward to every minute of it:  being outside by 5 a.m., having hands and feet in the soil, watching the hummingbirds a few inches from my face slurping from the bean flowers while I'm weeding (the birds are slurping, I am not), noticing a small family of deer watching me from a hundred feet away (or maybe it's the beans they're watching), sleeping soundly at night after filling my lungs with fresh air all day and knowing that I can provide totally nutritious foods to my customers.  

With all of this said, if you'd like me to start a particular item for you, best to let me know now. I love helping people get their own gardens started each Spring.  If you have certain herbs you'd like to grow in a sunny window, order a mixed container for yourself or a gift for a gardener friend.   

I'm currently putting together the best system for us to ensure your orders are filled and delivered to the best of your schedule.  If you know someone who is looking for food delivery, please let them/me know soon so they can jump on the band wagon.   I'll soon send out a survey asking for your likes/dislikes and will have to set a cut-off date for new customers.  

Please note:  Ottawa deliveries will be made Wednesday so my emails will go to everyone Mondays beginning April or the soonest date when Salad Greens are ready to eat.  

I`ll report in next week.  Have a great every day from now until then.  

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Which is best for you? Placing weekly orders or CSA boxes?

I've been thinking about you: our customers for years now; our recently new customers; and our customers to be this coming season.
I've been paying attention to your buying trends, your wants, your needs and the time you have or may not have to actually place weekly orders.
Over the past five years, I've stayed away from the usual CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) system as it wouldn't be the way I'd like to shop and most of you are in agreement.  I prefer to choose the foods I eat from day to day, from week to week and my choices change as I become more aware of ways to prepare foods I've never before tried.  But I recognize that some of you, as much as you truly would like to order each week, don't have the time to actually place your order.  I totally understand this.

So . . . this coming season, which is now, I'd like to offer you choices.
A.  If you like the way we've been communicating (I send you an email of available foods, you respond, I deliver), I'm happy to continue this method of shopping and delivering with you.
B.  If you're finding it difficult to get that email out to me and would prefer to have a standing order of a box of vegetables each week, I'm good with this.
C.  If you'd like a box of vegetables delivered to you every other week, this could work as well.

There is always an option for you to pick up your order if you let me know in advance - how fresh could food possibly be, eh?  Also, some weeks you may need more food as you could have company coming, or may want to freeze or put up some of those extra pounds upon pounds of beans, or you may be going away and not need food from us at that time.  I can throw flexibility into the mix too.

You are most important to Day Brighteners Farm and I'd like you to enjoy as much of our produce as possible and to not miss out.  Give my idea some thought and let me know what would work best for you.  The food we grow here from seed to transplant to nurturing to harvest to table is so very special.  I hate to see any of it wasted or not enjoyed by you and your friends and families.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts so we can come up with the best method for you to enjoy fresh, local, organic, colourful eating in the months ahead.