Wednesday, 25 November 2015

so, it's August, nope, it's November now! what have we been doing?

Here goes:  I hesitated to write in the blog for quite a while because we were having so many chicken problems, deaths specifically.  I drafted a very long drawn out story about our experiences with The Fox and The Sicknesses of three chickens.  It was so depressing I couldn't post it.  So, let's move on.
I may post it some day, but not today.

We planted, harvested, sold, ate and sometimes gave to the Food Bank, many many bags of Salad Greens, specifically three rounds of plantings from early Spring in the Greenhouse to the Salad Garden rows.  The weather turned so hot on us a few weeks in the summer that the Salad Greens bolted (went to seed) faster than we could replant.  We did, in fact, replant long August weekend and Salad Greens were back on the menu.  In the meantime, when planting the first outdoor  round of Salad Greens, we  had also planted beets, beans, chard, spinach, radishes, about 8 kinds of lettuce, celery, kale, 6 types of onions, shallots,  3 kinds of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, 2 kinds of turnips, a greenhouse full of Hot Peppers for Wilf and Ada's in Ottawa, about 15 varieties of tomatoes in the new Greenhouse and in rows in the new 10,000 square foot garden, along with lemon cucumbers, marketmore cucumbers, national pickling cucumbers and 2 kind of english cukes.  We also started a new Squash Garden transplanting the Turk's Turbin, Yellow Crook Necked, Yellow, and Black Beauty Zucchinis, some delicata and spaghetti squash, oh and buttercup and butternut.  Um - I believe that's it.  
late May-everything is so shiny and new

early May-seedlings before being ousted

Celery grows like a weed in our Greenhouse and in the gardens.  It tastes absolutely wonderful so we grow as much as we can.  Most people aren't aware of the extreme nutritional value  of celery so I try my best to let our customers know.   Some of these seedlings will stay, some will go into every outdoor garden row and some will go to the chickens.  We all love it.
teeny tiny celery

the chicken run we built in a day
Chicken Run 
The short not so depressing story is that, while the girls were free-ranging and we were about 20 feet away, a fox came through our property one sunny afternoon and took one chicken, left another for dead by the Coop and tried to come back for more.  The girls couldn't go out of their Pen for days until I couldn't stand it anymore and developed a plan for the new Run,  It's 8X4X4, is on wheels and is enveloped in chicken wire.  The girls are not totally safe from predators in it but they can be moved around, while we're close by to watch over them, and they can eat grass to their little hearts' content.
the girls loving their new run

We did grow some cucumbers, inside and out, the cucumbers beetles were manageable, the squash bugs were not.  Lemon and suyo long cucumbers don't seem to be bothered too much but the marketmore and pickling were impossible to maintain.  I was out every morning for an hour or more and Tom did evening shift when he came home from work trying to keep on top of the squash bugs - didn't happen.  I gave up in September and ripped out the plants to make way for new durable veggies like Arugula - especially with the cold nights coming up.
chinese cukes

 Tomatoes are what we grow most of here, mostly paste tomatoes, as well as peppers, onions and herbs.  This is because we make sauces: tomato/pizza sauces, salsa, chutney, canned tomatoes, frozen tomatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes.  And, of course, these sauces are made with peppers, onions and herbs.  
The Canning Garden was approximately 10,000 square feet - that's a lot of tomatoes and peppers.  The onions were in another garden and did very well.  

We grew hot peppers in the small Greenhouse for Wilf & Ada's Diner in Ottawa.  The owners have opened a new cafe, Arlington Five, in behind the diner to catch the overflow of eaters and provide a lighter, quicker meal with some pretty excellent sandwiches, soups, baking and coffee.  They also purchase some of our produce.
some sweet peppers
and some eggplant thrown into the mix

 Raised Rows  After this year, we now have raised rows in all of the gardens:  the Herb Garden, the Holding Garden, the Salad Garden, the Canning Garden and boxes in both greenhouses. The rows run from 50' to 100' long depending on where they are on the property.  I think we'll keep this amount, it's between 1.5 and 2 acres of garden and the two unheated greenhouses, each 48'X16'.  We cover certain crops with a light floating row cover to keep insects from eating the new leaves and from laying eggs on the plant.  It's a pleasure to pull back the covers each week to pick a lovely crop of Salad Greens or Kale.  Not all crops need the cover - beets, carrots and onions are pretty hardy on their own.

a closer look at how our rows grow

Spare Time?  Right, so much spare time - not.  I did get to spend a beautiful sunny hour one Saturday morning with my coffee collecting mizuna seeds from a crop that had bolted.

We moved several Kale plants into the Greenhouse to survive a bit longer than they would outside.  Who knew that it would be 13 degrees at the end of November?  The leeks, carrots and beets are also doing well outside.  As long as I can dig into the soil, there will be veggies.

Art on the Farm

Begun in May by whitewashing and finally finished early November.  Thank you to Carol Pillar, artist extraordinaire, for designing and painting this stunning vision on the face of the large Greenhouse.  This is what the field out back looks like all summer (whew - she didn't include any weeds in her painting).  

So it seems we're back up to speed, sort of, I definitely didn't include all of the comings and goings of our Farm over the last six or seven months, but that's the gist of it.
As I'm inside more nowadays I'm sprouting again and looking into starting up microgreens and shoots indoors.
I'll start again posting the email body which goes out to our customers each week.

I'd love to hear from you.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write to me. And visitors are very welcome, just give me notice to make sure I'm going to be here.  I'm very proud of what we do here and very grateful for the work everyone who passed through this past season put into the Farm.

Until next post, have a great every day.