Archive for the ‘The Growing Challenge’ Category

Garden Update

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Our sprouts are taking off like crazy! Our tomato plants are huge now, especially our beefsteak tomatoes. Altogether we have ten tomato plants, two basil, a bunch of thyme and two peppers. My parents just brought us some seed potatoes and we have Veestar strawberries on order. I’m feeling like it’s going to be a good harvest this year. Last year we didn’t start our seeds soon enough and they were late blooming.

Speaking of late seedings, we probably need to get our watermelon seeds started this week. Tanny’s probably going to get more basil started as well.


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Suspended animation, garlic, Rip Van Winkle

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Our garlic, like Rip Van Winkle, is in suspended animation. Or so I hope. In fact, it’s just in paper bags in our fridge. Dormant; not dead.

What’s next? Good question! When we bought our garlic starts at Seedy Saturday, we were told to keep them in the fridge until final frost has passed, introduce them slowly to the outside and then plant them. Seems simple, but I think I need more details. Anyone have any experience with growing garlic from a start?


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Seeds are in!

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

seeds from Seedy Saturday

Tanny, Ella and I went down to Seedy Saturday and picked up this year’s crop of veggies. Seedy Saturday was held at the Wychwood Barns this year and it was PACKED!

Our haul for 2009:

  • Tomatoes: Yellow Cherry, Beefsteak, Ruffled Red
  • Pepper: Lipstick Sweet Red
  • Herbs: Italian Large Leaf Basil, Thyme, Italian Parsely, Cilantro
  • Misc: Sugar Snap peas, Brittle wax beans, Scarlet Nantes carrots
  • Garlic: six varieties!

Making a return to the garden from last year:

  • Tomatoes: Blanche Beauty, Black Cherry
  • Sweet Basil
  • Midget Golden Watermelon

This weekend we started all the tomatoes, the basils, the thyme and the peppers. In a couple of weeks we’ll start the melons. The rest we’ll plant directly outdoors.

I’ve already started getting the yard ready for spring. I cleaned up the leaves and debris from our East and South yards (sounds bigger than they are) and some green flowers shoots are already peeking through! We had a nasty infestation of Viburnum leaf beetle that stripped both our snowball trees last year so I’ve been painstakingly pruning all the infected branches.

This year we’re going to convert one of our flower gardens into a vegetable garden since our current vegetable garden is really shaded. We’re also hoping to plant a second fruit tree (to replace a fallen tree) and some Veestar strawberries. It absolutely breaks our hearts to know that we have to clip the flowers from the strawberry plants the first year and won’t get strawberries until 2010!

If anyone has a recommendation for a native fruit tree that doesn’t suffer from neglect and insects but has a plentiful yield - please let us know!


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Aphids!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Despite our slow start to the garden this year, everything has been growing really well. We’ve been eating fresh peas almost everyday for about a month now, the tomatoes are looking really promising, the carrots are just about ready, we’ve been harvesting the basil and even our one cornstalk has defied all odds and is producing one corn! Yesterday, while I was checking the tomatoes, I found aphids on the flowering branches!!! The aphids nearly destroyed our snowball trees earlier this year and they are not getting my heirloom tomatoes. Luckily there were only a few clusters of them and I began picking them off with my hands. Then I felt weird squishing the bugs and so I blasted them off with the garden hose. When I checked today, there were a few left on the branches still so I blasted them again with the water. Hopefully that’s enough to keep them off. Does anyone know of any other organic ways to keep them off my tomatoes?

Aside from that, our local eating has been going really well in the summer. We go to Fresh from the Farm to stock up on meats every few weeks and we have our CSA from Plan B . We only got a half share and we find it challenging to finish all the veggies each week. We’re not salad people and we just can’t keep up with all the lettuce we’re getting! We tried purple beans for the first time last week. Did you know that they’re green inside and that they turn green when cooked?They taste similar to green beans with a stronger bean taste.

Since we were away for a few weeks in July, we traded those weeks for fruit shares. I decided to get the fruit shares in August thinking of all the peaches and plums that are in season. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I didn’t get any local fruits in the fruit share. There were bananas, oranges, grapes and plums, mostly from California. Apparently, it’s risky to grow peaches and plums organically in Southern Ontario, due the high risk of fungal disease in the fruit. Most farmers can’t afford a crop failure. Here’s an except from an email from Melanie ofPlan B Organics explaining the situation:

Why is there so little fruit being grown organically in Ontario?

While the climate in Southern Ontario is warm enough to grow tender fruit crops, the high humidity in summer leads to a high incidence and spreading of fungal diseases on tender fruit crops. To combat these fungal diseases on conventional farms tender fruit crops are sprayed with chemical fungicides as many as 15 times or more each season to keep these diseases at bay and ensure a crop for the farmer. These sprays are why we at Plan B feel the need to provide an organic alternative, but for that alternative to also be local is a bigger challenge. Most of the certified organic tender fruits you have been getting in your fruit share are grown in arid, semi-desert zones in California where disease pressures are much lower and it is more conducive to organic growing. The cooler and drier weather in more northern parts of the province where we get our organic apples from is also helps lower disease and pest pressures for the farmers there. We also feel that very few local growers are in the position to risk losing their crops as there is little or no financial security in making significant changes to the food system, unless people are guaranteeing their costs and a a living wage. Things most of us take for granted, but that’s not how it is for farmers in our society.

Why can’t we get more farmers in Ontario to grow their fruit organically?

We at Plan B Organic Farm began offering the fruit share with hopes that having a good market for local organic fruit would help convince some local growers to convert to organic production. So far we have only been able to find a few farmers who have taken this step, we hope to find more in the future. Our goal is to have everything we handle be local and organic, but this is a goal for us when it comes to fruit, not the reality of where organic agriculture is at right now in Ontario. We want to build this system for the future, if you know of anyone with a fruit farm that’s not being used or is retiring please let us know and we will contact them with info about organic production.

So, if you know of anyone interested in organic fruit production, drop them a line at info@planborganicfarms.ca.

p.s. We’ve been getting some local organic melons in our fruit shares in the past two weeks.  Yay for melons!

Sweet Corn Sweet Peas Carrot tops Black Cherry Tomatoes Blanche Beaute Tomatoes McMullen Tomatoes Red Zebra Tomatoes

 


Garden Update - July

Monday, July 28th, 2008

It’s been too long since I’ve written an update of our garden.  We were lucky to have lots of rain while we were away, the garden was just thriving when we got back.  Everything got huge!  Our peas, basil and tomatoes have grown so tall.  The carrots are looking more promising.  The parsnips are officially dead - well, I don’t think they sprouted.  We planted two corns for fun, and they’re about a foot and a half tall, I don’t think we’ll get any corn, though.  We were very happy to find the raspberries just about ready for picking.

We’ve been picking the sweet peas and raspberries daily, I don’t think any of them made their way back to the kitchen.  I’ve never had fresh sweet peas before - it’s fun to pick them and eat the peas right out of the pod.  I had plans to make some raspberry tarts, but we haven’t been able to save them from Ella yet.

Here are some pictures from our garden.

The tomatoes plants are looking wild.  They are starting to flower.  I can’t wait for fresh tomatoes.

Sweet Basil

We’ve harvested some basil for pesto already.  

The peas look so overgrown. 

Sweet Corn

Our two stalks of corn.

Carrots

The carrot patch.

Raspberries

Raspberries



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Garden activity

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The peas are taking off like crazy this year and our heirloom tomatoes are getting bigger and stronger by the week. Not much sign of the parnsips. The carrots, while they started out strong, have had to contend with our 1 year old gardener. Still holding out hope that they bounce back! Our basil plants were thriving in the heat of last week but aren’t sure what to make of the cooler temperatures this week.

Some sights from around our gardens:

This year we pruned our pear tree to hopefully increase its yield and grow more pears than the squirrels can eat.

This year we pruned our pear tree to hopefully increase its yield and grow more pears than the squirrels can eat.

Here’s Ella checking up on the peas in the garden - can you see any carrots leaves on the bottom of her shoe?

One of our resident carpenter bees making a home in our fence. At least its not our porch again!

An unusual black butterfly. Anyone know what it is?

A snail chilling out on some clematis.


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Garden Update

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Tonight, I transplanted all four of the tomatoes - the Red Zebra in the garden, and the rest (black cherry, blanche beaute, McMullen) in a large planter box on the back patio where it’s the sunniest. 

Here’s the status of all the plants:

  • black cherry tomato - only 2 inches tall, the smallest of all the tomato seedlings
  • blanche beaute tomato - 4 inches tall, transplanted into a large planter box
  • McMullen tomato - 6 inches tall, transplanted into a large planter box
  • sweet basil - 2 inches tall, still too small to transplant
  • carrot - many have sprouted from the ground
  • parsnip - still no signs of sprouts
  • pea - six have sprouted
  • golden midget watermelon - all died  :(

Happy Victoria Day

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Tanny and the seedlings.

This weekend Tanny and I had some time to work on the website and the garden. Tanny added some more soil to her tomato seedlings and pinched off the weaker ones. I worked some compost into the garden and got it primed for planting. Unfortunately the temperature is just barely into the double digits so we’re going to wait until next weekend to plant.

Also - the seasonal food list now has lists for BC and PEI.


Sprouts update - Week 5

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

McMullen tomatoes - over 3 inches tall

Sweet Basil

Golden Midget Watermelon brown leaves

With the exception of the watermelon, my seedlings are doing quite well.  Most have at least one set of “true” leaves.  The McMullen tomatoes are over 3 inches tall! I’m supposed to pinch back the weaker seedling in each pot, but I can’t bring myself to do it just yet. One more week.

This weekend (Victoria Day Weekend) marks the beginning of the growing season for us in the Toronto area.  I didn’t start my seedling early enough to transplant this weekend, but I will be sowing some carrots, parsnips and peas directly in the garden.

 

 


Yellowing Golden Midget Watermelon Leaves – Help!

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Golden Midget Watermelon yellowing leaves

Golden Midget Watermelon brown and drying leaves

My golden midget watermelon seedlings are not doing so well.  The leaves are looking yellowish, and on one of the seedlings, the first set leaves have started to turn brown and dry.  Has anyone else experienced this?  Is this normal?

 

 


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