Posts Tagged ‘The Growing Challenge’

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



Forum

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?

 

 


Forum

Sprouts!

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Basil Sprout in action!

Only a week after I planted the seeds, almost all the them have sprouted. All of the tomatoes, one of the golden midget watermelons, and most of the sweet basil have sprouts. After the mold incident last week, I was pleasantly surprised that no damage has been done. I’m very excited about the sprouts, actually, maybe a bit TOO excited.


Mini Greenhouse

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I finally got around to planting my seeds over the weekend.  After checking the packages, it turns out that I only have to start the seedling for tomatoes, basils and watermelon indoors.  The rest I should wait until after the last frost and plant them in the garden directly.  I planted the seeds in a mini greenhouse that fits on a window sill.  Since Sunday, I’ve been eagerly checking everyday for sprouts and today, I noticed mold on the watermelon soil!  It’s only day 3 and already I’m having problems.  According to various gardening websites, the mold is probably from overwatering.  So I removed the moldy parts and opened the greenhouse. Hopefully, the mold won’t come back.


The Growing Challenge

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve just joined The Growing Challenge started by Melinda over at ElementsInTime.com.  What a great idea!  I had planned on growing some new vegetables from seeds anyway and now I’ve found a group of people doing the same thing and sharing their experiences. Most of the participants are from the US, and they’ve got sprouts already.  I’m jealous - my yard is still covered in a foot of snow, and I think we’re getting some more tomorrow.

Here are the rules of the challenge:

  1. For this challenge, you must grow one additional type of fruit or vegetable than you did last year, and grow it from seed.
  2. If rule #1 is not enough of a challenge for you, you may make your own rules.
  3. You must post about gardening once each week.  This could be a post about researching different plants, ordering seeds, buying pots, digging beds, planting the seeds, pruning, adding compost, all the way to preparing a meal that includes the food you grew.  

To learn more about the challenge, or if you want to join in the fun, click on the icon below: