Spring – It Is About Time

daffodil fresh wiarton
Early bloomers brave the blustery spring weather.

Spring is here. No really. I think this time it’s going to stay.

Not like all those other times we had our hopes dashed. Don’t even talk to me about April when the most snow we saw all season fell. Of course, we had taken the snow blower off the tractor.

As the snow piled up, I watched all of my precious crop planning get backed up further and further. The temperatures stayed too cold to work in the unheated green house. And it continued to snow.

But , darn it, I kept up with my seeding schedule. The plants just kept growing. Then I ran out of space. Well, lights actually.

tomato seedlings fresh wiarton
Tomato seedlings growing in the hoop house, when weather permits.

We are off-grid, or we could have just slapped up a few more sets of lights, no problem. But when you are trying to balance power availability with power needs, things get a bit tricky. You have to be creative. And you have to adjust your planting schedule.

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Tomatoes in Winter

 

Polka Dot Hen Produce fresh produce Wiarton Farmers' Market
Fresh tomatoes from Polka Dot Hen Produce destined for the Wiarton Farmers’ Market

Looking at this picture of our fresh tomatoes almost hurts at this time of year.

It is February, and outside the wind is whipping the trees mercilessly. The second thaw of the winter has reduced the snow pack, but it’s going to be a long time until these beauties are on my plate again.

I’m doing what I can to set the stage for their return.

Almost with mouth watering, I’m planning this year’s tomato selections.  The seed catalogues are arrayed around me on the desk as I create my short list.

Deciding for or against a variety is based on several observations over the season. Then, the task every autumn is to review how each tomato variety performed overall. This is crucial,  because right now, there needs to be a balance between the dreams espoused by those glossy seed catalogues and reality.

Back to my plate, today.

There is a little good news stored in the freezer. While the tomato production this autumn was outpacing market sales and our own consumption, I took the time to put up some of the goodness for a time such as this.

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Starting again

snowy lane and trees Bruce Peninsula Polka Dot Hen Produce
Snow blankets the farm and forest as we contemplate the coming season.

Out the window is a sea of white. The chickadees and nuthatches take turns grabbing sunflower seeds from the feeder. Every once in a while the blue jays and woodpeckers flap in and push everyone aside. Then they leave, or are more often startled off by the dog, and the small birds return. Meanwhile, I sit here and watch it all unfold.

It’s my time of year for quiet and retrospection. A time to look over the past year’s experiences and notes, and to think about what went well. Also it’s the time to look at what could be improved upon this coming season. Which is a nice way of saying, “What just plain failed, stank or drove me nuts last summer?” But with a little more distance and perspective. Continue reading “Starting again”

Seasonal Eating – Spring

Close-up of pear tree blossoms
Pear tree blossoms are a welcome sign that spring is has arrived and lots of delicious seasonal flavours await.

 

I used our last homegrown carrots last weekend. They were purple carrots–a variety called Starburst–that I dug out of the garden in January. I put them into a curry that got slammed into the oven so I could get back to transplanting Swiss chard. Hours later, those carrots were still pretty tasty, as was the curry.

Starburst carrots dug in winter from the garden
Carrots dug from the garden January 22, 2017. Deliciously sweet!

 

Seasonal eating has been on trend for a while now. It’s something we are encouraged to explore to benefit our health, and the health of the planet. Growing most of our own vegetables here means we’ve really embraced seasonal eating. Maybe we are embracing it just a little too much, according to certain family members.

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April Showers Bring…

stormy sky over hoop house
Spring storms arrive over the hoop house in April.

 

More decisions. And sometimes tacos.

Market gardening i.e. The Waiting Game. And the Second-Guessing Game. Market gardening requires this weird mix of almost hyper-anal planning and uber flexibility. It’s a constant mulling over of options and decision making with every decision starting a domino chain of other decisions. A lot of those decisions have to do with the weather. Here’s the latest discussion going on in my head:

What are the predicted highs and lows for the next few days and is that sun going to shine or not? If I put these seedlings in the hoop house, will it be too cold overnight? Will I have to carry them inside again through the rain and wind? Wouldn’t they be better off without that stress? Wouldn’t I be better off without that stress? Or could I cover them with frost blanket enough to keep them warm? But how many days is it staying cold and cloudy? And how long will my family put up with all of these baby plants inside the house?

Believe me, there’s a lot more discussion going on  – mostly regarding transplants, starting more greens and how to deal with finding flea beetle damage already. Plus now it’s day two of a heavy rainfall warning. Sigh. Continue reading “April Showers Bring…”