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”
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.
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.
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…”
So the market garden season is wrapping up. It is hard to believe on a warm, sunny day like today that there is one final market left. It feels much more like late August than October. Especially in the hoop house.
But here we are on the eve of another Thanksgiving. The days are shorter and the nights are cooler. The trees are turning. Chores and veggie tending have slowed enough to allow for time to review the last few months.
What a summer. Heat. Drought. Well running dry. Flea beetle plagues. And now hordes of slugs. Quite the year to start a market garden. But every year has it’s challenges. Next year we will be stretched in new directions. They tell me, that’s what farming is all about. Better learn to be flexible.
But we made it through, thanks to some timely help from friends and family. And also thanks to our customers. Lovely people who understood the difficultly of growing vegetables without rain. And didn’t get mad when the kale and lettuce we had on our table since early June suddenly were no longer available in August.
Garden centres are getting better at providing more variety when it comes to vegetable seedlings. Last year I found a surprisingly nice selection of hot peppers at a nursery in Owen Sound. Still, I prefer to grow vegetable varieties that have the characteristics that are most important to me; whether that’s days to maturity, colour or disease resistance. I’m a bit of a control freak that way.
This year my priority is buying organically grown seed. I’m still using up seed from previous years, but most new seed I purchased this year had to be organic. One exception was a package of blight resistant tomatoes – ’cause who knows when blight is going to strike and wipe out your entire crop. Better safe than sorry.
This is only my second year to grow pepper plants from seed, so I have a lot to learn. Last year it took the seeds almost a month to germinate in our less-than-tropical house. The sweet pepper seedlings I put in the ground were embarrassingly small compared to those hotties from the garden centre.
This year, I did some research into pepper growing so I had a few germination tricks up my sleeve. First, I started the seeds two weeks earlier than last year. Then, whenever I watered, I used warm water instead of cold. Finally, I set the black tray near the patio door on sunny days to heat up the soil.
All was going well until one sunny day about a week after I seeded the peppers. There was a squirrel on the deck which our German shepherd spied through the glass. She was so beside herself with that mix of exuberance and murder that dogs have for squirrels, she knocked over the seedling tray. Soil, seeds and bad words flew in the air and landed on the floor.
My carefully labelled seed cells were a mix of empty, half empty, untouched and overly full. There was also a fair bit of soil on the floor which probably contained seed; expensive, organic specialty seed. Continue reading “Peppered with Seedlings”