Sunday, June 27, 2010

When Everyone Wants in, It's a Good Sign!

Today Sprinkle and I headed out to the 'farm'. Between getting three new beds ready for seeds and planting some, time was spent chasing the animals out of the plot. It started with this persistent chicken and her three chicks...

Then, these rascals were very interested and chased out by Sprinkle; who fed the brave one a piece of lettuce from the home garden which the ewe happily chewed. It even looked like the horse was going to try and sneek between the truck and the gate to the plot, had Sprinkle not intercepted with a chat.

It also seems that some other curious creature has been visiting. The last two times I have gone to the plot, all the name signs for the plants have been pulled out of their spots. It appears this pesky one is also snapping off perfectly beautiful flower heads of my dahlias...harumph! Today, I found a pepper plant, a melon plant and a cucumber plant pulled out, roots and all, uneaten but dead. In their place were small red petals from my dahlias! Curious. There were also two egg shells, freshly empty. I would love to have one of those cameras there that take photos every few seconds so I could see what delightful things happen when I cannot be there.

The radishes are coming along splendily, as are the potatoes and tiny pumpkin plants. The cucumber and melon seedlings are struggling. They just didn't take well. I have some cucumber sown directly into the beds and they seem to be doing well so hopefully this will make up for it. Today we planted two kinds of turnip, kale and leeks.

From the home garden small amounts are being harvested. Sprinkle asked today, "So what have you got out of it so far?" I proudly said: 15 radishes (white icicle, black spanish and cherry belle); 4 harvests of black seeded simpson, buttercrunch and red salad bowl; two huge green onions; and two picolino cucumbers. Big grin. I know it's not enough to be sustainable or feed others...but the magical word is 'YET'. I am on my way. With all the rain and very little sun, I think it's terrific that anything is surviving. With sun right around the corner (can you hear me big golden sun?), there'll be lots of food in the coming weeks!

Oh yes, and one beautiful, ripe red strawberry...
as you can see in the picture, my dog got a bite out of it before I could pick it!! She is now banned from doing rounds of the garden with me for the time being. It's been a day of protecting the plants from the animals (with me running for my camera to capture the fun!).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Uplifting Video

If you are anything like me, the music, the message and the marvelous people in this video will make you smile and lift your spirits. Then, it will hopefully drive you to buy your next veggies and fruit from a farmers' market or someone you know. Thank you to FarmFolk/CityFolk for working with sponsors and friends to create this video that pays homage to 27 farm and city sustainable growers. (One day that will be me!) Take the time to watch it...it is all of six minutes short. Enjoy and be well.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ramblings...

Argghhhh, rain again, and again, and again. My garden and farm need sun! Food is growing, but ever so slowly...stunted by the continual rain with only a day or an afternoon of sun. I am calling the sun...can it hear me? Hellooooooo...

An update on the bee situation. I happened to be looking out my front window the other day and noticed a truck pull up at the neighbours' house. In ten minutes bee hives were loaded on the truck and driven away...hmmmmm. I dashed out to my garden and lo and behold, only four bees were to be found...FOUR! My neighbour had 'hired' bees to pollinate his blueberries, and they were visiting my cedar mulch. Bye bye bees.

Cosmos, lillies, dahlias and marigolds were planted all around the garden at home this past week. I cannot stand the smell or look of marigolds, but they are supposed to help the pest population, so they're here working for me (hopefully). It's looking prettier and prettier by the day and I hope to entice at least a few bees back (not the thousand that were here before!)

A visit out to the farm to water and check on things last weekend resulted in me being distracted by this beautiful butterfly which I thought was a Monarch until I was corrected. An internet search leads me to think it is a Painted Lady Butterfly or West Lady Butterfly...what do you think?
It was enjoying the dahlias that I planted to attract bees and sunning it's wings for at least the twenty minutes I spent taking pictures. Beautiful. What a wonderful opportunity to be mindful.

Also, I put a row cover over the broccoli to try and deter the white moths from laying their eggs on my tiny plants. You can see I underestimated the length of the row; guess the ones not covered will serve as an experiment to see which grow better, stronger, and if pests actually appear. The radishes, cucumbers, beets and quinoa planted from seed are all up at the farm. Waiting on the second row of potatoes, pumpkins, and carrots to make their arrival--perhaps this week.














Then I was distracted by this intricate pattern of water droplets on a web overtop of weeds. The second picture is a close up of the water droplets in the first picture, with my camera on the macro setting and I having stepped out of the way of the sun so that it could illuminate these little glowing balls of beauty.

You see, I know I go to the farm to grow food; however, there are so many interesting and pleasing things to look at enjoy. This was one of those days. Needless to say my beans and peas did not get planted and so I will need to trek back out there this weekend to get this important task done.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tomato Thrills!



The first tomatoes of the season have appeared. There are three plants with these adorable, tiny, green, fuzzy circles of up-and-coming goodness. I can't tell you how excited I was to see them and I squeaked out in my raspy (sick) voice "the first tomatoes are here!!" It seems even my neighbours heard me. (A little embarrassing, given they have a long way to go to be successful and last year's tomatoes ended up with blight). Anyhooo...I am delighted that even though Sprinkle didn't pamper the plants, they are fruiting. YES!! Maybe on one of my next few posts I will share pictures with you of the tenacious tomato plant that I inherited (Sprinkle was throwing it out because it had broken at the base of the plant...I scooped it up because I couldn't bear to not try and save it). For now, the little bundles of potential yumminess are being encouraged to swelll, even though the sun isn't being all that helpful.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

And Then There Were A Thousand...

Take the next thirty seconds to watch the home video I took yesterday afternoon:
videoThese are the honey bees that have congregated on mass to my adorable home garden. About 30 or so arrived the day after the cedar mulch got placed around the garden beds. Then there were 50, 100, 200....now it feels like a 1000, at least! You cannot walk through the garden anywhere without stepping on the bees sitting on the mulch, or having them fly all around you. Not one has landed on me, and no human or animal has been stung as of yet. Phew.

I checked with a google group that I am a member of and someone suggested that there is a hive within two miles and that the bees are attracted to the moistness of the mulch (their water source) and that likely they are gathering cedar oils to disinfect their hives after gathering propolis (a substance bees take from flowers to fill small gaps in their hive!). Hmmmm, although that sounds lovely and I am happy to be helping them out, given they will hopefully pollinate my veggie plants and make my harvest abundant...I am NERVOUS! When there were only some (30ish...how do you really count??), I thought I could manage. But now there are just so many...and I am not sure what to do. Any suggestions?

Friday, June 4, 2010

In everything there is balance...

Although most things are growing steadily here at the home gardens, I was dismayed to find many of the leaves being eaten by some pesky pest; particularly the variety of lettuces and greens, although the pest enjoys the leaves of beets and radishes, too. I have some helpful people problem-solving it with me...the trick is to actually SEE what is eating my plant. I have noticed a tiny green worm (looks like a mini inch worm)--could something that tiny and cute do that much damage?? I have also noticed a microscopic looks-like-a-mosquito type of insect...when I saw two of them on the back of the lettuce leaf they looked harmless and almost as though they were enjoying the shelter out of the continual rain we seem to be having. Sigh. Once I figure out what the pest is, then I have to take care of it, pronto. I have a whole bunch of new mixed lettuce plants growing outside from seed and I want to protect them if at all possible. Disappointing in one way...but I have that tiny voice in my head that is saying, "think of all you are learning this year..."

On a happier note, the first cucumbers are peeking into the world...The flower at it's tip looks almost like a crown. Sweet and beautiful. I loved that my camera caught such detail...whoever takes the time to look this closely at a cucumber growing...for that matter, how many people have even seen a cucumber while it is this small (that was me three years ago!) I am delighted by the tenacity of these little plants. Look how strong it is already!

This is the quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) that sprouted after only four days. Amazing really! I love this food. Although many refer to it as a grain (and an ancient one at that), it is actually a seed. It is one of the few foods on this earth that is a complete protein (sooo terrific for us vegetarians). I have eaten it warm for breakfast, in place of oatmeal; cold in a salad with fresh spring veggies and a light olive oil and lemon dressing; hot in place of rice with curry. I just heard that you can also put it in chocolate cake!! Here is a great blog of info (not so much pictures) I found: http://blog.quinoacookbook.org/.

While I was busy cleaning out my greenhouse yesterday, my 10 year old pup decided, for the first time in a year, to play with the rat trap. ARGHHH! Now, I am not one to want to kill animals; however, last year the rats multiplied and multiplied and multiplied. So there is one trap, and since population management was achieved last year, there has been no more bait put in it. However, yesterday found my little dog with her nose stuck as far in the hole as possible and she was clearly very wound up lifting it off the ground. We managed to tear her away and turn a heavy wheelbarrow over it. All seemed well.

Then, about two hours later, she had her stubby tail tucked (if it was full length it would have been between her legs), tremors in her back end and legs and she was trembling all over. She barely moved and kept her head down...oh-oh. We thought maybe, just maybe, there was a small bit of poison she ingested. An emergency trip to the vet, $300 later to make her vomit and give her Vitamin K (what rat poison depletes), and she was spunky and good as new. What this means of course is that when she came home and went back out into the yard she headed right back over to the same spot. I followed her and low and behold, there was a small sized rat...perished! Chaos ensued. I had to hoist my little dog on my hip, grab my big dog by the tail and drag him out of there...then I had to go back, with Sprinkle, to take care of the rat. It took some time to get myself ready and not be too squeamish. As I lifted it gently on the shovel, I acknowledged it's little life.

Remember, the title of my blog is "I WANNA be a farmer"...not that I AM a farmer...yet. However, I think with the lettuces being eaten by pests and my impending pest-hunt this weekend, my dog tracking and possibly killing a rat (and maybe being poisoned herself), an invasion of honey bees that make me very nervous (perhaps a story for next post?), dealing with clay-based and soggy soil, and some lovely food beginning to grow...maybe, just maybe, I'm a little further along the path to BECOMING a farmer.

And so, this week some plants flourished while others are beginning to perish. My intention was to feed people; looks like other beings have got a head start! Wish me luck on my pest patrol this weekend and if you have any ideas or suggestions, I welcome your offerings in the comments section below. Remember, only organic options are needed. Be well and thanks for visiting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Home, Beautiful Home

While I was away, Sprinkle made me a deck for outside my greenhouse (out of recycled fir flooring I found earlier this year on Craigslist) as well as planted beans and peas. I am so delighted!! It's simply beautiful. The finishing touches are happening around here and it is almost complete, after about six months of revamping what was a dreary eye-sore in the backyard (pictures on the left are before; pictures on the right are now).









Upon my return this week the following were planted in the remaining garden beds at home: quinoa (which sprouted after four days!), turnips, beets, kale, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, eggplant, sunburst squash and cucumbers. That makes for a very full garden and much excitement to come.

Headed out to garden A, which we call "the farm", and I was so happy to see this:






potatoes......................................broccoli

The potatoes and broccoli are all sprouting - YES! We worked five more rows and put all the seedlings in the ground including: cucumbers, sunburst squash, cantalope, four or five different kinds of peppers (some were labelled and some [sheepishly] were not), and tomatillos. It looks pretty green right now and like something is happening, which is starting to feel good. I am bit concerned because I haven't seen any bees around, so I am going to take out some flowers to plant to lure them over. Within a few weeks I'll have a picture up of the development, which I am certain will be lush, green, flowering veggie plants! Grow little plants grow...we're counting on you.