Spring is finally here in full force, and it’s an exciting season on the farm! With the addition of three full-time employees, the past few weeks have been busy and productive. We have potted up hundreds (maybe thousands) of tomato and pepper plants, transplanted well over a thousand onions into the field, transplanted kale and cabbages (and covered them with row-cover, so that we get to eat them instead of the bugs doing so) and prepared several fields for planting. We’re now at the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market on Thursdays and Saturdays, from 7:00am–3:30pm. It’s also exciting to see how things grow in this nice weather — the first lettuce has sprouted in the field, the garlic seems taller every day, and the petunias and pansies are in full bloom. For lunch today, we enjoyed the first bok choi stirfry of the season!
Yesterday was the official first day of spring, but despite the snow on the ground, spring at the farm started weeks ago. With our first market of the season now less than a month away (you can buy seedlings from us at St. Jacob's Farmers Market on Thursdays and Saturdays starting April 18th), we're already in the midst of greenhouse season, with flats of pansies, onions, rosemary, peppers, and eggplant enjoying the warmth of the solarium (it's pretty nice for humans, too!).
Well, if you've been watching for an update you might get the idea that it's been a busy season. It was a very good year for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant; and a terrible year for squash. We had a pretty much continuous supply of spinach and most of the other greens (chard, kale, arugula, mizuna, and braising mix), with a few weeks' gap on the lettuce. Beans, dill and cilantro started out very poorly, but later plantings did quite well. We're still harvesting dill and cilantro from the field, but only in response to orders. By now we've had frost kill all the more sensitive plants, and some of the others are looking done too. We have a little lettuce in the greenhouse, and some spinach; a bit of kale as well, which we plan to harvest small.
Once again, the carrots have done very well - a good yield of crisp, sweet carrots, both in orange, and slightly milder-flavoured purple. As we have a new root washer we were able to plant (and more importantly harvest and clean) more root vegetables - two new varieties of beets (golden and candy-cane striped); parsnips; turnips, and winter storage radishes - many of these are harvested and in the cooler now, but we still need to get the last of the beets and carrots off the field.
We had good crops of both onions and garlic: we still have some of each available for storage, although the garlic is close to sold out, as we need to keep some for seed for next year.
Markets are over now; we still sell through Bailey's Local Foods, or you can stop by, for anything that we have in storage: radishes (black, watermelon and daikon); beets (red, cylinder, golden, candy-cane); carrots (orange, purple); turnips; parsnips; the odd pepper and a few tomatoes. Best to give us a call if you want greens - we still have lettuce, chard, kale, and spinach, as well as a few herbs: parsley, sage, thyme, oregano, cilantro and dill.
Time to get planting garlic!
Only the end of May but feels like a mid July heat wave. And still it is hard to believe how the time has flown. All our tomatoes and most of our peppers are planted out and we are onto planting cucumbers and zucchini. The tomatoes are thriving on the heat and the plants have doubled in size since they were planted out. The spinach is still holding on fairly well in spite of the heat and the other spring greens are coming along too. We hope to have salad mix at market again within a few weeks.
With June approaching I may as well remind everyone of our summer market schedule. Last Saturday we bid farewell to our Saturday market at St Jacobs and welcomed the start of another season at the Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market. We will be back at the St Jacobs market for the Tuesday market starting June 12th. On June 7th we will be starting at the Uptown Market in Waterloo town square on Thursday afternoons. We hope to see lots of you at the markets. Of course if you are reading this and thinking how you wanted some more plants for your garden but couldn’t possibly wait for our next market day we are also open at the greenhouse Monday through Saturday 8am through 8pm. And while you are at the farm you may as well stock up on eggs from our hens. Eggs are only available at the farm.
We started transplanting our hardier plants from the greenhouse into the field this week. So far, we have planted out all of our onions and leeks, most of our kale, all of our cabbage, and our first planting of broccoli. The garlic we planted last fall (pictured here) is doing well; we’ll sell some as green garlic, and some as bulbs later in the season.
We still have space in both the local and market-pickup CSAs; pickup will begin June 12th. For more information, or to register, visit our CSA page.
April is a busy month for us; greenhouse season is in full swing, and we’ll be starting markets next week—find us at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market on Thursday and Saturday. Our greens are growing splendidly, and the transplants are coming along well. We also recently purchased more chickens, so we have eggs available for sale on-farm.
For those who live close to our farm, we’ve updated our local CSA page to have information about shares with on-farm pick-up.
Here it is the middle of March and this is my first update since January. How the time has flown.
Last week we finished the walk-in cooler. This project has been in the planning stages since I first saw the farm and in construction since January. It feels good to have it done.
Although it may seem early to all you outdoor gardeners, the growing season is well under way in the greenhouse. I have greens that I planted in the fall bursting forth with new vigour and seeds pushing their seed leaves to the surface and forming their first true leaves. I also have plants started in greenhouse flats for transplanting here on the farm and for sale at market. Onions, peppers and tomatoes. And this year for the first time I am growing flower transplants. I already have about 50 flats of pansies growing in cell packs. I will also be growing impatiens. Stay tuned for updates on the products page in mid-April when the first plants are ready for market.
Outside there are signs of life too. After the non winter we have had I wonder if the new shoots will be killed by winter weather yet to come or if this is just a very early spring. Perhaps I will have some crops in the ground earlier than planned. Only time will tell.
Winter is the season for farming conferences, seed orders, maintenance, and preparing for the new season. Last weekend I attended an organic farming conference in New York state. In addition to valuable insights I gained from the technical sessions I also had the opportunity to tour two other farms doing winter greens production in unheated high tunnel greenhouses. The one farm was still harvesting fresh kale, chard, asian greens, lettuce, arugulia, and spinach. I am still amazed by the quality and variety of local produce that can be available in northern areas through the winter with the appropriate production methods.
This week I also invested in some tillage equipment to make soil preparation more efficient and effective. I decided to avoid the common and easy method of using a tractor driven rototiller at least for now. While a rototiller will make a nice seedbed in a single pass, long term it tends to destroy soil structure. The fluffed up soil is also more prone to drying out which would be another disadvantage given my soil type. Instead I am using a cultivator to loosen the lower layers of soil and a disc harrow to work in cover crops or crop residue and prepare an acceptable seedbed. I am looking forward to spring when I can start using these new tools to get the land ready to plant.
I just posted job openings on our new Employment Page and I would encourage anyone interested to read over the listing and contact me with any questions.
Well, it's been awhile since our last update, so it seemed like about time. With winter just around the corner, many folks have suggested that harvest is now long over. Not so. We have been taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and harvested the last of the carrots today. We also have spinach, lettuce, arugula, kale, and various herbs in the greenhouse. As the greenhouse is unheated, those will continue for awhile, but not indefinitely. We also continue to have butternut squash, Jerusalem artichokes and carrots in storage.
New since the last update: we now have frozen ducks, around 4-5 pounds in size, and drakes of about twice the size. All grown right here.
And we've started selling through Bailey's Local Foods, a buying club based in Waterloo.
Without the demands of three markets per week I have had some time to start looking at my long winter project list. One of the major projects on the list is building cold storage to improve my harvest to market handling system. Currently I am relying on a root cellar for carrots and a standard household refrigerator for my cooling needs. This is not too much of an issue at this season when the outside air is quite helpful in keeping things cool, but in the summer I will be able to maintain better product quality with proper cold storage.
Winter is also a time for planning, meetings, seed orders, and conferences. Planning seeds is always exciting because it holds the promise of the new season. Conferences can be like seeds too, but the seeds are ideas and new ways of doing things. Today I attended a very good local producer meeting and trade show. Hearing what others are doing helps affirm things I already do and also stretch me to try to do better. I look forward to seeing what these seeds grow into.
Fall is upon us. We had a light frost a few weeks ago and are preparing for harder frosts to come. In addition to the fall storage crops our lettuce and spinach are doing quite well with the cooler weather and the kale is fantastic.
With the cooler temperatures we are also once again focusing more attention on the greenhouse and planting winter crops of spinach and lettuce mix. The sheltered environment also provides a welcome break from working outdoors on the cooler and wetter days.
Between all the field work I have also managed to fit in a bit of work on the website. The CSA page is now live and has the information for our 2012 season. I do not yet a have special web version of the registration form so for now please keep using the form in the brochure. We also have several new fall recipes so be sure to check out our recipes page. Also be sure to come see us at the Waterloo Square market on Thursday afternoons and the Aberfoyle Farmers market on Saturday mornings.
Well it took longer than I had anticipated, but we finally have the details of our 2012 CSA program worked out. For now you can find this information in our brochure through the link here. I will be making a new page on the site devoted to information on the CSA within the next few weeks when I get a chance.
Today we attended the last Tuesday market of the 2010 season at the St Jacobs market. Thank you to all our customers from Tuesday market. We will miss the Tuesday market but we look forward to continuing to serve you at the Waterloo Square market on Thursday afternoons from 3-7pm. We will be continuing at Waterloo Square until October 20th and at the Aberfoyle Farmers Market until October 29th. We are also in the process of drafting a CSA program for the 2012 growing season. We are hoping to have the details of the program worked out and ready for publication sometime in the next week. Full details will be available on the website.
This week we are starting two new market days. We are still in St Jacobs on Tuesdays, but now we are also at Waterloo Square from 3 until 7 on Thursday afternoons and are starting this Saturday at the Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market.
Continued rain has been a blessing over the past week, restoring depleted soil moisture reserves and promoting new growth. We have started planting the first fall crops and hope the rain should get them off to a strong start.
This week we returned to the St. Jacobs Market, this time for the Tuesday market. We will be there every Tuesday for the rest of August. Please refer to our products page for a list of vegetables currently available.
Some rain in the last few weeks has broken the worst of the dry spell we had been having. The crops are growing better, but we are still marginal on soil moisture so another good soaking rain would be good.
Weather has continued to be very dry to the point it is difficult to remember how too much rain could have been a problem so few months ago. Fortunately we now have drip irrigation in place to keep the vegetables alive and growing, but it is no substitute for rain.
We have beets, carrots, zucchini and tomatoes available at the farm. We also have parsley, basil, summer savory, oregano, thyme, cilantro and dill.
Planting is progressing well thanks to a working visit from some friends last week. This week we hope to install a drip irrigation system to efficiently water all these crops while the weather remains dry.
We are no longer selling plants, but we now have fresh peas available as well as dill, parsley, basil, summer savory, oregano, thyme, and sorrel. We hope to have carrots and beets available in a couple of weeks.
Over the past few weeks we have recived much less rain than earlier in the season. This makes field work easier, but also turns our attention to the possibility of irrigation. Although the late start this spring has kept us behing schedule, we are starting to fill some space in the field with crops and are at least making progress towards being back on schedule with the rest of our plantings for the season.
We have continued to sell plants and now spinach and herbs at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market. This Saturday we will have cut spinach, garlic scapes and herbs in addition to tomato and cucumber plants. This will be our last week at the market for a little while since we will be waiting for more crops to mature and will be focusing our time on growing crops for later in the season. We will however continue to have some plants as well as produce in season available for sale at the farm.
The combined forces of the wet spring and the challenges of finding equipment have slowed field work. Last week we picked up a 1976 Massey Ferguson 265 tractor and this week we got a spring tooth cultivator. Since we have had some longer sunny breaks between rain recently Nathan was able to cultivate some land for planting. We will still be looking for more tools to manage tillage, but for now this at least gives us something to work with.
Last Saturday was our first day at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market selling tomato plants. The beautiful long weekend day drew a good crowd and helped people get in the mood for planting. Tomato plants are still available at the farm gate and will also be available at the St. Jacobs Market again this Thursday.
Cool temperatures and wet weather have continually kept us in the greenhouse for the last few weeks. The tomato plants are growing beautifully, and we've transplanted some of them into beds in the greenhouse. We have a number of varieties of tomato plants ready for sale at the farm: Patio Hybrid, Beefsteak, Silvery Fir Tree, Calabash, Brandywine, Striped German, Garden Peach, Ponderosa Pink, Bonny Best, and Roma are available in four-inch pots, and Silvery Fir Tree tomato plants are also available in 1-gallon pots. The past few days have finally been warm and dry enough to plant onions in the garden. As I write this, the birds are singing, the sky is blue, and it looks like another wonderful day here at the farm.
Rain and cooler temperatures have turned this week’s focus away from outdoor plantings and more exclusively to greenhouse work. We have started to prepare space in the greenhouse for tomatoes which we hope to be planting in early May. Lettuce transplants are getting close to ready for planting and they will fill space between the tomatoes until the plants get big. The tomatoes I had seeded in open flats are growing nicely and we have started to pot them out in the trays they will stay in until transplanting. With the warmer weather returning we anticipate more activity outdoors as well as the continued work in the greenhouse.
This week the solarium is continuing to fill up with seedlings. The tomatoes are coming along nicely and we look forward to potting up the first varieties soon. We hope to have tomato plants in 3.5 inch pots ready to sell by mid May. Nathan seeded spinach and peas in the garden. The garlic is growing strong and the first buds are bursting on the trees and shrubs. Nathan has also been moving his perennials to the farm. We now have soral, thyme, and oregano in the garden and three gooseberry bushes beside the garden shed. Nathan also replanted some Jerusalem Artichokes (a perennial sunflower which produces an edible tuber) from tubers he grew last year. We are looking forward to more extensive outdoor plantings and the season progresses.
We’re looking forward to a new season here at Nith Valley Organics. Nathan has planted the first early greens and herbs in the greenhouse, as well as starting transplants for use on the farm and for sale. It is exciting to see the first seeds germinating in the transplant flats and in the greenhouse beds. With the weather warming we hope to be able to start seeding spinach and peas outdoors soon as well.