Friday, July 4, 2014

Ripeage, Stripeage and Sexy Sets!

The tomato jungle is in full swing and I adore wandering through the rows assessing and seeing the 'firsts'! The first sprig of colour showing through all the dense green foliage. The masses of bloom sets. The plump, heavy branches laden with glorious heirlooms! Ah, what an awesome way to kick start organic tomato growing!
We use certified organic composted manures to nourish these soon-to-be giants and though we could use fish emulsion too, the need has never presented itself. Rich, healthy dirt :)  The seeds to grow these beauties are sown annually no later than January.  Open pollinated, save your own seeds with most of these varieties - oh yeah!!
These are our covered fields and they house beets, lettuces, kale, radishes in between the vining tomatoes on non-walkways. Once those early crops finish they are rotto-tilled and kept sassy clean ;) Each tomato plant (we house 800 approx in each) is lovingly suckered and twined around tomato twine and reach the sky! Well, almost ;) They get up to 12-13 ft and are tossed over the steel beams and then grow downward! A sight to see seen this fall.
Heavy laden branches with the big first sexy sets of toms!
RIPEAGE! Hello beauty! The first sprig of colour peaking through...
Huge masses of sets with this particular variety which is a total winner! I call him simple 'lemon' but I think it's 'plum lemon' to other collectors. Prolific, prolific, prolific (and popular!)
STRIPEAGE!! The infamous Green Zebra. I've grown many a stripey's and this one's flavour and lime green colour is a very, very popular fav! 
I've done the over 100-200 varieties heirloom tomato trip, but decided to render my addiction down to 40 or so total on farm. A good two dozen are home in the covered fields, the rest grow in the outdoor fields. I found a lot of the varieties to be very similar and some we're very delicate, and not suitable for my climate and some with no disease resistance at all. I still find myself trying at least one or two new ones each year! (Psst..I'm a total sucker for the big heart shaped, Russian, Ukrainian and Polish types.)  It's been well over a decade now of growing and selling these Heirloom Tomatoes and I dare say I don't ever see myself slowing down! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Quick Pic Farm Update ;)

Ok, so we are speeding right along now! The cool spring certainly set us back (onions are in a month later this year!) but crops seem to be on the upswing!
Strawberries are full swing. This week will be our most plentiful, then by next week they will dwindle. The flavour on these berries were excellent however the sweetness was not there. Cool weather I suppose. We've certainly enjoyed them and got our annual fill! 
The heirloom tomato jungle is going crazy!! We are so busy outside that these giants have to wait for a rain day or late eve suckering job! 
Kale!! Looking pretty decent! Huge patches of all green curly, RedBor and Dino kales. We did have some cut worm damage under the ground cloth, but we've also planted more than twice as much this year, so that should make up for it!
Peas!! Sugar snaps and shelling type. Like I mentioned in the market newsletter, Ben and the men worked very hard to keep this patch clean! Full swing this week and next for peas!
Boring lettuces...haha! This gorgeous patch is readily being harvested every other day now. Soon it will be finished...
Corn!!! We grew grain corn this year for the first time in over a decade! Of course nonGMO, certified organic and should be good for our rotation. We've even put in an acre of white grain corn for Chocosol this year for their tortillas! Exciting! 
So head out to market to see my other two partners- Ben and MarketBaby! We are optimistic about this season. So come see us soon at Dufferin or The Brickworks :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"What are Sosnickis' up too, and when are they coming back to market???"

Everyone is anxious to receive word when we'll be back at markets and what is coming.... well folks - not for a while. It's cold and a bit late this year. (That's the field crops- better news in the 'covered fields'.....)
Good news is we've broke soil! Ben plowed and cultivated readying the ground for seedlings.  We have to watch it, as you don't want to jump the gun. If you can't smell the soil and the earthworms aren't around, your early plantings are just going to sit and not grow too well. Peas will go in, but I think we'll wait a few more days for onions, lettuce, kale etc. even with row covers (that are a must for us this year) the plants will thrive sitting on the wagons, drinking fish and hanging out for a few more days. MarketBaby Sadie has been tractor riding a lot with Ben ;)
Market veg is going along the east side of the house this year. My absolute favourite place for the veg! Looks amazing when I walk out the door and have a monster garden right there!  For now we are busily working in the 'covered fields'. And have seeded beets and huge tomato transplants already! We are using two glass cold frames, with a total of 9000 sq feet to grow 16 rows of heirloom tomatoes, beets and early greens. The new seeder we got through the 'natures finest fund' is working excellent. Fresh bunches of beets in a short while ;)  June heirloom tomatoes.  We've only had the one house with tomatoes - this year two, so lots to share early!!
Baby Sadie overlooking the first of the big tomato plants going in :) And the tomato row is only crooked because We followed Ben's beet planting! Haha... Blame Benny :p
Our third greenhouse is home to the seedlings. There is currently 4500 sq ft crammed packed with our field veg, Evergreen wholesale cow pot seedlings, and seedlings for 5 other farmers. I. Am. Busy. But happily so. The heat when the sun comes out is awesome and I look forward to the long, hot, summer harvest days...(the last blog post from last week has more info and pics of the seedling greenhouse if you want to take a peak). 
Well besides the growing that is main priority we've fixed up the bunkhouse for the workers arriving in a few weeks. This year a new kitchen ceiling went up, new dry wall upstairs, new plumbing, new toilet and a lot of scrubbing and cleaning to get that house rolling for another year. The health department did it's annual inspection yesterday, and our bunkhouse is approved for 7 workers. We can't afford that many, but added one more cousin this year for a total of 4 guys. Manuel and Sebastian are coming in May and the two brothers Domingo and Miguel arrive in June!
We've been grading out and selling potatoes still, all wholesale. It will be nice this year as we've managed to secure our own stock of seed potatoes this year! That's my afternoon job today - washing and grading potatoes :) That will wrap up potato sales for now. 
And getting books to the accountant and reconciling the first quarter of 2014 are other tasks we've been attending too! (Office work is dead last - I can't stand office days!!!!!) It's business, so you learn to tolerate the paperwork. I happily do organic paperwork, but the government stuff?...blaaa... Haha. 
So when are we coming back to our favourite city to see our favourite customers?? By the end of May at the earliest but it may push into June as well. It will be weather dependant.... Hmmm, would be nice to plant on Friday but now it's suppose to rain. You know the drill. Ben will be back as soon as we have those fresh lettuces and covered field beets and other spring treats. We miss you all too very much! Especially our fellow vendors and friends.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring farm update!

It would be easy for me to whine about the hard winter, cold spring, all our various hardships - but I'm not going to do that. Ben and I decided that we would kick ass the best we could paying off the mortgage and deal with all that farming brings so that when we are 60 years old we can inspire young farmers and show them how to get through the rough patches.  We are going forward with optimism about the rest of this growing year :) Just check out the plants! Whooo!! 
These giants are the heirloom tomatoes that will be planted once again in our covered fields (this time two greenhouses full!) Seeded in between the tomatoes are beets for extra early bunches. Usually these toms would be in the ground by now but it's just too cold. It was below 6 last night and the water pipes were frozen so I had to wait until mid morn to water. Ben had to drain the big water tank and the pump to ensure they didn't freeze last night. Warmer temps from now on I hope!  We've created the plastic barrier to maintain heat in half the middle house. The other side is for onions, lettuce, kale etc - the cool loving crops.
Kale, Kale and more Kale! We have transplanted an early planting to have larger plants to put out in the field if we can't get out to plant early. There was a Kale seed shortage this year of everyone's favourite green curly but not to worry - we secured a hefty amount and will have plenty to go around! We have redbor curly, Dino and the Russians again this year. Even a bit of White Russian Kale too ;)
Lettuces are growing nicely. The leaf lettuces, butterheads and romaines will be in abundance... Below are yet more kale and those oak stained butters and other lovelies. Ok, I'm hungry for a big salad now!
Our onions are doing well. Though we will not be planting them as early this year, we seeded them a bit later so their growth is not out of control. They'll probably be moved to the wagons soon in anticipation for planting. We'll have those big sweets and lots of cooking onions this year.
Beautiful Swiss chard :) We're growing lots of early chard and a bunch of transplants for other farmers too.
I can tell you that we've got a lot on the go out there in the greenhouses. We've also been scrubbing, cleaning and fixing the ol' bunkhouse as our first two Men arrive in a few weeks so we need to get the inspection completed. The pipes burst in that old house, the roof leaked to the point where we had to replace a lot of dry wall upstairs and redo the kitchen ceiling! It's once again ready to be inhabited. What a beating that old place has taken! AND our little ONE year old daughter is all over the place!! So miss Sadie is very accustom to hanging out in both the bunkhouse and greenhouses so far this spring!
Marigolds waiting patiently to be transplanted! Ever wondered all that we grow out in those greenhouse? I surprised myself when I started looking around. No wonder going 7 days a week is mandatory!!  We're growing: 
kale, lettuce, onions, broc, cauli, chards, celeriac, celery, leeks, basils, thyme, marjoram, savory, oregano, borage, dill, chamomile, mint, chives, amaranth, stevia, cilantro, sage, parsley, okra, collards, peppers, eggplants, tons of tomatoes in so many different stages, zucs, cucs, melons, squash and sunflowers. I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch of crops :p.   Our plants are sold at Evergreen Garden market available Victoria Day weekend in all their glory! With an emphasis on 70 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. We won't be attending market until the end of May/ into June and due to major start up costs on farm we needed a good venue to moving volume for seedlings. That is why you won't see us with the plants ourselves. We are just behind the scenes doing all the work! So head to Evergreen if you want some choice certified organic veg and herb seedlings this season!
We are happily growing for other producers as well this year. Currently we have 5 other farmers that count on us for their field crop seedlings. We are able to max out the old glass beast to the brim with plants!! 
Stay tuned... The weather is changing and I'll be wanting to blog and share :)





Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow Day on the farm!

While Sadie naps the paperwork continues and I finalize seedling orders and order more seeds. Did I ever mention how I lothe being attached to a desk? It is my least favourite job ev-er.  And though I never let cabin fever set in around here, I can't take Sadie out on these very cold days. Today was an exception for a quick outing, however! And we had fun! 
The year is exceptionally cold and snowy. Usually by this time of year we are ready to almost fire the middle greenhouse. Not this year. It would cost a fortune to heat the old glass cold frames in these frigid temperatures. So we wait. And trim cabbage. And grade potatoes and onions. And more cabbage. I am not good at waiting and to me a successful season begins with robust, healthy large plants. I have this internal spring clock that is urging me to get ready to seed! If we have to postpone early seeding - then look out! Come March I will be a seeding demon out there! Lololol And that my friends is no lie. I will be in high gear!
Above: The chilly oil tank waiting to be filled :(  It's way to cold to do repairs like glass fixing, wall patches. I walked through the houses yesterday on my way to the barn and it's dark inside with snow covering the glass roof. Time to head for the barn, sit by the wood stove, have a tea and trim more cabbage! We also have garlic and celeriac as well as an abundance of potatoes yet. So storage crop work is never done. What makes me feel spring-like are the tomatoes growing in the warm room under grow lights. I like to go and brush them and smell tomatoes!
Above: Lady Bug and Sadie interacting. They are becoming really great friends. She's our resident wooly mammoth! We bring her carrots and apples from storage (that unfortunately we are not selling, just harbouring for the family).  On a carrot note, today I juiced carrots with lemon straight up. It was SO refreshing!  First time adding lemon and it will become a mainstay in my juices now! So stay warm everyone and as soon as we get growing I'll post and share :)) Oh, February is heart month, so here's a link I'd like to share: Cholesterol - a Nutrient!