A note:
Just in case you're wondering, this is not the official website for Green Being Farm. This is just my blog from the summer I spent at the farm.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Beetle Harvest

okay, I forgot this great picture in my last post. When I went out to weed the potatoes last week, I noticed that there were several plants with colorado potato beetle on them. So I lashed an old stinky nalgeen bottle to my leg and covered the opening with a bit of a plastic bag with a small hole in it. That way, when I would bend down to pick up off the beetle I could just pop it into the container.

I suppose if I was more cruel (or less of a wuss -- your call) I'd have just squished them rather than collect them, but I figured the turkeys would get some nutrients from them. Turns out, turkeys aren't super keen on these beetles, though they did eventually eat them all.

With my ragged hair and unkempt beard, my longsleeve shirt with sunprotecting popped collar and torn armpit and torso, and this bottle strapped to my leg, Nathan described me as "one week away from a vagrant".

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Potato planting

So, about two and half weeks ago, I planted all the potatoes. I was a big job. I had 1/3 of an acre to plant roughly. About 600 lbs of potato seed. I did it over two days, but really only about 12-15 hours of work.

I had prepared the bed before hand. I ploughed it, then used the furrower to make the furrows:

Hauled the potato seed out to the field. I have four different varieties. Two early (Onaway and Norland) and two main season types (Red Cheiftan and Yukon Gold). Here are the Onaway.

I stored them in our shed, under some cardboard and tarps. I was a bit concerned that this wasn't the best place to keep them (too moist, too dry, too hot, too cold... what do I know.), so I kept checking in on them. They stayed firm (except for one bag of Red Cheiftan that had a fair number of rotten guys in it).

I had also planned to let them sit out for a few days to let them grow sturdy sprouts, but they seemed to do this just fine on their own. :-) I had also planned to pull them all out and cut them if they were too big, but again, except for the Red Cheiftan, they were all a good planting size (about 2 oz). I didn't notice the big Red Cheiftan's until I got them out into the field, so I ended up cutting them out there and letting them dry before planting. Not ideal I don't think.

Anyhow, as to the actual planting. The furrows were 30 inches apart roughly, and I was planting 15 inches apart. I had about 29 rows at roughly 190 feet each (I plotted out a 200x200 foot area but then used some of the space as headers for turning the tractor and such).

I started by using a digging hoe to hack little pits into the furrow every 15 inches so that I could then drop the potato seeds in. This was probably unnecessary, but since it only took about 3 minutes for each row, and made it easier than placing the potatoes in the furrow and having them roll around, I stuck with it. I then used to hoe to pull a bit of dirt over each potato. Here's the sequence:


And, not that it looks much different, but here is the field after I was done planting:

And here's the field earlier this week, showing some green (both in plants and weeds... erm):

The early varieties having come up and are looking strong. The main season ones are just coming up. I spent a day this passed week weeding the early guys. It's pretty mind-numbing work to be hoeing the furrows (it's finicky and not nearly as fun as hoeing flat earth). It was also bit difficult with my lame hand.

Hopefully the next step will be hilling. I expect it'll be a bit cumbersome. When I was deciding how to layout to plot I didn't give much thought to the tractor and how I could use the furrower to hill (partly because we didn't have the tractor then, and partly I'm just a n00b). So, I think I'm stuck doing it by hand.

Luckily, working out on the far acre is really really nice. I'm right next to the wetland, and on a slight rise so I can look out over our fields, the wetland, and the neighbouring fields. I'm also away from the house and road so it has this quietness and peace about the place. I'm not sure how to take a picture to show you all of that.


I fell off my bike a two weekends ago, and sprained both of my wrists. Nothing severe, but bad enough that I couldn't use my hands for two days, type much for a week, and still have trouble opening jars or doing anything that involves gripping whilst twisting. But by the middle of the first week I was back hand-weeding a little, and by the end of this week I was able to use the tractor again for light work (but actually it was a stupid thing to do because the tractor kicks so much that occasionally I felt some pain).

Luckily I have great housemates that took care of me, and helped me weed the garden right when it was getting a little out of control -- I'd been neglecting it to do other things around the farm, and of course, to get the potatoes in (more on that in the next post).

All of this made me think about how important the health of my body is to the work that I'm doing. Without my hands I'm essentially useless. Can't weed, can't seed, can't plant, can't lift, can't ... etc.. At least, not in the ways I'm used to, and not with the tools I have. I did figure out new ways to do old things, like lifting bags of feed with my elbows and forearms, but mostly I just paced around wishing I had a mini-scuffle hoes I could strap to each arm.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

June 6th Tour

Remember those little baby chicks? They're now ugly adolescent creatures that have no souls. :-P

We've moved them out into the workshop near the greenhouse so that they have more space to run around. We've also put up chicken wire against the cardboard walls because the dudes are trying to fly up and out already.

We have more little ones though. We just got a bunch of turkeys. They're still cute, for the moment. Notice the turkey chicks have a little bump above their beak... that's their premature snood, I think.

Garden-wise, there is still a ton of tomatoes begging to be planted. Thing is, it hasn't been dry enough long enough for me to work any more of the garden. So the tomatoes will just have to wait another few days.

In the garden things are looking good.

The onions are going for it, as are the fava beans.

The carrots have come up.

So have the beets.


Celeric (hard to see in this picture) is still doing well, and hasn't been touched by the deer/birds.

Neither the fennel.

Out in the far acre, the wheat I planted last week has already come up. I did a bit of dance when I saw this:

See that patchy green stuff... here it is up close:

And for comparison, here's the rest of the wheat in the field that was planted two weeks earlier:

By the way, I tried baking loaves of bread using store bought whole wheat (President's Choice Organic), Organic Meadow whole wheat, and Red Fife from Saugeen Specialty Grains. All of the breads tasted okay, but the Red Fife and Organic Meadow had more wheaty flavour to them. The Red Fife in particular is surprisingly different.

The other day I was able to work most of the 1/3 of the acre that's going into potatoes.

I'm a bit worried about not yet having the potatoes in. It feels like it's getting late (but what do I know really). I would have liked to have them in this week, but as I mentioned, it's been so wet and our soil so full of clay that I haven't had much of a chance to work it since getting the compost spread. Bah.

Bubbies probably wouldn't approve...

We've had some pest problems in the garden over the passed couple of weeks. When I planted the chard seedlings out two weeks ago, I came back the next morning to find most of them all eat down to the ground. Whatever had done that had also taken a few nips out of the nearby lettuce, but hadn't touched the fennel, cilantro, dill, or onions.

Then last week I noticed what I think were deer tracks in the garden. They had pummelled some of the carrots and beets I had just seeded, otherwise hadn't done much else. That's because I was prepared... I covered the lettuce and other leafy things with row cover.

(Most of the row cover pictured here is covering the squash I just planted, but the far right hand corner is covering the greens.)

So it's deer then, right? Well, a neighbour says she's had trouble with starlings eating her baby greens. But since I saw the deer tracks I'm going with that. I did some reading and surfing to see what other people do to get rid of deer. Peeing on scarecrows? I like it. I haven't built a scarecrow yet, but that's coming. For the moment I'm just peeing around the garden, and I'm lucky enough to have housemates willing to contribute their stinky excresia -- (but not willing enough to walk out to the garden: hence, the Bubbies jar).

Nothing seems to be eating the peas, beet greens, or spinach that's come up so maybe it's working. Although yesterday I had the row cover off the brassicaes for an hour or so and when I came back:

No more kohlrabi. So now I'm thinking it is birds in the garden. Time for hanging tin cans and building a scarecrow I can pee on.