SEPTEMBER 16, 2019 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday photo early in the p.m. Slightly tilted, the farm is still level, the photographer had taken a lean.

Looking down the sunflower row where a couple of plants have apparently fainted. The real tall one whose photo was in last week’s blog has fallen over just like this.

This is a Brown Eyed Susan or maybe it is a Black eyed Susan. There are a good number of Rudbeckia but we think that this is maybe Rudbeckia hirta. But then maybe not.

This past week has finally seen a good amount of rain. We have a had a grand total of 38 mm since Tuesday.  Previously we had about 25 mm but all in one day and then it got hot. Some of that previous moisture is still in the ground so the recent rain builds on that. This will really help our late plantings as well as everything else in the garden and all the new trees too.

Everything is growing quite well in this photo.

A nice bell pepper turning red. Peppers are doing better now.

We have been regularly bringing manure and compost up from the barn. The manure being piled in a long windrow and the compost going to the new seed beds and to the new garlic area. The windrowed manure will be covered with leaves and straw and allowed to decompose over the next year. Other garden refuse from us and others will be piled at the end of this windrow. We will also be preparing the areas for next season’s potatoes, corn and squashes and that will need to have compost spread on it as well so that it will be ready to go in the spring with some of the preparation work already done.

Another sunflower. So many different sizes and colours.

The work of gardening goes on with reasonably warm weather and plenty of moisture keeping things growing nicely. Lots of insects including various caterpillars, bees and butterflies. still around.

There have been a lot of these little guys around over the past few months. thee just a couple of days ago. We think that they are milkweed tussock moths caterpillars. They do eat a fair chunk of milkweed leaf, that is what this lot is on. the milkweed survives though, minus two or three leaves.

This praying Mantis laid this egg mass on the stack of plastic quart sized baskets and then stayed nearby four at least four days. We’ll have to put these aside somewhere safe and wait until next spring for them to hatch out.

We are gradually changing our stance on things to accommodate a new position for us that takes climate change into account but we are also backtracking a bit in that we may start using a small tractor to do some garden work and get our older tractor, the one that we have had in storage for more than twenty years now, up and running and equipped with a loader for use in moving bales and compost and manure. But we are moving forward on trying to implement agroforestry on our small acreage, planting a wide diversity of trees, some of which produce fruits and nuts for eating while others could produce firewood and wildlife habitat and food. We got a start this past spring with our fruit trees as well as about 50 trees such as various maples, mulberry and oaks. Bushes and shrubs are part of this as well. More on this as we figure out all that we want to do. We are just starting.

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SEPTEMBER 9, 2019 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view this noon time.

This is our tallest sunflower plant and we think that maybe the only one of it’s type growing in our garden. It is loaded with flowers and flower buds from top to bottom and at the bottom the flowers are on long stalks coming out horizontally from the central stem. The sunflower plant to the left has but a single very large flower now spent and with the seeds developing. It is now bent down with the weight of the flower head and is about 6 feet high at the top of the curve.

The weather has not been kind to us at all this past week. It has continued to be dry, no rain, and it has been cool, not so cool during the daylight hours but cool at night. What we really need now is a little more heat; day times closer to 25 and night times not lower than 15 and preferably a good deal higher. And we need a real good rainfall. The forecast now is for rain Tuesday through until Friday though I do not see very much on the radar. If we were to get around two inches (around 60 mm) over those three or four days, then we would be very happy.

A portion of the new seed beds with lots of different vegetables.

The potato rows with two full rows now dug and a double row of peas now growing in the row beside the sunflowers.

The garden is doing O.K. but definitely not as good as we would expect as there is not enough moisture in the soil. But new seedings are growing well as we have managed to mostly keep them well watered daily. The tomato, pepper and eggplant have not been producing as much as they should be since we cannot get near enough water to them. But what fruits we have gotten have been excellent for the most part and we have a good variety of tomatoes.

Coming soon to this location: GARLIC

A Cochin hen looking quite spectacular.

We have to get the ground prepared for planting the garlic for next season and want it planted and straw mulch spread before the end of September. Much work needed to be done. The area were the garlic is to go has been laying fallow for the whole summer, in weeds actually, so it is going to take a bit of work to prepare. The garlic that we pulled about three weeks ago has to be separated into those heads that we want to keep for planting,  those that are for sale and for the CSA, and those that are just not good enough for either of those two purposes and which we will keep for our own use.

A really nice large sunflower.

We have gotten a few apples from the apple trees that we planted in the spring. No tree had more than three apples and most had none. We had a taste of the variety ‘Pristine’, of which we have but one tree and that one produced three apples of  a good medium size. It is a nice apple with a bit of sweet, not at all sour, a little crisp but not too hard, a good shape and colour too. All of our spring planted fruit trees have done well though we have had a few that suffered a bit from leaf munchers including gypsy moth caterpillars. Our defence against pests is to keep a good watch on the trees, easier said than done, then picking them off. Again very much easier said than done. For next season though we will have to provide various lures and bands around trunks to eliminate the majority of damaging pests.

This variety of apple is called Liberty and is a relatively new variety developed to be more disease and pest resistance. Planted this past spring and with 4 nice sized apples.

 

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2019 FARM NEWS


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The usual morning photo on Sunday evening in a light rain.

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The potato patch looking a little weedy with 2 rows dug and the row beside the sunflower reseeded to peas.

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A little bit of sunshine on a rainy day.

As usual it has been a fun filled busy week. So much work has been accomplished yet so much more remains to be done. Weeding has been, as it always has been, an on going chore and this year we have been very lucky to have had good number of dedicated working share members and volunteers and even though we still have weedy patches, we have managed, with all the help that we’ve had, to keep the garden at least sufficiently weeded for veggies to grow or in some spots, really well weeded. It makes all the difference.

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We have a lot of little sunshines

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Some green onions just visible to the far left, then the double row of Swiss Chard, three rows of arugula, radishes and more with 6 rows of carrots to the right.

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The sweet peppers are loaded with fruit but a slow to develop.

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These are some of the hot pepper which are also quite plentiful but not much ready.

We have had our share of pest problems this season: the beetle that quickly devastated the broad beans, then the squash bugs in the summer squash , squash vine borers trying to finish off what ever the squash bugs did not, and then, and still, the tomato and tobacco hornworms are causing significant damage to tomato plant leaves and some fruits as well as doing a little munching on pepper and potato.

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A hornworm on a tomato leaf. The small black horn is on the tail at the left. The munching end is on the right.

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The white things attached to this immobilized hornworm are eggs of a parasitic wasp which can help to control the numbers of hornworm.

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In spite of hornworms there are some real nice tomato fruits.

The sheep, cattle and horses have managed to get through the dry spell without running out of pasture but we came really close to having to start feeding out hay. The pastures are slowly recovering and greening up gain but we do need a really good soaking everywhere.

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Horses in the mists.

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No wet hens here, they had been outside only coming out because I had some more food for them.

Last evening and late afternoon we got a lengthy light rain but it only amounted to a single mm in the rain gauge. I am writing this and will post it Sunday evening so won’t have recorded here what we might get overnight and into Monday morning. We do need considerably more; something like one inch would be a good start. We also need it to stay warmish like it has been and a lot of sunshine would be really helpful. Hold off on any frost at all until the end of November. Too much to ask ?

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A newly acquired wheat straw bale with some compost piled behind. This is the area where the garlic will soon be planted.

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And to finish; another bit of sunflower warmth.

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AUGUST 26, 2019 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view earlier today, Monday, August 26.

The same view 3 weeks ago.

It has been nearly a month since I lasted posted, the longest gap we have had since starting this blog. Much has happened; the CSA vegetable pickups have been on going each Tuesday and Thursday late afternoon and evening, everything got very dry and then it rained last week, and we have started, rather late, in planting for the fall.

A gaggle of sunflowers

The last significant rainfall was in June. We had rain after that but it was always quite light. The moisture being taken from the earth by growing plants and evaporation was more than what was being put back in by rainfall. The earth was getting drier. The rains of about 10 days ago did a lot to reducing the deficit but it has not been quite enough.  We are still dry. The sun is not quite so hot or so long lasting in late August so this helps to keep things from drying too much.

Some of the newly seeded rows of vegetables.

The truck with a load of compost for the new seed beds.

Sunflower and morning glory

We have been busy the last week seeding for the fall harvest. Things that mature in 40 to 60 days should do alright though much depends on us having a warm fall right through until mid October. Radishes, lettuce, endive, spinach, arugula, turnip, broccoli, kale, cabbage, peas, and even bush beans. are the sorts of vegetables that we are planting. All of the newly seeded rows must be well watered and must be watered frequently. the seeded rows are watered mornings and late afternoon and even some around midday if it is very hot or if the seeds are tiny and shallowly planted.

Green bell pepper

The lack of moisture has made for small potatoes and onions, a reduced number of the pole beans that we could harvest. The broad beans were about a tenth of what we’d have expected due to a horde of beetles stripping the plants of leaves and blossoms in early July. Many plants recovered but there were few beans. Tomato and tobacco horn worms are especially numerous this year and they manage to devour a lot of tomato leaves before we discover them. The tomato plants are producing a lot of tomatoes now though they have, like a lot of things, been much later this season. Potato beetles were quite numerous earlier this year but by regularly walking the rows we were able to keep the damage to the potato plants to a minimum.

When just one won’t do.

The sunflowers are growing nicely though they did suffer a little from the drought.

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July 29, 2019 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view late morning on Sunday.

The potato rows have been weeded and look better than last week but the potato plants are showing signs of stress from the lack of water.

We have been getting dry here having had little rain over the past month. The rain has been in small amounts each time and enough to keep things going for a while but the vegetation; trees, weeds, grass, vegetables, has been using more than is being supplied by rain. The hot weather has of course made this worse. We can get some water on to the garden but not enough. Our supply, our wells, are not of adequate capacity to supply the quantity that we really need so we just water what needs it the most.

Looking across the garlic rows to the horses grazing the area around the garden. The garlic is showing about 5 dry leaves of a total of 10 or 11. Just about ready to harvest.

Our daily water consumption for household and poultry is between 250 and 300 litres each day sometimes as high as 400.  The horses need about 200 litres, cows about 300 and sheep around 100. Very rough estimates based on size and number of water containers and flow rates. It varies greatly from day to day depending on how hot it is, if it has rained, how fresh their pasture is and likely other things such as wind and humidity. We do use a lot of water even before irrigating the garden and trees. We need a very large reservoir, 20 to 30 thousand litres in capacity at least and a means of filling it from rains and snowmelt all through the year. An expensive proposition but once in place should be good, with a small amount of annual maintenance, for decades. Delivering it to the garden is easier but somewhat expensive. the straw mulch that we use is also very helpful in retaining moisture but is very time consuming to put down and each bale is a bit expensive. We use straw mulch but could use it a lot more.

The straw mulch on the potatoes has reached hallway along on less than half of the rows and has used two and a half of the large round bales.
Thanks Marc.

A good crop of sunflowers again. They give height to the garden, add a lot of colour but take a lot of space either side.

The sunflowers are also very popular with all sorts of insects; bees, flies, wasps and more, These three are honey bees … I think.

The insect and bird populations in our immediate surroundings seems to be pretty good though we have few mosquitoes and the clouds of insects sometimes present are not there. It would seem then that there are far fewer insects than just 10 years ago but we have no measure.

This is a somewhat uncommon find, an Ailanthus Webworm (Atteva punctela) on a milkweed leaf. It ois a kind of moth which feeds on a variety of deciduous trees including the Ailanthus altissima, the Tree of Heaven native to northern China.

Garden grows well though everything is late and more still needs to be planted. Being dry now will slow things again. Today, Sunday mid-afternoon, is looking as though we might have a thunderstorm building but these things more often appear and disappear without getting us wet.

The black cherry tomato is ripening nicely. It had tomatoes from early on but they are taking a very long time to ripen.

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JULY 13 and 20, FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view taken on Wednesday of last week..

Just a little further down to the left of the previous photo. From the left; sunflowers several rows of potatoes differing varieties and planting dates, beans and then more sunflower.

We have been so busy the past while that it has been impossible to get a blog thought up, written and posted. So much to do in the garden and we are so far behind where we would really like to be. We are seriously considering getting the tractor back in running order to help speed things up. The trouble with that is the tractor needs a bit of work to get running and, in it’s present position in the wood shed, much would have to be moved to get it out. But all that wood needs to be moved anyway. To do this will require time and likely quite a bit of it. We also need a loader tractor and were considering one that was on Kijiji but thought better of that idea when looking at how much money we could afford. The tractor that we have is a Cockshutt 30 built in Brantford in 1947 and is a good size, being small enough, mostly, for the garden, and large enough to pull light farm equipment including a small baler and even a 6 foot combine harvester, and, we could put a loader on it. We need a loader to make faster work of moving manure and compost and for moving large round bales of hay and straw. Let me know if, stowed in some far corner of your basement, you have a spare loader that will  fit a “30”.

On the far left, not quite visible are Tomatillo, three rows of Tomato, peppers egg plant, sunflower and then the potatoes.
The posts are the start of the structure to get the tomatoes up off the ground and growing high and will double as a green house structure too.

Swiss chard, onion, peas, carrots, beets. Tomatoes in the foreground.

The vegetable garden is looking very good. We have had a lot of help from volunteers and especially from those having a working share in the CSA program. Without that help we would be even further behind and things would swallowed up be weed.

A soldier beetle with a larva of the potato beetle skewered on it’s proboscis. At about this time we can leave off our near daily walk through the potatoes looking for potato beetle’s and their larva.

The sunflowers are now in bloom.

We have gotten adequate rainfall except for a short while  when it was getting quite dry. We had to water newly seeded beds but most everything else was still alright and then it rained again. And again and more is coming. All this is good as we’d rather have a little more than enough rain than not quite enough.  The next four days are forecast to be sunny, just under 30C, and therefore no rain.

Red Admiral butterfly on a red clover flower. There are a large number of these this year. They like stinging nettle for their larva to munch on.

The rye is nearly ready for harvest. We have only a small amount scattered through the garden that came up from the rye straw mulch. We can now make a loaf or two of rye bread, a bit of rye whisky or have a bowl of Cheerie Rs.

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July 1 and 8, 2019 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view early in the morning of July first.

The potatoes with sunflowers to the left.

We missed posting a blog last Monday. We are so very busy now that finding time to write is difficult. This will be a short one.

A sunflower row growing very fast.

Tomato rows with pepper and eggplant to the right against the sunflowers

We are still planting in the garden and are slowly catching up though quite a bit further behind than we would like. There is still much to go in and there is also the on going maintenance of already growing vegetables. This is mainly mulching and weeding. Very little irrigation has been needed. this week past has been our driest so far. we got a bit of rain, not nearly as much as we need but enough to not have to water everything, just a few rows that really did need water.

The lettuce with the snow peas and the pea fence behind.

From the right; perennial onions, 2 rows of Swiss chard, 2 rows of peas, 6 rows of well mulched carrots and rows for beets and more carrots.

The garlic to the far left, broad beans (favas) to the left, onions centre and right and to the far right widely spaced cereal rye.

A volunteer lettuce in the pepper row and the eggplant row above.

The lettuce is now growing really well as it does always in hot weather with a lot of moisture. The heat has had no adverse effect as yet on the vegetables. It has only made for rapid growth.

The animals are doing well since the pastures are also staying quite green. The chickens and ducks continue to lay a good number of colourful eggs.

The sheep. Border Cheviots.

Nell and Leucan.

The ducks at the duck pond

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