June 13, 2013 Farm News

Wait !!  Whose horse is this.  Read on.

Wait !! Whose horse is this. Read on.

We have been getting a good lot of rain the past while, maybe even a little too much, but no, we shouldn’t complain about that yet.  We have continued on with transplanting and seeding and lots of weeding.  Most things are doing quite well though some things are quite delayed.  We are particularly pleased with the potatoes.  They look very good and are a good size and are just now showing developing flower buds here and there.  So that looks like maybe about three weeks before we can start digging them.  Also very pleased with the snap beans, a green and a purple, planted very early, germinated good with only a few gaps and survived several close calls with near freezing temperatures.  Carrots, Spinach, Swiss Chard, some Lettuces, and Beets had very early but poor germination, probably due to that period of dry weather with quite warm days that we had early on.  We have started fill- ins on these and second plantings but substantial harvest of some things is going to be late. Most other things are either going to be ready about when we’d like or, probably the majority, just a week or two late.

On Sunday just past, Marie and I went to Reimer Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake for a tour of the farm, vineyard and winery.  Sue and Art Reimer and their family, Sue’s Mom and Sue and Art’s daughter are also quite involved, do a fine job of running a 30 acre or so farm and vineyard as well as a winery with a retail store attached.  Their farm is one of only a handful of certified organic vineyards and wineries in the Niagara Region and they are both very passionate about what they do.  We were shown the grapes growing just alongside the winery building and Art’s flock of sheep that he is striving to incorporate into the managing of the vegetation growing between vine rows and around the grapes.  Art uses various organic and herbal supplements, biodynamic preparations and some homeopathic remedies in managing the health and nutrition and pest management of his grape vines.  All this requires a good deal of thought and careful preparation and application to get the desired results but it must be working as the gapes look quite healthy and are growing well.  We toured the winery to see how the process went from the crushed grapes to wine going into the bottles and once more there are many interesting things going on that require much thought, care and a lot of hard work.  Art showed us the rest of the farm, the henhouse, several pieces of machinery being built or remade into something just slightly different from the original piece so as to perform a specific function in the vineyard. And we met Maizie, Art’s newly acquired Percheron mare, to be, after a period of training, set to work in the vines.

Art's mare Maizie looking really nice with grapes growing in the background and the USA on the horizon.

Art’s mare Maizie looking really nice with grapes growing in the background and the USA on the horizon.

The tour group at Reimer Vineyards, Art is second from the left in the white shirt. We were discussing the subtleties of composting the pile of duck manure.

The tour group at Reimer Vineyards, Art is second from the left in the white shirt. Marie is standing at the back, black pants. We were discussing the subtleties of composting the pile of duck manure.

In the Winery, red wine aging in Canadian White Oak barrels.

In the Winery, red wine aging in Canadian White Oak barrels.

The vineyard and if I got it right, these are Pinot Noir grapes planted in 1997 and if I'm wrong Art can correct me.

The vineyard and if I got it right, these are Pinot Noir grapes planted in 1997 and if I’m wrong Art can correct me.

Wednesday evening I did a brief presentation to some 15 or so young children ages from about 8 to 12 at the Grey Street Community Garden in Brantford.  The kids are growing vegetables in one of the 65 plots under the guidance of co-ordinator of the kid’s programme, Kristy Bielic.  I talked about beneficial insects in the vegetable garden and it was a lot of fun.  I also learned a great deal about insects in the preparation work during the weeks leading up to my short talk.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable experience, we learned a lot about many things, much of which could be of use in our garden and on our farm.  Thank you very much to Sue and Art for kindly hosting us at their farm and we wish them well in all they do and they already have  very fine wines.  If you can do stop in to see their winery and do try a bottle or two of their wines.  Highly recommended by us.  See their website for location, hours, etc. and for info on the winery cottage on the farm which I haven’t even mentioned here.  The website is http://www.reimervineyards.com , have a look.

On Wednesday evening I did a short presentation to a small group (about 15) children ages 8 to 12 , at the Grey Street Community Garden in Brantford , on the subject of beneficial insects.  The kids have one of 65 plots and are quite enthusiastic and knowledgeable. It was great fun and I learned a lot about insects preparing for the event.  Thanks to Kristy Beilic who co-ordinates the kids program and to the organizers of the Grey Street Community Garden.

The larva of the Colorado potato beetle. The destroyer of our potatoes and food for the soldier bug. Perillus bio

The larva of the Colorado potato beetle. The destroyer of our potatoes and food for the soldier bug. Perillus bio

Perillus bioculatus, the two spotted stink bug, or spined soldier bug. Our invaluable helper in the potato patch.

Perillus bioculatus, the two spotted stink bug, or spined soldier bug. Our invaluable helper in the potato patch.

For years now we have had the help of a beneficial insect in our potatoes, the two spotted stink bug or spined soldier beetle, Perillu bioculatus, a major predator of the Colorado potato beetle and its larva. The beetle larva if left unchecked will rapidly destroy potato plants. I have been handpicking potato beetle off and on now for about two weeks and saw the first of this seasons soldier beetles just yesterday. probably within two weeks I will not have to bother looking for beetles and their larva as the soldier beetle population will have built up enough to control them at tolerable levels,

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