Monday, December 22, 2008

Life is But a Dream

I commented to Laura-Jane at Whimfield that Susan and I are stuck in the purgatory of going back and forth between urban and country living and how oddly depressing that can be.

I'm not sure that will make sense to anyone shivering on PEI right now.

The thing is, we are so attached to our farm and friends in Canada. We mark the passage of our children through the years by the pictures that we share with family and friends each fall. The summers on PEI are the growth rings of our family.
Deeply embedded. Marking our orbital trajectory. Never to be revisited.

Here in Santa Barbara I enjoy working in an interesting field. I provide remote studio services to radio networks from New York, Washington, London, Toronto and Amsterdam. I work with famous people and large studios and I work with small sponsors on creative projects. I do silly voices and serious announcements and write and edit and promote my work in this busy urban metro-world on the beach.

But depression has been my companion since late last summer.
Who am I? Where am I? Who the hell cares?

On Sundays in Santa Barbara, I make a point of working on the farm. I pull up research or look at seed catalogs or read the Small Farmer's Journal or catch up on my organic certification paperwork.

Yesterday being Sunday, I pulled up some new information on the potential for commercial peach growing in the maritimes. I've been working on our peach project for 4 years now. Last May we took delivery and planted our first two varieties in a small orchard. I'm rolling the dice and betting that in 2010 we'll have a crop of fresh organic peaches to sell. That is my dream. Seems reality might actually catch up with me.

So there - you see? I work in this mechanical and virtual reality of a luxury urban landscape that sometimes blinds, burns, and turns its inhabitants to ashes. But I live in a pastoral dream.

We dreamed the farm on PEI. I dreamed a horse onto a trail ride. We dreamed a tractor into the field and we dreamed a peach orchard into a living thing. We have more dreams for green energy, sheep, cows and more chickens.

But (sigh) sometimes I feel a bit like Dorothy in OZ. If life IS but a dream, where the hell am I when I wake up?

And what if I discover that I can't really fly -
on the way down?

Better just keep working on those dreams.

Right now I'm standing in the wet spring grass, moving slowly through the orchard, pruning peach trees for the coming harvest.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Make Friends with a Farmer. Here's Why...

Published online today in the New York Times.
This is what sustainable agriculture is all about.

"Farmer In Chief"

Urban North America is about to be reconnected to food supply issues.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Photos From The Farm

September on the Farm

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumn Leaves

This summer on PEI was all too short as usual and a quite bit wetter than normal! After the basement flooded, Post Tropical Storm Hannah dumped another 3 inches of rain on our farm in Eastern PEI.

So, when the weather cleared and the fields dried enough for me to slog through, I found soggy potatoes but glorious beet greens and swiss chard! Lots of our yellow beans went un-picked until it was too late for me to bring in a top quality product. The beans showed rust, and other effects of too much water. Letting them hold too long on the plant also meant they were past their tender best. So out to the compost they go!

Sweet corn finally came in - but too late in the season to do much good. We had an acceptable level of corn worm damage and nice size ears from plants otherwise stunted earlier in the season by lack of rain and some fertility/rotation issues I need to solve.

My last few days of work on the farm have focused on cleaning up the rows that were fallowed this year and the crops that were finished for the season. I take up a lot of this material by hand (weeds, plants, etc.) and mix it into compost. The compost works for two years and is then applied to planting rows.

It was beautiful on Friday morning when I went to the shore to pick up a manure spreader load of sea kelp for the compost pile. This rich source of micro-nutrients and biological energy mixes well with the horse manure we collected over the summer and the fresh green waste (the old bean plants, cukes, summer squashes, windfall apples and weeds). All are combined in layers with spoiled hay and then the fun begins!

Nothing better than coming out on a frosty Autumn morning to see steam rising off the compost pile! It's tremendous to be able to watch the process that creates fertility as bacteria, water and oxygen become a bio-engine that sterilizes and breaks down the mixture into healthy soil ammendment!

The farm business was slow this year. Despite our success at Dundas and at our periodic market table in Murray River, the number of visitors to eastern PEI and customers at our gate lane was well below what it has been in former years. I'll let tourism PEI determine why, but I think it's fair to guess that the high cost of fuel, parity of the US dollar and confusion about border crossings etc. made it tough for Americans to make the trip.

The number of visitors from Quebec, who often exclaim their appreciation at finding an organic farm on their island tour, also seemed to be fewer this past year. Though the visitors we did receive from Quebec were lovely and enthusiastic and made me aware that I really need to learn to at least name our produce varieties in French.

Even so, we did have some success in ways that are important to our business. We used our logo and the PEI organic producers co-op label on our bagged products and were rewarded by repeat business from people who recognized our branding.

We also found new ways (for us) to use machines for planting, how crop rotations can be improved and how companion planting can improve resistance to pests and improve yield.

So, all in all we made progress on the land and kept things moving ahead.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Summer on the Farm

When winter goes so slowly it seems impossible that summer could fly so fast, but here we are headed for the end of August already!

We started with weeks of dry weather. But the last week of July flipped us into a pattern of rain every day for the last 3 weeks! This has been tough on us since picking was first delayed and then became impossible to put off, regardless of the field conditions. Also, plant diseases become a problem when the leaves can't dry out for days on end. We had two consecutive days last week when it rained 12 hours straight each day. I guess when the poles melt the water has to go somewhere.

This weekend we'll be setup at the Provincial Plowing Match in Dundas, Prince Edward Island. We'll be picking and packing for the next few days to get ready for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday Farmers Market. If you're in eastern PEI we hope you'll stop in for the fun.

For those of you, "from away" this event is a good old fashioned country fair with a carnival midway, music, animal showing, craft judging and etc. And yes, the event is centered around the plowing competition and the naming of the "Queen of the Furrows".

To win, this lovely young woman must not only have charm and poise. She must be able to plow a furrow. I'd like to see Miss America try that one on for size.

Here are some pictures from the past few weeks on the farm:

Blueberry Pickers

Wild Raspberry Dude.

Annie Picks (and eats) berries

Cherry Pickin'

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bills, Burns, Birthdays and Birds

Hello from the Farm! Well, we've been on the go since my last posting. Now it's Sunday. Time to visit with the neighbors and share all the goings on. So pull up a chair dear and join us. Now, This first picture is the view from the shop/studio where I write this blog, fix leaky garden hoses, sharpen chain saws and record audio for The Production Room. Not too bad a spot eh?

This is our fine automobile. Every year, we're required to get a vehicle inspection on this lovely 1995 Dodge Caravan. This year, she failed miserably. Rusty doors, worn tires, bad front suspension, cracked windshield were all on the list. We decided a few dollars for repairs and another summer of driving made more sense than borrowing money does these days. So, in exchange for less debt and a provincial stamp of approval, we slapped on some used parts and were on our way. Nice, huh?

Well, the title says, "Burns", and it was bad! A week ago today I was rushed to emergency Hospital in Montague for 2nd degree burns on my leg and foot. No fun!
I was brewing tea - for iced tea - in preparation for bringing hay from the field into the barn on a hot day. Two liters of boiling water shattered the glass pitcher I was brewing in and landed on me! The pictures aren't pretty so I'll just post this snapshot of the toolbar/table planting rig we used to set in plants a couple of weeks ago. It worked like a charm. I'm on then mend now and feel fortunate not to be scheduled for skin grafts!

Susan and I celebrated birthdays this week! She one day before mine. We always feel glad to be home on PEI and lucky to see another summer as we whirl around the sun each year. Perhaps this year seems even more special as teenager gets another summer closer to leaving home and the other "youngfella" heads into grade three this fall. I hobbled into the field to pick Susan a bouquet of wild flowers on her birthday. Just this morning I was greeted by this bank of roses and their gentle perfume in the front yard.

We also had a lot of bird news this week. Our little black hen, named "Black Magic Woman", was dragged off to her doom late one night by something wild. It was either a coyote or a fox, both of whom have been noticed skulking about in the night. Annie the wonder dog dozed through the entire affair, being less than clued in about the entire shepherd/farm dog thing. Teenager heard a loud "squawk" and that was all the certain evidence there was. But now we have three ducks to add to our menagerie. They come to us from a friend who said these drakes we're being picked on at his place and could use a break. So we herded them down the lane to the pond this morning (Annie, showing us her herding skill) and into the pond they went. They took to it just like...well,like a duck takes to water!

This week we'll be picking herbs, sweet peas and possibly some beet greens along with a nice steady supply of salad greens. Sure could use some rain! Everything is a bit dry now. But the tomatoes are "comin' good" and a bit of dry heat is pushing them into flower already!

Until next time, best regards from Dunn Creek Farm!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mesclun Salad Greens - California Style

California Mesclun Salad Now Available at:
Dunn Creek Farm
Murray Harbour North PEI
Nabuurs Garden Center
Brudenell/Montague PEI
Phone Your Order: 962-3427

There are many ways to mix up a mesclun salad. The word itself is vague enough to encourage you to try for taste above a specific mix of young greens. Some like big bold leafy greens and textures that will stand up and carry a heavy wave of creamy dressing. Others prefer a light and more delicate mix where the salad itself is the star and vinaigrette offers polite accompaniment.

Our mesclun salad is more likely to be the latter, especially in it's early season, first cut form. This mix was developed in California's wine country so it's not surprising that it lends itself to a light lunch or supper and a traditional olive oil and wine vinegar. Think Mediterranean cuisine - fish and seafood, semi soft cheese, good bread, pasta, fresh strawberries, a crisp white wine and a warm summer day!

The mix contains several sweet lettuces, peppery mustard, tangy oriental flavors and includes the up-and-coming star of the salad world - nutty arugula.

We also add a dash of edible flowers in season; for flavor and bit of extra panache at table. Sometime it's "cucumbery" borage sometimes it's peppery nasturtiums and always it's a mix that is dressed to impress!

Like everything we grow, our mesclun is hand raised in small quantities, so supply is limited. We plant new beds every few weeks and we expect to have a limited supply on hand all summer. Stop by for a free taste!

Until next time, best wishes from Dunn Creek Farm

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seeds Waiting For Rain

We've planted our early corn and yellow beans and set out transplants of squash, cucumbers, some tomato, heirloom peas and basil but no rain has come to get things growing.

It's been cool and cloudy for days with light showers and a forecast calling for rain, but so far nothing but a sprinkle or two and winds that tends to dry out our plants and the already dusty topsoil.

Tomorrow calls for sun. We may have to carry water to the field.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Report To Mrs. Revlin's Grade 2 Class - Monte Vista School

(Note: Toby is writing this report for his class at Monte Vista School in Santa Barbara, California. In Canada, 2nd grade is called grade 2!)

Toby's Animals on the Farm

My mom found this baby kitten stranded in the ditch in front of our farm. She thought it sounded like a bird, so she named her, "Birdy". She brought her in the house and bought a bottle of milk for her. Birdy was a surprise for me when I came home. Birdy likes to play with a toy mouse. And she likes to chase a ball of yarn around. I like her. She is a good surprise.

This is our rooster, Chester. He goes "buck buck buck" and talks to his hens. He crows a lot too. I hear him crow when it's morning. Every day I check the chickens and make sure they have food and water. And then I look for eggs in the hay nest.

This is one of our hens on the nest in the chicken coop. She doesn't have a name yet. Would you like to help us name her? She is very shy, she is missing some feathers but she lays eggs for us. Mrs. Revlin can send us your ideas for a name.

Every day I look in the nesting box for eggs. We have three hens and they don't lay every day, so sometimes there are no eggs. The hens lay eggs in the hay nest because that is where they feel safe. Sometimes the eggs are white and sometimes they're brown because they come from different chickens. My dad had this egg for breakfast!

I miss you guys and I hope I'll see you next year!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

We've Got Asparagus!

Fresh Organic Asparagus Now at Dunn Creek Farm Rte. 17, Murray Harbour No. PEI. Also available at Nabuurs Garden Center in Brudenell/Montague. Phone in your order - (902)962-3427.

The trend in food publishing today is to create images that makes food a fantasy of desire.

Well, to me, the romancing of food in the perfect kitchen misses an opportunity to love it as it arrives from the earth - before it reaches trendy chefs and fussy photographers. This is especially true of asparagus.

Three years ago we gently planted 300 Jersey Giant root crowns in hand dug beds. Then we waited and weeded. And mulched and weeded. We've looked after this small crop through the seasons and now our waiting is over (but not the weeding!). We do indeed have fresh organic asparagus available in limited quantity over the next several weeks.

Asparagus is a welcome early season guest. It arrives before our other summer favorites do and seldom stays long enough to grow tiresome. We pick ours by hand and select each spear for tenderness and quality. You'll seldom find stringy fibres so no peeling is required. Just a light steam (4 or 5 minutes will probably do it) and it stays delightfully textured and flavorful. A simple pat of butter will do for dressing or, if you're a bit handy in the kitchen, try chilling your steamed asparagus and then serve it with a honey, mustard and shallot dressing.

I'm also determined to pickle some asparagus this season! Dropping a bit of pickled asparagus onto a plate of cheeses and crackers will perk up a sunset at the shore. Or plop one into a Bloody Mary for something unique and tasty!

Of course, some of our crop never reaches the market. It's eaten fresh as it's picked! I invite you to try this crisp, green and sweet treat yourself!

Mesclun Salad Mix

We are also beginning to bring in some early mesclun greens from the green house beds. This is a lovely California style mix of sweet lettuces, spicy mustard, savory arugula and a hint of tangy oriental flavors. It's super with a healthy, traditional
vinaigrette, some crusty bread and a light wine.

That's the news for now! Until next time, all the best from Dunn Creek Farm, PEI.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Worm Turns!

It was a tough morning on the farm. I got started at 8:00 AM with the tractor and trailing disc harrows on the field I plowed several days ago. By 9:30 I had a broken set of harrows and was frustrated by a broken axle shaft and missing parts buried somewhere in the field!

I swapped out the discs and went to the venerable old spring tooth harrow to finish the job. I planted timothy and clover in the buffer strip along the road and then laid out a grid for planting our new peach orchard.

What a day! The sun was shining but there was a cold wind blowing 30 - 40 mph all day long. The remnants of the storm that caused so much trouble down south is passing over Nova Scotia and producing a bitter wind that one islander said today, "would rather go through you than around you." Well put.

As the sun was going down I walked along our lane and snapped this photo of the pond that Dunn Creek fills before slipping under the road and down into Murray Harbour.
A pair of Canadian Geese are nesting on the shore and don't seem to appreciate my efforts at farming. If I get too close they honk at me and wish I would leave.

The frogs are making their racket now and looking for some action in the pools and shallows. It's time for me to be finished for the day. I have 25 holes to dig for my dear little peach trees. They're counting on me so I'd best call it a day.

Time to rest. Until next time, best wishes from Dunn Creek Farm.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Worm Forgives the Plough

This picture is for Katie in Montreal who wrote a kind note to say that I made her miss her island home!

Katie can probably tell you what that picture means better than I. And I expect she could even tell you how it smells. Really! There's something about opening the earth on the island in the early spring. The scent that rises after a long winter rest says, "I'm ready - let's get growing!" It's a mixture of mossy wetness, the final breath of last summer's grasses, the meaty tang of worms at work and just a hint of diesel from our little tractor.

I took my old plow out behind the tractor yesterday and made the sods turn over across the two acre field we started working several years ago now. Island farmers , the real ones in their big rigs, like to see the bright red island soil come up to greet them as they pass over the land. I like the intimacy of the open air atop my little John Deere and I've learned to read the soil as I pass over. I know now that when the sods turn from grass green to the rich color and texture of chocolate cake that I have a healthy field full of life.

A man who encourages low till farming once was asked, "Why do farmers plow?" He said, "Because they like to." He's right. And as eager as we are to reduce the need for tillage and to preserve soil structure, this field is in need of some help to repair my earlier mistakes. And so to get the ground ready for the effort to control weeds and feed the soil for another season, I chose the plow to prepare the ground for the green manure and cover crop that will hold down the soil and feed it until our next experiment.

Katie in Montreal noticed that I'm from the US and wondered how I found my way here. Well Katie, the answer is my wife and her, "kindred spirit", Lucy Maud Montgomery. As a fan of, "Anne of Green Gables" she cam to PEI with her grown daughter and they fell in love with the island. The next year we came back up from California and had the notion that we could find a little place for not too much money. Perhaps a cottage near the shore. We found this farm and after much discussion about how impractical it would be - we bought it.

Neither Susan nor I had any kind real experience that would lend itself to taking on a farm. Susan grew up in Wisconsin, and I fell in love with the country life as a part time hand on a cattle ranch in California. So starting with very little practical know-how, we jumped in. And here we are. Now our plans are to graduate our oldest boy from High School in Santa Barbara and then move our family full time to PEI.

It's an interesting life we've chosen. The challenges are many. We know we're fortunate to have the chance and so we're determined to make the most of it.

Well, that's all I have time for tonight. I have a green house waiting for me to plant full of seedlings and time won't wait. I'll post more as time allows. Till then, best wishes from Dunn Creek Farm, PEI.

...Before. On the Airbus to LAX on Friday Afternoon!

...After. Out standing in my field!

Yup, it's spring here on PEI and time to get to farmin'.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cover Crop Saves Top Soil, Reduces Inputs

A picture is worth a thousand words. This picture was taken last July just as the cucumbers were coming in. I'm posting it to show our plan to create a sustainable, integrated organic system that we can keep building on. I have to give credit to the Small Farmer's Journal for giving me the insight and information to start this plan. The article in SFJ gave information about cover cropping and green manure rotation using horse powered equipment. So far, our small scale operation and compact tractor are just the right scale for this design.

The picture shows 4'x 200' rows of cucmbers and squash, mulched with unsprayed barley straw I bought from a local farm. The straw mulch kept out weeds and kept moisture and soil temps even.

In between the crop rows is a cover/green manure crop of white clover and perennial rye grass. By keeping it mowed, but tall enough for the clover to bloom, we keep weeds out, feed the soil a mix of organic matter and fixed nitrogen and cover the top soil. We encourage bees and other pollinators to work for us. We also have a clean surface to work on that's wide enough to bring machines onto when needed.

So far, the results are good. But we'll soon see if weed pressure is manageable and whether the rotations of crops we plan will continue the high yields we've had so far.

The low till approach means less fuel required to prepare for planting. Cover crops keep weeds from establishing, so there is no input cost for weedkiller, equipment or fuel for spraying. We mow between rows with a lawn tractor - using far less fuel and creating less soil compaction than heavy machinery.

Anyway, I guess we're learning things that people who farm with horses or small tractors already know. We find it exciting and rewarding to learn more each year about how to work with nature to create high yields on a compact scale.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What Certified Organic Means To Us

Moving to a small farm on Prince Edward Island from Southern California created the obligation Susan and I feel to be good stewards of something we're holding in trust for the future. The farm will only be ours for a few short years and then it will be passed along. So we feel it's our responsibility to care for this old homestead as a living thing. Our goal is to invest in our children and in this land - to leave this farm to the next generation with fields intact, with water sparkling clean, with top soil that is deep and rich and with woodland that is diverse and healthy.

And so, as we started our farm adventure in 2000, we decided to begin organic and stay organic. We worked with MCOG (Maritime Certified Organic Growers)to become one of about two dozen certified organic farms on the island. And we found that we had a lot of learning to do. The certifying process is a learning process and our small production hardly justifies the expense and effort at certification. But we believe in creating and supporting small, local, Organic, hand-crafted food because it nurtures the land and it nurtures our community at a time when global oil and global agriculture threatens the environment and threatens food security for us all.

Lot's of people on PEI have beautiful gardens and small farms where they grow lovely produce for themselves and for market. I've met some older folks who take great care in their gardens; carrying on traditions they've learned from their elders. I am always eager to meet these growers and visit with them about the way they work. They have a lot to teach someone as ignorant as I am. Having grown up in a completely different time and place, there is plenty I don't know about living and growing on PEI.

The older people I meet don't claim to be doing anything special. They know what's useful about the old ways. They're practical and clever about the use of modern technology. In the times their experience comes from, "sustainability" wasn't a creative or political choice or a technique to preserve the environment. It was the action of keeping body and soul together on their own land season after season, year after year.

It's not surprising then that some of the people I meet as I stand behind our produce table in Murray River or at the Farmers Market in Dundas tell me that their gardens are organic and that they always have been. There is an appreciation on PEI for the tradition of carefully grown food on healthy land with clean water.

Our neighbors in Murray Harbour North are kind and generous people who have welcomed us to their community. Some go out of their way to visit and buy our vegetables. Being certified organic and selling direct at the farm gate gives us a chance to meet and talk. In a place like this, family ties and relationships go back generations. So being the new people on the old Dunn Farm is kind of like being the new kid in school. We try to mind our manners and hope to make a good impression. We hope to be worthy of our neighbors support and confidence.

I've just been reviewing the application for certification that must be filled out each year to renew our annual organic certification. The requirements are detailed and we must document every seed we plant, create farm maps of our planting areas, document the inputs we buy, the compost we make and the crops we harvest and sell. Our farm itself is inspected and our fields graded on our success and failures.

We've been re-certified each year for the last four years but have a long way to go. Perhaps it's my California bred optimism and Susan's Wisconsin work ethic that makes us think we have something to give this community and this Province. We think that if we work hard we can bring our dreams to life in these bountiful fields. We hope to produce the kind of wealth that money alone can't buy. And we encourage our friends, visitors and neighbors to share the wealth with us in each season.

Both Susan and I have worked for the rich, the powerful and the famous. We've both come to the conclusion that the quality of life isn't found in fame or fortune. Our life on Prince Edward Island brings us back to earth and teaches us the value of living. Our neighbors aren't rich, but they are generous. We are not rich but we appreciate the values that make life on PEI so good.

We don't expect to make a lot of money growing Organic vegetables. We expect to be rich in compost, yellow beans, family and friends.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Studying The Benefits Of Low Till Farming

Just 2 weeks from now I'll be getting our fields ready for another season of planting, growing and harvesting on beautiful Prince Edward Island. I'll be working to further our plan to eliminate the need for seasonal plowing from our mixed use row crop field.

Now, I should say that our farm is really a market garden that employs just a few of our total acres in any one season. And I'll humbly add we're slowly learning the benefits of including sustainable design into our small farm operation through trial and error.

Our overall plan is to use crop rotation, cover cropping and inter-cropping to maintain soil fertility, manage weeds and limit fuel/labor inputs. We plant intensively in a small area, looking for high efficiency in our work and sustainable yields at harvest time.

The photo above was taken in May, 2007. I had fallowed the field for the past three seasons and last year I used a trailing disc harrow and S tine harrow but no plow. I used a home built tool bar mounted on the back of the tractor with a 3 point hitch to form 4 foot wide raised beds. The wide lanes between the rows were planted with white clover and rye grass, so no bare dirt remained to require weed management or risk a loss of topsoil. These lanes were mowed over the summer, feeding a nice mulch into the soil, holding moisture, moderating soil temps and providing blossoms that attracted beneficial insects.

This year, we plan to continue to use the raised beds I formed last year by rotating our crops, planting green manure crops in fallow rows and adding finished compost mulch to crop rows.

We'll also be planting a small fruit orchard with trees set out to accommodate inter-cropping and machine work in the orchard. We hope this will mean a more compact operation and higher yields with less input.

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 31, 2008

What's On the Menu?

I'm often asked, "What do you grow?"

Unlike the commodity market producers who can answer, "Potatoes" or "Wheat" or "Corn", our answer takes a bit longer. We have been working since 2000 to create a diverse "market basket" of selections that include hand raised vegetables, fruits and flowers, all of which are MCOG certified organic. We sell from our farm gate in Murray Harbour North, PEI and we distribute produce to several locations including Nabuurs Garden Center in nearby Montague and periodically in Murray River.

We rely a great deal on Vesey's Seeds in York, PEI. I really appreciate their support of local organics and the fact that they run their own extensive trial gardens in the same climate and soil conditions where we work. The trial gardens are open to the public and are a wonderful local resource.

Here are a couple of Highlights:

We'll have our first full season of Jersey Giant Asparagus starting this spring! A welcome early spring vegetable, we anticipate being able to extend the harvest this year so that more of our friends will have a chance to enjoy the delicate taste of really fresh asparagus!

Our popular California Mesclun Salad greens will be back again. This mix was selected by Margaret Prouse to be featured in the PEI Linking Land and Sea demonstrations last summer at the Provincial Plowing Match in Dundas.

One of the ingredients in our mesclun salad mix, the edible nasturtium blossoms, add a splash of color and a lightly spicy flavor to the greens. They also add taste of history. The seeds we use on PEI to grow our old fashioned trailing nasturtiums were originally wild harvested in Santa Barbara, California, where nasturtiums are hardy and perennial. This particular plant was an escapee from somewhere along the wet-weather creek in the foothills behind our home. It's not unusual to find these heirlooms growing wild in the canyons near places where homesteaders once farmed or ranched. They were often planted as a salad cress or green and may have been brought here by Spanish Colonists. Historically they were also a popular feature in traditional English culinary gardens.

* * * * *

We've done a lot of experimenting in the past couple of years to find the best varieties of island favorites and last year we had a booming good season for yellow beans. Thanks to Vesey's, I think we've found the perfect variety to keep islanders happy during "bean season" this summer!

Last year we introduced Lemon Cucumbers at Dundas. This heirloom from Australia looks like a lemon and has a nice light flavor that makes it a great slicer for fresh eating! We expect to have 5 varieties of cucumber this summer so be ready to crunch, slice and pickle to your heart's content.

That's all for now...

We'll have time to enjoy a bit more hot stove farming before the snow melts and it's time to work the soil again. Meantime, I'll put another stick in the fire if you'll put the kettle on!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Summer 2007