Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Planning for Spring Planting

Looking forward to spring at our house means looking at seed catalogs, planning our farm rotations and planting expectations in our minds.  For the past few weeks, the farm blog has been at Fairview Gardens.  This time I'll give you a bit of a preview of our gardens and fields for 2010 with the hope that, however they might turn out, you'll keep us in mind at Dunn Creek Farm when you need fresh local produce for a summer supper or fall preserving.

For our friends in SoCal, through the States and around the world, this is my chance to share a bit about what we do and how it  works out that we can plant in the spring, harvest in the fall and let the farm sleep for the winter while we work in California.  This is our last year for that, because we're moving to the farm full time this summer. But our stories have interested more than a few urban folk who wonder how we do it - and if they can do it too. All I can say is, yes you can.  Just be prepared to keep at it for a while. This is our tenth year in PEI.

So, here we are in the front field where we grow  veggies. We intercrop white clover and annual rye between rows.  We plant in bedrows that I form with a tool bar with shovel and points, so there's no real plowing here and minimal tillage - mostly to incorporate organic material and prepare beds for planting.  I'm still learning the timing of cover crop/cash crop rotations. And I'm focusing on learning how to build soil through cover crop and rotation. I haven't flipped planting rows into the intercrop rows yet but if I goof, I have rows ready.    

This is how I finished the front field last fall.  Some of the rows were green manure cropped for the summer with oats and vetch.  When they were ready, I mowed them and disc-ed in the residue.  In the crop rows I disc-ed the row and then spread finished manure/compost which I covered with rock-weed (sea weed) from Poverty Beach.  Many people ask me about the salt content of the seasweed.  I have not had a problem.  Old time farmers often used this material and by spreading it in the fall, you have many months of rain and snow rinsing any residual salt out.

These red potatoes were grown from certified organic PEI seed.  I buy as much seed from local sources as I can.  Vesey's carries these seed potatoes and I buy other seed stock from Vesey's because they have an excellent trial garden program in York, PEI.  This means that the seeds I buy have been tested in similar soil and weather conditions and are selected for quality.  Local potato growers are creating an organic market that helps keep money working for us at home on the island.  And - they really taste great too!

The asparagus arrived in early May last year. Keep us in mind for tender fresh Asparagus along with the lobster for your Mother's Day Supper this year!  We'll have a lot of variety planted this year and high hopes to see you stop by the farm for fresh greens, peas, carrots, beets, potatoes and so much more.  We'll be selling at the gate as before and hope we'll once again have produce in stock for you at Naburrs Garden Center in Brudenell/Montague.  And this year we'll get your orders ready for pickup/delivery too!         

If there's something special you'd like this year,  please drop a note in the comments section below and tell us about it.

We're eager to get started on our new adventure and I invite you to follow along here on the blog as we move from the city and get the farm up and running this spring!


Laura-Jane said...

Those asparagus are just the cutest things I've ever seen.

Kim said...

John, I'm looking forward to reading your summer blog!
And if you have a tip for fending off the million slugs, please let me know!

Knatolee said...

I'm finally starting some asparagus this year. Yours looks great, as do the taters.

John Quimby said...

These early spring goodies come in fast and furious, but we stop picking around the first week in July to let the ferns come up and store energy in the crowns for next year.

To preserve some of that glory I made a few quarts of savory asparagus pickles last spring. They were really popular served chilled with summer suppers.

John Quimby said...

Kim - Thanks, I'll be checking up on you too!

I've heard that ducks are the answer to slugs and mosquitos. So we took in three "loaner" ducks to try them out.

We have a pond and thought the setup was perfect, though I worried about coyotes (and ever catching the ducks again.)

Well. In a matter of days they had moved into the chicken coop where they proceeded to eat the food and poop in the waterers.

Not to be ruled by ducks, I started herding them to the pond in the morning. When no one was looking, they'd go back to the chicken coop. Our aussie dog never did get a clue that her job was to hold 'em at the pond.

Anyway, the best slug remedy I find is patrolling the garden each morning early in the spring with a can of water & natural dish soap. Pick 'em up, plop 'em in and then off to the compost they go.

If touching slugs is a "deal breaker" for you, there are now several iron phosphate baits that are omri approved.

Kim said...

lol, John, that's exactly what I have been doing - patrolling early every morning and throwing them to the chickens, who love them. Too bad I couldn't let them into the garden, though they do circle around it all day.
And I don't mind picking them up with bare hands anymore, it's just that the slime is like crazy glue - takes forever to scrub off!
We have an Australian Shepherd - she's not figured out her job yet, either, but then, we're not the best teachers, lol.