Monday, September 26, 2011

Steaming the Greenhouses

The Steam Jenny

A Steam Pan

Dad forking the earth to let the steam get into the soil

Moving the pan

The Steam escaping from switching the hose

Steaming is one of the most labour intensive jobs this time of the year on the farm. Steaming is done to sterilize the soil and help kill the weeds.You are also able to plant at a higher density, as there is less weeds to compete.
Steaming began when we used to grow tobacco, as the seedlings were started in the greenhouse and then moved outdoors. Every September and October we steam the greenhouses to get ready for our next round of crops. There are two large pans- one for each side that run on wheels and pulley's. A hose is connected to the air tight pan for 1/2 hour, then the pan is left there for another 1/2 hour before it is moved. It takes two  sessions to get 10ft in.  It is not as common as it once was, as your greenhouse has to have center walkways and places for the wheels to get through at a certain size.  Before this all happens, the greenhouses have to be cleaned out, add fertilizer- in our case manure and rototillered. Then they get flooded, so the weeds will try to grow again. My favorite autumn smell of ripe fertile soil steaming. I look forward to it every year.
Hope your autumn is amazing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A lesson on pollianting squash, pumpkins and gourds

Male pollinator
 Some quick tips on Hand Pollinating your squash, pumpkins and gourds.

This is an every day process, as you need to find both male and female blossoms in bloom. A quick stroll around the patch lets you see who and what is ready to go.
Male pollinator's are on long and skinny stems, while the female's already have bumps of a gourd growing. ( the white blossoms are from my birdhouse gourd plant)

The Lady pollinator- do not pick!!! Note the bumps
Pollinating in action

Once you have located your male and female blossoms, pick the male off- with some stem for easy holding, and lightly bump the male and female parts together- (there is no easy way to say this!)
I do it a couple times to make sure they swap pollen.  Each male can pollinate about 3 females.

In a few days, you should have some growth on the female part.
 This process is the same for all sorts of  squash, pumpkins and gourds. It is true that you can let nature do the hard work, but when you go to all the effort of growing these plants, it never hurts to up your chances for increased bounty.
Female gourd- refuses to bloom for the camera. no pollinating today!

The male flower has a skinny long stem and a large 'pollinator'

Hope you have success too. In all honesty, I had never had the need to learn to pollinate, (although all of the giant pumpkins around are hand pollinated) and wanted to share what I learned.
 On the farm front, I have plenty of stories to tell and I forget to blog about them.
But never fear. there is always tomorrow.
I am also on facebook. Finally. still trying to iron out the kinks...
Fair winds,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

garden patch tour

Garden view 1

I had taken a photo session at one of my dear friends, and low and behold, I deleted all of my work. It was only then, I realized that I had plenty of my own garden to show. This is one of 4 areas where I grow things.   It begins in the spring, with rototillering, and planting out. Praying for seed to grow- which in most cases does, but in the weird spring we had, some refused to sprout.

The garden lettuce- both for salad mix and lettuce heads
 Not all plants keep growing. Plenty bolt and try to go to seed, so you need to plant in succession, or every few weeks.
Ornamental corn in the back, amaranthus, asters and small sunflowers in the front
 Which is where I was this morning- happily rototillering the hard pan- our sandy loam soil is full of moisture in the spring, then as the summer dries it out- even with irrigating, the soil compacts and becomes 'hard pan' not too bad for established flowers, as weeds grow less vigorous, but trying to replant is a pain.
Sunflower patch on far right, Greenhouse 5 in far back, corn, amaranthus and asters- and a finicky solanum

 It began to rain. At first sprinkle, so I figured I could finish my piece. Then the rain came down heavier, and I had to free wheel my rototiller back to the barn. I was pushing the heavy machinery as it began to smoke from rain hitting the hot sections and ran like I was in a marathon. Once parking the rototiller out of the rain I headed into the house- I have plenty of other things to do- laundry and blogging.
Lovely lovely sunflowers
It was only after I had my picky computer woken up and properly working that my Mom pointed out that the rain had stopped. Sheesh! While we can always use some rain, it often does not listen to our schedules and does not care if we need to be planting out lettuce and more seed. Which I will be heading back to now. Hope your day is lovely.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

a mini vacation

View to Petite Riviere

 I was over in New Germany visiting friends and even though I have been busy on the farm, I took a mini vacation over to Green Bay. Stopping at my favorite local craft shop on the way by- and taking the dirt road to Green Bay.
Green Bay and the dreary fog
 It was a dreary foggy day, and the wind whipped at my face as I walked along the rocky shores- rain threatened- and the black cormorant's huddled on the rocks. I love the ocean, I feel as I am greeting an old friend when I have time to see her face to face. I spent a few years sailing, so she was always by my side. But as happy as those times may have been, the ocean is very temperamental and doesn't always give, but takes away.
Waves leave impression

Seaweed that I always want to pop
 It is something I have to come to terms with, this slowing down and contemplating mind frame. It doesn't always happen during harvest season. But I enjoyed my little wee vacation. What do you do or go to try and find a different mindset?

hope this finds you well,

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring is finally waking up

What the heck is this? Rhubarb!

Pretty spring flowers

The outdoor spinach that survived the winter.
Hellebore's... Shy and beautiful

Inside the greenhouse.
Spring is upon us, although we had April Fool's Snow, and last night it went down to -8, so I had to protect my seedlings with extra lights to keep it warm. Birds keep appearing, I have spotted red winged black birds, tree swallows and lots of robins. This is my favorite time of year, being able to be outside in the early morning, along with the birds singing and things beginning to green up.  Hope this finds you well.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring and things

My awesome wagon

second view

The pretty spring flowers in the wagon

Finally! Flowers in bloom outside!

End of an era

the local field mill being ripped down
Most of my posts on spring are at my other blog, but I couldn't help but share my interesting planter, filled with bulbs I saved from a terrible frost. I don't even know what they are! I plan on doing some planters out of old truck toys later this year. Spring is finally here, along with some colorful crocuses blooming while most plants are still sleeping here. Another thing I had to show was the old Scotia Feed Mill being torn down. It caused quite a traffic jam, with all the locals coming to see the mill that refused to fall down. Later in the day it did come down, and as a local monument, it was sad. But it had been empty for years. Hope this finds you well!

grow grow grow!

Statice seedlings

Dahlia seedlings

The new greenhouse!

The new greenhouse- side view
Being new in the flower business, meant I had planted seeds- and still do, that I have faith in. I hope they'll come up, but it is total faith that they do sprout. This is why I was so excited to see sprouts! I have diligently followed seed directions for many different types, and only when you begin to see some green stuff does it start to pay off. Dad and I covered the greenhouse this morning, along with our neighbour- Thank you Jim! It was really nice to get it covered, and soon it will be used- but note- no door! not yet anyway, it is to be cut open when we have a door ready to hang.
I hope your putting some faith into your own seedlings too. Have a great day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hope for Spring.

Love the face-off of the scorpion and the worm

pure beauty

This costume is very very suggestive!

I wish I could paint like this!

The typical dutch landscape background

Sketch for above piece, love the lineage.
Hello everyone,
                It is almost the end of Feb, and I am getting sick of this snow! In a hope for spring, I've been reading Anna Pavord's 'The Tulip', chronicling the crazy and intense history of the Tulip we all know and love. The artist in me pours over the sketches, paintings and lithographs, all 15c to 19c. Looking back on old art gives a new perspective to seeing and understanding art. Even if it is a little quirky. I do love quirky. Hoping the sun shines stronger and melts away at least 2ft of snow!