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Christening the new homestead

 
Debbie Heys
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Looking for ideas on something we can plant to celebrate our new digs. 
Raw land, 7.7 acres with about 3 cleared and level. North Thompson Okanagan.
Our goal is to grow organic vegetable/fruit on the cleared while leaving the rest natural.
We are visiting this month (November) for the weekend and wondering if there is anything we could plant.
Any thoughts?

 
Eric Bee
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Pretty wide open question. When are you going back? Is it raining enough?

Obviously kale comes to mind
 
R Ranson
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If the ground isn't frozen, fava beans.  They are usually cheaper in the grocery store.  You could get some now and do a germination test.  If you don't eat them, they make a great green manure.
 
Eric Bee
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I was thinking food, but yeah, a cover crop is always good especially if it's both! R Ranson, do you winter sow fava for spring? They are somewhat cold hardy but I thought they like 60s best.

I sow most covers in mid- late-October but I'm zone 8b-9a. Hairy vetch can be sown later, but even though Fava is related they aren't frost tolerant as far as I know. Debbie, are you around 7b to 8a?

Maybe find out what cover crops people around your land plant and when.
 
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Every time I've moved to a new piece of land, I've planted some trees. That way, years later, I can look at a tree and say, "That was planted when we bought this place.....that one was planted the year we started building the house....that one got planted the year I started the first garden....that one was planted when we finished the barn." Looking at the trees brings back strong memories.

I did the same thing with my present farm. .....
That coconut tree was planted when we bought the raw land...
The pineapple bed was first planted when the house got started...
Those pipinolas were started when I broke ground for the garden.....
That orange tree was planted the first day of the start of our orchard...

Our house will be completed sometime next year and we plan to throw an outdoor party. I'm planning on buying several fruit trees so that our friends can plant them to commemorate not only the competition of the house but also celebrate their involvement. Ah-ha, also a clever way to get them to dig all the holes for us!
 
Debbie Heys
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I'm new to this forum, so I don't know yet how to reply to each of you individually, as I would like to. So I will do my best to cover the replies as best as I can without seeing them! 

We won't be back until again April.
We are Zone 6, and the soil is sandy, clay.
We get approx. 357 mm or 14 inches of rain
Approx 190 growing days
Do you think Kale germinate this time of year? 
Fava beans sound very interesting, and I will look into it.
I need a ground cover as the cleared portion is bare. I was thinking that clover would cover most bases as it attracts good insects, leaves a mulch, is drought tolerant etc.  I don't believe it's nitrogen fixing though, so may need to mix it with a plant that is. But I don't think I can spread it until April. Maybe May.
I would love to plant a tree, as I love the idea of having a long term marker of our time there.  PS,  your tropicals are making me jealous!
 
Eric Bee
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Holy rain shadow batman.

Ok, so cover crop. With that rain, given the timing, it wouldn't make much sense to do anything else. Kale will germinate at quite low temps, but obviously you'll need water. And by the time you came back it would be long done. Even so, it's maybe too late for all but really cold hardy like rye or hairy vetch.



 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Debbie,

Fava is a good start but why not do multiple plantings along with the fava you could sow winter cereal rye, winter wheat, barley, clovers and garlic. that would give you lots of plants that will sort themselves once spring comes around.
The fava will grow most of the winter, the grains will come up and stop at about 6 inches tall and remain that way until spring arrives, no maintenance needed and your soil is covered with things that will rot nicely if you press them down after they have grown up.

Since you aren't living on the land right now, think multiple uses and crop plants. the clovers are great nitrogen fixers and even when the grains are tall, they will be waiting for their chance to see the sun.
Letting grains grow up and form seed gives you options of harvesting the seeds or pressing the whole plant down to the ground, doing the latter will sow some of those seeds at the same time the clovers are growing taller because they now get the sun.
If you aren't going to be able to be there much for quite a while, using this type of regime will allow you to: keep the soil covered, grow something you can harvest and eat, let rot in place and thus build better soil.

Redhawk
 
R Ranson
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Eric Bee wrote:I was thinking food, but yeah, a cover crop is always good especially if it's both! R Ranson, do you winter sow fava for spring? They are somewhat cold hardy but I thought they like 60s best.

I sow most covers in mid- late-October but I'm zone 8b-9a. Hairy vetch can be sown later, but even though Fava is related they aren't frost tolerant as far as I know. Debbie, are you around 7b to 8a?

Maybe find out what cover crops people around your land plant and when.


fava beans are amazing!


These days I plant them any time from when our winter rains start (mid Oct usually) all the way through March.  Weather dependent of course.  They need the soil to be above freezing to germinate, preferably above 5 degrees C.   Plant them earlier or later where I live and they require irrigation - not something I want from a staple crop.

Fava beans will weather a freeze if under about 4 inches tall.  Sometimes they will dye back to the roots, but that's fine.  Having the roots established over winter makes a much more hardy plant and hefty crop.  Favas are traditionally grown overwinter.  Many modern varieties won't weather a freeze as full grown plants, but I've had a few from my medieval fava lines make it through winter as adults.  At first, it was just the Broad Windsor, but this spring I found a few Martoc decedents made it too.  I saved the seeds from these and am experimenting with overwintering adult plants again this year.

I don't know if the Okanagan is as severe as it is on the coast, but from what my friends tell me, it is very similar when it comes to rainfall patterns.  Basically, lots of rain in the winter and not much if any in the summer.  This gives one the opportunity to re-think what they mean by 'growing season'.  In most of BC, plants grow in the fall, winter, and spring.  Growing main calorie crops like favas, grains, and chickpeas over winter, means that we can focus our water resources on luxury crops like tomatoes in the summer.

If it turns out you don't like fava beans, don't want to make your own miso, soy sauce substitute, tempeh, tofu, or the like, then favas are fantastic for the soil. 


We won't be back until again April. 


Just in time to weed the fava beans.

Thinking on it now, garlic might grow in there if winter planted.  It's unusual, but worth a try. 

Do you think Kale germinate this time of year?


It would some years.  It's been very warm this winter in our corner of BC.  Well worth a shot.  If not, the seeds may stay dormant in the soil and germinate in the spring.  Give you a head start for when you arrive.  Perhaps choose a fairly tall variety so you can find it among the weeds?

I need a ground cover as the cleared portion is bare.


Fava beans are your friend.  How about a mix of barley, fava beans and clover?  Favas and clover help fix nitrogen into the soil...only clover doesn't make a very good staple crop.  If you need the food, you can let the grain and beans mature, otherwise, till them under in the spring to improve your soil.


The best thing you could do is to go to the bulk food section and get a big bag of all different seeds that might possibly make it through winter and sew that for your cover crop when you visit your land.  Try things like whole soup peas, chickpeas, barley, oats, wheat, lots of lovely lentils, favas, &c.  Come back in April and observe what grew and what didn't.  If nothing grew, then the seed was cheep (and it might have been the seed that was at fault) but if something grows, then you already have some insight into what your new land can do. 
 
R Ranson
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Another question, when do you get your rain?  Will it be over a couple of months or evenly distributed over the whole year? 
 
Eric Bee
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Good to know. I'd always thought they were much less hardy than that, and my weather doesn't really allow me to test that theory. I grew them exactly once and they didn't sell, so couldn't justify it again. Maybe I'll re-think that for next year's cover crop, 'cause they are tasty.
 
R Ranson
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I've heard of people overwintering favas where they have proper snow.  I think one of the reasons they do so well on the coast here is our rainfall patterns are Mediterranean, wet in the winter, dry in the summer.  The only year I had a crop failure with favas was one cold DRY winter, where we had a ground freeze and it was dry at the same time.  Also, the seed source was suspect.  Every other year they've managed a ground freeze just fine, but those years have been wet. 

Come on over to the fava thread to learn more.
Here people go ape-shit over fresh fava pods.  If you can get in before the California crop comes north, you can get a crazy price.  Even when there is a glut on the market, it's still about $2 a pound.  Now that people are starting to learn that you can actually eat dry favas... this is definitely a crop to play around with.  It's usually just a matter of finding a planting time that works for your location.  A good place to start is to go with your local barley planting time - they seem to like the same conditions.  But think outside the box too.

That's the great thing about moving to a new plot of land, you can plant at crazy times of year and observe what happens.  Quite often the local planting times correspond with the bird migrations.  Our local farmers have trouble growing grain because of the migratory geese.  But what they don't realize is they could plant it two weeks (or even two months) earlier and avoid the birds for both planting and harvest.  But no, they plant it at the 'proper time' and don't experiment with different timing for themselves. 
 
Debbie Heys
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Eric Bee wrote:Holy rain shadow batman.

Ok, so cover crop. With that rain, given the timing, it wouldn't make much sense to do anything else. Kale will germinate at quite low temps, but obviously you'll need water. And by the time you came back it would be long done. Even so, it's maybe too late for all but really cold hardy like rye or hairy vetch.

Our area is dry fir, pine but we do have cedar as well. For water resources we have 2 springs and a well that produces 50 - 60 gal a min
Enderby-Average-Monthly-Rainfall.png
[Thumbnail for Enderby-Average-Monthly-Rainfall.png]
 
Debbie Heys
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"Come on over to the fava thread to learn more.
Here people go ape-shit over fresh fava pods.  If you can get in before the California crop comes north, you can get a crazy price.  Even when there is a glut on the market, it's still about $2 a pound.  Now that people are starting to learn that you can actually eat dry favas... this is definitely a crop to play around with.  It's usually just a matter of finding a planting time that works for your location.  A good place to start is to go with your local barley planting time - they seem to like the same conditions.  But think outside the box too.

That's the great thing about moving to a new plot of land, you can plant at crazy times of year and observe what happens.  Quite often the local planting times correspond with the bird migrations.  Our local farmers have trouble growing grain because of the migratory geese.  But what they don't realize is they could plant it two weeks (or even two months) earlier and avoid the birds for both planting and harvest.  But no, they plant it at the 'proper time' and don't experiment with different timing for themselves.  "

Your suggestion to experiment and think outside the box, I am going to do just that as its right up my alley.  I will report back on what legumes and seeds I was able to buy.  We have beautiful garlic from our garden here.  I will take some bulbs to plant.
I will definitely grab some fava beans. Very excited about that. As a nurse, I find it very interesting that they have levodopa in them, which is a medication that is used to treat Parkinson's.
 
Eric Bee
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Interesting. So actually you get a lot more rain -- 572mm in 2015, 518mm in 2014, and plenty in the winter for the cover crop. Looks pretty good to me. If it were me I'd go with the fava and throw in some vetch or rye or whatever is handy that will germinate in low temps -- I see in November 2015 the high was 12C and low -11. Edit: we posted at the same time -- that's the spirit!


Farmers are funny about thinking outside the box but it's for good reason. When you are taking out a loan so you can buy seed getting creative is a bad idea. On my scale (loan? hah!) at least I have the option to experiment here and there without losing my land. Well in theory at least.
 
Debbie Heys
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'
Eric Bee wrote:Interesting. So actually you get a lot more rain -- 572mm in 2015, 518mm in 2014, and plenty in the winter for the cover crop. Looks pretty good to me. If it were me I'd go with the fava and throw in some vetch or rye or whatever is handy that will germinate in low temps -- I see in November 2015 the high was 12C and low -11. Edit: we posted at the same time -- that's the spirit!"

I just found a government site: Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification Program.
Which classifies Enderby as a IDFMW1  which ( If I understand it properly) translates as Interior Douglas Fir Mild Warm Dry.Wi

Fava, Vetch and winter cereal it is! oh, and garlic of course! 





Farmers are funny about thinking outside the box but it's for good reason. When you are taking out a loan so you can buy seed getting creative is a bad idea. On my scale (loan? hah!) at least I have the option to experiment here and there without losing my land. Well in theory at least.
 
connie watson
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clover would be a great choice for virgin soil.  since it is a nitrogen fixer it will be good and ready to plant your garden.  since I'm in Arkansas, we have to plant clover in October.  all bean crops are excellent for repairing soil. check your area and make sure it isn't too late to plant clover.
 
Barbara Greene
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Hi Debbie,
I live south of your border in the Okanogan County of Washington state. I bet some of our weather patterns are similar. Our county gets from 14-20" of precip annually a lot in the form of snow.
Although, we just had record setting rains for October (3.4") and it's been very warm for November so far.
Garlic grows wonderfully here hard neck and soft. Plant it in fall.
Trees are great, the Ponderosa Pine are typical and are much more resistant to wild fire (I can attest to that after the worst wild land fires in our state history, burned through our county including my land in 2015).
Saskatoon berry shrubs are native and good to eat, I have read they are being grown commercially in Canada now. They grow great on my land, elderberry shrubs too.
I had some Favas drop seed last year, over winter on their own and come up in my garden this year. But it wasn't very cold last winter, only down to -6F degrees. The lowest temps I have experienced here were a few years ago down to -18F degrees for about 3 days, but generally it stays between -5F and 10F degrees in the winter.
I'm not sure if browsing deer are a problem for you, but they certainly are down here, so trees and shrubs must be protected until they are large enough to withstand munching.
Comfrey is a reliable plant here along with rhubarb, walking onions, stinging nettles, French sorrel, French tarragon, parsley, hops, dill and arugula (both self seed), raspberries and blackberries (more deer protection), strawberries and Jerusalem artichokes aka sun chokes.
That's all I can think of right now that might be there when you returned in the spring. Oh yes cover crops are always good too.
Good luck ! It's sounds like you found a nice piece of land with water ( a huge plus)!
 
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