So far the market garden season has been off to a roller coaster start...
We had a week of warm weather (Highs of 25C) and then a recent drop in temperature to -3C at night. Lots of people had their plants got frosted. I was really trying to push my season to get crops in the ground early with mixed success.
Things that did fine outside:
- Spinach (covered)
- Carrots (covered)
- Endive (covered)
- My friends super hard tomato variety (covered)
Things that didn't do so well:
- Tomato starts in the greenhouse. I thought they would be fine but it is the second time I've made this error. I think I might have placed my greenhouse, at the property a rent, in a cold sink :? There are two different greenhouses with varying degrees of insulation and all the tomatoes died in both of them with the radishes still happy as can be...
- Squash that I transplanted outside because I started it indoors WAY TOO EARLY. I knew it would end badly but it was better than taking up space in my greenhouse. Maybe it will make a come back, maybe not, either way zucchini isn't a money maker for me. I just like zucchini bread.
I also experimented with trying to get an early crop of radishes off by planting them in one of my greenhouses before transplanting my tomatoes & cucumbers. It worked! The only problem was I didn't have any of my market streams set up to sell them because they were so early! Yay for early crops but I need to make sure I'm ready to sell what I've produced (Newbie fail). So far, I've been selling them on Instagram, which is mind blowing for me. A local catering business also likes to grab a little bit of whatever I have each week to add to her "Wednesday Lunch Club" meals. I'm going to guess there will be some chicken snacks in the future...
Overall I have sense of some changes that I would like to make for next season. These concepts are nothing new, people have come to these conclusions long before me (There's Paul's voice in the back of my head saying "See? I told you so!")
- Move from Market Garden to Permaculture Market Garden/Biodiverse Beds: Instead of 50 ft of one crop plant a mixed variety and harvest whatever is ready/works out. I'm so small scale that I would have to scale up significantly to make "Elliot Coleman" style market gardening efficiency practices really worth my time.
- Direct seed as much a possible for squash/tomatoes
- Transplant all the things and none of the things: Transplant everything in the market garden beds and direct seed everything in my personal gardens and monitor the differences.
- Soil blocking instead of trays: my friend started a greenhouse this year and used soil blocks and it makes transplanting SO MUCH EASIER! No more stupid plastic trays that break all the time.
This is me prepping my garden beds. I peel away the tarp as I'm ready to establish each row. Helps keep the weeds down and earth worms go crazy under it in the fall/winter. Also makes a good habitat for snakes and voles. I then use row cover to protect from frost/hail/insect damage. The amount of plastic required is... depressing. I would like to figure out a way around this. The system has meant so far that I have very little weeding to do and very few issues with pests & losses to frost, but hopefully I can still improve to reduce plastic.
I get wood chips from a local arborist. He knows my preferences so drops some off when he has a load of chips that I would desire. Last years pile I was using in the pathways only to find out the bottom foot of the pile had turned into beautiful soil. YAY! Free soil amendments!
Apple & plum tress are packed with blossoms this season, hopefully we have a good fruit season. My neighbour said it was suppose to be "a good year for her apples"; hopefully my trees are following their lead.
Made a pig run at my sister's place for our families hogs. It's a forested area with a pond/surface well/wallow that hopefully keeps them occupied for a while. We can expand it later in the Summer but right now they are having fun ripping around. I would like to eventually set up a rotational grazing system for them but that will require some planning and forethought.
The meaty birds are doing well... I think. I find the meat breeds more finicky, it seems like half the things your suppose to do for raising meat birds is more like superstition that actual facts. I'm just trying my best to observe them as often as possible and make adjustments as I see them. This year I had 3 chicks with sinus issues. I isolated them for 3 weeks and gave them extra TLC; not sure if it was viral, bacterial, or developmental. They seemed energetic, to be eating & drinking well, and overall happy chicks but they had the sneezes and clearly a hard time breathing through their nostrils. The internet tells me 101 terrible things that are happing to them. My "chicken guru" tells me you would have to send one away for analysis to actually know what's going on so just give them some vitamins and hope for the best. I have Western Rustics. I tried the Mistral Gris last season but I had a painfully awful time with them injuring their legs when they were 3 to 4 weeks old. I was told it was because I let them run around outside too early... but I want birds that can run around outside early. I would love to breed my own multi-purpose landrace variety one day.
So apparently when I'm feeling blue... I order books! I'm excited to poke my way through them over coffee in the morning. I started a thread for people working their way through the "Building Your Permaculture Property" book here: Accountibility Group & Buddies
. I've also been listening to Paul's podcasts as I work away prepping beds and transplanting. Gardening + Podcasts = My Happy Place
That's all for now folks!