I had not planned on being on the farm for the2018 growing season, instead being in Barbados on the 9 month WUSC volunteer posting. When the plans changed once again with our bad luck in choosing farm caretakers, I knew I was going to be doing some farming, if not at least taking care of and harvesting the asparagus. So of course it would be that I would also grow some other veg, mainly because with no job in site for me we needed to grow as much of our own food as possible in order to keep our living expenses low.
I of course was going to plant peppers and tomatoes since I/we just love these, at least 8 varieties of each. But of course this wasn’t going to be enough. So some brassicas, e.g. cauliflower and broccoli, were also started hoping to get a spring crop. I think I start these early but soon enough I realize I am too late with this, never getting the timing right. The broccoli is from our own saved seeds. We have had remarkable success in getting seeds from broccoli, technically a biennial plant.
As for the cauliflower I planted a lot of seeds from some very old packets of seeds, thinking the germination rate would be low but no. I had so many come up which was great. I know I have to thin which I hate doing, thinking I am killing perfectly viable little plants. I apologize to the little guys as I do this – I know call me crazy but I also say often I am sorry when I pull weeds or kill bugs, e.g. moths & hornets.
Of course I stupidly put the tray of month old brassicas seedlings outside on our front door steps to start the process of hardening them off. Well, later that day Mr. C5 comes to me in the garden telling me the chickens went at it. NOOOOO!!!! I spent 10 minutes cursing my damm chickens. Fortunately, I had so many seedlings that I still had enough survive although I’m sure they were ‘traumatized’. I thought okay I will plant some more cauliflower and now join these with some cabbage and kohlrabi seed trays.
There are other veg which are part of our regular favorites (I am certainly not simply a meat & potato person – boring!!). There would be carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, three sisters (corn, beans & squashes) and various greens. I also am once again going to grow some strawberries as organic ones are just unaffordable for us, and our local strawberry producer literally down the road from us sprays (although they say minimally). Since learning about the fruits and veg which you just shouldn’t eat if not organic, strawberries was high on this list.
When I look through all my seeds I do get excited about growing a whole variety of plants, so I have to remind myself think about the work required. Despite all this that I will grow, this is actually more manageable – at least I hope so – than what I have done in the past.
With this crazy early spring we are having with some wonderful temperatures, some days of sun and then some days of rain, I have already been busy in the garden preparing beds and weeding. Alas I am now experiencing a new consequence of my osteo-arthritis of my wrists. I am now waking up several times throughout the night to 2 fingers on my right hand ’sound asleep’ – you know that numbness, tingling, but also excruciating pain I guess if I don’t wake up in time. So somewhere there is a nerve being pinched. Lovely. I can’t help but feel that the universe is telling me that the farming life is not for me, or rather at least not as a means of garning income. On top of this it doesn’t help that I was out of shape without having had this hard labour activity filling my days for more than one year. I can already feel the muscles developing, but I also feel it seems to be taking more time for my body to recover. Oh the joys of aging!
In my never ending search for making the garden do the work itself, I am always looking for perennial plants, and so have decided to specialize in hardy or arctic kiwi. As far as I know there is noone growing these delicious fruits on the north shore of NS. I tried these for the 1st time a few years ago when I visited a small market in the valley. Kiwis are one of my favorite fruits but not being able to eat the skin (or rather not wanting to eat the skin since I don’t like the consistency in my mouth – you can eat the skin safely as I once had a friend from El Salvador and he only learned to it the kiwi skin and all) makes eating a kiwi a bit of a pain since you can’t simply peel the fruit as you would a citrus fruit.
The arctic kiwi has a smoother and thin skin so you can just pop the whole fruit in your mouth, about the size of large grapes. It was super tasty and I was hooked. Alas trying to find these gems is near impossible, at least at farmers markets. I am not one for buying my fruits and veg at the supermarket. I can’t help but think that those people who do the data mining would notice that my grocery bill is not that healthy since I never purchase fruit & veg unless it is 50% off which is easy to find usually at stupidstore with their bright pink 50% off stickers but of course the choice is limited, just good or bad luck depending on when you go and what you can find.
The kiwi plants certainly weren’t cheap so I am going to baby them as much as I can. I am also trying to root some cuttings I took from the original batch I had planted a few years ago (7 of the 10 survived thankfully despite neglect). The variety I bought says that fruit will appear in 2 years. Assuming this is year 0, I will have kiwis in 2020!! Patience will be needed. I am also having to build trellises as they are vine plants. Luckily we have old trellises which we aren’t using any longer. With some needed care and adding some poles and other reinforcements, a decent structure should be in place by the end of the summer.
After several weeks now of hard work, I can tell I am developing my muscles as it is taking less time to recover. I do notice I stand taller when my back gets strong. I do like this as it makes one feel you face the world with more strength and not just literally.
Now back to garden work as the weather is good. The bugs are just starting to come out so gotta get work done before they become unbearable or rather before I have to wear the uncomfortable headnet.