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Spring 2013 Farm Tour

Hello all, we have made a video to showcase the growth of our fresh, organic vegetables. They are loving the sun and the rain and although we have been pelted by some heavy rainfall, we continue to plant out and harvest lots of great vegetables. 

Please check out our video to see how Heart and Soil Organic's farm operates in the spring:



Thanks,
Dion & Katie
Heart & Soil Organics

Planting Organic Vegetables in May

watermelonsquashtogooutbasilsquashinthefield

I realize that our blogs often start out with the statement "Its a crazy, busy month" and I will start off this blog with the same words. Its a crazy, busy month. May is especially busy because we start going to market, as well as all our warm weather vegetables are needing to be put out on to the land. Here is a list of all the plants that are going out.

Beans: Yes, planting hundreds and hundreds of beans. We will have all varieties, from bush, pole, and drying. We generally start ours from transplants and then put them into the ground after they have germinated. This helps our watering. It is much easier for us to water trays than to water a full bed.

Squash: We have planted so many varieties of squash this year. Although we still have started the favourites, like butternut and acorn, we have diversified to types like festival, kombocha, spaghetti, delicata, and many others that I am forgetting to mention.
It will be a great harvest when we can try all the flavours of these beautiful winter keepers.



Tomatoes: They are flowering! Tomatoes are the best. They are somewhat challenging in their needs, but they are well worth the effort. We will be putting them in the ground in our greenhouse this week. I love to brush up against the leaves and smell them.

Cucumber: The cucumbers are coming up nicely and will also be in the greenhouse with the lovely friend tomato. They like plenty of compost under their roots and vining varieties need to be trellised up. We do this by hanging strings from the rafters in our greenhouse and letting the cucumbers climb up.

Eggplant: This will be the first year we have grown eggplant. We have a lot of plants and they will be going into the greenhouse as well. They need plenty of compost and steady amounts of water. I don't think I have ever eaten a local eggplant, so it will be just lovely to roast up that beautiful purple beast of a vegetable.

Peppers: Ruby Reds going into the ground soon. We will be hoop housing them out in the field. They will have drip irrigation as they also like to have consistent watering. And you can bet your bottom dollars, we will circling around them every now and then to sing them a song. Lets hope they grow well!

Melons: Oh boy! We also are going to be growing these for the first time, as well. A song for them too! They will be out in the field by June. We haven't decided yet if they will be hoop housed for the first month of June. They do need a lot of heat to grow and produce fruit. Our land should be perfect for these babies.

Tomatoes and Soil Preparation

flowers-in-spring-on-the-farmDuring the last week of March and into April, it has been incredibly warm on the farm. We have been prepping beds like crazy and transplanting them as soon as they are ready. We make the beds so sweet for the baby plants to be tucked into. For every bed, we hand flip the soil, taking care not to till or over work it. We then put at least two loads of well aged manure, and one load of hot compost and mix it all up together. We lime the beds once a year due to our soil being acidic. Right now all our asian greens, salad mix, kale, arugula, broccoli's are going out to field.
organic tomato plant seedling grown in Nanaimo's best organic farm
Speaking of transplants, we have been tending to our tomato plants! Tending the young seedlings can be a difficult tasks as they can be quite finicky. However, by starting our own, we are guaranteed a stronger plant that is not spindly from being over fertilized. Tomato plants need around 20 degrees to germinate well, so we have ours in the green house on a heating table. We have quite a few varieties, from heirloom to newer breeds. The newer breeds of tomato are not GMO. It simply means certain types of tomato have been cross pollinated with other types of tomato to make a new strain. Nature does this all the time and it is a very natural process. Heirloom seeds are from plants that have been kept strictly in areas where it is not possible for cross pollination.

So, tomatoes can be tricky, mostly because they need to get off to a good start, and have regular watering. The water must be kept off the leaves or it can cause early blight, a mould problem that can stress, and even kill the plant. To keep our tomatoes healthy we give them some local seaweed fertilizer weekly. When it is time to plant them in the ground, we plant them deep, so deep that their bottom leaves are covered under dirt. This helps the stem become firm and strong, as the roots will come out of the stem to whatever depth it is planted. Under each tomato plant, it is a good idea to put some lime, as well as a good helping of compost. Lime helps stop blossom end rot, a disease that forms at the tip of the fruiting tomato, and compost helps to feed the hungry plants.

Our tomatoes have a ways to go before being planted in the ground, but it is such a beautiful time of year, when we get to start the seed, knowing that the fruit of our labour will be sweet, delicious, juicy tomatoes. Just like nature intended!

Early Spring on The Organic Farm

Early spring is one of our favorite times to be on the farm. The soil is starting to warm and the plants we planted early (Peas, spinach, broad beans, etc.) are just beginning to poke up through the ground. The greenhouse is packed corner to corner with thousands of starts that we will be transplanting into the fields in the next few months. And best of all we are just beginning to get some really beautiful days when we can work in t-shirts, although it is still chilly in the shade.
Heated seedbed picture 1, where we built our local organic farm in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. Heated seedbed picture 2, where we built our local organic farm in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. Heated seedbed picture 3, where we built our local organic farm in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

Another thing that is great about this time on the farm is this is when we get to have fun inventing and building things that will help us through the season. Last year we built a heated seed starting bed that we are already getting lots of use out of again this spring (Here is a link to the video of me [Dion] making it:


As for this season we have three projects coming up. First of all we are building a new greenhouse, later we will be upgrading our washing station, and finally we will be setting up a watering system. Currently we are working on the greenhouse. We have designed this greenhouse to address two problems we had last year with our seedlings. Last season, once the upper greenhouse was full of tomatoes, we had nowhere to start seeds for later transplanting; also using watering cans to water the delicate seedling was always problematic. Not only will the new greenhouse be used only for starting seeds, but also we are building the tables so that they can be flooded with water for ease of watering. The whole system will be on a gravity feed and after the seedlings have had their fill of water there will be an out flow into the fields.

What is so wonderful about this time on the farm is the feeling of possibility. Seedlings are just coming up and we are back doing what we love; growing food.

Thanks,
Katie and Dion

February In the Greenhouse

fresh organic seedlings being overlooked by your local organic farmer, in Nanaimo Vancouver Island British Columbia

It's now the end of February and at the farm, although it is still cold outside, and there is even some hail from time to time, we are busy at work! All our onions have sprouted in the greenhouse as well as many other seeds. We just keep planting and planting, and since this picture was taken, all our tables are full. Last year, our greenhouse was not even up at this time, so it is great that we are able to get a head start on things!

We are doing some experimentation this year as to how early we can get away with planting certain seeds in the field. To help along with the process, we are setting up our home made hoop houses over rows of beets, carrots, turnips, radish, and more. Our peas and beans have sprouted and are starting to put out their first true leaves!

It is exciting to learn about the plants and the land, as we are on a south facing slope, with a huge cliff behind us. This gives the particular land we grow on a greater degree of warmth, which is helpful in the spring, and challenging in the summer. In the summer last year our farm would hit the 36 degree mark for heat, and nearer to the ocean (Nanaimo) it would be 26.

What we learned from this; grow peppers, eggplants, melons, and things that like heat!

A huge thank you to Gail and Tony Massy who have been an integral part in starting up the farm this season. They have been putting a lot of effort and time into preparing beds, setting up the hoop house, planting seeds and generally having good old farm time out on the land.

february-in-the-greenhouse oin Nanaimo, Vancouver Island British Columbia. Home of your local online and farm fresh organic fruits and vegetablesThanks,Katie & Dion