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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.

Katie and Dion