[From 15-Apr-2013] Tape time again, measuring out this year’s market garden. I’ve come up with various schemes to do away with this step as an annual thing, but end up wanting to move things around, or accidentally tilling under a critical stake or two left from the year before. The method is pretty primitive: walk around with a 200′ reel tape measure, trying to keep things square (the 3-4-5 trick!), staking an outline that can be used later to easily line up smaller sections as needed. That’s Rochelle at the other end, doing this two-person is the preferred way to go. The eventual result: a new garden map.
Tiny farming: Planning
50 Things I’ve Learned from Tiny Farming: This list has been kicking around for a couple of years now, started by me for no real reason, chatted about a few times. The numbering is random, so the order means nothin’ much. The list itself, added to over the while, actually has about 55 things on it now, and I may rewrite after posting, so it could all change…like the weather. Anyhow, I’ll post more as I write ‘em up! Use at your own discretion… :)
#8 – Remain Calm: In tiny farming, I’ve found you can indulge WORRY to the max. You can really work yourself into a frenzy. It’s usually about, well, the weather, people, money (specifically, stuff that has to be paid for), time, people, and…the weather. In that order. The big factor in outdoor farming that’s NOT present in a lot of lives, particularly when you’ve been living a largely indoor urban existence, is the DAILY effect of the WEATHER. Or really, Mother Nature in general: bad weather, disease, deer eating all your lettuce, zombies, all of the destructive things that an overwhelming, out-of-your-control force can deliver, just like that! Thinking about the possibilities can be…stressful, and that’s not to mention dealing with a tidal wave of so much to do, so little time. The COOL thing about farming: over time and your share of intense worry, you notice that things come and they go. Here and there, crops get eaten before their time, people sometimes fail to meet…expectations, money may get tight, deadlines get blown, but it’s all really not terrible. If you’re still there, and the land is still there, you keep moving ahead, because that’s the game! The simple arc of the farming year makes obvious exactly where you are at any time, and what the next step is. Farming is unpredictable, but it is not…fuzzy. So really, just keep farming and you will become increasingly calm as it sinks in by example that A) You really don’t have THAT much control, and B) It generally works out anyway. Sooner or later you’ll realize, the easiest thing to do is just…remain calm. :)
For the record, this year’s seed catalog! It arrived in late December, and I’ve been thumbing through, but it’s still not well-worn—I pretty much know what I’m ordering. It’s as exciting as always to get the new catalogs, but a bit more symbolic now, start of a new season and all that, than it used to be at the beginning, when I pored over it for hours. Like anything else, do it for a while and it becomes…easier. Also once again for recent years, almost all of my seed will come from just this one place, William Dam, a family owned company not too far from here, that carries only untreated seed. Selection does the trick, service is great, and I like talking to them on the phone. High Mowing and, of course, Johnny’s, both relatively close (Maine and Vermont, to my Ontario), have a lot more in general, and High Mowing is 100% organic seed, but at the moment, I’m fine with Dam! Everyone’s farming has its flow!
More winter reading , and the buzzword is…”remineralization,” which here means carefully replacing missing soil minerals in a holistic way (as opposed to just topping up with this or that). The other keyphrase is what that leads to: “nutrient-dense food.” The book is The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon, published only a couple of months ago. I heard about it chatting with Shannon, and read it while visiting their farm in Nova Scotia, last week or so. Only a few pages in, it became a kind of tipping point experience for me. Where I used to happily rely on cow manure and compost, thinking about soil chemistry only in bits and pieces, now I find myself suddenly quite FOCUSED on the arcane details of cation exchange capacity, sample extraction methods, and the like… Odd!
“Skepticism is a healthy attitude when it comes to taking garden advice,” says the preface, and then the book takes off on a kinda wild ride through Solomon’s world of soil and fertility, including interesting attacks on popular beliefs in organic growing, like the reverence for compost, and in general, the organic practices promoted by Rodale to millions of North American gardeners. The main purpose of the book, though, is to provide practical and easy-to-follow, soil test-based remineralization instructions. Which it does.
Definitely worth a read, and quite possibly a game-changer depending on how you manage your own garden dirt. More to follow…and my tubular soil sampling probe should soon be on its way!
[From Nov. 24, 2011] Well ahead of the pack, Veseys takes first new seed catalog of the year. They’re a pretty marketing-oriented company, they get their stuff out early—this actually arrived a while ago, but I only got my hands on it now! Which is fine by me. I haven’t been this, well, EXCITED with that new-catalog feeling in a couple of years. That’s good. There is a lot of proper, well-ahead-of-time planning to do, expectations for 2012 run high! Whatever the weather!!
First frost on Friday? It all depends on whose forecast you believe in. Because, as I’ve discovered over time, all weather forecasts are not created equal. The online weather page we’ve used for the last few years is often in sync with the others, but when it comes to cold, it can go its own way, and it’s usually right. Here, we have a low of 1°C for Friday, OR, I can go for a more veggie-friendly choice of two 6°C’s and a 5°C, from three of the big weather outlets. That’s the difference for me between row covering all the tender crops we’d like to save, and…not. There is a pattern: sites like this one that’re based on Environment Canada’s weather service (that’s the Canadian government) tend to be several degrees lower and more accurate. So it’s on with the row cover on Friday, then wait and see!