A short entry this week, as it has been busy with the instant and welcomed sight of the sun and the cozy warm temperatures. Observations from the hill are an addictive pass time as Ann and I share our new and entertaining stories of the landscape and observations with each other. Gord likes to think that he notices many of the same subtle things as Ann, but really Ann usually kicks his butt at noticing things. This year though he is feeling pretty proud of his observation skills. (rants at the end of our post)
Our recent workshop held in the Eco-Sense MUDRoom on Resilient Food Systems was fully booked. This 3 hr course lasted for 4.5 enthusiastic hours as the questions kept coming. We will allow more time next time we offer this course.
This year, the non native European Paper Wasps (Polistes dominula) are so numerous that it is mind boggling… and somewhat frightening. We have not yet observed a single native yellowjacket or native paper wasp. These normally docile garden carnivores are a huge gift for the garden as they are responsible for the control of aphids, cabbage worms, and pretty much every other small life form. Normally they only get goofy (aggressive) near the end of summer. This year is not the case, as they cover everything… they are fighting amongst themselves, and a little testy with us. (This is where Ann edited out Gord’s testicle joke). Last year Ann received two stings between her fingers and consequently suffered with a swollen itchy mitt almost up to her elbow. When Gord gets stung, it hurts, but then we can never see where… Ann thinks he’s just making some ploy to get attention. (Guys these days eh?)
Unfortunately, we will need to knock the populations back a bit pretty quickly but we are attempting to hold off until after the main fruit tree blossoms are completed. How carnivorous are they? Gord watched one almost cut a caterpillar in half, three times the size of the wasp… then try to carry it away. We like them around, but this is just too many. We will remove small selected nests in the evening with a small bagless shop vacuum. The selected nest are under our chairs, by the front door, next to the cob oven, at the outside garden sink, and about half of the nests in the greenhouse. Walking into the greenhouse is like entering a swarming hive. Anyone else have this issue this year?
Plant Sales: Every Saturday from 10am-2pm we will continue with the farm sales of perennial edible plants until the end of May.
Climbing Vines form an important part of our food systems.
- Just this week, we planted more thornless blackberries… one of our very favourite berries. These are easy to control, ready before Himalayan blackberries, even better flavour (hard to imagine, but true), larger fruit, less seedy, and very abundant and did I mention that these do NOT make you bleed? Trellis the vines, or simply cut canes at about 6-8 feet tall. Could also tie to a sunny fence.
- Logan berries. We love these too and plant them on the same trellis as the thornless blackberries. Ready about 2 weeks before the thornless blackberries.
- Hops. We have large CASCADE hop plants for $25. These plants will produce this year. Good for beer and for bedtime teas.
- Kiwi’s. We have Fuzzy, Hardy, and Arctic. Hardy’s are our favourite as they are productive, easy to grow, partly shade tolerant (half sun), and have no fuzz. VERY yummy. Arctic kiwi’s grow in the shade and are very beautiful, also fuzz-less, and tasty. Most are male and female except for the hardy Assai.
- NEW this year: Apios Americana (common names include ground nut, potatoes bean, Indian potato). Nitrogen fixing vine that produces small potatoes like tubers with a very choice nutty flavour. These are perennials that grow like tall runner beans. I’m going to try growing mine in a large container as the rabbits like the vines, and voles like the tubers. Small plants take 2 years to produce a crop. only $6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apios_americana
- Chinese Yam or Cinnamon-vine. Very nutritious and potato like. Perennial beautiful vines with glossing heart shaped leaves. Grow in large containers as the large and ugly tubers will go down very deep. These can be invasive in some soils. $16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_yam
We now have a free table with lots of great plants that need a home. Why Free you ask? Well, some of them are unnamed varieties, (tag went missing), some we have too many of, and some just need a bit of love.
And an Update on the Essential Composting Toilet book. The copy editor has read and reviewed it, and sent her initial comments. All Gord’s diagrams will need to be edited and have all the Canadian English replaced with the US spellings. What does this mean? Four more solid days sitting, and 3 days to re-upload all the images again. Does this not seem arrogant and crazy. Can our American neighbours not comprehend the word colour over color? Yeesh!
And one more tiny little rant regarding Used Victoria. We have used this service over the past few years to help advertise our plants… we even pay for some ads, but most are free. Anyways, we may not be able to do this anymore as they are calling Eco-Sense a commercial seller. Are we?
- We are a very small farm open only 4 hours per week about 4 months per year.
- We are not even a corporation… we operate as an un-incorporated partnership.
The Used Victoria ads (free and paid) have been a primary marketing tool for us… Now what?
No wonder small farms give up…
Ann and Gord