Another potato harvest came in yesterday. We had a great yield this year; 1600 lbs approximately. For years we have planted Yukon Gold; they are our faves for storage potatoes.
First we clear the mulch, load it onto a tarp and haul it off the garden.
Then we pick the potatoes that are sitting on the surface – often these are green and so we separate these out.
Sashah does the first pass with the chisels and the kids scramble behind grabbing potatoes before they get buried again. This happens over and over…
Then we go through each bed picking and digging.
The pile mounts and the sorting begins – compost, seconds, storage & for sale.
The (heavy!) sacks are loaded into the truck to be weighed and put away for storage and for sale.
Tuesdays are a busy day on the farm. We have a full life here anyway but on Tuesdays there are more people here than usual. It starts early, as Cathy Valentine arrives to set-up for her Yoga Apprenticeship, followed by all her students.
Our “garden ladies” arrive after that, Daphne, Julie and Nicola, usually with dogs in tow, to work away in the perennial garden.
We have had a particularly warm February which has beckoned us to work outside a lot. With more time outside it is easier to connect in with the waking land – watch buds swell, crocuses bloom, plan and dream. It is still quiet here on the farm so there is a lot of space for conversations and connection. We are well aware of the season unfolding before us and will attempt to take some of this February wisdom with us into the busyness ahead.
We have embarked on a new permaculture project with the guidance from Brendon Bauer and Michael Nickels. It is a giant project inspired by the need to be more self-sustainable and to truly be a model farm. We will be planting the first round of trees in this March. The picture above is of us working on the newly dug swales.
Mondays have changed for a few of us lately. We now take a gourd walk around the farm – this walk is sponsored and inspired by Guayaki. We get out of the office and walk and talk about the goings-on out on the farm – imagine that! It has quickly become a favourite and essential part of every week. Here are a few sights from this week:
And then of course here are some of the children in the Yurt Program.
Recently we have had the pleasure of welcoming hundreds of new beings to our farm! We have bees! We have always been interested in having bees on the property, but not having a beekeeper living here it just wasn’t happening. So when we were approached last Fall by some friends that live up the road to keep their bees here we were quite intrigued and excited. The bees were moved here in March and already they are happy and thriving in their new location. When they opened the hives up after their long winter they were all very much alive.. We had to move far away to watch!
We are inspired by these incredible bees and are taking the opportunity to learn what we can from Sharon and Matt.
Josh converted our really OLD hay wagon to a new chick house. It almost might have been easier to start from the ground up, but with Josh’s amazing skills we now have a PERFECT little mobile house that is big enough for the babies to grow in. It even comes with a window to look through!
Yesterday the chicks arrived by sea plane (very Salt Spring!). It is the fastest way to get the day old chicks to get to their new home. It was very exciting and as you can see they were greeted by a lot of us. We got 3 heritage varieties to try- New Hampshire, Barred Rocks and Light Sussex. Some will be our new layers and some the meat birds (the roosters). The kids and adults alike love to visit these babies everyday.
We dip each chick’s beak into echinacea as their first drink. This strengthens their immune system. Being Certified Organic we are not able to use the commercial vaccines.
I know this is not an appropriate title because really, it never ends. We’re still eating carrots we planted last summer as we plant leeks we will eat next fall and winter. But we are on to the tasks of starting the season: ordering seeds, creating the new farm book, deciding all the what and where for the year, choosing our new apprentices. Today, it felt like spring; sunny and warm, wet everywhere from last night’s rain. We are on our way, moving toward spring. The days are getting noticeably longer, daffodils are poking through the ground and there are seeds planted, not quite in the ground yet but happily in our little greenhouse. All of it so, so good.
Trays of leeks and onions planted.
The scene in the greenhouse.
It’s dark these days. The clocks have gone back and the clouds have been thick and heavy. The gardens are quiet. We had some frost the other week that pretty much put an end to our salad mix for the season. And rain. Lots of rain. In between we’ve been gathering pears off the ground so that they can ripen, bringing in the last of the tomatoes, taking out the plants finally, picking peppers and apples. It feels like a beautiful little burst of abundance at the end of it all.
Tomatoes in all their subtle colours.
Some of the last picking of the year.
Sorting peppers for sale.
Entering vegetables in a small town fall fair feels like it links us to the farming community of the past and the present. Admittedly it is a bit silly to try and find 6 tomatoes that are identical in shape colour and size or 8 carrots that are between 4-6 inches with matching tapers when we believe vegetables are better when they are not ‘perfect’. That aspect aside it is fun to spend the morning before the fair choosing the best specimens and taking the time to marvel over the treasures that come out of the garden.
remembering what we entered and gathering the best of the best…
our green peppers won 1st!
then of course there are the zucchini racers. This one stayed together the whole way down!
and a few rides are always part of the fair!
Yesterday was our community potato harvest. We all participate in the planting, growing, weeding and harvesting of this crop. This harvest day is momentous and exciting as we pull all these edible treasures from the earth. We grow Yukon Gold variety as our storage potato and they store beautifully until April! Each family/individual takes home as many as they think they can go through in the winter (this ranges from 50lbs- 300lbs!) There is something very comforting about having abundant beautiful food put away for the winter.
We harvested about 1500lbs this year! The back of our truck was very full.
We use the chisels to loosen the potatoes and then dig with our hands. This way there is no damage from the digging forks.
Definitely a group effort!
Young barefoot farmers
A bed of potatoes.
We visited with Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds just the other day. It is such a treat to visit other farms on the island; getting to see all the variations of the land here on Salt Spring and carving out the time to hang-out with other farmers during this crazy, busy time of year is so special. His farm is at the base of Mt. Maxwell and feels like it; in a basin that edges the hills, its beauty is so different than what we have here. The farmed areas are interspersed with beautiful structures for hanging garlic, record keeping, storing tools, greenhouse crops, drying & processing seeds and even a sweet little hut for yoga and meditation. We sat with Dan, in the hot August sun overlooking the fields, and he spoke about all the crops that he saves for seed, some of his farming methods and his philosophy on maintaining old varieties and maintaining the diversity within these varieties. Rupert, who was worked with Dan for years, was also about when we visited and he gave us a tour of his part of the garden; one devoted to herbal medicinal plants that he turns into tinctures and sells through the catalogue. It is truly inspiring to see the scale of Dan’s operation, the love that he has for what he is doing and to know that we are part of it!
Sitting in the sun.
This greenhouse has CHIA growing in it among other things.
Many different screens are used for drying and processing seeds.
The meditation hut.
An umbel forest.
An endangered species of echinacea, E. tenesseensis.