Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


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This week on the farm …

As the temperatures outside increase, so does our work.

Here are some of the things that kept us occupied this week …

We spread a lot of straw! All the raspberries & blackberries got mulched with straw. The purpose of this is to control the weeds & preserve moisture. Often we use hay but last year’s drought caused a scarcity of hay. Straw works just as well and it looks fresh & clean too!

The berries are leafing out quickly now. Raspberries will be in short supply on our farm this summer. Most of our patch didn’t make it through the drought. We are replanting but the new canes will take a few years to reach full production. The raspberries that survived look short, but healthy.

The blackberries are looking good & we anticipate a great crop!

The rhubarb & currants also got a layer of straw tucked around them.

In the small greenhouse we continue to seed.

A part of each day is spent in the big hoophouse transplanting vegetables & herbs.

Usually Amy has a helper!

Already some vegetables are outside on the trailer, getting acclimatized to the outdoor temperatures & bright sunshine. They’re on the trailer so we can drive them in the barn when the nights are cold.

Next week these onions, broccoli, cauliflower & zucchini will be planted out into the field.

The garlic, that we planted last October has come up & is growing well. It also has been mulched with straw (back in December) so we won’t have to worry about weeding it. We still have a lot of round bales of straw which will be used later to mulch tomatoes, peppers, eggplant …

Our first 2 plantings of snow peas are up in the field as are spinach & lettuce.

This picture shows the black occultation tarp in the background (see previous blog post).

In the low, white tunnels (plastic hoops covered with row cover, a fabric made of plastic filaments) we have seeded radishes & bok choy. The row cover acts like a mini-greenhouse enhancing the growing conditions inside – warming the air during the day, protecting from frost at night, and also acting as a barrier to hungry insects that are as anxious for fresh greens as we are! Crops grown under row covers can mature up to a week or 10 days sooner.

The black plastic mulch on the left in the picture was laid this week to warm the soil underneath. Next week we will punch holes in it, and transplant our zucchini seedlings. Then we’ll cover it with row cover as well. The goal is to get an earlier harvest of zucchini.

We are not usually keen to use a lot of plastic on the farm because of the waste & disposal issues. But the weed tarp & hoops can be used for many years, the row cover several times, and the black mulch is actually a biodegradable corn product.

Is the use of these materials & the extra work involved worth it? We’ll find out at harvest!

However, Oliver already gives a big paws up to the row cover!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Occultation

Here at Thiessen Farms we are now practising occultation.

Sounds a little ominous or even sinister, doesn’t it?

But don’t worry – occultation is really just a method of preparing the soil. Nothing mysterious about it!

The word occultation is most often used in the context of astronomy – when a celestial object is hidden from view by another celestial object. Think solar eclipse as an example.

On the farm, occultation means using a tarp to hide the sun – from the weeds. The ground is covered with a dark tarp for a period of time. The warmth under the tarp causes weed seeds to readily germinate, but the lack of sunlight then kills them. After a few weeks (or longer, depending on the temperatures) the tarp is removed and the ground is (mostly) weed-free & ready to be planted. It is a way to get the ground ready for growing crops without the use of herbicide or tillage.

Occultation is becoming more common & many growers have had favourable results with it.

So we are giving it a try. Here’s what it looks like on our farm …

We covered a piece of ground with a heavy black plastic tarp and held it down by laying steel grape posts around the perimeter, along with some soil filled bags. Apparently that was not enough! All was good – for 1 day. When the winds picked up, so did our tarp! Let’s just say that a 24′ x 100′ heavy tarp becomes quite a sail on a windy day. The next calm day we tried again, but added more bags & covered the edges of the tarp with soil so the winds could not get underneath to lift it. We have had some pretty strong winds since, but so far so good! We plan to leave the tarp down for maybe 6 weeks or more. Then we will remove it & plant vegetables – maybe even carrots. (Carrots are the bane of our farm & we haven’t grown them for more than a few years – good carrots require weed-free conditions, something we have not been able to provide. But our customers want them & we would like to offer them in our CSA shares.)

We ‘ll keep you posted on the results of our venture into the world of occultation.

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More signs of spring on the farm …


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Seeing green

 

The colour of the year for 2017 as chosen by the “world-renowned authority on colour” is greenery, “a refreshing and revitalizing shade … symbolic of new beginnings.” 

Good choice!

Of course nature always chooses green.

At this time of year, when the calendar says spring, the days are lengthening, and the sun is warming, green begins to pop up all over – in various shades & hues, shapes & textures.

And it is most welcome!
In a month or two, green will be everywhere and taken for granted. But now, early in the season we notice & savour each leaf, each sprig of greenness as it appears.
The greenhouse is also a place of green now – and more so each day. It is an especially good place to be on these drab, damp & chilly days.

We continue to seed almost daily – vegetables, herbs, & flowers.

 

Most things are growing well but there are always some seeds that hesitate to grow. Usually the problem is old seeds …

… or we don’t provide the proper conditions to allow for germination.

Mint grows along the edges in our larger hoophouse – adding a burst of spring flavour to salads.

And while we still revel in the newness of the green … colour appears!

Happy Spring!