Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


Leave a comment

Snow peas etc …

The snow peas are up – barely. But they are up!

They were seeded in the cold ground on March 27 – so that’s about 2 and a half weeks they needed to germinate. Not bad for a cold, slow spring. As soon as the plants are a bit bigger, we’ll seed the next batch. By then the weather will be warmer so they will sprout much quicker. If we seeded them already, they would catch up to the first ones & we would likely be picking both plantings of snow peas at the same time. We don’t want that!

Truth be told, we don’t enjoy picking snow peas at all!  While it is great to get something in the ground early (snow peas are always the first seeds to be planted) and great to watch them grow, they are certainly no fun to pick! The pea pods are green – the exact same green colour as the plants, which makes them extremely difficult to see, and picking slow & tedious.

We plant our peas in wide rows. This way the tall plants support each other and stay fairly vertical, keeping the peas clean. Single rows would flop over and the peas would get dirty. We would also have to plant soooo many rows to harvest the same amount of peas. It would take an awful lot of space and require an awful lot of extra weeding. But they would be slightly easier to pick.

(obviously the above 2 pictures are from previous years!)

Most years we do 3 plantings of snow peas (each planting is 200′) which stretches the harvest season out for a few weeks. This year we debated about planting them at all. None of us would miss the picking – but our CSA members & market customers sure would miss the peas! And so we compromised and decided to plant just once. Enough for our CSA boxes for 1 week or maybe 2, and that’s it.

As it turns out we have enough seeds left for a 2nd planting – a sensible & easy decision to make now. But the real work and the grumbling will start along with the harvest later this spring!

________________________

Other things growing & showing right now …

The rhubarb is showing the most growth …

and the garlic too …

Our garlic is always slow to appear because of the thick layer of straw on top which doesn’t allow the soil to warm up early. This straw will is to keep the weeds from taking over and makes garlic a work-free crop until harvest in July.

But where the straw is a little thin and along the edges of the patch, the weeds are already making an appearance.

After a cold & wet weekend it was a pleasure to see the sun & blue sky this afternoon.

The blackberries in the foreground here have been pruned and are ready for tying. Their buds are swelling and the first green can be seen. The blackberries canes seem to have come through the winter well, looking alive & healthy. We’re pretty excited about that – blackberries are never a sure thing being sensitive to cold winter winds and sub-zero temperatures. But they are an important crop for us.

They are also showing very little rodent damage this spring. Possibly these guys actually did their jobs??

 

 


2 Comments

Spring

It’s spring now!

Wednesday was officially the 1st day of this new season – a season that we look forward to with anticipation and yearning after the cold, dark days of winter.

Of course spring can be a cruel season. Bright skies & warm temperatures one day are often followed by cloudy days with raw winds, and even snow the next. Our spirits rise and fall with the thermometer and we long for uninterrupted warmth & sunshine.

I find myself crawling through the gardens on my knees, anxious for signs of life. There are few …

The tulips & daffodils are poking through the cold soil.

Red rhubarb stalks are just visible.

Our late fall planting of spinach appears to have made it through the winter and is greening up. Could a fresh spinach salad be in the offing?

The greenhouse received its new skin this week. Thanks to some willing friends & neighbours we pulled the 2 layers of plastic on quickly & easily.

And just in time! The little greenhouse where we start our seeds is filling quickly, and many hundreds & hundreds of little seedlings will need to be moved here soon.

The fields are waiting too – a blank empty canvas ready to be painted with vegetables.

It is already time to seed the snow peas. Old-timers used to say that peas needed to get in the ground in March – that gives us only 1 more week! The soil  under the occultation tarp (see https://thiessenfarms.com/2017/04/12/occultation) should be ready for planting.

And this is what we’re anticipating!

And this …

And this too …

It all starts now in spring.

(Sign up for our CSA and enjoy all these vegetables and more this summer!)

We’re excited and ready!

 

 

 


1 Comment

Almost Spring!

It is a peaceful time of year on the farm.

The vegetable fields are resting under their blanket of snow.

In the greenhouse the cats are loving the warmth and soaking up any sunshine we might get (which hasn’t been a lot this winter!).

Even Sage is content to sleep away much of her day, indoors.

But the time is coming! Despite the cold and snow, spring is about here.

Our planning for the upcoming season is complete. All the seeds have arrived. Supplies are ordered.

We’re ready to go!

The first vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) have been seeded in the small greenhouse and we anxiously wait for the first green shoots to poke through the soil.

That means we need to get the new plastic on our big greenhouse so it will be ready for all the seedlings. They will be moving here in about a months time. The outer layer of plastic blew off in a big windstorm last Easter. We removed the inner layer in fall and decided to leave the greenhouse uncovered until the spring. This allowed the soil to soak up the rain & snow all winter and be renewed.

The blackberries can be pruned and tied as soon as the snow has melted. Tracks in the snow indicate the rabbits have been checking the canes out – hopefully they have not caused too much damage?

On the marketing side of things, we are looking forward to the farmers’ markets we will be attending again this year.

Our CSA program is ready and applications are arriving daily. We are especially excited to be receiving so much interest from neighbours and people in our area. Information on CSA is available here – https://thiessenfarms.com/csa/.

We have enjoyed our quiet time – but now we’re anticipating an active and busy season ahead.

(Of course some of us aren’t quite ready for action yet!)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Florida in February :)

We chose a good week to get away!

At home it was ice, snow, rain and more ice …

… while we were enjoying palm trees, sunshine & warmth!

Lorie & I spent a week with my brother and sister-in-law in Florida, just north of Tampa. It had been about 5 years since we were in Florida, and we had never been on the Gulf side.

I was interested in the farming, but there wasn’t much to see. This part of Florida is not a major agricultural area. While we only saw 1 small orange grove, fresh Florida citrus was readily available and we ate plenty!

We did see some massive strawberry fields around Plant City and enjoyed fresh strawberry shortcake at Parksdale Farm Market, a place my parents used to visit 40 years ago when they travelled south. The berries were sweet, juicy & delicious!

Lunch one day was at a roadside BBQ – with a unique menu! Unfortunately the gizzards weren’t available, but the gator bites were amazing!

The house we rented was along a canal that flowed out to the Gulf of Mexico. Much time was spent enjoying the warm temperatures (mid to upper 20’s C each day) on our deck which was built out over the water …

… and watching the sunset from Sam’s Beach Bar.

A person could get used to such a life!

But it is good to be home now, relaxed & refreshed.

CSA sign-up has started and applications are coming in. Next week we begin seeding in the greenhouse.

It’s almost spring!

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

Eating fresh ???

So that’s what it feels like to receive a CSA basket … sort of!

Except the box we received contained more than just vegetables, the food inside was of (mostly) unknown origin, and we had some choice in the primary contents …

So it really wasn’t like a CSA box at all – but we did open it with the same anticipation & excitement that our CSA members say they experience upon receiving their CSA share.

It started with a coupon that arrived in the mail from a company called Hello Fresh. They were offering a 55% discount on a 1 week meal plan (3 meals). Usually such coupons are discarded but this time Amy suggested we try it.

For research purposes of course!

It was a good week to do it. Lorie was away, taking in some sun on an island in the Caribbean leaving me on my own for food. And Amy welcomed a break from her own meal planning & prep. She chose our 3 meals from a selection of about 7 possibilities for that week.

So on Monday morning when the FedEx driver dropped off the box at our back door we were excited! Inside were all the ingredients for 3 complete meals. The meat portions were on the bottom packed in ice, and the rest of the food was in separate paper bags on top. The recipes for each meal were clear and concise, with pictures to make it real easy. All ingredients are included except for salt & pepper and any necessary cooking oils. Amy prepared 2 of the meals while I cooked 1. Then we shared the food, as each meal serves 2 people.

Research results …

  • As vegetable growers we were especially interested in that part of the meal. We thought vegetable portions were a little small. I added more potatoes from our pantry to my meal, and the sweet potatoes in one of Amy’s dishes were too small to make into fries as the recipe suggested, and certainly not enough for 2 people. Onions came pre-chopped while shallots came whole. Not sure why. The quality of the vegetables was fine – I threw out a couple of green beans that were too sad to eat but the rest were okay.
  • The fresh herbs were very nice quality.
  • The vegetables & herbs had no information as to their origin whereas the meat did. Interestingly, the Hello Fresh website talks about where the meats come from and how the animals are raised, but mentions nothing about the vegetables or fruit.
  • Meat portions were adequate and the quality was very good.
  • There is so much packaging! They stress that it is all recyclable, but there is an awful lot of plastic as well as paper & cardboard that needs to be dealt with.
  • It seemed quite expensive to us. The plan we chose has a regular price of $13.33 per serving or $80 for the 3 meals. We paid about $6/serving – $36 for the whole box, with our coupon.
  • We would rather eat our own food. A lot of the food we eat in winter is prepared in the summer when we freeze vegetables, can fruit, make sauce, pickles and juice, dry herbs, etc with our own (or our neighbours’) produce. Things like squash, cabbage, garlic & onions are stored as long as possible for winter eating. We do buy some vegetables in the winter – but it just felt wrong to eat green beans fresh in January. Some things are best eaten in season only!
  • Having someone else do all the meal planning, grocery shopping, and much of the food preparation saves a lot of time & energy. It’s quite understandable why Hello Fresh and other similar businesses are growing in popularity.

Overall we enjoyed our experience with Hello Fresh! 

It was a fun way to get dinner on the table, the food was good, plus we learned some things that we can apply to our farming operation.

 

 

 


1 Comment

2019 – The beginning!

January 1, 2019.

The year began with a beautiful day – mild temperatures, lovely clouds, green grass …

I keep finding jobs to do outside, just so I can enjoy this weather. Today I brought in more firewood, in anticipation of the coming cold & snow. I trimmed some of the scrub trees growing up alongside the railroad tracks, and the wild grape vines that entangle them.

Rarely do I have to work alone – the Flynns always show up to see what’s going on.

Early January is also planning time.

Regardless of the weather outside, we need to spend time inside …

  • reviewing the 2018 growing season, using our notes that we scribbled throughout the year, our CSA & farmers’ market records, financial statements (and our memories).
  • planning out the upcoming season including deciding on what to grow and ordering the needed seeds. We will map out where the crops will be grown on the farm, when they will be seeded & transplanted & even probable harvest dates.
  • We need to review our marketing plan and decide on farmers’ markets and details of our CSA program and …

After many months of physical work outside on the farm, sitting at the desk and using our minds can be challenging – but I really enjoy the planning, and especially the dreaming and imagining!

And we’ll all take some time to enjoy this quieter, more relaxing season!

 

 


7 Comments

To Oliver!

We said good-bye to Oliver this past week.

He was just a farm cat – one of dozens that have called our farm home through the years. But after having him around for more than 10 years (probably 12, though no one really remembers) we grew rather attached to him and he is surely missed.

Oliver had personality to spare, and a rather unique take on his place on the farm.

While all of our cats are pets, they are expected to work – catching mice & other critters, keeping the barn free of varmints. Oliver could indeed hunt with the best of them, but considered that to be part-time work only. Usually he got bored & fell asleep on the job. But he rather enjoyed being the farm greeter and running towards vehicles entering the yard. Our CSA members were familiar with this habit and drove cautiously when arriving to pick up their produce each week. But again, he often got bored & fell asleep – usually in the middle of the driveway, fully confident that cars would circle around him.

Actually, Oliver spent a good part of his life sleeping. He could make himself comfortable anywhere!

Oliver took on a new responsibility this last summer – babysitting Sage. He followed her around, hung out with her when she was tied up, and if Sage got anxious and began to bark, Oliver would rub against her and do his best to comfort & distract her. Once when Sage got herself all tangled up in the barn, we observed Oliver slowly leading Sage in circles to untangle her. They loved each other!

But most of all, Oliver loved to be with people. Wherever we were, he wanted to be – out in the fields, in the barn, in the house (not allowed – but always tried!) and often on our laps …

Oliver was a great cat!

To Oliver!!