TFE is one year on a tiny farm start-up, covered from start to finish, one week at a time. Entertainment! Excitement!! Experience by observation!!! The next best thing to being there... (Read more)
By Mike [tfb] on Tue, Jul 08, 2014
By Lynn on Fri, May 11, 2012
Here on Gabriola there are many farmers with many years of growing food experience under their belt. I am so fortunate to be able to tap into this community and gain valuable knowledge. This past week we have been working on finishing up the deer fencing. Bob, one of the land owners from the land I rent lent me a hand tightening and putting up the wire. I am always so amazed at the skill set long time farmers have. They have this wise way of problem solving that I aim to have one day. Not sure if it is something you can learn though or if it is just something that you are brought up with so it is second nature.
We also worked on the deer fencing this week at
our grain coop. Steve and I along with
about 6 or 7 other members (including farm gurus Sal and John in the above picture) are growing grain on an acre and a half at the south end of the island. This year we will be growing buckwheat as a cover crop, and then next season Steve is excited to have some grains for beer making.
To top the week off, I brought in Sal and John to for advice and Sal’s walking tractor to till the field. Alas, it is still to wet to work with. John’s words of wisdom: Leave it be for now… the most important part of growing food is bed preparation. If the soil is too wet and I try to work with it, then it will just compact and be harder to work with in the end. So, sigh, I now sit and wait some more before the planting begins.
By Shannon on Thu, May 03, 2012
A few weeks ago, we sent a soil sample to the Nova Scotia Dept. of Ag Laboratory (at the Ag College) for analysis. Here were our results:
We understood what some of these numbers meant for us, but definitely not all of them (and we were amazed at the pH….we thought it was going to be below 5! We wanted a bit of help understanding these results and creating a plan for nutrient balancing. So we sent these results to Av Singh from AgraPoint, here in NS and Ken Laing, farmer at Orchard Hill Farm in southern ON for
their expert advice.
Ken’s suggestions included applying dolomitic
limestone (for increasing pH and magnesium). He said that raising the pH would also help address our high Aluminum levels. He recommended adding 6 to 8 tons of compost per acre (preferably poultry compost, he said). He also recommended specific amounts to add of the various micronutrients and gave us a “goal” to move towards for each of the nutrient amounts.
We really love being able to ask different people for their advice. There are so many people whose perspectives we respect and we’re just so grateful to all our farming mentors who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with us. Without them, figuring things out would be a lot more difficult!
If anyone reading this has any suggestions for us, we’d be happy to hear them!
We also just put up our “caterpillar” tunnels. We wrote about the steps involved on our website www.broadforkfarm.com.
By Lynn on Tue, Apr 17, 2012
To continue on with our soil testing, I promised I would discuss how to calculate your soil composition.
We left off last time with our mason jars half filled with soil and half filled with water sitting overnight to settle. We then measured the contents of the soil once they settled. They layer with sand on the bottom, clay in the middle and silt on top. As you can see from my sample, we have very sandy soil. Which is great for air porosity and general workability, but sand doesn’t do a good job of hanging onto soil nutrients. Anyhow, back to
the calculation. The total height of the settled soil in jar 1 came to 1.75″, with sand taking up 1.5″, clay 0.5″ and silt 0.25″. I changed these into percentages – sand 57%, clay 29% and silt 14%. Then to determine the composition you need to look at a soil texture triangle. There is an online one here that you can
just plug your percentages into and it will determine your soil for you. My samples from both fields lay in the sandy clay loam area. Not a surprising result, but a fun experiment nonetheless.
Next I am taking the liquid from these two jars and using the Rapitest Soil Test Kit to roughly figure out the available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil. From this, it will be good to know what amendments are needed before I start planting.
By Shannon on Tue, Apr 17, 2012
A lot has happened since my last post. We bought a tractor and rototiller (see info on our website). We borrowed our neighbour’s set of disc harrows and disked the
fields that had been ploughed last fall. That set of discs had a few problems and so we borrowed our other neighbour’s newer disc harrows (neighbours are amazing!). We’ve been a bit behind our scheduled greenhouse seeding because we don’t have our greenhouse up yet. And the space in our south-facing sun porch can only hold so many trays. So we found a source of horse manure and, a few days ago, made some “hot beds” on the south side of our house. The heat from the composting manure and bedding will give bottom heat to our seedlings and we’ll enclose them all in with clear greenhouse plastic. We haven’t done this before but have heard good testimonials (on the interweb) so we’ll let you know…..
by Mike [tfb] on Tue, Jul 08, 2014
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by Lynn on Fri, May 11, 2012
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