A Random Image



It may be August, but we’re still planting things at Riverglen! The southern section of beds is starting to fill up with crops for the fall. All the different vegetables you enjoy take different amounts of time to grow. So a couple of weeks ago another batch of lettuces, carrots, raddishes, rutabagas and beets were seeded into the garden.  Last week more beets, carrots and radishes went into the ground. This week some scallions, celery, cabbages and kale were planted from blocks. There is some chard, collards, scallions, kale and lettuces in soil blocks to be planted soon.


While we are still playing a bit with the spacing between the plants, the general routine is relatively well established.  Spade down the weeds, till the beds, rake the beds.  Then you either direct seed or plant.  David does most of the direct seeding – you load the seeds into the seeder, adjust the seeder to release the right number of seeds, the right distance apart, and then ‘just’ push it down the the bed in a very straight line.  Planting involves raking those same very straight lines, placing the soil blocks along them at the right spacing, then going down the row with a planting trowel and popping them all into the ground.  The common theme is straight  lines, which make the hoeing much easier afterwards.  Straight lines are like perfect circles, they never quite exist in reality but rather they are an ideal to strive for.


There’s also a very different kind of planting that takes place.  Steve has been out broadcasting buckwheat on all the beds we are finished with for the season.  Once a crop has been harvested, the greens get turned into the soil and we plant a cover crop for the rest of

spaz and moe
Spazz and Moe Sharing a Meal

the season.  This helps to keep weeds from establishing and also makes some nutrients more easily available to the v

egetables we will plant next year.


Hurrah for the rain!





Catching Up on a rain day 


Hi all,


Well, it’s not really raining… Actualy it’s rather sunny out again. But we’ve been working 7 days a week, often 7am to 9pm for a while now and we need a break! So if the sky still refuses to rain, we’ll just have to pretend it is. We are dusty, hot, and reaching our mental and physical limits. So here’s to rain days and spending some time indoors!




Since Heather has been doing such a great job writing these newsletters, I haven’t taken much time to write messages myself. I hope you have been enjoying the newsletters as much as I have. Heather’ upbeat, optimistic nature comes through nicely.


I guess that’s really been a theme this season. Amidst all the obstacles and hard work, I can always count on a strong, positive crew to stick it out until the job is done. I can tell you that makes a big difference on the garden. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so tidy, organized and weed free. And of course, that means more produce for all! That isn’t to say we’ve been without our dramas this summer, but somehow the challenges seem more… surmountable.


Little Italy 1
Little Italy Farmer’s Market



Halfway Mark for the CSA


So here we are, only a week away from our half way mark. Hard to believe, it’s already been 8 weeks of CSA. I’m proud to note that even with the cold and wet spring we experienced, we still managed to start moving food one week earlier than last year, two weeks earlier than many other CSAs in the area, and more than 3 weeks earlier some CSAs who just couldn’t rebound fast enough after the foul weather. Of course, our spring selection was fairly limited, since many crops rotted, flooded, or never even got planted. Spinach is one such casualty, as well as arugula, early scallions, radish, turnips, peas… When farming you only have a certain window of opportunity. ”Catching up” isn’t an option in this game. You only get a few swings and if things don’t work out, well, it’ll just have to be next year.


So let’s be thankful for what we did get. Lots of mesclun, 5 varieties of head lettuce, spring kale… More recently we’ve been enjoying a steady stream of carrots and beets. I’m particularly proud of the broccoli heads and early water melons.


And what’s coming up? You can count on more carrots, more scallions, lots more cucumbers, more zucchini… Wax beans are getting ready, tomatoes are coming off the vine and the peppers are starting too. It’s been hot and sunny, and the garden is lush! Actually, we’re remarkably lucky about that. I’m very happy I spent all that money on irrigation equipment, because floods have now turned to drought. This much brown grass at this time of year is a novel sight for my eyes. Our water is on every single day and we can barely keep up. We don’t have the capacity to irrigate all our different crops, but winter squash, corn, potatoes and beans are tough crops and I’m sure they’ll pull through ok.


Planning and Preparing for the future


Despite causing sinus clogging amounts of dust to billow into the air, tilling the garden in this kind of weather is generally works out alright. We’ve got spring crops tilled under and replaced with buckwheat cover crop and we are now working on fall crops. Although some fall crops, such as leeks, have been in the ground for several weeks already, some fall crops are still being seeded. With all the room left over in the garden from springtime, we’re pushing for as much fall roots and greens as we can!


LR shelters
This is the sort of structure we’ll be putting up


We’re also pushing for an extended season in general. And how can we best overcome poor weather and a short, Canadian growing season? You guessed it, greenhouses!!! Well, we’ll start with one greenhouse. And to be fair, it’s not really a greenhouse since it isn’t heated. A hoophouse!! A tall tunnel!! A coolhouse!! Call it what you will, but we’re building it next week. A series of 15 foot tall arches will create a 50’X100′ protected growing area. With roll-up sides and lots of compost, this basic structure will add 2 months of outdoor growing time on each end of the current season. No kidding. We’re talking sowing spinach in February and harvesting carrots in December.


But I suppose I can’t hide from you the fact that this thing is a little pricey. It’s a major capital investment for a young enterprise like this one, especially after $4000 in lost spring sales, $1500 storm damage on the barn, $1500 to replace a busted mower. And I’m still waiting for $1200 in HST refunds that were lost in the mail strike… Like I mentioned, it really wasn’t a good spring. It looks like we’re going to need a little help to cover this hoophouse invoice.


Raise the Roof!


Instead of simply passing the hat and hoping for the best, we’ve decided to throw a party. A fund-raising party! Please consider attending this very special event on Friday, August 19th. We’re putting together a couple folk-roots-rock bands, decking out the barn with a P.A. and preparing lots of good food for the BBQ. It’ll be a great chance for first-timers to see the farm, for regulars to catch-up and for nature lovers to enjoy an afternoon outdoors. Not to mention a chance to catch some awesome tunes and support your favorite cause. It’s a win-win situation!


So come give us dirty, overworked, Salvation Army wearing, discount rack shopping, social life avoiding, ultra-dedicated and law-abiding (mostly) farmers a thumbs up. Buy a burger, have a drink, enjoy the scenery and bob your head to the music. It’ll be fun, I promise! If you plan on attending, let us know if you plan on buying burgers or sausages, so we have an idea how much to prepare. It’s meat from close to home!




 Raise the Roof Riverglen – Friday August 19th – 6pm to 11pm


What’s in my Box?

Week No.9

  • Watermelon: Early watermelons so we can enjoy them while it’s hot outside. They could use a day or two on the counter to ripen.
  • Cucumbers: Fresh slicing cucumbers for sandwiches, salads and making interesting shapes on a fancy meal.
  • Pickling cucumbers: What’s the difference? These are smaller. Really, that’s it? Yup, that’s it. Make sure you read the bin label and take the appropriate number. Eat them like regular cukes or pickle them. Yum! I’ll post a sour pickle(no vinegar) recipe on the website and if you want to purchase a larger amount, just visit our store or market stand.
    Harvesting irrigated cucumbers in a dry garden
  • Zucchini: We’re rotating different varieties between pickups, so they may look different this week.  Five different varieties of summer squash are growing in the garden. You should be able to taste them all over the next couple of weeks.
  • Radish: We’ve been having terrible luck with anything Brassica this year: Radish, turnip, arugula, kale, broccoli… For some reason the Swede Midges and Flea Beatles are on them like a bunch of school kids at a Chinese buffet. We take several precautions to mitigate the damage, but sometimes these dedicated little insects get the upper hand. Obviously, the tops on these radishes have been destroyed to the point of not being edible but the roots can be cooked as usual.
  • Carrots: More carrots. This year our orange carrots look (and taste) great!
  • Garlic: Just a little taste of garlic as it is fresh from the garden.
  • Sweet pepper: Choose one from an assortment of white, green or red sweet peppers. There are lots more on the plants, so you can look forward to more.
  • Tomato: Tomatoes are also making their debut this week. These are mostly ‘Stupice’, but some of the others are ripening as well.
  • Basil: A fresh summer herb, perfect for seasoning pasta sauce, vegetable sautes, etc.
  • Cilantro: A classic herb to go with some warm chili during a cool damp week. Also awesome with eggs!

This is a single weblog entry, posted on August 11th, 2011. Comment here »

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