Thursday, April 27, 2017

Transplants

This has been a lovely week in the greenhouse. The sunshine and above freezing nights mean things are treacly growing now. It's time for tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini to be potted into larger pots for sale in the nursery. The tomatoes in the soil blocks are easy to pull apart and are going into 2.5" pots before going to their red pots in a few weeks. By keeping them from getting root bound they grow stronger and make far better plants for the gardeners who buy them. They're also easier to harden off, ready for planting in June. Yes, June. It's still too early to think about planting them outside, the nighttime temperature is too cold. We start ours in smaller pots so that we can fit more into a small area that we can heat. It's the best way we know to get locally adapted plants for the Annapolis Valley, as well as choosing very good quality seed. You'll find there's a lot less transplant shock and the yields are good with our plants, especially if you've got some compost and a little calcium added to your soil and you keep the plants evenly watered. 

A list of available varieties will be with us at the Greenwood Mall Farmers Market next week and you can pre-order the plants you'd like. I'm also bringing a few dozen Honeoye strawberries with me as well as breads. The nursery will be open in 2 weeks, maybe sooner! (I need the room). I'm off to pot more strawberries into hanging baskets. Have a lovely week!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Veggie Boxes 2017

Veggie boxes are available to be pre-ordered and a really good deal. Just sign up and then decide how long you want to commit for. But why choose our farm CSA (community supported agriculture) over the other local ones? There are some really great growers in the valley who work hard to provide good veggies to their customers, there's a couple within 2 miles of our farm, but at the same time I know of one other in a different community where they buy discounted veggies from other local commercial farms all season long and pass it off as their own. It's important that you get to know your grower if you can, so that you're getting what you pay for. Otherwise you may as well just shop at Sobeys. I'm not saying I've never bought anything to help fill a veggie box, last spring our partners had serious water issues and despite their best intentions they didn't get a lot growing so I bought local veggies, carrots, green onions and lettuce etc. to help fill my boxes for a few weeks while I got a bunch more seeds planted and I got garlic scapes from a lady in Aylesford before being entirely self sufficient. But we've been doing a veggie box program for quite a few years both in BC and NS and have the experience to know what to plant when (and computer programs to keep us organized). Since this year we're not relying on anyone else to provide half the veggies, we can just plan for and rely on our selves again. And you are certainly welcome to take a drive by after the end of May and check out the field garden to see what's growing. You may be able to see the plants through the greenhouses too. Cucumbers, melons, eggplant, tomatoes and wasabi are all in there during the summer.  I guess when it comes down to it, the proof that we grow our own produce is right there in the field. The farm stand will be open in June so pop by and see us. 

We're changing things up from our usual CSA where you pay for all 4 months in advance. Instead, 
you'll order and pay by the week or pay for a month and get a discount. This means you still get your box of healthy and delicious vegetables each week, but now it's easier to fit into your budget. It also means that if you're a new customer, you can try us out without a huge commitment. Try it for a month and see what you think. You'll try some new veggies, get recipes, and become part of the Humblebee family.

FAQ.

Do you deliver? How do I get my box?  You can pick up from us at Greenwood Mall farmers market, Mid Valley Farmers Market, farm stand or get delivery. It's your choice. Delivery is an additional $5 per week up to 50km. There's a spot on the order sheet to let us know your preferred location and we take orders by email. If there is enough interest, we will have our regular pick up location in Lower Sackville again this year. 

Going on vacation? Just stop delivery while you're gone or donate to the food bank or a friend. 

Can I cancel? Yes, you are only committing to the weeks you pay for. This is what makes us different from the other CSA's out there. You don't risk losing hundreds of dollars if you don't like it. If you pay for a month and then decide it's not for you because you're moving, or circumstances have changed, that's okay. Just let us know. You'll only get the weeks you've paid for. We will be sad to lose you but our produce is delicious and I'm sure you'll be back to see us at the farmers market if you can. 

Can I substitute the things in my box? Generally no because it can get very confusing to keep a bunch of boxes separate that are all slightly different. But we can try to work something out, you can trade with a friend, or you can share with someone who loves what you hate. 

What's actually in a box? This questions a bit tricky because each week is different. The seasonal veggies go from lots of greens in spring to peas, beans, and summer veggies to the root crops of fall. We will only have apples available late September once they're ready, lettuce and tomatoes almost every week, potatoes go from new potatoes to main crop from July to September etc. And of course cool weather crops like peas and lettuce aren't very tasty when it's hot in August so you'll be getting melons and cucumbers then. This year I'm going to take a lot more photos of our boxes so I have a better record. 

Are you organic? We are not certified organic due to the cost and politics. We are 'no spray' and certify as Naturally Grown instead. We absolutely believe in using organic, permaculture, and pollinator friendly methods of growing. Our chickens and ducks do lots of bug control, we weed by hand and use a small tiller, truly organic growing is very labour intensive. There are lots of chemicals out there that are supposedly safe for organic growers but we prefer to use natural inputs like garlic spray, compost and fish fertilizers whenever we can.  Healthy plants = happy people. 

Is it just veggies? No, your box will also include herbs, berries occasionally and fruit such as melons and apples. Plus a newsletter. We give all sorts of things a try! Plus you can add free range eggs, breads and treats, preserves and flowers. We bake fresh to order. 



Do you hire outside help? We are a very small, family run farm and don't pay anyone to work here. But we do have help. We teach organic gardening and homesteading skills to young people from all over the world through a program called WWOOF. They help us for a few hours each day in exchange for room and board and we probably host an average of 20 people per year. It's a great program and we've made some lifelong friends. We also have our children, affectionately known as the 'slave labour crew'. 

Do you have veggies all year round? No, we offer a seasonal veggie box. We will have extra fruits and fall crops and we will keep everyone informed as to what's available in October and November. We had fresh peas last Christmas! But you never know with the Nova Scotia weather. 

How do I sign up? You can email us at humblebeecanada@gmail.com and let us know how many, what size, and then we will add you to our newsletter list and arrange your pickup location. 

How much? How do I pay? It's your choice to pay by the week, month (4 weeks) or season (16 weeks). After mid September everyone will be charged by the week because weather conditions may make bi-weekly harvests more practical. Costs are:

Large box $25 per week.  $90 per month.  $340 for 16 week season.
Small box $15 per week.  $50 per month.  $180 for 16 week season. 

Eggs are $4 per dozen.

Bread $4 loaf or 2/$7

Preserves - $4 jar

Flowers $5 bunch

We accept Visa & MasterCard, etransfer, cash or cheque. Sign up first, then we'll arrange payment method. There are a limited number of boxes available for pre-order. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Frog Song

We've had a few warm days so lots of the ponds and rivers are ice free and for the first time this year the frogs can be heard. I'm not sure it will last with cooler weather on the way but it's a sign that winter has released her icy grip and Spring is well and truly on its way. Hooray! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

The season begins

Wednesday - The weather forecasts all said it would be below or near freezing last night and every night this week, and here we are waking to a decidedly frosty morning and -8 C (18 f) and -2 C for tonight. This fluctuation of temperature between warm days then cool ones is what makes spring growing so difficult. One frost can wipe out weeks of work. My greenhouse helps with that and the incubator and newly built covered boxes give me somewhere I can keep a small heater to warm it by a few degrees if necessary. The remote thermometer says it's currently 4 C in there so frost free and once the sun is shining it'll quickly warm up. We might only need the heater a few more nights but it makes a big difference at either end of the season. We have a few sub zero nights forecast this week and a little snow, but Springs definitely here. Despite the sub zero nights the forecast. I just have to be optimistic that it's all up from here. 

Thursday - Awoke to snow. Just a half inch so far but the world is white. At least it'll settle some of the pollen in the air. Covered boxes in the greenhouse are reading 7 degrees C. 

The first market of the year was this past Saturday of Easter weekend. It was great to try out the new location and see all our customers again plus new ones. The next market day is Saturday of Mother's Day weekend and then regular market days begin June 2. So you'll be able to get all your farmers market goodies from us on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Contact us for more info at humblebeecanada at gmail.com or look for the next blog post. I'm off to plant more strawberries. 


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom : The Importance of Temperature

Happy Wednesday! I'm currently sitting inside the greenhouse debating if it's better to go buy more cold medication or just wait out the tail end of this sinus cold. I'm not running a fever so I think I'll save myself the drive. The seed starter incubator is working well, it's maintaining the temperature nicely at night which is good because it's still getting down well below freezing at night. In fact it was snowing an hour ago but not settling because it's now plus 2. Inside the greenhouse is +15 even though it's cloudy and windy outside. It's nice.


Our seed starter is a bakery rack that's been framed out and covered with 6mil poly. Inside there's a small portable fan type electric heater set to 400w, a thermostat that controls the heater, a hydrometer and a remote sensing thermometer that lets me monitor the temperature from my bedroom. There is some temperature variation due to air stratification which is why we use a fan heater and put our heat loving seeds such as peppers at the top and cooler veggies at the bottom. 


Here's a selection of the peppers we seeded yesterday. Strawberries in the red pots behind are starting to break dormancy. 

That leads me to your Wednesday Wisdom: Know your Temperatures.

Some seeds like a cooler soil to sprout but several varieties will either rot or sprout and wilt because they're too cool. Here's a list of some of the seeds we grow that require lots of warmth to sprout:

Sweet peppers
Hot peppers
Tomatoes
Melons
Bush and pole beans
Corn, especially the super sweet and sugar enhanced varieties

These can be started indoors or outside once the soil temperature is over 21 degrees. I recommend planting them at the beginning of a warm spell in June or July here in the north. 

Another thing to know is storage temperatures of produce. I know you may be thinking that I'm talking about root cellars but I mean everyday fruits and veggies you probably have right now.

Keep at room temperature:
Bananas
Avocados
Tomatoes
Garlic

Keep cooler but not in fridge:
Onions
Potatoes
Oranges
Apples
Nuts

Refrigerate:
Lettuce
Greens
Carrots
Turnips
Parsnips
Cut fruit and veggies

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Laughs & Sniffles

Well I definitely have a sinus cold or flu or something. Ugh. Tired one minute and hot & unable to sleep the next. It's ok. Today was productive. Lots of planting done. And I found a hilarious video to share with you. 



Monday, April 3, 2017

Frosty April Monday


It's hard to believe that it's April and were still waking up to -3 today and snow yesterday. Crazy. But what can you do? It will delay the opening of he greenhouse partly because of the cold weather, but also because we need several weeks of drying weather to warm the soil and get things all ready for spring planting again. So it's looking like a May 1st opening day. Hopefully sooner. 


The bugs that over wintered in the damp compost are hatching and hopefully freezing at night. A swarm of mosquitos all dancing together in the afternoon sun may have been great for them, I wasn't as thrilled. But the seeds are sprouting inside our little heated chamber so that's good. Lots of peppers, tomatoes, petunias and herbs going in there today. I'm a bit under the weather so I'm watching the giraffe cam at aprilthegiraffe.com and waiting for the greenhouse to warm up. It's sunny this morning so it won't take long. The seed incubator has a separate heater inside plus a thermostat so it stays around10 overnight. Cool crops are started now and warmer weather ones today. There's a mix of conventional pots and soil blocks. The plastic covered bakery cart we made is great for seed starting. There is a remote read thermometer out there so I can keep an eye on it from the comfort of my room. And a hi/low so I can track the daily minimum and maximum temperatures. 


Well, I should get going for the day. Cold medication and a glass of juice and I'm set. Hope you all have a great week. 

Elizabeth


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