Our roadside stand will be closed for this weekend but we have U-Pick currants ready and as always, rhubarb. If you would like to come by for some picking or to grab some eggs, beef breakfast sausage, perennials or our special sheep fertilizer, swing by Sat/Sun 8-4.
We also welcome appointments so reach out to us through social media or on our contact us page.
We recently started carrying a grown and made in Alberta fertilizer called Ovis Aries made by an entrepreneurial friend of ours. So I could be biased since this year was the year we decided to get a bottle baby lamb but I'm thrilled with this new fertilizer I've been using for several reasons. I have tried it in our greenhouse and in some of my pots and in as I was putting it in with one of my flower beds to test it out in a variety of scenarios. I didn't get too scientific but I put about a tablespoon in every hole for the greenhouse tomatoes. I also added a bit of bone meal to round out the macronutrients. In the same greenhouse on the same day I did my standard slow release fertilizer with the same variety of tomatoes in a bed right across the aisle.
At this point I can't tell a difference in terms of size of the plants, but where I'm noticing a difference is how they're managing with this recent heat wave (and what looks to be another one coming up). One of the additional benefits of this fertilizer is that it can retain moisture and release it back into the soil. You can imagine in a greenhouse how things can heat up but one of my indicators to water has been the beds with the slow release fertilizer. If I only looked at the beds with the Ovis Aries fertilizer, I could probably go another day or two. I'm interested to see if it influences fruit set or even taste of the tomatoes.
In the pots I've been really impressed with how they've held up in this heat as well. Hanging pots are notorious for drying out and ours get the benefit of the drying westerly winds. However, I mixed in several tablespoons in when potting them up and they are the best I've ever been able to grow in this location (so far). The other hanging baskets (which the plants came from the same nursery) did not faire so well with this last round of heat and I'm not trying to remediate them for hopefully some blooms by August.
The fertilizer supposedly has benefits with slug control too, but that is yet to be seen - one can only hope that we have enough rain to test it out. I would like to try it out in my row crops but that will have to wait for next spring. Either way this is a definite must for all potted arrangements and the greenhouse crops from now on at this farm.
We have rhubarb ready for picking this weekend. To make sure we have enough supply and are in line with all restrictions we ask that you call for an appointment. We should also have some later today in the roadside stand.
I love gardens and I love books. It is always so pleasing to walk through the library's packed shelves of garden books. The wide variety of books available on gardening can easily keep us busy throughout the winter months here. With winter wanting to hang on for a little longer than hoped, I've been gardening vicariously through a variety of books. I always like to try on books through the library first (I think I love libraries as much as books and gardening) before I purchase it. If I bought every gardening book that I thought looked interesting there would be nothing left over for seeds.
This book has been on hold for ages and it took me several months to actually get the ability to take it out. Now that I have my hands on this little gem I fully understand why. Here are the reasons that this book is going to make it into my personal collection:
Springtime is a great time to look through what extras we have in our canning cupboards. With planting season soon upon us, what better time to prepare an Easter meal with those extra items in our cupboard. We thought we would post this now to give you ideas while planning your Easter menu.
Vegetable Salsa Soup
Chutney Baked Brie
We have a little bit of sun poking through, happily melting the snow. Everywhere you go in our local communities, people are out and buzzing with this first sign of spring. In our cold climate though, we have to remember that it is only a hint of things to come and that some cold weather is likely to still come our way. I always like to think of the things that I can still do to prepare so that I am the most efficient during our short growing season. If you haven't already, you still have time to start some seedlings before planting them out. We still have 10 weeks before most plants will be put out in the garden depending on what you're looking to plant. It is always so satisfying to tend to your plants inside when it is wet and cold outside. Here are a few great resources to get you (and your future harvests!) started.
I pulled this image from Pinterest because I think it is wonderful design that can accommodate many different locations and tastes - literally. This design is so simple but with such impact that you could recreate it in your yard using ornamental plants. However, if want to introduce some edibles to your yard, this design would lend itself to this purpose very well.
This could be used as it appears, along a wall, or the design can be used to create a “room” within a garden or yard. If you’re on a budget, the design is simple enough that you can add to it every year to extend it around a yard. Alternatively you can invest in one element each year and build to the final design.
The winter is such a great time to start planning our gardens. It gives us a little bit of hope that this blanket of snow will eventually retreat. I always like to try one or two new thing in the garden just to have inspiration and learning a part of every season, but I find that as the years go on, you can reduce a lot of harvest time work and stress if you focus on your garden goals from the start. Here are some basic tips for planning this years edibles.
Look at what you did last year
Taking stock of what you did last year is a good way to learn the lessons of the past. Having an early first frost compared to the rest of north America, there is ample time to forget the lessons of last season. So that I don't repeat the mistakes of the past, I like to quickly look at my old planting plans (no matter how tattered they are) to get a refresher on what works and what doesn't where I am. I find that making notes while you are in the season is a great way to keep the flashes of inspiration fresh in the middle of January. If you didn't write out a plan last year, try and capture on paper what you did do as best you can so you can use it for reference this year and in the future. On last year's plan try to capture notes of what worked and if anything wasn't successful, why you think that was. On a new sheet of paper (or multiple papers) create a sketch of where you want to plant this year. It is useful to have approximate measurements. Think about things such as if you are going to expand your garden, if you are going to plant in raised beds, planters, or a typical row garden.
Think about what you and your family likes to eat
Write out what your family eats on a regular basis, look through your favourite recipes and brainstorm those items you tend to buy regularly each week during groceries. A look through your fridge and cupboards is also useful to get an idea of what you like to eat regularly. Do you have lots of pickles in your fridge? Maybe you should plant cucumbers, garlic and dill. Do you have a large Italian recipe collection? Consider planting tomatoes, basil and oregano. Are you regularly buying jam at the grocery store? Think about putting in a small raspberry or strawberry patch.
Think about volume
Give some thought to how much you and your family will consume. For most families one zucchini plant will suffice but for others who have zucchini relish (or zucchini cake) as a staple, they may need multiple plants. You can find a approximate yield for each crop online.
Think about your variety characteristics
Do you want all of your tomatoes at the same time for canning sauce or do you want to have small cherry tomatoes for your summer salads or do you want some of both? Cultivars can vary greatly in maturity dates, size, taste, colour, harvest dates and suitability for cooking or processing. While looking through catalogues keep your ideal characteristics in mind.
Rotate your crops
Crop rotation is the practice of changing where you plant each annual crop in subsequent years. It is one of those practices that you don't really see a benefit unless you don't do it and by then its too late. Crop rotation helps especially when you garden on a larger scale but it is helpful in all gardens, even if you plant everything in pots. It reduces pests and helps to balance the organic matter in soils. There are some general guidelines that you can find online as to what is best planted after each crop to manage nutrients and organic matter and to reduce weeds, pests and disease
Companion plant your crops
When I first started a vegetable garden I always did look at what they were planted near. Knowing how important crop rotation is, it made sense to me that in season it made a difference what was neighbouring each crop. After a few years of a fairly successful garden (and likely short on time in the planning stages), I planted a few crops that were beside things that were not good companions. Since those tough lessons I have since gone back to being really careful with what I planted and where. The resources I use most is Wikipedia's List of Companion Plants and the book Carrots love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte. Sometimes it takes a little juggling, but once you get a system, it can be fairly straightforward year after year.
Think about timing of planting and harvesting
Cool season crops versus warm season crops have different planting dates. Different varieties of the same species can have a wide range of harvest dates. If you will be doing any processing, you may want to time the harvest (and by extension the planting dates) to reflect when you have time to can, blanch, dehydrate etc. You may also want a series of harvests. As an example radishes, carrots, lettuce and beets can be harvested throughout the season with a series of plantings. Try to group plantings where possible by planting dates. I've learned that I can start earlier than one thinks in our climate if you look at frost tolerances of the cool season crops.
Think about how you are going to manage your garden
Similar to planting and harvesting, think of how you are going to water, weed and harvest your crops. I too often have made the mistake of planting too close, completely annoyed with my spring self when I'm trying to harvest all of the produce. If you're going to use a rototiller or wheel hoe for weeding will impact your row spacing (if you're doing a row garden. Are you using drip irrigation or sprinkler to water? If you're planting an organic garden, you will need to be careful on the management but also the seeds you purchase. If you have had problems with certain pests in the past, there are also non organic varieties that through selective breeding are resistant to various pests.
Come get the produce of the season this weekend. Contact us for special or bulk orders.
Now with a few cool days, we've been hearing many people interested in anything that they can preserve. This week come see us tomorrow (Wednesday between 1-4 and 7-9 - or by appointment) if you have extras in your garden. In particular we have had requests for or have sold out of;
Our blog is designed to keep you updated with new tips, recipes and useful information all relating to Northline Farms.