It’s beginning to look like a farm around here

Broccoli, Eggplant, Celery, Tomates, Squash, Melons and Cucumbers in this 16x8 raised bed.

Broccoli, Eggplant, Celery, Tomates, Squash, Melons and Cucumbers in this 16×8 raised bed.

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt — Margaret Atwood

Boy did I ever. It was a busy weekend on the backyard homestead and you know what, it’s starting to look like a farm around here. This quote is fitting not only because my weekend consisted of a whole lot of dirt, but because it was included in the course guide for a backyard farming workshop I attended at Sentimental Farm. Even with the three-hour workshop on Saturday, I still managed to get a lot done on our growing mini farm.

Almost all of my 32 tomatoes are in the ground, planted in 16×8 ft raised bed along with cucumbers, squash, melons, eggplant, celery and broccoli. My peppers will be planted in a similar bed next to this one with cattle panels bended between the two to form trellis tunnels (see plan here) for the various climbing veggies. Most of my berries have been planted in a patch. More mesclun and romaine seeds went into the ground and I dug a European-style raised bed for my corn and beans that I hope to get in the ground this week. I also made an attempt at thinning my carrots.

See how there are two stems, you have the thin it out to one or you won't get a crop.

See how there are two stems, you have the thin it out to one or you won’t get a crop.

What’s that? You have to thin carrots? Who knew? Not me. At least not before attending my course on the weekend. According to Rob, if you don’t thin your carrots, you won’t have carrots. Now, it’s not that I am crazy about carrots (next to peas, they are probably my next least favourite vegetable on the planet, raw or cooked), but it was the thought of not having a yield that drove me to attempt the pull out and relocate the extra carrots growing. Carrot seeds are teeny tiny little things and planting just one or two seeds per hole is pretty difficult. Once the carrots grow a few inches, you can see the multiple stems coming from the same spot. The idea in thinning is to gently pull the weaker carrot out and move it to a new spot, that you dig by pushing a pencil into the ground. It is best to try this after a few days of rain when the ground is soft, or so the man in the YouTube video said. Sadly, the carrots that I transplanted all appear to have withered away BUT the carrots that are now singletons are thriving. I think they grew an inch overnight. A solution to this Rob offered is organic carrot tape that is available at TSC stores. It is essentially carrot seed properly spaced on rows of toilet paper that you plant in the ground. I don’t know the cost of this, but seeing how many carrots didn’t survive I might look into this for next year.

Rabbit hutch is half finished but Thumper has moved in.

Rabbit hutch is half finished but Thumper has moved in.

On the livestock side of things, Thumper is finally outside enjoying the sunshine. The rabbit hutch is almost finished, the hubby just has to finish the girl’s side and then we can put our meat rabbit operation into business. I’m sure Thumper will be happy to learn that he will soon have a few lady rabbits to” entertain”. Bunny was a little afraid of his new house at first, but after a few minor adjustments and luring with dandelions (his favourite) he can now hop up and down the ramps and get from his house to his run. Doesn’t he look happy?

He sure loves those dandelions.

He sure loves those dandelions.

There was also a fair amount of planning done this weekend for the fall/winter harvest. Who knew there were so many varieties you can grow all year long with the help of a hoop house (something we will be adding soon so be sure to check back for a how-to). What vegetables would you like to see in a fall/winter CSA? Varieties that I have: cabbage, kale, spinach, winter mesclun, super gourmet mesclun mix, Autumn King carrots, beets, arugula, swiss chard, Coastal Star Romaine, cabbage plus herbs parsley, cilantro and chives. Varieties I plan to add: corn salad, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, scallions (I am out of seed and will be ordering a hardier variety for fall) and radish. Varieties I am considering: brussel sprouts and parsnip. If you are thinking about signing up for a CSA what varieties would you like to see added?

Hope everyone smelled of dirt at some point over the weekend!

PS: This week has been declared Local Food Week in Ontario, celebrate by supporting a local farmer either at a farmers’ market or farm gate stand.

My attempt at a European-style raised bed with 2-foot rows and 30-inch paths.

My attempt at a European-style raised bed with 2-foot rows and 30-inch paths.

I cheated on these ones but I don't think my seedlings will produce any fruits this year so I couldn't resist.

I cheated on these ones but I don’t think my seedlings will produce any fruits this year so I couldn’t resist.

Almost time to add a new layer to my potato box. Grow potatoes grow.

Almost time to add a new layer to my potato box. Grow potatoes grow.