Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waging War on the Wireworm

Many moons ago, Colleen wrote about the initial surge of those pesky little wireworms in the hoop house. Well, they continue to turn up once in a while around the farm, evidenced by sad, drooping plants here and there. So, the fight continues...

A little info for those who don't know much about the wireworms. Our particular wireworm species are either Agriotis obscurus or Agriotes lineatus, both non-native, both a pain in the behind. Wireworms are the larvae stage of a click beetle, and stay in the larvae stage of the life cycle for 3 - 4 years, feasting on poor little plants. Once they become adult click beetles, they don't hurt plants.

I guess in some ways, we are not all that unlike the wireworm. We both like Yarrow. We both like Skeeter Farm. We both like plants. However, there is one all important difference. While we humans like to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of the plants' labour, wireworms like to take plants well before their time. For this reason, we will forever be enemies.

Initial efforts to deal with the wireworm included negotiation (no luck) and the trusted sacrificial carrot tactic (very effective).

Well, this past week we stepped things up and took the fight to the wireworm with the enlistment of Beneficial Native Nematodes!!! Nematodes naturally occur in the soil and eat soil dwelling insects like larvae and grubs, leaving friendly earthworms and plants to go about their business. In effect, we have brought in some reinforcements to help fight the good fight. We'll keep you posted.

In Nematodes we trust.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our first CSA is on it's way!

Yes it is finally here. Our first CSA of 2011. Many a serious nights worried about harvest dates, germination happenings, and the absence of sunshine.... but it all worked out. Folks, we were very proud to put forth this effort, and we are stoked about our crops!

Amy and Patrick on there way to you very shortly.... and myself the subsequent week... to drop off your veggies. Now remember, each week brings forth a new set of unpredictable events, so bear with us, as we will do our best, and we will not forget about what the farming experience means and the ability to provide local ingredients means so much to us.

Enjoy everyone!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Lettuce of Skeeter Farm

Crunch, crunch! Now, not wanting to let the cat out of the bag already, with just days until our first CSA delivery of 2011, but we at Skeeter Farm have had luck this year with all kinds of lettuce and greens. Truth is, this luck has arisen from the (let's face it) cold, wet spring. While some crops are a bit behind, all kinds of greens are a growin' out in Yarrow.

Back in May when I started planting the greens bed, I had a great time perusing our seed reserves to decide what kind of lettuces to plant. Freckled romaine and usual romaine, green leaf, butter lettuce, and even a 'drunken woman' variety got me interested enough to commit to several rows of lettuce. Good thing, as I never thought we would have such a challenging, nervous time in June, waiting for seed germination of dill and cilantro or for peas and beans to finally have a growth spurt. But kale, swiss chard and bok choi have all been troopers with the lettuce to flow us in to the weeks, and now days, before our first farm harvest.

So whether you are a customer that will be receiving a bag next week, or a loyal market goer in Coquitlam, or maybe a Skeeter Farm 'friend', we hope you enjoy our Skeeter Farm spring/summer/fall greens, because trust me, this head of romaine tastes even better than how scrumptious it looks!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Living in an Amish Paradise

Skeeter farms has a new baby.  It's actually a new Wheel Hoe, and, like a new baby, everyone instantly loves it, can't stop talking about it, and cannot imagine their lives before it. 

Weeding is possibly the most time intensive activity on the farm. It has usually included an upright hoe, or being down on your hands and knees pulling things out by hand and shuffling along the 100 foot rows.   The Wheel Hoe (yes, it deserves capitals) is about ten times as efficient. Ten. Times. As. Efficient.

"God Bless you Wheel Hoe" - Patrick Kitchen

The Wheel Hoe is made by Hoss, and it's crazy to imagine that everyone with a garden doesn't have one of these.  Interestingly, the Hoss website says that "In the 1910's, 20's, 30's, and 40's the wheel cultivator ruled the gardening world", but that they disappeared as people developed herbicides in the 50's.  Eliot Coleman, author of the New Organic Gardener, seems to be single-handedly bringing them back though, as every web reference to wheel hoe's seems to reference Coleman. 

What's great about the Wheel Hoe is that is greatly reduces labour, but not at the expense of the environment - as it burns no fuels.  It just uses simple mechanical principles and is made of long lasting materials that are easy to clean and repair.  In fact, the handles are made from "Amish-crafted #1 red oak". 

So, this little baby should make weeding out at Skeeter Farms a lot more enjoyable and fast, leaving more time for other important things, like harvesting - which is coming up soon!


PS:  "Amish-crafted #1 red oak" made me think of the Wierd Al song 'Living in an Amish paradise' (set to Coolio's 'Gansta's Paradise'). So, just for fun, here are the Amish Paradise lyrics. I don't recommend trying to read them at work, as I did, because they are pretty funny and you might spit out your coffee (as I did).  

As I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain
I take a look at my wife and realize she's very plain
But that's just perfect for an Amish like me
You know I shun fancy things like electricity

At 4:30 in the mornin' I'm milking cows
Jedediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows, fool
And I've been milking and plowing so long that
Even Ezekial thinks that my mind is gone

I'm a man of the land, I'm into discipline
Got a bible in my hand and a beard on my chin
But if I finish all of my chores, and you finish thine
Then tonight we're going to party like it's 1699

We've been spending most our lives living in an Amish paradise
I churn butter once or twice, living in an Amish paradise
It's hard work and sacrifice, living in an Amish paradise
We sell quilts at discount price, living in an Amish paradise