Tag Archives: broad beans

broad beans & compost tea


Our little broad beans are well on their way!  Next steps:  regular weeding and the addition of compost tea to the soil around them.  Thanks to my friend Guy (a hobby farmer in Quebec) for these compost tea instructions:

You need a bucket, a stick and a square piece of (~3X3′) burlap. Put a bunch of manure or compost into the burlap and hold and lift it from the four corners. Then tie the corners around the middle of a stick. You will then put the manure / burlap into the bucket with the stick resting on top of the bucket (you want to be able to lift the whole thing out without the manure coming out). Then, fill the bucket with water to the top. After a few days lift the stick out along with the burlap and manure so that only a dark liquid remains – the tea. Sprinkle this around the plants every couple weeks (or as directed) while plants in vegetative phase. You can make 2-3 teas from a bag of manure. The left overs can go in the compost! Good luck!

Compost should be relatively well decomposed (no smell, dark etc) so that the nutrients are easily liberated and so that pathogens / diseases aren’t passed on to veggies (of course never compost diseased plants!). Manure should generally be moderately composted as well (e.g. a few months). Try to use manure from grass-fed organically grown cattle – less chances of E.coli contamination resulting from feeding with corn and medicating with antibiotics.

Also be sure to avoid getting the tea on the leaves of the plants to avoid contamination and in some cases, burning (though unlikely with tea).

late october chores


After a week in Ontario working and visiting friends, I came home refreshed and ready to get back into farming life.  Good thing because there’s SO MUCH to do!  Yesterday was my first full day back and farm work was definitely the priority
.  Chris and I got started early and Chantalle and Julie pitched in later in the day when Uncle Ben took over nephew duty.

What we did:

We raked up the autumn leaves that covered our front lawn into big piles and ran them through a sweet little contraption that sucks them in and chews them up, creating perfectly shredded leaf mulch.  After collecting a truck bed full, we emptied the mulch over our garlic beds.  Our garlic is really eager – it’s already coming up and we’re pretty sure that’s way too soon.  We’re hoping that some mulch, in addition to the colder, frostier mornings (c’mon frost – we could really use you now!), will temper the garlic growth a bit.  If anyone who’s reading this has experience with early-sprouting garlic and has some advice, please leave it in the comment section – we want to do what we can to have a big garlic harvest next summer!

We weeded the cabbage and broad bean patches.  Both are coming up – yay!  It was a bit tough to tell the cabbage from the weeds, but I think I got it right and now we have little rows of tiny mini cabbage plants – cute!  And our broad beans have broken the soil surface and are coming up hardy and strong.  We put in some stakes and will add some string cross-ties to give them some good climbing frames.

Chantalle did some tidying around the chicken coop.  The area needed some weeding, plant transferring and reinforcement in places where it looked like little critters might be able to access the haven of the chicken run.  She piled small/ medium boulders into the wheelbarrow and lined them up in the areas that needed reinforcement.  For such a tiny little person, she’s a tough cookie!  I wouldn’t have wanted to move that wheelbarrow.

We really want to get our deep beds built as soon as possible – so that we can get some winter crops planted as well as having lots of time over the winter to prepare the soil for our spring planting.  The wood for the deep beds was delivered earlier this week while I was away and Chris is eager to get to the construction of them completed.  Before we can do that though, we have to go through all the soil that was turned up by the excavator two weeks ago and get out as much grass, weeds and debris that we can.  While I worked on that yesterday, Chris followed behind me, digging up two feet of soil and transferring it to his left and so on along the length of the deep bed area until the soil got reworked enough to become light and airy and high.  It’s definitely slow going work, but it’s already looking fantastic and, if we do it right the first time around, the hope is that we won’t have to do this kind of intensive work on the deep beds again in the future.

We ended the evening with a Halloween/ Harvest Fest party with friends at the farm.  Partiers dressed up as farmers and farm animals and we enjoyed good food and community time together.  I completely forgot to take any photos of the party, but I blame that on my energy levels – a full day of labour while trying to readjust to the BC time zone turned me into a bit of a party zombie (a farmer zombie :).


Today will be another day of work for us.  We’re hoping to continue work on the deep beds and even get one of the deep beds completely built.  We also really need to plant our flower bulbs for the spring, as well as complete the interior of the chicken coop which hasn’t really been touched since our last work party back in September.  And speaking of work parties, another is in the works!  Stay tuned for details and prepare to come and get your hands dirty with us – we need help preparing everything for winter :)



garlic! (and more fall planting)


I love garlic.  Love it, love it, LOVE it.  I’ve been talking about planting it here at the farm pretty much since day one of my arrival so I was pretty stoked to get down and dirty yesterday and get a lot of our bulbs cracked and planted.  We planted five different kinds of garlic and I wish I’d written down all of their names when we bought the bulbs because I can’t remember them now.  I know there was a ‘classic’ garlic, a red spanish one, a russian one, a ‘Legacy’… and I can’t remember the last one… oh well, maybe we’ll be able to identify them when harvest time comes around.

Garlic was my most successful crop when I grew it for the first time in my community garden plot in Ottawa.  Discovering how easy it was to grow it, dry it, and enjoy eating it for months afterwards made me wonder why everyone doesn’t use part of their yard/ garden to grow it.  If you don’t, you should!

If you’re interested in growing garlic, now’s the time to do it!  Plant in the fall and harvest the following summer.  This website has some great step-by-step recommendations on how to do it.  The short basics:  prep your soil, crack your garlic bulbs (break them apart and separate all the cloves), and plant each clove individually (pointy end up) about 2-3″ under the soil and about 6-8″ apart.  Keep your garden as weed free as possible and cover your beds with mulch for the winter if you want to.  Garlic has a long growing cycle – it begins taking root under the soil throughout the winter and starts showing it’s green shoots in the spring.  Harvest time isn’t until mid/ late summer when the green leaves are a few feet high and the scapes (thick green stem that grows up the centre) starts to curl.  (Mind you, I don’t know if that’s with every variety or only the ones I planted in Ottawa – we learn as we go! :).  The scapes can be cut off and minced up into delicious pesto and the bulbs can be pulled up out of the soil, ready to eat and dry.  Yummy!

We planted about 2/3rds of our garlic in the plot we rototilled and prepped that lives between the barn and the chicken coop.  We wanted to leave some room in there for other winter crops, so we’ll be finding somewhere else to plant the rest of the garlic.

I did mention ‘more fall planting’ in the title of this post and indeed we did do more than just plant garlic yesterday.  We also got our kiwi vines planted (yay!), our broad beans and some cabbage.  We’re hoping to get some onions, kale and beets in the ground before it’s too late as well.

Oh – and we attempted to prune our old, crabby apple tree.  We weren’t really sure exactly what we were doing, and it turns out we maybe should have waited a few more months to do it (recommended late winter or early spring), but hopefully our efforts will help the tree rather than harm it.

It was a great way to spend a beautiful fall, sunday morning.  Happy thanksgiving everyone!