Posts Tagged ‘black plastic mulch’

The big excitement on the farm recently has been the discovery of a Fox Snake nesting site. We estimate there are 100 eggs laid by 8-10 adult female Fox Snakes in one location. Fox Snakes are Endangered with 70% of their population in Ontario. Luckily for us, and them, they are very common on our farm, and it pleases us greatly to know that we have been providing them with the right conditions to mate, hatch, feed, and overwinter.


Photo of newly hatched Fox Snakes by Andrea Nickerson

August in our Family Garden has been more munching on veggies, and weeding, and watering (such a dry Summer, with every Rain Storm passing over our farm), rather than picture taking. Also, family adventures off the farm. Here are some shots of various Summer Squash with interesting shapes and colours. All photos by rashel t.





One of the only Winter Squashes to produce any fruit – a Delicata – but we’re only going to get 2 Squash from a number of plants.


The pest pressure on Summer Squash (Zucchini etc), Winter Squash, Pumpkins, and Melons has been the worst in recent memory. Between Cucumber Beetles who eat and destroy blossoms before the plant can set fruit and the Squash Vine Borer ….. these plants didn’t have a chance. Thankfully we didn’t grow them counting on them for food. They were planted in troublesome spots to help control Thistles (which they’ve done) and in areas with fresh compost (where other plants wouldn’t grow), so they have served their purpose. Still, it’s not easy to see them decimated by high insect populations, despite our efforts to control their numbers.

Below are the eggs of the Squash Vine Borer, usually laid on the underside of a leaf.


Adolescent Squash Vine Borers.


These aren’t the adults who bore in to the vines and kill the plants but they do grow up to be them. The adults resemble moths or hornets and they are pleasant to look at to watch …. if you don’t know who they are.


A big downside of using any kind of plastic in agriculture is having to dispose of it. There are pros and cons to any method of agriculture and we continually strive to make more sustainable and ecological choices. We buy more expensive plastic so that it can be used for several seasons (and a surprise benefit is that it creates habitat for moles, voles, and snakes) but there are weed pressure issues that still need to be worked out. And when it comes time to remove the plastic …. well … we start to search for alternatives. We got together a large group of young people to have a “party” to remove most of the plastic. Their highlights were the creatures they found.




Highlights of farmer Andrea’s Veggie-Table this month …aug 1 promo.jpg










Colourful Carrots.20626927_911678987424_1840938460693547923_oThe first of the Heirloom Tomatoes.20643276_911679057284_8019747055134273626_oPlum Trees that finally produced a bumper crop were a wonderful surprise!August 23 promo.jpgSpicy Salad Mix.21106535_1424229367697746_7177734924980830587_n.jpgColourful Tomatoes.21151676_1424229361031080_927617431668031181_n

sept5 promo.jpg

Summer’s almost over! Some of us are happy about and others of us are not. May the veggies continue to be plentiful for all!


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The Belle River Farmers Market opens this Sunday June 7th from 10am – 2pm at Optimist Park (705 Notre Dame St.) in Belle River. It’s still early in the season but here are some fresh veggie goodies we’ll have on offer at the market:

2 different varieties of delicious Spinach 'Butterflay' and 'Corvair'.

Two varieties of delicious Spinach, ‘Butterflay’ and ‘Corvair’.

Week 1 Market Produce

From Left to Right: Salad + Scallions, Bok Choi, ‘Olympic Red’ Kale, ‘Red Russian’ Kale, ‘Vates Curly’ Kale, Certified Organic Seedlings.

We’ll also have Sunshine Pickles, Sunparlour Honey, Mushrooms, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, and ASPARAGUS.

Fresh goodies to come in the next couple of weeks….

Garlic is coming along beautifully; Snow Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, and Shelling Peas; a new crop this year - Fennel; more Spinach!; Onions.

Garlic is coming along beautifully; Snow Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, and Shelling Peas; a new crop this year – Fennel; more Spinach!; Onions happy under their leaf mulch.

We’re expanding our production space this year by not just doubling but tripling the amount of area we’re using to produce vegetables. We’re using more of our “back 30” for heat-loving veggies that are grown under black plastic and we’re using an old pasture that has been used by our free-range chickens for many years (using the fence to grow Pole Beans, for example). We’ve added more companion crops and beneficial crops like Horseradish and Tansy while re-using old tires for the farm children to grow their own personal crop of Potatoes.

ExpansionAfter receiving 4 inches of much-needed Rain all at once we are reminded of why we use permanent raised beds even for crops grown under black plastic (these beds differ from our boxed raised beds). If our crops were grown “on the flat” these precious seedlings would have been lost and drowned but the seedlings are raised several inches up off the ground while the excess water pools in the “valleys”. Underneath the plastic is also a “valley” where water can pool and where the roots of the seedlings have to work to get the water but in the process it strengthens the seedlings and keeps them from drowning.


Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant seedlings.

We are still accepting new members for the 2015 season at all of our locations so don’t forget about our referral program and have your chance to win FREE produce for the season! We will be sending out emails to current members in the next couple of weeks when we are ready to start the season for FRESH VEGGIES!, and to discuss the various share size options and final payments. We will also be announcing soon the details of our weekly on-farm farmers market so stay tuned here and at our Facebook page!

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We’ve been busy planting thousands of seedlings and now we wait for the rain to water them!

fam planting borderOur farm is always a family affair and our waterwheel planter allows even the youngest family member to help out with planting. From the top, left to right: Getting the black plastic laid down; Being silly; 2 folks can plant at once and our 15 year old follows behind to make sure every seedling is properly planted; Black plastic makes a great mulch and keeps seedlings warm even in a frost; Our wonderful intern for this year; Planting; Our 10 year old is planting Tomatoes; Our 8 year old is planting Peppers.


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