Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Propagation Table How To...

So the as spring has sprung, we've started planting our seeds, but to get a head start on germination we built a propagation table.  We used heat cables to supply the bottom heat to increase soil temperature in the soil flats; this improves speeds up germination rates.

We started with a piece of OSB plywood, and screwed some 1"x2"s (ripped 1x4s) for edges and placed plastic on the bottom to hold the sand. We got some playsand disperse the heat more evenly.  It took 3 25kg bags of sand for the whole project.

We poured 1 bag for a bottom layer.  We just used a dust pan to spread the sand, maybe a trowel or something might work better, but anything can be used.

Thermostatically controlled heat cable, adjustable at 40-100*F for varying germination temps.

 Once the heat cable was spread out in an even pattern to disperse the heat throughout the entire table, we covered it with a layer of sand.  We watered the sand to increase the heat dispersion and to increase moisture inside the system, like water vapour in a greenhouse.

The table fits 16 10"x20" seed trays.  We're starting onions, leeks, and rosemary with the first batch of starts.  Next up will be parsley, rhubarb, and celery.
After a day of heating up the water has condensed on the plastic and drips back on to the flats, this is keeping the soil moist and decreases the need to water the seedling, also decreasing disease and pathogens, though the seedlings can't stay in too moist of an environment once they have emerged.

That's our propagation table, once the greenhouse is up, we'll be making 3 more so we can accommodate all our seed starting flats, we;ll need lots more room once the snow FINALLY melts!

Here's a link to find the thermostat and heat cable:
It was the cheapest place I could find the heat cable and thermostat, its in the states, but shipping and customs fees were reasonable.

I'm listening to rap right now and its got me amped up and wanted to sign-off with some cool phrase, but sadly I'm a white male farmer...I'll try next time, night all!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Food e. Farm Feature


So maybe you have noticed, whoever "you" might be, who am I kidding there are no real followers of the blog yet, so no "you" haven't noticed the new gadget next to the posts, but for any of you wondering its one of those hipster twitter paper.li things.  You know the website that lets you make your own newpaper looking bloglike pages.  So I decided it would be a great way to help get out all the ideas bouncing around in our heads, and all the exciting events happening in the agricultural and food industries.

The paper highlights issues around organic and sustainable agriculture and farming practices, along with homesteading ideas and stories around peak oil, renewable energy, the dangers of GMOs and pesticides, as well as trending issues on twitter on all these topics.  There are photos, links, and videos supporting all the stories and help get you to where the information is.

Here's the link Food e. Farm Feature , check it out, share it, subscribe it, show it to your friends, there's lots of good info flowing so check it often!

Oh by the way, we're getting lots of our seed orders in, and I will be starting the seed propagation table tomorrow hopefully, the next project (after some seeds are started) will be the solar collector to heat the greenhouse!  I'll post some picks of the progress!


Thursday, 31 January 2013

What does a Farmer do in January?

On this chilly January night (< -30*c), you may think to yourself, its so cold, a farmer can't possibly be doing much but cozying up in a comfy chair next to a fire with a warm cup of tea.

Well to tell you the truth, that's exactly what I'm doing, but at the same time, I'm researching on the computer many different things, from trends in the food industry, political and social issues in agriculture and general current events that might affect  us on the farm.  A few other themes I am focusing on right now are vegetable zero-minimum tillage practices, and a particular project of late has been planning out the field plan and planting space required for harvest yields to meet our CSA and market customers' needs.

Some of the global, national, and local current events that I think people should be concerned with (I'll post some links for each issue), I'll try and limit my concerns to food and agriculture issues (try):
I will be placing our first seed order of the year in the next couple of days, focusing on our early starts, like onions, leeks, rosemary, parsley, and brassicas.  I am also looking at ordering asparagus crowns so that we can provide at least some asparagus for the market this year, more for next and even more after about 2 years!

These are all things I generally do in the morning over a cup of tea and some breakfast, or in the evening under the lamp, during the day I have been mixing feed (today was overly joyful with the windchill warning), collecting wood to heat the house, cleaning up around the yard to get ready for the move up to Adam and Dacia's.  Helping Adam with chicken chores when we're up there, pooring feed, filling water, collecting eggs, spreading bedding, and mucking out the barn every few weeks; not to mention hovering over the chicks to make sure they're doing alright!  Soon added to that list will be starting plants in the window, and then moved into the greenhouse closer to March.

As of late chasing cute little never-before-seen (by me or Ashley) has taken up some time.  First we had a Northern flying squirrel come down the stove pipe and into the wood stove (luckily for it, the fire had gone out) and then chasing it around is glided around the kitchen!  And now in the last two days we've been chasing a little ermine around the pantry as it tries to take our eggs down a sewer pipe hole!

Anyhow it will be February soon and the title won't do, so now I have to get my curling stuff ready to go curling on the weekend!

Friday, 25 January 2013



There's been a lot of talk about Quinoa over the last few years (even though its an ancient grain first grown around the same time as the origins of corn and potatoes) describing its monumental health effects, to more recently about whether this boom in demand and commodification is helping or harming the local food system and the people that rely on it in the Andean countries, mainly Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

The common sense thought would be that this region is selling a product that is now increasing in price, therefore the region should be better off.  The problem with that thinking, is that not all the population are farmers, particularly independent family owned operations, creating a problem in two different ways.  1, the ultra poor non farmers can't grow or now afford what used to be a cheap local crop, that is one of the most nutritious crops in the world. 2, now that quinoa is a commodity, it attracts corporations, driven only by profits, will start buying up land and growing vast amounts of the crop, making it harder for smaller farmers to compete.  Out of region owned corporations' profit doesn't necessarily stay in the local economy and pays farm workers too little to afford the food they are helping to grow.

Regardless, I haven't been to this region in the world, and don't know how this economic issue is affected it; as I'm sure most if not all these reporters, and so called economic experts most likely haven't either, so I'm not going to say whether or not the food security of the region is increasing or decreasing.

What I do know is that there are many health benefits to this plant, and many advantages to growing this plant as a food crop.

Health benefits:

  • It has a high content of protein at 14%
    • But more importantly its a source of complete protein-containing all 9 amino acids
  • It is gluten free, so it makes for a good wheat flour and rice substitute
  • It is a good source of dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium
    • helping to detox your body, aid digestion, and fighting breast cancer, and diabetes

Agronomic advantages to farmers include:

  • It is a very hardy plant, able to withstand high day time temps and below freezing night time temps
  • It requires very little maintenance due to it tall growth form out-competing many weeds
  • It needs consistent moisture early in development a dry conditions during seed development (that sounds like Manitoba)
  • It has huge yield potential due to a large amounts of seed produced
  • It requires low amount of nutrients!
We hope to offer this ancient super food later in the summer as it takes about 100 days to mature and produce a harvest, look for it in later August at our farmers market stall in Osbourne, River Heights, and Arnes!

Read for yourself:

Background on Quinoa



Is the Quinoa Boom hurting Andean Food Security?


Is the Quinoa Boom helping Andean Farmers?


Monday, 21 January 2013

The Problems with TOO MUCH

The trick to feeding the world into the future will not be to PRODUCE more food, but to actually produce the same (it could even be less) and DISTRIBUTE the food further and to more people!  There was a good talk on Ideas on CBC Radio, titled Feeding 10 Billion, by Raj Patel.  Here it is:

CBC Ideas in the Afternoon: Feeding 10 Billion-Raj Patel

A revision on the history of the Green Revolution, which was actually an unRed Revolution, meant to combat Communism around the world, with American (gov't and corporate) backed coupes in countries at risk of going Red.  Like many of the Banana Republics put in place to increase American influence for corporate and national interests.  Interesting what you find out when you dig into history and behind the big headlines to find the real stories and facts on the ground, rather than just a single viewpoint, our viewpoint!


Wednesday, 2 January 2013


It is now 2013, the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, and we're all trying to knock off the rust and get back to work.

Both Ashley and I are hard at work trying to update our information and plan for the 2013 growing season.  I am in the midst of updating the blog, and getting the 2013 CSA brochure, as well as signup forms so we can get them published and sent out to all our awaiting customers.  Over the next couple of days I will be redoing the blog pages, and adding some photos and posts, reviewing the 2012 growing season.

We would just like to thank everyone for supporting us in 2012 and look forward to seeing and hearing from you in 2013!

We hope everyone is looking forward to the spring as much as we are, and can't wait to get back to the farmers markets and getting our hands dirty in the fresh soil!  This year we will be farming with our friends at Interlake Meadow Farm, near Gimli, about 20 minutes away from where we were in 2012.  They farm grass finished Belted Galloway Cattle, and a few types of Upick fruit, we look forward to working with them and having access to their produce for our customers, we will detail our partnership in future post!

Thanks again, and see you soon!