Something else we do at farmersdotter organics, albeit on a very small scale, is tree fruit. We have a modest orchard but enough to provide local fruit stands with a few pounds of something juicy. Some plums, apples, and pears in one area and along the fence line some peaches and nectarines that provide better privacy than fruit. That’s about it. One big cherry tree in the back yard but unfortunately its days are numbered. Its a gnarly old specimen and then there is Spotted Wing Drosophila, a nasty little fruit fly not to be encouraged and cherries are a perfect host for the pest.
Spotted Wing Dropsohila
No, we are not orchardists, at least not this year as evidenced by the condition of the Gala Apple Tree and lack of thinning. Maybe next year.
Gala Not Thinned
Anyway, right now we are pulling off Damson plums…
and my favourite, Italian Prune Plums. Thought you might like the photos.
Italian Prune Plum
Hot, dry, windy conditions on a freshly harvested field is not a good combination. To keep fertile top soil in place and our subterranean microbial friends happy requires a little management. Water and management. Growing organically by definition requires all ones inputs; fertilizers, mulches, cover crops etc. be certified organic. If organic is proven not practically available then conventional inputs may be considered.
For example; the mulch we use each fall to top dress newly planted garlic comes from southern Alberta because to our knowledge that is where the closest grower of organic straw is located. Expensive, yes. Most certainly not carbon neutral. Oops. The harvested garlic field pictured below with spent straw mulch will be replanted with garlic in 2016.
Spent Straw Mulch
Here is an instance where conventionally grown straw could be considered. It is almost impractical to ship straw that far but we choose to absorb the cost and ignore the potential diamond or twelve that goes up in diesel exhaust to transport to our farm. Oops.
Now we are faced with how to manage the cover crop for this winter. Back in June our plan was to incorporate the spent fall rye and plant buckwheat for the summer then soon replant fall rye with harry vetch. But organic buckwheat wasn’t available back in June. A more experienced farmer would know that. Now I know. Oops. Of course organic fall rye is available but organic harry vetch is proving elusive. Potential oops.
Our solution this summer has been to merely allow perennial and annual weeds, grass, volunteers and whatever else to establish and preserve the top soil. Maybe oops?
Volunteer Cover Crop aka Weeds
Once turned in this volunteer biomass will introduce some beneficial albeit incalculable nutrients back to those aforementioned microbes. There is nothing wrong with the practice as long as one ensures the growth, especially annuals, is not allowed to set seed. That means more frequent mowing sitting atop the Massey. Oops, there goes another diamond. My bad.
Massey the Mower
We are very fortunate and blessed. This past harvest, our very first, has been truly pleasurable because of the hard working crew we have at farmersdotter organics. It’s been 6 working days and all the Russian Red garlic has been pulled off the field and is hanging safely in the shed to dry. Natasha, Erik, Mo, Roxanne, Joe, Pierre and Jeremy pretty much have been here throughout the harvest. They were here at 5:00am every morning and stayed each day until the job was done. Although, Erik and Jeremy have been known to fall victim to a silent alarm clock! Missing from the photo are Madhavi and Olivia both of whom will come back this fall to help plant their second crop here. On the ground by the crew is the last of the freshly harvested garlic ready to be moved to the drying shed.
All Done Pullin’
The garlic orders must be filled as soon as possible. Our retailers have been waiting since last winter when their stock of fresh garlic ran out so there is no rest for the weary. After the the last garlic was hung to dry the crew had time left in the day so they decided to begin cleaning straight away. The garlic they are preparing was the first harvested early last week.
No Rest Today
Every bulb is handled and inspected at least three times before it reaches market. First at harvest, again when cleaned and finally when placed in 25lb sacks for shipping.
25lbs to a Sack