Category Archives: Diversion

Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.

You want to grow garlic and now is the time.

Russian Red

Yeah, you just know deep down inside that garlic is the crop to get into. You know it and there ain’t nothing to convince you otherwise. Except you’re not entirely sure how to start.

Premium Consumer Garlic

Premium Consumer Garlic

You think to yourself no problem, ask a pro. There are a few weeks yet to get the garlic game on.

[Googley-woggle-clickity-click-tap]… ‘How To Grow Garlic’. [clickity-click-tap]… Now, who is growing the best stuff out there? [Clickity-click-clickity-tap]… Hi, You have no idea who I am but I came across your article and… [clickety-click-tap]… I was wondering if you could tell me, a total but well deserving stranger, all your… [clickety-click]… secrets on growing garlic…[tap]?

That ought to do it. Worth a try. I mean all they can do is say no right. Bastards… [tap]… ‘Send’

Listen, growing garlic organically or any ground crop for that matter, is first and foremost about the soil. It is important to understand the structure and quality of your soil and to always, this is important, always improve the health of your soil. You do that in part by adopting a crop rotation plan. Mandatory. ‘Rotation for the Nation’. It’s important. Imagine the words ‘Rotation for the Nation’ on an equatorial banner hugging Mother Earth then apply that shit to a t-shirt. #DragonsDen

You’re welcome.

Here is our best advice. Rotate crops every four years. Not three. Not two. Four. If you desire one acre of any one crop you must strive to have a minimum of four acres with which to work. 

Four one acre panels in organic rotation

Four panels (mid-top) in organic rotation at farmersdotter

Regardless, online articles about organic growing methods are numerous and for the most part much better at explaining than anything I could impart in a response email sent to you in the middle of the high season.

Check out university extension websites like UBC Wiki. Even some Provincial government sites are awesome as resources. Make it a habit to check out peer reviewed papers.  

Take sites like the Old Farmers Almanac with a huge pinch of salt. Eliminate crap like Food Babe (can’t summon the courage to provide a link).

Get past the myriad of science denying tin-foil-hat wearing chem-trail-lookout crack head sites that begin with a top ten list of unicorn sightings and end with a mason jar kombucha recipe. RUN!

In short, do your research and don’t ask the professional. Don’t ask unless they are a Youtube professional. Then it’s all fun and fair game. Youtube pros. Whatever. 

Anyway, professionals have paid their dues so to speak and don’t tell their hard won secrets easily.

Drying Racks

Drying garlic on Racks

Farmland is expensive and we need young farmers and their families to take up the gauntlet. Yet while we want to support Young Agrarians and their like, there is a value associated with our time, effort and knowledge. We ask you to respect that and humbly suggest you simply begin with an earnest attempt to certify your property with an accredited organic certifying body like those of the COABC. Who, by the way, will forever be your best resource for support and methodology. 


Patience

We are up and running smoothly with farmersdotter Studio Guesthomes. We are enjoying hosting guests, entertaining, and the stimulating conversation that comes with meeting new friends. There are two guest houses available to visitors, one we refer to Osprey and the other is called Owl. Both named for the birds of prey that frequent the property.

 

Owl Exterior

Owl Exterior

However, we are not one-hundred per cent complete. A few tasks have yet to be completed but nothing that will interfere with the overall experience of a staycation on the farm.

I am looking forward to writing a post mortem, a treatise to substantiate the completion of an activity that has consumed the past fourteen months of our lives.  I’m not convinced ‘complete’ is a concept fully embraced by the trades.

Osprey Interior

Osprey Interior

Here is the deal in one word: Patience

Underlined, italicized in bold and straight up in your face. Do not go past go without burning that word into the gray matter. Patience. And now, visualize a lineup of exclamation marks posterior waving stop signs like a coked-up bare-foot flag person on hot pavement.

Osprey Kitchenette

Osprey Kitchenette

Here is my issue: professionals adhering to my timeline. There is no doubt, as in our case, contractors of repute are capable, trustworthy and have the best intentions but simply stated shit happens.

Owl Deck

Owl Deck

When you commit to a project of hard hats and steel toed boots your challenge on a daily basis becomes one of controlling the amount of pooh that can rapidly develop. That and fostering a tolerance for excuses. Everything from natural disasters of biblical proportions to an uncanny regular occurrence of back, neck, shoulder, and bowel discomfort to family crisis and hangovers. Not to mention other ongoing construction needs taking resourses away from your project.

Owl Kitchenette

Owl Kitchenette

So here is my postmortem post but first I shall clear up a few projects. All I ask for is your patience.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 


Running Backward. As it Should.

A bespoke grid-tie solar system is a good thing to do if your priority is balancing electrical consumption with production. For our farm in Cawston, Argon Electrical & Solar Services Inc. of Oliver BC designed a solar photovoltaic panel array to generate more electricity during peak production times than we consume.

Full Array

Array at Farmersdotter

Instead of storing the excess electricity onsite it is fed back into the utility grid where its value can be credited back during times when the capacity to produce electricity is deficient.

As we enter summer in the Similkameen Valley, our energy production is balancing the coming winter demands and the meter is smartly running backward. As it should.

After twelves months we will realize a net zero effect on the calculated hydro we consume. Returning electricity to the grid and loonies to our pocket. We’ll see. All is good.

Every time we discuss this project the topic returns to cost.

Is the expense worth it?

Definitely. Especially if we were younger because the cost recovery is less than twenty years and the warranty of the PV array, inverters, and software is twenty-five years.

Inverters

Farmersdotter Inverters

The system was not cheap to install yet cheaper than just a short time ago.

And installation will get less expensive as technology becomes more efficient and hydro rates increase. We can imagine a realistic cost recovery at fifteen years or less in the near future. #NoBrainer

Case in point, since we decided last year to green light this project a recent hydro rate increase coupled with a cost decrease per kWh on hardware has shaved sixteen months off our cost recovery estimate.

#NoSiteC

But you’re not a youngster so is the expense still worth it?

Well, I would hope so but I bet right now someone is taking odds.

For us to properly evaluate the worth of the project, which goes beyond system components, we include the environmental benefits. Obviously then yes, the project is still worth it regardless of our age and cost recovery timeline.

It is the right thing to do.

Reducing carbon footprint is vital. Giving back and in this case selling back is an elegant solution in the pursuit to achieve balance. To become as much producer as the consumer. That feels good.

Besides, projects like this are attractive to some lenders and can be financed making your commitment similar to what you currently pay for hydro.

Ground Mount

Ground Mount

There you go. Do it. #VoteWithYourWallet

We won’t bore you with the nuts-n-bolts details for this project but add to the discussion with your comments and questions below. This stuff is important and if we can help you decide to go #ZeroNet then we continue to balance out. All good.


The Best Ingredients Make The Chowder.

Folks are passionate about their chowder and most will tell you they have the best chowder recipe. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But you just know the best recipes begin with the best ingredients and farmersdotter has access to the best ingredients in the world. Beginning with shellfish from the Oyster Man. He is the authority on shellfish.

Unless you live on Oyster Man’s delivery route between Cortes Island and The Kootenays you are most likely unaware of him. We are fortunate to be able to buy these amazing fresh bivalves as he passes through the Similkameen Valley en route to Nelson .

Steaming Bowl of Lusty Goodness

Steaming Bowl of Lusty Goodness

Mussels, Clams, and Oysters, nurtured in the chilly waters off the coast of British Columbia. These guys are arguably the finest shellfish available anywhere.

We always buy enough seafood to have a feast the first night knowing the leftovers will become chowder. See our preparation for steamed mussels to get you started. This works well for clams or a combination.

Most every ingredient in farmersdotter chowder recipe is certified organic and sourced from our farming friends and neighbours of Cawston. Only the best.

After feasting on five pounds each mussel and clam and usually a couple dozen fresh shucked oysters, the leftovers are ample enough to yield a couple dozen bowls of chowder.

 

Heirloom Carrots from Honest Food Farm

Heirloom Carrots-Honest Food Farm

Begin by sauteing onions, shallots, and garlic in olive oil and butter on medium-low heat in a very large pot. Like a very large pot.

Throw in celery and carrots. Look at these amazing heirloom carrots we use from Honest Food Farm. If those colours don’t scream clean prostate nothing does. Continue to saute until vegetables are at least fully translucent if not slightly browned.

Next add the broth from the last night’s feast which consisted of sauteed onion and garlic in butter and olive oil with vermouth and white wine then topped with fresh lemon, parsley, shallot and plum tomato.

Now is when you can own this recipe and add any quality ingredient you want. Clean out the fridge. Add some nice heritage fingerling potatoes chopped into cubes for a great bite. To add more umami toss in mounds of sauteed mushroom and a dollop of tomato paste. Go bananas.

Continue to simmer then prior to service add cream. Yes, cream. Certified organic heavy cream. 36% with no fillers or stabilizers. Anything less is not cream, it is a stabilized carrageenan filled wanna be. Check for salt and pepper then serve with an astounding bread and you will have your very own, not to be duplicated best chowder ever.

So search out food producers in your neighbourhood. Get to know them and before you go grab a bottle of wine to share. Grab two. Your best recipes start here.

From the shameless promotion department, we recommend The Oyster Man’s tinned smoked oysters ordered online. They are fabulous. Worth every damn penny.

Om's Lusty Smoked Oysters

Om’s Lusty Smoked Oysters


Organic Pooh-Pooher

Certified organic pooh-pooher’s are like glow-sticks; they illuminate once vigorously shaken. If you are an organic pooh-pooher get ready for the light.

We have accounted for our harvest this season and yielded 4.4 pounds on 3,320 pounds of seed for a total harvest of 14,616 pounds of Russian red garlic, the only variety we grow. This is a ratio that we have realized for a few years now and one we believe to be at the top end for the variety we grow.

We break down our harvest into five categories:

1- Number one garlic which is the premium quality garlic sold to consumers.

Premium Consumer Garlic

Premium Consumer Garlic

2- Number two garlic which is lesser quality in appearance than number one yet has the exact same characteristics where it counts; taste and keeping quality.

3: Seed garlic which is the very best garlic. Chosen for size and symmetry these bulbs are retained for our seed bank to be broken apart to be replanted as seed (individual cloves) each fall.

Seed Garlic

Seed Garlic

4: Time Savour garlic which are the individual cloves from the seed garlic that once revealed show themselves to be not suitable candidates for planting. Either because the cloves have too small of a basal plate to develop good roots or two or more cloves are fused together and would produce only number two garlic at best. The Time Savour cloves are sold in bulk primarily to chefs. Again the culinary characteristics are superb and they store as well as whole bulbs.

5: Waste garlic which, as the name suggests is garlic deemed not suitable for consumption. Mostly due to mechanical damage from the harvesting process and some due to pathogens.

Waste Garlic

Waste Garlic

But here is where organics shines… heh

Of the 14,616 pounds harvested only 120 pounds fell into the waste garlic category. That is a mere .82% of the total yield. Number two garlic came in at 1.12% or 164 pounds. This means we were less than 2% away from perfection and all on about one acre of land which is 17% to 33% better than conventional garlic farming where only 10,000 to 12,000 pound per acre is harvested. This is something we attribute 100% to organic practices.

So to the pooh-poohers who say organics can not feed the world; who insist organics can not achieve high yields.

Back at you.

 


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