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Spring McSprunglington

We've been having quite the favourable weather here in Nelson this last week: warm, sunny days accompanied by gentle, mild breezes. I just returned from a trip out east (southern Ontario), where the style of wind and precipitation were—to be frank—totally uncool. Granted, there were a few springlike days now and then, but as I was leaving it was all snow and bone-chilling winds. Compared to Toronto, Nelson feels like a walk in the park. Well, a hike in a park, to be more precise.

Crocuses a-blooming Garlic a-sprouting

The crocuses are in full bloom here, and we have snowdrops that have been up for over a month now. Yes, that's me trying to convince you to move here.

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Construction of a bicycle wagon (or "The Mandt name lives on?")

I've just completed construction of a modular cargo trailer to hitch onto my bicycle. You see, I'm hoping to be able to accomplish all farm operations this year completely independent of a car or truck (or driver's license, for that matter!). So I decided I needed a larger, more practical trailer than the one I already had (which wasn't even designed for hauling cargo at all – though it's served me remarkably well!).

I was inspired by the Bamboo Bike Trailer page and associated instructions for building one, and thought, well if it's that simple, then why the heck not?

However, rather than construct one from scratch out of bamboo (which isn't even a locally-available good), I decided to make use of another even more practical, locally available good: an existing bike trailer!

See how I did it below...

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Bamboo Trailer

How about this, eh?

Bamboo Bicycle Trailer

Build a DIY bicycle trailer from these free plans.
There is no welding to be done, and no tube bending.
Make it any size, from any material, even bamboo.

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I'm gonna do it. See you at the market. :-)

Season's Greetings

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The carrots are nestled all snug in their beds.

Late summer to early winter

I've been lazy in posting photos, and some of these shots should have been posted a while back. So here are some memories of late summer up till now.

Memories of late summer.jpgWe had plenty of tasty, colourful tomatoes coming out of the home garden from June until October: Purple Cherokee, Big Beef, Gold Nugget, and Fox Cherry. I think my favourite, flavour-wise, was Purple Cherokee. I also grew some plum tomato varieties in one of my landowner's gardens, though the varietal names escape me now.

Tomato and bean preserves.jpgLaire and I managed to preserve quite a few of them in vinegar following a recipe in the excellent preserving book, Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning. We also pickled green beans with garlic in brine as well as in vinegar; both versions were delicious. Beets, carrots, cucumbers and summer squash also found themselves on the chopping block, so to speak. I may have gone a bit crazy with the lactofermented stuff, though. I'm finding it a bit of a challenge integrating salty pickled foods into my meals...

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Planting garlic

All the garlic has been planted. In fact, it got planted a while ago, but I haven't told you about it until now.

I planted two varieties of garlic: Italian Red and Persian Star, supplied by McIntyre Farms in Argenta and Crooked Horn Farm in Winlaw, respectively. It wasn't easy to find a local source of seed garlic. There seems to be a huge demand for garlic in the Kootenays and local growers have been running low (thanks in part to the success of the Hills Garlic Festival in New Denver). This is part of the reason I chose to grow garlic next year.

Garlic is generally planted in the fall. Some plant as early as September, while others wait as late as November. I know one serious garlic grower who even now still hasn't planted all the garlic they are planning to before freeze-up. I managed to get all my garlic in the ground by early November.

Here is a photo journal of the process I followed to plant the garlic on one of my plots. This is Ed's garden in Rosemont.

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Farming in the City XI on Deconstructing Dinner

Here is a link to Jon Steinman's latest episode of Deconstructing Dinner that featured an interview with myself as I ramble on about my and Christoph's experiences getting the farm going.

This episode also seems to have been fed into the Energy Bulletin news website here: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/50113. There's even a picture of me on there! Wow. (Credit for that shot goes to Ricardo. :-)

I'll be posting more about what's been happening on the farm lately as the long days and warm weather begin to wane...

Look at all this stuff!

The gardens have been so productive these last several weeks. Let's start with the spaghetti squash!

This squash plant is located in our furthest garden in Blewett in a pile of sod removed from a field that we turned into vegetable beds. Christoph covered the sod with clear plastic in an attempt to solarize and kill it, then punctured holes for the squash plants. He also filled the pit with lots of alfalfa pellets for food. It looks like squash really like the warm soil! It's producing oodles of oval fruit.

Major spaghetti squash Spaghetti squash fruit

A wonderful volunteer, Dana, was a great help in weeding and thinning the carrots, kale and collards we have planted in Judy's garden up on Park St.

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Pedal-powered farming

Ever thought farming in the modern day was possible without a driver's license? I think soon, it just may be! I will admit, we're not quite car-free just yet; we do rely on Christoph's ability to drive the carshare truck to move produce around town twice a week: once on harvest Friday, and once again on market Saturday. I could pull off those tasks in multiple trips on my bike – but only at the expense of produce freshness (which for us is a first priority).

Apart from those occasions, however, I get everything else I need to get done via an electric bike pulling a tacky faded pink cargo trailer. This includes hauling everything from garden tools to 50 lb. bags of organic fertilizer – and recently, my newly scored, used 5.5-horsepower rototiller!

I can now haul a rototiller on my bike

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Cover Cropping

Already we're thinking about fall and winter here on the farm! Gotta think well in advance about what the fields need for fertility to be even more productive next year. But first - let's have a look at the ripening harvests!

Romaine, anyone? Rows and rows of carrots at Diana's Here come the tomatoes - first of many!

So back to cover crops. (I hope Ricardo doesn't mind that I'm going to plagiarize some of my e-mail to him...)

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