They came, they planted, they left. By some amazing organisational miracle, we were lucky enough to have an entire Secondary 2 science class from nearby Massey Vanier high school (Cowansville), accompanied by their teachers and a few outstanding project coordinators, come plant 400 shrubs in a couple of hours; their good humour and energy proved contagious. The activity marks the beginning of our Clear Water & Butterflies project, which draws its inspiration from other riverbank planting and restoration projects in the area. Our riverbank, a haven for deer, birds and butterflies already, stands to benefit greatly from a bit of TLC. Four kinds of shrubs were planted: red osier dogwood, common ninebark, elderberry (a fruit-bearing shrub particularly suited to moist soils) and high bush cranberry. All are indigenous species; the latter two are of particular interest to birds, butterflies and other pollinators.
We’re focused on the eastern edge of the river for now; more work will be done on the west bank in the fall and next year. Anyone up for a bit of tree planting in 2016?
It’s been several years since we’d seen anything like it: an early May that looks more like a late July! While it’s the kind of heat wave that lifts the sagging spirits of many a Québécois as winter (finally) draws to a close, it does nothing to smooth the furrowed brows of farmers. Our workload is heavy enough as it is in early spring, busy as we are with soil preparation and plantings — the faster, the better. Warmer temperatures mean we’ve had to water freshly planted crops by hand for several days on end, our drip irrigation system having yet to be installed. Everything’s back to normal since this morning, as cloudy skies finally yielded a bit of rain. We’d settle for two to three days of this before praying for sun again. Ah, the schizophrenic existence of the vegetable farmer…
After last week’s proverbial April showers, we were hoping not only for May flowers, but for drier days propitious to planting. So far, though, May has been a disappointment: a short sunny break (four days), followed by diluvial rains since Tuesday noon. For farmers with loamy soils, a few days without rain will not suffice to dry things out – what we need is a real dry spell (a week or more) before returning to the fields. While we did manage to plant our first broccolis, cabbages and beets during last weekend’s sunny interlude, we will now have to bide our time, waiting for the sun to return. Too much rain is not good for agriculture: it carries everything away, washes out soil nutrients and floods the fields. And so we find ourselves, bowing to the sun gods instead of doing a rain dance…praying for sunshine – a lot of it, and fast.
We awoke on this April 9 morning in a somber mood, feeling that Mother Nature had overstepped her bounds in teasing us yet again, this time one time too many. Her wintry taunt was spectacular, though, a freshly fallen layer of snow blanketing everything in sight, a marked contrast to the green backdrop for the setting sun we had enjoyed two nights ago. And our spirits are bolstered by a forecast calling for 8 degrees Celsius today, 14 tomorrow: the snow will melt, we figure we should relax and enjoy it before it does…for good. And so we share our pics of a landscape made more beautiful still by the balmy weather and the realization that it is ephemeral.
The 2015 season at Arlington Gardens has indeed begun! We’ve completed everything — placed our seed orders, drawn up our field plans, submitted our annual organic certification filings and launched our ‘new and improved’ website. All that remained was to say at your keyboards, ready, set, go! We are now accepting online registrations for the 2015 season.
The 2015 season will run for 20 weeks — one more than last year — beginning Tuesday, June 16 and ending Thursday, October 29. This year, we may even add a couple of extra weeks in November (we’ll provide details in due course). We’ll have the usual 50 or so varieties of vegetables, but this year you’ll see a greater variety of greens. In the fruit department, you’ll see the usual melons and watermelons, along with blueberries and ground cherries. Our interest in beekeeping continues to grow; we plan to increase our honey production to meet the strong demand we witnessed last year.
Take note: our annual gathering at the farm, usually held the first Sunday after Labour Day, will be held on Sunday, August 30, instead. We hope to see you return en masse…and wish you all a happy Spring.