Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Bushel of Seeds

Here's the result of all that seed packing! An oveflowing bushel apple crate of seeds!
I'm not exactly sure, but I'd guess there at about 1,000 of my seed packets to the bushel. The Farmer's Almanac should add that to their mesurement tables.
Now I just hope the conference goers need lots of seeds!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gearing up for the ACORN Conference

I'm currently preparing like crazy for the ACORN Conference at the end of the week (Feb. 26-28) in Truro. I'll be selling and/or trading my seeds at the Seedy Saturday (free admission!) being held on the 28th, so I have to get lots of new packages made up! Here's the link to ACORN for anyone interested in attending.
Now back to packaging seeds...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dumping Crops at Sea Proposed as Way to Bury Carbon

When I stumble apon articles like this, it's easy to doubt the future of humankind. Apparantly, there is a serious proposal to dump hundreds of millions of tons of stalks and straw in the ocean in the name of carbon sequestration! How have we come to the point where straw is no longer seen as the valuable resouce and source of soil fertily that it is and rather as a waste so dangerous that it needs to be barged out to sea? Nature makes no waste, everything has it's purpose. Why isn't this straw simply being returned to the soil? It could simply be plowed in directly, it could be hauled to the side to be composted, it could be used first as animal bedding, (or it could given to me!), however it gets there just get it back to the soil! Otherwise this would simply exacerbate the severe soil degradation that has already occured from little more than 100 years (a blink of an eye in the Earth's timeframe) of agriculture on North America's prairies.

That's not even mentioning the effects this will surely have on the ocean's ecology.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Edemame Soybeans

Although it's freezing cold today, it's nice to think about the garden that will be flourishing in just a few more months. Here's a little article I recently wrote on a favourite crop of mine that I feel should be far more widely grown in Nova Scotia:

Edemame soybeans are both one of my favourite vegetable crops and one that’s very under-utilized. Unlike the more common beige soybeans that are usually used for tofu and animal feed, edemame soybeans have been bred for flavour and are picked fresh when they’re plump in their pods like peas. They’re much more popular in Asia where the way to prepare them is to steam them lightly (one minute if fresh, 3-4 if frozen), before popping the seeds directly into your mouth one by one. The ultimate slow food! Like all vegetables really, the difference in taste between edemames fresh from your garden and the frozen ones from a bag (grown in China) is incomparable. It’s a mystery to me why all the store-bought edemame soybeans are from China when they’re so well adapted to growing across so much of Canada.

The soybean plant grows to about thigh height on good soil, depending on the particular variety. Being legumes, soybeans fix nitrogen which allows them to grow on poor soils. However, like all vegetables you’ll have much better results planting them in healthy, fertile soil. They like heat but nothing we can't provide in the Maritimes. If you can grow beans or corn in your area you can grow soybeans! They’re more drought tolerant than most other plants and they shouldn’t need any watering after they’re established. I plant mine in early June after the last frost in wide rows (multiple rows in a strip between walkways, as opposed to single rows) which creates a dense canopy of foliage that shades out weeds. Planting father apart would give a higher yield per plant and a similar yield overall, but without the weed suppression that a dense planting provides. If you have limited seeds you might prefer a wider spacing than me. The pods should be ready to harvest in late August. The seeds should be plump but not overripe (think a perfectly ripe pea pod).

I really think that edemame soybeans deserve to take their place alongside the more common vegetables in Canada. They grow so well in our climate that it’s insane that we should have to import them from the other side of the planet from a country with such a suspect record of food safety. There's no better place to get the ball rolling than in your own garden!

Aside from me of course here are a few Canadian seed sources of edemame soybeans:

Salt Spring Seeds (
Prairie Garden Seeds (
Heritage Harvest Seed (
Mapple Farm (email:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Welcome New Hens!

Here are the most recent additions to our crazy menagerie of barnyard animals, eight Buff Orpington hens! Our flock had dwindled over the last two years from eight hens to only four and they were struggling to keep us stocked with eggs. Although we keep our chickens until they die of old age, the winters always claim a few hens every year. We had to break down and actually buy eggs a few weeks back, and it was at that point we knew we needed some additions to the flock. Luckily a friend of ours had a big flock that was her daughter's 4-H project, so she was happy to find a (vegetarian) home for the surplus hens!

Introducing them wasn't nearly the ordeal I was fearing. For about an hour the new hens sat hudled in the corner, the old hens sat watchfully in the other corner and Rocky the rooster was pacing back and forth between the two. One at a time a new hen would come out of the corner, Rocky would do a little dance around her and then, accepted into the flock, she would walk over to the old hens to get pecked at. This procedure was repeted for all the newcomers until all twelve hens were mingling and getting along in relative order. And that was it! No real fighting at all!

The two groups still prefer to keep to themselves while they're out, but the flock seems to have totally accepted the new hens. We're now up to between six and eight eggs a day on average, which is great for this time of year!