This week we had the privilege of going on a soil walk around the farm with Art Bomke. He provided us with insight into the history of the soil formation and characteristics at various locations around the site including forest and field areas. For more information on soil and how it is formed: SoilWeb
We also had the chance to look more at seed catalogues and begin to plan our crops according to the UBC farm crop rotation. When I first got my catalogues I was overwhelmed with all the options. I wasn’t really sure how to choose a variety with pages and pages of different veggies to choose from. To add to the confusion every veggie has a crop family name and of course I wasn’t sure which veggies fit in which category.
Here are a few examples of crop families and veggies in that family:
Early Curcubits: Cucumber, Zucchini, Summer Squash
Late Curcubits: Winter Squash
Brassicas: Broccoli, Kale, Cabbage, Radishes
Alliums: Garlic, Onion
Legumes: Peas, Beans
Asteraceae: Lettuce, Spinach
Roots: Carrots (Apiaceae), Beets (Amaranthaeae)
Solanaceae: Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers
Each veg has a Cultivar- meaning the name of that particular veg. For example the “Pink Banana Jumbo” is the name of a kind of pumpkin (I kind of wanted to fill my plot with these but I think that defeats the purpose).
Things that seem to be important to consider:
1) How much space the plant likes to take up. If you know you are limited to a certain area you don’t want to plant something that will take over everything. All of the seed catalogues provide a description of this.
2) Days to maturation, usually right at the top of the description, important to consider this when thinking about what will be ready when. This comes in to play especially when you are thinking having a yield throughout the growing season. I can picture it now I plant everything at once and by August there is nothing left to harvest…..
3) If you are thinking about saving seeds it’s probably a good idea to see if the plant is open pollinated or a hybrid to ensure that the seeds you want to save are going to be the same as the parent plant.
I definitely feel like I have a better handle on the catalogues and looking at the descriptions of each cultivar really helps to narrow down the options that will work in the space we have.
We then had an introduction to the farm from Amy Frye, the farm’s director. It was amazing to get a sense of the history of the farm and also to see how close it came to losing the land. Thanks to the “Save the Farm “ campaign in 2008 the farm will continue to be a place of education and community interaction for the foreseeable future.
We finished off the day with a pot-luck It was great opportunity to meet all the farm staff that we will be working with over the coming season. These folks sure know how to cook!