Canada Health Alliance

Code's Corner

Let’s get growing

This is a short discussion about the start of spring and growing our own food

Recently we drove 220 kilometers return trip to visit a longtime gardening friend. He has been our mentor on our certified organic farm in years past. We purchased some vegetable starts from him to jump start our greenhouse in these first few days of spring. This was partly needed because we had been travelling and visiting friends and family most recently in the Okanogan valley. We live on Vancouver Island which is known as a Mediterranean climate.

These new vegetable starts all happily cope with cool weather. They include Asian greens, spinach and four types of kale. These Asian greens can cope with -10°C so we typically grow them in our greenhouse all winter long. The secret is to plant these starts in late August and transplant them to the greenhouse in mid-September. This allows them to get a great start in growth before November 15th as the light is quite reduced with shorter days. Also, the angle of the sun is reduced by mid-November, meaning that it travels through more of the atmosphere. This greatly reduces the ultraviolet light which not only reduces your tanning but also reduces plant growth.

Now, back to spring. Here, it is plus 2°C this morning so our plants can tolerate this cool temperature. This is important because we need to ready the soil in order to transplant them. Two weeks ago, we removed the bed of chickweed throughout our modest sized greenhouse. Certainly, greenhouses are marvelous this time of year as one is out of the rain and relatively warm, being out of the wind as well. Also, the greenhouses have reduced fallout from the chemtrails, particularly of aluminum and barium. Starting today, we will rotavate the soil with a garden tractor before putting down our drip tapes. These drip tapes are brilliant for simplifying the watering and reduce the water consumption by up to 95%.

Once the greenhouse is prepped, we can then transplant the starts on either side of the drip tapes and water thoroughly. Optimal watering occurs with five to 10 minutes of watering per hour over three to four hours. This allows the water to move by capillary action through the soil and surrounding the plants.

Happily, we also have a fish fertilizer, blended with fungi, as a mushroom base which further jumps starts our new plants. One of the secrets for planting cool preferring plants such as the Asian greens, spinach and kale is that we want to have the greenhouse sides and doors open, particularly in hot days where it is more than 15°C outside. Controlling and minimizing super-hot temperatures reduces the stress on these cool preferring plants. This is very important as because whenever you stress plants, they work very hard to reproduce themselves while they are still alive. Consequently, keeping them cool and not overly stressed reduces the chance the plants will bolt and burst into flower. Thus, the plants do not produce seeds in the hopes of reproducing themselves before they pass away.

Soon we will be able to feast on these greens in salads dressed with our favorite olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I have included a photo of these starts to help you get a feeling of what they look like.

Meanwhile, our apricot tree is blossoming. This is fantastic as I love apricots (see photo). You will note that this particular apricot tree is on a west wall under an overhang from the building beside it. This is the best option for apricots in this valley. It is particularly important to have the cover as it rains frequently here in the winter.  This apparently distributes a microbe throughout the tree, and it dies.

To be honest, we went attempted growing apricots several times without success.  They almost all died within a one-to-two-year period. Our tree supplier suggested that our area must be too cold for apricots. However, my sister lives in the much cooler and drier valley in the east of British Columbia and has a huge apricot tree in her yard. That is why we were very delighted to learn that covering them was the most important piece. Now we get a considerable number of apricots.

This early blooming apricot is exciting, but somewhat risky, as it is still too cool for pollination by honeybees. Honeybees prefer at least 15°C and minimal rain to venture out of their winter hives. Instead, we have established blue Mason bees here for more than 15 years. These blue Mason bees look more like flies than bees but pollinate well and will do their best work in cooler temperatures than honeybees. In addition, on this property, we are very tolerant of wasps as these are excellent secondary or alternative pollinators. Or, if you are really keen, you can use a tiny paint brush and assist nature on a cool spring such as this.

My wife, Denise, and I were in the Okanogan valley two weeks ago. They had such a mild few days very early such that the cherry crop blossomed and then the blossoms froze. Almost no cherries are anticipated in the Okanogan valley this season. Certainly, cherries are a huge favorite of both of us, so we will hopefully be having some locally grown cherries. Time will tell. You can read more a book about gardening and growing in Chapter 8 of my book, Solving the Brain Puzzle.  I refer you to pages 103 to 110 with references therein.

In future weeks, I hope to keep you current as we progress through growing more of our own food and working with other community members.  The goal is that we can all be more independent in our food production, but also in our own personal optimal health.

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