What’s in the Best (Political) Interest of the Comox Valley Farmer

Although the municipal elections seem far in the future, farmers in the Comox Valley are being proactive before their busy season and starting the conversation on what to advocate for. The Mid Island Farmers Institute is meeting on Wednesday, May 16th at 7pm at the Merville Hall to discuss What’s in the Best (Political) Interest of the Comox Valley Farmer?

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Linda’s List for April 30: Tomatoes, corn, beans, peas and pests du jour

With the warmth last week and the forecast of another sunny week, you can keep right on planting any and all cool weather crops (peas, lettuce, onions, leeks, all of the cabbage/mustard family, leafy greens, Swiss chard, carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, etc.). It is still too cool at night in most places to rush warmth-loving plants into the ground, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, melons, corn and beans. And don’t push sweet basil outdoors too early, either: it can’t handle cool, wet weather.

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Wet soil, cool crops, pollinator plantings

Our cold spring continues…with the soil too soggy to work in many gardens, especially after this recent heavy rain. If you squeeze a small handful of soil and it stays together in a compact clod, then it is too wet to handle; it should be moist but still easy to crumble apart after you squeeze it. Trying to turn in amendments in wet soil compacts the soil and crushes the air spaces that let in oxygen and let out carbon dioxide (plant roots, soil microbes, earthworms, etc. all need to breath). If hard clods form when your soil dries out, it is a sign of compaction, often seen in clay soils. Wait until such soil are drier before handling them and keep adding compost and organic matter from mulches to improve soil structure.

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Is Canada Serious about Recognizing and Respecting Our Aboriginal Right?

“We again call on Canada to prove that it is serious about recognizing and respecting our Aboriginal right to fish and sell fish,” said Cliff Atleo, lead negotiator and Councilor of the Ahousaht Nation, in response to Prime Minister Trudeau’s speech in the House on February 14. “This government continues to talk a lot about a new relationship with Indigenous people and respecting our Aboriginal rights, but we are still waiting for this government to actually do something that is meaningful to our Ha’wiih and fishers.”

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Using Regrarianism to Reboot Agriculture

The term “Regrarian” isn’t a common word in many people’s vocabulary. Developed in Australia, this method of farm planning is now gaining popularity across North America. On Wednesday, February 21st at 7pm, the Mid Island Farmers Institute will host Hornby Island farmer Ryan May on the topic of Regrarianism and how he used the method to develop his own farm on Hornby. The meeting will be held at the Merville Hall, 1245 Fenwick Rd, and is free for member or $5 drop-in.

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Linda’s list for Feb. 7: Big chill coming, yams again, fruit sources

Well, nuts! To prove my contention that you just can’t trust February, the current forecast is for a few days of really cold air to hit this weekend. With lows of -4 and -5oC (25 to 23oF) predicted for the south coast (even for Victoria, which is unusual), you may need to take steps to protect some plants if that cold does materialize. I am afraid those temperature will kill any early peach and cherry flowers that are opening now, but don’t worry about garlic, spring bulbs, buds on native shrubs and trees or fruit trees that flower later — they should be okay. Do worry about half-hardy herbs, such as rosemary, and new shoots of artichokes and other less robust perennials. Mulch right over the crowns of plants or cover them with plastic. It would be a good idea to cover spinach, lettuce, chard and other overwintered greens too; the roots should survive the low temperatures, but new leaves could be ruined as -5oC is pretty much the lower limit for many greens (kale would be fine, though). I plan to harvest as many leaves as possible before the cold snap in case it takes plants awhile to recover.

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Stone Soup and Groundhog weather forecast

Many cultures celebrate a special day at this time of year- when the light returns and we are half way between the dark winter and burgeoning spring solstices.

We begin to hope and see the end of winter. Imbolc is the name in the old Celtic calendar, celebrating the fertility goddess Brigid. This came down as St Brigid’s day in Ireland – a celebration that includes good comfort foods, including to long-storage potatoes, cabbage or kale. Its also a time to check the signs for weather – hence Groundhog day ( badger in Ireland) when we see if cloudy weather winter will soon be over. And we can start the new garden process.

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