Back on the land

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by Jay Reesor

When spring comes, it can come in a hurry! A little over a month ago all of us were wondering if spring would ever arrive.   We had endured a long winter and the cold stayed right into April.

But a few weeks can change everything. We are currently planting everything from strawberries to sweet corn, green and yellow beans, beets, peas, soy beans, oats and clover. The peas and the corn are even up already!

Every spring-planting season has its challenges and right now we are trying to manage all of our planting to maintain moisture. It hasn’t rained significantly for weeks so we have to be careful that every seed we plant finds enough moisture to germinate.We will figure it out.

I hope that you have a chance to do some planting this spring too!

Ready, set, melt!

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by Jay Reesor

The sap is running, the snow is melting, and the farmers, including Grahame and I, are getting anxious to be out in the fields. It has felt like a long winter and since there have finally been at least a few mild days, many of us are thinking about spring and growing things!

Grahame and I are excited about using some new planting techniques this spring, planting more cover and green manure crops, and trying out a new pumpkin seed to give us a basketball sized pumpkin in early September.

The very first outdoor task for the year will be removing straw from the strawberry plants. Straw has been on the plants all winter long to protect them from those frigid January and February temperatures. Once that job is done, the growing season will begin! So, let’s hope for favourable weather in 2015.

Remember, the best food is the food that you grow yourself. Can you find an area to grow a small garden this year?

Thanks to our corn maze explorers for donating to Stouffville Food Bank

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by Jay Reesor

This past fall at our farm corn maze we gathered the entrance fee and accepted donations from customers to give to the Whitchurch-Stouffville Food Bank. This month I was very happy to present Board member Charlotte Chesham with a cheque for $1147.75 on behalf of our customers at Reesor’s Farm Market.

Recently we harvested 8,000 lbs of corn from the maze (grain corn, not sweet corn in case you’re wondering) and we’ll be donating the proceeds from the sale of the corn to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. CFGB is a great organization that works in the developing world helping people grow more food to better feed their families and providing food in times of crisis for hungry people.

On behalf of my family and all of the staff at Reesor’s, I wish you a very happy Christmas and holiday season and I hope for all good things for you and your family in 2015.

Learn more about both of these charitable organizations here:

http://www.wsfoodbank.com
http://foodgrainsbank.ca

Hoping for a wonderful warm autumn

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by Jay Reesor

It has been an unusual growing season. It started off late, stayed cool for most of the summer and now we are receiving some beautiful fall weather. Most farmers in our community are very happy to have this stretch of good weather to ensure that their crops are ready for the season’s first frost.

I remember, clearly, 40 years ago in 1974 when our area had a very unseasonably early frost around September 8. The morning after that fateful night, immature corn was totally destroyed. The fields even smelled bad! It does not appear it will be a year like that, but crops are susceptible this time of year.

Do you still have some tomatoes, peppers or corn in your garden?  Keep hoping for some warm weather and keep the blankets handy to cover them up if necessary. Here is hoping for an amazing fall with a long stretch of Indian summer!

Summertime and the Eating is Easy

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by Jay Reesor

Summertime and the eating is easy.  

The beans are tender and the corn is sweet. 

Our soil is rich and the air is warm, so come local eater enjoy the treat.  
 
One of these mornings, the air will be cooler, the leaves will be falling and the apples red. 
 

But ’til that morning, don’t let nothing stop you.

Enjoy the summer before it passes by.

 
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Healthy Birds, Healthy Farm

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by Jay Reesor

One of the pleasures of being a farmer is having the opportunity to be in the outdoors….a lot. Especially this time of year when we are so busy planting and preparing for the season we are outside virtually the whole day.

While outside we have an opportunity to observe the wild life right here on the farm. Particularly interesting are all of the species of birds that we see including Cardinals, Blue Jays, Tree Swallows, Baltimore Orioles, Red Tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Starlings, Mallard Ducks, Blue Herons, Gold Finches, Flickers, Mourning Doves, Crows, Canada Geese and more!

The bird that currently most interests me is the Barn Swallow (like the one in the photo above). Every year around the end of May they arrive on our farm from their wintering ground somewhere in the southern hemisphere. They soon re-occupy their old nests or they build new nests to raise their young. It is common to see them darting about hunting for flying insects. They are amazing flyers and it’s  so much fun to watch  them.

I like to see all of the birds thriving as it gives me the feeling that we are doing a good job of caring for the environment here on the farm. If the birds and other wild animals are thriving on the farm, we must be doing something right. If nothing else, observing them gives me a great deal of pleasure. Happy bird watching to all of you bird watchers out there!

We’re on the land

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by Jay Reesor

Farming season # 29 has begun for me here at 10825 Ninth Line, Markham. Now that the weather has finally warmed up and the fields have dried off we are “on the land”. This week we planted all of our early sweet corn which we expect will be ready around July 21. We also got the fields prepared to plant next year’s strawberries.  

Speaking of strawberries, this year’s fields are coming along nicely with the earliest variety growing under the floating row cover (a huge reusable piece of perforated plastic to warm the plants and give us berries a week sooner). There are no strawberry flowers yet, but there will be soon and they’ll give us strawberries about June 20. 

It’s an exciting time of year with lots of work and lots of rewards too. Here is hoping that year 29 is a great one. I hope you have a great season too!

ready, Set, GROW!

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by Jay Reesor

April is here and that means the Ontario growing season has begun.  Here’s my top 10 list of what has already happened or needs to happen this month on the farm: 

1. A walkabout of the farm to check what has happened around here over the winter such as ice storm damage.  
2. Check that the underground drainage system is operating properly.
3. Remove some of the straw from the strawberries.
4. Place the floating row cover on top of the early strawberries to warm the soil to allow it to be ready earlier.
5. Clean up our outdoor workshop and get it ready for our busy season.
6. Do maintenance and repairs on all of the tractors and farm equipment.
7. Make sure that all of our farm supplies are on hand and ready to go as soon as the weather cooperates.
8. Finalize our planting plans depending on the weather and the various field conditions.
9. Get started on any building and major improvement planning and construction.
10. And of course last but not least, begin planting!

We hope to plant sweet corn this month to be ready in mid-July.  Wow! So, ready, set, go…..here we grow!

Seeds–really small, but really important

by Jay Reesor

For those of you who follow us on Facebook you already know that we received some of our seeds to plant for this year’s crops at our farm. In the shipment boxes were sweet corn, bean, pumpkin and squash seeds.

I select vegetable seeds for many different characteristics. For example, I evaluate sweet corn seed based on the number of days from planting to harvest, the corn’s eating texture and flavour, its vigour when growing, its cob size, its disease resistance, its husked appearance, its unhusked appearance, its ease of picking, its tip cover….. you get the idea.

Every variety of sweet corn seed has a large number of traits and I need to select the seeds that are just right for our Markham growing location. The trait selection list is also lengthy for the other types of vegetable seeds that we grow.

By the way, none of the vegetable seeds that we plant or the strawberry plants that we grow are GMO. The seed varieties that I choose to plant are superior strictly because of the old-fashioned plant breeding techniques that have been around for generations.

GMO seeds and the food they produce are a topic of considerable debate for some people. Food is such an important issue worldwide and I am committed to learning more, and invite you to learn more, about food systems….from every perspective.

Now that I have these amazing small seeds in the shed I am starting to get very anxious to get on the land and get the growing season started!  Those seeds may be small, but like so many things in life that are small, they are really, really important.

Happy seed selection to all you gardeners. Choose some good ones!

Eating locally in late winter

by Jay Reesor

The other day I was taking an inventory in our town market’s produce section of all of the things grown here in Ontario. The list is really quite long including leeks, mushrooms, fabulous sweet carrots, potatoes, English cucumbers, sweet potatoes, two kinds of  onions, parsnips, beets and cabbage.

The Ontario fruit selection is more limited with several varieties of apples, but they are incredibly delicious. Have you tried the amazing crisp, sweet Red Prince apples?  There are also the jarred peaches, pears and raspberries that the Brubachers preserved for us last summer.

Recently in our home, we’ve been enjoying Ontario carrots and parsnips chopped in one inch chunks tossed with olive oil, herbs and roasted.  They are delectable!  So, it is possible to enjoy lots of local, Ontario grown food even in the middle of winter. This helps keep Ontario farmers in business and food miles limited.

Have youfound your own amazing, local food winter recipe yet?

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