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Lettuce grown at Lightwater Cove Farm

Mid-Spring at Lightwater Cove

A time of rains and sun rays combined, mid-spring on the land becomes a dance. Days on the farm during this temperamental season are not determined by preconceived plans. Each morning consists of pirouetting around what the earth asks for and what the seedlings say. The soil’s temperatures, moisture levels and the variations of plant growth relay instructions, subtle yet stern.

Over the last weeks we have found the spaces between the warm and wet days to greet the sleepy soil and prepare beds, with brassica and sunflower starts eagerly awaiting their new homes. It is as if they are peering out the greenhouse windows with full awareness that we labour for them.

Farm - Raking soil

As a farmer, you come to realize that schedules are simply an outline. There is no certain blueprint for how to step into the seasonal flow. We have been blessed with fair weather this spring, allowing us to timely prepare the soil in synchronicity with our young plants; however, it is not always so! Each year is new and different to the following, providing insights but no promises for the next.

Throughout April and May we have been transitioning our carefully nurtured lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and flower starts from the warm safety of the greenhouse to the wide- open spaces of the farm.

Crops Growing at Lightwater Farm

This procedure elicits great care and patience, as a very important step in this process called “hardening off” must be respected and seen through. Hardening off is the stepping stone between the starting point and final rooting place of our crops. We find a sheltered spot outside where the plants can become accustomed to the wind, temperature shifts and rainfall of the great outdoors. Giving them the time to grow comfortable in their new conditions prevents transplant shock and eases them into their new environment.

Mid-spring is also a time of sowing and potting up the warm weather. On rainy, windswept days, we have taken refuge in the greenhouse, utilizing the space to see our beloved tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and basil through their many stages of growth. For them, this includes sowing, potting up and finally transplanting directly into the warm, welcoming soil of the greenhouse.

Greenhouse

Initially, we start these crops in flats. They grow together tightly and with vigour. We await the day that they show us their sturdy stems, then we separate them and move them into larger pots to allow further aerial growth and root development. When they outgrow these temporary pots, we carefully space them out in the greenhouse beds, keeping in mind the height and trellising needs of each unique variety. We choose to interplant flowers, our favourite being the vibrant marigold. This method of growing – increasing diversity and attracting beneficial insects – supports the crops by bringing in pollinators and predatorial bugs that will keep pests at bay. Resilience on the farm lies within the intricacy of diversity and companion planting: we know this deeply and always choose to steward these practices.

As the soil temperatures increase in these months, the earth calls out for peas, beans, corn and squash to be sown directly into the ground. With bare hands we poke legumes into soft trellis beds and rejoice to see their curly forms pop up, as if they coordinated the show. Zucchini seed goes directly into the fields, with anticipation of overwhelming
abundance.

We choose to start our winter squash, Honeynut and Hokkaido, indoors to offer them a cushioned start for the long journey to harvest that lies ahead of them.

Our corn has also won a greenhouse start, as this year we have been blessed with old and sacred kernels that we wish to watch carefully. We will let their stalks grow strong before we place them in a group at the highest point of the field where the wind can blow through their tassels to pollinate their silks.

Planting Seeds

As mid-spring days begin their ascent into June, the longer days and warmer rays will bring a growth spurt to the land. We will see the spaces between plants fill with foliage and bare trellis faces will become lined with vines. Our foresight of the growing season will begin to take form in the coming weeks. The careful consideration of each plant and its varieties is the foundation on which the garden may grow into abundance.

The season of transition continues its journey towards established, intensive growth. We the farmers are here to blissfully participate.


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