Thursday, January 22, 2009

We have changed out name to Ice Cap Organics since we have received our transitional organic certification so we have moved our blog to

Sorry to inconvenience our followers
See you all there!
Delaney and Alisha :~)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Certified Transitional Organic!

We were super stoked to get this letter in the mail; we have been accepted and certified by PACS Organics as 3rd year transitional organic! That means we only have to go through a 1 year waiting period, as opposed to 3 years, until we are fully certified organic. So for this 12 month period (ending in Nov. 2009), we will be using total organic practices and methodology, but we are categorized as transitional organic. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Phosphorous came out very low in our soil samples.  We had an average of 5ppm where 20ppm are recommended for most vegetable crops.  In the future we would like to have chickens on rotation in the fields since they have high P content in their manure, not possible this year so the rock phosphate will do the job.  It is organic approved but we are weary because it comes from a mine, has traveled, and came packaged because we do not yet have the means to transport amendments in bulk  (we have our eye on this truck , perhaps once we make a couple dollars).  Many studies have shown that there are up to 40% lower yield with P deficiencies so we figured it would be worth it and bought 1 ton.

It was cold, -20˚C, but we decided to apply it now since we will certainly be busy in the spring and once the snow melts it will start reacting right away.  We used our Earthway broadcast spreader, it was fun!  We added a little bit of bloodmeal to the rock phosphate so it would attract organisms that help to break down the phosphate to plant available forms.  Whether it will be around next spring I am uncertain since a significant amount of N volatilizes over the winter and made a mess of our outfits.   Tomorrow we are moving into our rental cabin which is 3km from one of the pieces of land with 1 acre and 6km from the 4 acres at the Tschopps up the Pemberton Meadows... Very exciting!  Happy New Year~

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Organic Certification

We started our application for organic certification in November, and we have just recently sent off our last soil sample results. We were really encouraged by the whole process; it was rigorous and thorough, and the Verification Officer was unbiased but helpful. It's good to see certification is not simply jumping through hoops, but rather a thoughtful planning and verification process, so it feels like its a certification we can stand behind and be proud of... The whole process included making detailed maps of our farm, a concise soil input plan, a crop rotation plan, statements from the land owners, observations of neighbour's agricultural activities, soil samples, a visit from a verification officer and a lot more. Our land has not been sprayed in over 5 years, so we are hoping that the certifying body will grant us the 1 year waiting period for full organic certification, rather than the 3 year wait. But while we will be transitional organic until the waiting period is up, we will still be using 100% organic methods. Once we get full certification we can start calling ourselves "Ice Cap Organics"! That'll be great, we're really stoked on the certification and what it stands for, but we also think farming the organic way is the only way to do it, regardless of certification, so really it's a part of our belief system. We couldn't imagine starting a food farm knowing what we know, in this day and age, and not doing it organically...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Garlic Root-down!

It's been just over 3 weeks since we planted the garlic, so we thought we should have a look at its progress. We dug one clove up and it has some promising root growth. The basal plate, where the roots are coming out, had no roots at all when we planted it. It's been raining with enthusiasm in Pemberton, and it doesn't seem to be letting up soon, so the garlic is getting lots of water, and the ground hasn't been freezing for a while, so its a good time for the bulbs to by sprouting vigorously underground.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Soil Analysis

We got our soil samples back and we are busy reviewing what we have to work with. Its pouring rain around here so it seems like a good day to stay inside and get all nerdy with macro and micro nutrients. We're happy to see a good pH level of 6.4 where we planted the garlic, we made the right choice there, as the other fields are low at 5.5 and 5.7. It seems like we'll be making a few soil amendments, as we are low in a couple areas–but every apparent deficiency is within a correctable range, and the only crop already in the ground is the garlic, which we already added nitrogen and phosphorous to. So with lots of work and investments, we should have good growing soil come planting season. The information from these soil samples seems essential, we really would be diving in blind if it weren't for these, so its probably the best money we've spent so far. We used Pacific Soil Analysis, located in Richmond, and they seem pretty nifty.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Popped, Planted, Mulched–Our first crop is in the ground!

Yesterday we finished the garlic. It was a bit of a process. First we had to track down a large quantity of fine organic seed garlic; we ended up getting it from four different sources, some of them were local connections from the farmer's markets, and others were commercial seed growers like Salt Spring or Boundary Garlic. Then we prepped the land chosen for garlic, which was three 40 meter rows. Prepping involved adding organic blood-meal and rock phosphate to give the garlic a dose of nitrogen for the winter, and phosphate is good for bulb plant density and mass. Eventually, once the farm is more established, we will used our own composts.  After tilling this and some green manure into the beds, we measured them out, and drew 30 cm by 20 cm grids on them, which was our spacing for the garlic cloves. Then we hand planted over 3000 cloves and tamped them down to get good soil to clove contact. And finally we mulched the beds with straw to thermally protect the little cloves so they don't freeze and thaw too much over the winter. We referred to Growing Great Garlic by Ron Engeland throughout this process, and found the book to be pretty good. It was thorough and concise.  Next project... How will we, and can we, become a certified organic farm?