Crofting – Seed Starting

Tomorrow's project

We have such a short growing season here that many plants must be started indoors. We have both late spring and early autumn frost, so the garden needs a good headstart in order to produce. I have collected all kinds of recyclable growing containers, but with both of us feeling ill and tired, I gave us a bit of a break by picking up a few premade planting items. The trays have coir pots in them – coconut fibre – replacing the previously common peat pots. I bought vermiculite and soil rather than peat moss, which is not really available anymore. And a good thing – in my view. Peat bogs are part of our ecosystem here in New Brunswick and an important factor in wildlife habitat and water renewal. We really don’t need to be cutting them up as we have a limited supply! That may be hard on the peat producers, but better all round for our environment. Peat does renew itself eventually, but in our climate it takes a long time. The coconut fibre would just go to waste after the processing of the fruit, so it is of great benefit to find a good, biodegradable use for it. I realize that coconut plantations are also a problem, but since these are already harvested, I guess I will settle for it as the lesser of evils.

Our kitchen has two big west-facing windows and is the warmest room in the house. The tables I salvaged to use for the seedlings are right over heat ducts. I guess I won’t need heated mats under them. Once they have their little heads out of the soil, I will get grow lights since our days are still so short. I was coveting some lovely grow stands from Vesey’s, the venerable Prince Edward Island nursery, but they were a bit spendy for our budget. I found an old typing table out in the shed, and there was an ancient and battered handmade table in the basement which just seemed to want to be useful again. The carpenters had used it as workbench. If I need an additional table, there are a couple of old potato barrels and some boards. It all looks very rustic and is rather pleasing, especially because it costs so much less than the elegant light table!

So I am sorting out and grouping which seeds need to be started first – and I don’t anticipate that anything tender can go in the ground until the end of May! We will get the field plowed and manured, and the hardy seeds in before that, but I am mindful that one year, I lost half my seed starts to a bottlefed lamb who found she could pull the plant pots off the table, and then the rest in a cold frame when we had a frost in June. I lived farther north than I do now, and although the Bay of Chaleur is supposed to be “warm” we still had some really “cold” nights that spring!

there is something so satisfying and primal in getting some seeds into some dirt. Horticulture has been an art for at least 10,000 years. I grew up in a gardening family, and my parents were always excited every year about what would go in the garden, what new things to try, when to start seedlings for transplanting. My father did build an big grow table in the basement, with suspended lights over it. Before that, the seedlings were in the dining room on improvised tables. We were a big family, without a lot of money coming in, and the garden was necessary for our good nutrition. Both sets of grandparents had gardens, tended diligently and with great love. Canning was a never-forgotten practice in my family, and I am grateful that I grew up with that experience.

13 thoughts on “Crofting – Seed Starting

  1. Oh, I didn’t realise you were in New Brunswick. It was our dream to move to Canada for many years, and we finally decided that NB would be our top choice. The whole idea fell through, because we don’t have degrees and high level jobs, so we didn’t get enough ‘points’ to emigrate, just simple farmers, us. But what a thoroughly beautiful part of the world.

    • As if we don’t need farmers! Oh, heavens! Yes, it is a beautiful place, and I do not yet have landed immigrant staus, but I am married to a Canadian. His parents were emigrants from London, England in the 1950s, back when Canada was anxious to get young, hardwrking people here even if they didn’t have degrees. Perhaps someday we will be able to visit each other. We have thought seriously of immigrating to the UK.

      • We have an entire category for farmers. We just require that they have enough capital to launch a farming operation in Canada.

        Higher degrees are _one_ of the way that you can gain enough points to immigrate. They are absolutely not the only way, and you can garner the points sufficiently without higher degrees or through business immigration.

      • I have a master’s degree and just make the points. The financial requirements are too high for most people. Canada simply doesn’t want working class immigrants.

    • Did you investigate just the general points system? Or did you look specifically at the self-employed farmer stream?

      The Self-employed farmer stream is normally run by the province involved — I know Alberta, QC, and NS have them — so you might need to go through the provincial authority to get information on it.

      • We looked into those programmes, and they require a large commitment that a couple of clergy just wouldn’t have. If we wanted to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for seed and tractors, there’s help; if you need $25,000 to get a piece of land and a couple of breeding rams, forget it.

  2. ‘just’ require enough capital to launch a farm from scratch?! Yes, I’ve seen the capital requirements!

    In other words, if you can afford to emigrate to Canada, you can afford not to!

    No, we were looking for a land of opportunity where we could build from scratch. In the end, we found we could do it here, if we settled for rented land, because land prices in our tiny, packed country are astronomical. But there’s no real reason why great big countries like Canada and Australia shouldn’t allocate land to pioneers, they would refresh the gene pool with a bit of get up and go, maybe!

    All the ‘new world’ countries now want higher education and/or money before immigrants are welcome, I think it’s sad, because countries like the US and Canada were built on diversity and hard, hard work, offering opportunities to those who had no chance in the old world. (and the US simply doesn’t want people from England, full stop. We are even banned from the Green Card Lottery! If I had an Irish parent, I’d be a shoo in!)

    If we were younger and didn’t have children at a rather critical age, we might now consider the countries opening up in Eastern Europe.

    • I’ve seen that Britons are looking East instead of West for farms. If we were younger, too, we might consider such. We looked into all the programmes here – I spent weeks online and in libraries, and there was NOTHING to help small scale farmers. Meanwhile, we watch farmland here go back to scrub, and we import our food. My grandparents were Canadian, my grandmother kept her citizenship even when she moved to the US, and that means nothing here. Only immigrants with lots of dollars or high-earning potential need apply. I will have to hire an immigration lawyer to sort out my application. If I can’t understand the forms and requirements, then they are too complicated.

  3. Wish I could come help y’all this summer. I love working in the garden except when the temps get above 90, which is from June on, down here in Hades—err—Florida.

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