The Cost of Doing Business

Some might say that this is an unflattering view of a ’94 Voyager minivan.  I would not.  The ag products shown not only hide the van’s mud-stained carpet,  they double its value.

My latest shopping trip last Friday was a whirlwind of activity that had me off-island at 6:15am and back by 1:30.  The main stops were Integrity Sales in Central Saanich where we buy a lot of our farm bling; and Evergro (or, as it’s now called, Agrium, because Evergro didn’t sound Big Ag enough).  I had gotten 3 comprehensive soil tests done through Integrity and wanted to have them converted into what I needed to buy to amend the soil.

It turns out that the new soil on Toynbee which I was pumped about (and still am, just a little less so) is pretty deficient in N-P-K and, like everywhere else around here, very acidic.  When the soil will allow me, I will have to hit it with a fair bit of lime and organic fertilizer.   But the sun exposure, (lack of) slope, water availability, level of organic matter and cation exchange capacity – which is the ability of the soil to make its nutrients available to plants – are all superb.

I took two separate samples on Rainbow, one for the high tunnel’s Cowichan soil and one for the Mexicana soil, where we previously tried to grow food despite the land’s slope, insatiable thirst, stones and shade.  The tests indicate that both are decent soils with the bottom-land of the high tunnel being a clear winner.  It just needs lime and quite a bit of phosphorus.  I already spread the lime but will give the soil at least a week to get used to it before I spread the rock phosphate.  I will probably just lime the Mexicana and see what happens since I mostly want to cover crop it anyway.

I suspect that all the amending I do this year will cost perhaps $500 which ain’t cheap but I hardly added anything last year and was disappointed with the yield.  Over time I’m hoping that simply adding the compost I make on site (from several homes’ and one restaurant’s kitchen waste plus the manure and bedding from our own chickens) will replace just about all that the crops extract.  The trouble is that I only have about half a yard of it at the moment.  Double that amount is my goal for a year from now.

As for Agrium, all I got there were two rolls of polyethylene, one 42’X100′ and one 14’X100′.  Total damage: $587.  I will cut the 14 up into pieces to fill out the new tunnel ends (6) on Toynbee while the 42 will cover the first (of three) completed tunnels.  If that goes well – and it better – then I will get two more 42’s.  But there’s a lot of work to do before I’ll be ready for the last two … and I can’t do that work until the water level goes down.

Water is a fickle beast here.  Deluge or drought.  Looks more like deluge this week.

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