We had some really great growing weather in 2013. Aside from the few days in June that caused flooding in the East Kootenay and the Calgary/High River areas, the growing season was predictable. Good weather early on helped with pollination. On our farm here in Erickson, all the crops came in strong, from the bedding plants in the greenhouses to the strawberries outside in the garden and the cherries in orchard. Even with a number of greenhouses built to grow and protect my crops, I still know that farming is still a big gamble because you can’t control the weather.
After our spring season in Creston has finished up, I start loading the late spring crops into the trailer and head east every Saturday morning, before dawn. Mid-June is the start of the East Kootenay farmers’ market season. The first market of the year was the quietest start to spring over there in 10 years. Road closures and flood watches had kept everyone close to home. My take-home message was you sure can tell where the holiday people are coming from when they all get stopped at once. I enjoy the drive out there as it’s usually the first trip off the farm in a couple of months. As I have a loyal following of customers awaiting my arrival, everything went according to plan. These things take time to build up and nothing is for sure.
One trip to the market had a deer jump in front of the truck and trailer. Another trip saw us driving through a freak hailstorm and another insurance claim had a large can of red paint spilled on the highway, which was fine until a Greyhound bus drove through it and right past me. Unlikely occurrences are hard to write into your business plan but count on them happening just the same.
It is ironic, but when I think of Christmas lights at this time of year I think of wrapping them around the trunks of palm trees to help them through the winter’s cold. People often ask me about the three Chinese windmill palm trees I have growing in the parking lot at the nursery. They are in some fine wood planters made right here in Creston by my friend Mr. Ward. My palms are moved into an unheated greenhouse for the coldest part of winter. They are hardy to -12 C, so around -5 roll them away. If I wanted to plant them in the ground I’d wrap them with the old-style Christmas lights to keep them warm during the worst part of the cold. It’s sort of like putting the heat lamp into your chicken coop when it gets good and cold.
At this time of year, I really enjoy looking at the structure of trees and shrubs: how they grow, how some are so similar and others so different. Kind of like the children singing at the Elementary School Christmas concert: all of those little people, all so remarkable and uniquely different. With the holiday season upon us, I would just like to say a big thank you to all our customers from Creston and beyond!
Happy New Year!
Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.