Monday, December 8, 2014

We made the move

It was a crazy mad rush to get ourselves and the farm all packed up, but we did it and we made our way to Scotland! Apologies to those who we didn't get the chance to say good bye to before we left, it was all pretty hectic.
We are thrilled to be back in the UK with friends, family and pets! Next steps... who knows?...your ideas please!
Sending green blessings to all our friends in Nova Scotia and beyond, thanks so much for supporting us during our stay.
Testing out the dog crate
Shipping all that Stuff!

Monday, September 29, 2014

That's all folks!

Sadly this season has been the shortest ever.
Not only did we start late with that awful long winter taking its time to shift but now with the frost coming 3 weeks earlier than previous years we are pretty much done and dusted with the flowers and we haven't even reached Thanks Giving.

And it's not just over for the season, our fling in Nova Scotia is over for good.
We are moving back to the UK, taking our green thumbs and fingers with us to see what adventures we can have over there.

 Thanks to all our fabulous customers and friends who love our flowers, teas and herbal products. We've had a great adventure over here. We've appreciated your custom and greatly enjoyed getting to meet you all.

Many thanks! (and Happy Thanksgiving)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Update on this season's flowers

Well, what with a long winter, tropical storm, ravenous deer and a dry July, our flowers are certainly blooming albeit slowly. Some of the plants are understandably a bit stressed or stunted and on the whole the harvest seems to be about 2 weeks behind our "usual" schedule.

However, Jamie has been at the Halifax Seaport Market every week and will be there until Thanks Giving (frost permitting). Many thanks to our regular customers who have been delighted to see us back.

For photos of our latest flowers, I usually post these to our Facebook page because it's easier and quicker so you can keep more up to date there.The flowers from now on will just keep coming, bigger and better and more abundantly. (Fingers crossed!).

Hope you are all enjoying the summer and hope to see our Nova Scotian customers at the market soon.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hunt the Perennial

Crikey what a blinder it is this week, crazy HOT and HUMID and absolutely relentless black fly, mosquitos and horseflies biting any part of us they can sink their teeth into.
So aside from all that, is anyone else out there playing hunt the perennial?
Gorgeous bright zinnias just coming this week

What I mean is, we are surely not the only ones battling with some overly enthusiastic weeds that have just invaded everything?
Here at Oliver Farm it's more a case of Hello red clover, plantain, couch grass, thistle, hawkweed, chickweed, hogweed, pig weed and so forth and Where the Hell are you all our lovely Perennials? Obviously the Herbalist in me is pained to rip out these wonderful so called "weeds" with such high medicinal value for us, but I'm doing it very nicely asking them all to grow somewhere else (on the other 33 acres of farm that isn't for produce). And let's not even discuss the burdock's a crazy, crazy jungle out there.

So far I have located the lavender and Hyssop, can't say the same for Veronicas and our gorgeous white fluffy perennial achillea hummm. Due to our reluctant mower am having difficulty accessing lemon balm, verbenas, globe thistles, sea holly and catnip. Sadly due to crazy winter have lost my thyme bushes and a few other favourites.

There is hope... the peonies have done it again and are just about bursting and flouncing their gorgeous fluffy poofy blooms with all this heat. Hurrah!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Up and Coming at last...

First blooms of the season
There have been many grumblings about how late the growing season is to take off this year, however, since myself and Jamie are notoriously late in everything, we are hoping to work this to our advantage!
Eddie inspecting the glads

We have just about got all the transplants in, gladioli planted, mulch down and seeds sown. Thanks to all the rain, as soon as our transplants get in the ground they are doubling in size. All we need now is some more heat and I am sure that will come.


We are aiming to start at Halifax Farmer's Market the first weekend in July and in the meantime I will be at Tatamagouche Farmer's Market with herb transplants, lavender bushes, our teas of course and the first bouquets.

The peonies are on their way and there are a few beautifully scented stocks and brightly coloured snap dragons to start the season off, not to mention our lovely veridiums.

As soon as there is more we will let you know.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Asparagus Abundance

Whoop, whoop we are LOVING this year's bountiful asparagus harvest. The stop-start, cold-hot sort of approach of the weather has stretched out the harvest over several weeks now and we can't express how grateful we are. Of course there are always those sorry tips that get burnt by the frost but this year it's like a jungle out there of lush asparagus forest.

We have been selling out every week at the Tatamagouche Farmer's Market so get there quick if you want to indulge in this local delight.

I myself have never been a huge asparagus fan, kind of thought it was a little over-rated as a veggie but that was before I had my OWN. So I strongly urge those of you who are not so keen to try some locally grown stuff and start growing your own and you will be transformed into a local asparagus fan.

As a garden or field crop I highly recommend you to give it a go. All you really need at first is some manure, some asparagus crowns and a whole lot of patience because it will be about 3 years before your plants will yield any sort of edible shoot of any size. Also you must be a little partial to weeding, since this is a major issue for us and all growers who don't want to spray with chemicals. It is quite disheartening to do for 3 years before actually getting something back from the plant. But I assure you it is worth it....!!!
Convinced yet?

Here's the recipe for the asparagus soup I have been making, was inspired by my recent visit to Spain where we ate Crema de esparagus in a 12th Century Monastery. Ideally for this you would use some very thin straggly (rejects) spears of asparagus that aren't thick enough to use on their own as a vegetable. You will have access to lots these if you grow your own or know someone who does. Of course you can use the regular asparagus spears, that's if you can bear to chop up such a beautiful vegetable!

Easy Peasy Asparagus soup:

  • In a heavy based pan melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and add 1\2 a chopped onion or a couple of chopped leeks, allow these to soften in the butter.
  • Then add a chopped, peeled potato and 4 cups water, lots of salt and pepper.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins.
  • Then add 1 pound of chopped asparagus - use the straggly thin spears (see above).
  • Boil for another 5 mins.
  • Blitz with a hand blender until smooth, you could sieve it but honestly who has time for that?
  • Check the seasoning and when you serve swirl in some cream for extra creaminess.
Now must get back to transplanting or there will be no flowers this summer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mini-me seedlings - Can you ID me?

At last with this taste of sunshine and warmth the landscape is turning green and seedlings are growing. We love it when they start growing their first true leaves because they really start to take shape as miniatures of themselves. See if you can ID any of the following, answers are below.



D ... this one is easy right?





Answers as follows:
A: Cilantro/Coriander
C: Stocks
D: Leeks
E: Curly Parsley
F:Snap Dragons
H: Feverfew
I: Purple Basil

So... How did you do?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Top 10 spring jobs on the farm

BRRRR well it still feels too cold to be spring but pretty much all the snow has melted so if we pretend it's spring then maybe the daffodils will consider opening and we can crack on and get stuff in the ground.
Spring isn't the only thing that is behind schedule this year, here are some of the jobs that we are still getting done (which really ought to have been done by now!)
  1. Clean out greenhouse - Wait for a nice bright day, open it up, sweep it out, wash dirty trays and generally have a good tidy up to get ready for the season.
  2. Keep on sowing and transplanting - there is still time to order seeds if things aren't going too well.
  3. Order potting soil, compost and worm castings
  4. Check over all fruit trees for pest damage, prune vines if you haven't already done so.
  5. Check over all perennials regularly as they come up to see whether or not they made it! Think about those that need dividing and moving.
  6. Keep clear of the pond so as not to disturb the ducks
  7. Keep dogs away from skunks and muskrats!
  8. Check the garlic patch to make sure the green shoots are popping up
  9. Enjoy the spring bulbs
  10. Sow sweet peas as soon as you can get on the soil! They are so worth it!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to grow your own Wedding Flowers: Part 2

Most important thing about local flowers...

Before we get carried away choosing any flowers, you must check when they are expected to bloom. This is crucial for your wedding to go as planned. You need your plant to be at the height of its blooming for your wedding day, some biennials won't bloom until the second year! So always check and double check flowering time. Check this flower page for an idea of what flowers are available when in Nova Scotia.

Eddie asleep on seed catalogue

Favourite Easy (ish) to grow Flowers for Summer Weddings

  • Gladioli - tall and simply stunning, more expensive than most seeds that's because they come as bulbs and you simply dig a large trench and plop them in. There are some awesome colours out there too as well as Wedding white. Perhaps too large for a wedding bouquet, but will surely make dramatic arrangements with height.
  • Snapdragons - Hardy and one of the earliest flowers in Nova Scotia. Come in a variety of colours and bloom all summer long too so there is bound to be something that matches your colour scheme. Many nurseries grow these so you may be able to buy plants rather than growing from seed. But check they are not dwarf varieties, because you won't get decent stem length.
  • Sunflowers - why not? Easy to grow and everybody loves them. They come in a fantastic array of colours from chocolate to peach to lemon yellow.
  • Zinnias - Come in a variety of colours and sizes and some even look very dahlia-esque. Many nurseries grow these so you may be able to buy plants rather than growing from seed. But check they are not dwarf varieties, because you won't get decent stem length.
  • Cornflowers / Bachelors Buttons - For me this is the best blue flower around, simple, elegant, stems can be cut long for dramatic arrangements or mini for posies. Best started from Direct seeding, which is kind of annoying because of the weeding involved! but it is worth the effort (get Mum and Dad to do it!).
  • Salvia - Not an impressive bloom but a great filler that comes in a variety of colours like white, pink, purple and even red. Again can be found in nurseries so you could just buy a plant but do check it's a cutting variety.
  • Statice - A great filler, keeps going all summer, comes in loads of bright colours and has a long vase life. Also keeps its colour when dried if you like to keep your bouquet.
  • Sweet peas - If you want fragrance and old-fashioned beauty then these are a must. They are hardy so can be put in the ground early.
  • Lilies - Well, these require a bit more planning, since they need to get in the ground in October the year before your wedding. Some associate them with funerals but I think they are great and easy to grow which is a bonus. But always check when they will bloom, they have a tendency to just explode, way before you really want them to.

    Also worth considering

  • Local grasses and wild flowers like Brown eyed Susans, daisies, cat tails, willow branches etc. Some of these don't have a great vase life but you can certainly use them for one day!
  • Perennials - you might not have your own well established garden, but may know someone who does. Here you will find roses, peonies, sea holly, globe thistle, lilies, alliums, hostas, astilbe etc. Obviously ask permission before you get harvesting!
  • Herbs - Many varieties of herb can add unusual flair to bouquets, look at basil, parsley, feverfew, garlic scapes, wormwood, rosemary, bee balm and even mint to name a few.
If you still love the idea of local flowers for your wedding but don't think you've got the time or energy then take a look here to see what services Oliver Farm can provide. Contact us with questions through the contact form on the left hand side of the blog or find us on Facebook by searching for Oliver Farm Botanicals.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to grow your own Wedding Flowers: Part 1

Here are a few points to consider when deciding whether or not to grow your own flowers for your wedding this summer.
If you prefer someone else to do the work for you, check out our new Wedding Flowers page.
  • Have you got the space, the tools and the time?


You won't need much outside space, of course it depends on how many flowers you really need. Bear in mind that we grow flowers to supply our local community and the Halifax Market the whole summer long on not much more than 1 acre.
You will need to work out how you are going to dig up your plot, if you haven't already. Have you already got a rota tiller or are you prepared to double dig by hand?


So space and preparing the soil may not be an issue, however, you will require a few essential tools like spades, forks, trowels, secateurs and watering cans, and more importantly be willing to get your hands dirty. The list is endless of course, to get great results you might want to splash out on mulch, landscape fabric, organic liquid feed, worm castings.. can discuss these in a later post but you get my drift. You can borrow tools but I normally find that if I need it so does the person I am borrowing from so it can get tricky.


That leaves us with a crucial decision maker or breaker... you've certainly got the willingness, but have you really got the time? To get the best results from flowers we suggest lots of tender loving care. Plus, they all need to be started now, in fact we started seeding some of our fancy blooms in February. So you need to get your skates on selecting and perhaps sowing seeds asap! Maybe you have a friend with a greenhouse which is perfect, or maybe you like plants in your living space (I have no choice in the matter and do not really recommend this option... it's a bit of a drag!).
Everything starts to go out in the ground after the last frost date has past. In Nova Scotia, this means you will need time around the end of May/early to mid June to get all your transplants in the ground or to direct seed.
Once in the ground, sadly it's not just a case of letting them get on with it and returning to them to harvest a week before your wedding. If your plants are growing well then so will your weeds, this is where mulch does come in handy, but usually there is nothing better than getting down on your hands and knees and pulling out the weeds as they come up. You will also need to be harvesting flowers and dead heading the plants to encourage their growth right up to the time that you require them. Furthermore, since Mother Nature is rather unpredictable you may also need to regularly get out there with your watering can and make sure everything is well watered. You will  also need time and energy to protect your plants from the sun and wind, not to mention invasions of bugs, deer and even neighbouring cats.

If any of these points are causing your enthusiasm for home grown Wedding Flowers to wane, then all is not lost, if you can enlist a friend, a parent or greenhouse grower then they might be able to do the work for you, in which case all you need to do is decide which flowers to grow. Check out the Wedding Services we provide here

Final considerations to plan for success

  • When are you planning on harvesting your flowers?
  • Where are you going to store your harvested blooms?
  • Who is going to arrange them for you? - don't underestimate the time this takes!
  • Have you got a plan B? There are no guarantees when it comes to growing your own so have a back-up plan in place to avoid last minute stresses.
My second post will cover how to choose which flowers to grow for your wedding.

If you don't want to grow your own flowers but would still like local flower for your wedding, contact us using the contact form on the left hand side. Check out our Wedding Flowers page which explains the services we can provide.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Veggies and flowers for local folk

We're so excited to be teaming up with the CSA veg box from Waldegrave Farm this summer. This means that local folk who already subscribe to receive delicious veggies weekly from Waldegrave Farm can now also sign up to receive a bunch of our lovely flowers this summer along with their vegetables.
For more info contact Cammie the brains behind the operation. You can find her here Waldegrave Farm Facebook page 

Friday, March 28, 2014

How to think about seeding when all this snow is around?

Jamie flew back from the UK yesterday to be faced with mountains of snow from Wednesday's freak March blizzard. The snow was blowing like crazy and I only just got the car out by following behind the snow plough but there was no chance of us driving back in. It was all we could do but laugh at the ridiculous amount of snow that had drifted into our lane so we abandoned the car and trekked over the snow drifts on foot.

Needless to say, time he had hoped to spend on seeding is now taken up with snow blowing. It doesn't really seem like we will ever get started this year. With chilly weather like this it's easy to think that things will never warm up enough to get the grass growing, let alone some gorgeous flowers. Even though we know it will come eventually, we are feeling a little impatient now, so bring on Spring, please.