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Vegetables | Fruit | Hay and Grain

Small seed sower. Example: turnips and corn.Although the acreage in potato production was far greater than that for any other crop, other vegetables and fruits continued to make their way into the ground as well. In addition to serving as a source of feed for cattle, turnips occupied an important place in the crop rotation. Sometimes, turnips would take the place of potatoes in the hay, root, and grain cycle that many farmers followed religiously. The decision whether or not to plant turnips was often determined by the price of potatoes. If there was a strong return for potatoes, the growth of turnips declined. Peas, carrots, and corn were other significant field crops. During any single growing season in the late 1970s, there might be twenty-five hundred acres of peas under cultivation in the Kensington area, most of which were destined for the local processing plant.

In the late nineteenth century, most farms possessed a small orchard, containing anywhere from 10 to 25 fruit-bearing trees. Islandwide, four to five thousand acres of land might have been devoted to fruit crops on any given year. apple tree
With the apples, pears, cherries, and plums from their orchards, farm wives could make all of the jams and jellies needed by the family, as well as baking delicious pies for special occasions. Honing their skills to perfection, women would enter their best baked goods and preserves in local or provincial fairs, hoping to win recognition as one of the most accomplished cooks on the Island.

strawberriesThe decline of the farm orchards started in the 1920s, brought about by the spread of fungal problems, the rise of black knot in cherry trees, and general neglect. But the Island fruit industry has experienced a resurgence as of late, fuelled by a steady demand for cultivated berries. The mid-summer strawberry season has become a much anticipated part of the Island year. Families hit the fields to pick their own year's blueberriessupply, which they then freeze and bottle, and friends gather at 'strawberry socials'-- often thrown, incidentally, by the local politician. While it also thrives in the wild, the cultivation of blueberries has grown by leaps and bounds as well, and Island blueberries now appear in muffins and ice-cream across North America.

FarmerGrain crops-- such as oats, barley, and wheat-- were essential to man and beast alike on the nineteenth-century farm. Farmers needed wheat to mill flour for bread and to make porridge, and their animals depended on grain for feed as well. Islanders grew many different wheat varieties, including Red and White Fife, Regent, and Marquis. While it was looked upon as the crop of poor farmers, buckwheat was almost always planted on newly-cleared land, as it was an effective means of removing couch grass. Once it had rid the field of this pest, it also made an excellent feed for chickens.

Black oats were commonly grown for Island horses, as it was believed that the higher fat content of this variety would add lustre to the animal's coat. They were also more resistant to smut. Hay crops-- consisting mainly of clover and timothy-- increased steadily between 1890 and 1920, an increase which reflected the simultaneous rise of the Island dairy industry. The raising of livestock required plenty of hay for food and bedding, and as the number of farm animals continued to rise, hay was perenially in demand. 'Making hay while the sun shines' has become an essential-- if not always enjoyable-- part of Island summers, when the sunshine is hot enough to dry out both the hay and the workers taking it in.

Potatoes | Fertilization | Tending the Land