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   Growing Organic Vegetables

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Overview information

What is Organic Vegetable Production (ATTRA)
Transition to Organic Farming (OMAFRA)
Field Vegetables FAQ (BC)

The Weather Network Farmzone
Environment Canada Weather Office
14-Day Soil Moisture Outlook for Canada and Alaska
Wateright - Water advisories and tutorials

Scheduling Irrigation Calculator (IIABC)
Calculate Your Corn Heat Units (Farmwest)
Growing Degree Days
Growing organic vegetables

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Inputs & Management


Organic Seed - where are we?

Organic seed must be used in order to comply with Canadian Organic Management Standards. If a grower demonstrates a reasonably thorough search for an organic seed and clearly documents that it is not available, then a grower may use non-organic seed. As outlined in CAN/CGB 32.310, certified organic crop producers must avoid the following prohibited substances, methods, or ingredients that may be found in conventional seed :

1.4.1.a: all materials and products produced from genetic engineering . . .
1.4.1.b: synthetic pesticides . . .
1.4.1.e: synthetic growth regulators
1.4.1.i: equipment, packaging materials and storage containers, or bins that contain synthetic fungicide, preservative or fumigant

For more extensive discussion, go to:

Pertinent CAN/CSGB 32.310 standard excerpts
Pertinent excerpts from CAN/CGSB 32.311 - the Permitted Substance List

- by Joanne Warren, May 2009

Other Seed Sites of Interest
Seed Ambassadors Project - Stewardship and free sharing of open-pollenated seed.
* Seed Saving (Internal link)
* Organic Seed Sources - available to Canadian farmers (Internal link)
The Changing Nature of Seed Ownership and Control in Canada
* Organic Seeds Supplier in Canada (Internal link)
Organic Seeds, Heirloom Seeds, Untreated Seeds, Seed Suppliers
Suppliers of Seed for Certified Organic Production (ATTRA)
* Growing Vegetables for Seed (Chris Wells on Cyber)
Farmers' Privilege Under Attack (GRAIN)


Soil Fertility

Soil Fertility & Crop Nutrition (OMAFRA)
Manures for Organic Crop Production (ATTRA)

Crop Management

Organic Weed Control: Many Little Hammers! (OMAFRA)
Cover Crops Deter Root-Damaging Nematodes in Vegetable Systems (USDA)

Mustard in nematode control and other potato diseases - Pesticide Action Network
Mustard ". . . planted after a wheat harvest in August or September. Fields spring to life with the green and yellow crop in two to three weeks. It is incorporated back into the soil after six weeks of growth." (Capital Press) According to PANNA chemist Dr. Susan Kegley, "Mustard plants produce small amounts of MITC, the same active fumigant that is produced when metam sodium reacts with water. Unlike synthetic MITC, the mustard plant produces very small amounts of this chemical in the soil over the entire growing season, rather than in one high-dose treatment, so the levels emitted are very small, and therefore pose less toxic risk than with chemical-based farming methods." Mustard is proving especially effective on curbing nematodes and "early die" in potatoes. The crop also helps hold soil in place, and plowing in this green manure enhances soil percolation.

Crop Rotations

Planned Crop Rotations (ATTRA)

Green Manures - visit our cover crop section on the Your Soil page.
Vegetable GraftingVegetable Grafting - Research-based information portal.
Organic No-Till Vegetables

Seed balls for no-till farming (
Organic no-till for vegetable production? (New Farm)
Cover Crops for Organic No-Till Mulch Systems (New Farm, includes chart)
Covered up: A look at no-till options (New Farm - html slide show)
Using Winter-Killed Cover Crops to Facilitate Organic No-till Planting of Early Spring Vegetables (2010 eXtension Webinar)

Mulching & Irrigation

A cover crop roller without all the drawbacks of a stalk chopper (New Farm)
Ten Steps Toward Organic Weed Control (UVM)
Using Plastic Mulches & Drip Irrigation for Vegetable Production (NCSU)
The Myth of Allelopathic Wood Chips (WSU)

Companion cropsCompanion & Intercropping Planting

Intercropping Principles and Production Practices (ATTRA)
Companion Planting: Basic Concept and Resources (ATTRA)
Companion Plant Spacing Calculator (KYSU)

Tillage and Cultivation

Conservation Tillage (ATTRA)
Soil Compaction: The Silent Thief (UMC)
Pursuing Conservation Tillage Systems for Organic Crop Production (ATTRA)
Market Farm Implement (Pennsylvania)
Use of Mechanical Cultivators for Market Vegetable Crops (Ag-Can/pdf)
Small Farm Machinery, Equipment, Hand tools Information
Scythe Supply

Weed Control in Vegetable Crops

Using cover crops for weed management (Ag Canada)
Weed control in organic vegetable cultivation (FiBL) [PDF, 900k]
Twelve Steps Toward Ecological Weed Management in Organic Vegetables (eXtension)
Video Clips on Organic Weed Management (eXtension)
Non-chemical weed management for row crops (Kansas Rural Center) [PDF, 140k]
Weeds Guardians of the Soil (A manual by J. Cocannouer)
Weed Management For Organic Crops
Non-Chemical Weed Management for Row Crops (KansasRC/pdf)
New Cultivation Tools for Mechanical Weed Control in Vegetables
Flame Weeding for Vegetable Crops (ATTRA)

Season Extension

Season Extension (Midwest Organic)
How to Build a PVC Hoophouse (Travis Saling)
How to Improve Profitability Through Season Extension (UMOC)
Extend the Growing Season with Coleman's Double-Covered Low Tunnels (MOFGA)
Hoop House How-to (Kerr Cente)
How to Build a Low-Cost Hoop House Manual (Kerr Cente/1.63 MB PDF)
Building Hoop Houses out of Electrical Conduit (Choit`s Run blog)
Homemade Hoop Bender (Concord Magazine blog)
Quick Hoop Bender Manual (Johnny`s Selected Seed/2.29 MB PDF)
Season Extension Books

Pest Control

Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control (ATTRA)
Plant Disease Management For Organic Crops (UCDavis/pdf)
Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America (Cornell)
Alternative Controls for Late Blight in Potatoes (ATTRA)
Silver Scurf of Potato (Cornell)

The Worrisome Lowdown on the Wiley Wireworm
Wireworm damage in root crops can be damned annoying and frustrating for the home gardener, and plain devastating to the commercial grower. Wireworms damage newly planted seeds, feed on the roots of young plants, and devalue root crops. Losses in potato production alone in the Lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia were estimated at between $500,000 to $800,000 reported in 1994. To read rest of article click here.
Down to the wire! Winning the war on wireworms (Ont. Min of Ag.)

checkmarkOn-Farm Efficiencies

Packing Shed Layout (WISC-HFHP/pdf)
Streamlining Your Sales Area (WISC-HFHP)
Mesh Produce Bags: Easy Batch Processing (WISC-HFHP)
A Strap-on Stool for Field Work (WISC-HFHP)
Standard Container (WISC-HFHP)
Try a Long Handled Diamond Hoe for Weeding (WISC-HFHP)
A Rolling Dibble Marker for Easy Transplant Spacing (WISC-HFHP)
Build a Hands-Free Washer (WISC-HFHP)
A Specialized Harvest Cart for Greens (WISC-HFHP)
Plans for a Specialized Harvest Cart (WISC-HFHP)
Roll Produce on a Narrow Aisle Platform Truck (WISC-HFHP)
Narrow Aisle Platform Truck Schematic Drawings (WISC-HFHP)
Narrow Pallet System (WISC-HFHP)
Motorized Lay-Down Work Carts (WISC-HFHP)
Stretch out your season with hoophouses (WISC-HFHP)

checkmark Water Quality
Go to Water Quality on Cyber-Help's On-Farm Food Safety page

Recommended Handling

checkmarkHarvesting and Storage

Vegetable Inspection Manuals (CFIA)
Putting Your Face on - prepping produce for market (Rodale)
Postharvest handling of Fruits and Vegetables (ATTRA, PDF)
Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality (UCDavis)
Problems of Stored Garlic (OSU)

checkmarkShipping, Transport and Labelling
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations - PART II Labelling (CanLii)
Nutrition Labelling and Claims Regulations - FAQs (Health Canada)
Cost of Production

Profitability on a Small Farm by Paul and Sandy Arnold (COG 114kb pdf)
Organic Production Practices for Northeast United States

Typical BC Vegetable Yields

Asparagus 2500 lbs/acre (5,250 lbs/acre with high-yielding, irrigated varieties)
Beans, Green 3.3-4 tons/acre (processing)
Beans, Wax 3.3-3.5 tons/acre (processing)
Beans, Organic Whole 2.5 tons/acre
Beets, Bunched 8 tons/acre
Beets, Topped 11 tons/acre
Broccoli, Fresh 365 cases/acre (23-25 lbs/case)
Broccoli, Processed 4 tons/acre
Brussel Sprouts 4-6 tons/acre
Cabbage, Chinese 750 cases/acre
Cabbage, Green 12-15 tons/acre (600 cases/acre (50# cases))
Cabbage, Red 10 tons/acre (350 cases/acre (50# cases))
Cabbage, Savoy 10 tons/acre (350 cases/acre (50# cases))
Cabbage, Storage 750 cases/acre
Carrots, Bunched 13 tons/acre
Carrots, Organic 1000 25lb bags/acre
Carrots, Topped 15-18 tons/acre
Cauliflower, Fresh 650 cases/acre (22#/case)
Cauliflower, Processing 4 tons/acre
Celery 700-800 cases/acre (65#/case)
Corn, Fresh 1200 dozen ears/acre for fresh direct market
Corn, Organic 5-6.5 tons/acre
Corn, Processing 5-8 tons/acre
Cucumbers, Slicing 10 tons/acre or 15,000-18,000 lbs/acre
Cucumbers, Pickling 10,000-15,000 (U-Pick) or 18,000 (Fresh) lbs/acre
Garlic 2 tons/acre or 1,000-6,000 heads/acre
Lettuce, Head 700-800 cases/acre(45#/acre)
Lettuce, Leaf Types 700-800 cases/acre (45#/acre)
Cantaloupe 7-10 tons/acre
  Watermelon 10-15 tons/acre
Onions, Bunched 8-10 tons/acre
Onions, Fall Seeded 20 tons/acre
Onions, Spring Seeded 20 tons/acre
Onions, Silverskins 10-15 tons/acre
Parsley approx. 8 tons/acre each cutting
Parsnips 8-12 tons/acre
Peas, Pod 4-5 tons/acre
Peas, Shelled 2 tons/acre (processing)
Peppers, Field 500 cases/acre
Peppers, Hot 400 cases/acre (30 lb cases)
Potatoes, Early 4-5 tons/acre (nuggets)
Potatoes, Mid/Late 10-15 tons/acre
Radishes 3 tons/acre per crop
Rhubarb 10-20 tons/acre
Rutabagas 18-20 tons/acre
Spinach 6 tons/acre
Squash/Marrow/Pumpkin 10-20 tons/acre
Tomatoes 25,000 lbs/acre
Zucchini 10 tons/acre
Chinese Vegetables 6 tons/acre

Options for Food Dehydration (ATTRA/pdf)

Individual Vegetable Production Guides

Azuki / Adzuki / Aduki / beansAdzuki Beans (MDA State)
Artichoke (MDA State)
Asian Vegetables Thesaurus (TaxoBank)
Guide to Asian Vegetables
Beans - Dry Edible Beans or Field Beans (MDA State)
Beans (whole), Organic, for Processing (BCMAFF '96/pdf)
Beans (organic) for Processing (Cornell, PDF)
Beet & Beets (MDA State)
Cabbage & Cabbages (MDA State)
Carrots, Organic (BCMAFF '96/pdf)
Carrots (organic) for processing (Cornell, PDF)
Carrots to the core (New Farm 2004)
CabbageCarrots (MDA State)
Celery, Organic (BCMAFF '96/pdf)
Celery (MDA State)
Chinese Cabbage
2010 NYS Production Guide for Organic Cole Crops
Corn, Organic Sweet (NCSU)
Corn, Sweet, Organic for Processing (BCMAFF '96/pdf)
Cucumber Production Guide (PEI Ag.)
Cucumbers Growing Problems: Troubleshooting (Harvest Wizard)
Cucumbers and Squash (organic) for processing (Cornell, PDF)
Edamame (ATTRA)
Eggplant (MDA State)
PeppersGrowing Garlic (Boundary Garlic Farm)
The Garlic Calendar - A year round guide (Hood River Garlic)
Postharvest requirements - Garlic (UCDavis)
Growing Garlic in Minnesota (UMN)
Hot Peppers (MDA State)
Greens (MDA State)
Leek & Leeks (MDA State)
Lentils (U of Wisconsin Alternative Field Crops Manual)
Lettuce (MDA State)
Onions (MDA State)
Pea & Peas for Processing, Organic (BCMAFF '96/pdf)
Peas (organic) for processing (Cornell, PDF)
Growing Organic Potatoes (UVM)
Buttercup SquashTransition to Certified Organic Potato Production Budget (BCMAFF '02/pdf)
Potato, Russet Organic - BC (BCMAFF/pdf)
Growing High Yielding Organic Soybeans (OMAFRA)
Organic Soybean Production (ATTRA)
Sweet potato slideshow (UBC)
Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Production (ATTRA)
Squash (MDA State)
Tomato & Tomatoes
Training Systems and Pruning in Organic Tomato Production (eXtension)
Radish, Turnips and other Root Crops (MDA State)

Elsewhere on this site
Pertinent Federal (Canadian) & Provincial (BC) Regulations
Organic Dairy Farming in Canada
Farm Equipment
Marketing Your Product
Organic Prices (fruit and vegetables)
Small Scale Food Processing
Pest Management
(Canada, USA) and Water (BC, Alberta) Testing Labs & Services

Original material in this website may be reproduced in any form without permission on condition that it is accredited to Cyber-Help for Organic Farmers, with a link back to this site or, in the case of printed material, a clear indication of the site URL. We would appreciate being notified of such use. Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this web site, Cyber-Help for Organic Farmers does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy thereof. Anyone using the information does so at their own risk and shall be deemed to indemnify Cyber-Help for Organic Farmers, from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.