Hello, June! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms

From the baby birds leaving their nests to the abundance of beautiful blooms and blue skies, it sure feels like summer is near—and the recent weather suggests that just might be true.

Here are the farm, the arrival of June means the gardens are all nearly planted, with the cucumbers, lettuces and other greens all thriving in addition to the Romano beans inching their way up the trellises and the fragrant herbs growing in abundance in the Walled Garden.

Warm weather plants such as the tomatoes and peppers are ready to go in the hoop house, with the eggplant and summer squash starts to follow. We’ve begun checking the strawberries to see if any are ripening, but we will have to be patient as those look to still be a week or two out. In the meantime, we will enjoy the peonies as they start their vibrant season as well as the first flush of English roses in bloom.

Around the rest of the farm, the animals are enjoying a ‘spa day’ to brush out the last of their thick winter undercoats, while Dave and Beth Richards of JohnnyAppleBeez will soon come to retrieve their orchard mason bee houses from the garden, which will be filled with the cocoons of baby bees; the Richards will help these bees become next year’s crop pollinators.

As the summer season gets under way, we are also kept busy planting both veggies and herbs for kitchen gardens and summer color in beds, pots and borders for our Parterre clients, and then with the special events and weddings happening here at Bella Luna.

One particularly special event is coming up soon on June 15th: Our “Scampagnata” spring supper event, the first in an inspiring series of outings here at the farm that will benefit Slow Food Seattle. Scampagnata will also champion the foods found on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods that are facing extinction in our modern age. Help us support local growers and the real, true and authentic flavors of the Northwest by joining us for these events—or send a loved one in your stead.

Additional details and tickets can be found here; we hope to see you here for Scampagnata and in the meantime, enjoy this most pleasant start to June!

Hello, May! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms

April’s many showers have indeed brought May flowers, gracing Bella Luna with a lush beauty as spring has gradually arrived at the farm. The better weather of late has really jump-started our ‘to-do’ list, keeping us busy dawn to dusk trying to get ahead of the weeds that seem to pop up overnight now that the sun has arrived.

Garden planning is always one of our favorite winter pastimes, and now is the time to make those dreams come true. Thus, our gardening company, Parterre, is busy doing just that for our clients; we are putting in new herb and children’s gardens along with early seasonal vegetables into kitchen gardens, as well as adding colorful plants to containers—this time of year is perfect for a garden makeover or update as all our Northwest plants are just now springing to life.

Here at Bella Luna, the apple, cherry, and pear trees along with the blueberry bushes are abloom in both the orchard and the garden where Woodinville’s Johnny Applebees LLC recently installed specialized orchard mason bee houses to aid pollination and good fruit production. We are harvesting asparagus and herbs galore from the main vegetable plot, and the raspberries there are about to bloom as well. We are also planting peas, carrots, lettuces, beets, leeks and onions, and then the beans, cucumbers, and summer squashes are seeded in the greenhouse to be planted out in a few weeks when the soil is warmer. (It seems it’s time to secure the gates to the vegetable gardens so we don’t have any furry guests nibbling tender new shoots!)

When it is sunny out, the ‘girls’ venture out to enjoy the lush green pasture, where they also like to stretch their heads over the fence to nibble on any brambles they can reach, and then take a break to lie down in the tall grass. We are also once again treated to the chorus of frogs at night, so loud we can hear them indoors—a most welcome symphony after such a long winter.

Hi, April! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms

What a shift in the seasons! After February’s historic snowfall, March also made the record books as one of the driest ever, and now as we greet April, spring seems to be in full swing thanks to all of last month’s sunshine. As we are busy both indoors during the drippy days and then outdoors during those aforementioned sun breaks, there are lots of developments to share:

Nestled amongst the sea of early daffodils, other flowers have also begun to bud, including the rhododendrons, native trilliums and primroses, as well as evergreen huckleberries and hot pink salmonberry flowers—a favorite snack of the girls, both feathered and furred. These spring blooms regularly find their way onto the farmhouse table, bringing a delightful glimpse of the season inside.

In the orchard, a new resident is about to move in and join our budding fruit trees—the bees! Our friends Dave and Beth Richards of Woodinville’s Johnny Applebees LLC will install several of their specialized orchard mason bee houses in sunny, south-facing spots here at the farm to help with crop pollination. Mason orchard bees nest in reeds and natural holes, hence the design of their handmade cedar “houses” which are filled with natural reed tubes. These busy, non-stinging bees are considered nature’s ‘super’ pollinators and as such are a very welcome addition to the farm.

Spring is also starting to crop up in the vegetable garden, where we have been both weeding and adding compost, then getting the first sweet peas, snap peas, favas, onions, and leek starts going in the hoop house to be ready for planting, as well as early spring lettuces, Swiss chard, kale, beets, and carrots going into the ground. The herbs continue to grow in the walled garden, kissing the air with the savory scent of thyme, parsley and chives. The team for our landscape design company, Parterre, is also bustling for our clients’ projects, installing pear and apple espaliers (they make amazing “living” fences!) and planting French lilacs to grace their gardens with incredible fragrance later this spring.

As always, we wish you the best this season and hope you too are enjoying a bountiful spring!

Hello, March! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms

After the historic series of snowstorms in February and over two feet of snow here at the farm, we are greeting the arrival of March with extra enthusiasm this year as we hope this month will bring an end to the snow and just perhaps the beginnings of some more spring-like weather! (The past few sunny days, along with blooming hellebores, crocus and snowdrops, sure have helped boost our mood.)

As you all know, the snow made for a challenging February for both ourselves and the neighboring farms. We so appreciate your patience and understanding as we had to cancel several deliveries this month—what an unprecedented event! Though there is still plenty of snow piled up in spots here at Bella Luna Farms, life seems to be slowly inching back to normal as we are getting to spend time working outdoors in the sun, and thus the gardens, each day. We are so excited to be start deliveries back up this week!

Being snowbound has given us extra time to prep and plan and we are eagerly awaiting the time when the gardens awaken from their winter slumber: Seeds are just starting to grow in the greenhouse and the new pea and kale starts have already taken root, as have the onion sets and leeks. Later this month the spring peas and onions will be planted outdoors under row covers, and we hope to begin harvesting our first crops of flavorful baby spring greens from the hoop house in a few weeks. By the end of the month, if it is warm enough for new growth, we should also see the first signs of watercress!

Plans are also accelerating in the gardens we care for away from the farm; our gardening and landscaping company, Parterre, has been busy planning and pruning for our clients across the Puget Sound. Spring is a busy time as we design and install both food and ornamental gardens, and also incorporate edibles into existing landscapes. Creating visual interest by combining bright, vibrant blooms and other ornamentals with such edibles as pea towers, herbs and even edible flowers can give a garden a fresh new look and appeal. Every tree, shrub and stone is thoughtfully hand-selected and each garden we design is a unique and personal creation for our clients—it so gratifying to see each one come to life in the spring and summer especially after an especially snowy cold spell like the one we just had!

As the days continue to lengthen and the sun warms us both body and soul as we work in the garden, we look forward to bidding adieu to winter in favor of spring and all the fresh and bright flavors it provides. To spring—and beyond!

this week's recipes
italian summer

feature story
bee happy

dinner series