As we head into the dog days of August, the heat-loving crops are starting to ripen more each day, and the animals continue to seek the afternoon shade to stay cool—during the middle of the day the chickens are often burrowed in the cool dirt of their enclosure and the girls can be spotted lounging under the canopy of trees in their pasture.
As much as the sun-ripened peppers and tomatoes are loving the sunshine, other more tender crops, such as the lettuces and greens, are now needing a good drink of water each day so that they continue to thrive. Our fruit crops are proving bountiful this year, from the big, juicy blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to colorful red and yellow plums.
As busy as we are around Bella Luna this time of year—both tending crops and hosting events such as weddings and special dinners like our Scampaganata suppers—we also spend quite a bit of time in other people’s gardens, too, through our landscape design firm, Parterre. We conceptualize and install tranquil, natural gardens and outdoor living spaces all around the Puget Sound, as well as care for them using organic, low-impact gardening techniques. With its long daylight hours, this abundant season keeps us bustling between projects.
During the lingering evenings, we are busy preserving all the gorgeous summer delicacies. In addition to fruit preserves, our “jam sessions” also include pickling cucumbers and canning beets, as well as making small batches of our Nonna Pat’s famous tomato sauce with vine-ripened tomatoes plucked fresh from the garden. In all, we have stowed away a thousand jars so far, sure to be beautiful reminders of this glorious, sun-kissed summer during the cold winter months that will arrive all too soon.
It’s July and summer is in full swing at the farm! We are honored that you keep up with all the goings on here at Bella Luna, and are grateful for your support throughout the year—thank you! Here’s what this beautiful, sunny season has in store for us:
The bold and beautiful tiger lilies that grow near the house have just begun to bloom, and during the lazy afternoons, the goats are often spotted resting and ruminating in the shady pasture to get a break from the sun on warmer days. (They keep this up until the cooler evening hours when things start to look a little livelier out there.)
Summer morning chores continue in the gardens, where we marvel at the growth of the beans, peas, and cucumbers that climb their trellises by inches each day. We are eagerly anticipating the first crop of fresh, juicy raspberries that are just now starting to ripen. Some of these tart-sweet berries will be destined for a summer fruit crisp or for snacking, but a good portion are always set aside to use in our favorite fresh raspberry jam. (Learn more about our signature recipe here!)
Afternoons are often spent working away from the farm in clients’ gardens for our landscape design and gardening firm, Parterre; or prepping for upcoming weddings and special events to be held here at the farm this summer. (Don’t forget: We are hosting the second installment of our Scampagnata dinner on Sunday, August 4th; get your tickets before it sells out!) The honey bees are also loving the pleasant afternoons and buzz busily amongst the many varieties of blossoms, working hard collecting pollen and nectar; the blackberry flowers are a special favorite for them, being one of the honeybee’s main food sources here in the Pacific Northwest.
One more note: As this year’s 4th of July holiday falls on a Thursday, there will be no F&L box delivery next week. We will pick back up again with the July 11th delivery. Enjoy your Independence Day—and this most lovely month of July!
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!
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.