As we head into the dog days of August, the heat-loving crops continue to ripen more each day, and the animals continue to seek the sometimes elusive 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 recent heat wave, 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 especially 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—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 high summer is in full swing at the farm!
The bold and beautiful tiger lilies that grow near the house have just begun to bloom, and during 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 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 events to be held here at the farm this summer. 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.
We hope you are enjoying this sunny season as much as we are!
From the baby birds leaving their nests to the abundance of beautiful blooms, 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 fava 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. We love hosting gatherings big and small, and would love to host your family and friends for your next celebration.
Enjoy this most pleasant start to June and we hope to see you here at the farm soon!
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 keep ahead of the weeds that seem to pop up overnight now that the sun seems to have arrived.
Gardening 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 gardens and 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, pear trees and 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 also finishing up planting peas, carrots, lettuce starts, kales, cabbages, garlic, leeks and onions. (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. 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, wet winter.