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!

It’s February! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms

Greetings from the farm! Though Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, February has so far been anything but spring-like here in the Northwest—the farm has been a winter wonderland ever since the February 4th snowfall that blanketed the region!

On that note, we have had to cancel the February 14th F&L delivery due to the toll the inclement weather is taking on the local crops and provisions. We will be emailing all F&L subscribers with more information shortly.

For the most part, the resident farm animals have been hunkered down snug in the barns, where we’ve laid extra straw for them to bed down into during the very chilly nights; twice daily along with flakes of fresh hay we refill their frozen water buckets with warm water which they gulp down noisily with great gusto! Despite the cold, those curious goats and the donkey want to see what all the fuss is about, and they’ve been venturing out each day to check out the snowy view.

Our Meyer lemon, lime and tea trees have all been squeezed into the barn to protect them from the cold where it has stayed just above freezing even on the coldest nights with the help of a couple of heaters to keep them, and the plumbing, from freezing.

As for us, we’ve been kept extra busy (and bundled up) both with cold-related chores and visiting the now-frozen hoophouse for herbs and kale. Inside, we’ve been keeping warm and cozy in the farmhouse kitchen prepping recipes and seasonal produce for the weekly box delivery. Being snowed in gives us the opportunity to dig deep into the seed and nursery catalogs and prepare for spring planting while work in the garden is on hold.

February is also prime season for hearty and healthy root vegetables (no doubt you’ve noticed from the plethora in your box each week!) and though these veggies are perhaps less colorful, and often less well-known than their summer companions, they are true examples of what it is to eat seasonally in the Northwest. This is why the theme and tone of your box changes as we capture a snapshot of each unique growing season—even this one, chock-full of ‘dirt-lovers’ such as carrots, beets, parsnips and turnips.

As we wait for the snow to melt and for signs of spring to arrive, we’ll endeavor to find new and delicious ways to enjoy our roots and winter greens—be sure to keep checking our weekly recipes for suggestions. Here are a few of our recent favorites to tide you over:

Spicy Honey-Glazed Parsnips
Drizzled with chili-honey butter, this roasted parsnip recipe from Bon Appetit is a real winner.

Braised Winter Greens
A simple and delicious method to cook these hearty greens. They make a great accompaniment to any main dish!

Warm Roasted Beets with Curry Spices
This heavenly side dish is fragrant with warm spices; a must-try for a chilly winter’s night.

Balsamic-Glazed Root Vegetables
An herb-packed marinade infuses fresh flavor into winter produce staples like carrots and parsnips.

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

Happy New Year! As 2019 gets underway, we would first like to convey our heartfelt thanks: We have been delivering our weekly boxes filled with fresh, seasonal fare and housemade provisions for five years now! We couldn’t do it without you and truly appreciate your enthusiastic feedback and support. To our new 2019 subscribers, welcome! We cannot wait to share the best of the farm with you in the year ahead.

As we wind down from the busy holiday season, now is a time of planning here at the farm. The year has so far graced us with milder weather, affording us with more opportunities to work in some of the growing areas now heavily mulched for winter with composted straw and hay from the barns. It seems as if we are always racing against the setting sun on these short winter days, trying to get other garden chores like pruning the apple and pear trees finished before the daylight wanes. But, when it does set, we head inside to the barns, where our resident farm animals are staying warm and toasty, snuggled up in extra straw to weather the cold nights.

January is also the month for slating out upcoming cheesemaking, gardening, floral arranging and cooking classes for the spring and summer, and for pouring through seed and plant catalogs looking for new flower and vegetable varieties to order for the upcoming growing season.

In the kitchen, we are busy looking through cookbooks new and old for inspiration for seasonal winter fare to share. From hearty soups and rich pasta sauces to luscious risottos and more, we always love making the best of what the Northwest has to offer during the winter months.

Our gardening company, Parterre, is busy each day in our clients’ gardens as well, with wintertime tasks such as pruning, mulching and planning new designs for spring. The snowdrops and narcissus that we planted in the fall are beginning to peek their heads out of the soil, and the hellebore and witch hazel are also beginning to bloom, adding cheer to the otherwise grey winter palette.

We hope your New Year is off to a terrific start—here’s to good growing and great eating in 2019!

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