As the old saying goes, March seems to have come in like a lion, bringing with it almost every kind of weather—rain, hail, sunshine and even some snow showers. Still, every sun break, mild afternoon and budding branch reminds us that spring is on its way to Bella Luna:
The first daffodils, primulas and crocuses are beginning to pop up out of the soil, and some of the plum and cherry trees are beginning to bud, soon to also grace us with their beautiful fragrant scent. We’ve been spending more and more time out of doors, as are our resident animals—the chickens strut in their outdoor enclosure and the ‘girls’ are shedding their thick winter undercoats in favor of a sleek new look.
The pace has picked up in the gardens as the plots begin to awaken from their winter slumber: Seeds are going in the greenhouse and the new lettuce and kale starts have already taken root, as have the onion sets and leeks. Later this month the spring peas will be planted and we will begin harvesting our first crops of flavorful spring greens from the hoop house. By the end of the month, if it is warm enough for new growth, we should also see the first signs of watercress and perhaps even begin scouting for young rhubarb!
Things are also accelerating in the gardens we care for away from the farm; our gardening and landscaping company, Parterre, has been busy planning, planting and pruning for our clients across the Puget Sound. Spring is a busy time as we design and install food gardens or 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. Every tree, shrub and stone is thoughtfully hand-selected and each garden we design is a unique and personal creation for the client—it so gratifying to see each one come to life in the spring and summer.
As the days continue to lengthen, we look forward to bidding adieu to winter produce in favor of all the fresh and bright spring flavors the farm provides. To spring—and beyond!
Greetings from the farm—and welcome to February! This is a month of contradictions here at the farm, as we have seen both lots of chilly winter rain and then a few early glimpses of spring, too.
On milder days, the resident animals are beginning to venture outside their warm, straw-lined stalls and coops. The ‘girls’, still thick with their winter coats, nibble on hay and tidbits of grass under the eaves of the barn, clamouring to say hello as we go by; the donkey lazes in his paddock; and the chickens are always busy scratching and pecking around their outdoor enclosure. We, too, try to take advantage of the longer afternoons, getting compost prepped for spring gardening, gathering herbs from the greenhouse, collecting fresh eggs and visiting the creamery to check on the cheeses aging in our cave.
Much of this time of year is still spent in the warm and cozy farmhouse kitchen, prepping recipes and seasonal produce for the weekly box delivery. February is 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 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 until spring truly arrives:
Spicy Honey-Glazed Parsnips
Drizzled with chili-honey butter, this roasted parsnip recipe from Bon Appetit is a real winner.
These delightful beets from Rick Rodgers’ The Big Book of Sides are sure to be a new fall favorite.
Braised Turnips & Carrots
Simmered in rich chicken stock, this dish is finished with lemon juice and thyme for fresh appeal.
Balsamic-Glazed Root Vegetables
An herb-packed marinade infuses fresh flavor into winter produce staples like carrots and parsnips.
Happy New Year! As 2018 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 four years now! We couldn’t do it without you and truly appreciate your enthusiastic feedback and support. To our new 2018 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. After our Christmas snowfall, the year has so far graced us with beautiful clear and cold weather, the dry spell affording us with more opportunities to work in some of the new 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, also trying to get other garden chores like pruning the apple and pear trees finished before the daylight wanes. But, when it does, 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 and cooking classes for the spring, and for pouring through seed and plant catalogs looking for new vegetable varieties to order for this summer. But, the kitchen is where most of the action is these days as we test new recipes and perfect old favorites—like our signature risotto or rich, flavorful pasta sauces—to share in the year to come.
We hope your New Year is off to a terrific start—here’s to good growing and great eating in 2018!
As we transition from our wet fall into the first of winter this month, we’ve already been treated to our first flakes of snow and a few potent windstorms (a tree even came down on our creamery during the most recent one!) as the days get shorter and shorter while also seeming to get busier and busier during the merry holiday season. And though we people are busy meeting up with loved ones and friends and hurrying about, it is ironically quite quiet around the farm.
Blissfully unaware of the hustle and bustle occurring just beyond the gates of Bella Luna, the goats, donkey, and chickens go about their daily routine of eating, ruminating, and sleeping. A hush has fallen around the hives in the apiary as the bees are now in their winter clusters, huddling around the queen to keep everyone warm and fed. The last of the leaves have fallen, and the bounty of the summer and fall has been stored away—the apples and pears have been harvested and the tomatoes have been canned to enjoy throughout the upcoming winter.
We have been busy putting the ornamental flower gardens to bed and also adding heavy straw mulch to the vegetable plots, which will remain fallow over the winter to protect the soil and keep weeds at bay. In other areas of the vegetable garden, we planted cover crops which will be tilled in during the spring to help add nutrients to the soil. The hardier crops—the kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, and parsnips—are holding up well despite the recent cold snap. These vegetables thrive in our temperate climate, their flavors actually improving with the colder temperatures of fall and winter.
If you are still searching for a holiday gift, look no further than the farm: Give the gift of a subscription to Farm & Larder’s weekly delivery service, or a gift basket. In addition to our classic Nonna Pat’s Sunday Supper basket—which includes Italian provisions such as hand-crafted pasta, dipping oil and our own marinara sauce—we can also customize a box for you, carefully-curated with our housemade jams and other farm products; just drop us an email!