Hello, May! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms
Though the month of April was quite chilly by our usual standards, it looks as if May will bring a lush beauty to Bella Luna, especially after this past weekend’s glorious doses of sunshine. The longer daylight hours, coupled with those aforementioned sun breaks, have really jump-started our ‘to-do’ list, keeping us busy dawn to dusk trying to get ahead of the weeds that now seem to pop up overnight.
The apple, cherry, plum, and pear trees along with the blueberry bushes are beginning to bloom in both the orchard and the garden. We are harvesting asparagus and herbs galore from the main vegetable plot, and we are also planting peas, carrots, lettuces, beets, leeks and onions. (It seems it’s time to secure the gates to the vegetable gardens so we don’t have any furry guests nibbling these tender, soon-to-be shoots!) Beans, cucumbers, and summer squashes are about to be seeded in the greenhouse to be planted out later in early June when the soil is warmer.
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. The hens can also be spotted pecking around their outdoor enclosure, and as we travel from building to building, and garden to garden, our faithful pooches, Miette, Poppy and Canelle, are almost always at our sides. As dusk approaches, we are also once again treated to the chorus of frogs, so loud at night we can hear them indoors—a most welcome symphony after the long winter months.
To more sunny days hopefully just ahead!
Hi, April! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms
As we greet the month of April here at the farm, spring seems to be getting into swing despite the cold temperatures! As we are busy both indoors during the drippy days, and then outdoors during those glorious, but still more rare, sun breaks, there are lots of developments to share:
In the orchard, we have just finished the last of the winter pruning as the orchard is beginning to wake up. Just in time, too, as a new resident is about to move in and join our budding fruit trees—the mason orchard bees! Our friends Dave and Beth Richards of Woodinville’s Johnny Applebees LLC will install 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 native bees are considered nature’s super-pollinators and as such are a very welcome addition to the farm. They also help us in that they are able to do their pollinating work early in the season in the cooler temperatures that honeybees are unable to fly in.
We have also been busy dividing last summer’s dahlia tubers, getting them ready for planting next month. We are very excited to see last year’s perennials popping up, and are hoping for an exceptional cut flower season ahead!
Spring is also starting in the vegetable garden, where we have been both pulling weeds and adding compost, planting onions and leek starts as well as hardy lettuces, kale and peas, with hundreds of seeds going into flats in the hoophouse for starts to be ready for planting later in the month. The herbs continue to grow in the walled garden, kissing the air with the savory scent of thyme, parsley and chives, and the Shiro plum tree that graces the east wall is about to burst into bloom—hopefully the weather will cooperate for a good crop of juicy golden fruit this summer!
Here’s to a bountiful and beautiful spring!
Hi, March! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms
Spring is coming: After a gray, cold and wet February, we are greeting the arrival of March with extra enthusiasm this year as we hope it will soon bring more encouraging glimpses of spring-like weather with the first official day of the season just around the corner. The pop weed in the garden has certainly woken up despite the cold, providing fresh greens for the hens to enjoy!
We’ve been spending more and more time out of doors, as are our resident animals. The chickens are busy daily scratching for bugs in their outdoor enclosure and the ‘girls’ and the donkey are starting to shed their thick winter undercoats in favor of a sleek new look.
Each day we keep an eye out for the postman: Seeds continue to arrive daily, including lots of new varieties we are excited to try. Strawberry, onion and asparagus plants are on their way, as well as seed potatoes and artichoke starts, and the kale, broccoli, and cauliflower seeds are just starting to emerge in the hoophouse. 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 by the end of the month. (Fingers crossed!)
Plans for spring are picking up in the gardens we care for away from the farm too. Our gardening and landscaping company, Parterre, is busy planning new designs for the installations of both food and ornamental gardens. These combine year round seasonal color—think: edibles such as blueberries, tree fruits, savory herbs and even edible flowers can give a garden a four-season appeal—as well as food for the table! Each garden we design, plant, and care for is unique and personal; it is so gratifying to see each one come to life in the spring and summer.
As the days continue to lengthen, we look forward to saying good-bye to winter and hello to spring and all the fresh and bright flavors it provides.
Hello, February! The Latest News from Farm & Larder and Bella Luna Farms
Greetings from the farm—and welcome to February! This is always a month of contradictions here in the Northwest, as we see both days of wintery rain, sleet or snow and then a few early glimpses of spring and blue skies, too. As they start to emerge from their winter slumber, the fragrant yellow buds of the witch hazel tree and delicate snowdrops make us smile each time we pass by, as do the tiny shoots of green courageously poking out the soil here and there.
On drier days, the resident animals will venture outside their warm, straw-lined stalls and coops. The ‘girls’, still thick with their winter coats, nibble on hay, alfalfa, and tidbits of grass, lazily ruminating under the eaves of the barn, then clamoring to say hello and get a treat when we go by; the donkey lazes in his paddock; and the sheep are content to share the barn with the gaggle of goats in the evenings. We, too, try to take advantage of the longer afternoons, getting compost prepped for spring gardening, gathering herbs from the greenhouse, checking seed starting supplies and finishing up the last seed orders.
Much of this time of year is still spent in the warm and cozy farmhouse kitchen. On Wednesdays, we are busy prepping the weekly box deliveries. February is the prime season for hearty and healthy root vegetables and winter storage crops (no doubt you’ve noticed from the plethora in your box each week!). Though these veggies are perhaps 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 and hardy greens like kale and chard, and the many varied types of winter squash.
As we wait for spring to arrive, we’ll be busy looking for 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:
Beet, Carrot & Pomegranate Salad
This colorful salad is perfect for winter and beyond.
Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
This hearty salad is accented by apples, dried cranberries and a lemon-kissed dressing.
Balsamic-Glazed Root Vegetables
An herb-packed marinade infuses fresh flavor into winter staples like carrots and parsnips.
Curry-Spiced Roasted Beets
This heavenly side dish is fragrant with warm spices; a must-try side dish!