While the afternoons can still be sunny and pleasant as we start the month of October, the cooler nights and drizzly mornings tell us it is truly now fall.
Here at Bella Luna, the leaves are beginning to turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange, and the local wildlife are beginning to stash provisions like crazy: Squirrels are busy darting to and fro, carrying off acorns, walnuts and chestnuts—some as big as their heads—to bury for food during the winter months. The blue jays are also busy squabbling with one another, battling the squirrels and each other for hazelnuts.
With the last of the grapes behind us, the apple and pear harvest has officially begun—the sweet, aromatic Macoun and crunchy, mildly-tart Liberty are the first apples to ripen in our orchard, with the Asian and European pears right behind them. We admit to snatching a few, fragrant and crunchy, right off the tree while walking past to do chores in the barn or garden, with the donkey enjoying an apple here and there as well! Soon, we will press and enjoy our first batch of fresh cider, and start cooking up homemade batches of applesauce and apple butter in the farm kitchen.
In addition to days spent tending our clients’ gardens for our landscape design firm Parterre, at home we are pulling the last of the heirloom tomatoes out of the hoophouse, which are destined for more batches of our Nonna Pat’s tomato sauce, making way for fall plantings of kale, cabbage and chard to overwinter for early spring harvest. These hardy crops always renew our excitement for fall—foraging for mushrooms in the woods, or enjoying the distinct flavors of autumn over a cozy supper.
We hope you are well and also enjoying the month of October!
Fall is in the air! Here at Bella Luna Luna Farms we are enjoying the best that September has to offer with dewy mornings, cooler evenings and, yet still, sunny days:
As the summery weather lingers, we continue to enjoy seeing the blue jays and squirrels dashing about competing for walnuts and hazelnuts and the honeybees busily filling their hives with their winter honey; in the garden, we continue the everyday ritual of harvesting fresh tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers and summer squash from the beds and hoophouse. This sunny season continues to keep us busy out and about off the farm working on our clients’ gardens for our landscape design firm, Parterre and then here at the farm with weddings and special events.
One such special event is our upcoming Autumn Scampagnata Supper on September 7th, the third in an inspiring four-part series of outings here at the farm that benefits Slow Food Seattle. The evening will begin with Chef Shane Ryan’s house-made charcuterie and traditional-style pizza baked in our wood fired oven, then move on to a six-course, family-style feast showcasing the authentic flavors of the Northwest. Supper will include such delights as octopus from the Salish Sea, Nicky Farms quail and an autumn bounty of farm fresh produce. Tickets are still available; join us!
This autumn-inspired event sure has us looking ahead to the cornucopia of the fall harvest: In the next few weeks we will see the apples and pears, squash and pumpkins, hardy kales and cabbages, that take us into the next season each year. The early apples will be the first ready with the crisp, tart Honeycrisp and Akane varieties; next up come the Asian pears, and the last of the blueberries. In the gardens, the kale, cabbage and broccoli seedlings are going into the ground to overwinter, right as the fresh garlic and storage onions like our favorite flat Italian Cipollinis are coming out of it. Cover crops have been sown in the fallow plots to turn under in the spring and help enrich the soil.
The kitchen continues to bustle with pickling, preserving and canning as we put away the summer bounty. September is always busy spent crafting big batches of Nonna Pat’s tomato sauce to carry us through the winter months. We are also putting our favorite Mathilde cucumbers to delicious use in small-batches of our signature French-style cornichons. Made using a traditional recipe, each jar is packed with a Grapehouse grape leaf during pickling to keep these tiny pickles crunchy and crisp.
From our family to yours, happy September!
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!