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 in full swing! As we are busy both indoors during the drippy days, and then outdoors during those glorious 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 have already planted peony crowns and lilies in the cut flower field by the hoophouse. 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 bring 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 and the sun warms us both body and soul when it does peek out from behind the clouds, we look forward to saying good-bye to winter and hello to spring and all the fresh and bright flavors it provides. To spring—and happy gardening!

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 at the farm, as we see both days of wintery rain, sleet or snow and then a few early glimpses of spring and blue skies, too. Now in full bloom, the fragrant yellow witch hazel 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 Windy the sheep is content to share the barn with the “girls” 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 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!) and 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:

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

Cider-Braised Beets
These delightful beets from Rick Rodgers’ The Big Book of Sides are sure to be a new favorite.

Braised Root Vegetables & Cabbage with Fruit
This ingenious recipe from Food & Wine boasts extra flavor thanks to the addition of apples and pears.

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

Happy New Year! As 2022 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 going on nine years now! We couldn’t do it without you and truly appreciate your enthusiastic feedback and support, especially during this past two years as we all adapted to the changing world around us. To our new 2022 subscribers, welcome! We cannot wait to share the best of the farm with you in the year ahead.

As we wind down from the holiday season, now is a time of planning here at the farm. Seed catalogs are beginning to arrive, a most awaited and favorite time to read of new varieties and old favorites, reminding us of the delights of spring with the anticipation of new seedlings soon to be popping up in the greenhouse!

After the heavy snowfall over Christmas weekend and the frigid cold days that have followed, the year has started with even more snow flurries, which has kept us clad in our winter gear and trusty snow boots as we trudge about the farm caring for the animals. The “girls” are still busy laying while all snug in their coop and the other resident animals are staying warm and toasty, cuddled up in extra straw to weather the cold nights.

As the weather has kept us in the farm kitchen a bit more, 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 doing and planning for our clients’ gardens as well, with wintertime tasks such as pruning and mulching taking place, as well as creating new planting designs for spring.

We hope your New Year is off to a safe and healthy start—here’s to great growing, connecting and eating in 2022!

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