From the baby birds leaving their nests to the abundance of beautiful blooms, it sure feels like summer is near!
We have spent lots of time in the garden over the last few months and now the arrival of June means the summer crops are planted and the first of their shoots are popping up out of the soil. The lettuces and other greens are all thriving, in addition to the Romano beans inching their way up the trellises (tempting the pesky rabbits!) and the fragrant herbs growing in the Walled Garden. Over a thousand dahlias and other perennials have gone into our cutting field for summer color and future flower arrangements.
Warm weather plants such as tomatoes and peppers are ready to go in the hoop house, with the eggplant and summer squash starts to follow. We’ve begun checking the strawberries to see if any are ripening, but we will have to be patient as those look to still be a week or so out. In the meantime, we will enjoy the peonies and sweet peas as they start their vibrant season as well as the first flush of English roses in bloom.
Around the rest of Bella Luna, the animals are enjoying a ‘spa day’ to brush out the last of their thick winter undercoats, and the donkey (aka Stinky) will get a much needed bath! Dave and Beth Richards of JohnnyAppleBeez will soon come to retrieve their orchard mason bee houses from the garden, which will be filled with the cocoons of baby bees; the Richards will help these bees become next year’s crop pollinators.
Enjoy this most pleasant start to June and we hope you and yours continue to be well as summer approaches!
April’s beautiful sunny days have brought a lush beauty to Bella Luna as spring has well arrived here at the farm. The weather of late has 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, and pear trees along with the blueberry bushes are abloom in both the orchard and the garden where Woodinville’s Johnny Applebees LLC recently installed specialized orchard mason bee houses to aid pollination and good fruit production. We are harvesting asparagus and herbs galore from the main vegetable plot, and the raspberries there are about to bloom as well. We are also planting peas, carrots, lettuces, beets, leeks and onions. 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. (It seems it’s time to secure the gates to the vegetable gardens so we don’t have any furry guests nibbling tender new shoots!)
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 twin lambs born last month always bring a smile to our faces, with their cute antics and darling little faces. We are also once again treated to the chorus of frogs at night, so loud we can hear them indoors—a most welcome symphony after the long winter months for all of us.
As we greet 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:
First up, we welcomed two new lambs last week as our ewe Windy gave birth to twins! After a bit of difficulty, Dr. Elizabeth Hardy and her team came to the rescue to help with the delivery and Windy and her twins are thriving! We can’t help but smile when we watch them frolicking, wearing their little coats, hopping and bouncing along—and at only a few days old! (Look for videos via our Lamb Cam…coming soon!)
Back to work, we have 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!
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 are able to do their pollinating work early in the season in cooler temperatures that honeybees are unable to fly in.
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. The team for our landscape design company, Parterre, is also working on our clients’ garden projects, recently installing a living fence of Asian pear espaliers under planted with several varieties of strawberries, promising a delicious harvest from early summer through fall.
As always, we hope you continue to stay well and wish you the best this season. Here’s to a bountiful and beautiful spring!
Spring is coming: After a very gray, cold and snowy 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.
We are eagerly awaiting spring: 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!