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!
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 or sleet and then a few early glimpses of spring and blue skies, too. The fragrance of the blossoming witch hazel tree and delicate white snowdrops bring a smile to our faces every 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 and tidbits of grass, lazily ruminating under the eaves of the barn, then clamouring to say hello and get a treat when we go by; the donkey lazes in his paddock; and Windy our latest ovine addition seems to be content sharing the barn with the “girls”. 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 for the weekly box deliveries. 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 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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year! As 2021 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 eight years now! We couldn’t do it without you and truly appreciate your enthusiastic feedback and support, especially during this past year as we all adapted to the changing world around us. To our new 2021 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 December rains and a few inches of snow right before Christmas, the year has started with another round of wet days, with few breaks in the forecast. So, with the aid of tall boots and rain gear, the dahlias are now all dug and ready to store for the winter, the planted garlic is mulched and we are ready to start work on another hoop house, an additional storage barn and the design of a covered compost area. It seems as if we are always racing against the setting sun on these short winter days, trying to get other winter chores like pruning the apple and pear trees finished before the daylight wanes. We have just finished digging the last of the carrots and tidied up the hoop houses for winter.
But, when it does set, 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. Our newest addition, a sweet ewe named Windy, is settling in nicely and getting along famously with the other “girls”. And, after doing an ultrasound, we also just learned from our friends Dr. Hardy and Dr. Miller on their last farm call that Windy is expecting at least twins in April!
In the farm kitchen, 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 2021!
As we transition from our wet, but surprisingly mild, November into the first days of December, we have been enjoying the crisp, sunny weather of the last week, using the pleasant days to catch up on chores to ready the farm for the official start of winter later this month.
Unaware of everything going on beyond the gates of Bella Luna, the resident goats, donkey and the chickens go about their daily routine of eating, ruminating, and sleeping—what a life! The goats did get to meet a new friend this last week: Our most recent addition to the farm is a darling white St. Croix and Katahdin cross ewe named Windy. The goats don’t know exactly what to make of this new friend, having determined that she is not caprine, but Windy is ready to join the herd. It will take the girls a little getting used to having a new “lawn mower” on board, but the pasture will be well manicured from now on!
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 harvested carrots and beets this past week, and moved the Meyer lemon trees into the hoophouse for the 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 and in our cut flower field, we planted cover crops which will be tilled in during the spring to help add nutrients to the soil before planting. We are busy digging and storing dahlia tubers, and the first seed catalog has just arrived in the mail!
As the holiday shopping season commences, look no further than the farm. We have a little something for everyone on your list, with subscriptions to Farm & Larder’s weekly delivery service, gift cards or gift baskets all available for purchase. We’re bringing back our classic Nonna Pat’s Sunday Supper basket for the holiday season, which includes such Italian provisions as hand-crafted pasta, dipping oil and our own marinara sauce crafted from a treasured family recipe. We would love to put together a custom gift basket or flower arrangement for you—please let us know how we can help!
On a scheduling note, there will be no F&L delivery on Christmas Eve (December 24th) and then we will pick back up again per usual in the New Year—we will keep you posted on dates and details here in the next few weeks so you can mark your calendars. From all of us here at the farm, we wish you and yours a merry holiday season and a Happy New Year!