Farm Work Is More Than Growing Food To Eat
When most people think about gardening, they think about fruits, vegetables and herbs. But did you know that flowers – which are mostly considered for their beauty (and a source of nectar for bees and other bugs) -- can be delicious, and are jam-packed full of vitamins and minerals, too?
In years past, Megan’s sister Corinne took great joy in growing many flowers and herbs for our CSA members and passing along what flowers were edible and how to used them. But this year, with so much going on in getting our new property going, we didn't have anyone take on the responsibility to grow and “harvest” flowers.
But we still planted some this spring. A bunch actually. But they didn’t get a lot of “gardening attention” from us -- yet, they grew.
And this past week, when Joel was walking through the garden, he was captured by their simple beauty. Right in the middle of all the hub-hub of our daily tasks and the hoeing, and picking, and watering, is an island of pretty flower blooming right now.
Surely you’ve heard the phrase, “just stop and smell the roses.” Well, we don’t have roses, but gazing at these flowers was a great reminder of the importance of creating beauty in our lives.
Around the farm, our to-do lists can often overwhelm our daily routine. But these flowers clearly showed how dulling it can be to focus on utility and practicality, when, with just a little bit or effort you can add beauty to your life that captures your heart and grips your soul.
And that's important to remember. Especially when you're working really hard (which we are). Hopefully, when we have time at the end of the season to evaluate, assess and plan, we will renew our efforts to get flowers back in our garden – so that maybe next season you can add a little bit of color to your window sills, brighten up your kitchen table, or just share something lovely with your friends and neighbors. Just because.
Cooler Nights Around The Corner
You can feel it in the air as the sun goes down. While the days remain hot, the summer’s heat-punch is weakening and the cooler nights are coming.
That’s good for our team. The mornings are cool which makes it nicer as we work in the garden. As the day progresses, it still heats up, but these subtle changes are noticeable.
With the heat, the plants are still at the peak of “growing season” since they operate according to the average temperatures of any 24-hour cycle. There are certain plants like tomatoes and cucumbers that love the warmer weather and that’s why we grow them in the greenhouse where they grow nicely.
And guess what. The weeds seem to still think it is summer and they just keep on growing so we know it’s not time to slow down yet! Two Fantastic Smoothie Recipes To Beat The Heat
It is still August. It is still hot. And here are two smoothie recipes that will hit the spot. Right from our recipe postings – check them out!
Our “No Vacancy” Sign Is Flashing
We have 200 garden beds. Each one is 50 feet long. And they are all still being used to grow and harvest. No more room!
From day to day we might clear out unproductive plants from one bed, but we are still quickly replanting it with greens or other quick-growing produce.
But it won’t be long before we begin shifting our efforts – and we will be sharing more about that process (a very important one!) in the weeks ahead.
No Deer … So Far
In our former property, we built a low deer fence around our garden. We knew that deer are plentiful around here (just ask the local hunters!), and we decided that a fence would ensure that the local deer wouldn’t dine on our our yummy plants and veggies. And while we saw plenty of deer tracks right along the edge of our property, they didn’t cause much damage
But this year, at our new property, we didn’t build a fence. We made this decision even though we live in a much more wooded area where there are even more deer and predators that might damage our gardens.
There are two reasons for this:
1) We discovered that throughout the summer, the deer (and other animals) are able to find plenty of food in the woods so they are content to stay there rather than traipse into our open garden where we regularly work.
2) We have our two dogs who are bred to be up at night, patrolling our property, barking at any creatures they hear or see in the surrounding woods.
So far, this “no fence” but “beware of dogs” plan is working.
But we are waiting to see what will happen this fall as wild food sources begin to diminish and our veggies look more appetizing. Will the deer see what we have available? We don’t know.
The Cows Are Moooooving
It has been a very dry summer. Very dry. We recently had a good rain, but that was after a long period of drought-like conditions.
That has really been tough on our pasture reclamation program. Although we have been systematically rotating our beef cows to new areas of the pasture, giving them access to good grass, the dry conditions haven’t allowed the pasture to “bounce back” even though the cows have naturally enhanced the soil (from their nutrient-rich manure and natural hoof-action that breaks up the sod and tramples nuisance and invasive plants).
To respond to this, we recently decided to ship in some baled grass (the cows fatten up on it, it adds better grass seed, and uneaten grass adds nutrition to the soil as well). But the cost to do that is not a long-term solution.
Thankfully, Osprey Wilds, the nearby environmental learning center where we have started and continue to manage a new organic gardening program, has offered up some of their pastureland for us to graze our cows. Since we already go over there a few times a week, it won’t really be that much work to rotate our cows in their fields (and, in fact, there is enough pasture that we can adjust our schedule to rotate them every other day). If we find things are going well with this arrangement, the cows may just stay over there the rest of the season.