As we transition into summer, the pace changes at the greenhouses and in the garden. The focus is on plant maintenance, fertility, pruning, culling and weeding. We are also busy transplanting at the herb farm and harvesting and selling herbs to local grocery stores and food hubs. We added the herb farm to Red Wagon Plants 3 years ago as a way to keep a few key people hired year round and to bring in revenue and activity during the months when people generally don't do any plant shopping.
In the home garden, I have been busy looking for gaps in the perennials and filling in with some colorful annuals wherever I get the chance. I have learned ornamental gardening entirely by trial and error, approaching it all as a vegetable grower, and some things work and some things don't! But one thing I have really appreciated is that garden mistakes easily turn into opportunities. As one plant gets pulled out for various reasons - not the right amount of light, planted too close to its neighbor, or any other number of oopsies- a gap is created for a new plant. For me this is often an annual flower - something that will give color all season long, will give me time to figure out what perennial to put in, and will be a good friend to its neighbors. Right now, a combination I am loving is Nicotiana langsdorfii with Gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields' and Ratbida columnifera. The Ratbida is a perennial (we have it in 4" pots so it is possible to plant en masse without breaking the bank) and the other two are annuals. I just love how the rust and green and yellow play off of each other and catch the light.
In the vegetable garden, we are harvesting snap peas, lettuces, escarole, frisée, beets, cucumbers (out of the greenhouse), swiss chard, and lots of herbs. The early plantings of mache, napa cabbage, boc choi, and lettuce have come and gone leaving spaces to fill. In go more beets, spinach, lettuce, and green beans.
In the kitchen, I keep making the same salad dressing over and over again - a crushed clove of garlic in a one pint mason jar, 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar, a hefty teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, a good 2-3 grinds of the pepper mill, and 1/2 cup of sunflower oil. Close tightly, shake like mad. It is perfect for everything. If you like it more or less acidic, just adjust the proportions of oil to vinegar. Olive oil is good here too, but sometimes a more neutral oil like sunflower highlights the flavor of the greens a little more. See my rave below about the sunflower oil at Family Cow Farmstand, our neighbors on the farm.
Garden Chores this week:
- fertilize with Pro-Gro all of the annual flowers to give them a little boost during the heat. Sprinkle a bit around shrubs and perennials that are finished blooming too.
- water everything religiously in the mornings
- weed the vegetable garden and replant as needed
- throw a handful of Compost Plus in the flowering hanging baskets and other potted plants
- bring (finally) all the poor and neglected house plants outside for a good shower and leave them on the screened in porch.
- fertilize the garlic with Pro-Gro (should have been done a few weeks ago, whoops).
- hill the potatoes
- plant a row of beans
- transplant beets, spinach, and more lettuce
Public Service Announcement!
And finally, I have been meaning to let you all know about our new neighbors! Family Cow Farmstand was purchased in April by Scott Hoffman and Aubrey Schatz. You may have noticed the cows sweetly grazing next to the greenhouses this spring. Please go visit Scott and Aubrey's farm stand! They are selling the cows' delicious raw milk (they do sell out, so consider signing up for a weekly membership), pork from previous Family Cow owners Lindsay and Evan (best pork chops and chorizo ever), veggies and strawberries from Shaky Ground Farm, their own eggs (the hens are pastured out with the cows), sheep's cheese from their friends in Marathon, NY, and their own pastured, organic chicken. And lots of other goodies like sunflower oil, yarn, maple syrup, caramels, etc. Some of you know me personally, and you will know that I can be a little particular about how food is produced and how it tastes (okay, not a little .... a lot). So please hear me clearly when I say that you should absolutely try everything at the Farmstand! The chicken is the best I have EVER had. Yes, EVER. It is huge, with plump, juicy meat and that iconic chicken flavor that is often masked by poor feed or improper processing. Scott and Aubrey move the birds onto fresh grass every day and use the birds and cows together as a way to manage the grass. The sunflower oil is velvety and perfect for any dressing. The sheep's cheese is some of the best cheese I have had in the this country (the French person in me is being extra emphatic here, my hands are waving around, and I am really begging you to listen)...a blue cheese like a mild Roquefort and a sheep's Tomme that is perfectly aged and has that nutty, sparkly taste and texture unique to the best alpine cheeses. The chickens are available fresh every other Friday or in the freezer anytime. To get a fresh chicken, you have to sign up - just email Aubrey and Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org) or stop in and talk to them....they are often around and do their evening milking between 5:30 and 7:30.
One more bit of business: We are starting our summer hours this week.
We will be open every Tuesday through Saturday 8 am to 6 pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
It has been a great season, and I hope you have enjoyed your spring and early summer with us. We certainly have loved seeing all of you. We are staying open through August this year with lots of fantastic perennials, veggie and herb plants to replenish the garden, annuals for pops of color, and houseplants and succulents for gift giving and adding to your personal collection. Come visit!