Thursday, May 28, 2009

Let the Blooming Begin

The vague hint of rose fragrance is rising with the humidity today. I smelled it from my bedroom window very early this morning. What a joy. What an anticipated, simple pleasure. I have an early May ritual of carefully choosing and adding more to the collection each year. To satisfy my own curiosity, I did a rough count of all of the rose bushes I've planted over the past 14 years and came up with twenty five fragrant old roses. As indulgent as that seems, I still feel far from having an abundance of rose petals to tinker with each year. I always seem to need more rose petal jam, more heavenly rose water and more rose petal cordial. I most certainly need to try my hand at rose petal mead this year. The recipe is waiting...the fancy clamp top bottles, too. I've even designed a label in my mind.
It's true, still need to practice my pruning skills. But, I plan to be very diligent about pruning right after flowering this year, like I'm supposed to. I know that they will appreciate it and I won't be embarrassed next year by the wild and unruly bushes that cause all kind of angst when the lawnmowers and weedwhackers are zipping about the yard.
The June 6th workshop "The Subtle Power of Rose" is filled beyond capacity as one of our most popular classes here on the farm. It is one of the few times I am joined by a crowd to enjoy the many gifts of the rose. The rose buds continue to pop this week and should be in full bloom by next Saturday. Ooh, how I look forward to that!

This is Darlow's Enigma, a great big bush with teensy, weensy flowers that pack a fragrant punch. I don't do anything with these petals except to enjoy their fragrance where it grows as a screen in front of the porch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rolling out the Welcome Mat!

Well, it's finally the middle of May and so much work has been completed since the long stretch of rain that lasted nearly a week at the the beginning of the month. Finishing the new square foot garden beds set us back a bit and we missed early spring plantings, which was an expected sacrifice. But getting the summer planting finished before the Rosemary House garden tour bus rolled in on Monday was the top priority. Wowzer! Check out the fancy bus! On obvious first for Farm at Coventry (But not the last....three more coming in June...all on the same day)
Nearly 40 people wandered the gardens, enjoyed asparagus quiche, salad, strawberries and chocolate macaroons and eventually squeezed into the herb kitchen to hear a short talk.
It was an exciting evening for all of us here on the farm, waving goodbye to the bus as it pulled away as the sun was setting. Just as exciting was walking back up to the house and getting a last look at the yard and gardens in near perfect condition. A worthy reward for weeks of work!
A few snapshots of the day...
homegrown eggs + local asparagus=yummy quichesweet succulents

cool drink of ice water with lemon balm and lemon slices

nary a weed in sight...(kept the good ones, of course!)

the square foot garden beds are finished and planted!
One final project is the wire fence and gates.

outdoor clean up

Monday, May 4, 2009

Need Some Sunshine?

Me, too. It's been dark and dreary for too many days. Let's pretend...
Remember what it was like just a few days ago?

Strawberry Silliness

Well, I persevered through the rain and succeeded in getting the first seventy five plants into the bed, but it wasn't easy! Even though the planting calendar said it was an optimal day to plant fruit, the rain gods were snickering at me from behind those dark clouds, I'm sure of it. I was almost laughing at myself. These are the only photos I was able to take before I put my camera in the truck. In the following hour or so, I was so caked in mud, I had to walk home and send the kid up to drive the truck back! I looked absolutely ridiculous...
Last week I raked stones and laid 100 feet of biodegradable mulch (made of cornstarch!) to keep the first season weed free and give the new plants a fighting chance. It will dissolve completely in 90-120 days. We'll see how well it works. Tenacious weeds will likely poke right through, but it should hold back most. It also has many perforations to allow rain in. I put my trowel right through it to plant each strawberry plant.
These are my boots right before I really got in there. Less than five minutes later, they had 5 lbs of squishy brown mess clinging to each one which made it impossible to walk. My next move was to get on my knees. Fifteen minutes later I had 5 lbs of mess clinging from my both of my knees down to my ankles and from both of my hands to my elbows. I could barely move. When I finally stood up at the end of planting the first 75 Jewels, my pants were starting to fall down and my hands looked like muddy webbed feet!!! hahaaa. It was a photo op that would have yielded a priceless image but with no one but the birds to see. You'll just have to use your imagination. Think I'll wait a few days, optimal fruit day or not to get the other 150 in the ground! Visions of many plump red berries next June keep me going.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pulling Myself up by the Bootstraps

Slowly recovering from a near deadly case of 'bit off more than I can chew' flu...and feeling like a little reflection and posting about it might be a soothing balm. The renovations in the house and reordering of chaos earlier in the year made room for a HUGE surge of ideas and creativity these past two months. Ideas easily turned into an organized 'to do' list. Step by step lists for each project followed. Inspiration and energy came from all directions and I rolled with it: tablets by the bed, sleepless nights, quick sketches everywhere. To add to the excitement was the inclusion of an extra set of hands this summer in the form of a WWOOF volunteer . In exchange for room and meals, our 'WWOOFer' would help with work around the farm, in all it's many aspects. We had spent a few weeks interviewing and speaking with a motivated young fellow who planned to take the next year to learn about all aspects of food growing and homesteading. His future goals in farming and food growing were admirable with a plan to spend six months in the north and six months in the south. But alas, just when we were confident that we had found a great match, he chose to take his helpful hands and good energy to another farm in Minnesota. While I am truly happy he found just what he was looking for, my disappointment at our potential loss for this summer was big. A few other WWOOF applicants suggested arrival times to the farm in July or later in the summer but opportunities for learning and help for garden prep and planting is long past by late July. Back to square one. It was my hope to alleviate some of the MAN's angst over coming home to a constant, looming project list. He already puts in a goodly amount of hours working off the farm with long stretches of travel at the start and end of each workday. Having an extra set of hands would remove some responsibility from his shoulders and also meet my desire to get projects done in a timely manner (and more importantly, not wholly dependent on asking help from someone who just put in a 15+ hour day!) Aye, it is one of of the few dances of committed relationship that I do not wholeheartedly enjoy! The Iceman has been a tremendous help while he waits for job calls. Searching for employment has not yielded anything so far, despite a bevy of inquiries and applications. In the meantime, I greedily accept his few hours of help every day, all the while hoping that he gets a 'real job' soon. The four foot square raised bed boxes have been painted, sunk and leveled into the garden. Farmer Tom was kind enough to help by bringing three loader buckets full of black and loamy compost gifted by old hay bales from the pasture. This saved many long walks from the pasture pushing heavy wheelbarrows full of the stuff. The compost was mixed into already great garden soil to fill the boxes. Wow! So happy about the quality of the soil this year and so are the worms! Good stuff. The next project on the list is to enclose this garden with wood and wire fencing. After long and hard internet surfing I found the type of fencing that I wanted. This old fashioned double loop ornamental variety is twisted and heavier weight than what you can procure in the big box stores. Isn't it neat? Need to gather a few more fence posts and with the help of the MAN and the Iceman should get it in place this week, barring more heavy rain. I am really looking forward to a vegetable and flower garden space free of chicken scratching and dusting holes! Over the last two weeks, I have finally given myself permission to scratch some things off this year's massive to-do list.The impossible must be discarded. The unnecessary, put off until next year's list and next year's WWOOFer volunteer. The list already has many things checked off, which I can feel proud about accomplishing. However, the fencing was not among the things to be put aside. It had already been ordered and shipped with an appointment set to drive to the trucking company to pick up the pallet in order to save an additional $70 in freight charges. No going back now! The shrink-wrapped, two hundred pound roll still sits on my truck since Friday, awaiting a few grunting people to unload it by the garden. oh well. The Biodynamic calendar says today is an optimal day to plant off to plant some strawberries in the rain. More later.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Really happy for the soaking rain...

the lush, overnight resurgence of the green..

a guy who allows my lawn to grooow until I say 'okay, now you can cut'

and the return of a little spring in my step.


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