This is the first of a new series of articles where I give an update on what is going on at the farm. With one exception, I took all of these photos today (July 3).
Every day the plants are bigger and I find new things to see. Our crops are all planted and now we are focusing on weeding and on preparing for the upcoming Lavender Celebration weekends (July 11-13 and 18-20).
The vining crops are starting to blossom. We see flowers in the pie pumpkins, Jack O Lanterns, gourds, and the winter squash fields. Most of these have bright yellow-orange flowers, but the big hard gourds are have these beautiful frilly white flowers.
The lavender has started to bloom and will be in full flower by mid-July for our Lavender Celebrations. Last winter was harder than usual on the lavender. We lost some plants, but most came back just fine. We will soon be starting essential oil distillations, right on schedule.
Our pumpkin plants are really starting to take off growing now that we are getting some heat. This year I am experimenting with planting crimson clover in the paths between the rows. I hope to crowd out the weeds with the clover. In addition, clover enriches the soil with nitrogen in a form available for other plants. Another change this year is giving half of our main Pumpkin Patch a rest from growing pumpkins. You can see the rye grain I planted between the Pumpkin Patch and the Farmyard. Next year I will reverse the planting.
We have moved the Sunflower / Cornfield Maze to a new field this year. The big field we have been using is now full of pumpkin plants. Come pumpkin season you will be able to search this field for your Jack O Lanterns. This field is also the location of our compost trial. WSU Extension and local compost producers have provided us as well as a number of other local farmers with free compost to test at our farms. You can read a little more about the Compost Outreach Project here. I chose to plant the same pumpkins side by side in areas with or without the added compost. I have marked the test area with signs. Come see if you can see a difference where the compost was added.
I am very pleased with the progress of the Sunflower / Corn Maze this year. I moved it to a new field that had been rented by a different farmer. When he left, I grabbed the opportunity to rent the field. I added lots of soil amendments to boost the plants: compost, powdered limestone, powdered granite, and humates. We had some damage to the tiny corn seedlings from the crows and pigeons, but a quick spot-replanting is taking hold. We are spending a lot of time weeding out the bindweed, but the corn and sunflowers are looking good so far.
Last year we added a Kids Garden for our ever-popular Farm Tot Friday program and there was no question that we should repeat it again this year. The garden has beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, tomatoes, and other veggies as well as flowers for the tots to pick during the program. There is usually plenty, so you can come and pick also. On the left side of the photo you can see our Pole Bean Maze with the bean plants just starting at the base of the bamboo teepees. In the background, the hops vines have already completely covered the Tunnels of Hops Maze.
We always plant plenty of sunflowers at our farm. We have planted our smaller sunflowers in the Kids Garden. These are great for floral arrangements. The small sunflowers are just starting to bloom. There should be a great display of sunflowers for the Lavender Celebration weekends.
I took this photo of our alpaca Sabino last Saturday (June 28), but I am including it here anyway because I love his expression. He had just been sheared. I released him back into the animal paddock and he gave me this look. He is trying to decide if he is willing to trust me again. I am happy to report that our alpacas are forgiving souls and he was soon back to checking me for food and begging to be sprayed down with water on hot days.
There is always lots going on at the farm. Come on down and see for yourself. We finally open for the season starting with our Lavender Celebrations, and will then be open weekly through the end of October. There is lots more to come. See you at the farm.