Alright guys, it’s time for a tea garden update! A few months ago we did a post about the very start of our herb garden. We were deciding on varieties and tending to our baby plants in the greenhouse. I have to admit, creating a tea or herb garden is probably the best idea ever! There’s nothing like going out in the morning, walking amongst the fragrant herbs and watching our honey bees float from flower to flower. We have most of our plants in, there’s just a few more that I would like to add this year. After that, we’ll just see how it goes and then decide on what we want to add or take out next year (I’ll tell you already that I should have planted three times the chamomile that I did). But as for this year, our final piece to the tea garden puzzle is to add different varieties of mint!
You guys, it’s been way too long since we’ve posted anything decent. Our bad, dudes. Frankly, I’m ashamed and a little sad. But we have a good reason why we haven’t had time to chat. You see, every year the month of May is when we basically disappear off the face of the Earth and continuously work long, grueling hours trying to get the garden in and summer projects completed or started. And we also begin a strict farm workout regimen of dirt and sweat. We’re looking like bronzed lobster “after examples” in medical weight loss ads. It’s great. (PS I will never, ever convince myself in January that I should join a gym. That would be silly.) It’s like the entire month of May becomes farmer hell week. So here’s what we were up to during our month of May.
It’s that time of year to put those tomatoes in the ground! YAY!!!!! As much as I love our tomatoes, they sure are needy little things. They’re always like “I’m thirsty, I’m hungry! I fell over! There’s bugs on me! This weed is touching me!” Sheesh! Yes, as wonderful as they are, they sure do need some additional attention and support. Emotional support (in the form of fish emulsion application and pep talks) and physical support. Oh yeah, we’re talking about the ever so important tomato cage. Those of you that usually buy tomato cages at big box stores can know how flimsy and unreliable can be. Instead of buying those or stringing up trellises, we make our own super sturdy and durable tomato cages from highway mesh. They’re very cost effective, can be used year after year, really strong and really awesome.
So you’ve planned out your tea garden, you’ve planted the seeds, you’ve tended to the baby plants and your greenhouse (or growing area) is starting to smell amazing. By now, the plants are getting tall enough to move out of the 1×1 cells and be up-potted into your larger pots. This is when things get exciting, folks! But this is also when you need to keep a good eye on your plants because this is when you will prune them, feed them and start to grow them into all that they can be.
This week we had an amazing warm streak of weather; beautiful 70 degree weather, the sun was shining, we traded our thermal shirts for short sleeves, I even think I saw a fly! Hell, I was about to put on my swimsuit and jump in the swimming hole but quickly realized that would be a bad idea… the water does NOT feel like summertime. And the forecast is calling for snow tomorrow. Thanks Missouri! But anyway, one of my favorite things about spring/summer is making a nice glass of sun tea out on our back porch. I love experimenting with flavors and herbs for either iced tea or making my own hot tea from loose herbs, dried fruit and whatnot. And what’s better than making your own tea? Growing it yourself, thats what! That gives you bonus points when company comes over and tastes your delicious tea and they’re all like “Daaamn homie, this sun tea is some good shit, my dude! Namsayin. How’d you make this delicious and refreshing beverage, b?” And then you can be all like, “Thank you very much Ghostface Killah, I grew it myself.”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! Spring is right around the corner, we have our seeds selected, our planting schedule complete and a greenhouse that’s just begging to be filled with heirloom vegetable and herb plants. Seed starting is probably one of my most favorite tasks around the farm… that and the required goat cuddling that must be done at least twice daily. Each seed planted is a little hope for the season to come. But if you’ve never started seeds indoors before, or just need a refresher or some new tips; here’s a look at starting seeds in our greenhouse.
Earlier this summer, we started solarizing our new garden expansion. Basically, we plowed and tilled up the next section of hay field that’s going to be next year’s garden and laid a bunch of tarps over it. The tarps prevent weeds and hay from re-growing there all summer long. The basic idea is that all that summer sinshine heats up the ground under the tarps and fries all the grass and hay underneath. It also prevents a buttload of cursing next summer when we’re trying to weed. So the tarps were all spread out and so we waited. And waited. And waited. But now it’s time to pull off the tarps and see if this whole solarization thing actually worked, then we’re fixin’ to get our fall garden started!
Is it the end of June already? By the looks of our garden… yes. Yes it is. Our garden is looking nice and delicious, many of our plants are just on the brink of harvest. Each row is flourishing with dark green foliage, flowers and fruits of our labor. Well, mainly Zach’s. He’s been doing a great job of keeping a steady schedule of pest and insect management, weed control and watering when Mother Nature hasn’t been. Before you know it, it’ll be harvest time, selling time and (our favorite) eating time. Here’s a quick look around the garden…
We had our very first harvest of the season last Saturday. We’re growing a dinosaur variety of kale and it’s coming up with a vengeance. Seriously, these kale leaves are as big as your head! We woke up early, early, early on Saturday morning to harvest and prep the kale before selling at the DeSoto Farmers Market. So we packed up our booth and headed over to the market to sell our kale, herb seedlings and fresh homemade beer bread.
It pays to plan ahead (hopefully, with actual money!). And that’s why we’re planning ahead for next year’s garden expansion! Right now we have a 75′ x 100′ garden plot, but we have lots of room to grow. If we’re going to sell at farmer’s markets, shared CSAs, local restaurants and chefs and feed ourselves we gotta expand. However, were going to take baby steps to do it. We wanna learn to crawl before you learn to walk. Besides, the more we learn about farming the more we realize that we don’t know noth’n!