Leafhopper Farm has exploded with growth! The warm weather and frequent rain this past week has brought an awakened spurt of green around the land. From fruits to baby animals, this place is thriving.
The grasses are out in force, with grains taller than ever before. The berms along our driveway are full of good seed heads on mature stalks which will ripen through summer and dry for fall harvest.
The perennial plants stewarded in raised rock beds are established now and producing a plethora of herbs and edible flowers like pansies and lavender. Young bean stalks are popping up, and the wormwood planted from seed last year is coming up for the first time.
The goats will be fenced and tethered back in the swale field to enjoy mature clover beds and mixed grass and grain pasture. Hopefully the electric netting will keep young kids in a focused area around their doe mother who will be tethered with a long line to fully cover most of the field radius.
In the kitchen garden, much of the directly planted seed has germinated and is now slowly filling in the mulched “holes” in the terraced space. Other overwintered plants, like the parsnip and kale which are seeding out nicely, will provide next year’s crop of staple foods. The garlic is impressive, and still gaining size. These bulbs will be harvested by early July, if not before then, depending on temperature and the risk of bolting.
In the green house, rouge seeds begin to make their final germination attempt, late starts to be transplanted into beds where failed direct seeding has left open spots for replanting. A freak heat wave in mid-April prevented many seeds from developing fully due to sudden drying out of the topsoil, even where mulching took place. In some areas, over mulching prevented more sensitive seedlings from breaking through to sunlight. Other inhabitants of the greenhouse include a Kaffir lime tree. Soon the heat will make this greenhouse too hot for most plants, and the plastic will be folded up permanently for the summer.
The pond has lost a lot of water to evaporation. With all the unseasonable heat and direct sunlight, the water level has dropped rapidly, exposing the red cedar stump as an island habitat for garter snakes, frogs, and dragon flies. Though algae is present, its growth has not clogged the pond yet. Two gold fish who were released into the water last winter are still alive and now twice the size they were when they went in! The bank plantings of clover, burdock, and anchoring grasses has filled in nicely around the outer rim of the pond.
The front yard gardens are looking more and more like a structured series of layered beds. The cloche has been uncovered for the summer, and cold frames are without glass. The transplanted Cascadian Hops are doing well, being guided by corded trellising. Our lone sunflower is mounting in size. More should be seeded in the next few weeks.
As more veggies are planted, it is equally important to reenforce native plants on the land as well. Young fir trees, berry plants, and herbs which were dug up in wild places and transplanted back on the farm are recovering nicely and preparing for final planting on the landscape by the start of 2017. This mount of soil has been amended and cultivated for maximum fertility. The soil will be moved into the raised beds to build up the hugaculture berms.
The garlic crop will be our largest ever this summer. We have at least 5 varieties in a mass planting. We’re hoping to use a lot of the garlic as a natural worming agent for our livestock. Most of the cloves will be selected for replanting. It will be amazing to have a year’s worth of cloves by 2018.
Our three year old peach tree (in year two on the farm) has been trained onto a trellis arch of Red Cedar. I hand pruned most of the young fruit buds from the branches to encourage branch and leaf growth for another year. Removing the fruit of young trees helps them establish a stronger root system and general branch structure for support of future fruit growth. The cooking sage has flowered out, and snap dragon flowers planted last year have returned in force. Oregano and chives thrive, while some late seeded lettuce and peas struggle to take hold due to over mulching.What a learning process.
The Ayam Cemanies are thriving, along with one Americana, a buff orpington, and three heritage Delaware hens. These 10 chicks will double our egg production over the next year as Leafhopper Farm applies for an egg handling license. We’ll plan on offering eggs at the Farmer’s Market in a few years. Currently, the farm has two full time egg subscribers and barter for work exchange with others in the community. The eggs are paying off!
Our Berkshire pigs just moved into a larger pasture space to till and root more ground around the grain room and chicken coop. This exposed raw earth will be planted with fall root veggies to give the pigs one more good feeding crop before they are butchered in late September. These piggies are living rototillers! The trick is keeping the pasture lush enough to keep the pigs from exploring the fenced edges too much. Electric mesh does deter, but a pig can easily dig its way under buildings and unguarded fence lines. Careful monitoring of the movable paddocks will prevent unwanted escapes. Fingers crossed!