The feast of growth in the gardens at Leafhopper Farm texture the landscape with beauty, form, and function. Wildflowers boarder the front gardens. Pictured above is the nursery garden where our perennial native plants mature from young root stalk. There are also companion edibles like kale and yacon root, snap peas and borage. The kaffir lime is potted to go in during the winter, and some rooted grape cuttings will be planted out along a holly hedge which should serve as a great trellis. These plants are all on a watering schedule together, and with many of the nursery plants so young, it is imperative that a regular watering schedule be implemented. Luckily, these plants are right off the front porch of the main house, and I walk by it several times a day to monitor the health and happiness of our long term herbaceous investments.
Another garden out front of the main house is hosting some important young plants. Ever heard of chinquapin? Think of a smaller chestnut tree with more resistance to its larger cousin’s blight. The verity we’ve selected for future nut production on the farm is an east coast species. There is also a native western verity called Golden Chinkapin. We’ll also plan on introducing this more regional species, but the eastern verities produce an easier to harvest nut. The young trees will stay in the garden for a few more years while they put on more growth and establish in this environment.
Oh how a rose- this shrub of ruby red beauty has exponentially stepped up production over the past few years and is noticeably thriving now. It’s blossoms are very fragrant, and add color in the house as well as a pleasant scent. Cascading down below the rose are the two plots which hosted cold frames last winter. Now, the spaces are full of mature seed for next year; from radish to chard, any seeds not harvested will go into the ground for fall crops. Our potatoes are also maturing nicely, and we expect a good crop this year. Beyond the seed crop is the new cloche location with a crop of mixed greens, flowers, and herbs. Below the cloche is a large bed with carrots, squash, and cammas bulbs. Along the fence line at the very bottom of the garden is a young hedge trying to set, but also getting crowded out by mature seeded kale, tomato vines, and roses.
There are a couple of raised beds near the spigot by the tenant kitchen, and there is a great mix of growing friends together building layers of green vegetation to protect against drought. This bed will eventually have partial shade from the crabapple Malus fusca, which is to the back northwest of the bed. In old village sited around western Washington, these modest fruit bearing trees were planted and well tended around the edges of a seasonal or permanent camp area. They were coveted as a food source, and the bark is medicinal. At Leafhopper Farm, we are establishing these trees around the landscape as an emergency food source, and also, a great food for wildlife.
We’ve been growing a red lettuce at Leafhopper Farm continuously through two years now, and the seeds from these plants will be saved again for another year of good fresh salad greens. Mustard seed is also collected and reseeded in the fall, some of the later seed is turned back into the beds during weeding in late summer. Since this bed is drip irrigates, we usually establish transplants during the summer around the hose, but this bed is going to be refreshed with additional soil, adding another foot of root space, so we’re waiting to put in perennials till after the new bed is set.
Our frost peach has been trimmed up a bit, as you can prune stone fruit any time of year. We will trellis it this winter against the kitchen to combat curly leaf in early spring. The passive solar heat radiating off the south side of the building creates a wonderful warm climate for the fruit tree. A carpet of herbs, oregano, kitchen sage, and chives, establish below within easy reach of the kitchen for culinary use. These herbs can handle full sun, and will be expanding in size enough to protect the soil moisture during the summer drought time. We’re also mulching the bare ground with good leaf litter.
These well tended spaces are productive and ever growing in their abundance. More companion planting will continue to encourage diversity and inner connectivity between species. Cooperation in nature ensures a wider range of survival and security for both the plants, and those who steward them. No matter the size, tended space with intention, weather growing food, or beautiful flowers to brighten the day, stewardship of place is so important. Making that space you tend most accessible and easy to water, all parts of smart design, will encourage successful cultivation and enjoyment of production.