Keeping the farm growing

So much more is going on at the farm than just the land we work, 
seeds we sow and plantings we tend. 
We are not the only hard workers at the farm.
Our partners are the "good bugs," and natural predators 
who populate the Insectary garden.
Insectary planting bed

Insectary plants are those that attract insects, 
but "the good guys." 
Not just caterpillars and ladybugs, but ground beetles, 
hover flies and parasitic wasps are intentionally introduced

 Think of it this way: An Insectary garden is meant to be
a kind of companion gardening experience that invites insects to live within,
providing the right kind of food and shelter they need to survive and procreate.
The particular plants you grow to attract them do matter but not as much as having an assortment of plants of different heights, and blossoms of various sizes blooming from early spring through late fall, to provide ideal living conditions for the most effective variety of beneficial insect species.

Did you know that the beneficial insects 
that contribute to the health of what we grow 
are likely to be ten times more abundant in an Insectary?

In addition to the carefully chosen plants in the Insectary beds
that surround the farm, some of our popular vegetables and herbs
also invite the "right" insects to maintain proper balance.
Fennel, carrots, dill, parsley, lemon balm, rosemary and thyme turn out to be good choices for us and the heath of the farm's overall ecosystem.

Standing tall in the Insectary is a bird house
 as a haven for the birds that also participate in the 
natural predatory process that occurs at the Insectary.

So while it may seem as if nothing is going on
at this point in the life of these plants,
 the hard workers at the farm toil
even when we are not there.

Without these insects and other natural residents at the farm,
we would not enjoy the bounty it yields for us.

Next week: John and Colby look ahead to a new season.



6:20 am Monday Nov. 14, 2011
Farming is all about transitions, growth from one state to anothermovement that seems slow but then there is a change and something new appears. I experienced that first hand one morning this week at the farm as dawn broke, the day began and the sun rose, changing the view of the farm in a short span.

one bed cleared of summer bounty
one bed still growing

Sunrise began and the light appeared 
quickly changing how everything looked.
by now it is 7:00 am 
sunlit hills overlooking our farm beds

Finally sunshine bathes our farm and my shadow looms like a Giant.
It didn't take all that longby 7:20 am, the farm had changed, looking the same yet different. This transition from one moment of the day to the next is a perfect metaphor for what is constantly happening at the farm.
As a biodynamic organism transitions are constant here 
and we learn to work with them.
The land is now cleared of all of summer's bounty. 
But there is still work to do at the farm 
as we are now preparing for a new season.

Yet even as we transition from summer to fall 
looking ahead to winter, 
the farm surprises us with still more bounty.
there are still peppers to harvest
strawberries peeking out 

and fennel

But the raspberries are done until next summer.

Autumn is truly a time of great transition
the bridge from summer to winter.
What will we see next week?

Autumn at the farm

As the Autumn light begins to cast shadows 
at the farm we know that Winter is coming soon.

Rows of squash continue to grow, bringing many varieties into our 
kitchens to inspire the chefs. Julienned spaghetti squash makes a beautiful 
"bed" for a pork dish. With so many kinds of squash, the possibilities are endless.

Of the many types of winter squash, the oblong striped delicata is often 
called the "cadillac of squash"- it is so sweet. You will find it roasted, 
in soups or a salad as our chefs get very creative with this gem. 
so many varieties of squash

But even as we are well into the Fall season, we still delight 
in finding more tasty tomatoes on the vines. 

we harvested 1500 pounds of tomatoes 
and look forward to green tomato jam this winter.

more gifts that we bring from the farm to our tables 

Here we are approaching winter and we have melons. 
John's lesson from the farm is "Farming teaches us how to cook. 
As we farm, we learn what true seasonality means-you cook with what 
the land gives us not what you 'think' we should be making.  

Don't these persimmons look delectable? 
Since these are the fuyu variety, 
you might be able to take a bite 
if you find a ripe one. 
Beware before biting into the other variety of  persimmonthe hachiya, 
darker orange in color and more astringent and tanic. 
We have those at ESTATE's gardens 
and our chefs create luscious jam to compliment many dishes.

what are these berries?
These are jujube berries from our jujube tree. It is also sometimes called a 
Chinese date tree. These lovely berries are beautiful maroon dots in the orchard 
and they are now adorning the cheese plates at the girl & the fig as an unusual 
fruit compliment. And, they are high in Vitamin C!

Things are changing so quickly now at the farm, what will next week show us? 
We are learning so much from our work on this land and we enjoy sharing this 
experience with you, as well as the true fruits of our labors here.