farm fyi

photo by Steven Krause 
"It's a farm, so all our plans may not mean much," 
John reminds us frequently. 
We can do our research and plan and yet we know 
that it is mostly up to Mother Nature 
what the harvest at the farm will yield. 
We pay attention to what nature tells us, 
 to learn how to best contribute to creating an abundant farm. 
photo by Steven Krause
We are lucky to have rich fertile soil at the Imagery Estate Vineyard farm
One way to tell if it is a good soil is to grab some dirt
and ball it up – then quickly open your hand.
It should break up easily. And, the dirt should
brush off your hand without sticking too much.  
Of course, if you find those friendly earthworms in the dirt, 
then you know you've got "the good stuff." 
Loam soil like ours – a combination of sand, clay and silt 
in relatively equal amounts – is considered best for planting. 
It is ideal for most plants because it holds plenty of moisture 
but also drains well so that sufficient air can reach the roots.
We even pay attention to which way the winds blow. 
Since that is usually west to east, 
we are keeping the lemon verbena bushes 
which act as a natural wind barrier. 
So we worked around these in November and December
as we prepared the winter garden. 
The fragrant lemon verbena also inspired 
the creation of lemon verbena pot de creme.
photo by Steven Krause
The hyssop plants that were interspersed in this area here help out too. 
An extension of our biodynamic insectary concept, 
the blue blossoms and scent of the hyssop 
attracts bees, hoverflies, and butterflies
This herb works hard for us controlling pests 
and encouraging pollination without the use of unnatural methods.

This winter we are experimenting with companion plants,
a new way of planting for us that we hope 
will really enhance our harvest
It's not about getting more or bigger plants, 
but ones that taste better. We will alternate radish and mustard greens
in a row and see if the radishes grow differently
than in the rows where they are planted alone. 
The mustard greens act as a buffer for pests that can harm the radishes. 
we had radishes last well into November this year. 
What's interesting is that the mustard greens both 
repel and attract insects – keeping some away 
but attracting others that might have attacked the radishes.
It is easier to take out some of the mustard leaves 
that are sacrificed, leaving others untouched. 
photo by Steven Krause
And all this activity goes on around the radishes which are protected
ensuring that they make it to the table 
sweet, peppery and perfect to enjoy.
mixed seasonal radishes, anchovy butter and grey sea salt at the girl & the fig 

The farm blog will chronicle how the companion plants are doing, 
so continue to follow here to see how it grows.
Let us know what you think of the blog, ask a farming question
or tell us how your gardening is going.
And we especially want to know 
if you enjoy something at one of the restaurants
 that we've grown at the farm.

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