Growing just beneath the surface

We continue along in our "preparing for spring mode." 
While it may not look as if much is happening, we know 
the cover crops we planted at Imagery farm are nourishing the soil 
so it will be rich and ready for planting. 
Edible Landscaping Made Easy, a new blog we've discovered reminds us:  
"A cover crop is an area of planting that is sown for the purpose 
of improving the soil and keeping the ground “covered” to prevent erosion.
 It’s not a good idea to leave any areas of your garden bare in the winter. 
Rain will compact the soil. The ground is subject to erosion 
and leaching of nutrients when nothing is growing." 

We've talked about why fava beans make good cover crops
"Fava beans germinate quickly and grow even faster. 
You can use the tops for compost, eat the beans, and when you’re done 
with the plants you can leave the roots in the ground. 
Fava beans  will have put more nitrogen into the soil than it takes out."
And a shout out to another blogger we like, Urban Artichoke, Edible Landscaping
and a recent post: "Fava Shoots From Garden to Plate" with great recipes. 

Working just as hard as the fava beans to provide our farm with nutrients 
is our community of worms in the worm bin in the area 
we farm behind the girl & the fig restaurant. 
Matt and Ray from Local Landscapers crafted a new worm bin 
which has better air flow and can now process more compost. 

They combined the finished compost with worm castings from the old worm bin
We are especially proud that we are now diverting 
100% vegetable waste to farm behind "the fig."

the first version of the worm bin
kitchen scraps become compost become rich soil
finally become vegetables for the kitchen!
And the raspberry and lemon verbena plants at the farm have been cut way back, 
looking as if they are bare with "nothing happening," 
while indeed this annual pruning is just what the plants need 
to replenish and begin new growth.
pruned raspberry bushes now
raspberry bushes in bloom
and finally raspberry picking!
"For many herbs, pruning stimulates the emergence of new growth 
at several points along the remaining stem, but lemon verbena 
responds mainly at the whorl of leaves immediately below the cut. 
This habit gives the topiary gardener quite a bit of control, 
but it also means that frequent, severe pruning is required to keep 
the plant from becoming inordinately leggy and to increase foliage production."
lemon verbena pruned 

soon to be look like this
and finally this: lemon verbena custard photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
But perhaps the best harbinger of spring and summer, 
are the tomato starts we just planted in the greenhouse! 

Nestled into our planting mix of coconut coir and organic compost, 
we will nurture eight varieties of tomatoes including 
Beefsteak, Pineapple, Carbon, Emerald Apple, and Amana Orange.
We have 500 starts in the greenhouse–which may sound like quite a lot, 
but once we are in high season, we can't grow enough of these babies 
to satisfy you once the chefs get going.
starting here 
getting to here! 
tomato watermelon photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
What hints at spring do you see in your garden right now?
And what preparations are you making?