Monday, June 18, 2012

So, what's happening now?

With the great start perennials have gotten this year, I've been busy harvesting.  I've harvested lavender to dry for bunching and also made lavender wands when it was fresh.  Once the little florets open, the bees love it.  I let the flowers stand until the bees are done and then cut back the flower stems.  Other flowers I've cut and dried include yarrow, lady's mantle, and nigella (love-in-a-mist) seed pods.

Well established perennials can be cut back by half and dried.  I've made a couple cuttings from oregano, lemon balm, mints and tarragon.  I'm also drying chamomile flowers for tea.  Both chamomile and lavender flowers have more oil and flavor than leaves, making them good candidates for tea and culinary use.  I'm also drying thyme, although I cut that back by about a third.  Generally the woody stemmed herbs are cut back less, since they are slower growing compared to other, more vigorous perennials like mints and oregano.

Make sure your annuals are well established before making large harvests.  You can snip to use fresh at any time, but hold off on large cuttings till they are growing well.

I was concerned early on because I hadn't seen many bees, but they are really working the catmint and lavender in the bed in front of the greenhouse.  And there are literally dozens and dozens of honeybees enjoying the flowers on the thyme walk.  We don't do much work there, so we will not disturb them.  On sunny days, it looks like big chunks of thyme are moving because there are so many active bees.  I've read that they plant thyme in France to attract bees - certainly seems like it works.

Lots and lots of little butterflies - mostly cabbage whites and other whites, along with a few sulfers.  I have seen a few larger species - comma, red admiral, and painted lady - but the larger ones seem more plentiful in mid and late summer.  I'm starting to see swallowtail caterpillars on dill, parsley, fennel and rue, so those butterflies will appear shortly.

Our plant sale starts June 23.  Perennials are buy 3, get 1  free and annuals are half off.  Try a new plant or fill a spot in your garden.

Posted for Kathy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Back after "Spring Break"

I'm back, after a spring break - although it didn't involve any time on a tropical beach!  First, a big thank you to everyone who has visited us at the farm or at Landis Valley.  We've had a great start to the spring season.  It's so nice to see our regular customers returning and often bringing their friends and relatives.  It's also great to meet new customers who are referred by a friend, or see our ad or find out about us online.  With so much going on in the spring, and many places to shop, we appreciate our customers' loyalty and friendship.

Landis Valley 2012 was great.  The weather was good both days and although the intrepid plant people turn out no matter what the weather, the crowds are better when the weather cooperates.  We have regulars who return each year at LV too.  This year, we sold 81 flats of plants!

In addition to helping customers and maintaining plants, we've been busy outside too.  We've gotten all the gardens planted with our new helper, Jon.  With regular rainfall, all the established perennials were very lush this spring.  Our annuals have been in long enough to take hold, so with rain continuing, everything should grow well.  We have been having rabbit problems this year.  They seem to be more plentiful this year - maybe more survived the mild winter.  After planting, we noticed parsley and cutting celery had been chewed off, along with a few flowers.  I think most will recover.  At least we haven't had groundhog troubles yet - knock wood.

With the early burst of mild weather, things got off to a quick start this year.  Lilacs in April, peonies at Mother's Day, lavender blooming in May and I just noticed the St. John's wort starting to bloom with its pretty yellow flowers.  That's a couple weeks early - the plant gets its name from the feast of St. John, at the end of June, which is its usual bloom time.

The greenhouse and herb shop remain open 5 days a week through the summer - Tuesday through Saturday, 9 to 5.  We're open till 7pm on Wednesday evenings through June.  Plant sale begins June 23!

Posted for Kathy