Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring prep is in full swing here at the farm. The greenhouse is really filling up with herbs, perennials and the first annuals that have been potted. I enjoy looking back at the end of the day and seeing how much work I've gotten done. The other thing that amazes me is how quickly things can grow when we have nice, sunny weather. From one day to the next, the difference can be striking.

Of course, a few nice days doesn't mean the cold weather is entirely done. Two weeks ago, a lady stopped by to look at plants.
I told her it was too early to plant and she seemed surprised.  I told her it could still get quite cold at night and we had nighttime temperatures in the twenties right after that.

I watch the nighttime temperatures to decide when to move the perennials outside. It's best if temps stay above freezing, although we use row covers if it dips slightly below freezing. A customer that drives by frequently told me that's how she knows the greenhouse will soon open- when we put the skids down outside the greenhouse. That was accomplished yesterday. If the weather stays moderate, maybe things will get moved out next week. The greenhouse officially opens April 1. Then our spring hours begin-Tuesday through Saturday 9am to 5pm and Wednesday evenings until 7pm.

The other big news here at the farm is that John is retiring from his job at Hersheypark after 36 years at the end of March. So you'll see him around a lot more when you visit. And of course, it means I'll have a full-time helper. He's learned a lot over the past 18 years, so he should be very helpful.

If you have butterfly bushes, now is the time to cut them back and fairly hard, too. They will grow back quickly and bloom on sturdier stems which makes the flowers look better instead of being lanky. On nice days, get out and do general clean-up and weeding. Then your beds will be ready at planting time. If you do containers, dispose of the old potting soil and clean the containers so they're ready to go.

Our gardens look like they survived the winter pretty well. Lavender plants look good, after suffering through several bad winters. Most of my outdoor rosemary plants are alive, although they all have brown winter-kill at the top of the branches. Some have branches broken off from the weight of all the snow. I'll cut them back and hope they shape up, literally. They get so big by the end of the season that you often can't tell they started off rather misshapen. I always like to give things a chance.

Our two greenhouse toads are getting more active. Toad SR.comes out and basks in the sun. Toad Jr. is pretty lively. He moves from spot to spot and jumps out of the way if I get too close. Hopefully, he'll get used to the activity like SR. has done.

Upcoming- greenhouse opens April 1 and spring open house Friday and Saturday April 22 & 23.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Spring is coming!

Even though winter won't quite let go, it's spring here at the farm. All the starter plants have arrived, so I'm busy in the greenhouse transplanting. As the early crops of seedlings mature, they are also transplanted. The greenhouse is quickly filling up. I love seeing the tiny plants grow into big, beautiful herbs and flowers.

I'm amazed at how specific plants are even when they're small.
The other day,  I was cleaning up lemon verbena starts prior to planting. The sweet, lemony smell was just as apparent on those seedlings as on a full grown plant in the garden in August. On warm days in the greenhouse, especially after watering it's filled with wonderful herbal scents combined with a warm, earthy smell.  Yummy!

Our original greenhouse toad has been emerging from he dirt on nice days. He (or she) comes out and basks in he sun. He reminds me of those angry bird pictures. He looks like he just emerged from his long winter's nap and is none too happy about it. Grumpy toad face. I haven't seen toad junior. I don't know if he's still hibernating or if he moved on.

Just a reminder-the herb shop is open three days a week in March-Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 to 5. The greenhouse reopens on April 1 and then we begin our spring hours which are Tuesday-Saturday 9am to 5pm and Wednesday evenings until 7pm.

I'm also working on the spring newsletter which will be out in mid-March. You can reach about our new plant selections, a popular native perennial and an article on edible flowers.

At the beginning of this spring season, I'm determined to pay attention and enjoy it all. I hope it won't just rush by before I know it. We'll see how successful I am.