Monday, May 30, 2016

We recently had some wildlife experiences concerning turtles. On our morning walk, Lucy came across our resident box turtle in the wild back corner of the property. She was curious, but timid, so we just called her off and continued our walk. I'm happy he's still around.

Later that morning, she was in her yard and was barking a lot. She kept looking toward the garage. I thought a customer parked in the top driveway, but no one was there. Instead, I see a large snapping turtle walking through our yard. That's something we never saw before! John said this is the time they lay eggs and we thought she was going from one of the farm ponds nearby to the pond on the property behind us. John managed to get her into the wagon (snapping all the time) and drove her to the fence line and released her. That's a lot of turtles in one day!

We finally got basils planted in the gardens. I didn't feel we were late at all this year. In fact, I encouraged customers to wait until closer to Memorial Day to plant basil. It wants nighttime temperatures consistently in the 50s and we just arrived there recently. Along with peppers, basil likes warm weather, so it's hard to get a head start unless the weather cooperates.

Don't forget to keep newly planted herbs and flowers well watered until they are established.  Plants are most likely to fail when they're young. So , after planting, water daily for the first week if it's not raining. Give them a good soaking. For the second week, water every other day if it doesn't rain. After two weeks, they should be pretty well established. At that point, most herbs are fairly drought tolerant. Concentrate your watering on ornamentals and veggies.

Our gardens are looking nice since the weather has improved. When you stop by, feel free to stroll through. Plants are labelled so you can identify them and see many plants we sell in a garden setting.

One of my outdoor rosemary plants survived the winter, but had the center broken due to the heavy snowfall. I trimmed out most of the center, and it's filling in now. I don't think the damage will be noticeable in a month or so.

We had a group tour from the Rosemary House stop by last week. It was a nice group, and they seemed very happy with our selection of plants. Many of them toured the gardens. They were here just over an hour, s we had many sales in a short period of time. John was surprised at the hectic pace, but he kept up well.
So he's not exactly relaxing during retirement, but he sure is enjoying it.

It is so gratifying to hear the comments our customers make. So many people compliment the health and appearance of our plants. Recently, two new customers really made my day. One walked in the shop and declared, "This is my new favorite store!" The other was a young woman who walked around the shop and said, "It's just like Christmas." We do appreciate all the kind words.

I'm continuing to harvest perennial herbs like mints, tarragon, oregano, thyme and lemon balm along with rose petals. Don't forget to cut off lemon balm's small white flowers before it goes to seed, s it doesn't spread everywhere.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

We completed another Landis Valley Herb Faire under conditions that were less than ideal. It rained on Friday and it rained hard most of the day, with two brief breaks. In spite of that, diehard plant shoppers came out looking for their favorites. We were quite busy in the morning, but people didn't dawdle- they got what they wanted and went home to dry out. By the end of the day, the grounds were a muddy mess. Saturday was a much nicer day, although still a little muddy getting around.

One thing I noticed, we still had stock left on Saturday of some varieties that usually sell out on Friday, like cilantro, dill, tarragon and white sage. Many customers who come to the farm stopped by to say hello, although most save their shopping for a visit to the farm. It's always great to see our LV regulars, although it took me awhile to recognize most folks since they were draped in ponchos, wearing hats or hoods and holding umbrellas. Many thanks to all who came out. Gardeners are an intrepid bunch!

Customers have been coming to the farm too, even on rainy days. I think it makes us all feel better to see signs of spring, especially when the weather doesn't cooperate. Also, if you have your plants, you can run out and plant them when the weather breaks.  I've been cautioning everyone not to plant basil in the ground yet. I know we're past our usual last frost date, but basil likes nighttime temperatures consistently in the 50s, and we're not there yet his year. Tonight's lows are predicted to be in the mid-30s, and basil will not like that at all.

We're planting other annuals this week, but I'm watching the trends in the weather. By the end of the week, I'll know if it's safe to put basil in next week.

It's been a struggle to plant this spring, since it's been so wet. We did one round of planting hardy herbs and John finally got beans planted last week. No tomatoes in yet, and peppers are like basil- they want warm temperatures to be happy.

I harvested a bunch of perennial herbs- mints, oregano, tarragon and thyme, along with some basil tops that I cut back to encourage the plants to branch out. Everything is still on the drying screens. With the wet weather, they reabsorb moisture from the air and are not dry enough to store. Storing herbs before they're thoroughly dry can produce mold, which means the herbs must be discarded.

John's retirement is going really well. He has no problem keeping busy, but at least he has a lot more time to get everything accomplished. And boy, is it nice having a helper this time of year! He handles things like restocking the plants and of course, waits on customers. The other day, I came into the greenhouse just in time to hear him explain to a customer how to pinch back basil to get it to branch out and become full. An extra pair of hands really lightens the workload.

If you haven't visited yet, please do. We have lots of plants left and it's still early in the season. People are saying they're behind in planting, but this year you can blame it all on the weather!