What a beautiful time of year!
Things are really in full swing at the farm! A lot of folks mistake winter and early spring as the “dead season” for farmers, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth!
So what’s going on? Planning, planning and more planning! Preparation is key to a successful and healthy garden or farm! Here are some quick highlights from month to month!
Picking the seeds and prepping the soil
During January and February, we spent a lot of time choosing seed varieties for the coming season. A lot of the seed stock has been given to us from longtime friend and celebrity gardener John Coykendall of Blackberry Farm.
Some of the best seeds we grow are considered heirloom varieties. To be considered an heirloom, the variety has to be a minimum of 50 years old. Most of the heirloom seed stock we use is from the early 1900’s and even some from the late 1800’s! This type of preservation is very important as most large-scale farming operations have moved towards using more generic genetically modified plants. Sometimes this affects the yield and taste. And we think the taste is pretty important!
In between freezing weather and rain, our farmer Brad managed to get the ground prepped for spring planting. Plowing under the remains of last years crops helps to enrich the soil, along with breaking up the dirt. Some seed varieties can be direct sown or planted as seedlings before the danger of frost has passed, such as onions and garlic, greens (we have quite a variety this year) cabbages, radishes, and broccoli. We also started tomatoes and peas in growing trays in the farmhouse.
This is also the time of year when we dry seeds from last season and put them into storage for next year. To keep them from germinating, seeds must be kept in a cool, dry place, away from moisture, light, and oxygen. We have an old broken freezer in the shed full of seed stock!
Battling the elements
An unusually unpredictable warm and cold, back-and-forth early year made planting this year a little more tricky. We direct sowed a few flower varieties that tend to be hardier, including our sunflowers and Zinnias. We also noticed a fair amount of sunflowers from last year growing on their own between rows that we decided to leave to grow on their own!
Spring wildflowers started to make an appearance as early as the first week of March! Lots of wild trillium, wild geraniums, violets, and rattlesnake orchids graced the woods around the farm. We’re now seeing some lady slippers and redbuds and dogwoods blooming! As of the first week of April, a lot of the veggies are growing fast!
Excitement is building for the farmers market this year! We are planning to attend the Maryville market and possibly the Knoxville market. Most of our sales will be direct from the farmstand, however. We are also looking forward to hosting a few community classes along the lines of candle making (hello, leftover Randall Bean jars!) and floral arranging.
The second week of April we were so pleased to have our friend Daune Peckham visiting to help plan our beds around the farmhouse. Daune comes to us from Massachusetts where she runs a business as a landscape designer.
A lover of the outdoors, she first started into gardening after finishing her schooling as a music major, and later psychology. Living in New England, she began her first business delivering herbs on her bike. This eventually blossomed (no pun intended) into a love for landscape design, which sent her back to school, eventually graduating from Radcliffe. Her style is best described as whimsical and a little wild, as she prefers to keep her gardens very natural. She also always focusses on using native plants, as they are easier to maintain and are more accessible.
Try some of our favorite bean recipes like Cinco De Mayo Roasted Corn and Black-eyed Pea Beans Pico, Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes with Chorizo or Southwest Black Bean & Quinoa Salad for dinner tonight!