This year I’ve made a real attempt to reduce the number of vegetables we grow. Why? We have always grown enough vegetables not only for ourselves, which includes winter storage, but plenty extra to pass along to non-gardeners. Our household is smaller now and once the summer residents here have gone, our food needs are really reduced. We’ll still grow plenty to cover all the bases in the household, even if we end up with winter guests, and we’ll still have baskets of extra to share with neighbors. The freezers and the pantry will be full, no worries! Scaling down from an ‘overabundance’ is what we’re striving for. However, reducing doesn’t happen in one season. It’s a process. We’re not very good at it. Growing enough food to feed a small army has become second nature to us, a habit hard to adjust. Planting a green manure on a lot more ground than usual is going to be our method for ‘project scale down’. We have always used a green manure crop ( a green manure is a specific crop grown to improve soil conditions) on areas of the gardens. It is not uncommon for us to leave certain beds empty and grow a green manure to help restore productivity. This year, in our attempt to put our food production into perspective , we’ll place almost an entire garden in a green manure crop. We’ll plant the other two as usual…and we’ll still have plenty of veg for our year’s supply of food. Green manures add organic material to your soil and will also help with the fixation of nitrogen. The crop will be tilled in while still green and succulent introducing bacteria into the soil. The bacteria is capable of fixing free nitrogen from the soil and eventually transferring this nitrogen to the plants you are intending to grow. So, we’ll still actually be growing something in that big garden space….but the crop for this year won’t be one we harvest and eat. We’re giving the soil a year’s sabbatical you might say, along with a replenishing of nutrients. A green manure mix usually includes a grain and a legume. Our first green manure crop will include hairy vetch, oats, and field peas. Later we’ll follow up with a clover, rye, and a legume mix. We’ll just be growing soil in some places, and this helps with my feeble attempts at scaling down the vegetable production! I think I’ll amend the tee shirt that advises people to ‘Eat More Kale’ with the addition of ‘Grow More Soil’!
Best not to mention, perhaps, that one of your very first tasks when you arrive here at Fernwood as a WWOOFer may be wrestling with a little lamb to get her diaper on. Zoe, our latest WWOOFer (what’s a WWOOFer? Check out this site), jumped right in and helped us tend to ‘Dottie’. ‘Dottie’ had stepped on a sharp stick out in the field and it had made a puncture wound in between her hoof. After a trip to the vet for a check up and some antibiotics, Dottie has settled into a life of comfort. Laying on a rug by the woodstove wearing her indoor attire ( Pampers), being bottle fed, and wandering her outdoor ‘play area’ while the nursery is open. She is healing quickly and has become quite accustomed to the attention of all the people living here. She will soon be healthy enough to return to her flock but I think she has been adopted by our friend Sally.There she will join Wallace, Fiona, and Penelope ( Sally’s little trio of Southdown sheep)and continue to live quite comfortably with LOTS of attention. A pampered ‘Pampered’ lamb, for sure!
So much time in the gardens and the nursery…. also the greenhouse. Thankfully we can stop and gaze at the real beauties that are blooming around us. Not much time for long posts, though here are just two examples of what we are really enjoying while weeding and potting. Oh, the great joy of the season!
Join us on Saturday, July 16th, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. for an afternoon of herbal tea making. Learn to craft your own tea blends using garden-grown herbs. We’ll also be including some local wild harvested plants that are easy to identify and well-known for their health benefits. Herbs are plants that are valued for their medicinal, aromatic, or savory qualities. From chamomile to mint to lemon balm, drying fresh herbs for aromatic teas is simple and gives you yet another reason to put your summer herb garden to use. The class will begin with an informative talk on selecting, growing, harvesting, and drying herbs ….we’ll be taking into consideration both taste and the specific health benefits of these plants while blending our tea.
Next, It’s time to get creative and start making tea ! Each participant will make their very own tea blend to take home, using an array of dried herbs from our gardens. At the end of the class, you will also get a selection of 3 herbs, potted, and ready to take along with you and plant in your own herb garden.
Of course, if there’s going to be tea, there will most certainly be scones! For more information check out our ‘classes and more’ page. If you’d like to sign up for this class, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 207-589-4726.
The nursery is bustling with activity. Every day we are out potting up plants and filling the rows in the nursery. It’s still early for some plants, many are just beginning to emerge.The daytime and nighttime temperatures continue to fluctuate. Yesterday? It was a bit chilly! Thank goodness for the greenhouse!
One yearly task is labeling our plants. We prefer to stay with the latin name in order to ensure accuracy.If you’ve been to the nursery and ‘talked plants’ with Rick, you know that he almost exclusively refers to each plant by its latin name using the genus and species. In fact, because of his lifelong relationship and experience with plants and his work in propagating and sourcing out specific species, he rarely even knows the general or common name that most of us may apply to a plant. Many common names are used to describe more than one plant and this can be confusing when trying to refer to a specific variety. When wanting to key out a plant to accurately identify it, the latin is essential. However, often enough, as we continue to research a plant’s genetic origin and understand its relationship within a genus, the latin application itself may get changed. For example, Cimicifugas has been moved to Actaea, and Senecio aurea is now Packera aurea. To try and explain the reasoning behind all of this name changing I will include an informative article from Pacific Horticulture. http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/why-plant-names-change-2/
In the meantime, we’ll be outdoors sticking labels into plant pots and hoping the names don’t change before we’re through!