Happy Easter everyone! With Easter we celebrate the victory of life over death and dwell in the possibility and promise of miracles. We had a beautiful day celebrating the day with all of our family and eating all of the things. We hope the same for you and yours!
Speaking of having faith, the last frost date is a long standing point of contention between farmers and gardeners and our Lord. We await Spring with building apprehension, wanting to get started with planting, but must wait for that last frost to pass or risk losing it all. It takes a lot of faith and patience to wait and we're like toddlers in a line, anxious to reach the front. Getting to the point of feeling comfortable about when we plant starts in the greenhouse and when to transplant them in the ground is a long term goal of ours. Most backyard gardeners and farmers alike who we know still feel nervous about this. We hem and haw and wait a few more days but at a certain point, you just have to scatter those seeds and hope for the best. Mother nature is unpredictable, and she doesn't hold her "word."
Our brother Gabe demonstrated the frustration that results from planting too early when he asked our other brother, a lawyer, about possible retaliation.
This year the stakes are even higher because we're growing far more than ever before. Last year's kitchen gardens, raised beds, and garlic experiments were so successful that we've doubled, or possibly, quadrupled down on planting. We're growing many more plants than last year, but we mostly stuck with the same types. We picked the veggies and herbs that worked best and were most popular last year to repeat. In town, I'll be planting another big Kelly kitchen garden with plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, peas, kale, carrots, rhubarb, and herbs to keep my kitchen stocked. I've loved having fresh food the last two years from my garden, and since I've begun learning to preserve, can and freeze our garden produce we've had fresh food almost year round. (If you're new to these things and want to learn but feel intimidated, please go back and read this post from the archives: I think i can can can. Bottom line, I felt the exact same way two short years ago.)
On the farm, Venise is adding onions to her potato and garlic. She grows these three in raised bed rows they till in the field. These crops have similar seasons and growing requirements so they pair really well together. She will also grow another kitchen garden in the four big wood & metal raised garden beds that they built last Spring, filling them with similar veggies and herbs to mine. It's key to his productivity to keep Farmer Ross flush in home canned pickles and spaghetti squash, after all.
Also at the farm, we're pairing up and growing some of the herbs, edible flowers and vegetables needed to make handcrafted, farm fresh cocktails for the Happy Camper Cocktail Company, my (Belinda's) new "garden to glass" cocktail catering business. All told, we had about 300 seeds to start in the greenhouse and will direct seed quite a bit more after that elusive "last frost" date.
Ed Hume Seeds has a good page explaining the importance of last frost date and how to calculate it. They also have this handy chart showing an average last frost date for tons of cities in Washington state. We're using the Buckley recommendation as our target date for planting our starts and direct seeding.
Washington state's last frost date predictions for 2016. Click on the link above for more cities.
We both ordered seeds from Uprising Seeds this year, an organic seed company local to Washington. We've heard great things about them and are excited to be growing varieties that are tried and true in our region, since weather and soil have huge fluctuations place to place and therefore a big effect on the success of crop varieties. I'm also growing Floret Flower's flower seeds for my yard in a final attempt to fill in the huge, empty dirt "garden beds" we inherited with our home. While the Kelly house has some beautiful, old established plants like 20 foot tall lilacs, the majority of the beds were empty, tilled dirt when we moved in and I'm really tired of weeding dirt patches. A big, beautiful, but easy to maintain flower garden is the thing of my dreams lately. Besides making the bees happy, I aspire to drink whiskey lemonades on my porch while admiring the blooms. It's going down this year, Lord as my witness.
Spending time in the greenhouse with the kiddos on the first day of Spring was the perfect welcoming of the new season, and just may need to stay a tradition for us. That is, if the timing works out this year. We planted varieties that instructed us to plant seeds indoors anywhere from 4-8 weeks before the last frost, all at once. By many people's standards we're doing it wrong, and by many people's clocks, we're late to planting. It may be blind naivety, but since we've had success in year's past with doing all direct seeding and planting very small starts in the beds, we're not worried about having a few less weeks for the starts to develop. We'll probably be harvesting our first plants and eating our first cukes a couple of weeks later than others, but we're okay with that too. We've got the patience and faith to wait. In farming, motherhood, and life in general these traits, and a little naivety, have served us pretty well.
The Holiday Hootenanny is an entirely new experience for our visitors to our tasting room and family friendly bar in Wilkeson, WA. The Holiday Hootenanny concept bar, complete with a Simple Goodness Christmas Tree Lot with $45 trees, will run from November 25th through December 17th during regular open hours and includes many special events.
Here are my secrets for pre-batching drinks for parties. As a former cocktail caterer who has served drinks on mountain tops, in the woods, in horse corrals, backstage at music festivals, and to thousands of thirsty wedding guests, I have some tips for making batched cocktails for events.