Farm School Winter Series

Winter Series
Week One

It may be the end of the calendar year, but
we're beginning our final season in our year-long
Farm School Series.
It's been a year of growth for the garden,
as well as for my spirit.
What an unexpected and welcome gift.

This weekend had us hard pressed to find any sunshine.
A light drizzle fell sporadically as we went about our work.



After being unable to contribute to the garden last week because of my back,
it felt good to be back out there enjoying 
Mother Nature at Her finest.


The salad is ready to be transplanted.



With a fabulous germination rate,
these leeks are well on their way.


These beauties will be ready for harvest in a matter of weeks.


The cucumbers are making progress.
I know, cucumbers in December?
So far, so good!


The farm is loaded with peas.
This is the most successful crop of peas that Lynn has grown to date.
It's a thrill to enjoy them in my daily salads once again.



The brussels sprouts and peas got a good soaking.




Radishes are a 3-week crop.
It's amazing to me that nutritious, delicious food can be grown in such a short time.




The beets will be ready for eating soon.
My roasting pan is all ready!



 The Swiss chard adds some holiday color to the garden.




Along with the tomatoes that we've been recently enjoying.


They've been used for suppertime slicing, making homemade gravy and more recently,
in some tomato soup worthy of the Soup Nazi.




Here are the scallions a week ago.


they are reaching for the sky.
If you remember, these onion sets were planted
seven inches under the soil.
What an amazing amount of energy to get this far so quickly.




 One lone eggplant was ready for me to take home.



We mixed up some of Lynn's luscious loam. 
We originally showed how this was done here.



The peat that's used in the mixture comes in blocks,


which gets screened in this homemade contraption.
It's one of my favorite jobs.


Ready for planting!


Today we transplanted about 50 Red Salad Bowl lettuce plants.
All the sooner to land on my table.



Winter is a time for the garden to really 
strut its stuff.
We are able to enjoy gardening 
almost year-round.
Looking forward to the new year
and everything there is still to learn.
Blessings be...

************

Winter Series
Week Two


With a few dreary days behind us,
we're welcoming back the sunshine at Farm School.


We had several important tasks to be completed
after our ritual tour of the garden.



The lettuce is going strong.




It tastes every bit as wonderful as it looks.




This Red Salad Bowl was transplanted last week 
and is flourishing in its new spot.



The cucumber patch is making quick progress.


Brussels sprouts



kale




Of course, we had to check on Peaville.
Snap peas are a delicious treat every day in salads or just for munching.
These are sweet, tender and juicy.



With loads of blooms, we expect this crop to continue producing for a good, long while.



The powdery mildew doesn't seem to deter its success.




You may notice the black tip on this pea stem
which was caused by this week's fierce winds.
No permanent damage is foreseen.




The Celebrity tomatoes are about through producing.
I took home a bagful.
There are more tomato starts ready for transplanting soon.




The Romas have seen a bit of damage by birds,
but overall, they are faring well.






Some were picked fresh,



and I was allowed to choose as many from this bunch as desired.
Gravy will be made later today.
Oh yeah.
Life is good, my friends.



We got some more broccoli planted.
This crop has no fear of winter, as few conditions discourage its growth.



The scallions that we planted exactly a month ago,




are thriving.
I guess Lynn thinks you can't have too many...




because more sets were planted so that the crop continues to provide goodies
for all who care to partake.




We set ourselves up in the designated area with plenty of newly mixed soil.




Lynn measured out the center of the pot,
so that they are evenly spaced.
You can see the method of planting Lynn used here.




A few of the sets are already sprouting.
It's the plants' signal that it's time to grow.




The garden is looking lush and productive.
It must be amazing to walk out of the house everyday
right into the Garden of Eatin'.




The datil peppers are participating in a little experiment.
Faye & Lynn are learning about how best to dry them.




See the hole toward the bottom of this palm?
A swarm of bees moved in recently.
Faye & Lynn are hoping to find a beekeeper who can relocate them.
I hope we get to watch that!



 With temperatures expected to dip into the 30's the next few nights,
Lynn will be busy tending to the bounty of the garden.
The tender crops like tomatoes, peppers and some of the herbs are most vulnerable.
I hope he gets some sleep.
The work of a farmer is never done.

************

Winter Series
Week Three


We had another gorgeous Sunday to work outside.



Despite the fluctuations in the temperatures this week,
the garden is going strong.


There are plenty of choices to fill your goodie basket.


One of the first crops I wanted to check on was the scallions recently planted.
They are lookin' good and don't seem to have been affected by the whims of weather.


The leeks are that much closer to harvest time.
Lynn likes them to be a certain width before they are ready for market.


Peaville is in various stages.
This patch has shown huge growth and displays good color,
but for some reason it is not blossoming.
We'll have to wait and see how it turns out.
Fortunately, there are other patches with plenty of blooms and fruit.


Some of the crop shows wind damage,
although it doesn't seem to keep it from producing.

collards



When the main head of broccoli is harvested,
it sprouts these tender side shoots.


This is one plant that keeps on giving.


This is one of the new broccoli seedlings from last weekend's sowing.


Lynn enjoyed his first kohlrabi this past week.


The dill we seeded along the fenceline last month seems to be quite content in its spot.


 Doesn't this New Zealand spinach look fresh?
It lasts a good long time in the fridge after harvesting.



Lynn has these "hot pots" stationed next to the Roma tomatoes
in case of freezing temperatures.
They are filled with diesel fuel and are cleaner burning than "smudge pots",
which sometimes utilize used motor oil.



The arugula and cilantro were moved so that we could make room for today's project.


With much of the Romaine lettuce beginning to bolt,
we wanted to get as many transplants completed as possible.


We transplanted both Romaine and Buttercrunch varieties.

tools of the trade



This lil' guy is gonna be so much happier with ample room to grow.


Overall, we transplanted over 80 seedlings today.


Here's something I've been waiting for.
It's fantastic watching the crops go from seeds no bigger than the size of a pinhead,
to fully grown and ready for harvest.
The waiting is what's difficult, knowing how luscious and sweet they will be.


After pestering Lynn for the last few weeks,
I finally got to take some of these bulbous beauties home.
 They are actually the first beets harvested this season.

 


amaryllis



It's a wild and wooly time, folks!


Feeling so blessed to be part of something bigger than myself.

************
Winter Series
Week Four





Farm School is back on track.
We had quite a list of tasks to complete
and fortunately, the weather was very cooperative.


Our status check started at the seedling center.
Here's where we find eggplant, leek, peppers,
and a variety of herbs getting a great start in seed trays.
The plastic covers have been used quite a deal in the last few weeks
to keep the frigid temperatures from harming these tender crops.



 This Annapolis lettuce is a red Romaine variety.
This was one of the types that was transplanted on this work day.



It was surprising to see how well the basil was doing,
considering the several visits from frost.
Those plastic covers really saved the day.



The Swiss chard loves the colder temperatures,




as does the kale. 
This variety is Dinosaur kale, also known as Tuscan kale.




 The Roma tomatoes are about spent.
They've been producing for a few months
and still bear fruit, even though they have given their all.
Last week, we made some tasty homemade tomato soup to enjoy during the cold nights.



Blankets used to cover sensitive crops are kept right in the garden.
Metal garbage cans keep them clean and dry
and it makes sense to keep things where they will be used.




The scallions are really taking off.
This crop was a blast to plant.
In case you missed it, you can find the post here.





Peaville is exploding with peapods.
Lynn plants successively and it seems that this particular patch of peas
is the sweetest and juiciest yet.



These gems make their way daily into my salad bowl.



Faye spied this curious web in one of the citrus trees.



Many of the leeks will be ready for the farmer's market next weekend.



The New Zealand spinach seems to be deteriorating just a bit.
With the extreme changes in the weather, the garden adapts as best it can.



I've recently rediscovered the joy of eating broccoli.
Faye & Lynn trim off the tips after the main head is harvested.
So tender, so delicious and so good for you!



The brussels sprouts have a cabbage-like center.
Most folks don't eat it, but it is edible.





We worked today on rearranging a few things in the garden
to make room for more salad fixins.



We transplanted a lone Celebrity tomato to replace one that hadn't made it.
To see how Lynn plants his maters, read this.




We also transplanted a few lettuce seedlings into bigger pots.
The Red Salad Bowl lettuce finally made it into my goodie bag!
 It's my favorite of the several varieties grown here.



Some of the older lettuce had started to bolt.
See the white center?
 That's the beginning of the end.




Once the lettuce bolts, bitterness is what you taste.
Fortunately, Lynn uses successive planting, 
so that customers don't have to do without very often.


pineapple tops awaiting planting



Lynn has a wide selection of tools in his garage.
This is stuff that is not easily found.



These screwdrivers are called Quick Wedge,
and the company is USA-based.



From their website-

"Double-split blade and powerful wedge-type action 
takes a positive grip inside the screw slot. 
Reaches screws in tight, hard-to-reach places, 
even a space not much larger than the screw head itself."






 Feeling so grateful for Farm School
and all that it has taught me thus far.
And so thankful for my time with the farmer and his wife.

************  
Winter Series
Week Five





 Farm School started out with temperatures in the 50's,
but it soon warmed up and 
oh, what a treat to spend the day outdoors under sunny skies.



Our routine status check resulted in viewing a garden poppin' at the seams.
Everything is going full force as we transition from winter to spring crops.


 This parsley is growing right out of the pots
and will soon be transplanted to accommodate their need for more space.
It smells SO fresh!



A newer batch of peas are growing strong.
Faye and Lynn sold out of all the peas they brought 
to the farmer's market this past weekend.


The brussels sprouts are doin' what comes naturally.
I'm so excited to see this up close and personal!


The first of the okra has been planted already
and is germinating.
Okra is a summer staple here,
but Lynn is getting a head start by seeding it now.


We've been transplanting tons of lettuce in the past few weeks
to replace the bolting crops.
Lynn has over 200 lettuce plants going right now,
so that his customers won't have to wait for these tender morsels.


The scallions we planted a few weeks ago are catching up to


the first batch we planted a few weeks earlier.


Faye and Lynn not only sell at the market,
but have folks coming right to the farm for their produce.
This half bushel of mixed citrus was awaiting a regular customer's arrival.


Our main job on this day was to make up some soil.
We've shown the process before.
Perlite is mixed with


hand-screened peat moss,


and dirt.



It's all combined in this contraption,



until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
The melange is then stored in tubs until needed.
This mixture is used for all transplants and directly seeded plants.
The results speak for themselves.




The Amaryllis is readying for blooms.


A friend stopped by and brought them a few things.
One was this unusual plant that was a mystery to me.
Faye pulled off a leaf and gave me a whiff.
Mmmmmmm, it sure smelled good,
but it didn't give me a clue as to what is was.


How 'bout that?

Faye told me that the Christmas cactus comes in several colors.


It was a surprise to find out that this can be grown as a house plant
or outdoors even in cooler climates.






Robins have been visiting this winter 
and joining the myriad of bird species who call this peaceful place home.






It's so amazing to me that this expansive garden
is maintained and nurtured by one man,
and his two "garden fairies" as he calls Faye and me.
The work is never ending.
My hope is that he can see that what he does matters.
It matters.
And that's enough.

************
Winter Series
Week Six

The winter garden is in full swing here at
Farm School.



We couldn't have asked for a better day to get to work.
Things are poppin' up all over the place!



The seedling trays are soaking up the sunshine.
These leeks will soon be transplanted
so that they have room to grow.



I'm looking forward to bringing some of this thyme home.
We use it on everything from chicken to potatoes.



The dill is filling out nicely.
Lynn mentioned that it does better when it is periodically pruned.



The newly planted okra doesn't really like the cooler overnight temperatures,
but Lynn is trying to get a head start on this crop.
They sold out of the last of their pickled okra a week ago.



The Celebrity tomatoes are faring well
as we haven't had a true freeze this season.



Have you been to Peaville lately?
Things are exploding here!


The sweetest peas yet are being harvested abundantly each day,
as the vines reach for the sky.


Luscious morsels, these.


The lettuce, peas and broccoli share space on this end of the garden.
So much good food, so little time...



The Red Salad Bowl on the right here is a favorite,
but I have to admit, I'm satisfied with any mix I get.



More lettuce can be found on this end,
along with New Zealand spinach, kohlrabi, herbs and rows and rows of broccoli.




This is where Faye picks the lettuce I bring home at the end of my workday.



Are these scallions a sight?
Two rows are making progress, 
despite the past couple of weeks of overcast skies and dipping temperatures,
with another due to be planted in the next few weeks.


This Hamlin orange is the smoothest citrus I've ever felt.
It's an early growing variety and is extremely sweet.
You can read more about it here.



Lynn stripped the plant clean 
and showed me where the new growth is coming in.



These will be shared with friends.
Pesticide-free orange juice is almost impossible to find these days.



The broccoli has been a bit stunted 
because of the lack of sun in the past few weeks.
The heads are usually more full and rounded,



but there are plenty of tips to enjoy,
and the taste is not adversely affected by the wavering weather.

Lynn showed me his harvesting technique for these sumptuous treats.



The stem is cut at an angle (using a wicked-sharp knife),
directly above a leaf.
More shoots will develop into edible tips.


We eat these steamed with just a bit of olive oil, salt and garlic powder on them.
Talk about tender, they practically melt in your mouth.



These are loquat and are a late winter fruit.
They are quite delicate and can be enjoyed from February through May.


These lovely beets went home with me
and made me a very happy camper.
I started singing an old Sonny & Cher song with a twist,
"The beets go on, yeah, the beets go on..."
Even Big K had a second helping with supper.
Here's how we prepare them.
















It was a productive day 
What a gift to spend time outside
enjoying God's bounty.
Wonderful weather, dear friends,
and knowing that we are moving the dream along,
one shovelful of soil at a time.



Our work here has contributed
to others nurturing their own health
 by finding pleasure in the simple act of
savoring what God has provided.
It's amazing to be even a small part
of the big picture.


************

Winter Series 
Week Seven

This week at Farm School,
things were fast and furious.
Each undertaking is a lesson in mindfulness,
prodding me toward focus and bliss.





Our check on the garden found it full, lush 
and enjoying the past week's weather.




A sea of lettuce is a tempting sight.




The kale is sprouting new growth and just keeps going...




These eggplant are healthy and doing very well, thank you.
They will soon be caged.



Get the skillet ready, it won't be long!




Lynn spied a leaf rolled over like this and immediately knew,




trouble wasn't far away.
Yup, he found this worm in that tiny next leaf over
and it was duly dismissed.
Ya gotta wake up pretty early in the mornin',
to fool this farmer!




One of our tasks today was to transplant these lovely
Sweet Millions (tomatoes) into bigger pots.
They are just about hoppin' out of their containers.




As you can see, they aren't waiting for their new homes,
and have already started to bear fruit.
Isn't that just amazing?  It always floors me!



We used the coring technique to put these babies in.
We first showed you how to do this here.




Lynn plants his tomatoes deep.
As you can see here, this particular transplant
has even outgrown the depth of the coring pipe.



The pipe leaves a tidy hole in which to place the seedling.




The entire stem up to the first leaves will be planted.







Because this stem was so long,
this plant may not be as strong as others
which have been buried deeper.
It won't affect the taste one bit!




Task one-complete!
This variety of cherry tomato is one of the few crops
that can grow in our summer heat and humidity.
And are they a welcome taste of freshness!



We also had these luscious eggplant to transplant.
They're just screamin' for more room!





We aim to please.




We've showed this planting technique before.
Lynn grows one eggplant per pot.




The nail is placed in the center of the liner hole.




We dig around the nail.




The little gem is gingerly placed in the hole
just below the top of the soil.



The leaves are gathered,



then guided through that center hole.




The liner is secured with stainless steel nails,



and she's ready to take off!



One thing I realized today is that
it's much easier for me to identify crops on sight.
That really ices my cupcake.



I don't know about you,
but I'm gonna stock up on some parmesan cheese and  homemade gravy!




We planted a third row of scallions as well.
This is a real hoot!
Here's how it's done on The Hill.





Here's what the first two rows look like now.




They'll be ready for harvest in about another 2 weeks.
Hot dog!




Lynn's trying a little experiment with the papaya plants.
They are a hermaphroditic.
He's identified and separated the males.
The flowers will be removed whenever they form
so we can see if it develops into a female plant.
He comes up with these things all the time.
There's always something new to learn.




A cascade of color...









It was a productive and fruitful day.
Having witnessed our efforts 
manifest from seed to table
is by far one of the most rewarding experiences
 this farmer-in-training has ever had.
See ya next time on The Hill.



************

Winter Series
Week Eight


It was a beautiful day to be at 
Farm School.
Winter's winding down and the spring garden is rarin' to go.







The beets, kale and Swiss chard have enjoyed the cooler temperatures.








The bell peppers are slow growing,
but will surely be worth the wait.




Broccoli tips are tender and flavorful.




The Brussels sprouts are such a hoot!




This is Red Annapolis lettuce.
It's a type of Romaine that Lynn is growing with great success.




Altogether, 5 different varieties of lettuce are grown at the farm.







Okra is getting an early start.
This summer staple will thrive as temperatures climb.




Did you bring the dressing?
Slurp...




The scallions we sowed last weekend are already coming up.
Lynn is impressed with the amazingly strong life force 
that makes these onions shoot out of the pot.




We made lots of soil today,
so that new crops can be started during the week.



Back in Tomato Town, we saw goodies emerging on robust plants.




The Celebrity tomatoes needed to be caged.
No worries, the garden fairies are here to help!






Lynn uses collapsible cages for his crops
and it sure makes it easier to get the job done.
The cage is slipped over the plant,
being careful to tuck each limb over the wire bars.
It usually takes the three of us to do the job sufficiently.




They are all looking mighty fine
and have ample room to grow now that they are fully supported.
These maters are lip-smackin' good!




arugula gone to seed



It's been almost a year since we started 
Farm School.
It sure went by in a hurry.
Gratitude fills my heart
as I think about how much more confident
I feel as a gardener.
Thanks to two lovely people 
who nurtured me
and provided me with a way to
become more of who I am meant to be.
Thanking my lucky stars every single day.

************

Winter Series
Week Nine


Winter is fading away here at
Farm School.
There is plenty to keep us busy in the garden.






The tomatoes we caged last weekend
are thriving.


The last three leeks are awaiting harvest.
Lynn and Faye sold out at the farmer's market.



Fortunately, there are more ready to be transplanted.



Beets as far as the eye can see.
Slurp!


Look at how vibrant this Red Salad Bowl lettuce looks.



This Annapolis red romaine is tender
and adds a pop of color to a salad bowl.
I sampled this and enjoyed every bite.


The New Zealand spinach is not bouncing back as expected.
This crop was planted last May,
so it has given its all.



What can be harvested will fill someone's produce basket,
and new seed will be started.



Banana peppers are being enjoyed weekly.



The scallions are bursting from the pots.
Lynn is pondering how best to harvest them.



The newer plantings are making swift progress.
Another batch will be sown in a few weeks
so that the goodies just keep on comin'!


Celebrity tomatoes are goin' to town!
Tomato town, that is.
Lots of fruit could be spied.


Today we transplanted these Sweet Million tomatoes.



Even though these have gotten long and lanky,
they will morph into strong, healthy producers.



We used the coring method to transplant these babies.
The deep hole ensures support for the plant,
so it can concentrate on making fruit.





Eggplant is showing signs of delivering something good to eat soon.




We also transplanted quite a few pepper plants.





We are blessed to be able to grow all winter long.
With the garden fully loaded,
there are always tasks to keep our hands busy.
It's an enjoyable and very rewarding endeavor.
Here's hoping that today finds you 
enjoying all that life brings.
Spring is just around the corner!

************
Winter Series
Week Ten

Spring is just around the corner.
Farm School
is kickin' it up a notch.





Our weekly check on the garden
found things-a-poppin'!
This part of the garden hosts papaya, scallions,
kale, beets, Swiss chard, eggplant
and Tomato Town!



The garden truly runneth over.
Here, you'll find lettuce, spinach, broccoli, collards,
Brussels sprouts, okra and (sugar snap) Peaville!


Some of this lettuce made it home with me.
Faye & Lynn will give you any combination you desire.
Buttercrunch, Simpson Elite, and Red Salad Bowl
were chosen this week.



The cliantro seems to be enjoying the shadier part of the garden.



Lynn promised me one of these thyme plants to take home.
Good thing God made me a patient woman,
'cause they take a while to get established.





 The arugula is going to seed along the fenceline.



I brought home some sweet beets.






Today we had a daunting duty- fertilize the entire garden.



The materials were collected
and we developed a rhythm. 



We used this 20-20-20 fertilizer.



Lynn was the mixologist, 
adjusting the amount of fertilizer to the needs of the particular crop. 





Faye and I were in charge of dosing each plant.
Here, Faye feeds one of their fig trees.
Everything is hand fed,
so it sometimes takes an entire day to get the task done.
With three of us working,
we managed to complete the designated job.
No slackers, here!


azalea





I was thrilled to see that the wisteria is in bloom.


Until Faye told me,
I didn't even know it could grow here.
What a wonderful surprise!
It's always been a favorite when I see it on other gardening blogs.





Several of the amaryllis are ready to bloom.








  We pray that spring shows itself right on time
in your neck of the woods.
It's been a harsh winter for so many.
Hopefully, we helped you get through
with our Farm School posts.