Unfortunately, the rains that dumped 15″ on the nearby Bergstrom airport, also wiped out the fields here at the old Bergstrom homestead. Spring floods, summer drought, winter floods proved to be too much.
After we clean up the mess and conquer our depression, we will update you on future growing plans for the upcoming season. We are down but we are not out!
Thanks for your support and patience.
Tessa, a Workshare member who traded food for work for several seasons, came to us with a simple request for her wedding: please create Peter Rabbit-inspired arrangements featuring veggies with flowers. She provided the ceramic bunny centerpiece and we went to town. So much fun to have a theme. And work with what we had: turnips, radishes, onions, celosia, beauty berry,….
Our farm stand customer – Nancy from the RV park – helped us make sure that the bridesmaid’s bouquet was just right.
The bouts were boxed and ready.
So that our beautiful friend of the farm…..
could have as much fun as possible on her big day.
And she did.
On this gorgeous sunny day I was filled with optimism as I trudged through the puddles, standing reminders of more than 10″ of rain this weekend. I checked on the zinnias and sunflowers potted in the greenhouse. Protected from the pounding rains, they’re looking good and will probably bloom in a week or two.
The birds were singing. All living things seemed to celebrate the cooler sunshine. The sky was that bright scrubbed pale blue that blinds you to what came before. I figured pulling together blooms for today’s bouquet would be a challenge, but somehow there would be enough. Nope. The fields are a mess. After three serious floods sandwiched between a punishing drought, the flower field is worn out. So I looked toward the trees.
That’s why you may find pyracantha in this week’s share. This living hedge is dense with orange berries (called “pomes”) and adds a sturdy bit of color to what is now an autumnal bouquet. Though, I’ve heard you can make jelly from the pomes, I wouldn’t eat them as internet authorities say they are “slightly poisonous.” Also, beware of thorns, which are hidden on the stems.
As we gathered the last of the zinnias, celosia (purple), ageratum (blue), basil (purple and green),
I gave thanks for the season and that my Mom — the person who instigated my love of flowers – was able to help with the harvest this morning.
The lack of rain now exceeds the lack we suffered during the 2011 drought. Back then we held our breath as Bastrop flames raced toward our farm. We could smell the fire and feel that loss was imminent. And there was nothing we could do but wait. Though more than half the trees on our farm died of drought, we were spared.
This past week, I suffered a bout of PTSD as great smoke plumes, once again, blanketed our farms in Bastrop and in Austin. Again, we were fortunate. Those who suffered most are east of our farm, in Smithville. Our hearts go out to them all.
If you are new to Austin or don’t have a visceral reaction to smoke, you might enjoy reading Randy Fritz’s book, Hail of Fire. He recounts how his family lost everything in the 2011 fire, including his beloved Lost Pines.
What a strange time we are living in.
To add a little perk to this week’s bouquet, we’ve added beauty berries. Yes, you can eat the little purple balls, you could even make jam. But this week, they are all about beauty. Finding bits of pretty in a crispy landscape aching for reprieve.
I am counting the hours till I leave for the ASCFG conference in Madison, WI. Not only will I get to see the Arnofsky’s present — always a treat — we will learn about their new peony farm in Minnesota. Yes, they farm in Blanco, Texas and almost Canada. Another expert I love to hear from is Missouri’s Mimo Davis. She is a ball of fire and is always up to something interesting. This conference is one of my favorites, which is one reason I’m happy to leave.
The other reason is sneezing. This week my allergies about did me in. What is it? Tree pollen? Mold? Ragweed? No idea what has caused this misery but rain is promised next week so perhaps we will all be released soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week’s bouquet, which includes some treats from our River Farm.
The stiff green leaves are loquat, a tree every Austinite should plant because it’s hard to kill and the fruit is yummy. The white fringe is boneset, a wildflower used extensively by native populations for fever relief. And here’s an interesting internet tidbit: The name Boneset is derived from the great value of this remedy in the treatment of a species of influenza,… which from the pain attending it was commonly called Break-Bone Fever.” What I’ve noticed is that this is a thirsty plant so be sure to keep the water high and clean in the vase.
Other petals include yellow sunn hemp, orange marigold, purple/pink celosias and varieties of zinnias. Be sure to play with arrangement as we’ve got several lengths going on. I just love the way celosia bounces so you may be seeing more of that in the coming weeks.
Many thanks to our model here, who also happens to be our Flower Photographer, Kerstin Wiggins!
This week – just one from October – is expected to be near 100 degrees all week. Frankly, I’ve had enough. Enough of sweat rolling down my body, enough of my brain feeling like lead.
My favorite cure for these heat blues has been long soaks in the curve of the Colorado River that hugs the western border of our River Farm. About 25 miles east of our intown location, we plan to harvest and plant more at this Bastrop location where we manage about 50 acres. For the past six years, Farmer Skip has worked like a demon adding fences and irrigation and hoop houses. We’re hoping this season we’ll finally get some flower bulbs going there, too. Keep your fingers crossed.
To kick-off the first share of the season, you may find yellow sunn hemp in your bouquet. Farmer Skip has been growing this as a cover crop (e.g., a crop planted to restore soil). These hardy blooms are
cheerful, durable and dangle from 8 foot high stalks! Best of all, they sequester carbon so they’re doing their part to mitigate the effects of climate disruption.
Farmer Skip with First Flower Shares, Fall 2015
As you can see, the first share is a collection of long stemmed color — celoisas, hemp, ageratum, zinnia, sage and other goodies. Enjoy.