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.
Last week, I took a brief reprieve beside a lake in New Jersey. This much needed break from floods and other unexpected disappointments, meant that our talented staff crafted your bouquets.
By the look of this gorgeous weekly share photo (taken by our friend Kristen Wiggins), I wasn’t missed!
Growing cut flowers has meant learning new terms and tools. Scarification, Dibble Stick, and True Leaves are just a few that I’ve mastered. But “straight bunch” is a floral term that continues to make me giggle. Where are the gay bunches? Perhaps all bouquets should be called gay bunches as they make us so happy.
A straight bunch of celosia — meaning all the same flower — is coming your way for this week’s share. We thought it might be fun to take a break from mixed (gay) bouquets. Pictured below is our take on a straight bunch, with a variety of colors and shapes of celosia, including rippled heads, called combs or brains, and plumes or “feathers,” and spiked flat shoots. Something for everyone.
There are many reasons to love celosia: it’s edible and medicinal. Nutritionally, celosia leaves are comparable to other leafy greens, containing protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C. (Best to eat the leaves prior to flowers forming as the leaves become bitter.)
Celosia is widely used as medicine in Asia and Africa, especially in rural areas. Though Celosia’s use as an alternative cure for various ailments is not yet clinically proven, celosia seed is believed to be ophthalmic, hypotensive, and has antibacterial properties. Precaution must be taken because it causes dilation of pupils and is not advisable for patients with glaucoma. Celosia flower is also used to treat a wide variety of ailments (e.g., blurred vision, cataracts, diarrhea, bloody stool, uterine bleeding, tapeworm, and other types of parasites.)
That’s our kind of flower: useful and beautiful. Enjoy!
After so many gray, rainy days, we’re celebrating yellow. Time for new choices. With so many changes afoot on the farm, Robert Frost’s yellow wood inspires…
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This photo of Community Organizer Nikkie Shubitz holding our first flower share of the season makes me happy. She put together a group of people (a.k.a. “farm members”) at her office (a.k.a. “pick-up site”) who receive vegetables, eggs and flowers from Green Gate each week (a.k.a. “reliable income’).
COs are our Farm Angels. They alight with smiles, gathering shares and sprinkling us with encouragement. They do the hard work of extending the reach of our farm. In turn, we are forever grateful that they help do the marketing that keeps our farm in business. They also fill the gaps the farmer sometimes doesn’t have time to handle… Like answering:
“Why does my bouquet look like last weeks share?” Repeated flooding has made it difficult to plant new varieties.
“Why was my bouquet small at the start of the season?” Members receive abundance as the farm produces. Your flower shares grow larger with the season and should more than make up for the start of the season.
“Why does my bouquet arrive in a tin can?” Because we are certified organic, we do not add chemical extenders to water. And because Farmer Erin is persnickety about plastic, we don’t use plastic sleeves. So, in an effort to keep your stems hydrated, we recycle cans that should fit into your car’s cupholder (and, if you have several bouquets, in the recycled soda trays). Kinda convoluted, we know, but you see the method to our madness. Feel free to donate used cans!
As we head into our final six weeks of the season, our attention is shifting to Fall. The great news is that we have constructed a hoop house so our range of petals is about to increase significantly. We’re dreaming of peonies. What would you like us to grow? Now’s the time to let us know. Or tell your lovely Community Organizer.
Rain is predicted today. Again. Massive amounts are headed for east of 1-35 say the folks at KVUE. This time we’ve built up some berms in an attempt to redirect flooding. And I’m trying to focus on working with what we have, not mourning what was lost/delayed in earlier floods.
Remember this flower share from earlier in the season? It looks a whole lot like what you may be receiving this week. One of the main differences is that it will include lots of fennel and Mexican mint marigold (MMM). Fennel tastes like licorice and is great for digestion. MMM is a pungent tarragon substitute that also makes a delicious tea. According to an article in Mother Earth News, the plant was used by Aztecs to calm victims prior to sacrifice. Maybe I should grind some up for myself? The weather lately has made me feel like I’m scaling steep steps to something fearsome.
In some ways, the bouquets this week are fabulous. Scented, bright, long lasting, tasty…the problem is that a big gap is coming. Rains delayed our planned successions, then the May floods (now June floods?) wiped out our zinnias, artemesia, ammi, goldstick, chamomile and others. The floods also washed away the paper mulch that smothered weed seed. Without that protection, the fields are not pretty. Topsoil’s gone in some beds and weeds are doing a happy dance. Nuts.
What’s a flower farmer to do? Frankly, I’m not sure. We take pride in varying our bouquets every week but nature is working against us. We’ll keep you posted on how things develop. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy what comes your way.