Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Blessings of Poo

The really great thing about the word "Poo?"  It got you to read past the title, didn't it?!?  Ha!  I knew it!

I'm going to start putting "poo" into every blog title to get people to read more of our blog posts.  I can see that this is a fool-proof plan.  This is especially true if I'm the fool and a single post with "poo" in the title constitutes "proof."  And, now that I have your attention, let me bring you back to the topic at hand.

Really, the topic IS at least partially about poo.  Seriously.  Well, ok.  Since I am supposed to be a professional farmer, I should use the word "manure."  If you want to sound professional and evasive at the same time, you can refer to it as "soil amendments" or "added fertility."  But, since I am ALSO a person who is amused by wordplay and general silliness, we're still going to use the word "poo" just because... it's our blog and I CAN.

Portable Poo Factories on the job.
For a couple of seasons, we have been using an area just East of the hen pasture to pasture the henlets and/or some of our broiler chickens.  As evidenced above, the area was cordoned off by electric poultry netting and a portable building was provided for shelter.  Meanwhile, several Carbon-based Portable Poo Factories roamed freely in this area.  This section of land on our farm has not been anything other than pasture since we've been here.  Well, ok, the first several years it was mostly ragweed and foxtail, so I don't think that really counts.

We have tried to include pastured poultry in our rotation as often as we are able, but this would be the first time we turned a pasture area into a growing area.  Frankly, it would be nice if we had a bit more tillable space to do this more often (put things into and take them out of pasture).  But, we work with what we have.

In this case, we knew we had another area that we wanted to put birds in this year and we were realizing that we need to try and get more growing space moved to the interior of the farm (because of chemical drift issues among other things). We got this idea a few years ago and purposely started putting chickens out there to build up fertility using Portable Poo Factories.  After all, if they'll spread it for us AND give us eggs?  Sounds like a good deal to me.
early March 2018
This area actually has a bit more history since we had to dig a fairly deep trench in the Spring of 2015 to run frost-free water lines out to Valhalla (the high tunnel on the right in this picture).  You might actually be able to see some of the path this trench took if you look carefully and you can definitely still see the remnants of a dirt pile that has yet to be redistributed to better locations in the center.  We were actually gearing up to do some work in this area in March until...
Late March 2018
We did manage to put some plastic down roughly where we wanted to add a new growing plot before the white stuff started to fall on the farm.  If you don't recall, we got most of our snow from March 20 to April 20 this past Winter.  

April 2018
This really put us a bit in doubt as to whether we would have time to work up the new plot.  First of all, the plot does have a bit of a dip in the middle that is wetter than the rest.  We were thinking we might try to raise that up a bit.  Second, we are encroaching a bit on "old farmstead" area where old foundations (among other things) might be encountered.  We knew there was good soil there as well, but any time you try to work new ground, you have to expect some surprises (both good and bad).
June 2018
Our normal approach to work this ground would have been to use the two-bottom plow and follow up with the tandem disk to smooth it out.  But, we had put plastic down, so we pulled it and mowed things as close as we could.  Then, we used Vince (our power harrow) because we were curious as to what it could do AND we were running short on time.  At issue is that we do not want to overwork the soil and lose all the good Poo Byproduct (aka added fertility) that should be in this area.  The result is what you see above. 

We did find more rocks than we usually do on the farm, but things worked up pretty well.  Unfortunately, the delays put us into the period of time where everything was wet.  So, we ended up having to work the field before we should have and the soil structure is now a bit rough and pebbly for the season.
late July
Even though these tomato plants went in later than we wanted, they are catching up to the normal schedule fairly quickly.  It will be interesting to see how they compare to similar plants put into another area of the farm in plots that have been worked for a few years (and are closer to the edges of the farm).

All I can say is that it's all good because of the poo.  You're welcome and come back again soon!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sunshine and Smiles

 August is, oddly enough, one of our favorites on the farm on many levels.  But, the biggest positive has to do with the number of annual flowers that put on their best clothes during the month.

 We try to plant more zinnias every year, but it never seems like we put as many in as we really wanted.  Perhaps we're just greedy?  This year, we've actually put plantings in throughout the season.  Why?  Well, it's not really a succession thing.  It has more to do with not giving up. 

 The flowers you see here were both in the planting in our tomato field.  This one went in on time and germinated well.  It also got weeded!  Needless to say, it is successful and very enjoyable to see.  There is another planting of zinnias in another plot that went in much later, but we expect them to start blooming at the tail end of August.  We might have preferred to have put them in earlier, but life didn't allow it.  Instead of accepting that we didn't get the zinnias in at the planned on time, we planted them anyway.  The plants look healthy and are rapidly growing now.  Maybe we should make this a succession thing?

We have a nice hedge of sunflowers in another vegetable crop.  In fact, this plot is adjacent to the plot with the nice zinnia planting, so the path between the two is going to be wonderful to walk.

This hedge started blooming a week or so ago.  And, just to the south is our last succession of summer squash and zucchini.  They look awfully small when you compare them to their lofty neighbors.

Sunflowers attract larger bumblebees and small birds along with some butterflies.  On Tuesday, Rob observed Mrs Bunting and offspring and some Eastern Goldfinches in the sunflower hedge.

We're not entirely sure if the sunflowers will do much to attract pollinators for our squash plants, though we are certain they won't hurt in that endeavor.  Perhaps the biggest thing is that the sunflower hedge provides a fence of a sort.  We'd been having deer traffic through this area that has since been diverted by this planting.  Happily, deer are more easily diverted on our farm than they might be for people living closer to a metropolitan area.  That doesn't mean we don't have to do other things to protect our crops - but the sunflowers do play a part in the whole strategy.  Think of it as a part of our IPM (Integrated Pest Management).

So, what could possibly go wrong with using sunflowers as a hedge next to another crop?  Well, you do need to consider the competition for water and nutrients.  You don't want the sunflowers to steal away what the squash plants need.  So, we've been fairly careful with spacing.  Our crops are to the South of the sunflowers, so our squash plants should get plenty of sun.  The only issues we can think of include the possibility that we would attract birds and other critters that cause problems with our crop OR a strong North wind could lay all of the sunflowers down.  They are tall enough that they would reach that first row of summer squash.

But, it's pretty hard not to like the beautiful flowers that show up and survey the goings-on of our farm.  The birds like them and they don't really care much for the squash, so we aren't seeing much of a problem there either.  But, the real winner is the fact that it is VERY difficult to frown and think negative thoughts when you look at them.

When you choose to run the type of farm we run, it can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed.  It isn't all that hard to be disappointed in things that don't go exactly as you wanted them - and there are soooo many opportunities for things to go awry that it's actually a bit of a surprise when something does go EXACTLY as you planned.  It doesn't necessarily help that we set the bar pretty high - and then raise it every season.

The solution?  Plant more sunflowers.  Plant more zinnias.  And smile a bit more often as you look at them.

We'll take it.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Farm Tour

I heard that you haven't visited the farm before, so I thought you might enjoy a bit of a tour.

What?  I didn't know you lived in a "gated community!"
Well, actually, I cheated a little bit there.  I thought a gate might be a nice symbolic way to indicate that we were entering the Genuine Faux Farm.  But, that's really just the bigger gate into the hen pasture.  From the hen's perspective, I suppose it IS the entry to the Genuine Faux Farm.

From your perspective, this might be a more likely entry to the farm.  You might be able to see this from the road - or at least near enough to it.  We ordered up some special blue sky and fluffy clouds to help dress it up nice for you.

Apparently, we have a penchant for red roofs that stand out well against the blue skies. We've had some decent rains through July and into August so the grass is still nice and green and you might be able to see the splashes of color the daylilies, helianthus, phlox and other flowering plants provide up by the house. 

Yes, the granary could probably be painted the REST of the way up, but we never seem to get that towards the top of our "to-do" lists.  

If we walk past the house and the buildings to the Western portion of the farm, you can see Eden, the smaller of our two high tunnel buildings.  The big blue harvestore silo towers over the rest of the farm, but it does little else than stand there and look important.  More important are the flowers you see in the picture.  Yes, the yellows and reds at the right are a flower planting of daylilies and other nice perennials.  But, it's the white and purple you see straight ahead.  That's an area of lawn we let go with some nice clover.  The Queen Anne's Lace is getting a bit too prominent, so we'll mow it down soon (just like we did some of the area in the foreground).  Hopefully, this will encourage a second, later bloom by the clover.

We've got a couple of peach trees.  They aren't the prettiest trees you will ever see, but we're a bit far North to expect them to thrive.  Instead, we're just happy they have lived as long as they have.  Maybe this year, we'll get to these peaches BEFORE the Japanese Beetles do.  Last year, our trees had the nicest and biggest peaches we've ever seen them produce, but the beetles got there exactly when the peaches were ripe.  We got to eat a little bit of them, but it was pretty disappointing.

We've got apple trees in two areas of the farm and we have some pears, plums and other fruit trees.  There are fruiting bushes and canes/vines as well.  Some of these things we leave for the wildlife, others we harvest for ourselves.  Sometimes, we have enough to share with others either through our CSA or with a few small direct sales. 

You might notice the small structures behind the apple trees in the Southeast pasture (just next to the barn that is falling down).  These buildings are portable, though they are heavy enough that moving them is a minor project some days.  We use solar powered chargers to keep the electric netting running.  That keeps the chickens in that pasture area safe from many predators.  It looks like it is time for us to expand their area since the birds have put on a growth spurt recently!

Speaking of birds, we currently have four flocks at the farm and we will soon be adding a fifth.  The main hen flock is in the Northwest in their new portable hen building.  The "henlets" are our younger hens that will be integrated into the main flock this Fall.  They reside in a horse trailer so we can move them around to new pasture every so often.  Hens are notorious for scratching things up, so we have to consider where they are going next to keep pasture areas healthy.

You might notice more of our apple trees in the pasture with the henlets.  We're going to move their pasture soon since a couple of the birds have figured out how to fly into the trees and take stabs at the apples.  We're not growing the apples for them!  They get all kinds of things and we would prefer they left the apples alone. 

We've noticed our birds seem to have a knack for determining just when we don't have the time for an extra job.  That's the moment they press an issue (like getting into apple trees).  After all, if we're so busy doing other things that they are not the top priority, then it is time for them to MAKE themselves more important.  However, what they do not know is that the farm supervisors (the cats) are ALWAYS more important.  I guess it is all relative.  Clearly, the animals are all more important than the farmers since they all get to eat breakfast before the farmers do.

We were talking about some of the areas we do not mow to allow clover and other flowers to do their thing.  YOu can see some evidence in that patch over there where a monarch is checking out a clover flower.  We also have various types of milkweed throughout the farm.  We still don't see as many monarchs (and other butterflies) as we might like for all of the habitat we try to maintain.  But, we are still quite happy to have a monarch floating lazily by as we move from one part of the farm to another. 

Speaking of milkweed, we added some Swamp Milkweed to the ditches by our other high tunnel (which we have called Valhalla).  The ditch is there to control the water that is shed off of the plastic during a rainfall.  These swamp milkweed like to be saturated every so often, so this seems to be a good combination.

If you can't see the swamp milkweed very well, you can walk up closer.  To do that, you just click on the picture and you'll see more details.

The area behind the milkweed has some of the crops we had in Valhalla before we moved the building to its West position.  That's the cool thing about our high tunnels, they are both mobile and we move them once a year.  This allows us to rely on Mother Nature to do some of the soil cleansing that doesn't happen when the ground is covered year around.

We also like to plant zinnias, marigolds, nasturtiums and other flowers throughout the farm.  In particular, we like to put in beds of flowers next to the beds of vegetables we have in our fields.  Perhaps you haven't noticed since we've been looking at buildings, fruit trees, flowers and poultry, but we grow about five acres of vegetables.  That's actually the main focus of the farm and working with these crops takes up the main portion of our time during the growing season.

The zinnias here are actually placed just South of one of our tomato rows.  We do like to increase the pollinators on the tomatoes if we are able.  While tomatoes are self-fertile and do not require a pollinator to set fruit, studies have shown that production increases dramatically with the presence of pollinators.  We also like to have a little vegetative height to the south of the tomatoes as the tilt of the Earth takes the Sun southward.  Fruit that are exposed to the sun too much are subject to sun scald.  The zinnias get tall enough that they can help to reduce that problem.  And... they're pretty.  And... the monarchs love them too.

One of our many crops is the broccoli.  We grow three varieties of broccoli: Gypsy, Imperial and Belstar.  We are running another trial for the Practical Farmers of Iowa Cooperators Program with the broccoli this year.  You will notice there are marigolds every thirty plants in each row.  This indicates a change in variety.  Each of these rows has 180 broccoli plants broken into groups of 30. 

Don't get too worried about the weeds on the left and right.  There are onions in those beds that we are harvesting.  As we harvest, the weeds will go away as well.  Of course, we would prefer to show you perfectly cultivated beds everywhere you look.  But, the reality is that we can't get everything done on the farm that we want to do.  Choices are made, weather happens and things get done as best as we can get them done.  Welcome to life on a real farm.

We added a new plot in the center of the farm that we call Middle Earth.  You can guess one of our favorite authors - especially if we tell you that the seven plots in the East are collectively called the Eastfarthing.  We had chickens on this field for a couple of years and now we're growing tomatoes in this plot.  So far, so good!

You can see the self-important Harvestore at the right and the Poultry Pavilion in front of it.  The granary gets to be in the center underneath the nice blue sky so it can show off its red roof and two-tone front. 

The northwest area of the farm has been slated as pasture area in part because some of it stays too wet for us to hope to grow veggies there.  You can see the portable hen building at the left.  It's red.  Imagine that!  I'm not sure we're that fond of red, yet we paint things that color.  We have put in several trees along the North and West borders and in the pasture areas.  Over time, we hope this provides some shelter for our flocks from some of the harsher elements.  Well, and we also like trees. 

You can see Crazy Ol' Maurice (the Weeping Willow) and Blaize (the tall Maple tree).  At right you can see one of the Bristle Brothers (Blue and Black Hills Spruces) and maybe you can see Gretel (the Austrian Pine) in the center.  Yes, we name our trees.  Or at least some of them. 

What?  You're leaving already?  Was it something I said?  Or does the naming of trees worry you?  I haven't introduced you to Rosie and Durnik, our tractors...

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August Newsletter

But... we just got started...
Another succession of lettuce getting started
I took the time to start the August newsletter on July 29 and took solace in the fact that we actually have two MORE days of July before we officially turn the calendar.  After all, it just doesn't seem like we should be in August already.  So many things haven't really gotten going like we're used to by now.  We still have more things we want to plant (we'd better hurry up!) and the clock on Tammy's farm availability is starting to tick (but do NOT tell her that - be kind!).

This July finally found our fields drying up after a much wetter than average June (9 inches, which is well beyond the 7.8" upper range for normal variability).  Thus far, we are running fairly close to an average amount of rainfall for July, with it getting progressively drier as the month goes on.  As a result, we have been fighting to catch up on the cultivating and weeding that just couldn't happen in June.  The month also closed out with some beautiful weather.   This helped us to keep plugging along and about the only complaint we have about it is that we kept working until we were very, VERY tired.  But, that's ok, because most of that work was productive - even as we wish we could have gotten even more done.

The other big focus in July was trying to deal with the specter of agri-chemical misapplication - both real and possible.  We realize there is still a heavy week of spray likely coming up, so it isn't over yet.  In fact, a helicopter was flying a field a half mile to our northeast Sunday evening.

We keep bringing this up because it is part of the reality that we live on the farm during this time of year.  It's on our minds enough that even the sound of the walk-in cooler's A/C unit kicking in will elicit visions of helicopters, airplanes and spray vehicles when we hear it.  Frankly, it's a good time for headphones and music.

The other characteristic of July for us is that we begin having trouble figuring out how many days have passed since certain things have happened.  The "wasn't that just last week/yesterday/this morning?" comment came up at least three times today alone.  Alas, it is all a blur!  Some people look at their phones to see what time it is.  Rob looks at it to figure out what day of the week/date/month it is.  Who cares about what time it is?  You can figure that out from the position of the sun!

Summer Fest at the Genuine Faux Farm is Coming

Our annual Summer Festival at the farm is scheduled for Saturday, August 18 this year.  We would like to invite all friends of the farm, family and friends of the farmers to attend this event.   The event will be preceded with a Tom Sawyer Day for those who might like to volunteer some time on the farm either prepping for the festival or helping do a little weeding or other farm work so things look beautiful when everyone else arrives.. If you would be so kind as to RSVP that you plan to attend, it would help us immensely with our preparations. 
While we hope for good weather, we will gather regardless of the weather.  This year’s festival will feature a GFF turkey or two (prepared by Tammy), good food, family-friendly fun, the annual Farm Foto Treasure Hunt, farm tours and other activities.  Additional food is potluck style, so think about what you would like to share!
We hope this event gives everyone a chance to celebrate the closing of Summer with us at the farm. Bring your family, kids and friends (but please leave pets, tobacco and alcohol at home). Our farm has open space for kids of all ages to run around, chase balls, meet the poultry, and share in the fun. We encourage you to bring lawn-games, blankets and chairs, table service would be helpful.  Leave the electronic devices in the car.
If you have suggestions for entertainment at our festival, please contact us.
Picture of the Month
Tammy thinks this may be one of our better farm pictures and I tend to agree, though I like another picture about as well (and we'll share it later).

Genuine Faux Farm at Western Homes in Cedar Falls
We are working with the chefs at the Western Homes Jorgensen Plaza for Well-Being in Cedar Falls to begin providing them with produce and poultry grown and raised on our farm.  As things develop, we hope some of our product will begin appearing regularly on the menus at the Gilmore Pub, Caraway Cafe and Table 1912.  We are also hopeful that some of the catered events at the Diamond Event Center.  

At present, the restaurants and center are just getting going (each of the restaurants are open and the center is holding events and taking bookings for events).  We encourage you to visit and patronize these locations.  Feel free to encourage them to use local produce when you visit. 

While we are playing 2018 "by ear" with respect to growing for Western Homes, we are hoping to establish some patterns that we can improve on for future years.   For example, our lettuce trials in 2018 will help us identify lettuce varieties that fit the needs of the various restaurants and the catering services.  Lettuce is one of the crops we can easily scale up to provide more product than we currently do.  Positive results in this endeavor can help us to continue to serve the community with local sales by helping to provide us with a solid financial base from which to work.

Weather Wythards
July was anything but average EXCEPT that the aggregate numbers will come out to be.. well.. average.  We have found this site gives very useful summaries of weather for the Waterloo area.  We adjust slightly for our area since we are a fair bit North of Waterloo.  Without further ado, we give you the weather summary from the Genuine Faux Farm:

July's Report
High Temp: 93
 Low Temp:50
Heat Index: 119
Highest wind gust: 29 out of West
 Rain: 3.06"
 Humidity Range:46%-99%
Barometer Range: 29.51-30.35

Year Through June
High Temp: 97
Low Temp: -20
Lowest Windchill: -34
Highest Heat Index: 119
Highest Wind gust: 46 mph
Rainfall: 21.74"
Barometer Range: 29.39 to 30.89

Looking Forward
There is a great deal to look forward to in August.  The first tomatoes start to roll in and the melons grace us with their presence.  At present, the melon crop is looking quite good and the tomatoes are looking passably good.  The latter got a slow start, but they are progressing in a way that seems positive to us.  We have our Summer Festival on the 18th and we also anticipate the arrival of our farm friends on the 12th for a work and food day at our farm.  We look for this August to be an affirmation of all that we work for at our farm and we hope you will join us in doing so.
 For those who might like to volunteer, we are willing to host volunteers in early August for work projects of varying kinds.  And, if you are reading carefully, you'll see that we also like to have some volunteers to help us with the Summer Festival.  We hear from several people every year that they have interest - so if you are one of those, now is the time to contact us and follow through!

We get to see some nice fireworks from our own home on August 3 with the Tripoli Days festivities going on.  Neither of us is fond of the noise, so this is a nice compromise for us.  Sometimes, we have considered going to the Irish Festival in Waterloo and the Bremer County Fair.  They all intersect this year, so we'll probably just stay home and read a book!  Anyone see that coming?

Rob, the katydid whisperer
The school year is also approaching, which means you will see less of Tammy at the CSA distributions and more of Rob.  We know that is a terrible disappointment for all of the Tammy fans out there.  But, please, give Rob a chance.  He spends so much time talking to vegetables, cats and poultry during the Summer months that he needs to practice his 'human' language now.

And, speaking of looking forward, we are already looking forward to 2019's growing season.  Tammy and Rob sat down for their own "Nota Conference" to discuss which way we needed/wanted to go with the farm in the future.  Working with Western Homes is one part of the equation and we anticipate other changes as well.  We continue to adapt to the changing landscape in ways that we think we can serve our customers best while working with the environment and keeping ourselves sane and healthy.  We anticipate that we will share more as this season progresses and the next approaches.

CSA Slots Open for the Fall
We have spots in our CSA open for those who would like to join us for the late Summer and Fall months.  We will gladly pro-rate our CSA share price for anyone wishing to join us for each delivery week or for alternating delivery weeks.  Do you know someone who is moving into the area that might like our program?  Point them our way, we anticipate that we could serve as many as 20 more customers.  Refer someone who joins us and make sure they tell us that you did so and we'll give you (and them) a nice new Chico Bag for picking up your produce!

Song of the Month
It Is What It Is - by Adam Again.   Probably one of the best bands that most people have never heard of.  Enjoy!

Veggie Variety of the Month
We've started harvesting the Boothby's Blonde cucumbers and they are looking good!  These small, white/yellow cucumbers have black spines and a very thin, tender skin.  They have a great taste and are well worth the effort of growing.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pollinator Paradise in Crisis

Tammy and I have been growing at the Genuine Faux Farm since 2004.  Prior to that, we did our fair share of gardening.  We'd like to think that we have some idea what attracts pollinators.  We'd also like to believe that we know when pollinator numbers are lower than they should be.

Folks.  The numbers are low and they are declining on our farm.  We suspect this is also true throughout the state of Iowa and probably most of the world today. 
We have not seen this type of black honey bee on the farm before.
 While it is true that we do continue to observe many interesting creatures on our 15 acres of "Pollinator Paradise" (or so we like to call it), we have been alarmed that we can work so hard to provide habitat and NOT see certain flowers swarming with all sorts of pollinating insects.

Note the honeybee on the flowers.
For example, we planted several Swamp Milkweed, courtesy of K&K Gardens in Hawkeye, Iowa.  Monarchs should like them, as should milkweed bugs.  While we have had some monarchs on the common milkweed on the farm, we've only seen a couple of honeybees on these new plants - even though the plants seem to be doing well and blooming nicely. 

At present, the oregano is in full bloom.  Oregano and many other flowering herbs are known to attract bees of all sorts and coneflowers are often listed as a good pollinator attracting plant.  Everything you read (and our own experience) tells us that diverse blooms over a long period of time should provide plenty of habitat to keep the pollinators healthy and happy.  And yet, there wasn't much of a buzz going on with the flowers I found in this picture.

The wind was light.  It was mostly sunny with some clouds to keep things from being too hot.  The temperatures were reasonable and I took this picture during a time of the day when past experience has shown me that pollinators would really be out an about.

I stood still for a while and waited to see if I was just not being patient enough.  Yes.  There were some pollinators in the patch.  Perhaps it is just a small patch?  Maybe not big enough to elicit a response?

You decide.  Is this patch big enough?

Not seen in the picture are the clover mixed in with the Queen Anne's Lace, the Rudbekia to the left and phlox further back and to the left.  And, that's just what is flowering now.  It's a good area for pollinators.  We've seen more activity in this area in the past.  So, something is going on here.

A native bee in the zinnia.
 The zinnias are just getting going and we know by experience that they are also very good at attracting a range of pollinators from bees to bumblebees to butterflies. 

It's not like we don't grow enough of them to make a difference (see one of our rows at the right).  We are particularly disturbed by the relatively low numbers of bumblebees this year.  We are pretty friendly to bumblers since we allow active nests to remain in a couple of our outbuildings.  Frankly, we are so worried about their decline that we wouldn't think of evicting them. 

Perhaps we will see an explosion of activity in August.  In fact, August is usually the busiest month on our farm for bumblebees and other native bees.  But, we still feel there is a problem here.

If you are not sold that there is a problem, consider this:
Zucchini and other squash are pollinated by Squash Bees (a native bee) and other bees (who are less efficient at pollinating than squash bees).  A squash flower needs to be visited 6 to 10 times by Squash Bees in the early morning to set fruit properly (more visits by other pollinators).  Our zucchini and summer squash production have gone down per row foot over the years as we have seen more instances of fruit that were not fully pollinated.  These fruit tend to not fill out properly or will yellow and rot off.  We have seen much more evidence of insufficient pollination the past three to five years in our summer squashes.

We will grant you that weather conditions can prevent visits by pollinators, so it is not unusual to have a period of time every season where there are more cull fruit due to poor pollination.  But, there is a difference between seasonal variability and trends across multiple seasons. 

We have been convinced that there is a problem that needs addressing.  One of our responses on our farm has been to increase the pollinator habitat and maintain it as best as we can.  Even with all of this effort, we fear we are losing the battle. 

What are the observations on other fronts?  We would love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

LilyPalooza 2018

 It is time for the annual LilyPalooza at the farm for 2018!  While the iris bloom was disappointing this year, the day lilies have picked up the slack and are giving us quite a showing.  It's interesting to note that certain day lilies are having a great year and others that had a great year in prior seasons are less happy.   Regardless, we're very happy with the diverse set of blooms we get to experience on our farm.

Some blooms have subtle coloring
While others are bold.
This is one of our largest blooms, much larger than our hand.
Some, like this one, stand out more when many flowers are open at once.  Though we won't say no to a single like this one.
But, the Oriental Lilies really prefer to show off all at once!

We've got some day lilies that have nicely ruffled petals.  They tend to bloom one to three at a time on a single plant.
We've added a couple over the years, that go all out at once.

This one may be the most stunning day lily this year.  I don't recall it blooming for us before.  Or maybe the light was just right?
Rocket City is having a great year and is one of our favorites.

It's actually unusual to find a coral pink day lily.  It had a great year last year and is a little off this year.

We like the idea of this one for a "mass planting" to show off from a distance.
And this one actually sparkles when the sun hits it just right.

Last year, this plant went insane with flowers.  This year, it wants us to know that it still cares, but it needs a break.  Overdid it a bit?
Thin petals?
Broad petals?

How about just some pink petals?

It's easy to overlook the coloring change at the throat of many day lilies.  Most seem to go to a yellow.
Speaking of yellow, it's hard to not like the traditional Hyperion.

What? More Orientals crashing the party?  Who said they could be here?
We hoped you enjoyed your virtual LilyPalooza tour of 2018.  For prior LilyPalooza postings, you can view our 2017 LilyPalooza and the 2015 Feast for the Eyes.  You might also enjoy this end of July Flower Tour in 2013.