What a busy month June has been! With the school year closing, there were final soccer games, concerts, field trips, recitals, and competitions to attend with our son. I didn’t know if I was coming or going half the time! So during this busy month, I tried to squeeze in as much time as possible in the garden between events and activities. So much was growing on in the garden!
Just as school events were ending, so too were some of the flowers. The peonies, ranunculus, and anemones finished their bloom cycle in early June. It was sad to see them go, but I know we’ll see them again next season. I decided to experiment with digging up and storing the anemone and ranunculus corms. They are currently drying before I tuck them away in storage. Luckily, as these flowers fade, new flowers bloom! This month saw the poppies, hydrangeas, delphinium, yarrow, penstemon, marsh mallow, scabiosa, sweet peas, larkspur, rudbeckia, and roses (to name a few) all open their petals for their seasonal debut.
As for edibles, we harvested handfuls of garlic scapes for stir fry and pesto. We also picked the first of the blueberries this month! They are just getting started with four of the twelve bushes bearing ripe fruit. The early varieties we grow are Duke, Reka, and Earliblue, but we know the other types won’t be far behind. Typically, July is our busiest blueberry harvesting month, but the season extends into August. We will have to wait until the end of the season to see if we break our 70-pound harvest record from last year! The tomatoes and peppers are blooming and starting to set fruit, and the bush beans are also well on their way. July is going to be a month of delicious homegrown meals!
The warmer weather has also brought some pests to the gardens. We are currently dealing with a few species. We have been seeing our first aphids, Japanese beetles, and tomato hornworms of the season, and a hungry spongy moth caterpillar (formerly known as the gypsy moth) that ate several of the rosebuds. Being a farm that does not use toxic pesticides, we apply natural methods to control these insects. Hand-picking, jets of water, and inviting beneficial insects to the farm to take care of these pests are just a few of the methods we use. But, we have also seen a lot of other insect activity here at Whistling Bee Farm, including many happy pollinators, which makes our hearts (and plants) happy. We even spotted two wild indigo duskywing chrysalises this week which hopefully will have emerging butterflies sometime soon.
There were a lot of new and exciting changes happening on the farm this month as well. With the growing season in full swing, we accomplished much planting over the past four weeks. One of this month’s planting projects was succession sowing zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers in the beds where the ranunculus and anemones had been. I also planted many new shrubs and perennials such as hydrangea, astilbe, smokebush, and St. John’s Wort for future bouquets. In addition, I expanded the Pollinator Playground garden to include perennials, delphinium, coneflower, butterfly weed, and rudbeckia and seeded it with annuals such as cosmos and zinnias. This garden also became the home of a new butterfly house built by my husband and a sign announcing that our farm is registered on the Pollinator Pathway.
Of course, this month’s most significant change is that we founded Whistling Bee Farm & Florals, becoming an official business! So, I made bouquets for new customers between school events, planting, and pest patrol. I found harvesting our flowers, making them into bouquets, and sharing them with customers gratifying. Bringing joy to others through our flowers is one of the missions of our farm. We have also made it a priority to donate several bouquets each month through the Growing Kindness Project or Abloom, which will get our flowers into the hands of people in shelters, senior homes, food pantries, and residential centers.
Lastly, we continued working on our cutting garden expansion project this month. The addition of chicken wire to the fencing is nearly complete, and great strides were made inside the shed. What began as an idea for a potting shed to store garden gear and supplies has expanded into creating a floral studio. This studio space will not only hold my garden supplies but also become where I process flowers, make bouquets, and allow my creativity to bloom. The interior is nearly complete since adding a new work table for flower arranging. After installing shelving, the studio will be ready for me to move in all of my supplies and tools. And when I have completed organizing these items, I’ll have fun decorating and adding the finishing touches that will make the floral studio my personal design space. After nearly 20 years of wishing and waiting, I am excited to see this project come to fruition!
So, as we head into July (an equally busy month), I am excited and optimistic about the future of Whistling Bee Farm. I have many plans and ideas that I can’t wait to work on in the upcoming season and beyond. Until then, may the flowers bloom and the bees whistle while they work. That’s what’s growing on in my garden; what’s growing on in yours?