It’s hard to believe that we are starting to close the door to summer and are about to welcome the fall season. But, I’m not going to lie; I’m ready for the cooler temperatures that the change of seasons will bring, making garden tasks much more enjoyable. This growing season has been challenging to say the least, between drought, record temperatures, and pest pressure, but it has also had its share of beauty. Each growing season always seems to have its share of ups and downs, highlights, and lowlights; such is the dynamic when working alongside Mother Nature. In this post, we’ll share some of those highlights as we discuss what’s been growing on at the farm in August.
The weather continued to be a significant concern as temperatures continued to soar, and lack of rain partnered with water restrictions made growing difficult. Towards the end of the month, we finally got our first significant rainfall in weeks, but it still amounted to less than an inch. It was, however, a welcomed sight, and I’m not ashamed to admit I ran outside to do a happy dance among the raindrops. As the drought drags on, it has become increasingly challenging to provide the minimum one inch of weekly water required by most plants, especially with our water collection system running dry. However, we have our fingers crossed that more rain will be on the way as we head into September.
Somehow, despite the water woes, we have still managed to cultivate much beauty on the farm. The zinnias are in full bloom, and the sunflowers, gomphrena, celosia, cosmos, and laceflower continue to thrive. Unfortunately, due to our unusually cool spring, the dahlias are at least a month behind. But, they are finally starting to flower and hit their stride. And we were delighted when the second flush of roses began to bloom.
Fresh flower bouquets have been going out weekly to happy customers and have included a kaleidoscope of colors that signify the best of summer, from the bright yellows and pinks to the moody shades of plums and purples. We have also donated flowers to local nonprofit organizations like Abloom that distribute the arrangements to shelters, food pantries, and nursing homes to brighten people’s lives. Donating a portion of our flower harvest has been a part of our mission here on Whistling Bee Farm from the start, and we are delighted to share our flowers in this way.
In the edibles department, the drought finally got the better of our bush beans and tomatoes. Luckily, we harvested a good crop before they succumbed to the weather or wildlife. Unfortunately, the blueberry season also came to a close in August, with the drought significantly impacting harvest totals this season. As a result, we harvested about thirty pounds less than last year. However, the peppers are thriving despite the climate conditions, and the plants continue to produce into September.
As we head into the fall season, we are also looking to add more perennials to the farm. Perennials will help fill the gap between annual blooms and will hopefully provide consistent flowers for bouquets throughout the growing season. Sedums, alliums, and yarrow are just a few new additions to the perennial gardens. Of course, I have also been busy making seed and bulb orders in preparation for next season and am starting to dream of what next year will bring. I’ve also been busy working on some exciting plans for Whistling Bee’s 2023 season, and I can’t wait to share them with you over the upcoming months. Stay tuned!
We also managed to step away from the farm for a few days in mid-August when we took a quick weekend trip to Washington, D.C. The trip was a bit spur-of-the-moment as we discovered that one of my son’s friends from Brazil was visiting the U.S. for a limited time. They hadn’t seen each other in six years, and it was worth the trip to see them reunited. Of course, while we were there, we took in the sights, enjoyed some fantastic food, and recharged our batteries. It turned out to be just what we all needed without knowing it.
Back on the farm, we made some exciting progress in the garden expansion project. The landscapers we hired were finally able to return and complete our new garden space. They hauled in beautiful garden soil to expand our existing beds and gravel to frame the floral studio. As a result, we are closer than ever to seeing this project’s completion. With the bed expansion, our growing space, within less than 24 hours, was more than doubled! The timing couldn’t have been better, as we will soon be planting fall bulbs and planning the 2023 growing season. Next, we will focus again on the floral studio’s interior, which needs shelving and final touches before bringing our tools and supplies in for storage.
Finally, I want to share a few of the most exciting and meaningful moments for me personally on the farm this past month. As most of you know, I am very passionate about pollinators (I even named our farm after one!). From the moment I started dreaming about creating our gardens and this business, I have kept pollinators in mind. Last year I completed a Pollinator Playground garden, a bed dedicated to providing plants for pollinators. This garden has become one of my favorite places on our property. I’ve seen various pollinators in that garden, from butterflies to hummingbirds, bees, wasps, and beetles. In mid-August, I was thrilled to find a monarch caterpillar feasting on the butterfly weed, and a few days ago, I witnessed a newly emerged monarch butterfly from its chrysalis. In July, the monarch butterfly was placed on the endangered species list, so it means a lot to me that I was able to provide a habitat for these beautiful creatures to grow and thrive. It just shows that one person and one garden, no matter how small, can make a difference; that makes my heart happy.
That’s what’s been growing on in the garden during August. What’s growing on in yours?