Monday, August 22, 2011

Kingdom Farm and Field Days

Monday, August 22, 2011

60°, windless, dripping wet, quiet, darker than a pocket. The ground squishes from last night's heavy rains. Black clouds have little openings of light pushing through but it's 5:30 now and morning will come slowly. Karl the Wonder Dog was not interested in much of a walk and has already returned to sleep which he instantaneously accentuates with loud snoring. I do not understand him.

Yesterday I made a quick escape from the flowers and the clean up chores at Vermont Flower Farm and I headed to Wolcott for the Kingdom Farm and Food Days presentation at High Mowing Organic Seeds. I went last year and had a great time and I have tried to promote High Mowing and the other agricultural businesses that try so hard to help Vermont through very difficult times. Yesterday was just part of an excellent promotional program that started the day before with tours of many businesses. If you have never heard about this opportunity, plug a "do-not-miss" reminder into your calendar page right now so you don't miss another year.

I almost never grow vegetables because we are just plain too busy with five acres of flowers. Gail and I do most of our work ourselves and we have never found a day stretcher yet that worked for us. Just the same we buy local vegetables and every year Gail makes some attempt to grow some things for us. This year the string beans, summer and winter squashes, lettuces, bok choy, carrots, cukes and 4-5 types of tomatoes have done well despite neglect and difficult weather. But it's because of limited involvement with vegetables that I love to go see what Tom Stearns and his staff have to offer at High Mowing. You should go too!

I don't know what impressed me the most this year. There's always so much to look at and a number of excellent talks make the afternoon speed by. The bazillion varieties of lettuces, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants make me ask if there is an end to what is being hybridized. Winter squashes were in abundance this year and the tomatoes in the greenhouse demonstrations were special.

I used to eat a lot of peppers and loved hot peppers until I ran into a little conflict with a blood pressure medicine I take. Touring High Mowing is not easy for me as the peppers are glorious and many I have never seen or heard of before. A blocky, bright red one named Ferrari looked challenging but I know better than to get into hot peppers again. There is something special about a plant heavily burdened by fruits that weigh the branches and this was clearly a great year for peppers.

Visitors loved the lectures and the one on seed saving that had started as I arrived was very well attended. I have had the luxury of attending the winter workshops High Mowing offers and have seen all their seed processing equipment used as they process seed for sale. Obviously this is far different than a home gardener saving a few tomato or squash seeds but it's important to understand the whole process.

A field of white nicotiana planted next to soy beans, potatoes and string beans provided a sweet scent and a great color contrast that encouraged camera shutters to click away. One lady was obviously allergic to the fragrance but despite sneezes she moved along to view the zinnias and sweet pea flowers.
Lettuce and other salad greens are obviously in great demand and the demonstration plantings support this. As I walked the rows I was dreaming of a bowl of fresh greens, basil, cukes and tomatoes topped with my secret recipe of Dog Team Tavern Dressing. It was only a dream but a colorful one just the same.
Brassicas in an organic garden come with small clouds of cabbage butterflies but for the size of the field, there weren't really that many fluttering by. I love cabbage and somehow missed the presentation on making sauerkraut which I thought would be fun.

As I began to head back to the truck and back to my real job, I watched the lecture group circle the gardens and make their way back to the original entry point. I could hear Tom Stearn's voice from the distance and I knew that once again he had made a lot of people happy.
Try not to miss this great event next year. In a couple days I'll have a bunch of pictures up on my Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens Facebook page. Take a look--maybe Tuesday. Right now I have to get the truck loaded and get down to work. Stop by the flower farm if you have a minute today. Plenty of deals on bare root daylilies and other plants we're moving along. Still some very nice hydrangeas, ginkos, witch hazels and lilacs.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Let us help you grow your green thumb!

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