Summertime Busy Time at Windy Thistle!

The summer growing season is in full bloom. We’ve got lovely flowers growing in all the gardens, so it’s pretty around the place, no matter where you go.

Pale Yellow Statice growing in the Southwestern Garden

As is usual, some stuff has taken off and some stuff has failed. Our potato crop will probably be a little slim, due to an error and our beet crop, thrice replanted, proved delectable to the local bunnies. We used a critter fence and they found a way in anyway and ate the beets and cauliflower to the ground. I really like beets and cauliflower and am stubborn, I’ll replant them again as long as I have more seed. We put row covers over the things they like to eat now made out of 4" welded wire bent over the beds and covered with row cloth.

Our row covers on the right, bean beds on the left.

The Little Gem Leaf Lettuce is a slow bolt variety but it’s coming to an end now, with only nineteen heads left. The Mixed Salad Greens are still doing well. We harvest it weekly and it grows right back. Baby carrots are lovely and about a fingerling size, sweet and tender. We have four varieties of beans and they are covered with bees and blooms. The peppers are ripening up, too.

Yellow Banana Pepper still on the plant.

Our garlic crop decided it was done for the year and we pulled it. It’s curing now. About two cups are in the dehydrator for dried minced garlic and the other 40 heads are braided to use fresh all winter. Just by chance, we used up our last head of garlic just as we started harvesting for this year.

Two long braids of garlic - we'll have fresh garlic all winter.

Summer Squash and Zucchini are coming in now, and filling out the Hugelkulture bed is mustard, cantaloupe and watermelon, all forming lovely fruits right now. The row of sunflowers along the side fence are beautiful and the tallest one is nearing ten feet tall. Those huge cheery bloom make me happy every time I see them. The bees are working over the melons and squash and sunflowers pretty heavily right now. I have to wait for little sisters to get out of the blossoms before I can harvest squash. I don’t mind, though, we’ll be harvesting honey at the end of this month and we all can’t wait.

The vines are spreading out from the Hugelkulture Bed

On the other side of that fence are the three rows of market tomatoes. There are a couple of hundred tomatoes in five varieties growing now and I can’t wait to see them ripening. Store bought tomatoes just don’t have the same deep flavor. We’re growing Ace, Blushing Pinks, Yellow Pear, Cherry and Roma.

This sunflower is nearly seven feet tall and you can see Miss Bumblebee gathering nectar and pollen.

We planted flowers on purpose for the first time this year. I’ve always focused on vegetables and herbs before. They flower, too, they just aren’t as well known for their flowers. The bees love the mint, basil and all the other herbs that are blooming right now as well as the marigolds that have always been a staple in my gardens for their pest repelling attributes. I planted some medicinal herbs this year – Yarrow, Borage and St. John’s Wort as well as the usual parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, among about eight other herbs. A new one for us this year is Cilantro. It’s got tiny but beautiful edible flowers. We’ve been making wild flower and herbs bouquets but the wildflowers are about done for the year.

Herbs & Flowers in the Cottage Garden

So, finally, we planted a lot of bouquet flowers, long stemmed and long lasting. Naturally, this year, the farmer’s market that I had signed up for didn’t open. So, we’re enjoying fresh bouquets weekly on our own table. We also sell bouquets and include them in the big weekly market basket. These flowers are also growing out in our bee yard, but haven’t blossomed yet. This weeks bouquet has Statice, Chamomile, Spearmint, Calendula, and Borage. It's a lovely accent for the dining table.

We also have built a new chicken coop for the second flock of birds that is owned by our housemate. She modeled her coop on my coop, so they match. We’re building another pen, too. This flock of Leghorns lays white eggs. Right now, they are small pullet eggs but every hen is laying! That’s almost four dozen a week on top of the almost four dozen we already got from the existing flock of brown egg layers.

The new work-in-progress coop is level, the pen is not.

Even through Covid-19, we’ve tried to remain open with egg and produce deliveries to South St. Louis city & county and points south. We continued to work on the campground in the meantime. Well, we finally have had our first guests at the campground, a party of three. They had come out to get stuff from the farm and stayed a couple of hours to fix our John Deere Tractor/Mower. In trade, we offered them a free weekend for two at the campground. They toured it, liked what they saw and came to stay and brought a paying brother. We have more work to do but we welcomed them in anyway.

The now working John Deere on the tarmac work area.

We maintained social distancing and they did, too. They were pleasantly surprised to find out that staying at our private campground comes with homemade apple-oatmeal muffins and a French press with coffee, tea and juice, served at their camp in the morning! Well, Bed and Breakfast is the name of our game. Then, our guests took advantage of the Big River access just three miles away and came back tired but happy from their afternoon.

Site #1 Raven's Nest, more work to do, logs to move, cinder blocks to remove.

We separated out the recreation firepit area so that they could come up and stay on the other side of the firepit but still enjoy the big 4th of July bonfire and woefully small fireworks display we had arranged for the grandgirls. Our resident fire dancer, Boyo #1, treated us to a dazzling display of spinning wheels of fire. Marshmallows were roasted, S’mores were provided and a good time was had by all under the light of the full moon and clear(ish) skies. Our guests left the next afternoon happy and refreshed and vowing to return later on this summer. It was a pleasant beginning to our campground.

Cool moon rising while the fire dancer makes pattern in the dark.

Sign up for Market Basket Fridays and get the newsletter about what tasty goodness is available from the gardens – just send me IM on Facebook to Windy Thistle Farm Stay B&B. It comes out every Thursday. We harvest Friday Morning for delivery Friday Afternoon - you just can't get it any fresher than that. The campground is open for one group of campers at a time, no more than ten and reservations are required. It's a great way to get away from the city and still maintain your personal safety.

Until next time, stay home if you can, stay safe and wear your mask if you can't stay home!