Wednesday, February 18, 2015

See What's Growing this Spring at Iron Oak Farm

Our spring plans are coming along nicely and I'm excited for the many ventures ahead of us.

I'm almost positive that at least 2 of our Nubian dairy goats are pregnant and I already have two buyers (that I know and trust) lined up to purchase goat babies.

We have our package bees on order, and our second hive is almost put together.

We just got the mohair back from the mill, 61 pounds and I've placed my dye order so I can't wait to start dying and spinning again!

We also have a deposit on two new heritage breeds of turkeys for us. Narraganset and Bourbon Reds! 

New chicks will be joining us as well. I plan on breeding our Welsummer rooster and hens, and our Aracaunas. In addition, I have some Columbian Wyandottes coming and some more Jersey Giants in white and black. Unfortunately, we didn't get a rooster with our batch last spring, so there will be no breeding this year of the Giants. Fingers crossed we get a boy in the mix this year!

In addition to all of this, we have lots of plans for the garden. We hope to expand our raised beds since they worked so well last year. And we are both determined to have a pumpkin patch. Last spring we let it go because we were getting hay equipment fixed up and last fall, we really missed it.

Every February one of my favorite local garden shops has a 50% off seeds sale that we take advantage of. My favorite seed variety that they offer is the Botanical Interests. Botanical Interests provides some really interesting varieties and almost all their seeds are USDA Certified Organic. I also adore the hand drawn images on the front of each packet.

This year, like every year, we went crazy with enthusiasm and purchased many different varietys of vegetables, herbs and flowers. Here is what we got.

Lettuce and Spinach

Bloomsdale Spinach
Tom Thumb Butterhead Lettuce
Speckles Butterhead Lettuce
Marvel of Four Seasons Butterhead Lettuce

We always grow a lot of spinach, so I intend to add to this one seed packet as the season goes on.

We chose 3 different varieties of Butterhead Lettuce, because it has become one of our favorite mild lettuces. It's perfect for lettuce wraps, sandwich toppers and salads with heavy dressings as it doesn't compete for flavor. The center, core stem is usually small, yet the lettuce leaves are somewhat sturdy and provide lots of crunch. I was excited to see it offered in three varieties, so I picked up one of each. I also plan on buying starts of a spicy spring mix variety that we get each year at a local garden center. I like spring mixes with simple dressings like vinegar and oils or in sandwich wraps.

Carrots, Beets, and Radishes 

Carrot Asian Kuroda
Beet Gourmet Blend
Easter Egg Blend Radish

We grew these carrots last year and they are wonderful! A nice medium sized carrot and very, very sweet! We are also trying a gourmet beet blend and radish blend which provides an assortment of interesting colors. These blends are another reasin I like Botanical Interests because they provide nice assortment packages of vegetables that we wouldn't neccesarily buy several packets of. I intend to add a French Breakfast Radish at a later time in the season.


Parsley: Italian Dark Green Flat
Basil: Italian Genovese
Cilantro: Long Standing
Dill: Boquet
Fennel: Perfection

I always start plenty of herbs in the house. They are easy to grow and for some reason garden centers always charge a lot for started seeds.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Cauliflower: Chef's Choice Blend
Broccoli: Romanesco

I'm very excited to try both of these varieties. The cauliflower blend provides different color variations including white headed, green and purple! I'd also like to find some Cheddar cauliflower which forms an orange head. We grew that year before last and it was a wonderful producer! I'm also excited to try the Romanesco Broccoli. This beautiful variety creates intricate star shaped broccoli florets.

Pumpkins, Gourds and Squashes

Blue Hubbard Squash
Red Warty Thing
Lumina Pumpkin
Jarrahdale Pumpkin
Howden Pumpkin
Musquee de Provence
Gourd: Hard Shelled Corsican
Cinderella Pumpkin
Lemon Cucumber

And....the pumpkin patch!!! What can I say? My absolute favorite thing to grow! For more about Iron Oak Farm pumpkins visit our Pumpkin Page.

Interesting Finds!

Okra: Red Burgundy
Okra: Clemson Spineless 80
Artichoke: Green Globe Improved

These are my "interesting" varieties this year. I'm super excited to have found this artichoke that will grow in northern climates. We've never been able to grow artichokes! And I found a Red variety of Okra. We grew Okra year before last and it was wonderful! Slow to start, but once it started producing, we had more okra than we knew what to do with.

Peas and Beans

Sugar Snap Pea
Pole Bean: Trionfo Violetto
Pole Bean: Scarlet Emperor
Buch Bean Pencil Pod

Of course, we have to have sugar snap peas in the garden. Otherwise what would I snack on while I pull weeds? We're also grwong a new variety of purple beans. I usually grow Amethyst, but I saw this Violetto and thought we'd give it a try. It's suposed to be a sweet, nutty variety. I also love wax beans. I love the buttery flovor and the delicate crunch!


Lavender: French Purple Ribbon
Lavender: Hidcote Dwarf
Lavender: English Tall
Lavender: Lavandula Angustifolia

My big project this year is to grow a lavender field. I can't wait! I was super excited to find these perrenial varities in seed form. Some of these will not tolerate our winter climates, but I'm going to give it a try. I have a lavender plant that is 8 years old and still kicking. It was supposed to be a bi-annual and it's survived several winters and a move, so.... There will be a blog post soon on starting lavender plants indoors.

Summer wouldn't be summer without our sunflowers. I'm sure we'll have plenty of volunteer plants thanks to the birds, but I can't help adding to the mix with some interesting varieties. This year I'm of course planting Lemon Queen Sunflower as it helps support our bees. (Learn how you can win a packet of these seeds and learn more about the relationship between bees and the Lemon Queen Sunflower on my Keeping Backyard Bees post The Great Sunflower Project!)

What exciting things are you growing this year? I'd love to hear about it. Share it with the Iron Oak Farm Community by leaving a comment below, or by visiting our Facebook Page.

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