starting things

Starting a farm blog may well be a foolish endeavour. On the one hand, I also wear an academic hat, which means that I spend a lot of time reading and writing. That might suggest a facility with words that would make blogging a good fit for me. On the other hand, I also wear an academic hat, which means that I already spend a lot of time reading and writing. Part of why this farm exists is because I needed to get out of the office into fresh air and sun and do something with my hands (and, no, typing on a keyboard doesn’t count). All that to say, I’m not about to make any promises about how frequently or how consistently new posts will show up!

But it’s the start of a new season and a good time to start things, right? One more patch of lawn dug up to be planted with something more interesting than lawn, a new chicken coop for six new chickens, several beds of newly planted strawberries … some of these projects may even be finished in addition to being started.

The obvious thing to start this time of the year, of course, is new plants, and that is taking up a good deal of my time. Or, I should say, our time. Dropping seeds into soil, whether in furrows outside or in cells inside is, I think, our daughter’s favourite part of farming. One of my happy childhood memories is spending many hours in my parents’ greenhouse with my mother, sowing all manner of vegetables and flowers. Perhaps our daughter will have similar memories.

Fava beans in bloom.

Many of the things we grow are currently small seedlings, though there are also plenty of things waiting to be sown outdoors once the soil is warmer (e.g., beans and squash). But a few things are well past the small seedling stage. One of the ones I have most enjoyed watching recently is fava beans, which already have their curious-looking white and black flowers on them. Kentucky is really not the best place for fava beans, since they actually prefer cool weather. I sowed them outdoors in February already, and they have been quite happy with the weather so far. In a week or two, I expect they will start complaining about excessive heat. If temperatures go significantly above 70° Fahrenheit, they tend to drop their flowers without setting any pods. But so far they’re thriving, as the photo attests.

Maybe one of the reasons I like fava beans and insist on growing them in Kentucky even though they’re not very well adapted to the local continental climate is because I share their predilection for nice, cool weather. — Sydney

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