Weekly Bouquet Subscription

Subscription.jpegWe are excited to announce our first ever bouquet subscription. Each week this summer, you can have beautiful, fresh Spring Forth Farm flowers for your home, business, or office. Bouquet pick-up will be in downtown Hillsborough and Durham near the intersection of Broad and Guess on Friday afternoons. For more information and to register, please read our 2016 Subscription Info.

Chasing Skies at Spring Forth Farm

As we wrap up the we farming season for the winter, it is fun to look back on some of the highlights of the past year. One we never shared with you was our photo session with Bethany Cubino of Chasing Skies Photography.

Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

 

Bethany is a talented wedding photography, and you can see her great work on her website. She took lots of great photos of us as a couple around the farm and house.

Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

 

Bethany also got a few of us in with the flowers.

Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

 

She also did a great job of capturing Frolic life:

Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

 

And of course, no family photo shoot would be complete without some photos of Mr. Bingley!

Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography
Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

To Till or Not To Till: Lessons Learned from Inexperience

Jonathan and I work very hard to research and learn about every aspect of anything new we introduce into our farm systems whether it is a new kind of flower or a new system of managing our permanent raised beds.  But there is no way around it: we are young and inexperienced flower growers and we have made several mistakes over the season that have taught us invaluable lessons.

Fall DIY bucket
Late fall flowers

We are currently in the process of transitioning our farm over to “No-Till” management.  We created permanent raised beds on the farm and we believe that the fastest way to return tilth, health and life to our soil is to never till the beds.  This was an idea that I (Megan) had been thinking about for a while but simply had no idea where to start.  What is “no-till” farming you might be wondering?  Well, it is a method of farming that does not disturb the soil life and the soil layers with a tiller.  It is more of a natural process of farming that is less invasive to the soil.  It relies heavily on cover cropping and it also helps to reduce weed pressure on the farm by not turning over new weed seeds with the tiller.  This year we ran across 2 different resources to help us get started.

Bare Mountain Farm in the Willamette Valley in Oregon runs a 2.5 acre cut flower farm using no-till methods.  They have been posting their trials and what they have learned on their blog. We stumbled across their blog and I instantly felt that we had found a gold mine of information for how to begin this unusual method of farming.  They are willing to answer any of our questions and are such an inspiration for Jonathan and I as we start out figuring out what No-till means on Spring Forth Farm.  Thank you Tony and Denise!

The second resource we found was an organic farmer in Quebec who uses a no-till system on his farm in conjunction with silage tarps.  His name is Jean-Martin Fortier and he wrote a book called The Market Gardner where he details a lot of his farming practices.  He uses an old European method called “occultation.”  This method uses large black silage tarps to kill weeds and speed up decomposition of organic matter on beds instead of tillage.

Well, we jumped off the deep end!  We bought a silage tarp, stopped tilling and started tarping.  Here is a photographic journey of what to do and what not to do!

DSC_0147
INCORRECT tarping

(Above) We learned that we have to mow down everything before we put on the tarps or it doesn’t work.  We felt a bit sheepish that we didn’t mow first.  We will from now on!

DSC_0255
BEFORE tarping

(Above) When we bought the land in Nov 2013, it was formerly in tobacco and was left as a bare dirt field.  We hastily seeded fescue and clover to prevent soil erosion.  We made a rookie mistake and let them all go to seed!  Fescue became a terrible weed in our new beds and we will be dealing with it for a while to come.  So, we tarped the beds to see if it works when done properly.

DSC_0003
AFTER tarping

(Above) Wow! after 4 weeks, the tarps killed the initial flush of weeds.  There is a much smaller flush coming back, but it is more manageable.  See the tarps in the left-hand part of the photo?  That is what they should look like on the beds.  Found earthworms for the first time in our beds too.

DSC_0015
Seeding cover crop

(Above) One of the biggest hurdles we are trying to figure out with the no-till system is how to get cover crop seed to germinate in beds that have crop residue in it, without tilling the seed in to get good soil contact.  We tried putting a straw mulch down over the newly seeded beds this year.  We will let you know if it works.

DSC_0002
Newly planted beds of garlic and onions

This past week we rushed about seeding beds of onions, garlic, and flowers before more rain came.  In the process of doing this I gasped as I realized that we had a whole box of ranunculus corms (bulbs) that we had not planted yet.  We ordered this flower in a fever of excitement over the summer even though we had never grown it before and knew that our soils were less than ideal for this flower.  We would also need to build a temporary greenhouse tunnel over the bed for the crop to survive the winter and bloom in May.  We decided this past Saturday, after much back and forth and tears (on my part!), to nix the crop and cut our losses.  It was simply too overwhelming to figure out how to build a greenhouse tunnel this winter.  We had taken on too much this year on the farm and with the home building in the mix, something had to go.  This was yet another reminder to grow our business slowly and to carefully weigh each new crop or farming system before we add it.

Even though we have made lots of mistakes this year, we have had lots of successes too.  We are already looking forward to improving and fine-tuning the management of Spring Forth Farm for the 2016 season!

Stay tuned for more updates on the no-till experiment.

Black-eyed susans
Just planted a lot of black-eyed susans last week to grow through the winter and bloom in June!

Friday Feature from DiPrima Photography

This season has just been a blur. All flower farmers lament how hard it is to keep their websites and blogs up to date during the flower season, which for us is May through October. The constant rhythm of cutting, sowing, and weeding overwhelms other aspect of the business to the extent that by autumn we anticipate frost with guilty excitement. We always resolve not to let our website stagnate till winter, but we haven’t yet found a way to keep up. Add on top of that our life in the camper while we build our house and no Internet access at home, and it often feels like one ball too many to juggle.

Now, however, it has been raining for almost two weeks straight, with as much as six more inches expected this weekend. Our fields are too wet to work, and we are waiting on the HVAC subcontractors to finish in our house. So it’s perfect weather to sit with a steaming mug of coffee and give some attention to the blog.

First, we are excited to share this “Friday Feature” that Jenna DiPrima of DiPrima Photography posted today. The Friday Feature highlights female creative small business owners, and this week’s post features Megan.

Friday Profile

We met Jenna a few months ago when she collaborated with Megan and several other women on a styled shoot organized by Randi Russell of Carry Your Heart Events. We’ll be posting photos from the styled shoot here once they become available. We’re also working on a post sharing our exciting progress on our home and our farm, which we’ll be posting soon.

In the mean time, thank you again to Jenna DiPrima and DiPrima Photography for profiling Megan in the Friday Feature. We hope you enjoy it.