2019 Spring Planting
More beds, more seeds, more plants!
We have big plans for our little farm. From building a standalone drying shed to producing our own hydrosols to diversifying our crops to pursuing Demeter’s Biodynamic certification there is much to accomplish, particularly since we can’t spend every day there. But when we are able to make it to the farm, our days are chock-full of things to get done, often working until the sun goes down (~9-10pm) before heading to the house for dinner. This spring was no exception!
This year we had a focus on expanding our plots in order to grow more plant material as we are R&D’ing new products that will come out later this year and in 2020. Already at the end of the 2018 season we had dug up some new beds so when we arrived in Burgundy this spring, it was time to get them prepped for seeding. Now, that might sound like pretty straightforward, easy work, but believe me, it’s not…
Prepping a bed for us has various steps: first we till the soil with a rototiller in order to break up and aerate the earth, making it softer and easier for seeding. Next we rake the tilled earth in order to get as many of the weeds and grasses out so that we don’t have to weed as much during the growing season. This usually takes up a lot of time since we pile all the “chunks” of weeds, roots, and grasses into a wheelbarrow to take over to our compost area, so there’s a lot of walking back and forth. Once we get through this, the earth in the bed is soft and cool which is wonderful to walk on barefoot (hello earthing!), and once this is done we begin with our Biodynamic preparations.
Now, these preparations vary slightly depending on the plants that will go in the bed, but in general we incorporate a natural fertilizer like horn meal or fresh compost before seeding, and then once the seeds are in, we spread rock flour over them to help them grow (you might see some pictures on here or Instagram where a bed has this blue/gray “stuff” on it, that’s the rock flour ;) ). And once the seeds are in, we water them with a mixture of water and EM (Effective Microorganisms) to give them even more nutrients to grow. EM is essentially a probiotic for plants where its live, cultured bacteria
help feed the seeds and new plants. We also prepare a natural pesticide by fermenting stinging nettle in water for a few weeks which we then later use once the plants are big enough to resist it (on newer or smaller plants the nettle “manure” can actually burn them).
Part of prepping the garden for the season is also landscaping, in a way. We cut the grass that surrounds the beds not just because it makes the garden look nicer, but also because we reuse the cut grass as a natural mulch for those plants that are already somewhat mature, like our lavender and raspberry bushes, to prevent weeds from popping up. Cutting grass also prevents the grasses from getting to seed, and thereby preventing less of them from making into our beds. Back in the fall we also had planted some winter crops like vetch and mache which we ground up and integrated into the soil when we tilled the beds, providing even further soil nutrition and vitality.
Also new to the farm this year is our veggie garden! While not directly involved (and least not yet) with Maison/Made products, we fully support the idea of having the family and farm become as self-sustainable as possible by growing our own food. This way we don’t need to buy foods that have taken up fossil fuels in the transportation to the supermarket nor ever be wrapped up in plastic. Plus, freshly picked fruits and veggies are just so delicious… We planted chard, spinach, peas, both golden and blue potatoes, radishes, different lettuces, and zucchini. We’ll be back in the summer to plant more!
For our skincare plants we greatly expanded our production and incorporated new plants. Aside from the plants we grew last year (you can read about those here), we are bringing red adzuki beans, roses, valerian, marshmallow, chamomile, white lupin, hibiscus, Echinacea, oat, milk thistle, and burdock to the farm. We also discovered a beautiful patch of lemon balm growing wildly! With everything else on the farm that we are either cultivating or is wild, we have a supply of over 30 different plants. So many to formulate with that I’m looking forward to everything we’ll be able to put together 🙂.
We’ll be back on the farm this summer to harvest those plants that don’t last throughout the summer and to continue improving the soil and plants. We also have some other things in the pipeline, but we’ll share those in due time when they come to fruition. For now, we wait for the growth!