Hitting the Pause Button at The Open Gate Farm
Dear Friends of the Farm:
We love our little farm. Wouldn’t trade it for the world, by golly. But there are times when it’s good to get out in the world a bit and make really sure it still is not as good as what we have here. That happened last Sunday. Church got out a bit early, the kids were not feeling well so baby-sitting was postponed so we looked at each other, grabbed the passports and headed north.
A gentle 2 hours and 1 border crossing later, we parked by the entrance to Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver, BC. If you are going to get away for a break, it’s always good to get out of the country and with a foreign land so close, it’s hard to resist. A land where they’ll take your money but inspect it closely. A land where they speak English but with an accent. A lovely land with snow capped peaks and green sweeping valleys. A land of farms and fields and fair cities. A foreign land. But not too foreign. And close by the farm is good too.
If you ever have a spare afternoon, do consider this little outing. Van Dusen Gardens is on the site of an old golf course, but you’d never know it. Lakes and a waterfall, the best maze we’ve ever seen, and flowering bushes and trees and perennials like you’ve probably never seen. Butchart Gardens over on Vancouver Island is nice, and they do a wonderful job with annuals like petunias and pansies. But Van Dusen does it all with perennials which grow larger each year. Cost about $20 for the two of us to get in…and worth every penny of it. If you like to see 40 foot tall trees clothed in purple blooms anyhow.
The real value of such a visit is if you can come home refreshed and with ideas of better ways to do things. That we did! Visions of stone walls and gravel paths, of ranks of color in broad swatches across the horizon, of using the pastels of brown trees and green foliage to frame bright blues and pinks and golds and reds. It has us thinking about how we might improve our little farm and help it to really stand out in the memories of our visitors.
One thing which will stand in your memories here this weekend is the lettuce. It’s gotten kind of big. A Romaine was brought into the kitchen for the salad tonight. It filled the sink and even after taking enough leaves off to feed 6 people, there was a full sized head 16” tall which we sent home with our guest. She’ll chew on it for months. Rinsed off and wrapped in a damp paper towel in the crisper in the fridge, it will keep a long, long time!
Don’t know how many of you have tried the latest garlic rage by the way. Simple recipe. Take the whole young garlic plant (before the flower stem grows), trim off the roots then pop it all into a blender. Pour in enough olive oil to make it chop o.k., some walnuts or pine nuts or even sunflower seeds, some salt and then some lemon juice and you will have a lip smacking session around your dinner table that will sound like a beach full of seals. Put this pesto on pasta like we did tonight, or use as a dip, or just leave around to keep the vampires away and you’ll be a hero to your family.
Alongside the garlic on the stand ($1 per), you will find some of the season’s first radishes! We just went out and found enough for a snack, so by the time you get here Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, they should be out on the stand. Same price as last year…and the year before…and the year before…and the year before. Fifty cents a bunch or 2 / $1 if you want the quantity discount. They are tasty bites of red and white that will add color to your cheeks.
We’ve been to our favorite wholesale nursery again. Be warned. Our nursery is stocked for this weekend! There are some gorgeous wallflowers you’ll want dancing in your yard. And more of the incredible herb bowls filled with flavors for your food that will grow all year long. And don’t forget the “Red Hot Sallys” which will bring more color to your small gardens than your eyes can handle. One thing that is easy on the eyes though are those Martha Washington geraniums. Grandma liked them and we see why. Frilly leaves and bright flowers will brighten any room. We’ve moved them up into some nice 8” pots so they are ready for giving as gifts…especially to yourself! Grandma liked Delphiniums too, so there are some of those ready for you as well.
And the hanging baskets are going fast now their petunias are dripping colorful blossoms over the sides. Fellow left last week with one hanging from each side hand hold in the back seat of his sedan. Now is the time to take them home, before you have to rent a truck to haul them!
The bakery has new equipment. A couple more cookie sheets and a huge cooling rack for the loaves has us ready to whip out more of those sinful cinnamon rolls, the light as a feather artisan breads, and the loaves of oatmeal molasses bread for your dining pleasure.
And a pleasure it will be, if you come by the farm and fill your bags with this great provender! The ducks and chickens have inspected the nursery plants and have given them all a poke of approval, so we know they’re ready to go. And there are more tomato plants out there now! San Marzano, Early Girl, and more! They’re ready to go too!
But they will need your help to make it across the border.
Jon and Elaine, the traveling farmers, Snickers the stay at home dog, Mystery the couch cat, Harley, Jerry and their flock of happy hens, and Pastor Dudley Brown and his flock of inspecting ducks, all of whom live at
The Open Gate Farm