Take a peak at some photos from spring at Fields Without Fences. The fields were full of new blossoms this spring as many of our fruit trees and shrubs including pawpaw, american persimmon, beach plum, quince, pear, and plum are producing for the first time! Early season culinary herbs, edible flowers, and shoots made it onto the plates at some our favorite restaurants. And medicinal plants were handcrafted into herbal products for our spring and summer CSA shares.
It continues to be a truly magical experience observing and participating in the ongoing process of transformation taking shape in the field.
April through May we received almost no rain on the farm. The creeks and streams that run through this cliffside were nearly dry just a few weeks after the winter snow cover thawed. Prolonged periods with no rainfall have become typical over the last few seasons, and it has become quite common to walk out into the middle of the Delaware River, head above water. But the rains came in June and flowed steadily into the river valley, swelling the Delaware, and submerging the banks we sunbathed on last year.
Ramps broke soil before we had a chance to cut down last year's wild flowers. Each spring the standing stalks of winter are mulched in place, breaking down over the course of the year, and contributing to the accumulating biomass.
Violets are some of the first species to emerge out of dormancy within the wet, post-winter landscape. Velvety and moisture rich, violets are an excellent medicinal herb for the lymphatic system, able to encourage the movement of fluid.
The green color typical of early spring is particularly vibrant and verdant. It is unlike any other green present throughout the rest of the year. I recently learned that the Cherokee have a special name specifically for this green; distinct, and filled with new life.
Strawberry flowers hint at the first fruit of the season to come.
We grow three types of strawberries in the understory of our forest garden. A traditionally cultivated garden strawberry, an ever-bearing garden/wild hybrid, and my favorite, wild alpines. They don't make for a great crop, they ripen quickly and disappear just as fast. They don't hold or ship well, and are impossibly small. But they taste better than any strawberry you've ever had, and one of the truly magical ephemeral delights of spring!
This season we found the first blooms on many fruit cultivars we've been patiently waiting for. In the foreground a pawpaw flower hangs, its unpleasant scent tempting pollination by the flies.
Lemony quince blossoms in the understory.
Before long dormancy is replaced by a flush green landscape. During April and May we received less than a quarter of an inch of rain. We didn't irrigate, and we were astounded by the robust growth and resiliency of the system even during a season plagued by irregular drought conditions. Above, Johann and Travis harvest herbs inside the evolving forest garden.
Self heal is harvested and crafted into an herbal product for our CSA.
Catnip flower bud.
Flowers give way to fruit. Here our running serviceberry fruits for the first time.
Ninja, on the Piedmont savanna.
Chamomile grows in a cluster among shallots.
Strawberries creep out of our beds and into the pathways as the first elders bloom.
Elderflowers bloom across the landscape.
The landscape buzzes as all creatures crawl out of dormancy to contribute to the functional balance of a healthy ecosystem. A parasitoid wasp that landed on Johann's hand is pictured above.
Chive blossoms and gooseberries ripen next to a Great Pyrenees pup.
Our best farm addition this season, Yoni Wolf.
Before long the first seeds come to bear in late spring. Here french sorrel shoots up stalks to self seed.
This season the we were perplexed by the absent bellows of frogs during the "wet" season. For a moment we considered that perhaps our ducks had compromised the populations breeding in the ponds. Of course, this spring was unusually dry, and when the rains eventually came, so did the amphibian symphony!
Valerian in flower.
Yoni is the fastest growing species in this ecosystem.
Centerfield on the edge of summer solstice.