Spring has sprung at Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch!
2018 has brought massive transformation to our garden, as it expands from 2,300 square feet to 13,200 square feet. The new cedar and pine fence begins at the driveway and follows the road until it curves back in, now encompassing the greenhouse and the entire area that our chickens had been scratching/pecking/fertilizing for the past several years. With nearly six times more space, there will be significantly more fresh produce grown on site for Sweetwater Kitchen!
Last fall, we put bales of cut, seedless alfalfa down on the soil surface to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. This spring, as beds get planted, the alfalfa is turned into the soil with a broadfork. Adding organic matter helps loosen and aerate our compacted clay soil, and doing so with a broadfork – as opposed to a tiller – helps protect existing soil structure. Throughout the spring, we have been turning and planting our beds with a variety of culinary vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. We started as many seeds as we could indoors in mid-March and are gradually transplanting them into the garden as temperatures warm up.
Right now, we have lettuces, radishes, and bok choy coming out of the garden into Sweetwater Kitchen. These early season crops are growing in cold frames, which allow us to keep soil temperatures warm during cold nights and get ahead of our short growing season. The next crops on the horizon will be beets, carrots, and garlic scapes. Garlic scapes are the thin, curly, bright green flower buds of the garlic plant. When the scape is cut, the plant directs all it’s energy to the bulb. Cutting the scapes not only helps the garlic bulbs reach their desired size, but also provides a treat for the restaurant! Garlic scapes can be cooked in the same way as scallions, but have a mild garlic flavor rather than a mild onion flavor.
While all of this has been happening in the garden, we have also been raising about 25 little chicks. We have an assortment of egg layers – Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, Black Australorp, Ameracauna, and White Leghorns. They are about six weeks old and are just getting to the age where they can go out and about freely. These chickens will live in the portable chicken tractor, gaining access to new grassy areas every three days or so. As they move through the pasture, they will scratch and aerate the soil and add natural nitrogen fertilizer, all the while laying beautiful eggs.
Guests are welcome to come enjoy the garden and are encouraged to ask our head gardener, Elena, for a tour of the new space. Join us for dinner at Sweetwater Kitchen, and be sure to ask your server which items are coming in from the garden that week!