Surviving July is all in how you view it

Oh, July! Hot, productive, busy, overwhelming July! Hottest month of the year. Picking raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, peaches, plums, first of the summer apples, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, cantaloupes, watermelon, corn….all of the summer bounty rushes to ripen and is ready for harvest. The days are packed. July is the fruition of a lot of planning and planting.

Oh yes, and generally the weeds have gone totally crazy by July.

It’s always funny when people ask if we are closed for July 4 (unless it falls on a Sunday, the answer is no). The plants do not take a holiday in July. We have Sundays off (always), but we would be light years behind if we took another day off in July. This year, July 4 is hovering at a balmy 91 degrees after 5 straight days in the 90s—you can practically see the berries ripening in front of your eyes.We close a few hours early to give our employees a chance to spend some time with their families. For family members,…

Peak Bloom Time!

Meander down to visit the chickens and ducks and look past the pen. You’ll see our flower field filled to the brim and buzzing with beautiful life. 

At the Delaware Beekeeper Association, I asked the other beekeepers if they planted flowers every year where they keep bees. It turns out that Highland Orchards is pretty unique. On our farm we have so many fruit trees and shrubs, flowering vegetable plants, and we grow so many cut flowers that we have an overwhelming abundance of pollen and nectar to go around. 
So, here’s the beautiful diversity we encourage with our field-grown cut flowers.  The best part? We cover all the stops. You can buy bunches for bouquets, or buy the plants yourself to grow your own! That way you can enjoy these pollinators visiting your garden!

Our mix of flowers brings in our incredible mix of pollinators:  Small native bees: melittid, megachilid, and others including mason bees Larger carpenter and bumble bees in the Bombidae family Our classic European hone…

The Intensity of June

I think it was May yesterday, and now it is almost the middle of June. If I don’t finish this today, it will be the end of June when I return! Summer is like that: if you blink, it disappears! June is the beginning of the intense season, where every hour and every day is packed with harvest, planting, and planning.
Still picking strawberries, starting to pick tomatoes, raspberries and cherries, checking on the plums, peaches, blueberries, and blackberries; starting to pick cucumbers, beans, and squash—it definitely feels like the summer wave is here, even though it is only 71 degrees today. In about 3 weeks, nearly everything will be ready for continual harvesting.
Although there is a press to get everything planted, we are busy with harvests and with taking out as well as putting in plants. As soon as one crop is finished—lettuce, for example—another one goes in (say, cucumbers!). This “succession planting” helps us get in at least 3-4 crops over the year for most parts of the farm. …

Where has May gone?!?

May is almost over. I love May: spring has sprung, the flowers are fabulous, planting time is rewarding—you get the picture. This year, we started with lilacs blooming on May first and ended the month cutting lots of peonies. In between, we had sun, rain, thunderstorms, five days straight of rain, deluges of rain, threats of derechos and hail, cold and overcast, hot and humid. Never a dull moment!
Strawberries finally started May 21 (only about 10 days late, which considering how cold it was in April is not too bad!). Picking berries happens when it is dry, so we have been dodging the rain!
Fortunately, asparagus loves the rain and has been growing like crazy. And it is ok to cut asparagus while it is wet.
While it is raining outside, we tend all the plants inside. We are very grateful that we set up the second large heated house in the fall, which transitioned from lettuce to tomatoes by the end of the month. First, tomato plants were planted in-between the lettuce rows, staked and tie…

Our Native Plants This Year

Here is a listing of the different native plants we'll have for sale this year, along with their ideal gardens and possible uses. 
Happy Planting! 
CropPlant TypeBloom SeasonPollinatorsLightResistsOtherAmsoniaPerennial NativeEarly to Mid SummerButterflySunDeerAstilbePerennialLate Spring to Early SummerBeePart/ ShadeDeerBasket FlowerAnnual Half HardySummerPollinatorSunBurgundy Shamrock