Friday, July 18, 2014

Beat the Heat - July 2014

The high temperatures we've been experiencing at the Research Farm in Albion, Maine have made for great conditions for our trial crops, but they've also challenged the Johnny’s staff to find ways to stay cool in the intense sun.

Here's a look at how we've tried to beat the heat recently:

Andrew and John Paul from the Johnny’s Research Department stay cool in their wide-brimmed hats, as they prune and trellis 2 successive rows of peppers. 

The other crops shown in the foreground of the greenhouse photo above, are eggplants. 

Jill is cultivating the soil at the edges of the plastic. 

The red umbrella was attached to the tractor using a factory kit with modifications.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

At the Research Farm - July 16, 2014

Johnny's Research Farm Shop Clerk, Bruce Webber, completes repairs and modifications to our Bedding Pro, a tractor attachment that shreds round bales.

Friday, July 4, 2014

What’s in Bloom at Johnny’s Research Farm - July 4th

     Almost everything is starting to bloom this week and we are all sensing the excitement as yet another wonderful growing season ramps up. Truthfully, there’s always a little anxiety about keeping up with it all, in our short growing season, but we always seem to manage to get the work done and have a little fun too.

     While walking the farm today and checking on how the trials are progressing, I thought it would be fun to collect some of the edible flowers in bloom.

All the edible flowers in bloom!
Flowers; violas, snapdragons, marigolds. Herbs; lavender, sage, chive, chamomile, thyme. Vegetables and fruit; strawberry and peas and field peas.

Lavender, sage, marigold, chamomile and pea flowers

     These edible beauties would make a perfect dessert garnish; strawberry, lavender, pea, and field pea flowers.

 Photo – herb flowers, lavender- useful in baking, deserts and garnish, chamomile for tea and garnish, thyme, sage and chives are great for incorporating into all kinds of dishes

    These herb flowers make a great addition to pizza. After pizza is cooked and while still warm, pull the flowers from their stems and sprinkle on pizza or most any savory dish for a beautiful and flavorful topping.

 Photo – Chive, thyme and sage flowers

     Other useful edible herb flowers (not yet in bloom here are basil, oregano, dill, rosemary and fennel.

Check out our edible flower techsheets at for a whole list of edible flowers with flavor descriptions and tips on how to use them:
- Flavors and Suggested Uses
- Recipes
- Additional Information 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Planting Riddles from over the Years

     Let’s face it. Some old wives’ tales are something to roll your eyes at. If you cross your eyes, they’ll get stuck that way. Or the numerous omens of death, like a bird or moth or bat in the house. Then the infamous step on a crack and break your mother’s back.

     Those old wives might have known a thing or two when it came to gardening. Years of experience provided them with countless tips and tricks for ease, efficiency, and success. After all, their livelihoods depended on the prosperity of their gardens. Their advice often was based around planning for holidays, such as the Fourth of July.

     Plant so you’ll have peas for the Fourth. Peas are a cool weather crop. Depending on the days to maturity of the variety, if you have harvestable peas by late June you would have sown them in late April. This is a time when the soil is cool in many areas. Especially here in Maine, where some years we still receive snow in late April. Planting your peas when the soil is warm will result in lower yields.

     Your corn should be knee high by the Fourth. Of course, there’s a reason they’re called old wives’ tales. Even if there was once some truth in them, it might now be dated to think that your corn will only be knee high. Treated seed and cold-tolerant varieties allow for earlier plantings, especially in ideal conditions

    Whether or not you put any stock in them, these tales represent something that is important on any farm: the sharing of knowledge from one generation to the next.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An Update From Albion - July, 2014

The past several days at Johnny’s Research Farm in Albion have been quite the contrast to each other. Last Thursday was overcast with rain in the morning. Even though the first day of summer was only a week prior, it felt more like the typical, damp spring in Maine. Hillary Alger, the Product Manager for flowers, snapped a wonderful photograph of the delphiniums that were cut at the farm that morning before it began raining. The cool color tones of the flowers truly reflected the slight chill in the air.

Delphiniums at the Farm
Alternatively, the next day, Friday, the temperatures hit 80°F. Birdhouses are scattered throughout the farm and the birds could be seen zipping through the air, glad to have clear skies and sun. As with any open field in Maine, the killdeer were also active, protecting their nests. Walking through the fields, it was easy to see the rain from the previous day had done its work. Everything was lush with color. Bunch a couple of stands of spinach and, not only could you see the sunlight reflecting off the leaves, you could see how rich with green the leaves were.

If you could only choose one type of weather to have, it would be a difficult decision. Early in our lives, aren't we all told the simplified version of what basic needs of a plant are? It’s really simple, but it holds true: Beside soil, it’s water and sun.