There is food in every corner at Old Trail Farm, but vegetables aren’t the only bounty that fills our farm this season.
Wild flowers and specially bred companions dot the farmscape catching eyes with their bright colors and gentle decadence, while subtly attracting pollinators and repelling pests. Some are tasty treats, others highly valued cut flowers. Wildflowers, bee feeders, medicinals, and simple fillers occupy any soil they can grab hold of. Flower harvests have become a routine of their own, and the flowers themselves are ceaselessly useful in salves, tinctures, jams, jellies, and bouquets, and used as natural pigment in paints, dyes, and cosmetics or distilled into oils which capture their essence.
As relatively light feeders, which are versatile both in fresh use as well as value added products, flowers make a lovely addition to any farm or garden. There are dozens of flower varieties serving various purposes around the learning farm in the greenhouses, market-garden beds, healing gardens, dotting small obscure patches, and tucked away along the forest periphery.
The outdoor classroom has grown into a drying space for bunches of yarrow, lavender, and calendula blossoms, and any receptacle that holds water is fair game for fresh flower storage. Dead-heading, or removing blossoms (preferably fresh), will keep most flower varieties blooming long into the season.
A few common sights include marigolds—a companion plant you’ve probably heard of in stories from grandparents or tales from old farmer hacks. You may have heard they repel spiders and snakes among other things, but information varies widely. Nevertheless, they produce beautiful red, orange, and white ruffles around which lingers a distinctly “marigold” smell.
Calendula are bountiful throughout the learning farm gardens, blooming in a wide variety of colors which naturally repel cucumber beetles. They make good companions for multiple plant families, with roots that work well alongside tomatoes and peppers, and of course they’ll attract pollinators to your plants’ vicinity. They are commonly used in salves and tinctures for medicinal purposes which make calendula a desirable companion in any garden.
Nasturtium are a distinctly unique variety with leaves that vaguely resemble lily pads and long vines along which vibrant and ornate blossoms yawn open like small dragons. They have a curious odor which is strongly reminiscent of their flavor — yes, their flavor. These flowers climb to the beat of their own drum, attempting to stand out from others in just about every way. Most people prepare them as a garnish for salads, but they are just as good plucked off for a quick treat. They make for a fun project if you’ve never grown them before, and are a particularly captivating experiment for kids.
While there are so many varieties and benefits to growing flowers in a garden, or on the farm in our case, they also serve as a nice distraction from the sea of green vegetation that fills the farm this time of year.
Do you want to come to the farm and see all these beautiful flowers for yourself? Join us for Bubbles & Bouquets at Old Trail Farm on August 6, 2022, from 12-3pm to build your own bouquet, sip on some bubbly and take in the beautiful farm scenery. New this year, we’re offering a kids ticket with a kid-sized bouquet and sparkling grape juice. See you on the farm!