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San Juan Island Farm Update June 6, 2019

Overview of tea garden 

May has left and we are entering the dry season here on San Juan Island.  The tourists have descended on the rock and Friday Harbor is a buzz of activity.  The same is true here on San Juan Island Tea Farm.

Tea garden viewed from above

Since the last update I have been busy keeping everything watered (with a single sprinkler I might add). The rockery is now set up with the layer of cardboard topped with a nice mulch/sand mixture.  Now if I could only keep the fox from using it as her personal playground.  This fox whom we call Francesca is the bain to our dogs.  They live on long leads when we are not with them and the fox sits two feet out of their reach and drives them absolutely nuts.  Now she has taken to the rockery as her own personal playground. I see her down there digging, hitting the cardboard and jumping straight in the air.  Time after time after time. 

The resident deer discovered the holly and have tasted every leaf.  New growth  is forming and I hope they make it until I can get the fence around the farm.  A new plan is being hatched for that project.

 Tea garden view from road

Below the farm in the Japanese Garden things are beginning to take shape.  Two of the four “rooms” are in and the design is fairly well set for the other two.  We have settled on a single pond in the garden and I have begun to dig that and use the soil for mounds in the various areas of the garden. 

First pond dig in Tea garden

Greg Raleigh & Dawson in future pond hole

Mini mountain in tea garden

The much hoarded compost from the last three to four years of horse contribution is being used in conjunction with the mulch/sand mixture from the local quarry.  I have decided the quarry mix is too new and therefore not advantageous for the garden and have amended most of it with the compost I have been saving.  I am down to one large pile.  However with the horse and two cows I hope to have more as time goes on. 

New row of cypress in tea garden

Rocks at entrance to tea garden

cypress entrance to tea garden

I have planted some lavender,  more Leyland Cypress and placed some large rocks.  Next I will add the mugo pine, more lavender, some rosemary, boxwood, Jim Dandy holly and the remaining cypress.  Then I need to look around and see what I have in the house gardens that would be appropriate for the garden.  Also I have taken a hike in what we call our lower forty, which is actually about and acre and a half of treed area.  I discovered a plethora of ferns that will be perfect for the garden in the future, once we have the right shade.

Japanese lantern in tea garden

The first of what I expect to be a few Japanese lanterns is in and finishes the area with a Rhody, azaleas, lace leaf maple and volunteer Doug fir.

Oh did I mention that I surrounded the tea plants with a 70% shade cloth?  They now are in a near perfect environment and hopefully with Yvonne’s diligent watering with our homemade compost tea they will blossom and be ready for late summer early fall planting in the rows. 

Tea plants new shade shelter 

As for the Magnificent helpers, the dogs are keeping the deer and fox away as much as possible, the horse and Scottish Highland cows are producing their black gold and Paolo our indoor/outdoor cat has adopted an abandoned chair and turned in into his private throne. 

All is well and the progress is great.  My old bones are tired. Next, hopefully, is the wooden sections of fence, placing the T posts for the deer fence and still trying to get the chipper here to attack those mounds of branches.  In anticipation of the fence I've started to line the road side near the garden with cypress, that will eventually fill in to form a natural fence.

cypress lining tea garden roadside

Moving up the hill and into the farm, the transplanted pampas grass is growing!  We cut a large plant into 14 pieces and transplanted them along the berm at the far end of the garden, so far so good!

pampas grass growing in tea farm

And last effort of the week was the planting of a row of lavender in front of the bridge that spans the ditch for water run off in the winter.  I'm hoping this will be a beautiful integration amongst the tea rows in the farm.

Greg planting lavender in tea farm

Row of lavender in tea farm

Cheers all.

Farmer Greg