Spring has arrived on Cumberland Island and we are savoring every moment. We love the foggy mornings in the garden — harvesting greens and roots in the crisp air while hearing the sound of waves crashing in the distance. Spring is also a season of promise, and we see signs of renewal throughout the island landscape. The live oak trees drop their leaves and push out shiny green foliage that brightens up the forest. The citrus trees are in full bloom, filling the gardens with their fragrance. Our honeybees are busy gathering nectar from the native flora beginning to bloom throughout the island’s vast wilderness.
Spring is also a great time to garden on the coast. Our main growing season here is from October through June. Our mild winters make it possible to grow throughout the winter, and the arrival of spring is a time of bounty when cool and warm season crops overlap. We will continue to harvest our cooler season crops like lettuce and carrots, while also beginning to harvest our warmer season crops like squash, beans, and tomatoes. We overwinter flowers that cannot take the heat of the summer and the flower field is in full bloom with Snapdragons, Larkspur, and Bachelor Buttons. We will soon be clipping on classic summer flowers like Black-Eyed Susans, Zinnias, and Sunflowers. As things warm up, the diversity of crops in the garden begins to dwindle until we are left with okra, eggplant, and peppers that too will eventually succumb to the harsh summer heat on the Georgia coast.
As in the gardens, spring is also a busy time for the Greyfield Apiary. We work with our mentor, Pete, to assess the strength of the remaining hives that made it through the winter. This year our apiary suffered some losses, but we were able to purchase new bees to go into the season with a full apiary. Just this week, we put on our first honey supers that will soon be full of capped honey for extraction in August.
As gardeners, 2017 is our third season growing on Cumberland Island and seventh year farming full-time. Gardening on a Barrier Island is surely one of the most challenging environments we have grown in. At times, the pests seem relentless, the sandy soil requires constant inputs, and of course the weather (like any place) is unpredictable. With all these challenges though, we are always pushed to learn, experiment, and adapt. We are always trying new plant varieties and experimenting with different growing techniques, which over time has made the garden a beautiful and productive space. Every year, we get a little bit better at growing in this environment and are looking forward to the season ahead — working and living on this beautiful island
Greyfield Gardeners, Maya Velasco and Ryan Graycheck