Mother nature hits the refresh button! Ramps have arrived!
We are ahead of the game this season. Beds are prepped. Seeds are started. Why push the envelope? Because we do. So a blueberry patch is being added. Dozens of service berries and Siberian pea shrubs need homes too. And a whole new type of onion has been added to our mix. It is very sweet and we are planting about 300-400 of them! Game on!
Seed packs are everywhere. The living room is full of fledgling plants. And although there is a nice day now and then it is still appropriately cold and windy and grey most often. But we are collecting maple sap and making syrup and spring is on its way!! And the onions in the bin are getting crazy. We’re sure now that this winter will end. The plastic bags of seed are from Poland and they were an exciting find. Included in this cache are seeds for Caucasian Spinach. It’s a perennial. It’s a vine. And I guess it tastes like spinach. It likes cold climates (but how about our hot summers?) We’ll see.
This has been the wettest spring many can remember around here. Everything is squishy and it is unpleasant to do much wearing anything but boots. But the future crop of berries seems like it will be bountiful and we’ve even got grapes growing in unexpected places. Summer hit this weekend with temperatures in the high 80s and everything seemed to grow a foot overnight … especially weeds! Sigh. However we have already enjoyed many meals from the garden and forage. Asparagus, Good King Henry, Dandelions, Nettles, and just this week, new radishes! Plus all the lovely herbs that continue to please.
We finished off our maple sugaring just in time for me to head off to see how spring was progressing on the west coast. (And see my daughter!) On the west coast (Portland OR) things were blooming beautifully! Here, we’re still waiting amidst new snowfall.
But the fact that we put away the sugarin’ supplies means that the maple trees will soon be budding out. We put up about 2 gallons worth which means we carried about 80-90 gallons down the hill. When you do the math it sounds like an outlandish effort for a bit of syrup, but as Ed points out, that’s enough to have pancakes every week for a year and also give some away!
The ramps and garlic and daffodils have all bravely made an appearance so soon things will be blooming here too.
Well, once again we were surprised by the start of maple sugaring season. But perhaps we were less surprised than previous years. That’s a good thing! This year, we had found the taps and Ed had prepared the “buckets” (milk jugs) ahead of time, but the stove was still missing when Ed brought the first two pails down the hill. It was quickly recovered and we got cooking! We do our sugaring the easiest way possible by cooking our syrup down in spaghetti pots on a two burner stove. I guess we could make it even easier if we used tubes to transport the sap instead of pails and our own two legs. But this way affords us a daily (sometimes twice daily) walk through the woods. We see how each tree is doing and it is almost like visiting a round of neighbors each day.
After the first couple days the sap stopped running because temperatures dipped into the single digits. But now most days we are getting some sap and so far we have produced about seven cups of syrup. That sounds modest and it is a minute amount compared to other serious producers. For us, when the sap stops running, we will have enough to last us until next year. It will be the result of thirteen tapped trees and dozens of gallons of sap carried down the hill, so it is enough in that way too!