Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Spiral of Gardening

The joys of spring include the leftover garden bits from the previous year. Now's the time to dig parsnips, so that's what LD and I did today. She's holding up one of the better ones. Quite a few thought they were turnips, then went all uddery - 4 or 5 taproots heading in different directions. They looked like a root veggie being run by a committee! Pretty hairy, too. How does one radicle, emerging from a seed, with one meristem, split into so many? It's not that hard; it's called Follow-The-Leader. Divide, elongate, specialize, got it?
This year, I'll need to do something close to double-digging their bed, and beefing up the fertility. Oh, and some more water would be good. Susan Weed's book Healing Wise mentions a burdock tea for parsnips. The kids like them, so I'll try anything to get a good batch.
This warm weather has me thinking hard about planting peas. Sure, many folks have already done that, but up here the end of March often brings a nasty snowstorm. This year we may be over 60 degrees! A double-lamb March. A couple days ago, I sowed Asian greens and arugula in the cold frame. Peas and turnips are the next things on the calendar. Somebody talk me down from the composter bin before I jump!

Friday, March 19, 2010


It's officially spring, or at least late winter. On March 3rd, I sowed 4 flats of alliums in the greenhouse (at work, sshhh!), and on March 4th, I tapped 31 of our sugar maples. In a week, we had collected almost 90 gallons of sap; a slow start. The next week, we got 26. Then the night temperatures stayed above freezing thanks to unseasonably warm weather, the flow just about stopped. I sowed tomatoes in soil blocks tonight (at home this time), and the temps have been falling. Things are looking good for the next few days, and the moon is waxing for another week, so I'm hoping for a good run. Meanwhile, the garlic, rhubarb and daffodils are poking their heads up.

The sled is made from found lumber and some old skis.

This time of year is a strange mix of activities. Planting, waiting, planning, watching, gathering & boiling. Wonderful rituals, and good honest work. It feels so good to be outside every day, especially hauling buckets of sap. Last year, we collected over 300 gallons and drove every drop to the family sugar shack 25 miles away. Lots of work, but we brought home over 7 gallons of syrup. We just made it, too; I opened the last pint two days ago!

Thanks, maples, for a sweet gift.