A Two-Week Delay
Everything seems to be about 2 weeks late this spring. The return of the peepers, the emergence of leaves on the maples, the apple and cherry blossoms – all were delayed after the long, cold winter.
Late as well were the flowers from the 60 bulbs that Marion had planted last fall. Once the snows receded from the meadows, we excitedly anticipated the new growth. Marion hadn’t recorded where she had planted what (in several locations around the upper and middle meadows), so we expected each new blossom to be a surprise.
Occasionally, we’d take walks to look for them. The delayed spring kept us waiting and wondering. It felt almost like an Easter egg hunt of sorts. Finally, after wondering if the hard winter had perhaps killed off the bulbs, new stems pushed through. Although their color is short-lived, it comes at a time of year when it can be appreciated most.
Our gardens received some new additions again this year. At the same time as we started the spring tilling, we expanded our asparagus patch by another 25 plants (above). Soon after, last years plants treated us with our first sample of what’s to come.
By the second week in May I was preparing the rows for the corn plantings (above).
Rhubarb (above), another of our 2013 additions to the fruit garden, gave us our first taste this year, too. With new growth looking full and healthy, Marion pulled out a recipe that we’d been given by an innkeeper in Maine years ago. Rhubarb coffee cake will now be a regular on the spring table.
I hadn’t expected our new rhubarb plants to go to seed so young, so when flowers began to bloom on one variety (we have two), I didn’t know what it was signaling, or what (if anything) to do about it. I chose to let it go, but have since learned that bolting rhubarb can be caused by a variety of factors. Mature plants bolt more often than young ones. Some heirloom varieties bolt more often than modern ones. Rhubarb can bolt in response to stress (too warm a spring – not this year, or a lack of water – not this year either, or pests – hmmm, I’ll have to look more closely at it).
Whatever the cause, I did enjoy seeing the flowering plant. The bees enjoyed it, too.
Our tomatoes went into the ground on June 2nd (both in the greenhouse and in the field).
Here’s what the asparagus patch looks like this year (above). The trench contains the crowns we planted in April, while last year’s plantings (on the right) are going to fern.
We had originally thought that two rows of asparagus would be all we’d need, but, after sampling a couple of shoots from the 2013 crowns, we decided that we may want to eat nothing but asparagus for the months of May and June! We’ll plant another row in 2015.
With a 20-year life, the plants will yield early-season treats for decades to come.
I used to think of corn as an easy crop to grow, and it is, once it has germinated and gotten through the first couple weeks.
Our challenge at a higher elevation in northern Vermont is the short growing season. Corn seeds like warm soil – 80 degrees – to get started. If planted too early it simply won’t emerge and the seeds end up rotting in the ground. Last year we had great success with transplanting seedlings that had been started indoors a couple of weeks before putting them out in the field. This year, for reasons unknown, our seedlings had a tough go of it. Many of them died before transplanting and, of those that made it into the ground, many did not survive their first couple weeks outdoors. I haven’t sorted out why.
I direct seeded the remainder of the corn rows last weekend (June 1) and the new plants are just starting to show themselves. Hopefully they are happier than our transplants.
The garlic bed is doing well (above). Last night I used one of the last bulbs from last year’s crop in a red sauce. It won’t be long before we’re able to harvest the 2014 plants, but it can’t come soon enough.
Finally, these were among last weekend’s surprise discoveries. Grape hyacinth and a pair of daffodils pushed through the leaves at the entrance to our middle meadow. It’s been a late spring in coming, but it didn’t disappoint.