Recalcitrant Spring

Its turning out to be a delayed spring, misty and cold enough to make yet another and hopefully the last trip to the woodshed. The greenhouse is the warmest place to be, and its a good thing as we’ve plenty of work there to keep us busy tending all the young plants that really ought to have been put into the ground by now. The soil thermometer jumps crazily from the 40’s to the 6o’s and although we’ve planted some tomatoes in the garden we’re keeping some plants in reserve as back up. The magnolia bloomed two weeks later than usual but a vision of spring beauty it is.  Meanwhile the cold weather crops are coming along slowly but surely…spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, beets, swiss chard, radishes, brassicas. The poor little hummingbirds arrived a week or two earlier than usual. We’ve increased the sugar content of their nectar. The orioles are back and are wistfully hanging around the apple trees, but they too are a bit early. The honeybees are tender creatures and grateful for the sugar syrup we’re supplying them with. The ducks are sitting on eggs, and frankly, a cozy little sheltered duckhouse seems like the place to be for my money. (I’m hoping that the chickens don’t get broody, 30 chickens is more than enough).  Some old-timers are saying we’re in for a cool summer. We’ll see………………I’m not putting my sweaters away yet.

Asparagus

The green shoots that put the spring in spring

The green shoots that put the spring in spring.

This being the first year that we are able to harvest asparagus, I consider this a triumph of our edible landscape.  (The daffodils are no slackers either!) The asparagus have been a delicious treat, especially tossed with pasta made from our duck’s eggs which impart a lightness that makes no sense, knowing that they are richer than chicken eggs.  The voles seem to be enjoying them as well.(the asparagus, not the duck eggs) and they are the bane of our existence these days. Andrew is keeping a tally to mark his trapping successes. Last count was 30 voles and 10 or so moles.  This is utterly demoralizing.  Every effort to create a rich soil does as much to encourage more herbaceous predators.  My mind turns to ferrets, and worse.

For those starting a new asparagus bed you’ll know that one ought not to harvest the spears in the first couple of years. If you’re like us you won’t be able to help yourself and will throw caution to the wind and start cutting. Its okay but don’t overdo it.  If you take no more than a third of the spears you’ll leave enough to promote the plants’ future vitality.

Tomorrow we’ll be enjoying a salad of steamed asparagus  topped with chopped, hard boiled quail eggs and a caesar vinaigrette.  Now, if only our mead was ready for the drinking…..but that will be next year’s triumph.