I debated whether to use this photo, thinking the snow may be too depressing to start this post with, but this is how it is this year (This
is how it was last year on April 11th!) We still have big patches of ice and snow, but they are disappearing fast and the main paths are lovely mud.
Unlike the photo from last year, which had blossoming apple trees and tulip blooms nearly open, only a few tulips closest to the house have even broken through the ground (of course most are still beneath snow.) No apple blossoms in sight yet.
No green yet, although if you squint really hard you can almost imagine a tinge of green in the bare patches of lawn. We hope to paint our house this summer, and I have decided it should be a color a bit more vivid than its current drab mud color. Perhaps dark teal or spruce with an ochre-colored fence. That would make me much happier this time of year.
This morning, one of the silver maples filled two buckets with sap since last night!
The buckets fill surprisingly fast, considering they are filled drip by drip.
This is our low-tech sap-boiling setup. It takes 60 gallons of silver maple sap boiled down to make one gallon of syrup, so it is a bit costly fuel-wise, but the delectable syrup is worth every penny.
The high tunnel is very warm inside and because I watered last night, very humid. Entering this morning, both your glasses and camera lens fogged up.
There, a clear view. Cadence planted most of the greenhouse last weekend with early spring crops (peas, carrots, scallions, spinach.)
The southwest corner has three kinds of beans, which like it warmer and I will cover if it gets cold at night. We are watering the straw bales to get them to decompose a bit for strawbale gardening. We are experimenting with the idea of planting squash and melon starts in them in a few weeks. They should like growing in the warm greenhouse and take off. When the greenhouse sides are permanently opened for the summer, Cadence plans to train the vines to grow outside and sprawl into the yard. Or else we will just move the entire row of bales outside.
The chickens and ducks are loving being outside, scratching around in the leaf litter and mud.
Lucky birds, they get special treats a few times a week from the restaurant where Cadence is working: ends of romaine, trimmings from brussels sprouts and other veggies, eggshells, stale bread (and sometimes cake)... I do make them share with the cows, who also greatly appreciate fresh greens this time of year. Nobody really likes the onion or citrus remains, so they go to the worm bins.
The seedlings are growing gangbusters. I have 20 flats growing so far, but four are for Sontes Restaurant, which is constructing a rooftop strawbale garden. I still have some seeds to start - I better get cracking.
I am very excited about the Virginia peanuts, one of my crazy experimental crops this year.
The artichokes are looking good, too. I understand they need a cold period so they think they have been through a winter. I am not sure when or how best to do this, so if anyone has cold-climate artichoke-growing experience, please advise!
Exciting news! This is my new radio broadcasting studio!! I am going to be hosting a radio show called "Common Roots" on a new grassroots. all-volunteer streaming radio station called The COBB (Creatives Offering Better Broadcasting - a nod to the landmark corn water tower in Rochester.) We radio hosts are just getting lined up and regular programming will begin to air in a couple weeks. My show will be interviews with farmers, artists, artisans and other interesting characters, with local music and maybe a few Squash Blossom farm stories. I am using my unassuming iPad and a very impressive microphone to record the interviews. I have just completed my first interviews and am now figuring out how to use the software to edit.
My equipment fits into a vintage train case - have recording studio, will travel. If you know somebody who would be a great interview subject in SE Minnesota, please send me contact info! This is so much fun! The shows will also be podcast so once they are up I will post links in case anyone wants to listen. I am aspiring to be like my radio heroes: Terry Gross, Garrison Keillor --hope my show doesn't sound more like Wayne's World!