2018, February

Farm update – 2/18/2018

From the bird songs we’ve been hearing, to tree buds unfurling to reveal tender green leaves, and these beautiful daffodils that greeted us in the woods as we were heading out to check on the bees, I think the world is alive with the news: Spring is here! A March cold snap is certainly not out of the picture, and in fact is probably to be expected, but the rest of February looks like it will be cloaking us in spring warmth of highs in the upper 70s to 80s, and lows in the 60s.

Daffodils in spring glory

Our winter veggies and lawn weeds alike are already responding to the warmer temps. The garlic, onions, and collard greens have grown by leaps and bounds in just the past week. And the lawn reminded us that it’s time to start mowing if we want to keep it manageable.

This was the first of several busy planting weekends to come. We finally were able to get some of the field rows established, creating rows of varying widths to experiment with ways to minimize the amount of time we need to dedicate to weeding. We even got to use a new toy (um, tool) for burning holes in the ground cloth where we can grow individuals plants. Once those rows were established, we planted broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and turnips. We also planted additional carrots, radishes, potatoes, and what will be a baby Asian greens mix in our raised beds. A row of snow peas went in along the trellis.

Field before and after row layout

Although we ran out of time for hive inspections, we drove by the hives to at least make sure they were active. From that quick peek, they seem to be taking well to the warmer days. The recent rains will have been a big help too, hopefully ensuring adequate pollen supplies and a good nectar flow. A closer inspection as soon as we’re able will reveal more about how the bees fared through winter.

Spring bee activity

While out in the woods checking on bees, we located and cut down a water oak that will become the logs which we’ll inoculate with shiitake mushroom plugs in a couple of weeks. Timing is crucial in selecting and harvesting trees for growing mushrooms. Too long before your inoculation date and the tree will dry out excessively. But you also need to cut a tree before it begins actively growing in the spring. I think we timed it just right this year. The leaf buds in the canopy of our tree were barely, if at all, swollen. With the warm weather ahead, the same would probably not be true next weekend.

Harvested water oak, awaiting shiitake inoculation

Along with green onions, which have been a reliable fall and winter crop, we also harvested “green garlic” this weekend. Just as green onions are immature onion plants which can be eaten raw or cooked to add flavor to savory dishes, green garlic is an immature garlic plant that has not yet developed its more familiar clove. The whole plant can be eaten, from the white base to the greens above. Tender greens can be used raw, while the thicker greens and white stem can be cooked to add mild garlic flavor to your favorite dishes. It’s definitely a unique and delicious way to experience an old cooking staple.

Green garlic

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