Despite the calendar which says spring arrived much earlier, I’m saying it really arrived here last week. Other local folks are welcome to chime in and agree, or not, as they see fit. Trees are blooming, birds are chirping, and neighbors are mowing the grass for the first time. All that sure sounds like spring to me!
One thing is missing from the picture though: there’s no sign of asparagus yet. At least there’s no sign of it here. In 2012 spring was running about a month ahead of schedule, and we got our first spear on 3/16. Last year we had our first harvest on 4/10, which was later than usual. This year is obviously going to be later still. The dried brown stalks you see in the below photo are all that’s left of the ferns from last year. We are mulching in the row with shredded paper, and using cardboard between the rows. The cardboard will be covered with straw as soon as I go pick some up. It isn’t real pretty to look at right now but it is weed free. At least we are still enjoying some frozen asparagus from last year’s crop.
The bluebirds are running a few days ahead of last year though. Mama laid her 5th egg last Friday. Five eggs is pretty normal here, though later clutches may only have four. I have seen six eggs in a nest one time, many years ago, but only five of those hatched. The eggs of the Eastern Bluebird typically hatch in 12-14 days.
I was finally able to get onions and potatoes planted here last week. Sowing carrot seed is next on my to do list. After planting I mulched the onions with some aged straw. I also planted a couple dozen of them close together to pull as scallions.
I’ve gotten a few harvests lately, mostly spinach. We are enjoying it whenever we can as it will be bolting all too soon. That in the below photo is the heirloom Amsterdam Prickly Seeded, which was grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and by European growers even before that. The thick, dark green leaves had a great flavor when cooked. I also froze a bag of it for later use.
I did cut some baby salad greens the other day. It was a mix of lettuces, tatsoi, komatsuna and mizuna I cut from seedlings I had growing in the greenhouse. These are extras that I didn’t need for planting, but kept growing for this very reason.
I usually cut the leaves with scissors just above the growing point, then leave the plants to regrow another ‘crop’. I should get one more cutting if I keep the plants watered and fertilized with a bit of fish emulsion.
The bowl of organic greens yielded enough for several lovely salads, and they were a welcome treat in a year when spring is late to arrive and many things got frozen out over the winter.
Lately I’ve been working on a recipe for dark rye rolls and buns. I think I’ve just about got it worked out, but I want to make it again before I share it here. Of course we have been enjoying the taste testing. And amazingly, unlike Subway breads, there’s no yoga-mat ingredients in it! For that matter, none of our bread recipes include the chemical azodicarbonamide, which is banned in Europe and Australia but FDA-approved in the U.S. That is one of many reasons why I am glad we bake our own breads – we know exactly what does and doesn’t go into them. I have been experimenting with rye breads for about a year now, and this is the latest creation. The dark color is a result of molasses and cocoa powder.
We also found time last week to make two batches of soap. One was another batch of our Tea Tree French Green Clay soap we first made late last year. The other was a new one for us, a Bastille soap made with 70% olive oil. It is supposed to be good for babies and those with sensitive skin, which means we mainly made it for me! It will need to cure for at least five or six weeks before use. I’ll let you know how it turned out.
That’s a look at a few things that are going on here. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or planting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne graciously hosts Harvest Mondays.