Everyone is fist pumping the dawn of the spring season, myself included. All of the cooking magazines and blogs are gushing about the onslaught of the strawberry season and extolling the virtues of fresh mango smoothies, avocados in your scrambled eggs, and fine fingerling potatoes with pesto this and that. All that talk has me slobbering like Beethoven (the dog, not the singer/songwriter), but the majority of these recipes are a like an exclusive Ivy League boys club I wasn’t invited too. Veggies that are in season in Mexico, California, and Mexicalifornia are just getting in the ground here on the right coast.
At the farm, we are just waking up to the spring. The only harvestable vegetable to speak of is asparagus, and it sure is ripe for the picking. There is more to the spring season, however, than a veggie that makes your pee smell funny. Winter and spring are a time for preparations that can either make or break your season. If you thought the summer was the only time farmers hustle, think again.
The ground needs to be prepped by ploughing last years cover crop, discing the ground again to break up any major clumps in the soil, harrowing to create a fine seed bed, and laying black plastic to keep the soil warm. But before those fields can be planted, seeds need to be sown in the greenhouse. Most seeds start in 288’s, then get transferred to 72’s or 50 cell trays once they’re larger. Since these seeds have been living in perfect conditions in the greenhouse, they need to be “hardened off”, the equivalent of taking a sexy hot tub and immediately partaking in the Polar Bear plunge. In other words, it’s a way of toughening up the plants for the real world. I could mention even more day to day tasks like rototilling, direct seeding, making mini-tunnels/greenhouses, tractor maintenance, weeding, hoeing, and harvesting asparagus to the day to day work, but I won’t.
Here are some pics to give you an idea of early spring on the farm…get ready for mango and banana season here on Long Island!
Disclaimer: That last sentence is a witticrism (a witty criticism, oh snap new word). Despite a disconcertingly common belief that avocados, bananas, and mangos grow in the New England/Tri-State area, they don’t. Look out for arugula, spinach, radishes, peas, beans, and asparagus at a farm stand near you though!