I’ve been getting all of my ducks in a row these past few weeks. Since we tapped the trees 2 weeks ago, I have been stacking wood, cleaning tools, organizing equipment…and waiting for the sap to flow. And waiting some more. Since that week of sunny days with above average highs, the temperatures have dropped again (and I dare say plummeted last night to -15° Celsius with a wind-chill of -25°Celcius). Needless to say I’m antsy; I want to have a boiling day! I’ve been keeping myself occupied by double-checking that all of our equipment is in order, and doing beekeeping research (a story for another day). In particular we’ve been fine-tuning our sap-transportation process. Since the RTV has mini-caterpillar tracks on it meant for getting around in the bush now, it’s inefficient to be driving it back and forth to the house to empty the 50 gallon collecting tank out. I purchased a bigger tank (over twice the size at 125 gal) this winter that we will situate in the truck bed instead. So we will be dumping the buckets into the RTV tank, pumping sap from the RTV tank to the one in the truck, driving the truck to the sugar shack and then pumping the sap from the truck tank to the holding tank outside the sugar shack. We mulled over the best way to do this given the equipment that we already own and settled on purchasing an additional pump to leave in the second collecting tank for the season. Getting the proper sized fittings and tubing and quick connects has been a trial. At Canadian Tire and then at Home Depot we went in search for the correctly sized brass fittings – no dice. They had male 1/2 inch converter for garden hose, and a female 3/4 inch for vinyl tubing. Plastic and pvc but not brass. I reined in my compulsion to pull my hair out in frustration. The only purchase that resulted from that excursion was garden seeds for pretty flowers. We finally accepted that the most reasonable and economical solution is to duplicate the system that we already have instead of buying additional converters to fit the extra tube that we have lying around. Meaning, we simply need to buy more tubing with the right inner diameter. Big sigh.
Usually by this time of year the sun is blazing in all it’s glory. The garden abounding with beans, tomatoes, zucchini and the like, the lawn turning an attractive mustard, burnt color, Ahhh the heat. That is certainly not the case this year. Due to the late spring this season’s harvest seems delayed – by a lot. Both the tomato plants I started from seed in January, as well as the tomato plants that I bought in May have only yielded a handful of produce this year, whereas in other years there have been grocery bags full of ruby red tomatoes of all sizes by this time. After hearing newscasters this winter and spring go on and on about a ‘polar vortex’ that was taking place, and predicting milder temperatures in the coming months I was skeptical. It sounded a bit made up to me, I may have even scoffed a little. Well, it’s time for me to eat my words of disbelief, they may be the only things to ripen this year.
I planted vegetable seeds at the beginning of February. I live in Kanata, Ontario, Canada, hardiness zone 4b. According to Environment Canada, our frost dates are May 12 and October 15. This year has seen a harsh winter and had me pining for warmer weather. Mental images of lush spinach, plump tomatoes and green beans, have influenced me to attempt starting some plants from seed this year instead of buying established seedlings from the store (as well as the desire to save a bit of coin). After 2 weeks of watching dirt being dirt I spotted a few tiny sprouts of spinach vying to make their way into the world. By the end of the next week most of squares in my starter trays bore little sprouts from spinach, cherry tomato, big tomato and cabbage seeds. The fact that all of the sprouts looked remarkably similar, identical in fact had me a little concerned that somehow I’d managed to mislabel the trays, until I read that these first two leaves of a sprout are not in fact “true leaves” but rather “cotyledons”. Whereas cotyledons all look the same, it is the next two leaves that sprout, the “true leaves” that bear a plant’s unique form. I hoarded my little seedlings in front of the sliding doors at the back of the house where they can photosynthesize as much sun as possible. I am eager for them to grow, flourish and nourish my cravings for fresh produce.