Sunday, March 30, 2014

Harvest Monday - 31 March 2014 - Sugar Time (Final)

Welcome to Harvest Monday, brought to you by Daphne's Dandelions.

We did our final collection and boil of maple sap on March 12, and pulled the taps. Really, the season was just getting started, but we were leaving for our annual pilgrimage to beautiful Key West. Here is our total production for this year:

Pretty pathetic, compared to last year. Not even a full quart. But we're grateful for anything given this challenging winter and spring.

Before we left, I had given permission to the local high school's forestry/environmental sciences program to enter our property and tap the trees we weren't using. They tap a number of trees around the town (a few of ours in the past), as well as their own school grounds. The students get to keep some syrup and the school sells the rest.

They set up a dripline from 12 of our trees into this big collection tank:

This is the modern way. Just string 'em together and let gravity do the work. Then just pump the tank into the one in the back of the truck.

When we got back from vacation last Sunday, we found the kids had put up 45 additional taps using the old-school bucket method!

Some of the trees look a little too small to be tapped. I'll have to have a word with the instructor.

There can't be many tapping days left. Once the trees break bud you get "buddy sap" which has an off-flavor. But they're the experts, so I'm sure they know what they're doing

The school typically pays us back with a pint or so when they just do a few of our trees along the road. I wonder if they're going to be a bit more grateful this year! Just saying.

As the pictures show, the snow is mostly gone now. That does not mean I can do anything in the soil though. It's still frozen solid below the top one inch of moosh. First it has to thaw, then dry out. And the past couple of days have seen torrential rains--maybe helping with thawing but not drying! This is the brook on the adjacent property, which is only a trickle in summer:

At this rate, I worry that there won't be enough time to get a good pea crop before the weather gets too hot.

Still, there's some green! Here are my artichoke seedlings, looking pretty good, plus a pot of tiny rosemary seedlings.

Other seeds started now are broccoli (emerged already), eggplants, peppers, parsley, basil, dill, marigold, lettuce, and cumin. Also some perennials. More to come!

Speaking of Key West, I did not know that it's the only place in the continental United States that is Zone 11 (I'm in 5). It would be fun to garden (and live!) there, except for one soil! But beautiful (salty) water:

If you visit Key West, I highly recommend checking out the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden for plant and wildlife viewing. We did, for the first time this year, and really enjoyed it. I can't believe we missed it all the times in the past.


  1. It might not be much, but you can't beat maple syrup. I was hiking along the bike path in our town this weekend and saw that someone had tapped a lot of trees there.

  2. It's fun to see how maple syrup is harvested. We really don't have any native maples in our area so that something we will never get to try. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That has got to be a special treat, home grown maple syrup, mmm. Have fun in the sun, sounds wonderful!

  4. I've read a few articles this year that suggest that maple sugar can be tapped from very very young trees, suggesting that newly planted groves could become productive quite quickly. Perhaps this will save some woodlands from becoming strip malls and housing developments? (I can hope....)

    1. That is interesting. I'd like to read those articles, since the conventional wisdom is not to tap a tree less than 10" in diameter.