It is early March and I am sitting down to finish our spring issue. The temperature in Boston is expected to hit 70 degrees mid-week. Temperatures in the 50s were not unusual this winter and many of us felt relieved after the hardships of last winter’s record snow totals.
But, thinking ahead to our local growing season, this unusually warm winter presents challenges for our farmers and growers.
Every crop will react differently to the changes in the weather patterns. The warm days and colder nights are great for our local maple syrup producers. They have already started tapping. But what about apple farmers and stone fruit farmers? Are the trees starting to bud like the perennials in the gardens? What happens when and if we get a cold snap with freezing temperatures and frost?
When is it safe to plant spring crops? The saying is not to plant tomatoes until Memorial Day. Who knows if that sage advise will apply this year. All bets are off as we experience the second warmest winter on record.
One of the pleasures and challenges of farming is, I’ve been told, having every year and growing season being different. Farmers have to line up their planting schedules well in advance to have time to get the soil ready, to buy and start germinating the seeds, and to hire their staff. Last winter’s snow made getting the fields ready challenging. This year’s challenge may be in knowing when it is safe to start planting.In this issue, we offer several recipes using local asparagus during our brief but cherished season for them. We will have to see what impact the unusual weather has on their harvesting. Make sure to check with your local farmers market and farm stands as to when they anticipate the asparagus being harvested so as not to miss out. In addition to asparagus, local spinach and beets are likely to be harvested in April this year. But then again, Mother Nature may have some surprises for us that can change these predictions!