Happy spring equinox everyone! Although it feels more like the summer solstice with the weather we have been having, it is only March 20. Snow in Flagstaff, Arizona, and 80 degrees in Minnesota, how unreal!!?? Something seems amiss, and not altogether right, but honestly I love it. The predictions are saying that this weather is here to stay for the season, so it seems that we will be getting an early start on the gardens this year up here in Minnesota. Luckily I have already started a bunch of seedlings – tomatoes, peppers, collards, kale, onions, leeks, some flowers, and a few fairly exotic novelties for Minnesota, figs being one of them! I will save the juicy details about figs for another post, but for right now I will just say that recently it has been raining plant genetics onto me. The creation of The North American Scion Exchange (originally the Upper-Midwest Scion Exchange) started out as a way for local fruit tree growers to connect, and because of a few grafting comrades – Steven Edholm in California and Little John in Wisconsin, it has grown into a national network for fruit tree enthusiasts!! So far this season I have received about 40 varieties of apples (some of which I have passed on to other apple lovers!), 3 varieties of cherries, about 6 or 7 varieties of plums, some pears, and Reliance Peach. Along with all the tree fruit, I have also received red and yellow Hanomaki gooseberries, black and white currants, Orus 8 josta berries (a cross between gooseberries and currants), and three varieties of figs – Brown Turkey, Desert King, and Osbourne’s Prolific. The North American Scion Exchange is still in it’s infancy; as this year’s grafting season winds down, we expect many more people to find out about us and we are planning for even more members this same time next year. I want to give a shout out to Bill up in Pine City, Dorothy in BC, Kurt in Oregon, and Steven and Little John – thanks for all the awesome genetics!!
In other news, the maple syrup season was more or less a bust this year. We tapped the same three trees, and only got about ten gallons of sap, last year we collected over 100 gallons of sap from the three same trees. We still ended up with just shy of half a gallon of finished syrup, but last year we finished with two and a half gallons, so it is kind of a disappointment!! This leads me back to the weather. This winter/spring is truly one for the record books. Without actually finding links to the statistics, I know here in Minnesota we have broken a bunch of records for high temps in March. I have been drinking beer in a short sleeve t-shirt outside for the last two weeks…WTF!! If climate change deniers need anymore proof, well here it is, the tulips are coming up, I will be eating a dandelion salad tomorrow with dinner, and most likely start planting parts of the garden this coming weekend!! The greenhouse is set up, and the brassicas are already out there hardening off, and we are getting ready for some big garden expansions. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will unveil our new website for our Urban Farm and have dates posted for the grand opening of the farm stand. It will be small to start with – salad mix, rhubarb, chives, and radishes, but it is a start! It is a very exciting time for us, and hopefully this is the year that we can truly start sharing our bounty with our friends, family, and community!! Cheers!