Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Odds and Ends

A friend wrote that her father just finished cracking and shelling out 257 lbs. of walnuts! My goodness, is that before shelling or finished meats? I presume he sells them, or the family must be eating them at every meal!

I've taken several hikes out to my little "baby forest" wilderness area recently, with visitors (pretty much the only time I make time to get out there), to look at my baby black walnut trees that I planted from seed the first year we bought the farm ground. We planted pecans, too, but they haven't had any nuts yet. The largest black walnut had ONE nut on it two years ago...last year most the walnut crop in the area succumbed to the long hard freeze in April. Hopefully this year will be much better for fruits and nuts. There is also a larger, but still young, black walnut tree on the new property, so maybe we'll have a crop from it. It has grown up in the shade of a huge scraggly Siberian elm, beginning about the time we bought the house. This year or next our skilled tree-trimmer friend will remove the brittle elm, giving the walnut room to grow taller and straighter. Also, this will remove the elm's threat to our electrical lines...the elm is at least 50 feet tall, and only 30 feet from the aerial lines leading into our house, so it looks like just a matter of time before some storm renders us powerless for a week or two (guessing that the farm would be a low priority in cleaning up after a widespread storm).

I also have a Carpathian (English type) walnut tree that has done very well...except the squirrels strip it clean right before the nuts are ripe. Hopefully now that I own them we'll be able to trim back the trees that the squirrels use as an aerial highway to raid the Carpathian walnut. My apricot tree is starting to bloom its lovely pink flowers; hopefully the squirrels will leave us some fruit this year if it escapes the frost.

At least we have the bees to pollinate the fruit trees, safe in their hive. Although the hive that the beekeeper brought last year died over the winter, the wild colony that he captured by the farm driveway last summer survived, and we see them busy about the farm on warm spring days. Luna (the younger Border Collie) has taken up the hobby of hunting and biting bees, so we'll be keeping her more confined for their safety (she, however, is deliberately earning every sting she gets, so I'm not so concerned on her behalf!).

The first turnip seeds are up as of a couple days ago...I was beginning to despair. Usually they spring right up, but these took more than two weeks to germinate. Apparently even though there have been a lot of warm days, it isn't that long since we had snow blanketing the ground.

We planted our first potatoes yesterday. Two seasons ago, a variety we ordered was sold out, and the company sent a substitute--Pink Wink--that wasn't in the catalog. It turned out to be fantastic, so we tried to order it last year...not available. Luckily, a few small tubers had been left in the ground, and a few more had been abandoned in the bottom of the kitchen refrigerator. These all grew beautifully, yielding a bucket of nice potatoes. I wisely saved them for planting this spring. Even though the bucket froze in the garage (even the eggs in the fridge in the garage froze, it was so cold so long!), about half of the tubers resisted the cold and are now sprouting. I like veggies that can withstand my insensitive handling! I inquired about Pink Wink from the seed potato company this year...they lost their crop entirely so it won't be available from them for several years. I hope I can keep mine going and healthy that long! I'm planting them in different places at different times, hoping to increase my chances of success.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Ahhh....the coming of spring.

As for the black walnuts, I remember growing up on the farm making money by gathering them in fall. It didn't take anytime to get a couple of pick-up truck loads.

Walnuts trees seem to run in a 2-year cycle. One year you'll get a bumper crop and the next year, nothing.