Fiddleheads and blackflies; sure signs of spring's arrival! The arrival of the blackflies seems to coincide with when the fiddleheads are ready. We checked our favorite patch last Sunday and, sure enough, the fiddlies were ready and the blackflies were just coming out. We thought we could get enough for a supper or two and wound up with a five gallon pail full. Lugging a pail brimming with fiddlies for half a mile uphill wasn't as much fun as we thought it would be. The streams are low now, and with the warmer temps on their way, I don't think the fiddlehead season will be long. Most of the ferns we saw on Sunday were just coming up, but some were a foot tall already. If we go down Thursday or Friday we should be able to get a goodly amount before they go by.
As for preserving them we tried blanching and freezing them one year without a tremendous amount of success. They were alright, a little slimy, but nothing I'd write home about. My neighbor Bill told us how his mother preserves them: she washes and packs them in quart mason jars, then covers them with Italian dressing and stores them in the fridge. They're surprisingly good this way and they'll keep until the fresh ones are back again. I have other friends that can them but I'm not found of canned anything; if I can't freeze or pickle it I'm not going to be eating it out of season.
On our way to harvest fiddleheads last weekend we were privileged to watch the display four bald eagles were putting on. I assume they were looking for nesting sites but perhaps they were just enjoying the windy day. Two adults and two immature were in the area for the two hours we were there. Saw one of the adults on Monday morning as I was checking out one of our fields nearby.
On the farm we're busy starting tomatoes in the greenhouses; lots of them. The greenhouses will be brimming full within a couple of weeks with seedlings of all different species and varieties. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins and lots of other crops will be started early in the greenhouses so they'll be ready once warm weather arrives to stay. Direct seedings in the field will start this week with potatoes, peas, onions and salad greens. Next week will bring carrots and some other crops along with more greenhouse plantings.
We've lots of crops this year and it looks like nearly every field at the farm will be full this year. And most of the fields we rent/own will be full too. I think tomatoes take up the most space of any crop. After a couple of years using a modified basket weave trellising system we're going back to the wire and string system. That's where we drive steel fence stakes in every 20 feet, run a wire across the tops of the stakes and run strings from the wire to the base of the tomato plant. From there we train the vine to follow the strings. By using a combination of tomato clips and Ty'Mups we can train the tomatoes in short order. Of course the drawback is that uses well over a thousand steel fence stakes.
Until next week, Brian