Now that last week’s blustery storm is just a distant memory, 2021 seems to have turned the seasonal page on winter just as the calendar announces the start of Spring. People are doing their best Puxatawney Phil impressions: poking their heads outside, blinking their eyes, and venturing out into the warmer weather to enjoy a few activities outdoors.
Asparagus is the groundhog of the vegetable world. After going into hibernation with the first fall frosts, which burn its fern-y fronds black, it spends the winter sleeping under the soil. It begins to poke its “head” up when the weather gets warm and sunny — sometimes as early as mid-January. But the roots don’t really get started until the soil warms up, and many years the earliest spears will get burned back by a frost in late winter.
On Monday, though, our asparagus let us know that Spring had indeed arrived: thousands of spears had pushed up over the weekend and grown large enough to harvest. As long as spring continues, the roots will continue to send up new spears and we will harvest them — every other day when it’s cooler; every day when it’s warmer. Eventually, the asparagus will also let us know when summer arrives. The spears will start to get thinner and tougher, and begin to open up when they are still short. Then it will be time to stop harvesting and allow the plants to grow into ferns that will eventually flower and go to seed before fall arrives again. That time normally arrives in late May or early June — right about the time our summer crops begin to kick into gear.
Summer is our most intensive harvest season at Terra Firma. But it is also the time when a majority of our subscribers take vacations or drop out of the CSA for a month or two because it does not fit their summer schedules. Last year was the first year ever that we did not see a significant decline in the number of boxes we delivered in July and August.
With Covid cases dropping and vaccination steadily rising, I would imagine many of you are already making plans to make up for missed summer vacations, family gatherings, grandparent visits and other activities that had to be abandoned last year. As we are just beginning to put seeds in the ground for summer crops, it would be really helpful for us to get a rough idea how many of you are planning to put your box on hold this summer, and for how long.
We have put a two-question survey up on Google: Are you planning on using vacation holds this summer?, and if so, for how long? We are looking for as big a sample size as possible, so please respond even if you plan on sticking around all summer. This information will be immensely helpful for us, and in exchange for your time, we are offering respondents a $5 credit for responding — we really appreciate it!
Here at the farm, we are all getting our second shot this weekend thanks to the really well organized effort that our county health department organized to vaccinate agricultural workers. I hope that everyone else will soon have the opportunity to get vaccinated and we can all begin to put the worst of last year’s pandemic concerns behind us.