Despite the pessimistic title of my last newsletter, over the weekend a seasonal switch was flipped and just like that, Spring Arrived.
The change over just a few days is not just visible but palpable. On Thursday my sinuses started throbbing; the next day I noticed the bare branches of walnut and pistachio trees had begun to push out their first flowers — the last of our tree crops to bloom each year.
The leguminous vetch we plant as a cover crop normally begins to grow very quickly in late February. This year it had been essentially dormant until two weeks ago — which was a good thing, since it has been too small and the fields too wet for the sheep to graze it. The sheep are in the fields now, but you can barely see them — the vetch is three feet tall and getting bigger every day.
It takes most of the vegetables we grow a bit longer to respond to the arrival of spring, but the Asparagus, Broccoli and Spinach all took notice this weekend when the temperature hit 78.
With the last rains fully two weeks in the rear view mirror, we are in a frenzy to knock down the weeds, plow under the cover crop, and plant crops that are two weeks or more late in going into the ground. It’s going to be impossible to get completely caught up on all the work any time soon.
We haven’t had to irrigate anything on the farm since November; even the crops we planted in February have been watered almost entirely by rainfall…up until now. But very soon we will have to start irrigating everything except the orchards, where the trees still have plenty of deep moisture for a few more weeks.
And so we farmers find ourselves in the same state as the plants and trees around us, waking up from an extra long period of enforced resting only to find we’re a month behind. The calendar says April but it looks and feels like March.