Near weekly nor’easters and cold cloudy weather have characterized this spring, with one brief heatwave to keep us guessing. After two dry springs, our comfortable assumptions of where we might be able to plant our early crops have been punctured, to the detriment of our beautiful, orderly planting plan, now shredded and mingled with other obsolete and irrelevant documents. Despite the cold and dark, crops are surviving and even thriving-a few of our earliest tomatoes, planted in late April with prayers and row cover to protect them, were touched with frost, but have since shaken it off and, though they look a bit anemic, have started to put on stature, and send out flowers to lure the sun back. The black hand of the frost mysteriously spared our earliest corn, planted just a few days after the tomatoes, without row cover and only the scant protection afforded by our hopes and desires-also anemic, definitely alive, getting discernibly larger. The basil sulks under the inadequate protection of its row cover-I imagine I hear it grumbling as I go by.
While their heat-loving, semi-tropical field mates suffer or simply endure the (to them and to us) inclement weather, the peas positively enjoy it, and seem to grow appreciably day to day, along with their cool weather compatriots: the spinach, the lettuce, the beets, the onions. Potato sprouts are popping out of their ridges sporadically, announcing their imminent emergence with subtle fractures in the soil. Potato beetles, recently emerged themselves, take note. Garlic, already having braved the New England winter in their Spartan straw beds, shrugs off the vagaries of spring, with only the yellowing tips of their broad, dark green, strap-like leaves hinting at some resentment, some regret, some unmet desire.
And the apples-what a show! In April the orchards stirred to life, each tree with its unique constellation of slowly swelling buds, exploding into exuberant, ebullient, magnificent bloom that covered the orchard like a fragrant blanket. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the trees so covered with flowers, and they doggedly kept at it as the weather refused to cooperate. For a long time, the apple’s show went unappreciated by its primary audience, the fair-weather bees who stayed napping cozily in their holes and hives, the trees blooming in vain, glowing bright under the dark, cold, dripping skies.
But some sun did shine, some days grew warm in the afternoon-first the bold bumblers (warm in their puffy coats) visited the waiting flowers, then the small, multifarious, anonymous wild bees, and finally the honeybees in their vast sonorous numbers, still dwarfed by the astounding number of blooms. Beneath the saturating hum of the buzzing bees, one could fairly hear the trees exhale with relief on those rare sunny afternoons–or maybe it was me. Of course pollination is only the first step on the long, uncertain road to an apple, but it is an absolute prerequisite.
We’ve entered a new season and we’re on the verge of opening our doors at the farm. Both the Cambridge Central Square market and the Somerville Union Square market have opened, and Belmont Center will follow their lead later in mid-June. Garden plants are still abundant for those risk-averse (wise?) gardeners who like to wait until Memorial Day to put in the tender tomatoes, eggplant and peppers that will reward them in August and September. Produce has begun to come in as well, with asparagus, lettuce, spinach, arugula, bok choy, radishes, cilantro, dill and greens all making appearances, to be joined relatively soon by endive, escarole, chard, kale, parsley-and, of course, strawberries. We will open for the season on Tuesday May 30th, with our regular hours of Tuesday – Sunday 11am-6pm. As always, please check our website (www.hutchinsfarm.com) for updates.
We hope you can find time to stop by and visit as the days grow longer and warmer, and the seeds sprout, the fruits swell and ripen, the full variety of vegetables perform their alchemy and transform soil, sun, and water into the flavors and textures that enrich and enliven our meals and our days.
Hope to see you all soon,
-Brian Cramer, and the rest of the Hutchins Farm team
May 2017 Newsletter – Opening Announcement