Is Pennsylvania Skipping Spring This Year?

The cold trend this spring continues, making us wonder if we’re skipping summer altogether this year and heading right to December. We’re not letting it fool us, however. Activity is bustling here at the orchard, sometimes reaching a frantic pace. Even though we continue with flurries every couple of days it seems, we know it’s spring by watching the subtle signs all around us.

The first sign was the robin migration this year. Even as we were getting inches of snow, my kids were delighted to see the first robins. We had been studying migration with my kindergartener and second grader in our homeschool. And we got to witness their migration pattern first hand. We had never noticed, until reading about it, how the robins arrive in groups of large flocks and stay together for a few weeks before the males break up to form their own individual “territories” in our yards and fields. Each “territory” is about one to two acres, which they boisterously protect until fall, when they become friendly towards other males again and migrate south. Fascinating. Go look up a book on robins for your kids at the local library– they’ll be amazed!

We also know it’s spring because one day Daddy was called away from his lunch to meet  the truck of trees that just arrived. I find it humorous how the trees we plant look like nothing but sticks that we half bury in the ground. I stopped to watch the guys planting some trees last week (sorry I didn’t get pictures; I was too busy keeping the three year old from interfering with equipment!). The workers were in a hurry to get as many planted as quickly as possible before the torrential rains we had on Monday. My hubby did snap a quick picture of them being delivered in the back of the truck.

Another sign that spring is surely coming—the strawberries in the tunnel are blooming! Sadly, we lost a few of the very earliest ones despite the tunnel’s protection– it got just a bit too cold. We’ll still have early ones at this point, just maybe a week or two later than we anticipated.

Strawberry blossoms in tunnel, photo credit my five year old!

Today blueberries are getting mulched. Mulch will help produce a juicy sweet fruit and maintains the pH of the soil. (Weaver’s manager David Howe kindly shared these pictures of himself mulching.)

 

The early crops in my garden are also planted. As a school project this year, we taught the kids how to install a split rail fence (to keep out unwanted deer) and the importance of mixing compost into the harder clay soil.

It was a great family project with lots of fun hands-on learning happening. Our three- and five-year-old were so intrigued by planting seeds and covering them up.  They started singing to them and made up a lullaby together as they planted: “Go to sleep little seeds and wake up to be a big, big plant!”

Another sure sign of spring: asparagus is also growing! I’ve been sautéing it some with a little butter and minced garlic. Serve this with a side of grilled chicken breast and you’ve got yourself a flavorful healthy dinner within a few minutes. I’m also hoping to make my creamed asparagus over potatoes for a treat in the near future.

So yes, even though the temperatures would deceive us, spring is in full bloom. And we’re gearing up and anticipating summer! I am daydreaming of the time in the not-so-distant future when I’ll be able to freeze strawberry jam and can my tomatoes into salsa. Take heart, warm weather is coming! We hope to see you out in the fields this summer!

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