Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Warm Start

                I hope everyone is enjoying this absolutely gorgeous Manitoba “spring” weather (it’s not spring until March 20th according to my brother). I’m surprised that most of the snow has melted and that night temperatures are barely touching freezing.  Everyone is scuttling out of their homes to walk, run and play and I have already found one or two things to keep me busy.

                For tapping maple trees, this is about the same time as it occurred last year; close to St. Patrick’s day. These warm temperatures are doing wonders in terms of thawing the roots and activating the trees. The positive temperatures are great for pushing sap through the trunk, branches and holes of the trees but we still need negative temperatures for the suction (pulling) of water into the tree from the roots. They work together and without one or the other, sap won’t flow into your bucket. This upcoming week looks promising with both plus and minus temperatures but huge fluctuations between both are always better for a stronger flow.
                If you’re looking to tap your own trees, resources to acquire spigots will be at the bottom. If you have any other questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Tapping is fairly easy and it took my Dad, brother and I an hour to tap 45 trees. Maples can be difficult to identify at this time of year without the leaves, but just remember: maples have opposite branching (2 branches coming from the same point as opposed to alternating), deeply furrowed bark, reddish twigs, no dominant stem (usually don’t grow in a straight line a have a few codominant stems) and some still have the samaras (those dual blade helicopter seeds). 
                Once you have found a tree of a good size and health (at least 8 inches in diameter), drill a hole into the tree 2 inches in at chest height with a slight upward angle. Creamy white shavings should come out if you’ve found a good spot. A spigot can be tapped into the tree and we use a milk jug as our collection “pail” because they have UV protection, are enclosed so that bark/debris/precipitation doesn’t fall into it, and it can be emptied easily. I’ll give another update in a week or two as I continue this process and let you know how it’s going.

                Additionally, the bees were set out from their winter storage this week (two weeks ahead of last year). This unusually warm weather made things hard to keep the bees cool in storage which made them restless and forced us to put them outside. My dad and I lined them all up and closed off the entrances a bit to keep them warm for upcoming cooler weather. They actually don’t produce any waste all winter so I bet they were fairly relieved to be able to fly around and enjoy the warm weather this weekend.

                 Things at Jeffries Nurseries are also kicking into gear. In the last few weeks, we potted over 60,000 perennials for the greenhouse which gets us to being about half done. Lots still has to be done in order to be ready for shipping season coming up fast in the end of April. It’s absolutely amazing to see the greenhouse fill up and everything dormant and small bursting into life. 

Ken Fosty (204) 586-1365 kfosty@icenter.net 

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