Monday, April 4, 2011
Sweet Harvest Monday
Is it maple syrup yet? Youngest 'checks' on our first tap.
Having acres and acres of rocky maple bush* is not only pretty in the fall, but it can be productive in the spring. Finally, a first Harvest Monday at my new property. I had hoped to show you a finished bottle of maple syrup but the weather did not cooperate today.
Some of our maple sugar 'bush.'
We started late in the year. The sap has been flowing for some weeks now on and off when the temperature was above freezing. According to our finding of mothes in our buckets, all too soon the season is coming an end. We started with only 10 taps this year though we inherited the equipment to do 4 times that amount, along with a sugar shack. Yay!
The garden partner (he's been promoted**) tapping a tree.
How to Tap a Tree by a novice:
1. Find a suitable tree: sugar maple, black maple are considered very good, other maples follow but you can also tap birch, black walnuts,*** and more I'm sure but the latter few will mean lots more boiling to get some syrup.
2. Drill a slightly uphill hole about 1.5-2 inches deep or stop when you start seeing sap on the sunny side of the tree about drill height.
3. Put in a spile/tap. You can make one with staghorn sumac (thanks Patty for forwarding me this great idea). Hammer it in so that most of the tap is going in to your collection bucket.
4. There are various containers you can use including a milk jug.
By the way, more and more of my city friends are tapping their well developed, beautiful maples or those of obliging neighbours. The room to grow and sunny exposure (relative to most forests) mean that urban maples can be big sap producers!
* For some reason, people in the country, call forests: bush. This makes me think of short multi-stemmed hedges instead of the cloud scraping, can't-reach-round-to hug trees found in some 'bushes.'
** He used to be the Non-Gardening Partner but after showing far than the normal interest in growing potatoes and hot peppers then spending weeks in the woods chopping and stacking fallen wood and THEN manning a booth at a seed fair for one of the sellers, I've decided that he deserves recognition for towing the growing line. Oh and he hardly ever complains about me talking plants anymore. Could I have worn him down? Or is growing good food just so much fun you can resist for long?
*** I've heard of other members of the walnut family being tapped as well like butternut. Also there is mention of using hickory though the process is different.
Tapping trees: nice pictures
Info on maple syrup production