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


Stittsville James said...

If you use sap from trees that aren't maples, does the syrup still look and taste like maple syrup? Makes me wonder how much of the syrup you buy in stores is "real" maple syrup.

Also, looks like you still have some snow on the ground there in your pictures. Guess the person who guessed the latest is going to win contest!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Are you free of snow? I've been using my old 'hood as a gage for snow being gone and I think you're right, it's the latest guess that'll win. I have to announce that actually. Thanks for the reminder.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Oh, and no the syrup tastes different and you need a lot more sap to make it from other sources. I think mostly it's made in areas that don't have a lot of maples, especially sugar maples. However, I do have a lot of black walnuts, some of them are tapping size so next year I'm going to see what I can get!!

kitsapFG said...

What a nice additional harvest item your new property is providng!

Lynda said...

I wish I could tap maple trees. I never hear of anyone doing that to the maple trees here in California.

I would love to havest maple syrup.

Daphne said...

Now there is a harvest I would love to have. My last yard had oaks. In fact it was a forest of oaks. I've I'd have wanted to make acorn flour I could have so easily. This yard has exactly one tree and it is a very young maple tree. Too small to tap. And one tree won't get you much syrup.

Bev said...

One of our neighbours pointed out to me that the local word is 'bush', and I had used 'woods' to describe the forest behind our house. I grew up in Kingston, which is 138km from here, but it's probably more indicative of which side of the rural/urban divide I'm from.

I still can't get used to using 'bush' unless I'm talking about something scrubby and hard to walk through. I'm so self-conscious about saying 'woods', I end up using 'forest' which makes me sound like a pompous ass.

I'm jealous of your maples. There is clear evidence on our property that there was a sugar operation here, and also that every single large maple was cut down at some point. Sigh.

Robin said...

Oh what a great harvest!! Lucky you to have all of those maples to make some great maple syrup!

michael said...

how wide does the sugar maple tree have to be in order to tap it and all of mine have smooth bark 2 with black stuff leaking out from were the branch Brok off.