Jones' Farmer Blog

Behind the scenes and lessons at Jones Family Farms in Shelton, CT

Spring Has Sprung!

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Can you believe it’s April already? We sure can’t, and the time sure flies once those temperatures get out of the 40s.

Many signs of Spring have shown their faces on the farm in recent days. Our friends, the robins, have arrived in full force. The robin tends to be a big sign for many that Spring really is coming. While robins occasionally overwinter in the northern part of the United States and southern Canada, most migrate to winter south of Canada from Florida and the Gulf Coast to central Mexico, as well as along the Pacific Coast. Most depart south by the end of August and begin to return north in February and March (exact dates vary with latitude and climate).

Another popular sign is when the crocus flowers start to pop their heads out of the ground adding some color to our yards. As one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, the large hybridized and selected “Dutch crocus” are popular with gardeners. However, in areas where snow and frost occasionally occur in the early spring it is not uncommon for early-flowering crocuses to suddenly wither and die from an unseasonable frost or snowfall.

How do we, at the Farm, know it’s Spring? Easy. There’s a ton of work to do! Just this week I’ve been able to capture different crews at work in various locations over the 400 acres.

Up at Pumpkin Seed Hill – Will and a crew have been marking fields for Christmas tree planting. The crew will go to a field marked for Christmas trees and using a rope line will mark off the first row of trees. Every few feet a crew member will drop a cup of limestone powder on the ground marking where the trees will be planted. Row after row this continues until the entire field is marked. Soon we will be bringing our Christmas ‘babies’ to this field and introduce them to their new home.

Over amongst the growing Christmas trees you can find John L and Justin doing some corrective pruning to the trees. They will walk amongst the trees looking for odd off-shoots of branches, dead limbs, and other areas where they can use their pruners to help the Christmas trees to look their best.

Walking through another field of trees you can spot Brian and some crew in their bright orange backpacks. No, they aren’t off on a nice nature hike, those backpacks are used to dispense fertilizer into a cup that then has to be spread on the ground around each tree. When you’re farming 200 acres of Christmas trees, you can imagine the amount of hiking these guys do!

Over on the hillside facing our Harvest Kitchen I ran into Terry who was busy spreading grass seeds among the Christmas trees. Now, this isn’t just your average grass seed, no sir. Terry has selected Aurora Gold II Hard Fescue grass!

You may ask WHY Aurora Gold II Hard Fescue? Good question! This grass is a special hybrid referred to as a ‘dwarf’ grass. It is selected because the roots will not compete with the Christmas trees and it doesn’t grow to tall lengths. Maintenance, such as mowing, isn’t as necessarily with this type of grass and among all those Christmas trees that’s a great thing.

The process of getting these seeds in the grounds now is called frost cracking and is done as soon as the ground gets soft to get a nice head start on the growing season.

So, all this sounds like a lot of work now doesn’t it? I haven’t even mentioned the Vineyards yet, but that’s a story for another day.

Keep warm, turn on some Spring baseball and enjoy the sun!

Till next time,
Cheers!

-Keith

[remember you can click on the photos to view larger versions.]

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