Although winter continues to make its presence felt on its way out the door, the transition to spring has indeed begun here at Bella Luna Farms: The witch hazel trees are in bloom, the animals are starting to venture out into their outdoor paddocks and the sweet little crocuses and daffodils are peeping up out of the soil. After months of squirreling away seeds in anticipation of the last thaw, these signs encourage us that it’s finally time to roll up our sleeves and get our hands back into the soil.
Thus, the pace has picked up in the gardens as the plots begin to awaken from their winter slumber: Those aforementioned seeds are going in the ground and the new lettuce and kale starts have already taken root, as have the onion sets and leeks. Later into the spring the spring peas will be planted and we will begin harvesting our second crops of flavorful spring greens from the hoop house. Soon, if it is warm enough for new growth, we should also see the first signs of watercress and perhaps even begin scouting for young rhubarb!
Here at the farm, we often enjoy an extra early crop of those bright pink beauties as we grow our rhubarb starts under forcing jars. This technique, in which the rhubarb is grown in darkness under the warm cover of a bell-shaped pot, produces pale, smooth stalks that are less bitter than their later-season counterparts; these are excellent in jams, jellies, breads, cakes and more. We’re already salivating over utilizing our first harvest in such as favorite recipes as red-wine poached or roasted rhubarb—and really, nothing will mark the true beginning of spring quite like the smell of our first rhubarb crisp baking away in the farmhouse kitchen.