When I left Canada to spend three weeks in sunny and warm Mexico, the weather was still cold, and we had even had snow a few days before. I have been very confused since I got back to Canada, because it just seemed to me like I had skipped a season. Now that the weather is turning warmer, days are longer and we just celebrated Easter, I am finally realizing that, yes indeed, it is spring, finding myself yearning for all things new and, moreover, panicking about getting my garden going! There are many signs from the seasonal cycle of plants or animals indicating that something else is soon to occur (called phenological signs), and they are definitely telling me to get going with my planting. One that is very well known is blooming forsythias, triggered by – and hence, indicating – changes in soil and air temperatures, as well as daylength. In my garden bed, my forsythia has not only fully bloomed, but it is starting to turn green:
Time to hurry and sow peas, radishes, lettuce, and carrots, oh my! Last year was a disappointment for my carrot crops, but instead of getting discouraged, I am trying a cornucopia of many varieties of carrot seed this year:
Hopefully this will increase the chance of at least some of them thriving. I am also going to sow on the generous side, because it is easy to trim overcrowded tops, or even gently pull them and have some baby carrots early in the season.
A crop that really got my attention in Mexico this time was tomatoes. Culiacan (in the Mexican state of Sinaloa) is the self-acclaimed “Tomato Capital of the World” and certainly one of the top producers and exporters. What I found fascinating was that, even though situated in the Northern hemisphere, Culiacan’s tomato growing season runs from September to late March, with a peak in midwinter, around February; the extremely hot temperatures during the summer have naturally set the winter months as the viable time to grow tomato crops. While driving on a country road just outside Culiacan, we stopped to capture the tomato fields that had been reaped, the vines starting to wilt after gifting their bounty for another year (photos below and at the top of the post:
And that works just perfect for countries such as Canada, with great hot house and field tomato seasons from May until September, but with a need to negotiate imported tomatoes during the cold months, which in Mexico are precisely the rest of the months to complete a year-round supply! So, as I am buying my last Mexican tomatoes at the supermarket, and sowing my tomato, tomatillo and pepper seeds at home, to transplant to the garden next month, I see my trees budding, and I can hear the bugs buzzing, and the “byrds” singing in the background: “turn, turn, turn …”
Have you ever wondered what happens to all the stakes used to prop tomato vines after the season is done?
In my next post, find out one of the things that Mexican farmers and cooks do in Culiacan.