Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tulips already??

My mother-in-law texted me this morning...she'd seen her first daffodil in bloom.  On February 1?

This didn't surprise me.  Not nearly as much anyway as this sight did on Saturday morning.

I barely looked at the mulch covered tulip patch as I walked by on my way to mulching blackberries.  Something caught my eye and on further examination more was revealed.  The tulips are up.  On January 28.  A full three weeks earlier than last year's February 20 arrival.  

Most people might be excited about this sight.  I felt immediate anxiety.  Last year my tulip anxiety began in November, increased markedly on February 20 and did not end until the last tulip was gone on April 21.  I had grown tulips before for myself but never in mass quantity to be sold.  I think I drove my farmer friend, Jill, from Whitton Farms crazy with my barrage of emails concerning my tulip anxiety.  I'm sure I drove my husband crazy.

With one year under my belt, I thought this year might be different.  I was obviously wrong.  Last year I didn't know when they were going to bloom.  If they were going to be in time for the first farmers market.  If they were going to bloom too early for the first market.  If they did bloom too early for the first market, where was I going to get rid of this many tulips?  How long could I hold them in the fridge?  How much cold storage was it going to take to hold 1000 tulips?  How do I know I'm not cutting them too soon and that they will color up?  How do I know if I'm cutting them too late and that they won't bloom in the fridge?  How do I know anyone even wants tulips?  What if it rains?  What if it doesn't rain?  Oh my god, what. if. it. hails?

Now that I think about it, why did I plant tulips again anyway?  Excuse me while I hyperventilate. 

Some people might think, what's the big deal?  All crops are susceptible to the problems I suggest in a number of these questions.  The big deal is that tulip bulbs are expensive.  I've had crop failures.  Last summer's tomatoes were a big one.  And I was out a lot of our time and my interns' time with that crop failure.  But monetarily, I was out $40 worth of seed.  If I were to lose this year's crop of tulips, I would be out $550.  For a farm this size, that is significant.  

Let the tulip anxiety begin.

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