Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vernal Equinox

It is time to celebrate!  Today is the vernal equinox and Spring has officially arrived.

When I saw how quickly some of the plants have begun to grow, I started wondering about how fast the daylength is increasing this time of year.  It turns out we are gaining almost two minutes of daylight each day right now.  According to the Daylength Table provided by the US Naval Observatory, we will gain a half hour of daylight between March 10 and March 26.  That is about a 4% increase.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up.  Every day the plants are getting a little more energy with which to grow.

The fava bean plants, which survived the winter but seemed to be in a holding pattern, now are growing like crazy.  I am probably exaggerating a bit, but it seems they are growing measurably every day.  They are full of blossoms, but we haven't seen any bean pods yet.  I don't see any pollinators around the plants, either.  This is the first time we have grown favas, so we aren't quite sure what to expect.  Anyway, the blossoms are beautiful and have a nice scent.

While I was looking around for information, I found a neat webpage, Daylight Hours Explorer from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which will give you a graph of daylight hours during the year for a specific latitude.  Being a math tutor, I couldn't help but notice that daylight hours is a sinusoidal function.  So if your children ever complain that they will never use any of the math they are learning in school, just show them this website.  I'm sure it will change their minds. ;-)

On the subject of daylight hours, Ed and I learned something interesting when we were in Alaska a few years ago.  Those extremely long days during the Arctic summer produce record-sized vegetables - who would have guessed!  We attended the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, and I was fascinated by these huge vegetables.  The exhibit we saw was limited because there had been very bad flooding in the area and a lot of farmers had not yet made it to the fair.  Still, I got this photo of a world-record-setting kohlrabi.

That sucker was huge - as big as a beach ball and over 80 lbs!  The kohlrabis we got out of our garden this winter (and we were quite pleased with the size and the flavor) weighed less than one pound apiece, with the leaves.  Anyway, at the time I took this photo, I would never have dreamed we would be running a vegetable farm within a few years.  I guess the fact that I was taking photos of vegetables while we were on vacation, something my friends at the time pointed out was a very weird thing to do, should have clued me in!


  1. hello there! i'm a fellow nw houstonian and i was so excited to see you are so close to us! keep the blogging up, i'm so interested to see how your farm develops throughout the seasons. best of luck!

  2. Hi Tricia,
    Thanks for your comment - it is great to hear from you! The blogging has been a lot of fun so far.
    I hope you enjoy the pretty spring days this week, especially after all that wind over the weekend.
    Take care!