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North Shore Permaculture Collaborative Message Board › Backyard maple sugaring

Backyard maple sugaring

A former member
Post #: 10
Wow, this is exciting! I didn't check our buckets and milk jugs today due to the rain and snow, but tomorrow I'll try to get an accurate measure. Our neighbor has agreed to let us tap her trees, so this will give us four more taps for a total of 10. That's double what we had last year, but there's no way to know whether this means double the yield.

I agree about not risking your green eggs. You'll be boiling for HOURS. Last year we took one of the shelves out of our oven and used it as our grate. I couldn't believe how long it took me to scour the soot off when we were done.

Our yard has a pretty steep grade, too. The only flat area is the patio. To avoid messing it up, this year we are building a simple 5' x 5' frame from two by fours, laying it directly on the patio, and filling it with about 3-4" of sand. We'll stack the cinder blocks on top of the sand inside the frame, and span them with two 20" x 18" grates we got at the hardware store (cheap). This should give us a stable surface for the pans, and a place below where we can build the fire. When the process is done we'll just scoop the sand out of the way and store the blocks in the shed. Perhaps something similar would work for your yard. This way you won't have to dig a hole or deface any landscaping.

A former member
Post #: 11
I'm writing this around 2:15 on Saturday. We just now dumped the sap from our 6 buckets into the holding tub and it measures 2 gallons. This represents about 4 days of dripping.

Oh...and we also just now put in 4 taps in our neighbor's trees. We barely had pulled the drill out of the trunk and the sap just gushed out. We were very sad to see that several of her maples -- there must be at least 7 on her property -- are in a sad state...Mushy bark peeling away from the trunk, damaged limbs. Are there any arborists out there who could offer advice on how to save the trees? My appreciation for sugar maples has increased exponentially since getting involved in backyard sugaring.

Just for the heck of it, I'm going to start a log to keep track of the dally temps and weather. It will be interesting to see how the fluctuations of sun and warmth affect the flow, and which set of trees cranks out the most sap.
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 33
Just got back from a grocery run and found sap in my jug GLEE!!!!! I took a swig to be sure. Nice and refreshing sweet flavor :) Would post a pic if I could. Can't wait to see what I can get from one tap. I may end up using it in soda. We'll see...
A former member
Post #: 12
Congratulations! Isn't it funny how something so simple can induce joy?
A former member
Post #: 13
I was a bit depressed this morning at the sight of more snow, but after some reading I don't feel so bad. The old-timers say that a snow storm sandwiched in between thaws makes for sweeter sap!

Some fun sites...

A blog from a NH back-yard producer:

Massachusetts Maple Syrup Producers Assn. Interesting statistics and other info:
http://www.massmaple....­ - A user forum for professionals and newbies.

A former member
Post #: 185
We have (5) half-gallon jugs of silver maple sap...and it is sweet! This was from two taps put in on Wed. and a third on Friday. The other maple has stalled at about a quart from each of two taps. I'm just tickled about this whole thing! Can't wait to see what happens this week with the warmer weather.

Here's a joke played on me by the tree... I couldn't resist the urge to check the sap collection but I was too lazy to wade through the snow for 150 feet. Took out the binoculars and to my surprise the jugs looked full. I know it's a mighty tree, but huh? After bragging to Ed while prepping more jugs I slogged out through the snow and brambles and found about a cup in each container. Felt a little silly that the neighbors might have seen me stumbling about with my paraphernalia. But it was a good visit to my tree...reminding me that my involvement in this spring wakening of the earth is a very small part that I can't control one way or another.

Btw: Ed and I have decided to purchase 2 propane fired outdoor burners. I meant this sugaring experiment to be as low cost as possible, but this makes sense for us. I'll also use them in an outdoor canning set up this summer. Weee! No more boiling cauldrons on the kitchen stove in August! But I do feel I'll be missing out on the wood fired experience.crying

A former member
Post #: 186
It's the best time of year for your neighbor to have her trees pruned. I can't recommend an arborist in your area. But I can say from experience that this is their slow time for work. She should get a better price for what needs to be done now rather than wait until spring. Keep in mind that some trees might not be in a condition to warrant the cost of extensive pruning. If any are diseased consider removing them to save the rest. Maybe you're seeing damaged limbs from last year?
lee l.
user 13126023
Beverly, MA
Post #: 7
I'm a little behind the curve in tapping. May try to do it Tuesday if I can round up a container. Would love to boil with you Charlotte if I can manage to get some sap!
A former member
Post #: 14
It looks like the weather will be perfect (as far as high and low temps, and consecutive days of sun) for the sap run. So you definitely aren't behind the curve. Grab some milk jugs and a few taps and be ready for a few gushers.

On a different note, given that today is the last day of February I thought I'd share one of my favorite poems, which I always dig out and pass around each year about this time.

Winter’s Turning
Snow is still on the ground,
But there is a golden brightness in the air.
Across the river,
Sweeping widely under the arches
Of many bridges,
Is a spire and a dome,
Clear as though ringed with ice-flakes,
Golden, and pink, and jocund.
On a near-by steeple,
A golden weather-cock flashes smartly
His open beak “Cock-a-doodle-dooing”
Straight at the ear of Heaven.
A tall apartment house,
Thrusts up from the street
Like a new-sprung flower.
Another street is edged and patterned
With the bloom of bricks,
Houses and houses of rose-red bricks,
Every window a-glitter.
The city is a parterre,
Blowing and glowing,
Alight with the wind,
Washed over with gold and mercury.
Let us throw up our hats,
For we are past the age of balls
And have none handy.
Let us take hold of hands,
And race along the sidewalks,
And dodge the traffic in crowded streets.
Let us whir with the golden spoke-wheels
Of the sun.
For to-morrow Winter drops into the waste-basket
And the calendar calls it March.
-- Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
A former member
Post #: 190
Lee, I'm sure too that you will be able to gather enough sap at this point. I'll keep you posted on my boiling station set up. It would be fun to hang around the syrup pan with you!

Kate, Thanks for sharing the lovely poem! Poor February, everyone loves to see it go.

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