Season Out of Sync

Blackberries in November....larkspurs blooming...fennel blossoms being feasted upon by insects, the months have gotten reversed. October was one of the coldest and wettest Octobers on record in the Ozarks. November, thus far, at least, is what September and October should have been. With highs in the 70s, sunny and mild, and as yet, no frost, we're getting the beautiful fall weather we wished for last month.

Yesterday I took this photo of a ripe blackberry. There had been more, but friends had eaten them, not even noticing that blackberries are generally over and done 2 months ago. I was glad they found them to eat while visiting! These are especially productive blackberries, hybrid thornless varieties from the University of Arkansas. They've introduced Arapaho, Navaho, Ouichita and several other thornless varieties in the past few years and the vines are enormously productive. But in all the years I've grown thornless blackberries, I've never had them produce berries in November.

The continuously chilly weather the past 2 months, with the constant, daily rains, has convinced plants like the larkspurs that are in bloom in the garden, red raspberries and blackberries, that spring must be here.

I noticed my bronze fennel plants are still blooming, also a bit out of season. Most of the leaves of the mature plants have dropped, but the stalks have blossom umbrels, and the pesky cucumber beetles are enjoying the nectar. And the assassin bug, shown here on the fennel flower, is enjoying eating the cucumber beetles. Assassin bugs are beneficial predators that feed on garden pests and they are welcome to all the cucumber beetles they can find.

People often tell me they can't tell the difference between fennel and dill. Akos, our first intern, many years ago from Hungary, worked with us in the garden for nine months and said to me one day that he didn't know the difference between the two plants. I had him smell and taste both and then he could better tell between them. I told him he could not leave Long Creek Herb Farm, not knowing the difference between those two plants because I would be ashamed to have failed him as a teacher. As you can see in the photo of the leaves, they do look similar. The one on the left is fennel, and is slightly lighter in color, while the dill, on the right, has more of a blue tint. And no, it's not true that you have to keep them separated because of the possibility of them crossing. They are two distinct plants, it's not possible for them to cross pollinate, any more than it is for a rose bush and an apple tree.

Our webmaster has been working feverishly on our new website, soon to be launched. In support of what he's doing, I have been photographing a few more products for the web pages. Chili Seasoning, Roaster Seasoning, Anne's Perfect Pumpkin Pie Spice and Teas of India, were all on today's photo menu.

Happy season, whether yours is in sync, or completely out, like ours. I won't complain about beautiful sunny days, nor blackberries in November!


Lya Sorano said...

Same here, in North Georgia. Frost in mid-October (3 weeks early), lots of rain (after 3 years of drought) and plants that are totally confused (I have several new Dill coming up).

compost in my shoe said...

Our season has generally been a slow one as well. Many perennials flowered at least 2-3 weeks later this year.

Green thumb said...

Hi Jim, thanks for your nice comment on my blog!You have a lovely blog and I can see your passion for spices truly reflected here!
Best Wishes

Heather Stevens said...

Thank you for your post on Fennel vs Dill. I had a heck of a time finding any accurate websites and your's seems thought out. I just went to a farmer's market where every grower there was selling fennel advertised as dill. It even smelled and tasted like licorice. That set me to finding the truth.