05/07/14 8:00am
05/07/2014 8:00 AM
Asparagus is slowly making its way into spring at Wells Homestead Acres in Riverhead. It is not ready to be harvested until it reaches a height of at least six to eight inches. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Asparagus is slowly making its way into spring at Wells Homestead Acres in Riverhead. It is not ready to be harvested until it reaches a height of at least six to eight inches. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The lasting effects of a stormy winter have put a damper on the spring growing season, and produce that would otherwise be on farm stand shelves by now has yet to even break through the ground.

April’s end usually marks the beginning of the spring harvest across the North Fork, said Philip Schmitt of Schmitt Family Farms in Riverhead.

But this year, the season has become something of a waiting game.

“We’re hoping by the weekend to get started with some of the winter spinach,” Mr. Schmitt said. “With the rain from late Thursday and the nice weekend, things did jump a little. But we do have a long way to go. If Mother Nature cooperates from here on out we’ll be OK.”

Mr. Schmitt said the harsh winter cost him about 20 percent of his winter spinach crop, as well as some of his parsley — though he did say that there were some benefits to the deep freeze.

“When the ground freezes, it expands, and that helps to aerate the soil a little,” he explained. “It can also help with the pressures of disease and insects. With a winter like we just had, it’s certainly beneficial in that regard.”

Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms, an organic farm in Southold, said she’s about a month behind in both harvesting and planting her next round of crops.

“Everything we do is by soil temperature,” she said “The soil temperature is about 10 to 11 degrees colder than it normally is.”

While she has planted some varieties of tomatoes and peppers known to ripen early, she’s held off on planting other tomatoes.

“I have to wait for things to heat up,” she said, adding that she may consider planting some varieties in mulch to speed up the growing process.

“Even our asparagus came up later than usual,” she said.

Asparagus is the staple spring crop at Wells Homestead Acres in Riverhead, said grower Lyle Wells.

“We started [harvesting] the 15th of April last year, and by the 20th we were picking tremendous amount of asparagus,” he said. “This year it’s very slow growing.”

He started to harvest May 1, explaining that unlike most other vegetables, asparagus grows multiple spears from the same crown, so fields can be picked continuously.

“Instead of picking every 24 to 36 hours like we would otherwise, we’re picking every 72 hours,” he said.

But the upside of the slow start has been a surge in demand, Mr. Wells said, allowing him to sell at a higher price than normal this season.

He said he’s selling asparagus wholesale for between $2 and $2.50 a pound, where $1.50 to $2 tends to be the industry norm, though he’s not expecting those prices to last long.

“The weather seems to be turning this week, so I’m sure the price and supply will level off,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have a plentiful supply for Mother’s Day so we can fire up the grill and enjoy it.”

cmiller@timesreview.com

04/02/14 8:00am
04/02/2014 8:00 AM

Anglers aboard Captain Bob Rochetta’s boat Rainbow Charters in Orient Point showing off their catch from last season. (Courtesy photo)

Just two months after new fluke fishing size and catch limits gave New York anglers some relief, North Fork charter boat captains say a new regulation will keep fishermen docked during the height of the local season.

State Department of Conservation officials have announced the 2014 fluke fishing season will not open until May 17 — more than two weeks after New York’s historical start date around May 1, said Captain Bob Busby, president of the North Fork Captains Association (NFCA).  (more…)

03/18/14 6:25pm
03/18/2014 6:25 PM

Game-of-Hamlets-Vertical-copy

After nearly 3,700 votes were cast over six days, the first round of voting in northforker.com’s Game of Hamlets concluded Tuesday afternoon.

The field of 16 was trimmed to eight as the quarterfinals will now run until next week.

To find out which hamlets are still alive, click here to see the bracket at northforker.com.

Be sure to promote your favorite hamlet on Facebook and Twitter.

03/08/14 5:00pm
03/08/2014 5:00 PM

Jitney

Occupying a space can be both a sign of power and a threat to power. This has been the case, it seems, since the beginning of recorded time.

Think of the folks who camped out for months near Wall Street during the worst of the U.S. financial crisis.  Think of the demonstrators who took over public spaces in Syria or Ukraine, or people packed behind walls in Berlin or Derry or more recently, Palestine.

The space itself is about who has power or who wants to challenge power.

In my own limited experience, I get to see how this basic struggle for space and power plays out on the local level.  I speak of riding the Hampton Jitney.

First off, I need to say that the Jitney is a great resource for those who live on eastern Long Island.  Instead of an interminable ride on the less-than-edifying Long Island Rail Road, or a long drive to an expensive parking garage in Manhattan, there’s the Jitney in all its wondrous predictability.  I

t usually arrives at its stops on time; it will store your luggage for you; a polite attendant serves you snacks; it has an onboard bathroom; it imposes tight restrictions on cell phone use; its drivers know how to circumvent traffic snarls.  Basically, it’s excellent.

Going to Manhattan, I board the North Fork Jitney in Riverhead near the Route 58 CVS, usually on a Sunday morning.  I know in advance that my fare will be the same as for those who boarded at Orient Point or Greenport or Southold or Mattituck.  Unfair as that is, I have reconciled myself to the fact that such a policy is unlikely to change unless the company were to feel some heat from those with power.

So a change in the existing rate structure seems not likely at all.

Boarding at Riverhead I look down the long center aisle for an empty seat.  There are lots of heads but there are usually available seats as well.  That is, there would be available seats except for what I call the Hampton Hustle:  seats occupied by jackets, purses, laptops, backpacks, or newspapers while the owners of those things stare grimly straight ahead, look out the window, or pretend to be profoundly asleep.

I readily admit that I too prefer two seats if I had the audacity to ignore my fellow creatures.  Frankly, my conscience bothers me if someone is looking for a seat while the seat next to me is occupied only by my belongings.

But I think there are those who see themselves as somehow more privileged than others, more godlike, if you will.  Should the new passenger insist on sitting there where all that stuff is piled, the owner often takes several minutes to step out into the aisle to store things in the overhead bin, drop some on the floor, and so create a delay before the bus can get underway again.

Meanwhile, looks are exchanged that signify how deep the struggle is over that particular space and how bitter the feelings of yielding it to another.

“This land was made for you and me,” Pete Seeger used to sing.  Oh yes, but “When will they ever learn, when will we ever learn.”

Catherine McKeen is a retired college teacher and a working historian. She lives in Baiting Hollow.

03/02/14 6:00am
03/02/2014 6:00 AM

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch from 6 p.m. Sunday to noon Monday, with meteorologists now calling for snow accumulations of about three to six inches across Long Island.

This is lower than earlier predictions of up to eight inches.

The forecast also includes 10 to 15 mph winds, with gusts up to 25 mph. Temperatures will remain in the teens and 20s.

(more…)

02/14/14 12:53pm
02/14/2014 12:53 PM
A property on Blue Marlin Drive in Southold is on the market for $1.5 million.

A property on Blue Marlin Drive in Southold is on the market for $1.5 million.

There are 16 open houses scheduled for the North Fork this weekend. And we can give you a sneak preview.

The weekend’s crop of homes carries prices tags from $350,000 to $1.5 million. The home at the top of the price chart features a pool just steps from the bay.

See northforker.com for full listings and photos of all the houses.

02/10/14 11:12am
02/10/2014 11:12 AM
Champian Fulton performs at Clovis Point Winery in Jamesport | Katharine Schroeder photo

Champian Fulton performs at Clovis Point Winery in Jamesport | Katharine Schroeder photo

Slushy remnants from recent snowfalls didn’t stop hundreds of people from packing East End wineries and performing arts centers for Long Island Winterfest’s Live on the Vine kickoff weekend — and attendance is expected to improve once the snow melts, festival co-organizer Pat Snyder said Monday. (more…)

02/07/14 2:24pm
02/07/2014 2:24 PM
JOSEPH PINCIARIO PHOTO | The Radio Shack  in the King Kullen shopping center Wednesday.

JOSEPH PINCIARIO PHOTO | The Radio Shack in the King Kullen shopping center Wednesday.

In a story that has so far been unconfirmed by the electronics company, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week RadioShack plans to close 500 of its 4,500 stores as part of a restructuring move.

If substantiated, it’s unclear whether the electronic store’s three locations on the North Fork — Route 25a in Wading River, Route 58 in Riverhead and Main Road in Mattituck — will be affected.

(more…)