Coppertop has been covered by the white blanket since Tuesday morning. The thaw began in earnest yesterday, and now the steady melody of drip, drip, drip fills the air.
The melting snow isn’t the only dripping we hope to soon witness. It’s tapping time! In the couple of years we’ve lived here I’ve been researching tapping the abundance of bigleaf maples, Acer macrophyllum, on the property. I first wrote about these Northwest maples here, unaware of just how fascinated I would become with the idea of tapping them. Reliable information about tapping trees can be found all over the internet, and in particular, the book, Bigleaf Sugaring: Tapping the western maple, by Gary and Katherine Backlund, has been a helpful resource. The goal of all tree tapping is the collection of lovely sap which can be boiled down to produce maple syrup and other sweet maple edibles.
Last year we were a tad slow to the party, attempting to tap too late in the winter. Since then I’ve learned that in our generally mild climate, December tapping is optimal, in particular, following a change in temperature, i.e. a freeze and thaw. That brings us to today!
Hubby drilled 2″ deep into each tree’s sapwood at a slight angle and drove in the 10 spiles I’d purchased. Some pairs of spiles and tubes run into one container. Our collection containers are just empty water jugs. We selected trees based mainly on location; research says trees at bottoms of slopes with some exposure to direct sunlight flow best. Tapping maples closest to the fenced area of our gardens simplifies emptying the containers, which, if the sap flows steadily, may need emptying daily.
These beautiful maples were adorned with huge, golden leaves just a couple of months ago. Now it almost looks like they’re wearing some plastic, cheap costume jewelry bracelets. It all will be worth it if the sap flows!