Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Bag Full

Though it is well into the summer, we went to the farmer's market for the first time this season yesterday. In reality, there isn't much use in going until the end of June or beginning of July here anyway. The growing season is extremely short due to the weather, and there isn't much to look for locally until the summer is in full swing. Some crops can be planted here in April, but not many. Most have to wait until May, and even then it can be a risky proposition. We had snow the second week of May last year.

This year, the winter was not nearly as drawn out as last, and the farmers were grateful. The crops have flourished this season, thanks in large part to a very rainy spring and summer thus far. There have been more than the usual number of thunderstorms this year. They bring some danger, no doubt. The hail and wind can wreak havoc on the plants, just as they can on patio furniture. But the storms tend to be isolated, and the damage is rarely widespread. The one thing that has been statewide this year is the rain. We have had a lot of rain.

I didn't even bother attempting to grow vegetables this year. I've been burned the last two years, all my plants abysmal failures. I did have a good sized tray of flowers ready to go, until it blew over in a windstorm and destroyed all the seedlings. I have been hearing from friends, those who are better at timing the planting of vegetables than I am, that the crops this year have been remarkable.

Those rumors of super sized veggies are true. I've seen it for my own eyes. At the farmer's market yesterday, there were heads of cabbage bigger than basketballs. Squash and zucchini as long as baseball bats. Green onions as big as vidalias. Really.

We got to the market later in the day than we had planned, and some of the stands were closed up already, sold out of their items. We did happen upon one stand that still had an abundance of produce. It is run by Miller Farm, a large local farm that we love for many reasons. They put together a fabulous farming instructional program for the kids, have a great fall festival and have sponsored the preschool float in the holiday parade for as long as we have been here. I was glad to give them my business.

We lucked out that they were ready to pack it up for the day, and still had a lot left over. Just as we walked up, marveling at the size of the yellow squash they had displayed, they announced the new prices. Buy a grocery bag, fill it up, $10. Anything. Now that is my kind of challenge. I asked the man if he was sure. I could cram more into a bag than anyone else I assured him. Really, just $10. Yep.

I walked away with my bag full, bulging at the seams. Onions, green beans, wax beans, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, carrots, and more. I put the big stuff in first, filled in the gaps with the green beans. There is a science to competitive shopping, you know. And if someone tells me to fill up a bag, I most certainly will take them up on that offer.

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