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Congratulations Graduates! Let the Harvest Begin! This Weeks Farm & Market Report

On a gorgeous, and classic summer day beneath blue skies I watched my daughter graduate from the same high school I attended several decades earlier. I can still remember the feeling of freedom and the smell of freshly mowed grass with t-top off and windows down cranking the stereo from my Datsun 280ZX. The very day I graduated I was heading to a horse farm in Poolesville where I stacked hay with my brothers and cousins and painted endless fences to earn some extra cash. It was hard work but fun and temporary and outdoors and the pay was good.  We laughed and made summer plans excited for the next couple months. I wonder if that’s how my daughter feels for the moment, footloose and carefree. Congratulations to all those high school and college graduates out there. Stop on by the stands and pick up a treat. In fact go ahead and ask for Farmer John’s Graduation Discount!

It’s funny after thirty plus years to still be headed out to the country after graduation. Our farm requires no stacking of straw bales or painting of fences, but plenty of slamming stakes into the ground for trellising our tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. That was the major task this week. I zipped down aisles and rows on our farmer’s motorbike checking on and getting a sense of things. We are happy to report we are beginning to pick our own squash and cucumbers. We are continuing to pick lettuces, kales, chard, beets, cabbage and bok choy. I happened upon the crew harvesting a variety of baby greens which was made difficult so far due to the poor germination rate. In fact we typically have an effective attachment for a hand drill that shaves the greens and tosses them gently into a crate. This season we have to harvest by hand with sharp knives because the greens are more spread out. We are not sure if the poor germination has to do with our seeder or the quality of seed or if it was a weather thing, but we are leaning toward the seeds.

In the up and coming category we will begin harvesting onions, greenbeans and basil in a couple weeks. Hopefully sunflowers as well. Tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are further down the line preceded by cherry tomatoes. Sadly our strawberries have finished so we are scrambling to find them from other growers which is a good thing because in our hunt we lucked into a source for some sweet cherries, but get them while you can it’s a short growing season.

On the road we are finding some really nice tree fruit coming up from South Carolina including peaches, nectarines and plums. These are ready a month ahead of the true local ones. We will stick with them as they become freestone and won’t switch over to the local ones until they size up and become freestone as well.

There is typically a gap between high tunnel tomatoes (greenhouse) winding down and field grown tomatoes coming in which make tomatoes hard to come by late June to early July. We will have them but prices tend to go up during that time. Expect strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb to wind down but blackberries, corn and local melons are just around the corner. We will follow the blueberry wave into New Jersey this week, and continue our trips to the northern neck of Virginia for a preview the crops which are a couple weeks away from our farm.

Have a great week everyone and don’t forget to get outside and enjoy summer.

Farmer John

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