Saturday, July 25, 2009

The long, drawn out arrival of summer vegetables

Many of you have come by the farm stand seeking tomatoes, strawberries, corn, beans, etc.... I think I can confidently say it is all available now. It always seems to take to the end of July before abundant quantities of things we wander around waiting all season for, like tomatoes, actually arrive. Variety is still on hold as heirlooms take a bit more time to mature often, but tomatoes are ripe! Strawberries are available in some limited numbers...they aren't lasting all day long as supply hardly keeps up with demand, but there are lots now. Corn is just beginning to harvest from the first crop this season, please keep coming to try and get your hands on some.

Why does it take so long? In a grower's world there is something called a heat unit, also called Degree Days, when looking at things scientifically. This concept can be hard to grasp if you aren't used to thinking this way, but basically is the amount of heat that occurs each day above a certain benchmark temperature. These heat units are what contributes to growth. It may refer to growth of the vegetable plants and the progress in their vegetable production or is also used to determine life cycles of certain farm pests, say for instance, when the tomato hornworm is going to arrive on your beloved plants for the season, chewing away at the plant in camouflaged ecstasy.

Sonoma County is a great place to grow in general. There are many cold nights and foggy mornings that do not contribute to the seasonal progress of warm season vegetable production, limiting the heat units per day. If you go looking for it, you will find your warm season favorites shipped in from southern California and the Central Valley far sooner than your local community is able to provide these items. This makes it all the more special when that time is here and that time is now! No shipping involved, harvest season is here, get ready to preserve and enjoy the bounty of 2009.

Enjoy your veggies. Summer harvest season is on at your local farm.

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