It is officially summer. To grow produce for the Homer Farmers’ Market, however, you have to hit the ground running in the spring to take advantage of the short growing season.
This year most of the farmers at the market planted their gardens in May. Because of the cold winter, everyone seemed to agree that the ground was ready about two weeks later than normal. But the quantity and quality of produce at the market is not two weeks late. You can see that there are already vegetables available like carrots, broccoli and peas.
This is where we see the impact of the high tunnel craze. With a protected space like a high tunnel, the ground is thawed and ready for planting much earlier. It becomes a challenge to see how much one can push it to get the earliest veggies possible. A high tunnel may heat up with the sun of the day, but it still gets chilly at night. A hard freeze could cause you to lose everything.
If those early crops survive, you have great produce early in the season. Emily of Twitter Creek Garden planted in her high tunnel three full weeks before she planted outside. Eve of Stellar Gardens planted in the third week of April. Shelly and Olga with Avalanche Farm (the ones with the broccoli and peas) planted at the beginning of April. Dan and Luba planted in March.
Then there is Christina of Snowshoe Hollow Farm, the one who was selling radishes and greens two weeks before the market even opened, who planted in her high tunnel on March 9.
Now that’s early.
Luckily, Christina knows baby greens and radishes are extremely frost tolerant. More delicate crops like cucumbers would have died outside in our cold April. So we have to wait patiently for those crops.
No problem. When you have a farmer like Bob Durr with four greenhouses with just cucumbers, you can even start looking for them by this last weekend in June.
Head down to the market this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to see what our hard-working farmers have growing now.
Kyra Wagner is the executive director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers’ Market’s biggest fan.