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September is for Waiting

"A pop of brown and red hues are emerging here on the east coast reminding us all that there is much to do before the season wraps up. Transitional months are full of delights. We get to savor the bounty of the summer harvest and taste a bit of what makes fall so wonderful as well."

- From the recent MarketLink newsletters.

Our Veggie Van Mobile Market will take a break until October to provide opportunities for our community of small-scale farmers to meet the needs of our Community Supported Agriculture Program and to prepare for the Fall crops. We also need this transition time to regroup, reflect and recalibrate.

I had the opportunity to catch up with farmer Glenn Howell to talk about this transitional period in Eastern NC farming.

Do you think you'll have anything in two weeks? We have a Farms, Food & Friends Dinner Saturday, Sept 24th at Ocean Natural Farm.

Here's what I'll have in two weeks -- and don't laugh -- that Pablano pepper I grew this year called Carranza, green peanuts, grapes, several varieties of winter squash including Celebration, Honeyboat Delicata, mini Butternut, and Autumn Frost Butternut. Along with Mellow Yellow and Prizewinner pumpkins, and Okra.

Why is late August through September such a difficult time to farm here?

Why is this a time of slim harvest? That's a multi-faceted answer, but I'll give it a shot.

  1. Certain staple crops like squash and cukes will not set fruit in the heat, humidity, and initial switch from long days to shortening day length. I can plant yellow squash in late June, and mid-July, and grow beautiful plants that bear NO FRUIT. None. Tomatoes and peppers, unless bred for high heat areas, will bloom and not set fruit. The plants look good, and later in September when nights cool, they will begin pollinating flowers again.

  2. Young crops suffer in the intense heat of late August thru mid-September. I know people think June and July are hot summer, but the rays of the sun are more intense in September than at the beginning of summer. September sun feels like it is only about a mile over your head.

  3. Pest and weed pressure are at their highest level for the whole year. I've got an entire row of cantaloupe that should be ready right now, I haven't even had one for myself, bottom rot and worms have claimed every one thus far.

  4. Folks are getting ready for fall crops and it takes away from looking after things that need attention, in the spring it's all one big baby, in the late summer it's like caring for an ailing grandma and a new baby at the same time. Strawberry growers are trying to get ready to put in a new crop for spring.

  5. This is just not a good place to try to grow things in high heat. Our sandy soils don't hold nutrients in heavy summer/tropical rains. Humidity is the worst of anywhere in the state and it is a vector for so many problems.

  6. Folks like me just get tired of fighting the elements and say, "Cooler days are coming." Quick crops do much better in October.

Anyone wishing to make special orders such as 10 pounds of okra, or 20 pints of grapes can feel free to reach out to me (Chef Caroline) to do just that. We still have some local produce, just not a large variety and not enough to fill our Veggie Van Mobile Market three times a day, four days a week.

We will keep everyone updated with any changes to locations via social media and do not foresee any changes to our market hours.


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1 Comment

Unknown member
Sep 17, 2022

Another perspective from Ryan & Rebecca of Harlowe Custom Microgreens...

- Chef Caroline

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