It's a Deluge of Strawberries! We have several farmers bringing strawberries to the market now. You have plenty of choices, so take some time to browse around.
Strawberry season has come early this year. Before long it will have come and gone. During the next couple of weeks is the time to think about stocking up. Strawberries are easy to freeze for year-round use in smoothies, pancakes, muffins, and other baked goods, sauces, and preserves.
You may have become accustomed to year-round availability in the grocery store, but there's nothing like the taste of fresh local berries in season. Even frozen, they're a cut above.
It's now past the date of the average last frost in our area. There's no guarantee, but nonetheless it's a good time for planting. At the SKY Farmers Market there are many growers producing a variety of top quality herbs, vegetables, and flowering plants. All of these growers can help you with choosing, planting, and caring for the plants they produce.
Of course you'll also find asparagus, lettuce, greens, onions, radishes, carrots, and other spring crops. Plus we've always got milk, meat, eggs, cheese, baked goods, coffee, wine, cut flowers, pottery, hot breakfast.... The list goes on and on. No matter what's your pleasure, there's always a treat in store for you at the SKY Farmers Market.
See you there!
It’s spring, and it seems we are all more than ready to start planting something...anything! There is so much joy in digging into moist, warm soil and setting out plants that will either feed our stomachs or, as in the case of flowers, feed our souls. Warm sun on our backs, fertile soil in our hands, beautiful plants to set out, and at the end of the day a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Many of us never lose the need to dig in the dirt!
SKY Farmers Market always has a nice selection of transplants in the spring. Many of our vendors sell vegetable transplants, flowering transplants, or both. But, there is more than just handing over your money and leaving the market with a box of transplants.
First, make sure you have a place to plant them. Whether you are using containers or planting in the soil, having it ready before you buy the plants is good planning. Transplants dry out quickly in those small packs, and while the farmer may be used to watering one or more times a day to keep them moist, watering daily is not likely in your schedule, so prepare first.
Second, have some idea what you need. The farmers are always ready to help you select plants, but if you know how you plan to use them, it is helpful. The single person who just wants a few cherry tomatoes to put on a salad a few times a week will need different varieties and quantities than the person who plans to make salsa, tomato sauce, or similar items and can them for the winter. The farmer can help you with those decisions.
Third, cheapest is not ALWAYS best. Be sure to look at the quality of the transplants as well as the price. If the plants are tall, spindly, and yellow, it will take them longer to get established in your garden. So if they are full price, they may not be a good selection. On the other hand, if they are on sale and you have the time and inclination to baby them for a week or two, they can be a thrifty purchase.
Fourth, know how you are going to water them. Containers, even relatively large ones, may need watering daily. Plants in the ground, whether food or decorative, will need the equivalent of about 1” of water per week. Although it is possible we will get timely rains all summer, it is not probable. So have a soaker hose, a drip irrigation setup, or even a sprinkler ready to go when the rains don’t come in a timely manner.
Fifth, ugly word, WEEDS. Try to handle weeds while they are small. Just like so many other tasks (chores!), weeding is easier when done timely. Maybe it is your wind-down time after work, maybe your “getting ready for the day” time in the morning, but try to schedule small amounts of time regularly to weed. If you can do that, you can keep them from taking over and becoming a huge chore, and you’ll enjoy it more.
Lastly, take the time to appreciate your planting(s). Whether it is colorful annuals that you see every time you go out your door or a vegetable garden that is providing you meals, growing plants are beautiful. Enjoy them while they are here – fall and winter are coming.
So, shop at SKY at Fifth and High for a fabulous variety of transplants to choose from, all 100% locally grown, 100% of the time.
Raised on the SKY Farmers Market
Ellie Johnston has been shopping at the SKY Farmers Market since she was nine years old. Her family has supported the market from the very beginning. She graduated from high school last May and is currently taking a year off of school before going on to college.
Having spent the fall traveling and doing community service in rural east Africa, Ellie is currently in Kathmandu, Nepal. She's working on a project to help develop a community green space on a vacant lot in the city.
Hariyo Chowk (Green Square) is a project of the Sattya Media Arts Collective, a Nepalese arts organization. Ellie says the project "combines two of my favorite things: art and the environment."
"Growing up with access to a fabulous local, organic farmer's market has made an indelible impression on her," says Ellie's mom, Sarah Johnston. "She has greatly missed out on fresh vegetables during her travels and is excited about the opportunity to help provide others with what she grew up having here in Bowling Green."
Find out more about Ellie's travels and her involvement in the Hariyo Chowk project on her blog, or visit the Hariyo Chowk web page for details or to donate to the project.
Ellie will be back in Bowling Green in May. We look forward to seeing her again amongst all of our friends at the SKY Farmers Market.
The Joys of Spring: Asparagus
A sure sign that spring has sprung is when those first tips of asparagus begin to poke through the earth.
Asparagus is one of the oldest recorded vegetables, originating from the coastal regions of the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Ancient Persians named the plant "asparag," meaning sprout. Given its tough, resilient nature it's no wonder asparagus has been in cultivation for so long. Established plantings can last for 20 years or more and asparagus can easily go wild, making its own way in fields, ditches, roadsides, and old homesites.
It is also a nutritional powerhouse and was considered primarily a medicinal plant until modern times. With high levels of dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, folates, and vitamins ( A, B Complex, C, E and K), asparagus is also rich in minerals like copper, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus.
Asparagus is also amazingly versatile in the kitchen. It is best prepared minimally and quickly either by steaming, blanching, roasting, sauteing, grilling, or stir-frying. It also adds a sweet, juicy crunch to salads if thrown in raw. Just snap off the tough base ends of the spears first. These woody bits can be saved for soup stock, if you are so inclined.
Above all, asparagus must be fresh to be any good! When buying asparagus, look for good color. Some varieties are green, some purple and some are green and purple. Sometimes asparagus can even be cream-colored if the emerging shoots are covered to prevent sunlight from bringing out its natural color, which is traditional in many parts of northern Europe. Examine the tips of the spears for any signs of mushiness. The little buds at the tips should be tight, distinct and firm or it is not worth buying.
Asparagus season typically lasts from early April to the end of May in our region; plenty of time to enjoy that quintessential taste of spring!
Chilled Ginger Asparagus
Prep: 20 minutes; Chill: 1hr., 30 min.
Makes 4 servings
- 3/4 cups rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 pound fresh asparagus
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
BRING vinegar and ginger to a boil in a small saucepan; boil 7 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat, stir in sugar and set aside.
SNAP off tough ends of asparagus. Place asparagus and water to cover in a large skillet and bring to boil; remove from heat and drain.
PLUNGE asparagus into ice water to stop cooking process; drain. Arrange asparagus spears on a serving platter.
STIR together garlic, oils, soy sauce and salt. Drizzle over asparagus, cover and chill 30 minutes. Drizzle vinegar mixture over asparagus; cover and chill 1 hour.
Reprinted from the March 2002 edition of Southern Living.