Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another long overdue update!

The blackberries are ripening.
July 6 - First Day at the Market!
Some of the produce...
 It's been a while since I've posted. Ten days, in fact. What have I been doing during that time? Well, mostly weeding. As of this morning, I feel that I am perhaps a half-a-step ahead of the weeds. But with the forecast the next week to be brutally hot and humid, the weeds may get the upper hand again. It's a tough job trying to keep the garden weeded. Mostly I'm dealing with crabgrass, which is at times almost impossibly to pull out. So we've resorted to the weed-whacker and garden clippers. Both work amazingly well. When I've not been killing unwanted plants, I've been killing unwanted bugs: mostly Japanese Beetles on the beans and Tomato Hornworms on the tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. And some kind of long, green worm on my four o'clocks. Four o'clocks are my favorite flower, and never in my life have I ever seen anything eat them. But I guess neither Denver nor Greece have the plethora of bug life that East Central Illinois does. Something's been defoliating my hollyhocks too. Sometimes organic gardening sucks! When I've not been killing weeds or squishing bugs, I've been watering. Tomatoes and peppers mostly, and yesterday the entire garden. That took seven hours. I did spend some of that time killing things. But mostly just watering. We really haven't had any rain in well over a week, and although the air is mighty humid, sometimes the plants need a little bit of water proper. And, when I haven't been pulling up weeds, smooshing bugs, or watering the plants, I've been harvesting the fruits of all that labor. The last of the lettuce, the last of the radishes, apples, blackberries, cucumbers, zucchini, ronde de nice squash, beans, and herbs. So much basil and cilantro, I'm having trouble keeping up. But it's amazing how much these plants are producing. And everyday, there are more and more flowers: on the beans, on the squash, the cucumbers, and on the tomatoes and peppers. The okra seem to grow six inches a day. And almost every flower I've planted out in the garden is blooming. It's really become quite a lovely place to spend a hot, humid and buggy evening!
The rest of the produce...

And I've been to the Charleston Farmers' Market twice now. It starts at 6 a.m., really gets busy around 7-8, and then again around 9-9:30. I've got  a permanent spot on the west side of the courthouse. I'm next to another Growers Association member who sells flowers and a farmer who's been selling greenhouse tomatoes. His name is Brian, and the word got out that his tomatoes are delicious. This past Wednesday he had a line most of the morning. On the first week, I had mixed greens, zucchini, ronde de nice squash, turnips, radishes, basil, along with a few handfuls of other fresh herbs. I sold out of the squash, half the zucchini, half the basil and most of the lettuce, as well as all of the turnips and radishes. For the second week, I had ronde de nice squash, zucchinis, cucumbers, basil and a few bundles of fresh herbs. I sold out of everything but the bundles of herbs and a few of the zucchini. One woman wanted to buy a bundle of fresh parsley, that I had priced at $1. Once she found out how much I was charging she told her husband to put his dollar away, that she'd buy it at County Market. He tried to protest, but she wasn't hearing any of it. Perhaps my parsley is a bit high, but overall, I think my prices are just about right. Working at the farmers' market is fun. It's nice to see all the people out shopping in our little town. It's interesting to watch people shop. How some will approach the stand and do all they can not to catch your eye. And walk away quickly once I say "Good Morning". Or those who stop, talk, and fondle the produce, and ask questions. Even if they don't purchase, I like those people. I feel that there are some folks who think shopping at the farmers market will bring them a bargain for produce, and others who shop there to seek out higher-quality produce, along with varieties they won't find at the local grocery store. And others are there to chat and gossip and visit with friends. I try not to take it personally when someone doesn't buy my zucchinis or lettuce, knowing they're weighing price, quality, size, along with whether they know the farmer or not. But for me, I know all the sweat and toil that went into each vegetable. I'm proud to offer such high-quality produce, yet want to offer people value for the quality. It's a tough line to walk. But it's definitely fun to be out there, offering produce and seeing my friends and the shoppers of Charleston!
Rich, weed-whacking the garden.

July 13, the second week at the market!
I've got friends arriving this afternoon for a quick visit, and we're planning a Bastille Day/Happy (the dog)'s Birthday Party for this evening. Grilling some food, playing some bags and croquet and enjoying a bonfire. This may be our first party without inclement weather since arriving here in Hutton, and we're pretty excited about it. This is also one of the last warm, not hot, and not humid days forecast for the area for the foreseeable future. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on the Square!
Cabbage Patch Before Weeding.
Cabbage Patch After Weeding!

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