Signs of Summer

The official first day of summer was June 21st, a little over a week ago, but on the farm we can tell that summer is on its way without a calendar – and not just by the heat we’ve had this past week! In the last week or two, several of our summer crops have begun to bear fruit, even if it isn’t entirely ripe yet. We transplanted the first generations of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and summer squash, and melons in early-to-mid May, in my first few weeks on the farm, and it has been amazing to watch them grow! Here are a few photos from the past week!

Our cherry tomatoes will ripen before the reds and the heirlooms, and the earliest of them are coming along nicely. This is one of our Sun Gold cherry tomatoes – last week, we had just enough (maybe 5 or 6) for each of us to try one. Sun Golds are one of my favorite tomatoes! All of our tomato plants are just loaded with green tomatoes, and growing very quickly – we trellised the first generation of tomato plants for the third time last Monday. Looking forward to tomatoes as we get further into July!

This is an ‘Islander’ sweet bell pepper. (Actually, this is THE ‘Islander’ pepper – it’s the only one that has turned purple so far…) I think these are fascinating – they start out lime green, as you can see in the photo, then turn purple, then finally mature to red!

Early last week, we were weeding in and around the cucumbers and melons, and I discovered these – teeny tiny watermelon! The largest one I found might have been three inches in diameter, and the smallest maybe an inch round. Besides being awfully cute, they’re the promise of delicious watermelon yet to come!

One last picture – ‘Flying Saucer’ summer squash. Last week marked the beginning of our large squash harvests, three times a week. We harvested 40 pounds on Monday, nearly 30 pounds on Wednesday, and about 44 pounds on Friday. Harvesting zucchini and summer squash is one of my favorite things to do. (I probably drive Theresa a bit crazy – “Can I harvest the squash today?”) Besides the ‘Flying Saucer’ pattypan variety, we have green and yellow zucchini. yellow summer squash, and the very striking ‘Zephyr’ variety, which is half yellow and half pale green. The squash are the one ‘sign of summer’ crop that we have ready for markets and CSA pick-ups, so be sure to try some this week if you haven’t already!

A few days ago, one of the apprentices asked the group what crop signifies the beginning of summer to them. We had a variety of answers – tomatoes, summer squash, and more. Personally, the first red raspberries in mid-June mean summer is here – in my first house, we had raspberry bushes, and around my birthday (and the end of school – always important for kids) we would start to see the first ripe berries ready for picking. My family has moved since then, but we make a point of going to a local pick-your-own farm every summer to pick raspberries (my dad and I picked more than 10 pounds of the biggest raspberries I’ve ever seen this weekend). What crops say “summer” to you?

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