Autumn may be creeping into the evening air around the Puget Sound, but that doesn’t mean Labor Day weekend won’t be chock-full of Northwest berries and melons. Plus, local last summer corn is on its way from southern Washington and Joe gives us a sneak preview of autumn gourds and local pumpkins.
September is here and summer is starting to wind down, although you wouldn’t know it by the current weather here in the Northwest. But I have noticed a very subtle hint of cool evening air that will soon have that familiar smell of autumn, my favorite time of year. The warm, comfortable days and the cool, crisp nights make for the perfect mix of outdoor relaxation during the day and restful sleep at night.
Let’s talk about the coming Labor Day holiday in fresh produce…
Melons Peaking, Last Chance for Northwest Blueberries
Northwest watermelons are peaking, too. Flavor is excellent but, when it comes to watermelon, texture is just as important as sugar. Both are great this year. We also have organic mini seedless watermelons for the Labor Day weekend. They’re the perfect size and might eat even better than the regular melons! Cantaloupe and orange honeydew are also at peak of flavor and definitely worth a try!
In berries, we still have a great supply of organically grown blueberries and blackberries from Hayton Farms up in Mount Vernon. We have had such a great year with their organic blueberries that many times it’s the only blueberry we need to offer. This fruit is picked fresh and delivered to the markets daily! Sadly, these berries will start to wind down in about 10 days so enjoy while you can.
Albion Strawberries: So Nice, They Grew it Twice
The good news is locally grown strawberries from Our Family Farm up in Mount Vernon are starting to come on strong. Dane Hulbert and his father Mike are working hard to create the best locally grown strawberries available. They grow the Albion variety which eats great and holds up well. The Albion produces in late May through June, then takes a rest for the month of July. But it gets a second wind in August and comes on strong again as we move into September. Hopefully we won’t get a wet September that puts an end to local strawberry season. Just in case, though, Dane and his dad are investing in hoop tunnels to protect the berries from rain. Currently they have one acre installed with another acre on the way. This is a huge investment for a small, family-run farm with limited resource so it will take a few years to complete. This year we should get their strawberries through September and possibly into October barring any hard freezes or excessive rain. As the Hulberts continue to install hoop tunnels the supply will only improve, which means our relationship will allow us to keep providing fresh local strawberries for longer.
Sweet Sterino Corn Keeps the Grills Hot
I recently visited Jake Sterino and we took a ride out to Yelm where he’s planted 100 acres of sweet yellow corn. We’ve had his Puyallup-area corn for about a week but it’s finishing up and it looks like he will start to harvest in Yelm beginning Friday, Aug. 28., just in time for the coming holiday. 100 acres is a whole lot of corn so we’ll have an abundance of tender, sweet yellow corn-on-the-cob, grown locally, harvested daily. Once we are into Jakes Sterino’s corn, that is the only corn we offer. Jake hand-picks only the best ear per stalk. The variety he grows is not only tender but super-sweet and rich with flavor!
Pumpkins & Gourds are Coming
Speaking of summer winding down…we also looked at Sterino’s ornamental gourds and even pumpkins. We are only two weeks away from seeing the gourds arrive in our markets. Remember those large variety pumpkin displays from last year? Well, they’ll make their 2020 appearance in a little more than a month. How’s that for a signal that the holidays are right around the corner!
Have a great Labor Day weekend. Stay safe and enjoy…