Although we traditionally open when we first begin to pick strawberries, the strawberries appear to be a little tardy this year—so we’re going to open up without them. We’ll begin our usual hours on Saturday, June 4th, opening at 11 AM and closing at 6 PM. We will, as always, be closed on Mondays (except our market stall at Central Square). Although strawberries won’t arrive until sometime next week, we will open with a good selection of produce: lettuce, endive, escarole, arugula, kale, collards, radishes, cilantro, dill and spinach. We have begun carrying eggs produced by Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds right here in Concord. These initial offerings will be joined shortly by chard, garlic scapes, parsley, squash, basil—and of course, the berries. Garden plants are still available, but demand has been strong, so variety may be dwindling. Another, smaller batch of tomato plants will be ready by next weekend.
Some of you may have noticed the alarming presence of aphids on certain of our plants—most notably eggplant, okra and peppers. This is the first season since I arrived at Hutchins that I have had any problems with aphids in the greenhouse, but I had plenty of experience with them in Pennsylvania and Virginia, where they were an annual scourge. They are notoriously difficult to control using organic methods—soap sprays have some effect, but not enough; introducing beneficial insects can work, but they can be finicky and unreliable. So the bad news is that my efforts, begun in April, to control the then modest aphid population failed. The good news is aphids have a large number of natural predators, and once the plants are out of the greenhouse and in the field, plants are usually aphid free in short order. Aphids can potentially spread viruses to plants, but this is when they move from a virus infected plant—the aphid population on our transplants started in our greenhouse and hasn’t had any opportunity to pick up virus from other sources. In short, I apologize for the presence of aphids on our plants and understand if customers prefer to buy plants elsewhere, but in my experience springtime aphids usually clear up quickly and don’t cause any long-term problems.
So far our season has been going well, with the cool weather not too cool, the wet weather not too wet, the hot weather not too hot (so far), and we were spared yesterday’s severe weather—our sympathies to those who were not so fortunate. Flea beetle pressure has been more intense than usual on our mustard-family crops (bad for arugula, kale, cabbage, broccoli), but I haven’t seen much cucumber beetle activity (good for squash, cucumbers, melons). Lots of crops have been planted and are growing and thriving, lots more have yet to be planted.
We hope you all have an opportunity to stop by in the coming weeks, ideally to discover that perfect something that fires and inspires the culinary genius lurking inside, or perhaps just to pick up a box of berries whose mere aroma will exorcise the painful memories of all those washed-out, insipid berries we eat in a vain search for that intense, simple flavor that only comes in its season.