It's been an odd spring to say the least. A lot of cool damp weather, punctuated with a few sunny days: it makes me wonder how things are doing down on the farm. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino, one of Baltimore's leading chefs, knows to keep his eye on the Farmers Markets at this time of year.
Click on the picture to learn what local farms are unloading at Maryland markets!
I spent last Sunday morning at the big Baltimore Farmers Market, and there was nothing but good news from the farmers. Things are available in abundance.
Those seasonal favorites strawberries and asparagus are enjoying a bumper year.
I ran into our esteemed Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder, manning his family's stand, and he told me an amazing story. He is currently bringing to market beautiful, deep red strawberries, and because of the cool weather, he thinks the run is going to continue for quite some time. But for the first time in his memory his strawberry fields are getting ready to set a second crop. Little white flowers are popping up all over, signifying yet another harvest for him to bring to market. Wow.
Farmers tell me that this year is right on schedule, or at worst, about a week behind. But it's all good. Cool damp weather is extending the growing season and certain plants really love it.
Cat's Paw Organic Farm in Union Bridge reports that it is a great year for herbs and for peppers. They had things like Greek basil, oregano, lavender and tricolor sage for sale.
And for you home gardeners, now is the moment to strike! This is an unbelievable year for seedlings. All kinds of herbs are available, as are tomatoes, squash and cucumber plants...all for sale in little market packs, ready for you to take them home and transplant them.
Two Boots Farm from Hampsted is featuring gorgeous salad greens, several varieties of beets, beautiful radishes, and a full roster of herb seedlings for sale.
My friends at Martin Farm in Perry Hall are carrying leeks, spring onions, succulent curly kale, and big fat shallots.
Baltimore County farmer Tom Albright tells me that his high tunnels have really flourished this year, and bushels of deeply colored red juicy tomatoes back him up.
Albright isn't the only farmer to benefit from high tunnels and green houses.
Cinda Sebastian's Gardener's Gourmet has buckets of fresh salad greens, prime mesclun, and that holy grail of French chefs everywhere, sorrel. And I promise you there is a big pot of sorrel soup in my future.
Finally, the mushroom people tell me that the extended growing season applies to the wilds of Maryland woodlands. Morrell mushrooms are in abundance, and we may see their far too brief season extended a few weeks this year.