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10:25 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Abundance awaits: Prescott Farmers Market vendors give tips on homegrowing

The crew running the Prescott Farmers Market on Saturday, Aug. 8, includes, from left, Lissette Morales, assistant market manager; Willie Heineke, volunteer; Rita Rubin, a member of the Board of Directors; and Randy Goodsell, raffle master. <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Photos by Max Efrein/The Daily Courier)

The crew running the Prescott Farmers Market on Saturday, Aug. 8, includes, from left, Lissette Morales, assistant market manager; Willie Heineke, volunteer; Rita Rubin, a member of the Board of Directors; and Randy Goodsell, raffle master. <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Photos by Max Efrein/The Daily Courier)

PRESCOTT - 'Tis the season for fresh, local fruits and veggies.

Local farmers are overflowing with produce as the summer harvest begins to peak.

"Now is the time to come to the farmers market," said Sunshine Reilly, co-owner of Burnin' Daylight Farm in Chino Valley. "This is the abundant time to come, August and September."

Summer squash, green beans, cucumbers, carrots, beets and tomatoes are some of the hottest and freshest items right now.

Spinach, on the other hand, is not doing so hot - or more accurately, is overheating.

"That's the one thing people always ask for in the summer and that's the one thing that always does poorly in the heat," said Sarah Wertz, co-owner of Rabbit Run Farm in Skull Valley. "It just gets demolished this time of year."

Spinach prefers temperatures between 35 and 75 degrees, according to BonniePlants.com. That goes for pretty much all leafy greens for that matter, which do best in the cooler weather of fall and spring.

Enemy number one on farmers' lists right now are grasshoppers, which are in the midst of mating season.

"We don't spray, but grasshoppers are one of those things that even if you did spray, it probably wouldn't make much of a difference," Wertz said. "There are just so many of them."

Some animals, such as turkeys and Guinea hens, are one way to put a dent in such grasshopper infestations, Wertz explained.

Another big tip to keep the buggers off of the crops is to cover them using garden fabric or black plastic with little holes in it.

"That's mostly what we use when we grow anything and that's what I would highly recommend," Reilly said. "Do it as soon as you plant."

Row covers - as they are referred to in the farming industry - are also good for retaining moisture and regulating exposure to the elements.

A third strategy that is best used before the grasshoppers begin producing too much is applying Nolo Bait to the perimeter of your yard or property, according to Reilly. Nolo Bait is an EPA-registered biological control for grasshoppers, according to GoodBug.com. It contains naturally occurring Nosema locustae spores, which can spread quickly and cause the insects to become lethargic and reduce their feeding.

Cory Rade, co-owner of Whipstone Farm in Paulden, says two of the biggest tips he has for those looking to grow food in their yard are: make sure you're growing what will do well in the season and either start with some sort of cover (like shade) or water frequently - especially when starting from seed.

Reilly says now is the perfect time to replant items such as carrots, radishes, beets and lettuces, which will then be ready for harvest in October.

Rita Ruben, a Prescott Farmers Market board member and home-grower, says there are a couple great local resources for learning more on how to manage your personal garden.

One is the Native Garden, 602 S. Montezuma St. in Prescott. Another is Terroir Seeds, which is based in Chino Valley and has a knowledge library on its website (underwoodgardens.com) that provides a significant amount of home gardening tips.

The Prescott Farmers Market runs its summer market every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to noon at Yavapai College's Prescott Campus, 1100 E. Sheldon St., until Oct. 31. The organization also runs a Chino Valley Market on Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Walgreens, 1020 Highway 89 until Oct. 29.

The markets feature a wide variety of vendors offering goods such as jewelry, hot foods, fresh squeezed juices, tools for sharpening cutlery and, of course, fresh produce.

For more information on the Prescott Farmers Market, go to prescottfarmersmarket.org, call 928-713-1227 or email info@prescottfarmersmarket.org.

Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105, or 928-642-7864.