by Elisabeth Marshall
Our farm stand is chock full of vegetables, herbs, and flowers and now we can look forward to some early fruit, too. It is definitely raspberry time — they demand picking every day. Our sour cherries are picked, pitted and wait in the freezer to be made into pies and cobblers. Unfortunately, the rest of the orchard fruit is not very promising this year — too much cold and rain interfered with pollination. Time of flowering really determined fruit set. Early trees are bereft of fruit.
But, the bright side is tomatoes, peppers, and beans are burgeoning, and it’s going to be a great year for potatoes. Sea salt got off to a very slow start, but we’ve made our first batch harvest and will have more before too long, now that the weather has warmed.
I hope you have a farmer close to buy from. Have you sourced your cucumbers, yet? They might be in short supply because of the late spring — better check with a farmer! Your 2022 pickle stash depends on being proactive this year.
Just please, make sure you are buying from a farmer who grows without pesticides. According to a report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an overwhelming number of urine samples from adults and children in a new health study contained glyphosate, the active weed-killing chemical that has been linked to cancer.
Out of 2,310 urine samples, 80 percent, or 1,885, revealed traces of the chemical, which is the active ingredient found in herbicides worldwide, including Roundup, the focus of thousands of lawsuits. About one-third of the participants in the study were children ages 6 to 18.While researchers have been reporting the levels of glyphosate in human urine samples for years, the CDC’s studies started only recently. The CDC’s research involves the amount of human exposure to the herbicide in the United States, as concern grows about the impact of pesticides in water and food on the health of humans, fish, animals, birds, and the environment.
According to research published in 2017 by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers, the amount of glyphosate in human urine has been rising steadily since the 1990s. That was when Monsanto introduced genetically engineered crops designed to be sprayed directly with Roundup.
The weed killer is used widely by U.S. farmers who spray it directly over genetically engineered crops like corn and soybeans, as well as on wheat and corn to dry the crops before they’re harvested. It is also used before growing seasons, and residues have been documented in many popular foods made with crops that have been sprayed with glyphosate, even baby food.
The Supreme Court last month rejected Bayer’s appeal to shut down lawsuits claiming that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer, leaving in place a $25 million judgment for a California man and allowing thousands of other claims to be litigated.
Farmers Who Grow Your Food
This development highlights the urgency of becoming familiar with the farmers who grow your food and their practices. A good place to find local farms selling direct to the public is the website EatLocalFirst.org. You can have a fine weekend visiting local farms and farm stands, gathering ideas for your own garden along the way. Some farms, including ours, schedule tours for visitors, by appointment. You’ll get a clear sense of what is available fresh from the farm at various times — which could lead to more seasonal menu planning and more delicious meals!
If you’re the gardening kind, it’s time to plant your garden … again. August is the time to plant many of the vegetables you’ll want to have through fall and into winter right up to freezing weather and beyond. You can grow much of what you’ll eat all fall and winter by planting seeds and starts now. The nutritional and economic value of a late season garden cannot be overstated.
Here’s a comprehensive list of vegetables that will thrive if planted now (see sidebar to the upper left). You can direct sow many of these in timed successions so that you have a reliable supply for many weeks. I would recommend planting things you love at two-week intervals. If you have a good space to start seeds indoors, do that too, so that you have backup plants in case some direct seedlings are compromised by critters or unexpected weather and to give later plantings a sturdy start. Don’t neglect to prepare the seedbed well and replenish fertility.
Cold-hardy annual flowers planted in the fall produce beautiful early borders and bouquets. Yes, you can plant lots of flowering plants in the fall to overwinter and flower much earlier than spring planting allows!
August is when you should start thinking about lifting and dividing perennials such as daylilies, peonies, and irises, too. There’s a very long list of things to do before the frost finally arrives.
Northwest Washington Fair
The Northwest Washington Fair is from August 11-20 at the Lynden Fair Grounds. My favorite exhibits are the chickens and ducks vying for prizes and the Free Drive spectacular with magnificent draft horses raised and trained for generations by about a dozen devoted families in and around Lynden. My great uncle Leo was a draft horse trader in upstate New York in the early to mid-20th century. In those days, draft horses were the power source for farm machinery for most farmers. On many farms, horses outnumbered people. Leo loved those horses and passed his awe of them to my father, his fatherless nephew whom he gently nurtured. And my father passed that awe to me. That an animal so huge and powerful is by nature, gentle and friendly, is an unforgettable discovery.
We are very fortunate to have a beekeeper nearby who supplies the farm stand with the most delicious and carefully sourced honey. She has hives at several advantageous locations on the island and knows exactly what her bees are collecting. She’ll be making her annual harvest in August, being sure to leave lots of honey in the hives for the bees to eat all winter.
The Mount Baker Beekeepers Association has announced the annual honey judging to take place at the Northwest Washington Fair. I definitely want to visit that exhibit and see who wins and places in the many entry categories: white honey, light amber, amber, dark amber, honeycomb, creamed honey, chunk honey, beeswax, hive product, and novelty product. Bountiful bees — another excellent reason to support local farms.
Elisabeth Marshall and her family have lived in Whatcom County for 40 years. They grow fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, eggs, sea salt, and peonies on their Full Bloom Farm. They sell their goods at their farm stand, which is open from April through December and at the Lummi Island Farmers Market.