Throughout January and February the warm and dry weather had everyone thinking it was going to be an early harvest of spring crops. However, a few weeks of cold rain and the spring crops are ripening slowly. Nonetheless the future looks bright–stone fruit trees have blossomed without being damaged and are starting to set fruit, so it should be an exciting summer for produce around here.
Citrus is still the go-to fruit in the produce department, and the late season flavors have been wonderful! Seedless Pixie tangerines from the mountains of Ojai are tasting like candy, and the blood oranges finally have that perfect balance of sweet/tart flavor with berry-like after tones.
Local strawberries have started up and the flavor has been great for early season fruit. Swanton and Mariquita farm are growing two different varieties of strawberries. Swanton is known for their delicate but extra-flavorful “Chandler” strawberries and Mariquita grows the big and juicy “Albion” strawberries. We’ll have both of these varieties throughout the summer into the fall.
Don’t forget local cherries will start up in the beginning of May, weather permitting! And due to harsh weather we haven’t had a solid local crop of apricots in the past few years, but as of now things look good, so keep your fingers crossed.
Organic asparagus from Full Belly has been so tender and yummy, and the best flavor is yet to come! Full Belly will have a steady supply of grass for at least the months of April and May. They also grow amazing red spring onions and green garlic, which are the perfect springtime pizza toppings.
Little gems have started up and have become one of the most popular spring crops over the last couple years. With a crunch like Romaine and sweetness of butter lettuces, this is a very versatile lettuce.
Catalan Farm in Hollister has been bringing us amazing snap and snow peas, and local fava beans should start up by the end of the month. English peas need a little more time than other pea varieties to form, but should be available very soon.
And we have a rhubarb sighting! Most of the early season rhubarb comes from the Northwest and has been having a hard time turning from green to red in the cold weather. The first organic crop will be arriving mid-April and the price will be high due to the demand. The quality and price should improve just in time for strawberry-rhubarb pie for Mother’s Day.