the summer doldrums

When we first moved to Kentucky and visited farmers’ markets, I was surprised at how few kinds of produce I saw in late summer. Having grown up in the shorter and cooler summers of Nova Scotia, my conception of the garden calendar was that you had more and more kinds of vegetables available as the summer progressed until the first fall frost killed some of them. So I was puzzled by what seemed to be a decline in variety in Kentucky markets long before the first fall frost.

Now that I’ve been growing vegetables here for a few years, I get it. First, at this point in the summer, it’s simply too hot for quite a few crops. Second, insect pressure builds up over the course of the summer and so some crops are liable to succumb by this point. Sometimes problems caused by heat and insects could be addressed by sowing a fresh batch of plants. But sowing those later batches often needs to be done earlier in the summer precisely when you’re at your busiest with weeding and harvesting. In other words, it doesn’t always happen …

One way I try to minimize the effects of this later summer slowdown is by growing a number of crops that can be stored, e.g., potatoes, onions, garlic, and so on. That way, if there are a few weeks where I don’t have much to harvest, I can at least bring those stored vegetables to market. This is especially important for me, since I have another part-time career and so have to focus on other things sometimes, which makes it harder to ensure a consistent supply of things to harvest.

But that strategy didn’t work as intended this year. Because more people came to the Wilmore farmers’ market this summer, I’ve already sold pretty much all of those storing vegetables. Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted to see more people come to the market and buy local produce. I’m also happy to sell produce before it has the chance to rot. All this does mean, however, that my selection will be more meager for the next several weeks than I would like. Eventually, some of the fall crops should help round things out, but for the moment the list below is rather short.


Of course, some of the vegetables that are available in Kentucky this time of the year are wonderful vegetables to have. For much of the year, I long for proper, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes. Well, those are usually available exactly when a number of other things are slowing down.

One other pleasure of late summer is butterflies. Butterfly populations started out very low this season, presumably because of the weird cold snaps back in April and May. But they have gradually been building back up, and I’ve been enjoying watching them on the clover and buckwheat at the farm. On Wednesday I was impressed by the number of Pearl Crescents I saw flying around, so I started counting them. On a single walk across the farm, I counted 47 of them. So at least the species the farm is named after are doing okay! — Sydney

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

This week’s items

Items we plan to have at the market this week (an asterisk indicates unusually limited quantities):

  • Beans, Dry (Peregion)
  • Beans, Snap (NT Half-runner and Rattlesnake)
  • Beets, loose (Chioggia, Merlin, Touchstone Gold)
  • Cabbage*
  • Carrots (Kuroda and Paris Market)
  • Cowpeas, Dry (Black Crowder)
  • Eggplant* (Thai Long Green)
  • Granola (Pecan Cushaw*)
  • Huckleberries*
  • Okra*
  • Peppers (Carmen*, cream bell, green bell, Jalapeno)
  • Potatoes (Purple Majesty*)
  • Summer Squash* (mostly Pattypan)
  • Tomatoes (various, including Matt’s Wild Cherry and Sungold Cherry)

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