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Spring & Summer Pickin's!

Posted: Wednesday, Apr. 04, 2012

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Kelli Robinson

Kelli Robinson is a freelance writer who lives in Mooresville and has been contributing to Lake Norman Magazine since 2009. She juggles family and writing with humor and lots of chocolate, and enjoys experiencing all the Lake Norman area has to offer.

I’ve decided not to plant my own vegetable garden this summer for two reasons. One, I never have any luck, with the exception of cherry tomatoes. I have lots of luck with cherry tomatoes! But when you’re the only one in your family who likes cherry tomatoes – or any tomatoes for that matter – eating them gets old fast. How many salads, salsas and bruchettas can one person eat?

The second reason I’m forgoing planting my own vegetable garden is the success that farmers have with their gardens – and their willingness to share the crops! When Spring decides to spring, it means farmers markets are just around the corner!

True, some remain open year-round, like the Davidson Farmer’s Market and the Lincoln County Farmer’s Market in Denver. But if you’re like me, farmers markets go hand-in-hand with summer fruits and vegetables, from corn on the cob to blueberries by the bushel. Both Davidson’s and Lincoln County’s markets switch to their spring and summer inventory and hours over the next few weeks: The Davidson spring market opens Saturday, April 7, 9 a.m. to noon and Lincoln County’s begins Saturday, April 14 at 8 a.m.

Mooresville residents like me who pass by Josh’s Farmers Market on Williamson Road spied the sign last week saying the local favorite opens for business this Wednesday April 4. Like the produce, Josh’s business itself is literally homegrown, as many lifelong residents remember Josh as a child, trading in the kid’s favorite lemonade stand business for a vegetable stand. Beginning this Wednesday he’ll have strawberries and other spring favorites for sale Wednesday through Sunday.

And speaking of strawberries, it’s pick-your-own time! Thanks to the unusually warm weather, this year’s strawberry crop is bountiful and early! Carrigan Farms in Mooresville opens its fields on April 21, and Patterson Farms in Mt. Ulla also plans to open later this month.

Confession: I don’t love strawberries and my kids refuse to eat them. But the three of us eagerly trek to the local pick-your-own strawberry farms every spring. For me, locally grown berries just taste better. For my kids, the adventure’s like a scavenger or treasure hunt, a contest to see who can find the best berry. If you’re heading out here’s some berry helpful tips:

• Choose plump, firm, fully red berries.

• Don’t expect unripe strawberries to ripen once they’re picked. It just doesn’t work that way.

• Don’t be fooled by size: Small berries are often most flavorful.

• Wash berries only when you’re ready to use them. Otherwise they spoil.

• Cool strawberries as soon as possible after picking. Spending time in the sun causes them to turn soft and rot quicker.

• Check the internet for hundreds of homemade strawberry recipes. In addition to strawberry shortcake and strawberry smoothies, you’d be amazed what delicious delicacies you can make.

So I’m set to hit the markets and fields over the next few months. And if anyone has ideas on what to do with a plot of land that once housed a vegetable garden, send them my way!

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