Homer Farmers Market: Succession planting keeps crops coming

My strawberries are finally starting to peter out. It’s been super abundant this year, with a couple of batches of jam and lots of healthy, social distancing picking parties in my berry patch. But even my chickens are tired of strawberries and no longer chase them when one gets tossed their way.

But that’s the way it goes in an Alaska summer: massive abundance and then quiet. I had a ton of beautiful lettuce this summer too, but it has gone to seed. I know how all the Farmers Market producers use succession planting to keep the food coming all season long, but I just don’t have it down. I get distracted by summer.

Recently I visited a few farms here and was reminded that there is a reason that I happily buy greens at the Market or on the Food Hub now.

At Snowshoe Hollow Farm, Christina explained how soon this patch of cilantro will need to get pulled so she can plant that fall crop of greens. But no worries, her next batch of cilantro is already coming up among the old greens that have been repeatedly harvested and are ready to pull out soon.

At Hilltop Farm I saw how Carey makes sure no weeds will be showing up in her bags of greens. After she prepares the bed for planting, she lets the weeds sprout. When they are young and tender, she then runs over them with a pyromaniac’s dream: the flame weeder. After singeing the unwanted sprouts, she has kicked the cycle of weed seeds out of the succession planting cycle and can plant her fall mustards, kale, arugula and lettuces.

Over at Synergy Gardens, with a wide sweep of her arm, Lori indicated all the beds that would be harvested, cleared and replanted with garlic for next year.

It is so impressive to see the amount of planning and work and attention that goes into our local produce. So head on down from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday or from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m Saturday to the Homer Farmers Market on Ocean Drive (or all the other places local food is sold) and support our talented local farmers.

Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.