September enters what Suzie’s Farm likes to call “shoulder season.” “The ground is hot, the air is dry, and plants hate this just as much as we do.” In other words, the fruits of the summer harvest are dwindling, and farmers are beginning to make the shift toward winter crops.
In addition to a waning selection of its summer veggies, Suzie’s is marketing some late-season wax beans, both yellow and purple varieties, for the green-bean alternative. Otherwise, the Imperial Beach farm is already turning its attention to an early harvest of winter gourds like delicata and butternut squash and gearing up for pumpkin season heading into October.
Up in Bonsall, Adam Maciel’s farm is also in transitional mode, seeing the last of its fruits, figs, peppers, and tomatoes on the way out. However, if the summer heat holds out another few weeks, the Maciels’ may bring a late tomato harvest to their market stands. Otherwise, they’re adding radish and sweet onions to the mix and likely some purslane. Known as verdolaga in Spanish, purslane grows wild, its succulent leaves viewed by some as a weed. But those in the know like it in salads or blanched or sautéed in pork or egg dishes.
Thanks to differing microclimates, some farms should still feature plenty of summer crops in September. In Escondido, JR Organics still expects to feature heirloom tomatoes through the month; as well as red, yellow, and orange watermelons; and muskmelons such as cantaloupe. Its autumnal crops coming on include parsnips and okra.
Gilbert & Lee Quinto farms in Fallbrook will feature persimmons, both hachiya and fuyu varieties. Fuyu are more common — they resemble squat, orange tomatoes and may be eaten like apples, similarly crunchy though much sweeter, with a unique, almost tropical flavor. Hachiya persimmons are oblong and taper at the bottom — these don’t sweeten until they’re mushy and jelly-like. Elsewhere in Fallbrook, Pedro’s Organic Ranch adds to their persimmons with dragon fruit, pomegranates, and passion fruit.
The woman-owned and operated Good Taste Farm likes to focus on interesting vegetables and have already rolled out their season of Mexican sour gherkins. These grape-sized cucumbers have tart lemony flavor to go with their juicy cucumber crunch. The Fallbrook farm is also harvesting chilies, including super-hot red habaneros and aji cristal peppers. The light green aji cristal is the most common chili in Chile, said to be a little milder than jalapeños.
Also watch out for the farm’s yellow cascabella peppers. They like to call these “secret menu” peppers because they are the pickled peppers you can order off-menu at In-N-Out. Grab them if you can, because reportedly there’s a shortage this year, and even the burger chain is running low on them.
Good Taste Farm offers its small yet unique variety of produce at the Hillcrest farmers’ market on Sundays, and at Encinitas Station farmers’ market on Wednesday afternoons.