Eat local

  • Tammy Sapowsky finishes setting up her farmstand at the South Hadley Farmers Market on Aug. 2. Hampshire Gazette file

For the Monitor
Friday, August 10, 2018

August is Eat Local month in New Hampshire, a time to celebrate the harvest by eating locally made, grown, or raised foods. Enjoy what’s in season. Tomatoes, sweet corn and blueberries top the list of everyone’s favorite tastes of summer, but have you tried homemade feta cheese or jelly made from the flowers of Queen Anne’s lace?

There are several ways to eat local foods:

Visit a farmers market. There is more happening at these local events than just food sales. Live music, animals to see and pet, samples to try, information booths, recipes, raffles, gardening advice, and activities for the kids like scavenger hunts and crafts are often part of the fun. Market day is a social time so take advantage of this opportunity to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. Gov. Chris Sununu will be making the rounds of farmers markets this month.

Go to a pick-your-own farm. They are bursting with blueberries and raspberries right now. Plan to return in the fall for apples and pumpkins. Take the kids, pack a picnic, and enjoy the day outside.

If you don’t have time to pick your own, stop by your local farmstand. New Hampshire growers have a wide range of fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables on display this summer. Shop where your roots are and protect farmland from development by supporting your local farmer.

Check out a farm-to-table restaurant. There are many eateries popping up around the state that are committed to using the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients and established restaurants are hip to this trend as well. Whether you want breakfast, lunch, dinner or just dessert, local foods are becoming the star of many menus.

Consider growing your own. It doesn’t get more local than your own backyard. If you think it is too late to start a garden think again. August is a great time to plant for fall harvests; consider it a second spring.

If there are bare spots in your garden fill them in with fresh new plants. Pull out the bitter bolted lettuce and dried up pea vines to make room for new seedlings or dig up a sunny spot and start fresh. Since fall is just around the corner, your new plants will need to be cold tolerant. Spinach, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, chard, lettuce, kale and other greens grow best in cooler temperatures and will be ready to harvest in 30 to 45 days. Check the number of days to maturity listed on the seed packets.

Root crops including beets and carrots take a bit longer to reach a harvestable size but frost enhances their flavor. Kale, spinach and mache can survive temps in the 20s and if well-mulched can even winter over, giving you the first harvestable greens early next spring. Since some seeds of cool weather plants such as lettuce won’t germinate in hot soil, it is best to start them indoors and transplant them outside after they are up and growing.

Check your local garden center to see if they have fall seedlings for sale.Even though the worst pest attacks are behind us, you still need to keep an eye out for insects. With all the rain, slugs are having a field day and cutworms are still active. If you are thinking of planting tender vegetables such as beans, squash, or cucumbers bear in mind that Sept. 30 is the average date of first frost in Concord. Be prepared to cover these plants when frost threatens. With any luck we will have a long, mild Indian summer to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

You’ll be harvesting fresh vegetables from your fall planted garden long after your neighbors have put their gardens to bed for the winter.

Happy gardening and keep on planting!