Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pick Your Own

Living in the south will definitely spoil you if you love fresh produce. There are Farmer's Markets, roadside stands and Pick Your Own Farms everywhere. I like to visit all of these as often as possible. The key to getting the best looking and the "pick of the litter" if you will, is to get there early. I do mean EARLY. Usually in my area by about 9 or 10 in the morning, everything has been handled and picked over.

There are several "pick your own" farms around me that offer everything from tomatoes to nectarines depending on the time of year. If you are strictly organic, you definitely want to ask questions before you grab your buckets and go off to grab those strawberries. If you aren't able to pick your produce yourself, these farms usually sell produce they have picked themselves although the price is a little higher.

Pick your own farms are a great way to supplement your freezer for the winter especially if you are unable to have a garden of your own. It is also a great learning experience for the kids so don't hesitate to take them along! You could also go in "halves" with a friend or family member so that you both can share in the fun of picking your own food.

Below are some tips to keep in mind before visiting a pick your own farm. While these may not apply to all, they are general things that you could always ask about when you call the farm before visiting.

1. Dress appropriately. If you are going to be cutting okra, remember these are "sticky" plants. The leaves can irritate your skin so wear a light weight long sleeve shirt and maybe some light weight warm ups over your shorts. Remember to bring some gloves also.

2. Bring your own buckets. If you call ahead, you can ask how much it costs per bushel, half bushel, etc. While most of us don't have bushel baskets lying around, you can use just about any type of bucket. The farmer will usually have bushel baskets that he will move your produce into to give you the correct price. If you do not have access to a bucket, ask them if they have some you can use. Make sure you ask if there is an additional cost involved.

3. Bring your own tools. These would include gloves, a good knife that you can use to cut stems or a pair of snippers of some sort. Carry something to sit on. An extra 5 gallon bucket, a small stool or anything else that does not require a lot of room. Make sure you also wear a hat and bring that sunscreen!

4. Remember that you will be picking with other people. The rows are close together so plan on having just enough room to move between the rows. The good thing about this is that you can work 2 rows at the same time.

While this isn't a complete list, it gives you an idea of what it is like to pick your own produce at a larger garden than your backyard. The link above is a great place to start your search for a pick your own farm in your area. So grab the kids and those buckets and get to picking!

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