Monday, October 1, 2007
The October Harvest Calendar
September’s gone and with it, I hope, the oppressive heat. In spite of the promise October brings of that first, soul-quenching nip in the air, this month’s a little more bittersweet for me than the last. These are the final weeks that so many of our crops are harvested for the year, and though the abundance I’ve been longing for since January is at its peak, it’ll soon start to wane. Sure in the cold months we’ll still have plenty of produce from the greenhouse and cold storage. But crops just taste better freshly harvested from an open field – the elements lend our food so much character and nuance, much as real living does us.
So October isn’t really a time of new harvests - we only add fennel and parsnips to the roster this month. But I take solace in the fact that these are two of my all time favorite winter vegetables.
And I also offer comfort by pointing out that there’s still an overwhelming profusion to enjoy - the vast majority of last month’s crops are still in season for the duration of October. The only September harvests that are now officially over for the year are beet greens, blueberries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, peaches, plums, prunes, radishes, and scallions.
By the end of the month, temperatures will have dipped low enough to end the lettuce harvest until next May, the pea and summer squash harvests until next June, the snap bean, corn, pepper, and raspberry harvests until next July, and the eggplant harvest until next August. So take advantage of those more cold-sensitive crops along with celery, grapes, fresh herbs, kale, spinach, swiss chard, tomatoes, and watermelon. October is their last month in season this year.
And though they’ll be available from cold storage during the winter, this is also the last month that apples, carrots, leeks, onions, pears, potatoes, pumpkins, and winter squash are available fresh from the field. The distinction can’t be replicated, so don’t forget to make the most of these crops too.
These crop facts are available in the sidebar harvest calendar over there on the right all month. The information comes from a guide published by the CENYC, which runs the Greenmarket & New Farmer Development Project. To familiarize yourself with what's in season where you live, I advise a visit to your own farmer's markets at least every couple of weeks. And ask lots of questions – no one knows which crops are at their peak quite like the people who grow them. To locate markets near you in the US, check the Zip or City Quick Search at Local Harvest.
It’s still a fantastically abundant month, so happy autumn, and happy October!