Farmers market vendors prepare for fall harvest
The unseasonably cooler temperatures that seem to be indicating an early fall have some farmers preparing for an autumn harvest.
Pea Ridge Farmers Market manager Carol Roper is one of several farmers who are planting for fall produce.
With autumn-like temperatures in store, plus the possibility of some moisture thanks to Hurricane Harvey, farmers don’t want to wait to plant.
“I planted 36 broccoli last week and that’s just the beginning of my fall planting,” Roper said, “because it will be too late before long.”
Roper plans ahead, collecting fall seeds before even finishing her summer planting.
Her favorite cold weather crops include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and peas.
This week, Roper will get most of those in the ground. Once planted, she will continue harvesting and mulching, just as she does for summer crops.
Tomato plants will be covered by plastic and frost cover over a small frame.
Raking leaves, covering beds, smothering weeds and adding more compost are all part of the cold weather chores. On days too cold to be outside, Roper plans to sit by the wood stove and look at her seed catalogs. On nice days,
she’ll continue to work her gardens and compost pile.
Beekeeper Shannon Ivy of the Garfield/Pea Ridge area says he prepares for the fall season by making sure his bees are getting enough pollen and nectar to stay strong for the winter.
The right conditions lead to a dark fall honey, which isn’t always available.
“The wet summers we’ve had the last three years including this one has made the conditions right to get some dark fall honey,” Ivy said. “We should again this year but no guarantees.”
Ivy will know in about a month’s time if they will produce harvest able amounts.
The dark fall honey is a stronger, bolder tasting honey, which has a slight taste like sorghum or molasses, Ivy said.
Ivy’s local bees are a hardy bunch that will withstand the colder temperatures inevitably coming. “Italian bees will keep producing brood and eat up a lot of the honey and they may starve,” Ivy said. “Types like Carniolan or Russians are more frugal. They will shut down brood rearing when the nectar flow slows down. The best bees are the ones that are local. They have the right timing for the area.”
Ivy’s stock is caught from feral bee swarms, then he keeps those and breeds from them. “They just survive better than bees that can be bought and shipped in,” he said.
He sometimes has to feed his bees in the fall and winter for their survival.
As the Pea Ridge Farmers Market vendors prepare for fall, they are seeking a soap vendor and a baker for Sundays.
The Pea Ridge Farmers Market is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday and features fresh veggies and fruit, as well as honey, jams and jellies, Arkansas raised beef, pork and chicken, smoked turkeys and ham, eggs, baked goods and more.
The market will be open this coming Sunday, the day before Labor Day, Roper said.
The market is located at 197 Slack St. For more information, visit the Pea Ridge Farmers Market or Heritage Gardens Facebook pages.
Cathy Lynn Fletcher buys pears from Carol Roper at a recent Pea Ridge Farmers Market.