Creating a Garden Calendar – Day 8 Finding things elsewhere, part 2

We are working our way through a series called “Creating a Garden Calendar“.  If this is your first time joining us, welcome.  You are not too late to join us.  Grab a calendar, pen, and beverage of choice.  You will be right where we are in no time

Creating a garden calendar seemed like such a big job 9 days ago.  By now I feel like I at least have a good start on things and am a bit ready for the 2013 garden season.  I am not saying it is finished, but at least the beginning has begun.

Yesterday we made a list of things we would like to have, but which we will need to look for outside of our gardens.  Today we are going to look, or note, the places we may be able to get these foods/crops.  Places like pick-your-own farms, wild crops growing around your area, a friend who grows them, farmer’s markets, etc.  Sometimes you may need to think outside the box.

The first year we moved into our current home I wanted to make apple butter.  The thing was, I didn’t have apples.  I also didn’t know anyone well enough to find them locally.  My solution?  I posted on a community board that I was looking for apples.  Several responses came in and I was able to have more apples than what I needed.  One of the responses was from someone with several trees but who was not able to pick them that year because of other time obligations.

Another year I was interested in blueberries.  A pick-your-0wn farm about 30 minutes from us offered them, plus a lot of other items I had not previously thought about.

Growing up, blackberries grew wild in a nearby abandoned field.  I keep meaning to go back during blackberry season to pick some, but always end up missing the blackberry season all together.  You will be sure that this is one crop whose harvest date will definitely be on my calendar.

If you know where you want to get those extra crops, note them on your list.  If not, you may need to do some searching.

Below are results from my search of “find pick your own farms.”  I didn’t go past the first page, so I’m sure there are many more.  Also, adding your state or location to the search inquiry should help you narrow it down.

Pick Your Own is a website I have come to like more and more.  They list pick-your-own farms by state.  They also have a lot of other information about what to do with those crops (canning, freezing, etc.)

New Jersey – Dept. of Ag listing for Pick Your Own Fruits & Vegetables

Massachusetts – listing of pick-your-own farms.  Not only do they give you links by crop, they also tell you the months the crops will be ready

Vermont Agency of Agriculture – they also have a ‘harvest dates available chart’ link on their page

New Zealand – this is obviously for those out of the country, but goes to show that they are located in a lot of places.  There is also a harvest calendar posted on their page.

New Hampshire Fruit Grower’s Association

Here are some of the results from “find farmers markets“:

Local Harvest – allows you to search by zip code or city/state

 U.S. Dept. of Ag. Agriculture Marketing Service – the list includes all the submissions received.  You can sort the list to be more specific. – has an easy to use search bar to find local foods.

California-Grown Certified Farmers’ Market – you are able to search for a market by market operator, region, county or city.

Illinois Farm Direct – you can search by location, or look on the right hand side and search by commodity.

Other options are to:

  • find a local produce auction
  • ask around to see if anyone else knows where there might be a source for what you are looking for
  • trade with another gardener – you have extra beets and they have extra onions
  • keep your eyes open while driving.  I have seen a lot of fruit trees this way.  Stop and knock on the person’s door, especially if it looks like they are not using the fruit.  At worst they will say “no” and you go on your way

And just so you don’t forget about other crops, this does not only apply to fruits and vegetables.  As a kid we were always able to have extra daffodils at Easter time because of an old abandon farm nearby.  They had planted these flowers years and years ago.  There must have been a house on that spot, though it was no longer there.  We were able to stop and pick some once a week.  There were always more than we could use, which is good because other people would stop and do the same thing.

Today, in addition to finding or listing a source for what you are looking for, note the expected harvest times.  If you do a search for a local pick-your-own farm, they will often have those listed on their website.  You can also look at your state’s agriculture page.  If it lists a month, then write that on the 1st of that month.  When the time comes, if the crop is not ready yet, move to a week later and write yourself a reminder.  However, if weather is going great, you might check in earlier to see if the harvest is ready sooner.  Nature does not always go by our calendars.

What are you looking for beyond what you grow in your own garden?  Have you been able to find it or will you need to do more searching?  What has been your best source for finding extra items?

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