Locals love to grown their own fruit and vegetables and this year harvest is early due to the unseasonably warm weather we had this summer. There are several old standbys and some new edibles that people are growing in their gardens on San Juan Island. Also, there are some edibles that can be garnered from roadsides. For example: blackberries grow profusely and usually finish off in August. They freeze well and make delicious pies and dumplings. Roadway berries may have some dust, but we do not spray with chemicals to kill roadside growths, so it is safe to pick and rinse berries on the sunny roads or road ends. On some hikes in early summer you may also find wild strawberries. Tiny, but so tasty. You may even see some Camus purple flowers that the native Americans have planted here. Did you know that next to the ferry landing there is a series of shops called Cannery Landing? These shops were built on the piers that used to support a pea cannery.
Typical garden peas and snap peas grow well here and can be started early in gardens, along with broccoli, cabbages, Kale, onions and cauliflower. People plant chard as well but it does go to seed if the weather gets too hot. Tomatoes have been hard to grow over the years as the warm weather doesn’t last long enough for a big beefeater tomato. However, this year was an exception. Farmers like to grow the old heritage varieties, they do not keep as well but the flavor is terrific. Almost all of the cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes will finish to maturity on the vine. At the San Juan County Fair, in August, we have a Zucchini Race. It is very competitive. Squash and pumpkins and cucumbers do well here. We like to plant yellow potatoes and colorful varieties of carrots for the root crops. Beans and corn are always plentiful, but we do plant the early varieties of corn. Newer plantings we have successfully tried are rhubarb, horseradish, and asparagus as well as artichokes. They were all successful. Some people also grow kiwis. The Fair is a good place to look for new varieties and see what people on other islands are growing.
Orchards were historically popular here as you can see from the many very old apple trees. Not so many of the cherry trees have survived but in the San Juan County Courthouse there is a banner that says we are the cherry capital of the state. In our orchard this year we have grown pears, apples, many varieties of plums, and even peaches. Obviously, with the vineyard, grapes grow well here on south-facing slopes. Kiwis are another popular vine.
If you are not into growing things yourself, you will find most of these healthy treasures at our farmer’s market which is held on Saturdays at Brickworks starting at 10:00. Bon Appetite!