Songs from the farm

Spring has definitely sprung around here, and along with that is a proliferation of blooms at the farmers market.  There are so many plants here, all non-invasive and mostly organically grown.  This is where I got the pink rose that grows so wildly in my yard and that I have featured in a couple of posts.  I also got another of my favorites here, a chocolate rose that is almost brown and smells delicious.  That one is not so prolific, but when it blooms, it’s wonderful.

Above are citrus trees, mostly lemons and limes.  Those are the easiest for beginners to grow, so they are pretty popular here.  Orange trees have to mature for several years before they bear fruit, which means that college students are likely to graduate before their trees bear fruit.

The plants at the farmers market run the gamut from just simply pretty, to fruit trees, to vegetables.  You can find almost anything here.  This delicate flower is a silver bell, which grows on a pretty little tree.  It will eventually find its way into my yard, since I am determined to have a beautiful yard someday.

Farmer John always has interesting plants and vegetables.  He has strawberry plants, pepper plants, all kinds of herbs and really, just all kinds of plants.  I have bought a few pepper plants from him, which actually grew well for me.  That’s saying a lot, because I am not a gardener by any means.  Usually I just buy his greens, and his chiles.  Emiliana, whose name I may well have butchered, helps him out while singing for the customers.  She’s got quite a voice and has starred in several musicals around here.  There’s something about a person singing to you while putting a custom salad together for you that just can’t be beat.

Let me disabuse you of any notion you may have that the farmers market is all about plants and veggies.  The Flower Pot Bakery has a booth here almost every week.  Baskets of unusually flavored breads, buttery cookies and scones are among the delicacies they serve.

Mullet is a Gulf Coast specialty, which makes its way inland most Saturdays to show up at the market, along with wild hog.  There are hogs running around loose all over Florida, from original stock brought over by the Spanish when this area was first settled.  The hogs are rather a nuisance, so harvesting them is encouraged.  I am not a seafood lover, so I’ve never had it myself, but mullet always makes me think of Pensacola, because they have a mullet toss every year.  A mullet toss is exactly what it sounds like, a contest to throw a mullet as far as possible.  It’s a pretty big deal on the Pensacola social calendar, and the winner always ends up with a picture in the paper.

Of course, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables as well.  Tomatoes are out right now, both standard types and heirlooms.  Until I moved to Florida, I thought that tomatoes were a hot weather crop that only grew in the summer.  It turns out, it gets too hot here during the summer, so they usually show up pretty early in the spring.  By the time most of the country is eating fresh tomatoes, Florida’s season is mostly over.

Strawberries are also pretty early here, although they last through most of the summer.  Crawford Farms has been bringing strawberries for a while now, as some of you may remember from my previous farmers market post.  They are even sweeter and more flavorful now than they were the last time I bought some.  The smell is amazing here, and if that doesn’t convince you to buy a basket or two, they give out free samples.  A few other farmers are beginning to bring them to market now, but once I have established a relationship, I’m pretty loyal.  Besides, how can you not buy from such a cutie?  I love that the whole family is involved in the business.

No stop at the farmers market in Florida would be complete without an orange or two.  I always get mine from Henderson & Daughter, because they have such an amazing variety, and because they are wonderful people.  These are Parson Brown oranges, which are sweet and juicy.  They are good for juice, but I always prefer to just eat them.  There won’t be many more weeks of oranges now, I’m afraid.  They are a winter crop, which is why they traditionally show up in Christmas stockings.


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