Gone to market

Unique climate allows farmers to grow fresh veggies all year round

One of the unique aspects of the climate in southeastern Louisiana is the ability to grow vegetables twelve months a year – with most of the harvesting taking place in the spring and the fall.

And that’s just what local farmer’s are doing, harvesting and planting winter crops.

“Fall harvests often begin in mid fall and extend throughout the winter months, and often into the early spring,” said Rene’ Schmit, parish county agent.

“During the summer months vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet corn, artichokes, snap beans, onions, cucumbers, lettuce, kohlrabi and cabbage are not available due to their inability to grow and produce under an extreme, hot environment.”

However, vegetables that can be planted, grown and harvested during the hottest part of the summer and typically are plentiful during that time include okra, bell pepper, eggplant, summer squash and melons such as cantaloupe and watermelon.

“Several types of vegetables that have or are being planted by growers in our area for an early fall production and harvest are tomatoes, snap beans, collards, cucumbers, kohlrabi, bell pepper varieties, pumpkin, rutabaga and squash,” said Schmit.

As the nights begin to cool down in September and October, growers will begin planting other various fall vegetables.

Those vegetables include broccoli, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Swiss chard, garlic. lettuce, mustard greens, Irish potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinach and turnips.

“For many of these vegetable types, harvesting will begin in late fall around November, and for most, all will extend well into late February,” added Schmit.

Schmit advises many of the farmers that frequent the German Coast Farmers’ Market with on the dos and don’ts of harvesting.

“The primary tip that I give farmers is to continue with an integrated pest management strategy that involves planting disease-resistant varieties whenever possible,” he said.

“Controlling weeds that harbor insect pests, conducting irrigation of crops when needed, maintaining efficient drainage and weekly scouting of plants are crucial tasks necessary for healthy crops.”

Schmit says that all of the above mentioned vegetables grow will in our area with the inclusion of sweet corn and onions, and points out that much of our land is used for commercial agriculture.

In St. Charles Parish, production agriculture includes six commercial farmers who utilize 92 acres for crop production. Sugarcane involves 1,720 acres with four growers.

Beef cattle involves 42 ranchers who manage more than 5,000 head of cattle on 8,400 acres. Citrus production includes trees on four acres farmed by four growers.

Grilled ortabello Mushroom Burgers

Below is one example of a Grilled Portabello Mushroom Burger:

Ingredients:

 

– 4 portabello mushroom caps

– 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– 1 teaspoon dried basil

– 1 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1 tablespoon minced garlic

– salt and pepper to taste

– 4 (1 ounce) slices provolone cheese

– Worchester sauce

Directions:

1. Place the mushroom caps, smooth side up, in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so, turning twice.

2. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

3. Place mushrooms on the grill. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until tender. Brush with marinade frequently. Top with cheese during the last 2 minutes of grilling.

 

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