Del Norte Gardening runs monthly. Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick.

The farmer's market season is under way and off to a great start! We were pleased to have a pretty diverse selection this time of year and enough quantity to serve most of your needs.

Fresh produce at the market is of course top quality, only matched by what your own back yard gardens provide. Where else can you get locally grown produce so fresh it was harvested well within 24 hours? Your back yard, and the local farmerʼs markets, Saturdays 9 a.m.andndash;1 p.m. at the fairgrounds, and Wednesdays on 3rd Street, 10 a.m.andndash;2 p.m. in Crescent City.

So what's all in your garden? Some folks seemed surprised to see broccoli at our booth, but remember, broccoli likes cool weather.

We had our earliest succession of broccoli under the "remay"

(floating row cover, the thin white agricultural fabric) to aid its

growth in the extra cold early spring days, and it paid off with lovely

green crowns for the first markets. For the rest of the year, we don't

use remay for our broccoli, it's unnecessary.

Your strawberries should be coming on, June-bearing varieties will be

first to produce, then the ever-bearing varieties will kick in and have

a long producing window. Greens should be going, tomatoes should be

growing, but not producing yet. Fall-planted garlic is heading up,

approaching a common July harvest. How about your potatoes, pumpkins and


Besides all the great veggies that you'll find on our farm, this time

of the year you'll also find a variety of irrigation methods, hoses,

drip-tape, single-headed sprinklers, water wands, and 3-inch aluminum

hand-lines. All of which you may be using too, minus the large hand-line

system. Water is important, plants need it, and like it with


We also find a lot of bugs this time of year, both good and bad.

You know the saying "the proof is in the pudding?" Well, seeing bug

bites on your crops, moths about your brassicas, slugs about your

strawberries, assures no pesticides are applied and that makes us happy.

No matter how bummed we get over missing and damaged crops from

gophers, slugs, flea beetles, cucumber beetles and squash beetles, weʼd

still never use pesticides. For us, itʼs just not even an option. Not

only do we want healthy vegetables, but also healthy soil, air, water,

and future generations. So for us at Ocean Air Farms, no pesticides, no

fungicides, and no herbicides.

So, perhaps youʼll need to spend a bit more time in the garden to

keep up with the extra pest pressures.

Squash the squash beetles (small and shaped like a ladybug, but with

yellow and black stripes) that may be feeding on your summer squash,

pumpkins, cucumbers and winter squash.

Cover the extra-sensitive crops (boc choi, arugula, radish and Asian

greens for example ) with "remay" for a physical barrier between crops

and the tiny black flea beetles that make pinholes in the greens.

Reduce slug habitat by eliminating shady, moist areas near your

garden beds. Relocate slugs, lure them into beer baths or slug houses.

Of course you can smoosh them, too.

Try a gopher trap like the "black box" or mac-a-bee, or adopt a new

cat or two to prey on them. Whatever your techniques may be, do your

best, even if it's just a few minutes a day, to tend your garden, and

donʼt worry too much about blemished bounties, pests often indicate the

crop is good.

Like always, wash your produce, and enjoy, bug bites and all! Hope to

see you at the markets!