The “Off Season”

By Erin Parke Watson

Parkesdale Farms is known throughout the world for their delicious strawberries. Florida is the 3rd largest producer of strawberries in the world, but the LARGEST producer during the winter months (Oct – March). 

Did you ever wonder why we don’t grow them year-round?

Have you ever been to Florida during the spring/summer months? No? Florida weather can be explained in 2 words: Muggy. Hot.  Not just regular hot, OH NO!  The kind of hot that makes you instantly sweat as soon as you step outside.  The kind of hot that makes the soles of your shoes melt.  Just kidding, or am I?

Strawberries need ideal temperature to grow and thrive.  They like it cool and dry.  So, the spring and summer months of Florida just aren’t ideal for strawberries.

BROCCOLI. We sell our broccoli local at our Parkesdale Farms Market. 

CABBAGE. Also sold locally.

STRAWBERRY ONION. Those delish sweet humongous onions can be found all over Plant City.

But we can’t take a break for 6 months just because the weather is temperamental!

SPRING/FALL

PICKLES. No, not the kind in the jar.  But the ones you put IN the jar!! They are called Kirby cucumbers and they are a pickling size. Now most of you are wondering….“Isn’t a pickle just a cucumber?” 

There are different varieties of cucumbers, one being the fresh market “pickles” we grow. The Kirby cucumber has a thin skin, crisp flesh, and small seeds. We pick them in smaller sizes perfect for pickling. And they come in 4 different sizes! 

  • 3A – the best of the best
  • SFD – small fancy dill. Almost identical to the 3A
  • 3B – a little bit too big for pickling
  • 4A – the biggest.
  • There is a secret 5th size – Culls. These are the “ugly ducklings” of the bunch.  Grocery stores don’t like pickles that are misshaped or too big.  They aren’t “pleasing to the eye” to the customer, but they are still good to eat.

These grading sizes are determined by the USDA.  They must be a certain size and shape to be sold to market.  Their size determines their value.

SQUASH. Butternut. Spaghetti. Crookneck. Acorn. All the good ones!  

SUMMER

PEAS. Conchs. Black Eyes. Zippers.  You can buy them by the bushel and shell them yourself (a family tradition for most) or we can do the work for you!  These can be picked up at our Cooler in Dover. Just call ahead and place your order!

During the summer months, because the soil has done so much work growing ALL those fresh fruits and vegetables for you….it needs a spa day or 2 or 3, to replenish the nutrients the fruits and vegetables need to grow.  So, we lay down what is called, a cover crop.  It looks a lot like grass.  Benefits include: reduced soil compaction, natural addition of nitrogen and other nutrients, reduced soil erosion, greater water infiltration, weed control, and increased yield. We give the soil back what it needs, to provide all our wonderful customers, delish and fresh produce throughout the rest of the year, like those wonderfully delicious strawberries.

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