Farmers say the cold weather will mean a late spring and summer crop, with many spring vegetables not expected to emerge until later this month.
Marietta’s Saturday farmers market set up shop each weekend through the winter and the Sunday market, which closed for the winter season in November, will start up again April 6.
Many of the farmers who sell both Saturdays and Sundays at the market live in Cobb or Cherokee counties and drive into Marietta each weekend to sell their goods. After a tough winter that brought two snowstorms, farmers say they are waiting for the ground to warm up to start planting for the spring and summer markets.
Bill Yoder grows squash, cucumber, lettuces, peppers and hundreds of varietal heirloom tomatoes on his 1-acre plot in Canton.
“With the long winter, I would suspect everything is going to be a week or two later than normal,” Yoder said.
Yoder has kept busy all winter collecting seeds to grow more than 800 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and this year, for the first time, Yoder will be selling the seeds to a new line of heirloom tomatoes he created.
He works as an IT software engineer, and for the last 10 years has worked the land in Canton as well. Yoder has not suffered through a winter like this one before, and he is glad he planted his crops in raised beds above the freezing ground. He has built greenhouses over the raised beds, and this winter Yoder and his family covered the beds with blankets to keep the crops from freezing.
Spring crops by late March
By late March and the first weeks of April, Yoder predicts shoppers can expect to start seeing spring crops, including lettuces, kale, arugula, broccoli and cauliflower. That’s two weeks later than normal.
Yoder said his family will start bringing plants to sell when the Sunday market opens in April and slowly begin bringing in vegetables as they grow.
Phillip and Susie Lackey of Cartersville grow organic vegetables they sell at the Marietta Square weekend markets.
Phillip Lackey, a retired school teacher, said he grew up on a farm and began gardening in his backyard after he retired. This spring, Lackey has planted squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, okra and eggplant. As the weather warms up, the more colorful summer vegetables and fruits will start coming in, including blueberries and cabbage.
Gambling on growing
Lackey said farming is a gamble, and he is bracing to see what this spring and summer will look like after this winter.
“This spring’s going to be interesting. It’s been so cold for so long. It’s sort of like going to Vegas, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You never know how it’s going to turn out,” Lackey said.
One thing Lackey can bet on is a decrease in summer insects this year. Because of the cold temperatures, the insects won’t be as bad as they normally are, he predicted.
Lackey will be waiting until the end of March to start planting his late spring and summer crops, a few weeks later than normal. He advises gardeners not to plant any tomatoes earlier than April 15, as there still might be another frost around the corner.