“Twigs and Berries” From a Local Strawberry Expert

I field a lot of questions about what it’s like to work at Dan’s. The most frequently asked questions include:

“Is there really a ‘Dan?’” or “Is Dan still there?”

“Is it like working at The Onion?”

“How do you put out that HUGE paper every week?!”

The short answer is,

“Yes, there is a Dan. We meet with him every Thursday to discuss story ideas. I don’t know what it’s like to work at The Onion.”

Last week Dan was in California so we held our meeting with him via speakerphone. At the conclusion of this editorial meeting, Dan said,
“I know our editor Stacy has the twigs and berries covered.”

Then he signed off. There was general agreement that this was a pretty cryptic directive but, okay, I’ll bite—but I’ll do it my way: berries first.

Berries

We are closing out High Strawberry Season on both forks. The cool temperatures and deluge of rain delayed the first harvest and has made for not-the-sweetest berries. But local strawberries are still da bomb, nonetheless. Straight up or mixed with rhubarb in a dessert—run, don’t walk to your nearest farm stand for a quart! Or, even better, pick your own at a U-Pick roadside field.

Next up are raspberries, followed by blueberries.

 

Twigs

If you’ve eaten a “local tomato” this season—unless it was green—you ate a lie. Sorry, the North Fork is about two weeks ahead of the South Fork but it ain’t Local Tomato Season just yet. Look for the real deal at your local farm stands and farmers markets soon, very soon.

That’s when I expect to start hauling those nectarous puppies outta my home garden. All of the six varieties I planted promised ripe tomatoes “before July 4th.” They look like they’re right on schedule, which is where the “twigs” come in.

Three weeks ago I started staking my tomatoes. They need support because they’re basically vines, when the fruit comes in they flatten out on the ground unless you stake them up. I started out using “official” wooden stakes from the hardware store but I quickly ran out of those and moved on to using sticks that I found on the property.

When I was a kid growing up in Western New York I hated the way my neighbors staked up their tomatoes—they used old pantyhose to tie the vines onto the stakes. Those bits of brown nylon were so unattractive. We farmer-types used long lines of twine or wire. But when it came time to stake my ’maters in Sag Harbor Village I went right to my lingerie drawer. Now my plants are held in place by bits of old green, black-and-white striped and purple nylon tights. Never brown. Have I come full circle? I know I must look a lot like one of those wooden, cut-out, “bend-over lady” lawn ornaments when I’m out there weeding…

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