From the field to your fridge, the value of fresh grown vegetables is priceless. Visit any roadside stand or farmers' market and you will see a colorful display.
For decades, the Farmers' Market in downtown Shreveport can boast that it is one of the best. Fruits and veggies are grown by local producers who then truck the items to this venue where people turn out in droves to browse and purchase.
This year, the crops are a little late in the time frame of being ripe for the picking. These truck farmers had to endure months of cooler than normal growing temperatures and too much rain.
One way to gauge the extra cool and very wet spring's effect on the truck farming or outlets like the Shreveport Farmers' Market is to visit and talk with some of the farmers such as Dave Wilson, a truck farmer who operates in Caddo Parish.
“I probably won't have okra until the end of July or the first of August,” Wilson said.
That’s simply unusual for Northwest Louisiana
"Normally, you can plant before Easter or right at Easter and you are usually OK. Cold weather will slow it down, but then the warm weather will speed it back up,” Wilson said.
Local tomatoes also are quite tardy in development this year.
"They are good and green. They are just now are putting blooms on. I planted them kind of late,” Wilson said.
It's not only the later than normal growth pattern that is the current challenge for truck farmers, it's what has not been planted and may not be planted this growing season.
“Right, I didn't plant any squash. It just worked out. It's a good thing. I didn't, I would’ve had to re-plant everything anyway because the flood came up and wiped out three of my gardens,” Wilson said.
Wilson says not all is lost hope for this year should you personally want to take it to task to grow some you favorite garden veggies.
“The backyard little neighbors can still plant tomatoes and squash and stuff. I've got some good eggplants that are coming along. They are real healthy looking; still be a month probably before they mature. But you can still plant around your house or plant in a pot. Now, I wouldn't suggest you go plant 5, 10 acres. It's kind of late for that,” Wilson said.
While the early growing season put a damper on production, good weather and persistence will continue to promote a good season for fruits and vegetables. These who tend the cabbages patch love what they do and just roll with what Mother Nature provides.
“We are used to up and down years and you just take what's thrown at you. We do it for the money but we also do it because we like to enjoy playing around in the dirt and watching things grow,” Wilson said.
Expect them to return next spring.
“Right, every year. We'll keep on truckin,’” said Wilson.