August 9th: Tomatoes, Melons, Celery, Plums, Eggplant, Apples... Everything!

Many heirloom tomatoes from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons. The Ballard Farmers Market is full of incredible tomatoes today, like these from Oxbow Farm. From heirlooms to cherries to beef steaks, in every shape, size and color, we have reached peak tomato season. And this is a bumper season for tomatoes. With our hot weather recently, tomato plants have gone into overdrive. Come to the market and enjoy them while you can.

Honey Yellow icebox melons from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The Market is awash in melons now, too, including a wide variety of icebox melons like these honey yellow melons from Full Circle Farm. Icebox melons are small varieties of melons, many of which were researched and developed right here in Washington by WSU.

Collard greens from Nash's. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

With the extreme heat recently, many farms saw certain crops overwhelmed. Greens in particular suffered. But the beauty of the geographic diversity of the many farms at Ballard Farmers Market is that most crops are still available from at least one or more farms. Take these collard greens, for instance. While many farms currently do not have them, Nash's does. So take time to look around the Market today to find what you want, and consider trying something new, if you can't find what you had hoped for, like radishes, which will be in very tight supply today.

Celery from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Boistfort Valley Farm has the first celery of the year at the Market. Strangely enough, celery is one of those crops not grown by many market farmers, and yet it ends up in so many of our fridges. Well, I am here to tell you, if you have never had super-fresh celery straight from the farmer, as opposed to that old, well-travelled, rubbery stuff at the big box store, you must try some. The snap. The taste. You can't beat it.

Shiro plums from ACMA Orchards. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Everywhere you turn today, you will find stone fruit, from peaches to cherries to nectarines to pluots. You'll see apricots, cherry plums, and these lovely Japanese Shiro plums from ACMA, above.

Spud nuts from Olsen Farms come in three convenient sizes. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Potatoes are hitting their stride now, and it is cool enough for us to cook them now, too. Olsen Farms is famous for its dryland potatoes from Northeast Washington, and for their spud nuts in particular, like these above.

Some many peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alvarez Organic Farms grows something like 150 varieties of peppers. Above is just a sampling of them available now. Look for more and more in the next few weeks, in every shape, color and heat index.

Purple Rain eggplant from Alvarez. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alvarez also grows some 15 varieties of eggplant, like this Purple Rain eggplant, above. You'll find 10 varieties of eggplant today from Alvarez, and eggplant is now available from many other farms, too.

Pickling cukes from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is pickling season. Many farms grow pickling cukes. Stoney Plains grows some of the best. And you can order them in 25# bags, sorted by size, in order to make your pickling process easier. And Alm Hill, as well as several of the Hmong farms, has pickling dill available now, too.

Stoney Plains has the first westside corn of the year. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Stoney Plains also has the first sweet corn of the season from Western Washington available now. Westside farmers often plant different varieties of corn than Eastside farms, so check some out and compare.

Organic artichokes from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alm Hill has artichokes and tomatillos now, and it may have cranberry shelling beans and okra this week. Ever-bearing strawberries are beginning to reappear in the Market now, from Billy's to possibly Sidhu and Alm Hill. If you can't find them this week, you will next. And many varieties of green beans -- from concesa to dragon tongue to Roma to yellow wax -- and you will find lots of them at Local Roots, Growing Things, Stoney Plains, Summer Run, Boistfort Valley, and many others.

Red pearl onions from Full Circle. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Too few farms grow pearl onions. But Full Circle is one of them. These little onion jewels are a short-season summer treat. I like to sauté them with bacon and green beans. Yeah, baby!

Shamrock apples, from Tiny's, are one of the first apples of the season. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Two signs summer is not long for this world: back-to-school sales and fresh apples. Tiny's has Shamrock apples, above, an early apple. ACMA has another early variety called Lodi apples.

Of course, this is just a teaser of all the deliciousness available today at the Ballard Farmers Market. For a full list of what you can hope to find today, click on "What's Fresh Now!" in the upper right-hand corner.