Sunday, July 28th: Juicy Melons, Heirloom Tomatoes, Ginormous Zucchini, Donut Peaches & Ladybugs!

A ladybug on a thistle flower from The Old Farmer. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons. When's the last time you saw a ladybug crawling around on flowers at a Big Box store? Round about never, I'd imagine. But ladybugs are common here at your Ballard Farmers Market! This one is on some beautiful thistle flowers from The Old Farmer. And this year, you will find bouquets of flowers here like never before, because so many kinds of flowers are in bloom all at the same time!

Cantaloupe melons and Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lyall Farms has the first melons of the season today! They just started harvesting these cantaloupes and Yellow Doll watermelons this week. And yet again, their arrival is the earliest we’ve ever recorded. So dive in, folks! This summer is awesome, and who knows when we’ll get the next one like it.

Heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm has been teasing us for the last couple of weeks with their first heirloom tomatoes of the season, and the early birds got them. Well, now, the teasing is over, and we all are in the tomatoes! This is the scene from their tables at our sister Wallingford Farmers Market this past Wednesday. Oh, yeah, baby!

Donut peaches from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah. My favorites peaches. These are donut peaches – Saturn donut peaches, to be precise — from Tiny’s Organic Produce. I remember when I first encountered these back in 1999. They were just then beginning to be grown significantly by orchardists here in Washington, and as such, they began making their first appearances in local farmers markets. I came across them when I was visiting the Yakima Farmers Market for the first time — it opened that year. I stayed at a B&B just up Highway 12 in Naches, and that B&B was surrounded by orchards, one of which was full of these funny looking fruits. My hosts offered me one, and I fell instantly in love. They are sweet, juicy, have a tiny, easily removed stone, and are nice and small, so I found them easier to eat, and a lot less messy. And they are delicious. My hosts sent me home with an entire box of them! If you haven’t tried them yet, today’s a great day for them. They are excellent picnic food, and they are great for hikes, too!

Fresh, Washington coastal red king salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It continues to be a spectacular year for grilling, and that means you’ll need some of this beautiful wild Washington coastal king salmon from Wilson Fish for the barby. I recommend picking up some alderwood smoker chips, too, or better yet, cut some fresh alder branches off of your tree — get ones that are pinky to index finger in diameter and cut them 3-4″ long — and toss them on your hot coals before putting your fish on the grill. The alder smoke with make for absolutely amazing flavor in your salmon!

Slinging fish tacos at Los Chilangos. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of fishliciousness, how's about fish tacos from Los Chilangos right here at your Ballard Farmers Market? They use fresh rockfish from our own Wilson Fish, and cook it up to order for you. Sure, you can find fish tacos other places, but can those places tell you the name of the people who caught that fish, let alone be able to direct you just a few feet up the street to where they are standing selling their fish?

Summer chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow. Yet another crop arriving earlier than we've ever recorded. These are wild summer chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. And when I took this photo last week, they also still had morel mushrooms. Yet again, the spring meets the fall in the middle of summer in this extraordinary year we call 2013!

Hericot vert green beans from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Mmm. Hericot vert green beans from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Okay, franco-snobs, I do realize that the name of these beans I just typed is redundant. It's like saying "chevre fresh goat cheese." But some people studied Spanish in grade school, so please... Anywho, these most delicate of green beans -- they are very slim and cook quickly -- are a true summer treat. I love to do a quick sauté of them with some pearl onions, or the little purple onions Stoney Plains has, and some nice bacon. (I used some of Olsen Farms' jowl bacon Friday night with them -- yummers!)

Fresh chevre from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of the department of redundancy department, have you tried one of the several flavors of chevre (fresh goat cheese) fromTwin Oaks Creamery? They are wonderful, with a nice bit of sweetness and tang. Grab a loaf of bread from Tall Grass Bakery, tear off a hunk, slather some of this on it, and you are all set! And don’t forget to try out their fresh goat yogurt and goat and cow milk, too.

Sangiovese from Kitzke Cellars. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Kitzke Cellars returns today to your Ballard Farmers Market... hopefully with some of this lovely sangiovese. And if we're lucky, they'll have some more of their recently bottled rosé, too. Cuz it has been some serious rosé weather this summer!

Pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Look, kids! It is a fresh batch of whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle! Woohoo! And lucky for them... and us... pickling cucumber season started waaay early this summer, which means so too does pickle season. Grab a jar and get your pickle on today!

Huge zucchini from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And finally, I promised you ginormous zucchini, and here they are! No, that is not an optical illusion. They are bigger than Chai's head. You could hunt moose with them. Or make a lot of zucchini bread. Back in my days at Olympia Farmers Market, a lifetime ago, we called zucchini this big "Norwegian trout" for some reason, though I cannot now recall why. "Viking battle club" might make more sense.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Please remember bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.