Mirror Contributing Writer
Skies have been gray over Santa Monica but the rains have been holding off, so the farmers’ markets have been able to carry on as usual. But farmers tell stories of rain and hail back home, and estimates are that the early apricots have been badly damaged and that nectarines and peaches will be at least two weeks late. Few farmers can afford to purchase expensive hail insurance, so they watch helplessly as the pellets from heaven pockmark and damage their young fruit. The long wet spring may bring the summer fruit on late, but it may also extend the growing season since fruit will mature more slowly and be available longer. Expect the first peaches in the market around the third week in May.
Now is a good time to enjoy cool weather-loving vegetables like sprouting broccoli, spinach, chard and kale. English peas, sugar snaps and snow peas are also coming on, as well as exotic pea tendrils, which look great in salads and stir frys.
Tomato plants are available for home growing, and they come in literally dozens of varieties. Most three-inch pots will yield edible fruit in about seventy days, so you can start planning and planting now for a July tomato harvest.
If you act fast, you can grab some fragrant lilacs. The cold weather-tolerant flowers were hit hard by frost, so there are fewer of them this year than last. They are a true rite of spring, and their lovely scent carries throughout the house.
Among the many varieties of citrus fruit to choose from, tangelos are at their absolute peak right now. This fruit is a cross between a tangerine and a pommelo grapefruit, and it has a rich, complex sweet-tart flavor and brilliant orange color, perfect for juice.
Cinco de Mayo is a perfect occasion to indulge in avocado-inspired dishes. Avocados are plentiful at markets, along with cilantro, onions and limes. You are on your own finding hot peppers to go with your guacamole at this time of year, though. Hot peppers do not show up in farmers’ markets until summer. (Think – hot weather – hot peppers.)