A sure sign that summer is officially over | NevadaAppeal.com

A sure sign that summer is officially over

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Marcia Litsinger, left, helps a customer at the Lyon County Certified Organic Farmers Harvest & Fun-Day in Silver Springs on Sunday. The farms that participated said good-bye to their summer harvest with this last farmers market.

With the temperature dropping and the leaves turning, most people put the gardening tools in the shed and unpack their holiday decorations.

But not Ray and Virginia Johnson.

The owners of Custom Gardens Farm in Silver Springs said good-bye to their summer crop Sunday with their last farmers market of the year.

“It looks like we are going to get frosted on Tuesday or Wednesday we think, so today will probably be the last hurrah for this year,” Ray said.

To conclude the summer season, the garden hosted the Lyon County Certified Organic Farmers Harvest & Fun-Day on Sunday. Churchill Butte Organics of Stagecoach; Home Grown Nevada of Wellington; and Slusser Farms of the Fernley and Fallon areas also participated in the event.

While their inventory of strawberries, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes dwindled, the pair said their winter crop was already coming along nicely.

“This is probably the end for the summer stuff, but we go all winter. It’s not harder to grow during the winter months; in fact, some plants thrive because they don’t have to deal with the heat, the weeds and the wind,” Virginia Johnson said.

The crops are protected from the frosty temperatures with hoop houses or cloth. The Johnsons will continue to grow beets, kohlrabi, spinach, lettuce, salad greens, snow peas and the banner crop for the season, Oriental white turnips.

The farm still takes telephone orders through the winter, and works with chefs to anticipate and fill requests for off-season produce.

During the winter, smaller farms will also begin planning and preparing the soil for next year, including acquiring organic seeds and readying the soil.

“There’s a real working relationship with other organic farmers that you don’t see with other businesses,” said Steve Litsinger, co-owner of Churchill Butte Organics.

Custom Gardens is also a Community Supported Agriculture farm, meaning that they offer a subscription program for their vegetables.

For 12 weeks beginning sometime in June, subscribers receive a box of a variety of organic fruits and vegetables from Custom Gardens. Subscribers can sign up now and establish a payment plan. Those subscribing in the spring are required to pay in full.

“It’s enough food to supplement the diets of two adults and two children,” Virginia said. “We wait until we can do a variety of things, but our customers get some of everything we grow.”

Customers come to the farm once a week to pick up the produce.

“We have customers from Carson and as far away as Incline Village to get groups together and take turns coming to see us so it saves the gas,” Virginia said.

But at Custom Gardens, there is no slow season.

“People ask us if this is a living or a lifestyle, and it’s a little of both. We kind of get a break in the winter, but not much,” Virginia said.

Support organics

Custom Gardens is now accepting applications for the 2007 Community Supported Agriculture Program. For more information, go to http://customgardens.home.mindspring.com.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.