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'O Tomatoes, Where Art Thou?'

When the gardening gets tough at the homestead in the back 40, it's time to swallow one's pride and hit the local farmer's markets. Recipe link included for over zealous zucchini bounty.

We're not having very good luck this summer with our garden.

Our tomatoes never really grew or took off and I lost interest very quickly when my expected results weren’t happening.

Even the zucchini isn't showing the love. Or maybe it’s me.

Perhaps it started when we realized the yellow squash was mislabeled and were really gourds. Of course we found this out at dinner one night.  What does one do with a gourd anyway besides letting it dry and making a birdhouse out of it?

I've been wanting to make Buddy the Cake Boss's Zucchini and Yellow Squash Casserole so I stopped by the farmer's market in the parking lot by the Laguna Hills mall on Friday to supplement.

It's my shame—actually having to buy zucchini this summer—and truth be told it was painful on my gardening ego but it’ll be on the dinner table tonight for a small gathering that will surely understand my gardening woes. If I can't grow my own I can at least enjoy someone else's success of the season.

Here's a link to find Certified Farmer's Markets throughout OC which are open Tuesday through Sunday in various locations.  What's a Certified Farmer's Market, you ask?  From its website it is definded as: 

"California certified farmers' markets are the real thing—places where genuine farmers sell fruits, nuts and vegetables directly to the public. Every farmer who sells at a certified market is inspected by the county agricultural commissioner to make sure he/she actually grows the commodity being sold."

Give us your gardening scoop.  What wonderful bounty have you produced this summer? What have you had particularly good luck with this season or what have been your gardening disappointments?  Let us learn through you!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Farmer Mark August 24, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Hi Marylyn, I just wanted to point out a correction to your wonderful article. The link you created for a listing of Certified Farmers' Markets in Orange County was a link to only those operated by the Orange County Farm Bureau. There are many other operators of Certified Farmers' Markets in the County, including the non-profit I manage (we run 2 CFMs in Orange County - Newport Beach on Sundays & SoCo (Costa Mesa) on Saturdays). A more comprehensive link to markets is either the website you found the definition of Certified Farmers' Markets (www.cafarmersmarkets.com) or the LA Times has a real good interactive map (http://projects.latimes.com/farmers-markets/). Thanks for your support of local Certfied Farmers' Markets!!! Regards, Mark
Marilyn Johnson August 24, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Hi Mark, Thank you so much for the added information. I really appreciate you giving us more information, links and local choices. Yep, I LOVE our local markets. Since you are involved first hand, what are your picks for the top produce right now?
Farmer Mark August 25, 2011 at 12:04 AM
Hi Marilyn, This is such a peak time for so many farm fresh goodies it is tough to choose. We are so lucky to being living in such close proximity to so many great growing climates within the State. Tomatoes, the inspiration of your article, are really hitting their peak time and therefore so are my purchases of buffalo mozzarella to accompany them! My sweet tooth can't seem to stay away from the amazing stone fruit out there right now....my current fav being the pluot! :)
Marilyn Johnson August 25, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Hi Mark, Ha! The pluot is "the " fruit of the summer isn't it? Son2 is involved in research with the UC system this summer and part of their job one afternoon was to blind taste test many pulot samples. I know. Tough work. :) He routinely brings some home so we have been fortunate to benefit. For those who are new to the pluot they are a cross between a plum and an apricot but it looks like a plum. Mark, in the farmer's markets you're involved with have you come across hand made mozzarella? Nothing better to accompany those sweet tomatoes. :)
Farmer Mark August 25, 2011 at 11:12 PM
Hi Marilyn, Lucky you with the pluot coming direct to your doorstep! I have not come across hand made mozzarella....but that sounds like a perfect artisan product for farmers' markets. Especially if someone out there could source local milk! Send them my way if you ever do. :)

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