First Farm Market in Spring

Early spring has arrived in the Sonoma Valley and Northern California.

The first taste of spring wherever you live is asparagus. When the first shoots of asparagus appear, you can be assured the ground has thawed and the temperatures are going up, even if every so slightly.

This is the third week that asparagus has been at the farm market in Sonoma and San Francisco.

The beginning of spring comes in two days on March 21, the day of the vernal equinox. On this day, the sun rises directly in the east and set directly in the west. The time from sunrise to sunset is exactly 12 hours.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the green buds on the trees will open soon, and the first robins and songbirds are on their way.

Still, March can be both wintery and springlike: cold and blustery one day, mild and sunny the next. Here in Northern California, the temperatures reached 80°F this past Saturday. Tomorrow the high in the Sonoma Valley is expected to hit the mid-60°s.

Here is a list of the crops that you will find at the farm markets in San Francisco and Sonoma and many other farm markets around the country this week:

First of season: Asparagus, chives, green garlic, peas, radish, salad mix, strawberries.

Peak of season: Avocadoes, beets, blood oranges, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, celery root, chard, Chinese cabbage, dates, dried fruit, garlic, grapefruit, hydroponic tomatoes, kale, leaf lettuce, leeks, lemons, limes, mushrooms, navel oranges, mushrooms, pomelos, potatoes, onions, raisins, salad mix, spinach, turnips, yams, fresh herbs including dill, parsley, rosemary, oregano, Russian tarragon, and culinary bay leaves.

End of season: Apples, cilantro, collards, dried peppers, kiwi, sorrel, sweet potatoes, winter squash, sunchokes, winter squash (delicate, butternut, Kabocha, acorn), sweet potatoes.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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