For nearly 20 years I worked for a prominent celebrity chef, during which time I was given the nickname The Big Sheaux. One of the building blocks of the success of that restaurant empire was the consistent education that all members of the staff were provided. We were expected to share that information with everyone that came to dine with us. Education is a type of marketing. The more your clientele is aware of, the better decisions they can/will make. Education also opens people up to a broader variety of options. I express these things with you now so that you will understand where I’m going with my next statements.
There is a misconception that this time of year (summer) is ideal for growing almost anything in Southern Louisiana. This notion is far from true. During the months of July, August, and the beginning of September it is much too hot here in Zone 9 to produce many of our favorite foods. I can remember trying to explain this to some friends in North Carolina a few years ago while we were living there. At the time I was amazed at all of the tomatoes I was still growing in the middle of August. During the daytime, the temperatures in the Raleigh/Durham area often mirror the temperatures here in the New Orleans area. On the other hand, at night in North Carolina temperatures will fall to the low 70's and even the high 60's, even in August.
In the New Orleans area, which is in Zone 9, our evening temperatures may not drop below 80° many nights. This difference in temperature has a huge impact impact on soil temperatures and production. Going back to our tomato example, most of the time tomato blossoms will not set fruit in temperatures above 73°. Now think about it. When is the temperature at or below 73° at night here in Zone 9?
Similarly, many of the fruit and vegetables we like to get when the weather is warm begin to time out once the soil temperature becomes too hot. For those vegetables or fruit that will continue to produce, the blistering sun often renders the fruit undesirable. That's why even though several types of cucumbers will still produce, the temperature on the ground is so hot that it blisters the fruit and sometimes partially cooks them. This is why in the middle of the summer cucumbers tend to get mushy here. This is also why there aren’t any local greens and lettuces available this time of year.
For some you this may be a bit surprising. Just know that Sheaux Fresh continues to work to bring you the best local produce available. When the weather is too hot to produce it locally, we will bring in a few regional products that will help support our variety without drastically expanding our carbon footprint.
- Thaddaeus (Big Sheaux) Prosper