PICK A NUMBER In the May 28 Weekend an incorrect phone number was given for Cherry Hill Produce, a pick- your-own farm in Clinton. The correct number is 301/292-4642.
"Most fresh fruits and vegetables are highly perishable, having a short storage life," says the pamphlet put out by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
It's the truth. Consider the eight quarts of strawberries you picked last year and placed, still sun-hot, in the trunk. What was left when you got home? Half your pickings perished, right?
The pamphlet doesn't explain this phenomenon very well, and neither does it explain the matching stains all over your hands, face and steering wheel that follow a day of picking food in the fields. What it does explain is where you can go to get the fruits of your own labor.
Things to remember when setting out to pick your own fruits and vegetables: Always call ahead; find out if you need your own containers; and if your children are welcome (or at least allowed). And take along a cooler with ice to chill the produce, which starts to deteriorate the moment it's detached.
Expect to get souvenir stains all over. Mostly, call to make sure the crop is ripe: the estimated harvest dates in the pamphlets are best-guesses, and this season the fruits and vegetables are taking their own sweet time. For instance, this is the first really good weekend at most places to pick your own strawberries, whose season on paper is May 15 through June 20. There are 93 listings in Maryland's pick-your-own pamphlet and 87 in Virginia's. For Maryland's, call your county extension service. To get Virginia's pamphlet, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to VDACS, Division of Markets, Room 810, Direct Marketing Agent, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond, Virginia 23209. Other berry news: SWEET CHERRIES -- June 10 to July 10. BLACK/RED RASPBERRIES -- June 15 to July 10. SOUR CHERRIES -- June 15 to July 15. BLUEBERRIES -- June 20 to Aug. 1 BLACKBERRIES -- July 5 to August 1. PEACHES -- July 5 to Sept. 20. NECTARINES -- July 25 to August 25. BLACKBERRIES -- August 1 to September 10. VEGETABLES ASPARAGUS -- April 25 to June 15. SPINACH (spring) -- May 1 to May 30. CABBAGE -- June 1 to September 15. PEAS -- June 10 to July 1. BEANS -- June 10 to September 15. SQUASH -- June 25 to September 1. CUCUMBERS -- July 1 to September 1. POTATOES -- July 1 to September 30. BEETS -- July 4 to September 1. SWEET CORN -- July 4 to Sept. 15. TOMATOES -- July 4 to Sept. 15. BROCCOLI -- July 10 to September 1. OKRA -- July 15 to August 30. LIMA BEANS -- July 20 to September 1. EGGPLANT -- July 25 to September 10. PEPPERS -- July 25 to Sept. 15. WINTER SQUASH -- August 1 to September 30. TURNIPS -- August 15 to November 1.
MARYLAND PICKINS ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY WATTS FARM 301/858-1393, 948 St. Stephens Church Road, Gambrills. Strawberries. FREDERICK COUNTY CATOCTIN MOUNTAIN ORCHARD 301/721-2737 15307 Kelbaugh Road, Thurmont. Blackberries, black raspberries, cherries, strawberries. PRYOR'S ORCHARD -- 301/271-2693, 13841 B. Pryor Road, Thurmont. Sour cherries. TOOMEY'S ORCHARD & FARM MARKET, 301/271- 7382, Route 15, Thurmont. Cherries. HOWARD COUNTY DUNTEACHIN FARM 301/465-8310, 5410 Kerger Road, Ellicott City. Strawberries. LARRILAND FARM 854-6110 three miles south of I-70 on Route 94. Apples, blackBerries, red raspberries, peaches, strawberries, vegetables. MONTGOMERY COUNTY BUTLER'S ORCHARD 301/972-3299, 22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown. Blackberries, strawberries, snap beans, peas, pumpkins, tomatoes, turnips. DAYSPRING CHURCH FARM 301/428-0567, 11301 Neelsville Church Road, Germantown. Blackberries, strawberries, red raspberries, peas. HOMESTEAD FARM 301/977-3761 15600 Sugarland Road, Poolesville. Blackberries, red raspberries, grapes, strawberries, vegetables. INNSTEAD FARM 301/972-7247, 18020 Edwards Ferry Road, Poolesville. Blackberries, strawberries, broccoli, white corn, green peas. PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY CHERRY HILL PRODUCE 301/292-4624, 12300 Gallahan Road, Clinton. Strawberries, vegetables. E.A. PARKER & SONS 301/292-3940, 12720 Parker Lane, Clinton. Blackberries, strawberries, vegetables. VIRGINIA RAPIDAN BERRY GARDENS 703/672-2435, Rapidan. asparagus, peas, strings beans, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, onions, squash. POTOMAC VEGETABLE FARMS 403/759-2119 9627 Leesburg Pike, Vienna. spinach, onions, lettuce, peas, broccoli, beets, cabbage, tomatoes, squash. HARTLAND ORCHARD 703/364-2316. Markham, Virginia. Montmorency (pie) cherries. MANOR LANE FARM 703/347-4883, Route 2, Warrenton. strawberries, corn. RICK & VAN'S, 703/775-7890, Route 4, Fredericksburg. strawberries, squash, peas, string beans, beets, cabbage. CHANTILLY FARM MARKET 703/777-8527 Route 2, Leesburg. Strawberries, peas, squash, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, corn, tomatoes, more. COCHRAN'S FARM 703/338-7248,7002, Route 7, Purcellville. Strawberries, kale, spinach, peas, broccoli, beans, beets, squash. WHEATLAND VEGETABLE FARMS 703/882-3996, Route 1, Purcellville, strawberries, beans, peas. DANNY'S MARKET 703/778-2772 Route 2, Luray. Strawberries, all vegetables fresh-picked. DARNELL'S PRODUCE 703/672-3426. 249 Belleview Avenue, Orange. Green beans, cress, all vegetables fresh-picked. GENTLE GIANT 703/234-8827 Route 1, Box 170-E, Port Republic. Strawberries, peas, broccoli, red raspberries, blackberries. HARMONY HOLLOW ORCHARD 703/636-2009, Route 671, Front Royal. Sweet corn. HIGH HILL 471-1448 Route 1, Box 14, Round Hill. strawberries, vegetables, corn. BELVEDERE 703/371-8494 Route 17, Fredericksburg. strawberries, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, greens.