Our garden is in full swing and it’s really looking like we are going to pull in a great harvest this year. My May freelance article for our local community co-op newsletter focused on how and why I rely on the co-op for keeping my garden plan organized, affordable and most importantly – organic and local. The article is targeted towards shoppers in my neck of the woods, but has some excellent points to take with you the next time you shop for your garden. Enjoy!
Click here for the PDF version of the article
Click here for the the PDF version of the entire Community Co-op May Newsletter
Below is the article in its entirety for your reading enjoyment!
As I send in this article for submission spring is starting to warm our souls. The daffodils are smiling their sunny faces and the tulips are beginning to strut their rainbow of colors. The air has a warmth that extends into the early evening and begins when the sun starts to rise. The dirt in the garden is moist and cool with earthworms burrowing and the perennials are beginning to bud. All signs point to spring.
Gardening for me is a learning process. As the offspring of two master gardeners, my thumb should be greener than it is. Through my trials and stumbles I am nearing my goal of becoming a mediocre gardener. I rely on my journal and blog to remind me of lessons learned. As a busy mother of two young children I try to keep my errands to a minimum, but strive to remain vigilant about supporting local. The Co-op has become one of my first stops, and sometimes my only stop, when it comes to preparing, planting and enjoying the edible garden.
Supporting Local: Starts & Seeds
I used to spend the dreary winter months fawning over seed catalogs. I would spend an embarrassing amount of money and end up with inevitable failure. The seed varieties were either not suited for our climate, didn’t grow, failed to last more than one season or any combination thereof. And, the more I contemplated my annual seed purchase, the more I wondered why the heck I needed 85 zucchini plants, 392 cucumber vines and 200 mammoth pumpkins. About 85% of my garden now comes from plant starts – local, organic varieties that are adapted for the Pacific Northwest and from local companies.
My favorite is Sunseed Organic for their stunning and hardy healthy starts that stand tall on the racks outside the Co-op’s front doors. I can get the four broccoli plants, the three tomatoes and most of my other annual herbs and vegetables. Starts also give you the ability to try a wonderful assortment of different varieties without being pigeon-holed to grow a dozen or more of the exact same option.
Some vegetables and flowers will always grow from seed for me. I know that we will make a serious dent in how much the lettuce packet yields and the investment is worth it. Sunflowers are another family favorite and we have found that the sproutings are a sweet reminder when they begin peaking through the ground. Uprising Seeds is a great organic company in Bellingham that stocks the garden center at the Co-op and specializes in tried and true varieties for our neck of the woods.
One of my favorite products that the Co-op carries is the Down to Earth line of natural fertilizers. We tend to favor landscaping with edible vegetation – blueberries, raspberries, apple, peach and pear trees. With these fertilizers I can ensure that the garden is getting the amendments that it needs to grow healthy, happy plants. I don’t have to worry about exposing my preschooler to toxic chemicals when she is involved in the application and the plants thank me by providing an abundant supply of fresh food.
Getting our children out into the garden is one of my favorite spring activities. It is a seamless learning opportunity that introduces the symbiosis of life. I love that the Co-op offers kid-sized gardening tools, a line of professional quality gardening gloves and a sweet starter set of hand tools inside a watering can. All this makes it possible for your youngster to join you and help effectively in the garden.
Another favorite activity to join in with kids is seed starting. My daughter seems to have a fascination with seeds, but tends to overlook starts or greenery that are ready to plant. I think it has something to do with the visibility of watching that single seed open and blossom into a living plant. My choice for any seed starting is ready-to-plant pots composed of biodegradable materials. The Co-op offers a range of seed starting kits that are perfect for everyone from the windowsill gardener to the ambitious self-sufficient homesteader.
In addition to my blog and gardening journal, I lean heavily on a myriad of organizational tools to keep my head on straight. I love the wooden – read biodegradable, compostable and reusable – garden markers that the Co-op sells. They are an ingenious alternative to traditional plastic garden markers and keep your vegetable rows straight and tidy with crop varieties and planting dates.
I rely on the Co-op for most of our food. I count on the local produce grown in Whatcom County, the organic and natural options for pantry staples and the bulk section for deep discounts. The garden center’s offerings make it possible to roll my spring planting errand right into the grocery run. I am still able to enjoy and support the benefits of buying local and organic. The garden is ready to go on a budget and I know that I am guaranteed a certain level of success by buying plants and seeds that do well in the Pacific Northwest.
Happy Spring! Get out and garden.