Digging In

Stock up for the season

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I like to talk about plants, but I’m not an expert. That’s why when people ask my advice about gardening issues—whether it’s how to keep “those darn aphids” off roses or what kind of veggie starts they should purchase—I simply direct them to the following events.

Last May, when I showed up early for the annual WSU Whatcom County Master Gardener Plant Sale at Ferndale’s Hovander Homestead Park, I was a little too eager to peruse the premises, and made the mistake of entering the sale a few minutes early. Despite receiving the stink-eye from other customers eager to get first dibs on the gardening goods, I wasn’t deterred from my mission. Once we got the official go-ahead, I made a beeline for the ever-popular tomato starts. Soon enough, our wheelbarrow was full of unique and heirloom varieties of the fruit that have been proven to grow well in our climate, as well as an assortment of native geraniums and ocean spray that I purchased to fill in a small plot in my front yard.

Before purchasing the perennials, I had first ascertained that those particular plants would grow in the spot I had been thinking about for them by talking to one of the many Master Gardeners that were onsite for the fundraiser. Getting advice about the perennials, herbs, hand-grafted fruit trees, vegetable starts and other plants you’re purchasing is one of the many perks of attending the sale, and it’s a good idea to ask questions along the way—or come prepared with a few. Additionally, the event features a plant clinic and information booth, mini-workshops happening throughout the day, offerings and displays from partner nursery vendors, food and more. It’s O.K. to arrive a little early, just make sure you don’t jump the gun. When: 9am-2pm Sat., May 9 Where: Hovander Homestead Park, Ferndale More info: http://www.whatcom.wsu.edu

At the Skagit Master Gardener Foundation Plant Fair happening the same day in Mount Vernon, those shopping for seasonal offerings will find a similar setup—lots of tomatoes, veggie starts, perennials, herbs and annuals raised by Master Gardeners. Like their Whatcom County counterparts, they’ll be able and willing to respond to queries along the way. Vendors with garden art, unique plants and food will round out the event, as will the Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association’s 31st annual “GAS UP” event, which will feature classic tractors and antique farm machinery. When: 8am-2pm Sat., May 9 Where: Skagit County Fairgrounds, 479 W. Taylor St. More info: http://www.ext100.wsu.edu/skagit/mg/

The following weekend, those making purchases at the Cascade Cuts Plant Sale won’t just be purchasing familiar and unique plants to beautify their homes and stock their larders—they’ll also be actively supporting local farms. You see, the annual Sustainable Connections fundraiser supports a variety of the nonprofit’s projects that connect people to Whatcom County agriculture, including the Whatcom County Farm Tour, the Whatcom Food & Farm Finder, and beyond. So stock up on hanging baskets, veggie and herb starts, ornamentals and more, and do your part. When: 9am-4pm Sat., May 16 Where: Cascade Cuts Nursery, 632 Montgomery Rd. More info: http://www.sustainableconnections.org

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