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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Be productive with your produce

The first signs of spring are finally starting to show, which, for Bellingham gardeners, means it’s almost time to get back to work.

Seeds sown in the coming weeks, if maintained, will yield produce in months to come.

Many renters and students live in apartment complexes or dorms without yards big enough for personal gardens. Lack of yard space can be a limiting factor for what they might like to grow, but Becky Koplowitz, assistant manager of Hohl Feed & Seed, said lots of college kids come into the store

“I think it’s something that’s a huge deal, to be able to do pots of lettuce, containers of tomatoes or small window boxes of herbs,” Koplowitz said.

Koplowitz said she likes to plant vegetables and flowers together to create an edible landscape, which can help save space as well.

For those with yards, things can be done early in the season to maximize your garden’s potential harvest, according to Jill Brubaker, produce clerk at Bellingham Community Food Co-op.

“Go for it. It’s a lot of fun. It feeds your soul as well as your tummy.”

Jill Brubaker, produce clerk at Bellingham Community Food Co-op

“If you’re digging up your beds, you can do it a little earlier, but you want to be careful not to till when the soil’s too wet,” Brubaker said. “You want to have a stretch of several dry days so the soil has a chance to dry out so it’s nice and crumbly and fluffy.”

Brubaker, in addition to working at the Co-op, has gardened organically at home for over 28 years.

“Go for it. It’s a lot of fun. It feeds your soul as well as your tummy,” Brubaker said. “It gives me a great sense of peace. I love watching things sprout up and grow.”

She recommends doing a soil test by using soil test kits. These can be bought at any garden or seed store, to know what composition you’re dealing with and what might need to be added.

Most Bellingham soil is slightly acidic, which benefits blueberries, raspberries, rhododendrons and potatoes, Brubaker said.

For those who don’t have the time or space to try their hand at growing produce, the Co-op features fruits and vegetables from local organic farms including sprouts, mushrooms, microgreens and artichokes. The Co-op will increase the selection as the spring progresses.

While the weather heats up, the budding anticipation of the summer’s first fruits are enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

Sophomore Vikram Reddy is looking forward to this summer because of the Rainier cherries he can’t get anywhere else. He usually buys them at the supermarket because it’s convenient and time-effective, but hasn’t fully closed the door on trying his hand at gardening.

“It’s always something I’d be willing to try. To get something fresh that you grow yourself is always a good thing,” Reddy said.

A local plant sale held annually by the Birchwood Garden Club will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Bellingham Central Library and is open to the public.


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