I love a trip to the farmers market for multiple reasons, two of my top:
- It reminds me of how cool it is to grow your own food (and affordable)
- To learn what produce grows in the NW during this time of year (what else could I be growing? And how should it look when it is ready to be harvested)
One of my all time favorite farmers markets is the Port Townsend market, located on the Olympic Peninsula. Not only is it full of fruits, veggies, and flowers but also includes fresh bakery and a delicious salmon sandwich or in my husband’s case, spicy egg cheese bagel sandwich.
What I learned at my most recent visit to the farmers market:
- Grow lettuce, spinach, arugula, and other greens. It is well worth the investment to plant in your garden in early spring. Once you get these greens seeded and started, you will have an abundance and save $4 every time you harvest a bag full.
- Make an herb pot. Herbs can be really expensive when you have to buy a bunch at the grocery store, and you most likely don’t need to use the entire bunch you have to buy. I saw this great I came across this pot of herbs and it reminded me that you only need a pot of some of the key herbs you use – chives, parsley, thyme, sage, cilantro, and possibly some basil and mint.
- Grow flowers. I focus a lot on fruits and vegetables, but be sure to get some flowers started in the rest of your yard – roses, peonies, dahlias, gladiolas. Don’t get me wrong, the farmers market is definitely the place to buy a bouquet. For dahlias and gladiolas, just plop bulbs around the yard in early spring.
- Not everything you seed or start works. And the market is the perfect place to buy vegetable starts. I’m all about growing everything from seed, but sometimes the seeds just don’t sprout or make it. I finally accepted that my pepper starts were not going to make it, so we purchased pepper starts that are much further along. I also think basil can be challenging, so bought a few starts of basil. Then there are the veggies that you miss the timeline on starting from seed and if you want them, need to be them from the store already started. We love snap peas and missed the window to seed them in the ground, so picked up a few pea starters.
- The market is a great place to verify what vegetables and fruit should look like when they are ready to harvest. My carrots are quickly growing and will be ready to harvest soon. It was great to see what harvested carrots look like at the market so that I can better understand when I should pull mine out of the ground.
- Find something new to try growing. I was reminded that you can grow bok choy in the NW and would like to try cucumbers and mustard greens, all things I also like to eat.
- Discover something new. I learned about phacelia, a plant that is loved by pollinating, beneficial insects, including honeybees. As you may know, there is a honeybee shortage and without honeybees our fruit and large portion of our food system will not be pollinated and therefore not develop. Consider planting flowers like phacelia to help save the honeybees.
There are farmers markets all summer long, go check one out and share what you learn!