Harvest benefits of farmers markets

May 25, 2011 03:45 pm
Our Wallowa County readers and gardeners will be excited about this coming weekend of activity in Joseph. It’s time for the Spring Planting Festival, which will occur during the farmers market. The festival will highlight not just local produce and growers but will include both cooking and gardening demonstrations and instructions.

The farmers market will run each Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in downtown Joseph on Main Street between City Hall and the Baptist church. It will be a good time for out-of-area visitors to stop by and see what is happening at the market. If you haven’t made plans for this weekend, a good suggestion would be a trip to Joseph to enjoy the festival.

Enterprise will also host a weekly farmers market each Thursday on the courthouse lawn. Hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. Wallowa County now has a full-time market manager, which will add not just a better quality farmers market experience for vendors, but for shoppers as well.

The La Grande Farmers Market kicked off this past weekend. It is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Max Square. The market adds a Tuesday evening session starting June 7.

I have begun my yearly spring venturing out to visit local nurseries and retail outlets that sell plants. Of course, my first visit of the spring to Stargazer Perennials was exciting and inspiring. Their fine selection of quality plants are especially suited to our area, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, the shopping areas, both inside and outside the store, are clean, tidy and well-arranged. For those of you looking for quality gloves to wear while gardening, there is a huge selection of styles and colors to choose from. The owners of Stargazer Perennials are also adding more locally produced items to their store all the time. It is definitely worth the time it takes to drive there. Once you pass through Summerville, continue travelling north. The greenhouses and storefront are easy to locate and parking space is generous.

For those who have been asking about the flowers in front of Mountain Valley Therapy on Cove Avenue here in La Grande, they are creeping phlox and hardy perennials in our area. It will take newly planted phlox, in 4-inch pots, about three growing seasons to get that large, but the display is beautiful and worth the wait. Phlox will also cascade over rock walls or wood terracing if given the chance.

Don’t forget to keep a piece of plastic in the back of your car for the expected, or unexpected, trips you will be making to buy plants. After using it to protect the inside of your vehicle from dirt or moisture from your plant purchases, it is quick to clean and store and so much easier than vacuuming.

Gardening is easier now than ever before. Many years ago, to find the quality growing supplies and plant stock that was affordable and suited to a particular area, you needed to either travel great distances or purchase through mail-order only. Now starter pots in all sizes are available at almost all outlets that sell plants. The back of seed envelopes contains specific growing instructions and not just general terms. Books abound with advice and practical suggestions. Don’t be shy about asking for ideas and assistance when browsing local nurseries. But most of all, have fun and try something new!

Until next time, have fun playing in the dirt. Summer will hopefully be here soon!

Jennie Lu Hagen is a La Grande gardener.