Spring is here, and with that comes warm afternoons and the hum of lawnmowers. Now is the time to stop just thumbing through gardening catalogs and gear up to plant the garden. Don’t just dream of fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. There are plenty of wonderful organizations right here in Lewis County to help you get started with planting and growing a vegetable garden.Here are some suggestions from the Washington State Extension Agency if you plan to start a garden for the first time.

  • Find the right location for your garden. If you are a first-time gardener, plant near your house or close to a path where you can monitor your garden’s progress. A balance of water and sunshine will help your garden grow.

    Victory Garden
    Cold weather crops do very well started this time of year. Remember to leave room for tomatoes and peppers that go in later this season. Photo credit: Madrona DeLong
  • Select vegetables that your family will eat. This is not the time to try out rutabagas or parsnips unless your family truly loves them. Common favorites are carrots, onions, potatoes, green beans, peas and zucchini. You can introduce your family to other favorites once they get used to that fresh, natural taste.
  • Preparing the soil is another important task for gardeners. Some prefer steer or chicken manure. Others rely on chemically made supplements. They all have their champions. Just be sure the mix is clean.
  • Be aware of steer manure that turns up wood, glass, rocks, and metal chunks. The farmer next door may swear he has used his barnyard manure all his life, but the “extras” are harmful to you and your machinery.
  • Check the growing season and ripening cycle on the back of seed packets you purchase. This will tell you when to plant and when to harvest your crop. Not all seeds should be planted at the same time, however.

    Lewis County vegetable garden
    Cosmic Crisp apples are popular in Lewis County. Photo credit: Joyce Fink
  • Be gentle when you spray your garden. You don’t want plants flattened first thing in the morning when it is still cool outside.
  • Frost, snow and other adverse weather will also affect when you can plant. Don’t be in a hurry to plant, or you may have to pay twice for it.
  • Don’t crowd seeds. They need room to stretch and grow. Make more room by weeding. The spacing guide will help you.
  • Add fertilizer as you plant. Yellowed leaves can indicate a need for fertilizer, or it can mean too much fertilizer. Consult a nursery or plant store for limits.
  • Eat or can what you plant while it is fresh. Don’t let all that work go to waste.

Help is as Near as Your Local Master Gardener

Master Gardeners
Each year, Master Gardeners sponsor a major plant sale. Photo credit: Jason Adams

Jason Adams is the Master Gardener/Recycler Composter Program Coordinator in Lewis County at the WSU Lewis County Extension. The WSU Lewis County Master Gardener Program provides research-based information on home horticulture. WSU Extension-trained volunteers are here to help with advice on growing plants, insect identification and managing disease problems.

Additionally, the volunteers staff regularly scheduled Plant & Insect Clinics at the WSU Lewis County Extension office as well as in many locations during the gardening season, helping people learn to garden more productively and offering somewhere you can bring your gardening related questions.

WSU Lewis County Extension
17 W Cascade Ave., Chehalis

Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Get What You Need at Local Nurseries and Garden Centers

There are beautiful nurseries and garden centers here in Lewis County to find all your gardening needs. Don’t let the bargains pass you by — they go incredibly fast!

Lewis County vegetable garden
Fresh off the truck, tree starts wait for purchase at Kaija’s. Photo credit: Joyce Fink

Adna Floral & Rebecca’s Garden of Whimsy
132 Bunker Creek Rd., Adna

Opens on April 15
Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Adna Floral & Rebecca’s Garden of Whimsy turns downtown Adna turns into a bright display of flowers every year around this time of year. Most of the tables and rafters are dedicated to hanging baskets and colorful blooms for Mother’s Day. Vegetable starts are also available. Hurry before they are gone.

Lewis County vegetable garden
Linda Burr, garden manager at Sunbird Shopping Center, checks over a pallet of flowers for the spring sale. Photo credit: Joyce Fink

Sunbird Shopping Center
1757 N. National Ave., Chehalis

Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

At Sunbird Shopping Center, find all kinds of lawn and garden supplies. Bonus — Get rubber boots in all sizes for the whole family!

Bennies Gardens
1870 Bishop Rd., Chehalis

Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Bennies Gardens offers baskets, vegetable starts, color bowls, ceramic pots of many sizes, and more!

Kaija’s Garden and Pet

Lewis County vegetable garden
Patty Kaija takes a break from working in her garden store. Photo credit: Joyce Fink

623 NW State Ave., Chehalis

Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 12 – 5:30 p.m.

For 75 years, the family-owned Kaija’s Garden and Pet has served Lewis County with a large variety of seeds, annuals, perennials, vegetable and herb starts, bare-root fruit trees, and shrubs. Also, find fish, pets and pet supplies, feed, pond supplies and fountains.

Pioneer West Garden & Pet Center
710 N. Tower Ave., Centralia

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed Thursday and Sunday

Since 1927, Pioneer West Garden & Pet Center has provided a wide selection of landscaping and gardening goods and products, floral arrangements, and wonderful pets and pet supplies.

Have a favorite, local place to help with the summer garden in Lewis County? Send us an email at submit@lewistalk.com to be added to this list.

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