Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Spring fever has special meaning for Yakima’s food lovers. With the first local harvests on the horizon, it’s time to celebrate the season with family and friends over good food. Whether you’re in the market for something special for spring entertaining or seeds, herbs and vegetable starts for your kitchen garden, you’ll find it here in the Valley.
The Kitchen Garden For home cooks who find joy in cooking with harvests from their own gardens, Yakima area garden centers nurseries and specialty shops, have everything Valley gardeners need. With warmer weather, local garden shops are already busy with customers ready to plant their first spring crops. “We’re seeing more people every day,” says Cindy Mahre, owner of Loo Wit Gardens in Yakima. While we find Loo Wit Gardens at a new, bright and airy location in Chalet Place at 56th and Summitview, we can expect the same dedication to offering local gardeners an extensive collection of unique plants selected specifically for hardiness in our Valley. Mahre already has some hardy culinary herbs, such as thyme, in stock and expects more herbs arriving through March and into April. Look to Loo Wit Gardens for unique herbs such as lemongrass and several varieties of thyme and basil, including Thai basil. “We also have a lot of new cookbooks coming in,” says Mahre. “We always have good kitchen garden books.”
A cult favorite,Cowiche Creek Nursery at 2401 Cowiche Mill Road in Cowiche, opened for the season on the first weekend of March. By early to mid-April, we’ll find vegetable and herb crops in stock. “Things are coming out later than usual because of the colder weather,” explains Cowiche Creek’s Jeannie Stephens. She expects potato and onion sets and cool weather vegetables soon, but recommends waiting to plant. “The ground is so cold and wet that your vegetables will just sit in the ground and they’ll rot,” she says. “Wait until the ground is a little dryer and warmer.” Kitchen gardeners can also find the first spring herbs in stock at Russell’s Nursery, along with an extensive selection of seeds and seed starting supplies. At 6710 Tieton Drive in Yakima, they also have onion and potato sets, cool weather crops such as chard, and a full array of berries, including gooseberries, currants, huckleberries, marionberries, boysenberries and blueberries. Expect more herbs and vegetable starts arriving through spring. For something special, look for a unique collection of heirloom and specialty seeds for the kitchen garden from Reene’s Garden Seeds at Garden Girl in downtown Yakima. These popular seeds, with varieties such as Cinderella pumpkins, heirloom watermelon radishes, lemon and Armenian cucumbers, and edamame, sell quickly but garden girl, Lenette Rohl, has more on the way, along with her array of heirloom tomatoes and herbs, including culinary lavender. Look to garden centers, from Lowes and Home Depot to those at Walmart, Fred Meyer, Shopko and Bi-Mart, for collections of familiar herbs, vegetable starts and seed starting supplies.
Events for The Kitchen Gardener— Mark your calendar for the Yakima Arboretum’s plant sale on Friday and Saturday, May 11 & 12. This annual event is a fantastic resource for tomatoes and other vegetable starts grown particularly to thrive in our local climate. For The Table Look to local boutiques to find fun new spring items for showcase your favorite culinary creations with family and friends. When it comes to the table, “everyone is so ready for spring’s bright colors,” says Evie Chambers of CC Ltd. at Westpark in Yakima. “Everyone really loves the linens from Le Jacquard Français to brighten the table in the spring,” she says. New this season, CC Ltd. features acrylic glassware, Chilewich placemats and runners and flameless candles for indoor-outdoor entertaining. Don’t forget to try new seasonal flavors from Tea Forte. In addition to The Shopkeeper’s lines of fine tableware and décor, this spring, find whimsical dishware and décor, as well as furnishings for outdoor entertaining. Also new, find a new line of Thomas O’Brien stemware and barware.