If you do the grocery shopping for your household, you have probably noticed that food costs have gone up sharply over the last year. And according to many sources, that is not likely to end soon. There are many factors that impact the cost, but lately the ongoing drought in California is a big one. That state produces around 80% of the nations vegetables like artichokes, celery, broccoli and cauliflower. Tomatoes, Spinach, and Carrots are also big crops from California.
The drought in California is prolonged, and they are expecting major brush fires this year due to the extra dry conditions, which will only make things worse. Plus, don’t forget about the incredibly harsh winter & spring in the Midwest and East coast. This is a major disaster brewing not only for California, but for all of us that rely on fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. We are certainly hoping that the rains will come soon for California and a bountiful spring for the rest of the country.
In the meantime, whether you’re an avid gardener or a beginner, now is the time to start thinking about what vegetables and fruits you can grow that will make the biggest difference in your wallet? For most of us, the gardening season here in Washington is from April through October, which means 7 months of potential savings. Let’s start with a handy list of vegetables that do very well here in the Puget Sound region:
Peas – there are many varieties to choose from and fortunately, almost all grow like crazy here in the Puget Sound region of the Northwest. Peas like cooler temps and do very well with lots of moisture. Sugar Snap peas are a favorite and do very well here as well.
Artichokes – Believe it or not, Artichokes do very well in our climate. Look for the Imperial Star variety, which tends to do best here in Northwest growing conditions.
Broccoli – If you’re into healthy eating, here’s a vegetable that is pretty much at the top of the list. Broccoli does well in moist soil and cooler temps, so this is a good one to grow in the Spring or Fall here in the Northwest. Find the Bonanza, Raab Rapini, or Calabrese varieties.
Tomatoes – You stand to save the most money with Tomatoes, because prices at the supermarkets will definitely rise as the drought in California continues. If you select the right variety, you can have success in growing tomatoes. The ripening time is key (shorter the better), so mostly smaller sizes work best, like Cherry or Fourth of July varieties. Ask Doug (Gardening Dept Manager) at Johnsons for his suggestions.
Carrots – Considered a low maintenance type vegetable, Carrots are tasty whether you eat them raw or cooked. They are high in beta-carotene, but also of a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients.
Spinach – Another low maintenance vegetable, Spinach is definitely on the top 10 list of healthy vegetables, because it’s packed with nutrition. High in Vitamin K (bone health) and vitamin A (antioxidants and beta-carotene).
If you found this article helpful, but still have questions, come into Johnsons and ask for Doug Kelly (Gardening Dept Manager), as he has many years of experience and can help you choose the right plants and vegetables to plant in your garden.