Time to start planning your gardens, folks!

    Ah, spring is here, at long last. After what seemed like six months of "35 and drizzly," the sun has arrived, the danger of frost has passed, and our gardens await.
   Which, here at the BBJ, means one thing — it’s Victory Gardens time again.
   If you’ve read this column anytime in the past year, you probably know my upcoming spiel. If you haven’t heard it, great!
   Last year, the BBJ, in conjunction with our partners at the Bellingham Food Bank, started a program called Victory Gardens Against Hunger. What we ask is that local vegetable and fruit gardeners plant a little extra each year, and donate that overage to the food bank. If you don’t normally plant veggies, then do — even one tomato plant or pole-bean vine can make a huge difference. Bellingham is a city full of gardeners, and the more we can reach and convince to do just a little extra to help out this area’s needy, the better.
   The goal last year was 10,000 pounds of fresh produce. It was a number I picked out of thin air, and to be honest, I never thought we’d get there, but we needed a goal and a starting point. By August, we were only at around 2,000 pounds, and I was worried. Why weren’t we getting through? Why weren’t people helping out like I thought they would?
   Well, I needed to learn that patience is indeed a virtue, and that you just can’t make a bean, or tomato, or zucchini, or pea grow faster. By the end of November, as frost finally settled in, we topped out at more than 20,000 pounds, double our goal.
   At Casa Thompson, in preparation for last year’s growing season, we quadrupled the size of our vegetable beds and got serious about crop planning. My daughter, Maren, was anointed Chief Aphid Control Technician, given a bottle of soapy spray, and told to patrol and protect the broccoli. She took her duties very seriously (especially since the whole Victory Gardens concept was initially her idea anyway), and at the end of the season, we brought in more than 100 pounds of fresh produce to the food bank. We aim to beat that this year.
   More good news came in the offseason, as the program was given an award of excellence from the Western Washington regional food bank, along with a hefty check for $5,000, funds which the Bellingham Food Bank will undoubtedly be able to put to good use.
   So here’s what I need from you this summer: Grow a vegetable, even just one tomato on your back deck, if that’s all the space you have.
   Secondly, tell everyone you know who gardens about this program. We’ve got a new goal this year — 25,000 pounds — and we need the program to grow to reach it.
   You can help make a difference!

John Thompson is publisher and editor of The Bellingham Business Journal. He can be reached by calling 647-8805, or via e-mail at bbjedit@businessjournal.org.

Related Stories