With sunnier days and rising temperatures, many of us are eager to get our hands in the dirt in our home gardens. In addition to offering an abundance of local food, farmers tailgate markets are also a great place to get plant starts and pick up gardening tips. As markets open for spring and more vendors return, there are lots of options!
For early season starts, like lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, collards, mustard greens, and herbs, check out B&L Organic and Full Sun Farm, both at North Asheville Tailgate Market, opening this Saturday on the UNCA campus. B&L will also be at West Asheville Tailgate Market for its opening on Tuesday. Full Sun offers a full range of seedlings through its online store, with only a limited selection brought to market. To reserve what you want, order in advance online for pick up at the market. Finally Farm, which will be at Asheville City Market’s opening day Saturday on N. Market St., also offers a wide array of organic herb starts.
These frost-tolerant vegetables can be planted outdoors in your garden now, though you may want to cover leafy lettuces if a hard frost is predicted. Expect warmer-weather vegetable starts, like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, in late April and early May. The traditional transplant date for these crops is after Mother’s Day, which is May 8.
Interested in planting something with a little more staying power than annual vegetables? Consider fruit trees or perennial plants like strawberries. High Country Nursery and Bear Necessities Farm have several varieties of blueberries, and Bear Necessities also offers honeyberry, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberry plants. Check with your farmer, as some berry varieties are self-pollinating, but others need to be planted in pairs. High Country Nursery will be at East Asheville Tailgate Market for today’s opening day, as well as Asheville City Market on Saturday. Bear Necessities will be at both Asheville City Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market.
Another option? Mushrooms! Black Trumpet Farm and Asheville Fungi offer grow kits for fruiting your own mushrooms. Choose from varieties like lion’s mane, oyster, shiitake, and reishi. Grow kits typically include an inoculated substrate made from sawdust, paper, or wood chips. Keep your kit in a warm, humid location and mist daily. Depending on the variety, you may have mushrooms in just a few days! Black Trumpet Farm is at North Asheville and River Arts District markets. Asheville Fungi is at Asheville City and West Asheville markets.
At farmers markets now you’ll also find carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, winter greens like, kale, spinach, bok choy, broccoli rabe, and cabbage, as well as tender lettuce and baby greens. Markets are also stocked with a variety of meats, cheese, rice, pasta, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s onlineLocal Food Guide.