Spring is almost here – even though there still is a chill in the air! As you dream about what you might want to plant in your garden this year consider some of these tips to ensure you set yourself up for success!
Right spot – The keys to a successful vegetable plot are threefold – Sun (and more sun), water, and soil. Make sure that the location where you are planting your crops gets 6-8 hours of sunlight. While Seattle gardens don’t need much watering in April, May and June – they do need a lot in July and August – so be sure to consider a spot that has nearby supplemental water supply, be it a water catchment barrel for hand watering or a spigot that allows for a timed irrigation system or soaker hoses. Prepare your soil with compost and balanced fertilizer to ensure good nutrients for the plants. Without these three elements your edible garden will not thrive.
Right time – Our last frost date in Seattle is March 15th. Determine if you plan to grow “cool season” or “warm season” crops and then plant accordingly. Early spring plantings that don’t mind the cool nights are peas, lettuce, spinach, and anything from the brassica family (kale, cabbage, broccoli). These types of crops can go in over the next few weeks.
Fruiting crops that need warm soil temperatures and evenings above 50 degrees like tomatoes, squash, and peppers are not going to be ready for the PNW until mid-May at the earliest. Planting the wrong plant and the wrong time will lead to disappointment.
Right form – Choose the right “form” for your plantings. Root crops should always be sown from seeds. Don’t get swayed by containers of beets or carrots you see in the store – buy a packet of seeds instead! Root crops don’t want to be disturbed! When purchasing seeds consider varietals that have been developed for our climate. Local seed purveyors are always prefered over seeds from other parts of the country.
Utilize plant starts or transplants for vegetables that have a longer growing season. Nursery starts are ready to go and weeks ahead of anything you start from seed. Look for plants that are strong and vigorous and avoid weaker “leggier” plants with long stems and smaller leaves which is a sign that they did not have enough supplemental light. Check to be sure that the plant is not too big for its container. If not given enough room plants can become “root bound” and may be stunted.
Early spring is also a great time to purchase fruit shrubs and trees. “Bare root” berries, plums, and other varietials can be put out in the ground now and are much cheaper to purchase then they will be later in the season.
Right community – Don’t miss out on a great event on Saturday, March 18th, at the Tilth Edible Plant Sale! While not as big as the event that happens in our own back yard in May, the March Edible Plant Sale, allows you can to stock up on spring plant starts. Tilth’s garden educators have chosen varieties that grow well in our climate, and they have a wide selection of organically, sustainably and locally grown edible plant starts ready to go in your garden now. Utilize this great resource!
No matter which veggies you decide to plant, Spring is an ideal time because nature takes care of the watering for you! Soon the sun will be shining (let’s hope) and the temperatures will be warm enough to start supporting our gardens.
Get it RIGHT and get yourself Good to Grow this year!