Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ready, Set, GROW!

The vegetable gardening season is heaped upon us and nary a word from this blogger! Lo siento, my apologies, my computer was stolen and it threw me for a loop.

But I'm back, and full of scheming.

Right now, you could be planting peas, lettuce, spinach, Asian greens and mustard, if you haven't already. My housemate got some peas, lettuce and spinach in the ground a couple weeks ago, and though the peas were dug up by something, the lettuce and spinach--despite the brief snows and cold spells we've had in the last couple weeks--are sprouting. It is not too late to get these crops in the ground.

Other things you can do right now: Weed (as mentioned in the last post) before your weeds get big and/or go to seed.

If you've had Kale over-wintering, eat it right after a frost and it will be sweeet. This is, I found out, because the plant creates sugars in its cells to keep its leaves from freezing when the temperature drops.

If you've been growing a cover crop over the winter, you will want to chop some of it up with a hoe (or you can use snips for a real thorough job) and till it under so that it a portion of your bed will be ready to plant in a couple weeks. You want the "green manure" to have already begun to decompose by the time you plant. In a couple weeks, turn it again, rake it level, fertilize lightly, and plant!

Don't chop up ALL the cover crop unless you plan on planting the whole bed at once (which is a bad idea--you want to stagger your plantings to get an ongoing yield). Prepare the bed bit by bit a couple weeks ahead of your planting schedule.

Remember: I am no expert. Mostly, I am re-hashing information from reading and talking to "experts", and interpreting it all with a dash of common sense. I have grown vegetables for two years in this climate, which means I have a bit of experience, that's all.

Helpful regional books include Steve Solomon's "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" and Seattle Tilth's "The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide". Other good general gardening resources that I've been using are the friendly folks at City People's, my dad and brother, my peers, the regular columnists for the Seattle P.I., and random web sites found when googling specific topics.

Get out there and good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I will do my best to concoct an answer. If you post a comment, you may even get a more experienced gardener to weigh in on the subject.

p.s. I am preparing an article on building your own raised bed. Coming Soon!

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