Wondering when it’s safe to begin preparing your garden for this spring? Unsure of what vegetables are best suited for the rainy lush climate of Washington? Not sure if those peas are hardy enough to hold up against an unexpected frost? Stop! Put down the Farmer’s Almanac! In this blog entry I will cover the basics of getting your garden thriving for the Spring of 2015.
As a newbie to the Pacific Northwest I was warned of the rainy grey months of winter that would require a supply of Vitamin D to last me until the summer months. I was unaware of how this fickle weather could also affect the planning of a garden. While beginning a gardening plan it is always important to watch the weather, some of your plant dates may get pushed back or even up according to how late spring arrives in Washington. Being not only a newbie to Washington, but also to gardening I have composed the most basic of gardening plans that even a newbie like myself will be able to abide by.
The first vegetable I would suggest for your Spring 2015 garden plan would be peas. Peas are a cool-weather crop that can withstand a frost. Peas should be planted in mid March, or as soon as the soil can be worked in rows 18-24 inches apart. Snow and snap peas will require a trellis, so make sure you are reading the seed packages carefully for the climbing varieties.
Next on the garden plan would be the beet. Beets can be planted in late March, early April and grow fairly well in any soil. These gems can tolerate a light frost and like cool temperatures, making them perfect to be grown in the spring, or even fall. Another thing to keep in mind would be that beets should be well watered, especially during root development. Plant these seedlings in rows 12-16 inches apart. Carrots are another vegetable that can be planted around late March. Carrot seeds should be planted close to the surface of soil, and should have at least 3 inches separating the seeds to prevent crowding.
Another hardy, cool-season crop that can be planted as early as the soil can be worked is lettuce. Seeds should be planted about ¼ inch deep, tamped down, and then watered. Lettuce can be planted in mid- April, along with my personal favorite broccoli. Early planting of broccoli is essential because it lacks tolerance to heat. Broccoli can also be planted in the fall for an early spring crop. Set these seedlings in rows 18-36 inches apart.
As far as herbs go for your spring garden, cilantro is a great place to start. Since cilantro is not a fan of hot weather, and prefers cool sunny weather, the best time to begin planting would be mid to late April. The seeds should be covered with about ¼ inch layer of soil. Cilantro flower buds should be snipped off the main stem for best growing results. Another great spring herb would be chives. Chives can be planted in mid April, and are best grown in clumps 12 inches apart. Chives also produce an unexpected gorgeous pink flower in May or June, but be watchful because this herb can easily take over your garden after the flowers bloom if not removed.
So there you have it! A beginner’s guide to getting the most out of your garden come this spring. Our Outdoor Education participants will get to see these seeds growing in action later on this spring! When getting your garden going, remember to read seed packages carefully, and always keep an eye out for unexpected frosts. Spring is just around the corner, so hold in there for these last few remaining months!