Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spring Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest: A Step by Step Guide

It's been an unusually long, dreary winter. Climate scientists (like my beloved gravelly-voiced weather siren Cliff Mass) say that spring weather generally starts to roll in around the third week of February. Conventional wisdom says that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, this year it waddled in like a platypus and came out screeching like a wet cat.

Thankfully, after an incredibly long wait, it finally feels like spring. The dandelions, tansy ragwort, and scotch broom are blooming happily. It's time for spring veggie gardening!

I'm always looking for local planting guides that tell me exactly what to plant and when in my local climate. So I've decided to create my own, and share it for your gardening convenience. Here we go!

Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, Step-by-Step:

March:
  1. Weed beds and work in fresh compost. Your vegetable beds and pathways have started growing all manner of invasive whatnots while you hid in the nice dry house all winter, no matter how diligently you mulched them. 
  2. Realize you got over-excited on the first nice day, and you have to wait three weeks until you can actually plant anything. 
April:
  1. Weed. Since you made such nice, healthy, empty beds, a whole new crop of blackberries has moved in. Good job. 
  2. Go to the store and buy fresh vegetables.
May:
  1. Purchase the most rot, damp, and mildew-resistant varieties of seeds you can find. 
    • If your selection is green and leafy, start looking up spinach and zucchini recipes right now. You're going to need a lot of them.
    • If your selection has any kind of colorful fruit on it, pick a god and start praying. You may also want to make a sacrifice at the altar of Amazon (or preferably your friendly local garden store) and order a whole lot of mini-greenhouse and irrigation supplies. 
  2. Weed again. In the hour it took you to get to the garden store and back, every weed you struck down earlier has sprung back, Jedi-like, more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Clearly, weeds are just flowers that have turned to the dark side of the Force.
  3. Plant! Feel satisfied.
  4. Realize that you planted seeds, not starts, and so your freshly planted bed still looks an empty box full of dirt. Feel unsatisfied.
June:
  1.  Spend every waking moment trying to tamp down the weeds without accidentally yanking out your young plants. 
  2. Engage in a battle of the wits with your local slug and vole populations. Lose.
  3. Let the dog into the vegetable garden to deter the slugs and voles. Immediately regret this decision. Evict the dog and fill in the terrier-dug holes.
  4. Wonder why it isn't summer yet.
July-September:
  1. Enjoy! Your garden is going to give you incredibly bounty and beauty. Bask in the warm-but-not-too-hot sun, feast on fresh organic veggies and eggs from right outside your door, and soak up the unparalleled lushness and beauty of this part of the world. Remember that you wouldn't trade living here for anything! 
  2. Weed. 
So as you can see, we have a lot to look forward to this season!

Front left: strawberries. Back left: garlic and onions. Front right: peas, empty space for tomatoes. Back right: lettuce, carrots.
Far small boxes: fennel, mint. Back border: lavender.

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