Cast and Crew

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's Growing in Your Garden?

About mid-March in the Pacific Northwest, trees start budding, cherry blossoms snow in a light wind, bulbs emerge and bloom, and the first tender spring crops can be sown in the soil (especially if you garden in raised beds like we do). I like the concept of gardening year round, but my follow-through is usually a bit weak. I did, however, neglect to pull all the onions last year, so we'll have some nice, big onion bulbs at the end of the summer. We've also used our cold frame to nurse along some hardy herbs and grasses, and it is now planted with the first few seedlings for salads and stir-fry dinners. (I'd tell you what I planted in that bed, but I didn't mark anything. I'm hoping it'll all be a great surprise!) If we replace the window in the mud room this year, I can build a second cold frame. Here's to hoping!
If you were closer, you could see the first leaves of beets, mesclun, lettuce, and who-knows-what-else in that cold frame. It's probably one of the best and easiest projects we've undertaken so far. I'm really hoping to get a lot of use out of that thing.

It's also a good time to head out and pick up berry plants. This is the time to transplant all of them, since the likelihood of a hard frost is behind us. Aimee and I picked out some strawberries and blueberries this morning, and I transplanted them this afternoon (in the rain and wind, because I'm hard core).
There are five blueberry bushes in this bed, three varieties. Raised beds give you a number of benefits. They warm up quickly in the spring, they provide great drainage, no intense digging is required at the start of each planting year, and you can space plants closer together since the roots don't get stepped on. Blueberries need to be as much as five feet apart in standard planting rows or hedges. Here, each plant has about 18 to 24 inches between it and its neighbors.
Strawberries love the weather we get. They come in two main types; ever-bearing and June-bearing. We bought four of each. Ever-bearing strawberries produce a slower crop of berries from June until the first frosts. June-bearing.... well, you can guess. The advantage of getting your whole crop over a three week span is for freezing and making batches of jam. Or, if you're like us, you'll eat berries from sunrise to sunset through the whole summer and then pine for them for the rest of the year.
We're trying a new method for growing potatoes this year. I read somewhere that you can grow taters in a burlap sack. Start by filling the sack one quarter full with compost. Plant one or two tubers in each sack (we went with two), then roll the sack down (like the ones pictured here). As the plants grow, roll up the edges of the burlap and fill in more compost. At the end of the growing season, tip the bags over and have a harvest party. We're growing red, blue, and fingerling potatoes. I'll let you know how this method works out in a few months.

The garden shed is also currently home to a large group of seedlings. We've started brussels sprouts, cabbages, lettuce, mesclun, endive, bok choi, borage, and oregano, and the rest of the seeds are jumping at the pots as the days warm up. I can't wait to get more going.


  1. Awesome! Your raised beds look beautiful!

  2. Looks good! All we have in our gardens is mud and lingering snow. *Sigh*

  3. Ho cool...I'm going to try planting my potatoes in sacks...thanks for the idea!


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