Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer (Sort of) in Seattle - By Sue Shecket, webmaster and NW Trial Gardener

We “mossbacks” in the Pacific Northwest are resigned to the fact that actual summer doesn’t really begin here until after July 4th.  but this year was particularly brutal - officially one of the top-five coldest springs the region has seen in the last century, and the most precipitation seen in 117 years of record keeping. We were starting to think we’d never again be able to put away our fleece jackets. And those “consistently above 50 degree nighttime temps”?  Not until mid-June!  So gardeners needed fortitude and to get out there and get planting, and as in many other parts of the country, that also meant a good amount of re-seeding for those who were overly optimistic back in April.
Sunshine at last, and things are taking off
Once again my habit of procrastination worked in my favor, and it was late May before I got my cool season veggies in the ground. The tomatoes and eggplant weren't set out until until mid-June, along with the warm weather seeds of squash, cukes and beans. I do cover all new plantings with row covers, making my garden look like a laundry, but thwarting the birds, slugs and roaming neighborhood cats. One lesson that has really come home this year is the importance of supplementing my otherwise good soil with organic fertilizer. Despite last fall's addition of several inches of our excellent Zoo Doo (courtesy of the the happy herbivores at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo), with all that rain the plants were looking pretty bedraggled until I gave them a good meal  (Dr. Earth Organic), and things are looking downright respectable at last.
Musica Beans, Cukes and Asian Eggplant
The fast growing Mesclun lettuces have been providing us with excellent salads for several weeks, as is my husband Bill's favorite "Asian Baby Leaf" mix, so I have made several additional sowings to assure a good supply.  Baby Pak Choi did especially well and makes a wonderful stir fry along with my Sugar Snap Peas.  I have just seeded in our Gourmet Greens Braising Mix (new for 2012- coming soon), a mix of green and red leaf beets with silver and gold leaf chards, which you can cook or eat as baby salad.
"Jewel-toned" Beets, "Circus Circus" Carrots,
Pak Choi (almost all harvested now)
 and a new sowing of  Gourmet Greens Braising Mix
My main beds are 4' by 8', and I prefer to plant in blocks rather than rows, so I broadcast my seed and then thin the seedlings to appropriate spacing - a painful but critical task that really pays off with healthy and vigorous plants.

We have been sharing this "Garden Babies" lettuce,
"Farmer's Market" MesclunArugula (interplanted with Kohlrabi)
and "Lacinato" Kale with the neighbors.
I do start my warm weather loving  veggies and flowers indoors, and this year I included "Stained Glass" Salpiglossis, one of my favorites, planted out in pots and displayed closeup on my deck.  Again, regular feeding has been critical to getting these beauties bursting with blooms.
"Stained Glass" Salpiglossis lives up to it's namesake
Now if only that bit of glorious summer would truly stick around...because it's raining out there...again...

note: you can click on the photos to enlarge for a closer look.


Cynthia Nicole said...

Regular feeding...
what and how often?

Renee Shepherd said...

In addition to applying Dr. Earth in granular form once a month throughout the growing season in the flower and vegetable beds, I also give my containers a boost every other week with a liquid feeding. Renee's home mix of 1 tablespoon each of liquid fish emulsion and liquid kelp per gallon of water is inexpensive and very effective.

Raymond and Busby said...

Great post Sue! Your garden looks wonderful. We had a late start here in Capitola too. Things are finally starting to take off in our garden.

Ricardo said...

We're also suffering from the unusual cold this year. Our Musica beans are tall but hardly any fruit has set 2 months after sowing - a first, usually there are way too many. Here on the lowlands of the SF peninsula night temps have held consistently under 55 - I hope it's that & not something more obscure that accounts for the blossom drop.

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