When I say “gardening,” I’m not talking about tilling up the acre behind the ol’ homestead. Your garden may be a large plot or some containers on your apartment patio or a small herb pot on your kitchen counter. My garden is a couple of average-sized raised garden beds behind our home on a normal city lot.
For several years now, it has provided my family of four with cheap produce and free entertainment. We grow a summer garden of tomatoes, herbs, garlic, onions, rhubarb, lettuce, beans, and cucumbers.
My husband and I love the whole process. We still get a kick out of dropping a tiny seed in the ground and watching it grow into something edible. My daughter would happily dig in the dirt for hours. With very little extra effort on my part, she is learning about worms and soil and seeds and plants and… stain remover. And the crazy part? She will eat vegetables in the garden that she wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole at the dinner table.
By the way, remember our little seed germinating project? If you haven’t done it with your kids yet, what are you waiting for? It’d be a perfect indoor activity for this wet, drippy weather. You can only watch Thomas the Tank Engine so many times.
The picture above shows how much our seeds grew in one week.
As I have grown more confident and knowledgeable on summer gardening, I have had a growing (ha!) desire to learn more about cool weather crops. Some plants, like peas or spinach, tolerate this cool, wet spring weather just fine.
They can be planted in the ground now and picked as you are planting your summer garden. I’m not sure how I missed out on this information for so many years. I feel kind of like the kid who realizes Santa Claus is, in fact, not real. Seriously!? Why didn’t someone tell me sooner?
This year, I am going to experiment with gardening from March to October, and I am taking you with me. You might want to grab a pair of boots first.
Here’s my plan:
- Plant some early vegetables in the ground in the next week or two. Gardening in raised garden beds lends a slight advantage because the soil stays warmer and drains better than an average garden plot. For best results, wait until your soil has dried out a little and can be worked up before planting.
- Start germinating some warm season seeds (see list below) indoors to plant when the weather warms up and dries out.
- Figure out a way to keep the baby from eating rocks while the toddler plays in the dirt. Hmm. Suggestions?
Seeds can be purchased online or at Fred Meyer, Bi-Mart, or any garden center or home improvement store for el cheapo right now. I’ve compiled two planting lists (alphabetical, not comprehensive) to help you make your own plan. Simply follow the planting directions on the back of the seed packet or seedling marker.
Cool Season Crops (plant late spring, early summer, early fall):
cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, chives
herbs (not basil or cilantro)
peas, parsley, potatoes
Warm Season Crops — Heat! (plant after the last frost – early summer):
cilantro, corn, cucumbers
Garden Wisdom & Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Plant, Grow, and Harvest (Amazon) — in one huge book
Portland Nursery — Monthly tips as well as local events & classes
Sunset- Western Garden Ideas — Excellent online tutorials and monthly gardening checklists according to climate zones (note that their system differs from the USDA’s hardiness zone map)
Western Garden Book of Edibles (Amazon) and The Edible Garden (Amazon) by the editors of Sunset magazine
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