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Northwest Vegetable Gardening


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#1 Blue Heron

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Posted 16 December 2001 - 11:48 AM

This is a continutation of a thread started on Community Supported Agriculture farms that has veered more towards home vegetable and tomato gardening.  

One book that I can recommend is Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon (Sasquatch Books Publishing).  Good to read now, before the planting season begins in Spring.  They have a lot of good tips for us northwesterners...ie don't try to plant beefsteak tomatoes, they'll never ripen in time, how to deal with slugs, etc.

Speaking of slugs, that is basically the only impediment to growing good lettuce in the northwest.  When our lettuce starts to come up, or after planting starts, we go out everynight after dark with our flashlights (sometimes twice a night, plus in morning before work), w/ kleenex and baggies and pick the slugs out of our raised bed.  The beginning nights will yield maybe 20+ slugs.  Then as the lettuce gets bigger, you still need to go out at night sometimes or when it rains to pick them off your lettuce.  You'll also sometimes find them hiding underneath the lettuce, too, munching away.  I hope I haven't turned you off from planting lettuce.  It really is worth it, and after the first few nights, there aren't as many slugs to find.  One lettuce that the slugs don't bother as much is the wonderful cut and come again Mesclun lettuce.  I always plant a row or 2 of this.  When it gets a few inches high, cut for salad leaving about an inch at the bottom, and it grows again.  Swiss chard also does that.  Lettuce grows in the (cool) spring months, and by summer is over with.  We like buttercrunch, a tender and sweet bibb lettuce, but they're all pretty good.  Best seeds for all veggies are those made for the northwest, or one that says "all american winner" at the bottom.  

I'd love to hear any other gardner's ideas or tips (actually it's my husband who is the gardener, I'm just the helper)...please feel free to chime in!


#2 Blue Heron

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Posted 16 December 2001 - 12:12 PM

I should have mentioned that in the spring, the slugs you will most find in the garden are teeny weeny, the toddlers and youths of the slug world, and not too unpleasant  to pick up with kleenex/paper towel.  It's rare to see a big daddy or grand-daddy slug.  Also some people, rather than going out at night, put a few boards in the garden and then during the day when the slugs are under the boards, they are easy to find.  I don't recommend slug bait, because birds, dogs and children might get into the garden and accidentally ingest it.

#3 girl chow

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Posted 17 December 2001 - 08:22 AM

Does beer work to trap slugs? My neighbors swear by that method and they always have a beautiful lettuce crop... so they must be doing something right!
Thanks for all those great tips. I'm on my way to amazon.com to check out that book :)

#4 Blue Heron

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Posted 17 December 2001 - 09:46 AM

The beer method didn't work for us...maybe they didn't like our beer.  Must have been pretty bad, even a slug wouldn't drink it, ha.

If you get a chance, ask your neighbors what kind of container they used for the beer, or other details and let us know.  It sure sounds better than picking them off.


#5 girl chow

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Posted 17 December 2001 - 12:06 PM

I can see their traps from our upstairs windows... they're these very shallow, white plastic discs about the size of a dinner plate. I'm not sure what kind of beer they use. I better find out today... they sold their house and just closed. They were the only neighbors whose names we knew. I guess we need to make new friends if we ever want to get on "Trading Spaces" (a crazy TLC show in which neighbors redecorate each other's homes).

Blue Heron, where is the best local store to buy seeds (hopefully with multiple branches for our spread out demographic) ... and where is the best online place to buy seeds?



#6 Blue Heron

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Posted 18 December 2001 - 05:15 PM

We often buy Ed Hume seeds http://www.humeseeds.com/.  I think they are at Home Depot and Bartells.   Also Territorial Seeds http://www.territorial-seed.com/  most likely from PCC or W. Seattle nursery, or Molbak's, but are probably at any reputable nursery.   The few packets that are marked or advertised 'All American Winner' at the bottom are a good bet in any northwest brand...and I just look on the pkg to see where they are produced.  I also buy Shepherd's lettuce seeds http://www.shepherdseeds.com/, and they should be in most nursery's.  It's fun to order the free catalogs when you're first starting out to see what all is available.  Then you sit around the table with your spouse and plan your garden and make a trip to the nursery to buy your seeds.  For some veggies, you'll want to buy starts/seedlings to get ahead start in the spring.  You'll want to make sure the date on your seed packets is 2002.

#7 girl chow

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 11:59 AM

Hey -- thanks for those tips! I'm going to start reading now so I'll be ready by spring. I'm off now to go see if I can find some Ed Hume seeds at Home Depot :)

#8 girl chow

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 06:16 PM

Blue Heron, I am bringing this thread back from the dead!
Last weekend, hubby and I started a mini greenhouse in our spare room and planted a bunch of different things in the hopes of having a bunch of thriving seedlings in the next few months. Our goal is to have a big ass vegetable garden.
Anyone else planting a garden this spring? What are your plans?
A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.
-- Frank Bruni

#9 tsquare

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 06:23 PM

Definitely will be planting, but may not start seeds before mid-April, which means buying tomato and pepper starts this year. Seattle Tilth Sale is a good place to buy interesting organic and heirloom starts...probably late April or early May.
A fun place to buy seeds is at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show - Territorial Seeds brings a much wider selection than I've found in town. Somehow, I never manage to mail-order. Other seeds too, but I lose control at TS.

#10 seawakim

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 02:08 AM

I've been a city condo resident for most of my time in Seattle, but since moving away into a house with yard upon getting married I've taken to the idea of gardening. I had a brief experiment with it by growing the seeds insode a plastic container which I bought in the nursery dept. They grew quite fast, but once I replanted them outside they all died. I would love to grow some organic salad greens and other vegetables.
My thumbs are anything but green and I've had repeated failures with even houseplants.
Is there any hope for me?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps there's a "Gardening for Dummies" edition I could start with.
"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

#11 reesek

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 04:41 PM

i'd love to resurrect this thread...

we went to tilth on saturday (1pm was too late for many varieties of tomatoes, so we supplemented with PCC purchases) we did this yesterday:Posted Image i am in serious pain today...fortunately it will all be worth it come august.

the large bed has: 3 kinds of basil "italian" "genovese" and thai, 2 thai chili plants, a jalepeno and 2 cippolini onions as well as 20 tomato plants.

the smaller bed behind and to the right has arugula & spinach in the front and peas (sugar snap and shelling) in the back - which we planted from seeds.

boxes of strawberries are behind the photographer...they haven't done much yet...but i remain hopeful.

does anyone know about peas? mine seem so tall, and while we have loads of leaves, and thickish vines, we've got not one flower...this is by far the most ambitious planting we've done. last year we planted tomatoes around memorial day - should i cover these with some sort of makeshift tarp?

girlchow - how was your greenhouse last year?
from overheard in new york:
Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

#12 laurel

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 05:55 PM

I was at the tilth sale too.. I volunteered there Sat morning and Sun afternoon. I got 8 different herbs, a few tomatoes, and two artichokes. I haven't planted any of them out yet, but I built a trellis for the tomatoes last night.

They were giving a presentation about season extension for tomatoes, and they suggested making a cloche out of plastic sheeting draped over hoops of pvc pipe. I've never grown tomatoes here though, this is the first season I've had a garden in seattle. In Pittsburgh I grew tomatoes by burying rotten tomatoes in the garden and waiting until July. They also grew by themselves out in the yard where the pipe to the septic tank got backed up and made a big puddle.

Does anyone have any advice about the artichokes?

#13 DRColby

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 07:58 PM

I haven't seen any slugs in our letuce patch. Right now we are picking mache', some endives and some fake Romaines. It was beautiful last week and is starting to go this week with the hot weather; especial the mache'.
it is going to be a terrible year for insects. the tent catapillars in our neighborhood have devoured everything. Yesterday I found htem started on my 100 year oold Italian prune.
Also aphids and mites are terrible. Small plants that I set out are gone overnight. And yes, slugs love green bean starts.
My fava beans are just going from bloom to fruit and I hope the aphids say away for awhile.
We're eating good out of the garden this week but who knows what's ahead. That's the Puget Sound report from south Normandy Park.

dave

#14 DRColby

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 08:04 PM

Laura,
I should have added that artichokes do well in this area, especially if you are close to the water. They take about two years to establish themselves and they don't get as big as the California commercial types.. Don't let them get big because they get tough. Pick them small and get the crown bud out early. Make lots of gratens out of the small ones. One of my favorites is a gratin of aritchokes and favas.
We have three types (along with some cardoons) and about six plants. They provide far more artichokes than two of us can keep up with. You can divide them after a couple of years and have enven more. Hard winters, though, they die off if not mulched.

dave

#15 Human Bean

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 09:25 PM

I can add an enthusiastic recommendation for Steve Solomon's "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" (originally "Growing Organic Vegetables West of the Cascades", you might find the older version at the library; both are good, but the original version had a bit more about organic growing). This book has more useful information about growing vegetables in the Northwest than I ever thought I'd need; it's also useful for other areas. It's a standard reference; buy it, or at least try the local library, and wait for it to become available if necessary.

As for seed sources, Territorial Seeds is a company founded by Steve Solomon, and dedicated to varieties that do well in the Northwest. though their test garden (in Lorraine, Oregon) seems to be a bit warmer than in Portland or further north. In Portland, my local Natures/Wild Oats has seed racks from Territorial; YMMV elsewhere. I've had good luck with seeds from Territorial.

Another seed source recommended in the book is Johnny's Selected Seeds. Although they're located in Maine, the book says that their varieties should do well in the Northwest. I've never tried their seeds, so I cannot comment on them.

I've also used Ed Hume seeds before without problems; they seem a bit mass-market though. (I think they sell okra seeds, which might be a bit too tropical for the Northwest).

I can add another enthusiastic recommendation for Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany, Oregon; a very good source for herb seeds, as well as vegetables. They're mail-order only AFAIK, but they're another excellent source for seeds that do well in the Northwest.

#16 Human Bean

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 09:42 PM

Oh, I almost forgot about slugs.

I've read/heard that copper wire or tape at ground level around the beds makes slugs sufficiently uncomfortable that they won't cross it. I've never tied this. The stale beer trap is also supposed to work.

I've had good luck with the 'pet-safe' slug bait though, which AFAIR uses iron compounds to kill the obnoxious beasts without harming any pets that might happen to drop by and be a bit peckish.

[Of course, the local pets might also be classified as 'obnoxious beasts,' but I was referring to slugs above. If local cats take too much of an interest in your garden, as a last resort, you might try duct tape, adhesive-side up, on the ground; this should prove highly effective, but your cat-owning neighbor might disagree after seeing the results. :smile:]

#17 girl chow

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 09:27 AM

the large bed has: 3 kinds of basil "italian" "genovese" and thai, 2 thai chili plants, a jalepeno and 2 cippolini onions as well as 20 tomato plants.

the smaller bed behind and to the right has arugula & spinach in the front and peas (sugar snap and shelling) in the back - which we planted from seeds.

boxes of strawberries are behind the photographer...they haven't done much yet...but i remain hopeful.

does anyone know about peas? mine seem so tall, and while we have loads of leaves, and thickish vines, we've got not one flower...this is by far the most ambitious planting we've done. last year we planted tomatoes around memorial day - should i cover these with some sort of makeshift tarp?

girlchow - how was your greenhouse last year?

Thanks for bringing back this thread from the dead! My makeshift greenhouse last year (and this year) was fantastic! We had a bumper crop of tomatoes (six plants) last year, a beautiful pumpkin patch, purple beans, zucchini squash, acorn squash (table queen), crookneck squash, and a decent stab at an herb garden that survived the winter (I transplanted to container pots over the winter).

This year, we'll have early girls, a mystery tomato start someone gave us (no idea what kind it is, which should be interesting) as well as purple calabash and two other heirloom tomatoes (given to me by a friend who buys her seeds from Territorial) and cherry tomatoes. We've also got starts growing of zucchini squash, acorn squash, cucumbers, five kinds of pumpkins, including Atlantic giants, which supposedly will get to 200 pounds, but we'll see... I planted a different kind of giant pumpkin last year and the biggest one was 20 pounds... and that's not so giant.

As you can tell from my list, I have a HUGE back yard. We have .40 acre and lots of room for planting. Last weekend, my husband and I built a second raised flower bed in our backyard out of Roman stackstones. It was so much fun (and I can't believe I would ever think manual labor would be fun, but stackstones are great to work with). Right this minute, he is planting about 20 dahlia tubers he bought yesterday at the Cook Lane Dahlia Farm in Auburn (great place to buy tubers, but don't buy from their website, they sell much cheaper at the farm).

Reesek, your garden looks lovely!! I have to warn you, though, that you might consider giving your tomatoes a bit more room. From your picture, it looks like your plants will be really crowded once you add your tomato cages (unless you're planning on doing a lot of thinning or come up with some other contraption). We learned our lesson on spacing tomatoes last year. We planted six plants last year in a space that was about 7'x8'. We grew them on tomato cages. We had a bumper crop (literally hundreds and hundreds of tomatoes), but we had a problem getting to all of them because we did not leave enough room between our tomato cages to get in there and find the buried tomatoes. This year, we're going to plant six plants in a 15'x8' area. I think that will give us room to navigate the plants.

I am conditioning my starts next week, leaving them out to get used to the climate. I'm planting late next week or the following, most likely, depending on the weather. Last year, during the first week of May, we had a freak hailstorm and very chilly weather (anyone remember that?) and I lost a few tomato plants and my cilantro. Not repeating that mistake this year!
A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.
-- Frank Bruni

#18 reesek

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 10:06 AM

girlchow - can you post a pic/link of a stacking stone? sounds lovely - we'd love ultimately to have a terraced yard with stacked stones - i wonder if they're similar. i'm with you on the manual labor too...i'm walking like the aged, and i have a "fanny pack" shaped sunburn on my lower back that's killing me but it's worth it.

thanks for the advice on the tomatoes...what a great problem to have though - hundreds of tomatoes...the ones we planted last year never got that big, though the sungolds were very prolific...we have herbs in between the tomatoes, so maybe that will help - i don't expect the basils will get in the way - last year we didn't even need tomato cages - just stakes. is there a fertilizer that works better for tomatoes? we used steer and lots of fresh garden/topsoil over the turned dusty weedy stuff i compulsively raked. can i transplant them if they get huge?
from overheard in new york:
Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

#19 girl chow

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 10:47 AM

Oh good! Herbs between the tomato plants will probably be just fine, giving them room to breathe and a nice varied landscape as everything grows in.

Last year was my first real year for growing vegetables (besides a few pathetic attempts at container growing on my apartment deck years ago), so I don't know if we just got lucky or what. Our tomato plants were HUGE! Like monster huge. Not quite bad-B-movie-run-from-the-mutant-plants huge, but pretty huge. They were flowing out of the cages, which are about five feet high and a few feet wide, which is why we had so many problems getting between the plants to pick all the tomatoes.

We used steer manure, a 5-10-10 vegetable fertilizer, lots of water and planted in a full-sun location in our yard. We weren't obsessive about weed control, but routinely did weed maintenance. We're rotating our planting area this year to the other side of the yard, so we'll see if that will be a good location for tomatoes. I think with all vegetable growing, though, it's a lot of trial and error.

I'll take a digital photo of our Roman stackstones and see if I can post it here, or I'll e-mail it to you. They are just awesome, they have tongue-and-groove construction, so whatever you build will be solid.
A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.
-- Frank Bruni

#20 reesek

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 10:51 AM

wonderful - thanks!
from overheard in new york:
Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

#21 sequim

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 11:10 AM

My fava beans are just going from bloom to fruit and I hope the aphids say away for awhile.

Holy cow, when did you plant your favas that they have bloomed? :blink:

Mine are just starting to come up. I've never grown them before and didn't realize before planting that they're huge plants.

#22 laurel

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 11:22 AM

I wonder if the stackstones could be used for an herb spiral? I'm thinking of building a small one in an approximately 4'x4' space behind my new place..

#23 girl chow

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 12:03 PM

Yes! I think stackstones would work well for small projects such as an herb spiral, although stackstones are squarish stone blocks and would look much more uniform than the project pictured in the link (what a cool idea and use of random stones you might already have around your yard).
A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.
-- Frank Bruni

#24 DRColby

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 03:15 PM

Yes! I think stackstones would work well for small projects such as an herb spiral, although stackstones are squarish stone blocks and would look much more uniform than the project pictured in the link (what a cool idea and use of random stones you might already have around your yard).

Holy cow, when did you plant your favas that they have bloomed? 

Mine are just starting to come up. I've never grown them before and didn't realize before planting that they're huge plants.


You can plant favas in the Fall in Puget Sound. I worry about things rotting in the winter, though, so I start mine in January. I put them between wet newspaper to sprout. Then plant them under one end of clotche (sp) that also has some early endives and lettuce under it. When my fear of wet weather leaves I remove the clotche; this year in early March.
Yes, my favas are big, and they a very tough plant. They are much easier than spring peas to grow and almost as good. You can eat the pods when small, the beans themselves, small, and all the way up. It sure takes along time to remove the coddles (sp) when they are small and deosn't leave you with much other than "baby" vegtables.

dave

#25 tsquare

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 09:46 AM

My fava beans are just going from bloom to fruit and I hope the aphids say away for awhile.

Holy cow, when did you plant your favas that they have bloomed? :blink:

Mine are just starting to come up. I've never grown them before and didn't realize before planting that they're huge plants.

I planted mine last fall and they have some healthy sized pods on them right now. Unfortunately, the nasty golden chain tree nearby is gaining an unhealthy quantity of black aphids! Almost none last year - and this seems so early. I see what this weekend is about.

My peas went in for President's Day and are healthy looking, but no flowers so far.

#26 reesek

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 10:11 AM

My peas went in for President's Day and are healthy looking, but no flowers so far.


tsquare - how tall are your peas? how tall should they get before they start to flower?
from overheard in new york:
Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

#27 kiliki

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 10:18 AM

Speaking of rock and stone walls, I just made my first visit to Maranako's (link) near Fall City to look for patio stone. They have a terrific selection of rocks, and it's fun to visit-if anyone is looking to build rock walls/planters I'd highly recommend a trip.

I am moving into my boyfriend's house, and within an hour of the decision I'd already secured permission to build a bunch of raised beds for blueberries, raspberries, and vegetables. The poor guy, he just weakly requested that I leave enough grass for the dog to play.

#28 tsquare

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 10:40 AM

My peas went in for President's Day and are healthy looking, but no flowers so far.


tsquare - how tall are your peas? how tall should they get before they start to flower?

Maybe 18"-24". I'm expecting to see flowers soon. Oh, they are edible pod peas. I usually have a crop by early June.

#29 DRColby

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 04:44 PM

tsquare,

I too have a goldenchain close to the garden but haven't noticed any aphids; better start looking.
It's a terrible year for pests. I was trimming back some artillery plants and found the little suckers all over the base. I have a white spruce that's a near goner because of infestation. I am still not sure where or not we made it through the tent catipllar on-slaught,. Something at night (not slugs) keeps chewing on my squash and been plants, Earwicks, any ideas?

dave

#30 reesek

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 04:57 PM

Maybe 18"-24". I'm expecting to see flowers soon. Oh, they are edible pod peas. I usually have a crop by early June.


good to know...ours (in the picture upthread) are about 24" - we have 2 kinds - edible pods and shelling (shelling are a bit taller so far) - and they're obviously well crammed in together - i had no idea there would be so many...naive new gardener. next year i'll know better...hopefully we'll be able to reach them all.
from overheard in new york:
Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train