Start preparing your PNW garden now!

Is this the year that you are finally going to start that garden that you have always wanted? Growing vegetables at home can be extremely rewarding and it gives you the opportunity to provide notorious food for your family.

Growing vegetables in Washington can be a little tricky. The unpredictable Washington weather makes it difficult to know when to start your garden and even how to maintain it after your seeds sprout.

These 5 tips will help you make your garden flourish.

  1. Preparing the Soil

Having the right soil makes all the difference when it comes to healthy gardens. Most soils are a combination of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. In this region, you are likely to have both sand and clay soil types in your yard.

  • Sandy soil is easy to till and it drains well, which isn’t always a good thing as it doesn’t retain nutrients very well.
  • Loamy soil is easiest to work with. It drains well and retain moisture and nutrients.
  • Clay soil drains poorly and is hard to work with. Seeds struggle to sprout in this type of soil.

To find out which soil type you have in your yard, take a handful of moist soil and squeeze it. If the soil;

  • Falls apart, you have sandy soil
  • Holds shape but falls apart when you poke it, you have loamy soil
  • Holds shape even when you poke it, you have clay soil

If you have sandy soil, you will want to till two inches of organic compost into the top.

If you have loamy soil, you only need to worry about tilling it while wet.

If you have clay soil, you will need to add six to eight inches of garden soil on top of the existing soil.

No matter what soil type you have, you will want to turn the soil every spring.

2. Make the Right Fertilizer

It is hard to find the perfect fertilizer for our environment, so you may want to consider making your own. Mix 8 dry cups of cottonseed meal, 1 dry cup of lime (use dolomite), 1 dry cup of phosphate rock and 1 dry cup of kelp meal. This 11-cup mix will make enough fertilizer to cover about 50 square feet of garden space. Dig this into the first four inches of tilled soil before you plant your seeds.

3. It’s All About Timing

It is hard to get the timing right in our region. We often have cold springs, which pushes back the ‘right’ time to start your garden.

Here are recommended planting dates for some popular vegetables;

  • Beans: April-May
  • Broccoli: March
  • Carrots: March-April
  • Corn: April- May
  • Cucumber: April
  • Lettuce: March - April
  • Potatoes: March -June
  • Squash: April - May
  • Tomato: April

View more planting dates here

 4. Follow Spacing Guidelines

Make sure to read the back of the seed package. The directions on the back will give you spacing and thinning instructions specific to that plant. The right spacing will produce vegetables like the ones you see in the grocery store.

5. Be Picky About What You Grow

Plant what you like to eat and what will be compatible with your soil and environment. Not all plants do well in the Seattle climate, so forget about planting warm-weather crops like eggplant and peppers. Here a few crops that will do well in the PNW;

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuces
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Squashes
  • Tomatoes

For more information on growing plants in the pacific northwest click here.