Monday, March 09, 2009

March Madness, and I Don't Mean Basketball

It’s March now in the Pacific Northwest (um, as well as everywhere else in the world, if you want to get all particular about it), but it’s certainly not very spring-like, I must say. I was actually feeling bad last week about the fact I still hadn’t pruned my roses (I’ve been nursing a shoulder injury the last few weeks and have been kind of out of commission) (AGAIN), when suddenly, wham!, we got snowed on up here again.

The downside: This just provides more fodder for the “global warming” snarkers, who tend to be melodramatically literal when it comes to that phrase.

The upside: Now I look like the smart one for not having sliced and diced the roses!
Despite the freaky weather, it’s actually time to start planting some stuff outside, as wholly unappealing as THAT sounds this morning. (Current temperature: 36 degrees. Forecasted high for the day: 36 degrees. Current mood: Fine, you know what? I'm going back to bed. Forecasted mood for the day: Wake me up in April. IF YOU DARE.)

Yep, according to my expert resources, those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest can begin sowing the following seeds outside:
  • Many types of lettuce and other leafy greens (unless you, like me, find leafy greens wholly uncooperative)
  • Asparagus (shoot (ha!), I really wanted to plant asparagus this year and haven’t moved on it -- can I plant it as late as the first weekend in April, fellow PNW gardeners?)
  • Beets (ew)
  • Carrots (some year I will try them in pots)
  • Peas (yay! yay! yay!)
  • Parsnips (delicious and strange)
  • Potatoes (could be fun)
  • Radishes (overrated)
  • Turnips (underrated)
  • Chives (pretty)
  • Cilantro (pukey)
  • Parsley (munchable)
Of the things on this list, peas are the one item I have had success with in my garden in the past, which means they are a safe bet for all gardeners, rookie or pro. (The theory here being that if *I* can make them grow and produce food, so too can anyone, including your local one-armed half-blind monkey).

Chives and parsley are also two favorites of mine. I almost never eat either one, but I love letting my chives to go flower because the flowers are so pretty (see photo above), and parsley is nice to munch on when I’m out watering things in the summer. Refreshing and chompy.

Cilantro I’m allergic to (hence the description of it as "pukey"), but my husband loves it so maybe I should humor him and put some in this year.


Early spring is also a good time to pick up new fruit trees and get them planted -- just make sure the danger of frost is past, or that you’ve got plans on how to protect your yard noobs from extremely cold nights (reminder: it snowed several inches in Seattle last April, so don’t think it’s all over just because you’ve turned another calendar page!). We planted blueberries in our yard two springs ago right about this time, and both bushes are really thriving.It's a real thrill getting to pick and eat my own blueberries, and I'm eager to see how the raspberry I planted last year will do this year as well.

Berries -- man, hurry UP, summertime!!

Also doable this March: trim back your woody herbs (lavender, rosemary, and sage, in particular), fertilize trees and shrubs (including rhodies, which I really need to do soon), start prepping your veggie beds for planting next month, and when you’re done working outside, go back inside and start sowing your tomato seeds in containers to get them ready to go outdoors in about 6-8 weeks. If you’ve never planted golden/yellow cherry tomatoes before, I urge you to give them a shot this year -- almost as delicious as berries, and just about as sweet too!!

Still having trouble getting yourself motivated to work outside in the rain, snow, sleet, and hail? Dudes, I hear you. In that case, maybe you need to spend another couple of weeks looking at seed catalogs and day-dreaming instead. To that end, allow me to present you with this list of the
Top 10 Most Productive Crops for the Pacific Northwest (from Mother Earth News):
  1. Pole snap bean
  2. Snow/snap pea
  3. Potato
  4. Garlic
  5. Cherry tomato
  6. Summer squash
  7. Chard
  8. Lettuce
  9. Onion
  10. Carrot
It’s a list I can believe in, having had a lot of success with a number of items on this list, and very very little success with a number of items NOT on this list. I’d love to try beans and chard this year too, actually, but I’m not entirely sure what I’d do with them? You cook both before eating, right? Anybody have any good bean or chard recipes? Or bean AND chard recipes? Hit me with 'em in comments!

Spring ho!


Verna said...

Hiya, Meg, I got the link from Boyfriends in the News and thought I mightjump over here and see what's "up" with gardening in the Northwest. I must admit, I have the bug. I absolutely LOVE gardening and this week started my container garden. It's my first attempt at said garden because we just moved here to the wilds of California (by which, I mean the desert). See, my hubby is in the Army and we keep changing locales, which makes it quite the challenge to have a real garden. The soil here is utterly unmanageable, so I rushed right out and bought myself some containers, soil, and seeds. It's still pretty chilly here, but definately not enough to stop me from growing. I have my veggies sprouting and my flowers peeking through and I am so excited. Man, this is the life, hands in the dirt, sustaining my family, fending off starvation (ok, that might be a little stretch, but hey, who's gonna check?) All this to say, have patience, my friend, spring will come to the Northwest, make sure you are ready!

Gardeness said...

Ohh, I love reminder lists. Thanks for sharing. I have about half of the first one already going, either under the cloche or inside. I'm so done with this snow though. Make it stop. Please?!

Kim and Victoria said...

It is so fun to read about gardening, and the approaching (someday) spring.
Love your lists.
I WILL prune my roses this weekend.

Tatyana said...

Nice to meet more gardeners from the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for the list! I certainly can use it!