Jumpstart Your Garden This Spring

March 24, 2017 6:52am

Photo by Erica GrivasThe first week of spring often feels like the weather missed the calendar’s memo. It’s rainy and cold again, and the ground – which ideally would look like fluffy chocolate cake, looks more like the batter. Fortunately, although the forecast may not fit our spring dreams, this time of year offers great gardening opportunities for those ready to brave some muck and chill.

As Dustin Guy’s post on frost pointed out, Seattle benefits from several conditions that add up to give us a precious early start on the growing season compared to much of the country.

That’s because, believe it or not, some plants actually love it on the cooler side. If you still need a jacket, it’s a great time to plant these veggies and flowers as seeds or starts.

Edibles: Greens and more

First think traditional “winter veggies,” which include greens like kale, spinach, chard, collards and lettuces, as well as great soup stars like cauliflower, carrots, brussel sprouts, onions, and leeks. Beets can actually work both categories – if you’re not a fan of the root flavor, the greens add a tasty nutrition boost to stir-fries, smoothies, or salads. Some of these, like lettuce and spinach, can bolt in hot weather, so grab your chance to grow some before summer hits.

For a literal taste of spring, look to any pea or bean. Whether pole or bush beans, or shelling or snap peas, they all adore this weather.

Just the flowers

More interested in bouquets than bushels of produce? Sweet peas (yup, they’re related) offer armfuls of spicily fragrant blossoms in almost any color but true red. Nasturtium flowers, like the hardworking beets, do double duty – they can be enjoyed in a vase or in your salad. They hang on the hotter side of the color wheel in oranges and reds, and sport an arugula-like, peppery flavor.

Although you may be wooed by displays like these at a local supermarket this week, don’t be tempted to add heat-lovers like tomato, sunflowers or basil to your beds just yet.

They need it to be closer to 50-55 degrees at night to grow, and that sweet spot usually saunters in approximately late April/early May. I’m hoping the kale, spinach, collards and cauliflower I planted this week will be done just in time to make room for tomatoes.

While your new plants are growing, you can flex your gardening muscles by dressing your beds with compost, cutting back warm-season grasses and cleaning up dried perennials.  You’ll be harvesting in no time.