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Clay soil does not mix well with compost and won't support your vegetables. You can dig down three or more inches and replace the soil with good fertile loam and compost or build a raised bed out of lumber or railroad ties. Next, knowing when to start planting will get your garden off to a strong start. Choose Your Vegetables Now comes the fun part: choosing your plants. Most vegetables will grow well in properly prepared and watered soil, but some are easier to grow than others. The Pacific Northwest has a shorter growing season than most parts of the country, so choosing plants that mature quickly and knowing when to plant will help ensure your first vegetable garden is a success. Some favorite easy-to-grow vegetables are radishes, lettuce, spinach, beans, beets, snap peas, onions, scallions and tomatoes. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts take a bit longer but like cooler weather. Brussels sprouts can even be harvested in the snow. Tomatoes are difficult to grow from seed, so unless you are an

experienced vegetable gardener, start with live plants from a reputable nursery. Look for tomato varieties with initials after the name, such as HR or IR. HR means the tomato is highly resistant to pathogens; IR means the variety has intermediate resistance. Choose several highly resistant patio tomatoes for an easy first try. Winter squash and pumpkins take a long time to mature and sprawl to cover a wide area. Summer squash is easy to grow and matures quickly but is also prone to sprawl. When to Plant On the back of your seed packets you will find a chart that tells you when to plant and how, including depth and spacing. In general, plant your peas first, in early March. In late March to early April, plant your beets, carrots, scallions and onions. Late April and early May is the time to plug in your carrots and cauliflower. In early May, plant summer squash, lettuces, beans and herbs. Cucumbers, corn and nursery plants should be planted in early June. This kind of seasonal planting helps to ensure you have a steady stream of veggies to harvest. Replant short-growing plants like radishes and lettuce often to keep them coming.

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The most important step in vegetable gardening comes before a single seed is planted.

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March 2019 Coeur d'Alene Living Local  

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