I made my annual trip to Northwest Seed and Pet today to get my gardening game face on. It's officially time to start rattling around the greenhouse and get some early season crops started. Here in the Spokane area May 15 is the traditional last freeze date, so short of using a hoop house over the soil you want to plan your seed starting around that date. I recommend Irish Eyes Seeds, a locally owned seed company in Ellensberg, WA. They source a lot of their organic seeds from the Inland Northwest. Just like most commodities veggie seeds regardless of brand are likely from the same source of "who knows where." I like the local connection and local sourcing efforts of Irish Eyes. I noticed Seeds of Change Seeds at NW Seed for the first time. They are also a good choice.
Below is my game plan for the garden. I have a greenhouse which make managing larger plants easier. You might want to push it back 2 weeks if you're putting them by a south facing window.
March 1 - 11 weeks ahead of last freeze date
- Clean up greenhouse and get heater set up
- Map out this year's garden plan
- Start seeds for peppers, eggplant and onions.
- Plant parsnip seeds in the garden
March 15 - 9 weeks ahead of last freeze date
- Start seeds for tomatoes, perennials and some flowers (I'm experimenting with wildflower seeds I collected last year so I'll probably plant some trays of those for the fun of it.)
- I'll either start pea plants in the greenhouse or more likely just plant the seeds in the garden. It's so mild this year you could probably get away with it.
- Six weeks is probably more than adequate for starting most tomatoes but I like to make the most of the greenhouse. The bigger they are the more fun it is to give them to friends and neighbors.
March 29 - 7 weeks ahead of last freeze date
- Start seeds for squash, lettuce, kohl rabi and other "cole" crops like cabbage. I might start the cole crops earlier. Every year I swear off growing cabbage, kale etc. because we don't eat them. But the chickens sure do like it.
- I'll probably start a another tragic saga of the giant pumpkin somewhere in here too.
April 26 - 3 weeks ahead of last freeze date
- Go cry on the shoulder of Bruce Metzger from GEM Garden and Greenhouse and ask him why my plants are dying.
- Start seeds for cucumbers.
- Buy some of his starts from his greenhouse and put them in my greenhouse and feel a lot better about the green in my greenhouse.
- Plant pea and lettuce starts being sure to cover them at night if it freezes.
May 15 - historic last freeze date
- Empty the greenhouse and get it all planted except the tomatoes and peppers that really like it warm. June 1 is the usual date to plant out tomatoes and peppers around these parts.
- Beans really do best by direct seeding them into the garden so now is the time to do that. I don't bother with corn anymore. It takes up a lot of space, hogs water and fertilizer and generally disappoints come harvest time.
May 22 - one week before I told everyone on the blog to plant out their tomatoes and peppers
- Plant out tomatoes and peppers because I just can't stand taking care of them in the greenhouse anymore.
The best way to learn is to try and try again.
My new policy on the blog this year is that regular commenters get dibs on some plant starts from the Goodwin greenhouse (if your interested). Prolific Twitter retweeterers will also get serious consideration. Nancy has made me promise to not crowd the garden so much this year so I'm going to have to do something with all the starts. Let me know what you're interested in.