Like almost everyone, this
spring I’m launching vegetable garden projects with a fervor that I haven’t
felt for years. I’ve doubled my crop-growing capacity by converting a small
rose garden into a vegetable patch. Every sunny spot has been pressed into
service. If a sun-drenched spot is not practical to dig, I plop down a pot to
hold a tomato or zucchini.
By late April I had already
strained a shoulder and inflamed a tendon in my forearm. The dreaded “tennis
elbow” is an occupational hazard for gardeners. Repeatedly jamming a shovel
into hard soil has the same effect on the elbow as lobbing a ball to a partner
in tennis whites. I fall to my knees in gratitude every evening that I come in
without a back injury.
The learning curve
I wish I had listened more carefully to garden experts who
preach careful planning for crop placement and rotation. I have two garden beds
filled with onions, shallots and garlic that I will harvest in late June or
early July. Experts say that is the perfect time to put in fall and winter
crops. What should I grow? And when do I need to plant seeds? It doesn’t help
that the list of candidates for the winter garden is long and tasty. I’m
hitting the books like it’s finals week to decide what I want to grow and
pinpoint when I should sow seed.
Nurseries offer an abundance of vegetable plants through
May, but rarely offer veg plants for sale in late summer. I can’t blame them.
Customers are scarce in July and August so most nurseries can’t risk bringing
in delicate starts that may never be purchased. Winter vegetable gardens are
still a rarity, even though most Northwest winters are mild enough for them.
On the ornamental front…
The havoc wreaked by last winter’s severe weather is now
fully apparent. This spring has been filled with surprises, good and bad. I was
thrilled to see that my favorite hardy fuchsias are resprouting from the
Casualties that I didn’t expect included my eucalyptus
tree—a veteran of at least five Northwest winters—along with my hardy banana, Musa
How are your vegetable gardens developing? Are you doing
anything differently than you have in past years? Or are you laughing at all of
us who have hopped on the bandwagon, deluding ourselves that we can grow a
Let me know how your backyard
is changing this spring. And I’ll see you here in June!