I know it may be hard to imagine, but this is the time I start getting excited thinking about my garden! While it’s still winter, I’ve learned the hard way that if you care about getting a particular type of seed or plant variety, you’re not going to want to dilly dally around. Today I’d like to share what I’ve been up to in the garden as well as my favorite places to buy seeds and plants from.
While I’ve received many seed catalogs in my mailbox in the last couple weeks, there are only two I really care about: Territorial Seed and Raintree Nursery. Both are focused on offering plants that are suited for our maritime climate, which is crucial!
Territorial Seed is based in Oregon and does extensive trials of their seeds, making sure they’ll grow in our short-season conditions. I’ve had tremendous success with seeds purchased from Territorial, plus their customer service is top notch. They do not sell GMO seeds. Founder Steve Solomon wrote my all-time favorite gardening book, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades (Amazon link). The insight and expertise he demonstrated in this solid book has further sold me on Territorial and what they are about. If you live in west of the Cascades? I can’t recommend Territorial Seed enough!
Raintree Nursery. Located in the small town of Morton Washington (on Butts Road no less!) is a beautiful nursery that is dedicated to all things fruit for our region. Here you’ll find an extensive variety of trees and bushes (apple, peach, cherry, blueberry) as well as exotic and harder-to-find varieties (elderberry, aronia, or goumi anyone?). You can peruse their catalog online or request one by mail. We had the opportunity to visit Raintree last year when we decided on purchasing a couple kiwi vines for our arbor.
I was very impressed with the knowledge of the staff. While you can order online or through the catalog, I so enjoyed visiting Raintree I may just drive down again this year!
Other sources of seeds and plants I’ve been pleased with for our region:
- Seeds of Change. I’ve purchased from this company before. They have a great selection of 100% certified organic seed offerings. The catalog is not regional, however, so do make sure to research varieties before purchasing.
- Seattle Tilth Plant Sale. Last year, we shopped Seattle’s Tilth Plant Sale in May. It is busy, so you’ll need to get there early for the best selection (or consider volunteering to get early sale access). They offer a wide selection of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and unusual herbs. We picked up several varieties of mint and even a “root beer” plant which was a big hit with the hummingbirds. Fun event.
- Tacoma Conservatory Plant Sale (Wright’s Park; early May). I’ve yet to find bigger tomato plants for a better price! As I will only grow one or two tomato plants this year, I prefer to just buy them as plants versus growing from seed. I’ve had tremendous luck with the amazingly HUGE tomato plants sold at the edible plant sale that takes place in early May at Tacoma’s Wright Park (just outside the conservatory).
I want to say I paid about $3.50 apiece for the tomatoes pictured above – and they were pretty close to that size when I bought them! All the tomato plants I’ve purchased at this sale have been healthy, resisted transplant shock, and produced heavily. I will be buying my tomato plants here again for 2014.
Clean up time in the Garden!
This past weekend it was actually quite pleasant outside so I decided to assess the current situation in the garden. Confession time: I never did a proper clean-up as I should have in the fall! Life got busy and I just did not keep up with things as I should. I estimated initially it would take me an hour or so to tidy up, but after spending a couple hours out there on Saturday, I realize it’s going to be more like 5-6 hours to get things how I want.
No matter what time of year it is, there is always something surprising happening in the garden! I’d plum near forgotten I’d planted some rutabagas in late summer and guess what? They’re ready to go! I also found a small patch of carrots and the parsley’s gone crazy! Maybe it’s time for chimichurri! When cleaning up the front flower bed, I was also surprised to notice a few bulbs poking up. Already!
Once I had a planter box cleaned out, the kids got to work building “worm castles.” We’ve been at this gardening thing ever since my daughter was a baby, so for them – spring = gardening. They look forward to it as much as I do every year and I think we may make planter boxes for each of our kids this year too (budget permitting).
The greenhouse was in sorry shape as well, so I spent a few minutes straightening it out. I don’t do a whole lot of growing in here (until spring/summer) just because it’s a small, unheated space. It’s mostly turned into a space for me to organize potting soil gardening tools, and pots. I paid about $100 for it last year, but I found better deals on a similar one shortly after that. I’ll keep my eyes peeled if you’re interested in purchasing something like this for your garden this year!
Here’s how my garden looks as of now. Here are the tasks I would like to complete this month:
- Finalize garden plans for 2014
- Place seed & plant order for 2014
- Finish cleaning out beds & containers
- Add compost
- Assess garden tools & replace any (I know I’ll need some new garden gloves already – I lose these ALL.THE.TIME.)
Please see my Frugal Gardening page for more ideas on how to grow your own – without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re an old pro or a total newbie, I invite you to join me gardening this year – from seed to harvest! I’d love to hear what your plans are for gardening in 2014. Are there any special varieties you’re hoping to grow? Or, maybe you’re starting a garden for the first time? Please share!