Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer (Finally!) in the NW Trial Garden - by Sue Shecket, webmaster

I love our Pacific NW “summer” with days in the 70s and cool nights in the 60s - it’s great for glorious flowers, lovely lettuce and my skin. But this June even we diehard Seattle mossbacks were miserable as it was the coldest and wettest in anyone’s memory. Once again my poor tomatoes – and just about everything else I started earlier – suffered from unrelenting rain, chill, and a lack of attention from a dispirited gardener. But finally on July 5, Mother Nature took pity on us and brought forth glorious sunny days and warm nights, so I ventured back into the garden to survey the damage.

The slugs absolutely adored their unhampered access to all of my seedlings, and mowed down most everything under a few inches tall. I counterattacked with nontoxic Sluggo, got direct vengeance with my trusty scissors, and sowed new seed. What was still up and growing was pretty anemic and hungry, so I applied a batch of our favorite organic fertilizer potion: 1 tablespoon liquid fish emulsion and 1 tablespoon liquid kelp per gallon of water. In short order, things improved dramatically and I’m no longer embarrassed to invite the neighbors over to help harvest my now bountiful supply of lettuces, peas, arugula, spinach, baby squash and more.

A dramatic demonstration of the advantages of starting vegetables from seed is seen in the squash planting. I sowed several squash seeds per mound and transplanted the extra plants to an adjacent bed below. The undisturbed plants in the upper bed are at least twice the size and vigor of the transplants.
Flowers are coming on late, but my deck containers are filling out with vibrant colors. Here’s one color from my favorite Salpiglossis mix, aptly named “Stained Glass”.

My re-seeded veggie beds not only caught up quickly, but have surpassed those planted earlier that were subjected to poor growing conditions. For once I am glad I procrastinated in getting much of the garden going this year.

One group of plants that loved that lousy June are my hillside of Hydrangeas - the lack of sun stimulated them to put on exceptionally luxuriant growth and extra large blooms. Others that unfortunately thrived are the perpetual bindweed and invasive buttercup – a NW gardener’s eternal enemies.

And that drip irrigation system that I vowed to install this spring – well, somehow we were just not inspired this year. But my trusty soaker hoses are hanging in there. And I promise that NEXT season, we’ll really do it… really.
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