Garden On, Vashon

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Everything’s Ready to SPRING!

March 4th, 2013 at Mon, 4th, 2013 at 1:46 pm by Karen Dale


We’ve got three weeks until spring, but all of nature’s signals are springing forth—

Frogs singing

Crocuses bloomin’

Gnats flittin’

Birds flirtin’

Chive greens bristling

Dog-walkers whistling

And black bumblebees go bump-bump-bumblin’ along.

If the frogs are singing, it’s time to sow seeds. In the high school greenhouse last Friday, the garden club’s subcommittee of Greenhouse Nuns planted many a packet of tomato seeds in anticipation of the club’s annual Mother’s Day Sale. Get ready for a wave of early tomatoes: Stupice, Siletz, Siberia, Northern Delight, and Taxi, mid-season toms Early Girl and Oregon Spring, Fantastic and Rio Grande, heirlooms German Lunchbox and Brandywine, and some colorful cherry tomatoes: Gold Nugget, Yellow Pear, red Sweeties, and (if I order the seeds in time) that classic orange cherry, SunGold. 

March is that overlap month where you want to wind up the winter projects while not neglecting to start the summer projects. There’s a lot to to do. Time to turn under the cover crops and renew the soil (and enjoy the little potatoes that’ll pop up from last year’s bed). Time to sow the seeds of summer indoors: tomatoes, onions, peppers, brassicas. Last chance to transplant trees, shrubs, and summer-blooming perennials like Shasta daisies (time to divide them, too) and the first safe opportunity to prune modern roses. 

It’s time to give the strawberries their first monthly feed: you’ll want to repeat that in April and again in May. If your strawberry bed is in its third or particularly fourth (and last) year, you may want to start the bed’s renewal by potting up those running daughters, then clipping them free of their mothers. Once the mothers have given their fruit this summer, pull them and plant the daughters in their place. (Well, not EXACTLY the same place, but in-between positions, giving the soil a good infusion of compost and bonemeal to renew it, too.)

Jonathan Morse, formerly of Island Lumber’s Garden Center and now freelancing garden design, says that if you weed now and then mulch with clean, seed-free compost, you’ll have far less weeding to do later. I’m looking forward to getting a truckload of three-way mulch from DIG, a Christmas gift from relatives; it’ll mean that for ONCE I won’t be scalping a carpet shot-weed babies that germinate willy-nilly in my own, not-cooked-enough compost.

I really SHOULD be out there on this second beautiful day of March. So let’s SPRING to our feet and go enjoy this faux spring day!

(Greenhouse nuns left to right: Jet Wakeman, Lucy Harter, Martha Gebhardt, Julia Lakey, Jane Rosen, Deborah Teagarden, Kathi Bosler, and Linda Campbell. Not shown: me of course.)



gardens on the south end of Vashon Island, on a sandy hilltop overlooking Quartermaster Harbor. "Garden On, Vashon" shares what the Island has to teach us about gardening HERE—from making soils to sowing seeds to raising plants to harvest, cooking, preserving, and designing new ways to cultivate your little chunk of Vashon Island. To contact me, email, or leave a comment.

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