Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 2012 - The Garden Update

A friend at work asked me to tell him what to plant in the garden, and when.  I didn't have a quick answer for him because a lot depends on your infrastructure ( what I have been harping about for almost a year), and your climate.  In this case, he lives in Vancouver, WA, so his climate, elevation, etc. are different than mine.

The USDA has a new hardiness zone map out - here is the link:

If you live in Canada, here is your version:

(The Canadian site doesn't do well with Chrome as your browser, it was developed with IE and Firefox)

What should you be doing in the Garden right now?

In the Northwest, you should have at least your peas planted and possibly greens, like Swiss Chard, Spinach, etc.  That is if you have built raised beds, and have row cover.  Let me show you why this is necessary.

Three weeks ago I received the 48' heat cable I ordered from Nichols Garden Nursery ( they had a sale on them).  This bed is my largest - the one I had for tomatoes last year - so I won't need it for planting till May.  So I choose this location to be my "greenhouse" to put all my starts in.

Then I needed a good soil mix for the seed trays (I used the trays from last year, and just bought some 2" peat strips to put the seeds in). So off to my favorite nursery here in Salem; 13th Street Nursery:
You have to be looking for the Nursery, as it doesn't look like much from 13th.  The Nursery is located just south of Mission in Salem.  You have to go south on 12th if you are coming from North of Mission St, because 12th and 13th are one way streets.  Cross street is Wilbur.  If you don't live in the Salem area,  I encourage you to find and shop at any local independent nursery in your area.

Entrance to 13th Street Nursery - I love walking in here.  Especially on a rainy day when I can't do much in the garden - then I can look at all the plants that are under cover and I just get cheered up by being around all of them. 

If you do container gardening, 13th St has a huge selection of pots that seem to be always on sale!

13th Street has lots of supplies for the bonsai enthusiast - which I would do if it were not for the 4 indoor cats we have.  

13th Street has a great selection of fertilizers, organic sprays for bugs ( like Neem oil), and of course, lots of Sluggo!

13th Street carries Territorial Seeds ( which is the only off the rack seed I will buy).  They also have potato and onion starts now - but get yours soon as they sell out fast!

then there is all the fun stuff - this is where I go to get gifts for my gardening friends...
13th Street is also where I bought my kneeler last year - it flips over for a seat, and it have been great with the arthritis I have in my knees, and my fibromyalgia!

Finally, what I came to 13th Street Nursery for - My potting soil mix.  I like to use Fox Farm Ocean forest potting soil - it has earthworm castings and also goodies from the ocean, and I mix it with Miracle-gro Moisture control potting mix.

Ready to mix the two potting soils together.  The Miracle-Gro has the little beads in it that absorb moisture, and the slowly let it out if the soil needs it - so your seeds don't get soaked, but also don't dry out.

Seed Trays all ready to plant.  I also had received the heavy duty garden row cover that I had ordered from Gardners - so all I needed to do is plant my seeds.

This is one week after I planted my seeds - a mix of peas, romaine lettuce, broccoli raab, chard, spinach, and ?.  Thats right, there are two trays that are not labeled.  You see, as I was finishing this project, I was coming down with a nasty bug and wasn't feeling very well.  It was all I could do to just get everything planted, watered, the row cover on, and then go to bed.  which is where I stayed for almost a week.  good thing I chose the soil mix with the water beads in it, because a week later when I checked the seeds, they were getting dry.  The Row cover I have on is pretty thick - it lets the sun in, but traps any heat, so even though it was cold and rainy, no moisture got in.  How much difference is there between outside and inside temps?

I came home on a cloudy, cold day to test what the temp difference is.

Here is the outside temp that day:

Outside temp was 49.1 degrees - that was with a few sun breaks that day.

Here is the inside temp of the covered raised bed:

Almost 15 degrees difference!  Which is why I didn't worry last week when the temps fell and we had ice and snow for about two days.  So below is the pic I took yesterday.  The snow peas are just about ready to transplant into their permanent bed.

Seedlings almost ready to transplant!

Just before I became ill, I spent some time cleaning up the raised bed for the peas:

This is a great time to be finding slugs, caterpillars, bugs that will grow up to be diners in your garden

This was the bed where I had planted my fall carrots - and have been slowly harvesting them all winter.  This was the last of the bunch - and they were very sweet.  Put them in a vegetable soup that I lived on while ill.

One Pea bed all ready for peas.  I am going to put sluggo down tonight, and then put the copper tape that I bought around the bed to keep future slug visits from happening, and then I will be ready to transplant - sometime this week I hope!  I have also covered up all my beds with row cover to start warming up the soil. 

So what should you be doing now?  It all depends on what you are set up to do.  If you go to Nichols Garden Nursery site, there is a list for what they think you should be doing in March; it is under garden resources (Click on March Garden Tips):

As for me, today I try to finish that darn fence, so I can plant the blueberries, put copper tape around raised beds, and mow some of the grass down between the raised beds.  It is supposed to be sunny and 60 today, but so far it looks gray and chilly.  which is why I am sitting here at 10:45 updating my blog instead of being outside.  I did finish the posts yesterday - yeah me!

Happy Gardening!



  1. P.S. You don't have to do heat cable for peas and greens and other cold tolerant seeds. I did because i don't have room in the house this year to start seeds, and plan on starting my tomato seeds at the end of this month, and will need the extra boost the heat cable will give me.

  2. Can't wait till you get chickens - they will LOVE those nasty little bugs. =)