By Bev Morrow
Snoqualmie Valley Master Gardener Intern
Here in the Snoqualmie Valley area, the latitude is 47 degrees, 54 minutes north, which means we have few daylight hours during the winter months until we reach the spring or vernal equinox on March 20, when day and night are equal. Generally speaking, we get more rain, colder spring and summer night temperatures, and less heat to fully ripen vegetables like corn and tomatoes. It’s at this time of year that we all look forward to spring’s arrival with longer daylight hours, warmer weather and increased soil temperatures.
Does this slightly warmer spring weather indicate that it is time to rush right out and start planting our vegetable gardens outdoors? Well, not really. Unfortunately, our area’s spring climate is unpredictable and we can experience a frosty night right up to mid-April or later on throughout the Valley. For most seeds to germinate, the soil temperature has to be at 40 to 70 degrees, colder for greens, warmer for squash. Investing in a soil thermometer will take the guesswork out—they aren’t expensive.
Now is the perfect time to start planning your summer vegetable garden. Not only can you order seeds (and plants) from seed catalogs, but you can also acquire lots of information about vegetable varieties and vegetable gardening in general. Some of my favorite seed catalogs are: Territorial Seed Company, (http://www.territorial-seed.com) and Ed Hume Seeds, (http://www.humeseeds.com).
Whether you order seeds, or buy seeds at your local garden store, be sure that the seeds you’re getting are labeled specifically for the 2013 growing season. Last year’s seeds may germinate just fine, but they may not, so for a successful experience, go with the current season’s seeds.
For our area, vegetables that have a short growing season and thrive in cool weather are the easiest to grow. Some vegetables recommended by the Snoqualmie Valley Master Gardeners, gardeners who successfully grow vegetables in North Bend and Snoqualmie, include: Fortex green bean, Redbor kale, Sungold tomato, Sweet Million tomato, Merlin beet, Detroit dark red beet, and Flashy Trout’s Back lettuce. You should have no trouble growing green onions, spinach, all types of lettuce, carrots, chard, potatoes, kale, peas, beans, and herbs like cilantro and sage.
Additional information on vegetable gardening can be found at www.svmastergardeners.com. Bring your gardening questions to the Snoqualmie Valley Master Gardeners at the Nursery at Mt. Si on Saturday mornings in April and May.
• Bev Morrow is an intern in the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program.