The Pacific Northwest is in one of the coldest winters of the last decade. Last year was the winter that wasn’t. This year my ground is frozen and the air temps have gone down to 20- 29* F overnight for the past two weeks. I do still have Snowdrops trying to push up and bloom and a few Helebores getting ready to bloom also. I think a weather shift is coming however. We expect rain and relatively warm weather later this week.
I wrote an article on hardy fuchsias for Westsound Home and Garden a few months ago and during my research, I got really hooked on these plants. I always like to grow a few plants before I write because I like the first hand experience. Before I moved west, I was only familiar with the annual types of fuchsias. How limiting was that! Here are a few more in bloom today.
This year I planted about 24 bean seeds three times. The first time the soil was too cold and they did not germinate. I think the same thing happened the second time. I have a tendency to rush the season, beans are cheap and I only plant 24 since I am feeding two people now. The third time, around the very end of May, they actually germinated and grew and I harvested them twice, but then Sunday night my husband forgot to close the gate and I did not check and overnight the open gate welcomed a deer into my garden. Deer love beans. It/they snacked on a few roses but totally took out the beans.
Going back to my theme of “this wouldn’t grow in Minnesota” I planted some things in my western Washington garden that I could not get to grow in my Minnesota garden. David Austin roses lover the maritime climate here without any winter protection. Perennial herbs are such a treat. But the star of the day is this Monrovia yucca plant. It’s a first for me. I think I have been waiting three years for this yucca to bloom. Worth the wait, don’t you think?
A couple of days in the high 80’s and my garden (and this gardener) are wilting in the sun!
Not this bad, but my sugar snap peas are complaining, and the San Marzano tomatoes that are waiting for the space currently occupied by the sugar snap peas are complaining and my tomatoes in Walls of Water have outgrown their protection, which they no longer need. Gardener, get to work!
I will always be a vegetable gardener. I still get a thrill from being able to go out into my garden and pick a salad for lunch. I am able to do that about eight months of the year and I would like to up that as I know there are gardeners on the Pacific Northwest who are able to do year round harvesting. Every year is different in some way. This is the first year I have has a good crop of radishes that the slugs did not find. In my hopeful sort of way, I put down a few radish seeds every spring thinking they will be my trap crop to be sacrificed the slugs but not this year.
My big success this so far this year has been sugar snap peas. I planted two varieties, the early Super Sugar Snap that I began harvesting today and the slightly later Cascadia which is blooming now.
My struggle this year is with cucumber seeds/transplants. I started way too early and the first transplants were ok for about three days in the ground, then died. Next I tried direct seeding and that was a bust! Today I went back to indoor lights and heat mat with germinating mix. Seeds are cheap. I hope the third time is a charm.
Peaches did not grow in Minnesota (too cold) and were shipped in from Colorado or California back then. We did not eat many fresh peaches. Now I see peaches readily available and at very reasonable prices. Yesterday I got a 22 lb. box of Freestone peaches for only $15. At Olmsteads fruit stand (and nursery in Poulsbo). I also learned the difference between Cling (which ripen in June/July) and Freestone (which ripen now). This is an important distinction, because I planned to process them for freezing.
Planning ahead before you start is the key to success. For me, it was like setting up stations at school.
Crate of peaches (cut an X at top of each peach. This will help with peeling), water boiling in a large pot (blanch 40 seconds) , large bowl of ice water to stop the blanching and bowls to drain the cooled peaches.
Plastic bag in a pot to contain the mess of waste, skins and seeds. A bowl with Fruit Fresh (dissolved in water as stated on the package), the glass container used to freeze sliced peaches overnight before cutting them in Ziplock freezer bags for storage.
I got all the peaches processed to the end of station one, or to the draining point, before I peeled and cut any.