Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Taunting Begins.

Today is the last full day of winter, but I don't think too many people around here are celebrating.  In the Northwest, spring is like a 2nd winter.  The weather is negligibly warmer, barely drier, and not that much sunnier.  Here is the forecast for the first five days of spring in Seattle:

Spring is the season when Alaska throws it's left-over crummy weather directly toward us.  The only real difference from winter is a longer day length.  Let's be thankful that is not easily changed.  I remember a few years ago when March was half a degree colder than February.  To top it off, mother nature occasionally teases us with a sunny day or two during the middle of the week - usually right before several weeks of constant rain and/or snow.

But in spite of the cold and miserable weather, many plants continue to put on new growth.  I don't know why or how they do this.  Above, Paeonia suffruticosa is already preparing bloom.

Below, a patch of kale that was planted last summer in the vegetable garden is starting to bolt.  The seed heads are actually not too bad tasting.

I also planted some potatoes that I saved from last year.  I dug these up in October, put the big ones in the refrigerator to eat, and stored the small ones in this box.  I should have stored them in a box within a box so it would be completely dark since I discovered the smallest amount of light will trigger growth.

The two varieties pictured here are Yukon Gold and Adirondack Blue.  I also got some Adirondack Red potatoes a couple months ago and have already planted them in pots.

Last year, I wanted to get the potatoes off to an early start so I did this technique which worked really well:  I got several 3-5 gallon plastic pots, put about 4" of potting mix in the bottom, laid the potatoes in, then sprinkled another 2-3" of potting mix over the top to cover the potatoes.  I then placed the pots in the greenhouse where the potatoes quickly started to grow.  As they grew, I added more potting mix in the pots.  In early May, I planted them out in the garden.  By the end of summer, the number of potatoes had increased tenfold.

There are never enough seed trays at this time of year.

Growing in the tray below, from left to right, are some red bell peppers, English daisies, watermelon, walking stick kale, and carving pumpkins.  Also in the lower-right corner of this picture are three Berberis darwinii seedlings collected from the Arboretum. 


  1. I dig the zone 8 efforts. I also live in Seattle and like freaky plants. I have been to Far Reaches Farm many times and have a few plants getting big in my garden. I'm sure all gardeners can relate to your Seattle spring frustration. I sure can. I weeded all day today and yesterday in the freakin rain! It sucked (but of corse I liked it and started to remember a bunch of stuff I planted that I forgot about). Everything is just about to pop big time.

    1. We did luck out with getting a mild winter so it's not all that bad, right?