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GROW: Garden Report 6/10/17

GROW: Garden Report 6/10/17

Whew!  Spring is always a busy time for gardeners but I made it even busier by not completing the projects and chores in the garden last fall. I did manage to finish gopher-proofing 7 of the 9 raised beds, protect the beds with straw mulch, plant two beds with 4 different garlic cultivars.  The biggest project, a large flat squash bed using the sheet mulch method did not get started.  Our wicked winter of over 100 inches of snow hit earlier than I planned and to be honest, I just closed the gate and greenhouse until the snow melted.  Last year was one of transition and frustration.

Spring has barely arrived – it took forever for the snow to melt and even longer for it to warm up enough to think about seed-starting and planting. At 42 degrees this morning, it’s hard to believe that the summer solstice is only 11 days away.

INTERNS: This year I am lucky to have two wonderful interns who come on Wednesdays to help in the garden in exchange for some education, a portion of the harvest and some medicinal herb making & learning. They are worker bees and have helped me move forward with a variety of projects.

IN THE GREENHOUSE: Seed-Starting, Germination & Seed Hoarding

I admit it: I am a seed hoarder. When the seed catalogs arrive in winter I always order too many seeds. My seeds are not always treated well: They get tossed into plastic bins, left in the hot greenhouse during the season, eventually finding their winter resting spot in the freezer. But after several (ok, more than several) years, I simply had too many seeds and likely many had lost their viability. 

 It was time to empty the seed bin so we spent several hours in the greenhouse seeding trays filled with seed starting mix. We started with the oldest seed first and worked our way through all of the old seed. And then we waited.

Frizzy Lizzy Mustard, pac choi, kale

Frizzy Lizzy Mustard, pac choi, kale

Greens, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and onions germinated quickly though the number of plants was smaller than I hoped because of old seed. Fortunately, I have new seeds for future succession plantings.

I traveled in early spring so did not start tomatoes & peppers under lights. And that proved to be a poor decision.  Several attempts to start nightshade members failed. So I called a grower friend who had lots of heirloom tomato starts and I traded medicinal herb salves for 8 tomato plants.  No pepper plants this year.

Purple basil

Purple basil

Purple basil, anyone?  Must have been 100% germination. Friends and family can expect purple basil infused vinegar this holiday season! Genovese & lettuce leaf basil – one plant each.  Lots of lemongrass germination though it is clearly waiting for the heat to arrive.  A few dill and only two parsley plants. 

Flower seeds?  Nada!  Going to try again this week with the remaining seeds.

GARDEN: Planted and Growing

All nine raised beds are planted:

o   Two beds in garlic that will be harvested in mid-July. Radishes and carrots are planted in between the garlic rows. Summer squash starts will go into these beds.

o   One bed in peas that have had the hardest time germinating (very unusual).

o   One bed in lettuce & turnips- directly sown

o   One bed in Lacinto kale, Frizzy Lizzy mustard and Dragon Tongue mustard.  Red onion starts are planted around the edges of each bed.

o   Two beds in broccoli, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts.  Edged in green onion starts.

o   One bed in yellow storage onions. 

o   One bed in fingerling potatoes. I don’t normally grow potatoes because I don’t eat them much but I bought a bag of organic fingerling potatoes that I put in the pantry and then forgot about them. When I pulled them out weeks later they had sprouted so into the garden they went. You can’t plant non-organic potatoes because they have been sprayed to prevent sprouting.

Fingerling Potato

Fingerling Potato

o   Strawberries and raspberries were moved to a bed that is not gopher proofed but it appears they don’t like the woody crowns and roots. At least so far…

o   A neighbor dropped off 12 free asparagus plants and they were planted into the former strawberry beds.

Sunflower, Amaranth and Red Kuri Squash

Sunflower, Amaranth and Red Kuri Squash

o   The squash bed got started and planted: Laid concrete mesh panels to keep out the gophers and then sheet mulched to create the planting bed.  A layer of cardboard that I had been storing in the barn, a thick layer of composted horse manure, a layer of straw, a layer of native soil, a layer of more horse manure and topped with a layer of commercial compost.  I then planted sunflower seeds in the back, amaranth plants next, then another row of sunflower seeds (smaller sized) and then my Red Kuri squash plants, using seeds I saved from last year.

Hugelkultur bed - tomatoes and tomatillos

Hugelkultur bed - tomatoes and tomatillos

My hugelkultur bed is the new home for my tomatoes and tomatillos. I have summer squash and cucumbers germinating for the THIRD time: mice in the greenhouse ate the first set of seeds, so I moved the seed trays out to table in the garden (uncovered) and the birds ate the emerging seedlings and so now they are covered!


Frizzy Lizzy for salads  - Dragon’s Tongue for stir fry & salad

Green onions - Radishes

Mint for tea - Chives & blossoms - Lemon Balm - Oregano

Rhubarb  (upcoming post on Rhubarb Shrub & Rhubarb leather

Author: Sue Kusch

Sue Kusch, a former community college instructor and academic advisor, incorporates her experiential wisdom, expertise and science-based research garnered from her three decades of growing vegetables, fruit and herbs into her educational writing about plants and how people use them. In addition to her BA in Social Sciences and Masters in Education, she completed the Master Gardener training in 2011 and two permaculture courses in 2001 and 2014. She has studied medicinal and nutritional uses of herbs including studies at and East West School of Planetary Herbology since 1997. Sue currently serves as President and newsletter editor of her local chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society.  An avid reader, lover of historical and folkloric information, and a promising storyteller, Sue writes about the intersection of plants and people at


Each month I send out a couple of informative newsletters that include tips, weird and/or interesting plant facts, amazing plant photos, favorite plant quotes & jokes and the latest from my website and projects. Seriously - you don't want to miss them!


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COOK: Rhubarb Vinaigrette & Rhubarb Leather

COOK: Rhubarb Vinaigrette & Rhubarb Leather

COOK: Chive Talkin' - Chive Butter & Chive Blossom Vinegar

COOK: Chive Talkin' - Chive Butter & Chive Blossom Vinegar