Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Fall Crops/Ornamentals

In the PNW, we have two shorter and cooler growing seasons, spring and fall. While spring crops mature, it is time to think about a second round of cool weather crops for fall cultivating.

There is an abundance of crops and ornamentals to be planted this fall, as the summer heat dissipates. Perennial vegetables and herbs can be transplanted at the end of August, and examples are asparagus and horseradish. Perennial herbs such as sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, chives, do well when planted in the fall. This is also a great time to plant perennial flowers and bulbs.  (Follow bulb planting directions.)

Another option if you want a fall crop is to plant short season, quick maturing crops such as lettuce, arugula, mache, radishes, baby kale, and spinach.  In some cases, your crops may overwinter if we have a mild winter.  Some crops are not bothered by snow cover and will greet you next spring. (This is my kale crop from two years ago.)

The key to determining if you can get a short season crop is to pay close attention to your seed catalog and seed packet.  According to this seed packet for spinach, it can be planted while the soil temperature is 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit and it takes 6-21 days to mature.  The crop matures in 45 days.  If we count backward from when we get our first frost (around the first week of November), we need to count backward 45+ 14 (an average germination time) days. 45+14 = 59 days and 59 days from November 1st is roughly September 1st. So, September first is the latest you should sow your seeds before the November frost.

Territorial Seed has a fall and winter catalog.  I like this company because they test their seeds and crops right here in the Pacific Northwest; also their catalog provides a wealth of gardening information. 

Common cool-season vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chives, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss card, kale, leek, lettuce, onion, parsnips, peas, bok-choy, mizuna, mustard greens, chicory, radishes, spinach, fava beans, orach, sorrel, and turnips. 

Keep in mind the water shuts off mid-October.  We hope you try a fall garden this year!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Our Hopelink Connection

     Summer seems to have arrived. Local temperatures hit almost 80 degrees Fahrenheit last week. With the governer's office tightening some social restrictions, we are lucky to have such a free and open space to garden. My nightly walks at the garden are a godsend to the stress of daily life. It is a time to really "smell the roses," take photos, help others, work my plots, and pick produce to donate.

     Our friend's at Hopelink, rely on our fresh, organic produce. Our food banks produce much of this food, but Hopelink's customers crave variety! They enjoy herbs, berries, and flowers. If you have extra to donate, they would appreciate it. During these tough and uncertain times, helping others with a donation of food helps immeasurably.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Pesky Pests at MCGA

Gardening is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can do, with long-lasting positive effects on yourself, your community, and the environment.  Gardening also brings you a lot closer to the creatures you're sharing your garden with! Many gardeners build their gardens around what wildlife they want to attract.

At times, the animals that visit your garden may be pests that eat your seedlings, chew up / damage your starts, or even just walk all over your garden, leaving their hoofprints as a calling card. There are rabbits, voles, deer, and more. However, we also have beneficial mammals that make our garden home. Did you know we have a weasel that lives in our garden?  It is a carnivore that eats many pests, such as voles. Keep an eye out for it, it is lightning fast. For this reason, we do not allow rodent traps of any kind. 

Scissor Type Mole Eliminator Gopher Elimination Trap Reusable Free From Digging

Our garden is an organic one.  We do not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
These synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are not permitted.  

These products are not permitted:

Here is a shortlist of approved pesticides:  Safer insecticidal soap, neem oil, and Sluggo.  You may use products labeled with OMRI, which are designed for organic gardening.  Remember, even natural pesticides may harm beneficial insects so read the label carefully.  Email us anytime with questions or help with pest ID.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Let the Season Begin

     The garden season has begun in earnest.  Many of us have spent the past 1-2 weeks ridding our plots and paths of weeds/grass.  Completely removing as many weeds as possible is one of the keys to a successful herb and vegetable garden.  Weeds rob your crops of nutrients, they harbor pests, they harbor diseases, and they compete with your crops for water.

MCGA's Most Common Weeds (A short and not exhaustive list)

1. Comfrey-Marymoor park would like our help to eradicate this weed from the park.  Comfrey is a deep-rooted plant and must be dug out all the way down to its roots.  Any remaining roots will resprout continually. It can grow to 4 feet tall.

2.  Morning glory-Controlling bindweed can be difficult, but it can be done if you are willing to take the time. Part of why it is so hard to get rid of bindweed is that it has a large and hardy root system. Single attempts to remove bindweed roots will not be successful. Roots have to be investigated, traced, and dug out.

Morning glory roots

3.  Buttercup-Buttercups form a creeping mat of dense foliage that can quickly overtake the lawn or a garden bed. These perennial plants bear dark green, three-segment, toothed leaves and produce yellow flowers. Buttercups spread through both extensive roots and seeds. The only way to remove this plant is to dig this weed out manually.

4. Quack Grass and Crab Grass- These two grasses are hard to eradicate!  

Quack grass has miles and miles of white roots.  Each root segment will develop into a plant unless removed.  When digging quack grass follow each root and remove as much of it as possible. 

Crabgrass is slightly different.  It forms an umbrella-like clump with tiny but firm roots. Pull and dig the entire clump out to remove the plant.

5. Dandelion-Dandelions are a tap-rooted weed; the main root is long and thin like a carrot.  Removing the green top will not get rid of the plant, the entire root must be dug out and removed. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Cool Season vs. Warm Season Crops

MCGA is an open space that receives plenty of sun.  At the height of the summer, the sun rises at ~5:30 a.m. and sets at ~9:00 p.m.  There are many, many crops that thrive at MCGA, however, the temperature is a controlling factor in what can be planted.

As we plan our spring gardens, it is wise to think about the crops which prefer cooler spring temperatures. Also note:  crops like beets, carrots, turnips, and beans prefer direct seeding in the garden vs. being transplanted.

Cool-season crops can be planted in the spring and fall when the weather is cooler.  Warm-season crops need warmer soil and nighttime temperatures are consistently above 55F in the evening. (~Around mid-May).  See the list below.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Grow What You Like to Eat

As you peruse garden catalogs and search for seeds for the upcoming season, consider growing all the things you like to eat.

If you enjoy dumplings, garlic chives are a must-have for this delicious steamed or pan-fried Chinese staple.

Try Vietnamese coriander, an aromatic herb, that enlivens noodle bowls and stir fry.

Raw spearmint leaves that are tucked into Vietnamese summer rolls bring fragrance as well as a refreshing flavor. Chili peppers add mouth-watering heat to many dishes. 

Growing more herbs is not the only thing we have been recommending.  Adding flowers to your dishes for some spicy deliciousness.

I also have a saying “never eat the same salad twice.” Adding a pinch of this, a leaf of that can change your salad-eating experience. Flowers not only add color to salads; many blooms pack a flavorful punch.

Try this salad recipe:
1 baby zucchini, thinly shaved
Several stalks of fresh asparagus shaved
A pinch of baby beet greens, arugula, parsley, green fennel greens, m√Ęche, baby lettuce
Herb of your choice
1 soft-boiled egg
Grana Padano (a hard cheese) shavings
Nasturtium flowers
Dress with a drizzle of your favorite vinegar, good oil, salt, and pepper.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Gardening in the Off Season

We have barely passed the winter solstice. With each passing day, the PNW gets 1-2 mins more of daylight.  By the time May 1st, our cultivation deadline, the sun will rise at approximately 5:50 a.m. and set at 8:22 p.m. BUT, May 1st is still 4 months away.  What is one to do before May 1st?

Option 1: Collect, read, study, seed catalogs.

Option 2: As spring approaches, early bulbs like snowdrops start rearing their little heads.  Local gardens start their garden tours, here are some local gardens to check out.




Option 3: Wish for a sunny, warm day to visit your garden plot and do a bit of work on it.

Option 4:  Take some garden classes




Option 5: Visit a local nursery and dream about spring



However you spend your winter, we look forward to seeing you at our first work party, usually in the second week of April.