Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Musings on Spring Gardening

Dear Readers,

This afternoon I was shopping at the grocery store in a mad quest for canned pumpkin. Don't ask people. OK fine! I owe homemade pumpkin pies to my co-worker Stevia. They are well-earned after all the help he gave me moving TWICE in December, plus showing up and helping me out with my yard downsize, AND storing all my tools, potting bench, and misc garden stuff in his garage while I'm in an apartment. All he asked for in return was his favorite, pumpkin pies. Apparently canned pumpkin is out of season and I've been checking every where. I digress...

While I was at the grocery store today I noted several clueless people walking out of the garden center with gallon size tomato plants. And, when I say clueless I am not being condescending or judgement. I honestly just mean clearly they don't know. Since I love talking veggie gardening I thought I'd take this opportunity to let you know, it's too early for planting tomatoes. Way too early. It's March 27th and in Portland our average last frost date is April 15th. Tomatoes are a warm season veggie that ideally likes to be planted around Memorial Day. Yup, that's right late May. Not late March. Jumping the gun by about 2 months people. Tomatoes are not frost tolerant. And, regardless of what some jack-ass in the grocery store garden center tells you, it's not ok to plant them yet. I know we've had an unseasonably warm late winter and early spring, but last week I scraped ice off my windshield in the morning. So no matter how warm the days are the nights are still at risk for frost. Tomatoes require night temperatures consistently above at least 50 degrees. We are no where near that.

I know you are eager to garden, we all are. You can still plant lots of stuff in your garden right now. There is a wide array of cool season veggies that would love to be planted in April like kale, mustard greens, collards, cabbage, broccoli, broccoli raab, arugula, micro greens, beets, turnips, carrots, radishes, peas, kohlrabi, bok choy & asian greens, scallions, shallots, onions, garlic, and potatoes. It's awesome timing for perennial veggies like artichokes, asparagus, jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), horseradish, and rhubarb. It's also a great time to plant small fruit: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, vining fruit: kiwis & grapes, and fruit trees: apples, pears, asian pears, plums, cherries, figs, and persimmons. You have a lot to choose from. Just wait on the warm season crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, winter squash, pumpkins, melons, and beans.

A really great resource for lots of this information is the Portland Nursery website, in particular the Vegetable & Herb index page, the Veggie Planting Calender (which I helped write), and the Fruits & Berries index page.

Please also ask me your gardening questions. I know sometimes I groan when you do this, just because people are always picking my gardener brain when I'm not at work. But, really, I love it. Please use me as your resource. Lord knows I've got a lot of information stashed up in my rolodex brain. This week I was laying on the acupuncture table, settling in and relaxing as the needles were being placed, when my Acupuncturist (who I adore!) asked me about pollination needs of blueberry plants. I started laughing thinking "you are sticking needles in my ankles and asking me gardening questions!" (If you need a good acupuncturist, please go see Taya!) This is not exclusive to my Acupuncturist, because my Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistants, Pilates Trainer, Chiropractor and Massage Therapists all do the same thing. The cashiers at Trader Joe's ask me gardening questions. Seriously people, I have this nightmare that sometime I'm going to be having sex, and my lover is going to look up and ask me for planting advice. Ok, now that I've got that out of my system, feel free to ask me for help.

Better yet, please hire me as your Gardening Coach to give you a consultation at your home. I charge $50/hour and my rate is well worth it. In one hour you can ask me every single gardening question you have and pick my brain clean. I also offer garden design and installation at an additional rate. I accept bartering arrangements. You can reach me at

Happy Spring,
Miss Jolie Ann

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