Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What to Plant in the June Edible Garden

Good morning Portland gardeners!

June is happily arriving and the garden is full of her colorful vibrant blooms and lush shades of green. Wildlife is everywhere from bees, to butterflies, hummingbirds, and all kinds of other happy critters. I just had my garden certified as a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. Fun!

Speaking of garden critters, don't miss my next workshop Organic Gardening to Attract Bees, Butterflies, and Beneficial Bugs Sunday June 3 1pm. Registration & more information here.

My peonies, columbine, delphinium, lupine, rhododendron, and wisteria have just finished their lavish show. Taking center stage now are clematis, poppies, foxglove, catmint, yarrow, spanish lavender, stock, sweet peas, and dianthus. The garden is a delightful explosion of pinks and purples.

Did you notice May was very dry? In fact, it was one of the least rainfall May months we've ever had. I'm not accustomed to watering so much in May and unintentionally let the garden get really dry. Last week I gave a really deep watering to the in-ground garden, raised beds, and containers. Be sure you are staying on top of watering when we receive little to no rainfall. Remember, less frequent deeper watering is more beneficial than frequent shallow watering.

Every day I am harvesting from the edible garden romaine & butterhead lettuce, mesclun mix, mache, collards, lacinato & red russian kale, leaf broccoli, sugar snap peas, snow peas, green garlic, and florence fennel.

Annual edible flowers like calendula and 'lemon gem' marigolds have joined spring-blooming violas with their bright and tasty blooms. Do you have edible flowers in your vegetable garden? If not you are missing out! Join me on Sunday June 3 at 11am for Organic Edible Flower Gardening. Registration and more information here.

Herbs are abundant and I am enjoying the flavors of fresh chervil, dill, lovage, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, thyme, savory, tarragon, mint, lemon balm, and lemon verbena. A handful of freshly snipped garden herbs adds a welcome layer of taste to my cooking. Stay tuned for more information on a summer organic herb gardening immersion workshop in my own garden this July!

Summer fruit season is highly anticipated. My pale pink strawberries are beginning to ripen, blueberries have set their green fruit, and the raspberries are covered in white flowers announcing what is to come later this summer.

The last week of May ended with night temperatures dipping into the upper 40s, which is no good for tender summer vegetables & herbs like basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, peppers, and corn. Nightly I have been covering up our 2 melon plants. So far the tomato plants seem to have withstood the cooler nights. The cucumber plants look tiny, yellow, and wilted. I think the cold has stunted them so I will purchase new plants and replant the 2nd week in June. I am happy I held off on planting basil. The two basil plants I have are happily living in the sunny bathroom until warmer days.

If you are having any problems with disease, pests, yield or other concerns in the vegetable garden I hope you will join me on Sunday June 10 at 11am for Troubleshooting the Organic Edible Garden. Registration and more information here.

You might wonder if it is too late to plant vegetables and herbs in your garden. It is not! Through the rest of June you can continue to plant all of the following crops:

Melons & Watermelons
Scallions/Green onions
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Sweet Potatoes
Tomatillos and ground cherries
Winter Squash

June is still a good time to plant all annual and perennial herbs with the exception of cilantro and chervil that prefer the cooler weather of spring and fall.

Continue planting summer blooming annuals as companion plants to attract beneficial bugs and pollinators as well as provide colorful beauty!

This month as we are turning from spring to summer I think it is too late to plant fruit, as you probably won't get much of a harvest this year. It is too late to start any onions other than scallions/green onions.

As the weather is warming up it is also time to take a break from planting crops that like cooler weather: arugula, asian greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cilantro, cress, endive/escarole, fennel, kohlrabi, mustard greens, peas, radicchio, spinach, and turnip.

Its hard to believe but in July and August we will be turning our attention to planting vegetables for a fall and winter harvest!

Enjoy the sunshine and remember to keep the garden watered, unless we've received an ample rain.

I don't know about you, but I am really excited for summer. This spring has been 3 months of frantic busy work for me! Designing, planning, and planting gardens for work and at home. Garden consultation, container installations, teaching classes, speaking at events, and weekly therapeutic horticulture. I am more than ready for the warm, slow days of summer to take a deep breath, put my feet up, savor a glass of garden-fresh herbal iced tea and enjoy sitting peacefully in the garden.

Hoping to see you on June 3 and 10th at Portland Nursery for my free gardening classes and on June 24 for my 2nd annual open garden. Stay posted for more information on gardening workshops I'm offering in my own garden in July and August.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What to do plant in the May edible garden

Greeting Portland gardening friends,

Happy May Day! Happy Beltane! Happy Spring!

The daffodils and tulips that harkened the end of dreary cold winter have completed their cheery early blooming. The ornamental cherry and pear trees have given way to flowering dogwood in delightful shades of bright pink and creamy white. Lilac, wisteria, bleeding heart, rhododendron, and azalea flowers have arrived in their dazzling annual show. Trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, and perennials have all burst into lush shades of green.

Spring predictably and reliably arrives every year, and yet we are so thrilled and relieved when it is finally here. The season of Beltane celebrates fertility and growth exploding all around us in the natural world.

The first day of May has traditionally been celebrated as the beginning of the growing season, a time of cleansing from the winter, and purification of livestock. Children gave baskets of flowers to family, neighbors, and friends. All danced around the may pole. This seasonal holiday still has relevance to us in modern times. It is an excellent opportunity to take some time strolling in nature, get off the concrete and onto dirt or grass. Observe the spring unfolding all around us.

Bring some fragrant lilacs, tulips, or iris into your home or office. This morning I cut and brought fresh lilacs & wisteria inside, and now my home smells so delicious. Clean out your pantry and donate to the local food bank. Light a candle and thank Mother Nature for her brightness and bounty during the return of spring.

In my edible garden I am harvesting the first of the spring vegetables: mesclun mix, collard greens, leaf broccoli, 'Redbor' and 'Lacinato' kale, crunchy romaine lettuce, and a tender butterhead lettuce in stunning red splashed on green leaves. The snow and sugar snap peas are tall and luscious. They just set their first flowers, pods will soon be on the way in the next couple of weeks. Radish seeds have germinated, but the carrot, scallion and kohlrabi seeds have been slow to sprout. I keep the seed bed covered with a frost blanket, so that marauding squirrels and cats can't destroy the exposed soil.

If you know me, you know growing potatoes in containers is one of Mr. Gardening Goddess' favorite edible crops! Due to the cool wet March weather we got a later start than most years, planting on March 31. 'Russian banana' fingerling and 'dark red norland' are doing great and one month after planting we piled up the first layering of soil.

The herb garden is daily a delightful source of flavorful and fragrant additions to my cooking: chervil, cilantro, chives, lovage, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme.

Raspberry canes have leafed out and soon will reach 6 feet tall. The container grown 3-year-old blueberry bushes are covered in flowers on many new branches. 3 varieties of strawberries, all grown in containers and hanging baskets, have delicate white flowers. Eagerly anticipating berry season is an delectable annual tradition in our home.

Our average last frost around April 15th has come and gone. Warm days can hit the low 80s. Most days average somewhere in the upper 50s to low 60s. Snow, ice, frost, and bitter temperatures are a memory for us. However, hail, wind, rain, thunderstorms, and night temperatures dipping into the 40s are typically with us throughout the entire month of May. These conditions do not equal frost, but it does mean weather that is not yet supportive of hot-season crops like tomatoes and basil. A few days in the 80s do not mean summer is here yet.

In case you are tempted to plant your tomatoes in the next few days when the temperatures warm up, let me reassure you it is still WAY TOO EARLY TO PLANT TOMATOES! Hot-season crops like tomatoes need night temperatures consistently above 55 degrees, and we are still averaging night temps in the low 50s and upper 40s. Typically night temperatures are supportive of growing tomatoes happen around May 15-June.

Please wait a few more weeks for your tomato plants. Planting them too early only causes plants to be stressed, stunted, or die. You don't get any "jump start" by planting heat loving vegetable when the weather is too cool. For full information on organic tomato gardening please read this post.

There is still a lot you can plant in the edible garden including most herbs, fruit, and lots of "cool season" vegetables. With warming soil temperatures, May is the perfect time to direct seed your root vegetables. If you want peas get them planted now! Peas wither in the hot heat of summer, so they are ideally planted March-April, and as late as early May.

Here's what to plant now:
Asian Greens
Broccoli & Broccoli Raab
Brussels Sprouts
Carrots-direct seed
Florence Fennel
Mustard Greens
Radishes-direct seed
Salad Greens: arugula, cress, endive, radicchio-direct seed
Swiss Chard
Turnip-direct seed

These are HOT SEASON crops that need night temperatures consistently above 55 degrees. Typically planted mid May to early June depending on the year. Please wait and do not plant these crops yet: basil, beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, gourd, ground cherries, melons, peppers, pumpkins, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, winter squash, and zucchini.

Even though it is still too early to plant tomatoes, I mark their space in the garden with tomato cages. That way I don't get too overzealous planting cool season crops and don't save any space for warm season crops with later planting dates. I keep all of my unplanted raised bed soil covered with a frost blanket or cardboard to keep out the critters.

Be sure to tuck in several annual flowers in your edible garden. They help attract beneficial bugs. Some of my favorites: alyssum, calendula, cleome, cosmos, marigold, nasturtium, petunia, snapdragons, sunflower, zinnia. May is the ideal month for finding the best selection of annual bedding flowers.

Happy May and Happy Gardening,