A Seattle Fall is Here

As many have noticed, a Seattle fall is here. The rains have arrived and the dark each night is coming sooner and sooner.

With the gardening season damping down, so will the frequency of posts. But this doesn’t mean that your gardening needs to stop for the fall and winter.

Keep on top of the beds, now is time for garden renewal. Its time to add compost and other amendments to have your garden ready for first spring planting.

I am going to cover my beds here tonight to keep all of my overwinterers safe and secure for the season.

With the fall of the hail yesterday this tells me that the temperature is supposed to drop TONIGHT, and almost as cold as a frost, so cover your little ones and hunker down.

The Harvest

So yesterday, in anticipation of the coming cool weather and dark afternoons, I harvested the abundance from the garden. Really the only thing in abundance at this point was my tomatoes! Yes tomatoes!

I harvested about 7 pounds of the three varieties I planted. The plants still have more tomatoes on them waiting to ripen or waiting to become fried green tomatoes!


The two plants above are the Territorial Stupice and the Tess’ Land Race. By far the plant with the most tomatoes, although small tomatoes, was the Kibits Ukranian Tomato. See this post for more info on these!

I am also looking forward to the fall garden with spinach, lettuce, and carrots planted for the fall.


On Sunday I also planted some onions for a summer harvest – Egyptian Walking Onions from Territorial Seed. (I received mine on Saturday and they look sold out already!) They are a neat looking top-setting onion, and I will keep you posted on their growth!

So, what have you harvested? Whats growing for your fall garden?

Advice – Sweet Potatoes

And a reader writes:

I’m thinking of trying my hand at growing sweet potatoes…a friend had one that has sprouted so she gave it to me…so i’m wondering; can one grow sweet potatoes in the PNW??

Unfortunately, doubtful. Sweet potatoes want a lot of heat and sunlight for their growing season. They also have a 4-5 month growth cycle that requires the heat and sunlight. That in combination without the copious amounts of rain we receive here would make me think you’d receive less than satisfactory results.

The possibility does exist of a variety that has been bred over the years to make it a suitable veggie variety here in the PNW, I just haven’t seen one, or been able to find one.

If you were to find a great variety here are simplified growing instructions (starting from a tuber).

Cut tuber in half, perch overtop of a cup containing water, being sure that a portion of the potato touches the water. To produce slips, the potato will require warmth, so place in a sunny window or near a heat source. Roots and sprouts will grow on the tuber.

After the sprouts have grown, gently twist those off the sweet potato and place into water, roots will grow from these. These are called slips. You can also buy slips from a store or via the internet. When these roots are about an inch long, you can plant them gently into the loose, well-drained soil in your garden.

Once all these slips are planted in your garden, water them thoroughly each day for a week, the next week every other day. Each week the watering will get further apart until you are watering about once a week. Sweet potatoes don’t like to be continuously watered. Allow the soil to dry before watering again.

So, there are the directions to growing sweet potatoes – although I doubt they’ll produce well here in the pacific northwest.

Is there anything you’ve tried growing and succeeded with when others said that it wouldn’t work? Leave your comments below for us!

Almanac Predictions – September 2012

Well September is here, and here are the predictions for the next month.

The almanac calls for below average temperatures and above average precipitation.

And so, while we are going on day number 44 of no measurable precipitation, I think the almanac got it all wrong last month with “near normal precipitation”, although they did mention the showers would be confined to the Cascades. Hmm, any showers in the Cascades?

Another prediction for the month of September are widespread showers the 24th – 25th.

Stay tuned for more predictions next month!

Come by tomorrow for info regarding sweet potatoes in the Pacific Northwest!

Fall Protection

The trees are starting to turn colors, and there is a very slight nip in the air. Here soon we will see the first fall frost, typically the end of October, but many of our plants will be damaged by temperatures below about 38°. It’s time to start thinking about fall protection.

There are a couple of different options to help extend your growing season. There are fabric covers, greenhouses, cloches, and cold frames. You can find fabric covers at most local garden shops and online. They range in size from 6′ wide to some over 25′ wide. Many fabric covers are designed to be placed directly on top of the plants.

A greenhouse is an additional option – though out of the price range that I am in. I don’t really have the funds to heat a greenhouse in the winter when it would be needed most. So a greenhouse is out of the question for me.

There is also the option of a cloche. A cloche refers to two different types of protective cover. The first refers to a glass bell jar. These bell jars also come in plastic, and only cover an individual plant. They require a bit of attention as the interior heat can build up quickly to scorch the plants. The second is a low tunnel that allows the plants headroom and is typically covered by either a fabric or plastic sheet, which allows light transmission.

And the final option is a cold frame. A cold frame is typically a built up frame of wood or plastic that has a lid with a transparent panel. This panel can be made of glass or rigid plastic. I am thinking of making a cold frame of the same material as I made my raised beds, cedar decking, and making the panels of an old window, though I think that the better option may be to make the panels out of a rigid insulated plastic.

For my beds I use a fabric that is 12′ wide and 25′ long. This allows me to drape the fabric over the EMT the entire length of two beds and have room to tie them off. This year I have also invested in plastic clips to keep the fabric in place over my 3/4″ EMT structure. So after thinking about it, my current set-up is a hybrid between a cloche and a fabric cover.

Also you can sign up for our alerts and get notified of severe weather events in the Seattle area. See our Alerts page!

Does this make you think about protecting your garden a little while longer? What is your setup?

What is a Veggie?

The question has been brought up many times – What is a veggie? There are some plants that we grow in our veggie gardens that are actually fruits, like tomatoes. But the true meaning of a veggie has been debated for many years.

The word vegetable was first seen in the English language in the 15th century. 1957 was the first time the slang term “veggie” was seen.

Veggies can be classified botanically, culinary, and culturally. Botanical classification is based on seed and skin.Vegetables are plants cultivated for their edible parts (beets, spinach, cauliflower), whereas fruits are the ripened ovaries of a plant (tomatoes, pea pods, and nuts).

Culinary classification is based typically on sugar content. Squash and zucchini are fruits botanically, but they have a lower sugar content and are rarely seen outside of the main courses, as we would typically see fruits, therefore we typically call them vegetables.

Culturally some vegetables can go either way, avocado for example. In some cultures avocado is used as a salad accompaniment and in others it is eaten on its own.

So, as you see, veggies are all around, and the classification is broad and in the gray scale. So my official ruling is that anything we grow and eat is considered a veggie!

So… Do you veggie?

I Just Don’t Have the Time…

I am an avid veggie gardener. I love to get out there and get my hands dirty. There is just something that I love so much about it, and because of this, I am always trying to convert people into veggie gardeners. But a line I hear a lot is, “But I just don’t have the time.”

But there is a little known secret… it doesn’t take as much time as one might think. I can tell you that in the last week, I have been out in the garden for about an hour total, and a lot of that time was spent finding the potatoes I missed during last summer’s harvest. On average I only spend about 5-7 minutes per day out in the veggie garden, if I end up making it out there at all. I love veggie gardening, but just like you, sometimes, I just don’t have the time.

And then you ask, but what about watering? Nope, on a timer. This one actually. I have it set up to water twice a day, twenty minutes each. Easy to set up, I just wish that it had another output to be able to water the apple tree and blueberry bushes on a time too. But I can add another timer on later.

Weeding? Hardly any. I pull whatever weeds I see in those same 5-7 minutes. A point though about this is that you must start with clean soil mixture. My mixture was 1/4 peat moss, 1/4 vermiculite, and 1/2 Cedar Grove 2-way compost/sand blend. If you start with a clean mix, you will be much happier.

The bulk of my time is spent in the garden is just looking at it, and enjoying the peacefulness it gives me knowing that I grew these plants, from seed. In full disclosure, my setup did take some time to get started. My husband and I built the beds, set the irrigation line, mixed the soil, and then fabricated the rover cover supports. This is a good weekend’s work, but well worth it.

Over the next week, I am going to be timing the amount of time I am out in the veggie garden, and then I will give you an accurate count. And building the beds, creating the soil mixture, and fabricating the row covers, can all be done in the fall/winter time when there is a bit more time available.

So after finding out the secret, can you set aside a weekend to get started?