Nothing beats walking out to your garden on a warm summer day and harvesting food straight from the ground. But if enjoying home-grown food this summer is a goal, it’s time to start planning and planting now. Limited on time and experience when it comes to gardening? Here are a few no-fuss crops that love the Pacific Northwest climate and provide a big, delicious pay-off, without quite so much work.
Mixed Baby Greens
A bowl of fresh, mixed baby greens are not only beautiful to look at and delicious, they’re also easy to grow. Just throw those seeds into some good soil once all danger of frost has passed, make sure the seeds stay wet, and they will start to sprout in a week if the soil is warm enough. Mixed greens do best in raised beds or containers where they can be easily covered with netting to protect them from pests. But really, they’ll be happy anywhere with enough sun and good soil. Once they get going, the baby greens will be ready in no time. Check out Ed Hume’s mixed green blends for a wonderful and tasty selection. The directions on his seed packets are also pretty fool-proof.
When the sun starts heating up and strawberries ripen, there is no better luxury than picking a berry right off the stem and giving it a taste. Sure, rinsing it first is probably advisable, but there is something about a berry warmed by the sun that just you can’t beat. Go to a local nursery, and buy strawberry plants, not seeds. When picking strawberry plants, make sure to get varieties that love our climate, like Rainiers, Bentons, or Quinalts. It’s also a good idea to invest in some netting to cover the berries once they start fruiting, because birds are a strawberry grower’s worst enemy. Netting also helps cut down, though not entirely avoid, other pests. Ask someone at the nursery to help you pick out the right varieties for your space and for more specific directions. Early spring is a great time to plant, so get on it!
Looking for a veggie that can be used in a million recipes, and will impress all your friends with its abundance? If those factors are priorities, plant zucchinis. Because they grow as somewhat bushy plants, they will need some space, and they’ll also need good sunlight. Make sure to get seeds from a Pacific Northwest seed producer, because the leaves do tend to get a bit moldy and if they’re not meant for this climate, they will get even moldier. Follow directions according to the seed packet, and by summer delicious zucchinis will be blossoming. These are some productive plants, so start planning recipes now.
Chard is a staple in Pacific Northwest gardens, and there’s a reason for that. Chard is hearty, nutritious, easy to grow, and it loves our climate. You can eat it raw, or cooked, and it’s good in so many things, that it’s a must-grow for any veggie garden. March is a great time to sow hearty green seeds like chard, so get digging and planting. Make sure to buy seeds from a local supplier so they’re acclimated to our mild Pacific Northwest climate. If seeds are planted in good soil, in a fairly sunny spot, and kept nice and moist, they should grow into tasty chard pretty quickly. Make sure to follow directions on the seed packet for more specific instructions.
Nothing is easier to care for and more prolific than oregano. They don’t call herbs hearty perennials for nothing. Oregano is one of the easiest perennials you can grow. It’s a little late to plant from seed, and a little early to plant for a start, but this plant is as durable as they come. If someone just threw a plant into their yard with zero care or attention tomorrow, it would probably begin to grow voraciously by June. Like the other hearty perennial on this list — strawberries — get your start from a local nursery and follow the instructions given. If someone has an established oregano plant in their garden, another option is to dig up a chunk of that and plant it. The plants grow huge, are deliciously fragrant, the flowers draw in pollinators, and they even help repel some pests.
This is by no means meant to be an all-inclusive garden guide, more of a jumping off point, and list of ideas. If any of these crops sound like viable options, do some research, and find out how to best grow and harvest these tasty crops. But if having a summer garden is a goal — get going! The best summer garden is sowed in the spring.