Northwest NEWS

March 4, 2002

Home & Garden

Backyard gardener

by Swend Trefethen
   Special to the Weekly
   I was thinking about what I was going to do in the garden this year when it struck me that haven't started a 2002 garden log. Almost every year I start in February jotting down what I've done so far. That seems to trigger more ideas and that means I usually start sketching out plans of the space.
   If I don't make a list I get completely out of sync. Lists of seeds, lists of fertilizers and supplies, lists of jobs to be done and in what order. I'm a "list" person.
   I'm going to be gone for about two weeks to Maui and I'm already thinking about what I need to do when I get back. I know the first thing will be to start the seeds in flats in the house. My wife lets me bring in one of the picnic benches (if I wash it and set it on paper) in the living room on the south side. There are two sets of windows about 10 feet wide and the benches get the flats right up to the bottom of the window sills, so they get whatever sun there is that day. We installed new low-e glass there last summer, but I don't think that will affect the seeds. In years past they have sprouted like mad in that spot.
   I'll need to plow up the vegetable garden space and till in some all-purpose 16-16-16 fertilizer. By then the yard will need trimming and mowing too. I won't get fertilizer down on that until later.
   I'm going to do a petunia mix again this year from seeds. The last time I planted petunia seeds I got a crop of about 200 petunia plants. It's a tedious job transplanting those skinny little stems, but it's worth it. Two hundred petunias cost me about $3 no charge for the labor.
   Before I leave for Hawaii, I know I'll have to water the geraniums I set under the house. They need to start sprouting now so I can set them out in the garden house in a few weeks.
   When it comes to vegetables, I plant what we enjoy eating. Tomatoes (I've saved some Black Crimea seeds from last year) sweet corn, head lettuce, beets, carrots, green beans, green peppers and Walla Wallas. I don't really have room for potatoes although they are great fun to dig and eat right away.
   I must tell you that everything I've ever heard is that Walla Walla onions will not keep. Well, I dug about three dozen 4-inch onions last fall and cut off the stems and wrapped them individually in aluminum foil and set them on the bottom shelf of our "spare" refrigerator and we were still eating fresh Walla Wallas at Christmas. They didn't rot; they didn't get soft or have a strong flavor. They tasted just like they came out of the ground. Try it, but you must get the starts early.
   My garden always puts out more than we can eat, and the food banks will accept any fresh veggies you bring in.
   All the best to you green thumbs.