It is May and summer is here, already.
We went from a wet, rainy, miserable March – and the wettest Pacific Northwest winter on record – to a hot, sunny, record-breaking-80’s April. The change happened so fast! Almost overnight. It feels like we skipped Spring again this year!
Not sure what happened to our April showers, but we certainly have May flowers.
After that winter, we are soaking up this beautiful weather, and so is the garden. The warmth is making me feel a little behind on the planting calendar. Not to worry though, I know things will catch up in no time. Better a little late, now that it’s nice and warm, than stunted transplants and rotten seeds from being set out too early.
Pictures not enough? Keep reading to find out how you can come see the place for yourself!
Here is what we have going in the garden this May…
In the greenhouse
The greenhouse is packed with baby tomatoes and peppers, six varieties of each. More than I have room for, as usual. With this warm weather we have been having, I’m itching to get these heat lovers planted out, but I will be patient. With a few feedings and a couple more weeks in the greenhouse, these little babies will put on some nice growth and be ready to harden off and set out in no time.
Some of the new Violetto artichokes have already been transplanted out to the garden, and some are potted up, still in the greenhouse, waiting to fill in holes in the perennial beds wherever there is room a few weeks from now.
We are still munching on the year’s first sowing of ‘cut and come again’ salad greens. But they aren’t going to last long in the greenhouse in this heat. Good thing we have the next batch already sown outside.
In the beds
Legumes, spring peas and fava beans to be exact, went in early to work on fixing nitrogen in places we will plant heavy feeders like tomatoes, cukes, and squash later in the season.
Garlic is going strong and should be sending up scapes to be enjoyed on the grill and in stir fries before long. Three varieties of hard neck garlic, and new this year, an Italian soft neck for longer storage.
This winter’s most valuable gardening lesson… Cilantro!
The best lesson we learned over this last year?! How well cilantro will stick around all winter long if you just protect it from the rain! I struggle every summer to keep a crop of cilantro in the ground long enough to enjoy. In the heat, it bolts so fast that I sow it every few weeks in order to keep it around. The patch of cilantro and arugula pictured above self-seeded last fall. I kept it covered with an open-ended cloche and we have been eating on it all winter and spring. Now we are letting it flower and go to seed until we need the space for another crop. The beneficial insects are happy for the flowers, and we have less seed to buy for the next crop. I love this year-round gardening thing.
Brassicas of all ages
The Pacific Northwest’s temperate climate allows brassicas to grow year round and our garden has them in various stages. There are new transplants of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower beginning to take off after being set out just a couple weeks ago. Some of last fall’s crop that recovered from deermageddon overwintered nicely. We have been enjoying the purple sprouting broccoli since February and are now letting it, and last year’s kale, go to seed. Overwintered cabbages should be starting to head up soon. Good thing, because we are just about out of sauerkraut! We can’t let that happen. The fresh made sauerkraut has become an unexpected family favorite.
Berries, berries, and more berries!
There will be raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, loganberries, huckleberries, and yes, we even use the salal berries. We love berries.
Three varieties of raspberries went in a couple years ago and this year we have big hopes for a nice crop and a long season. The differing varieties should give us a longer harvest window than just one type alone.
A new dedicated strawberry bed should keep the family in strawberry shortcake for the next three years, at least. The six plants we scattered around the yard last year are full of blossoms and will be a nice snack, but they just aren’t going to be enough to satisfy the craving. They will go nicely with the blueberry bushes that are finally loaded with blossoms after three years of TLC.
My favorites though are the wild berries. We don’t have to plant them, feed them, or care for them much at all really. Other than pruning now and then to keep them within reach, we just have to pick them. Oh, and eat them. We love the wild huckleberries for everything from pancakes to salad dressings, and a lovely grilled salmon glaze. The salal berries also make a nice vinaigrette, or we use them for the ‘PNW Everyberry Jam’ we make using every edible wild berry we can get our hands on throughout the season. The huckleberries can be a bit tedious to harvest unless you know the trick.
We are still waiting on the six aronia berry plants we added two years ago from Burnt Ridge Nursery to put on some size and start flowering. We are being hopeful …and patient.
And lastly, the goji berry is hanging on, barely. I thought the winter had killed it, but there are shoots of new growth coming from the base! Let’s see what happens. We may just get some home grown goji berries yet.
Perrenials, every gardener’s best friend
We are always looking to add more perennials to our permaculture gardens. Plant them once and then harvest from year to year. Least input, for most output.
This is the second year on the shiitake logs and this spring they have been kicking out mushrooms on a regular basis. The three varieties – WR46, Night Velvet, and Miss Happiness – produce in varying temperature ranges and should continue to give us a harvest late into fall as long as they have the needed moisture. We are already planning on inoculating more alder logs next March to keep the mushrooms coming.
The four varieties of hops are racing for the peak of the house and the ‘Mt Hood’ variety is winning again. Cascade always catches up and produces a nice crop that is our favorite for an herbal sleep-aid evening tea blend. Zeus and Fuggle are the new additions we have to experiment with this year. The hops take a bit of work to keep trained and under control, but we find them to be worth it.
And have you ever seen rhubarb that big! Time to make some pie… or something.
Two experimental perennials we added this year… Pesto Perpetuo basil and Kosmic Kale from Territorial Seed. They are looking a bit scraggly at the moment but we will share pictures when they put on a little growth.
Four years and counting…
This will be the fourth year of molding this little patch of five timbered and sloped acres in the Pacific Northwest into our mini farming empire. It has not been without its challenges. We have been taking what was an awkward, highly shaded, north facing piece of ground and molding it into the place where we live, and work, and grow as much food and herbal medicine as possible for ourselves and others to enjoy. Thanks for letting us share it with you via this blog and other ways.
Would you like to come for a visit?
Mason County Master Gardeners 2016 Garden Tour
Come enjoy a walk through our garden, as well as several other beautiful gardens in the Union area, this July 9 for the Mason County Master Gardeners 2016 Garden Tour. Keep an eye on the Mason County Master Gardener Facebook page for upcoming event information and where to get tickets!
Planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest? Stay with us via Airbnb!
Let us be your home-away-from-home and help you see what it’s like to ‘live local’ while you are here!
New to Airbnb?
If you are new to Airbnb, we would like to welcome you! Sign up through this link for some travel credit… $35 for your first stay, or $65 when you host. Maybe we will see you soon!
What do you have going on around your garden this May?
We would love to hear in the comments section. Share your pictures with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram… mention us @PNWfromScratch or hashtag it #PNWfromScratch… we would love to see how your garden grows! And don’t forget to follow the blog by email to get free notifications of new posts!