West Coast Sunday Garden Chat: Spring Veggies

marvel May-Beets
From frequent commentor Marvel:

Hereabouts, we’re about mid-way through our usual Spring Boot Camp — six weeks of intense garden labor. And it’s just about this time, every year, that we’re thoroughly convinced we made a HUGE mistake back in ’08 when we bought our little .75 acre of heavy lifting madness here in the Willamete Valley. Thank goodness, by now SOME of the stuff out there has grown enough for us to appreciate and eat — else we’d likely throw in the trowel and find a lovely downtown apartment with a few planters on the deck.

A sampling:

marvel May-Garlic

The garlic, planted last Fall is nearly full-grown. We’ve learned to
limit watering and keep it covered during our usual Spring showers —
one year, after a particularly wet May, we dug up 100+ beauties only
to see them rot as they dried in the garden shed — they’d soaked up too much moisture before harvest.

marvel May-Onions

The onions, planted a couple of months ago are doing well and still
appreciate a sip of water on warm days — they’ve got a couple more months to grow here in our long-day sun.

The beets [at top] are fast-growing & lovely. I usually make seed tapes (with single-ply TP and watered-down white glue), but this year I bought a six-pack of tiny starts and carefully teased out about fifty baby plants with their thread-like roots — and pretty much every one of them took root — deceptively tough little guys.

marvel May-Kale-Cab
The kale & cabbage are coming along; we’re eating the kale now and it’s just a horse race with the cabbage to see whether or not they’ll fill out & mature enough for harvest before they bolt with the hot weather in another month.

marvel May-Peas-Lett

The shelling peas are taking off (and good thing: the cool-loving
lettuce we’ve planted beside them are waiting for the shady Wall Of
Peas to protect them in coming weeks).

marvel May-Corn

The corn, started from seed in a roasty-toasty greenhouse, is about
ready to take up residence outside. We’ll be planting them in Area 51 — a nasty, barren spot we’ve been reconditining with cover crops for the last five years — Good Luck, little hearties!

marvel May-Herb

Finally, the herb garden has been a champ. The perennials (e.g.,
sorrel, thyme, oregano, chives) have come back like gangbusters and the evergreens (rosemary, lavendar) somehow survived our nasty freezes last Winter and have started growing with some vigor.

Elsewhere, the tomatoes, summer squash, cukes, potatoes & peppers are making healthy, if un-photogenic, progress. Yay!

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30 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    So fine.

  2. 2
    scav says:

    In case anyone shows up, I’ve now managed two distinct relatives looking at me for help installing brick (probably) edging, are their any really necessary tricks needed when putting them in? They both probably just need a single (flat) layer, edge not retaining wall duties.

  3. 3
    cckids says:

    Holy smokes, how beautiful. I’m facing moving next month from our 3000 sq ft house with a nice, terraced back yard that I’ve been planting . . . to a 1350 sq ft apartment with a patio. There will be pots, but not very many.

    I knew it when we decided on the apartment, but now that I’m facing the move & culling through my plants, it is breaking my heart a little. I’m the main caretaker for our son & I’ve been using gardening & putzing around in the yard as, basically, therapy. Getting outdoors makes a huge difference in my state of mind.

    So, I’ll have to find another way to do that. New place has a pool, though! Maybe I will swim & get in shape.

  4. 4
    WereBear says:

    I love the herbs. Good to interact most times of year.

  5. 5
    raven says:

    @scav: I’m using paver sand as a base for my walkways in the garden. Here’s a basic primer.

  6. 6
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    My tomatoes are producing, though I’m still waiting on the cherry tomatoes to turn red.

  7. 7
    Mary G says:

    Beautiful. You can see every one of those hundreds of hours of hard labor in those picture-perfect plants. They could be in a magazine!

  8. 8
    scav says:

    @raven: Thanks. So maybe some sand base even though I don’t need a full walkable area luckily? I tend to over-engineer if left to myself, except when I over-compensate for the tendency.

  9. 9
    raven says:

    @scav: It’s the best way to level and secure it. Here are some pics of a screed board on concrete. It’s the same principle, if you aren’t all that worried about it being even just put down a few inches of sand and run a 2×4 over it to make it fairly flat. Put down the bricks and whack em with a rubber mallet.

  10. 10
    ruemara says:

    When can I schedule a visit? It looks so wonderful. I miss gardens and gardening.

    @cckids: Have you checked to see if there’s a community garden nearby? It can help with the jones. My area has a very large one, but the waiting list is 3 years.

  11. 11
    Josie says:


    If you search on Amazon for books on “vertical gardening” you might find some inspiration for a new way of growing vegies and flowers.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    scav says:

    @raven: Ah! That gives me solid ideas to run with. Got it. And fun with bammers!

  14. 14
    keestadoll says:

    FANTASTIC! I’ve got kale and collards coming in like gangbusters right now (about 20 plants total in a 5’x5′ area of a large raised bed) and am picking a sink full of leaves from them every 48 hours easily. To my thinking, there’s no better B-Complex bang for your square footage buck than kale and collards. I’m in Humboldt and if this year tracks the same as the last two, I’ll be harvesting from these plants through November. If anyone has a great recipe for kale chips, please share!

  15. 15
    cckids says:

    @ruemara: Yeah, no, we’re in Vegas, if there is one, it is getting too late to plant (too hot). I’ll check around for the fall, though. Not so much “community” in many parts of this town, one of the reasons we’re downsizing; we have a 2-3 year plan to get the hell out, and the cash we’ll save by doing this will help a lot.

    @Josie: I’ll look into it, thanks!

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    @cckids: I have dealt with the loss of my home & rose garden by planting miniature roses where I am now.

    If there are tiny or vertical versions of what you miss, it can help.

  17. 17

    I realize this is what I get for going to REI on the first day of their sale but holy moley this is a long line!

    Also, cckids, I second (or third) the recommendation to look into vertical gardening. They’ve been doing some really interesting stuff in Europe and Japan with very limited space. (If it’s what I’m thinking of, you install a grid on a wall and attach the planters to it.)

  18. 18
    Josie says:


    This is the best one I have found:


    She uses avocado oil, but I have also used melted coconut oil with good results.

  19. 19
    currants says:

    Question for you gardeners: if using tomato planting bags, will new soil be sufficient, or do I need to run them through the washer to be sure there’s no fungus transmitted? I rotate my tomatoes so they hit the same bed once every 6 years, but my s-i-l doesn’t have that much room, and has tomatoes and peppers in pots. Suggestions/tips most welcome–thank you in advance!

  20. 20
    srv says:

    Onions will grow anywhere, even in a Napa firepit.

  21. 21
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    Late autumn down here – warm days, cold nights, beautiful clear blue skys – means it’s garlic planting time. We got a new variety and planted 10 tubs worth. YUM

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Do you have nets to keep the stuff from falling up?*

    *Sorry, bad Southern Hemisphere joke.

  23. 23
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: we have to wear anti-grav boots and have permanent tethers to the ground or we float off into the sun.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: I have been told that before. And then forced to drink penalty shots by groups of Aussies and/or Kiwis.

  25. 25
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: it’s only a penalty shot if it’s shots of australian beer/bundaberg rum. The kiwi stuff is pretty good though.

  26. 26
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Brandy with Baileys (for the curdled texture) and Tabasco (for pain and and an unpleasant flavor combo).

  27. 27
    Anne Laurie says:


    Question for you gardeners: if using tomato planting bags, will new soil be sufficient, or do I need to run them through the washer to be sure there’s no fungus transmitted?

    My lazy solution has been to spray the bags with a dilute bleach mix before adding the new soil, on the grounds that’s what I was told to do with plastic/ceramic containers.

  28. 28
    SectionH says:

    @cckids: and

    I’m another one who’s gone from big house and garden (1/2 acre) to a condo with 70 sq ft of balcony (North facing, sigh…) and a couple of west windows. Well yes, we wanted to downsize and become urban dwellers again, but we miss the range of plants we had, and the lack of direct sun is very constraining. We’d already decided we’ll eventually be doing some plant walls, per the comment by @Josie: but we need to digest more of the current situation first.

    Right now besides Ornamentals (ivy geraniums, begonia, gardenia, clivias (we’ve had them 4 years, and 2 have bloomed in the last few weeks, in bright yellow – lovely – first time ever, so yay for that), pelargoniums, mandevilla, plumbago (bonsai bush, anyone?), alstromeria in 3 colors, some native mallows that need to go to a good home, and a bunch of asclepias, we’re growing for Veggies a tomato (Stupice, and we have 3 small green tomatoes so far!), chard, and rocket; for Herbs, rosemary (pink & regular), chives, a bay tree, a bunch of thyme, and french tarragon.
    [pause to take a deep breath] For fruit trees/shrubs, we’re also growing a Mexican Lime, a Blood Orange, a Golden Current bush, a Meyer Lemon, a bunch or raspberries (which are doing extremely well), and 2 Sapotes. The last are subtropical fruit trees with lovely soft white fruit (they bruise very easily, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any in a grocery, even here in San Diego). Oh, and a Poha bush. (It bears smallish golden fruit

    I’m trying to rejigger the plants now to take advantage of the summertime sun on the balcony, and get rid of the infestation of little flies a bunch of stuff (tomato, poha, even some asclepias) got being inside. The flies get in much more easily than the good predator insects do.

    One advantage to the small operation here: I was able to wash a number of the plants by hand yesterday, and seem to have made very good progress against the nasties.

    Well, too long and quite late as usual – I started this an hour ago, MUST learn to not “Squirrel! off”, but I have the list available for our own use if nothing else. Cheers all.

  29. 29
    Currants says:

    @Anne Laurie: ah-thanks! Also, ditch the pejorative. “Lazy” = “efficient.” ;-)

  30. 30
    cckids says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Brandy with Baileys (for the curdled texture) and Tabasco (for pain and and an unpleasant flavor combo).

    Sounds like reverse vomiting.

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