Gardening answers for beginners | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

Here’s the most asked questions from beginning vegetable gardeners – read them and reap.

Mid March means it is time to plant.

Pea seeds can go directly into the ground along with cool season crops such as lettuce, kale, Swiss Chard, beets, radishes and spinach. Don’t even think of planting warmth-loving tomatoes, squash or eggplants yet and it is still too early to start tomato seeds indoors – they’ll grow leggy before the weather warms up enough to set them outdoors.

You can add instant color to the landscape by planting flowering shrubs such as azaleas, rhodies, viburnums and daphne.  Pink, lavender and white heathers and the heavenly and hugely popular hellebores are also available at area nurseries now for filling in empty pots, adding to window boxes  or  just flinging them about the garden wherever you need a shot of color.

Here’s the most asked questions from beginning vegetable  gardeners – read them and reap.

Q. I just bought some vegetable seeds.  The directions say to plant the lettuce seeds in early to mid spring. Can you give me an actual planting date?

A. How about today. In Western Washington early spring is usually March 1 until mid April. Seeds are not that particular on the date, it is the warmth and moisture in the soil that counts. Raised beds drain sooner so they can be planted in early March.

Q. I want to grow vegetables on my balcony. It gets lots of afternoon sun. I did well with tomatoes last summer. What else should I try?

A. Grow yourself a summer dinner by adding basil, spaghetti squash, cucumbers, oregano and more tomatoes. Look for compact or bush varieties that won’t take up much room and be sure all your containers have good drainage and that you are using a lightweight potting soil.

In a small garden grow what you are most likely to eat. In hot spots with little room grow  Mediterranean herbs that can handle the heat reflected off of the building.

Q. I want to remove some of my front grass and grow food – but I certainly don’t want the neighbors to complain. What are the most attractive vegetables?

A. According to garden legend  Ed Hume, the best way to create an attractive vegetable garden is to combine fine, medium and bold leaf textures.

Use the fine texture of carrots, onions and several herbs in the front with beets, lettuce and spinach behind them and backed up with the bold foliage of cabbage, kale, rhubarb and the tall drama of artichoke plants to give a vertical element.

Now keep your edibles weeded, mix in some flowers (this helps bring in pollinators)  and share your bounty with the neighbors. You’ll be cheered not jeered for shrinking that lawn.

Q. I want to plant some vegetables but my soil is full of rocks and light in color. Should I add manure? Fertilizer? Topsoil?  Please help.

A. Start small your first year and invest in some bags of compost. Visit a local nursery for advice on which bagged compost is best for your soil type.

A raised bed of at least six inches of compost surrounded by bricks, rocks or even logs will help contain the compost that you layer on top of your sad soil and then mix in with a hoe or shovel.  Sign up for classes, subscribe to blogs, read books and slowly grow yourself some knowledge on the art of edible gardening.

Your local Master Gardeners are full of free advice and also have demonstration gardens for you to visit. My vote is to start with leafy greens that you grow from seed. Spinach, lettuce and kale can be planted now. In June plant beans, and squash.

Marianne Binetti is a Northwest horticultural expert. She will be hosting a discussion titled “Recycle, Reuse Garden Art and Dirt Cheap Ideas” at 1 p.m. Sunday on the Expert Stage at the Northwest Women’s Show at CenturyLink Field. For more information visit binettigarden.com.

More in Life

Photo by Haley Ausbun. An annual event, Renton High School students showed off their culture, heritage and interests through the 2020 Renton Multicultural Show, Feb. 7 and Feb. 8 at the IKEA Performing Arts Center. The student hosts of the event opened up by saying that Renton High School holds the event each year as a chance to get their one big family into the room together in “reunion.” Performances included the Multicultural Fashion Show, Black Student Union, Latinx Student Union, K-pop and J-pop performances, Filipino Club and many more.
Renton High shows off its culture

Photos by Haley Ausbun. An annual event, Renton High School students showed… Continue reading

February’s Rotary Youth of the Month

Rotary members recognize three Renton School District high school students each month… Continue reading

Courtesy of Armondo Pavone.
“I’m enjoying all of it”

Pavone speaks on his first weeks as mayor

Photo by Haley Ausbun. The International Lion Dance & Martial Arts Team performed in honor of Lunar New Year at the event, Jan. 28 at Renton Technical College 2020 Celebrity Chef event. RTC President Kevin McCarthy and Advanced Sommelier Christopher Chan participated in the demonstration, offering heads of lettuce to the lions. The Lion Dance is meant to bring good luck.
A tasty Lunar New Year

Renton Technical College got a tasty start to the new year with… Continue reading

PHOTO BY HALEY AUSBUN
Tommy the Turtle returns

Historic, interactive art placed at Kennydale Beach

Photo courtesy of Patrick Dodd
                                Patrick Dodd and his father, Stan Dodd, at Hannegan Pass, Cooper Lake Trail. After Stan Dodd died in 2019, Patrick decided to dedicate 2020 to hiking and raising money to Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.
He lost his dad, now he hikes for him

Local man turns to nature, blogging to fund cancer research

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Have you visited the Highlands new brewhouse? The new Bickersons Brewhouse opened on Nov. 9. Two months later, Jan. 9, business leaders and the Renton Chamber of Commerce celebrated its opening with a ribbon cutting, featuring owners Frank Castro and Shaunn Siekawitch. Go bicker with the “Bickersons” at 4710 NE Fourth St., Renton.
Ribbon cut for new Renton brewhouse

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Have you visited the Highlands new brewhouse? The… Continue reading

January’s Rotary Youth of the Month

Rotary members recognize three Renton School District high school students each month… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of city of Renton. Future Mayor Armondo Pavone talks to Mayor Denis Law during his final council meeting, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.
Law looks back on legendary career

Local leaders express warm wishes for Mayor’s retirement

Our top clicked stories of 2019

What were readers interested in most last year?

Renton’s biggest stories of 2019

Election 2019 This year Renton said goodbye to longtime community leaders, as… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of BRAGG Project
                                REACH Center of Hope Volunteer Coordinator Kinza Shafir and BRAGG Founder Ezra Lucien, 9.
For this local kid, Christmas is like running a nonprofit

Nine-year-old Ezra Lucien runs BRAGG project to help other children