What do we hope to achieve this spring & summer growing season? Last summer my sunflowers hit six Ft. However, my potatoes did not make it to the table. Is anyone trying any new seed or flower?

I grow a lot of heirlooms and save seed, but I’ve always got at least a couple of new things going. This year it’s godetia and papaya pear summer squash. I imagine neither will be too tricky to grow, though. I’m not really pushing the limits, if you know what I mean. ;) On an unrelated note, it’s starting to look like spring in my neck o’ the woods (my apologies to those of you still hip-deep in snow). I worked outside yesterday cleaning up my herb bed and moving plants around. The daffs are just starting to form flowers, and my forsythia’s getting ready to burst. Even the rosemary’s full of buds already, about a month in advance!

Everything I am trying is new for me – I’ve never had a real garden before. I tried two years ago, and it was an interesting experience… the carrots ran wild and the peas were wormy. The violas and lavender were huge successes, though. This year, I am a little more organized. We hired a landscaper first, and now I have total responsibility for only one small area. (: I am sure I got way too many seeds, though. And I am determined to grow a pumpkin, no matter how small! I have the seeds starting now… I will choose the best seedling, and keep it inside until it is plenty warm enough outside… That will be a while, since I’m in Seattle. We had frost this morning.

Last year I planted around 80 different flower seed varieties; this spring I’ve doubled that amount! I’ll be planting everywhere in my backyard, flower pots/containers, any spot that has bare dirt showing! Can’t wait for all to be in bloom! Plan on posting pictures to my website later this summer!

 I have narcissus blooming; california poppies, dutch and regular iris, honeysuckle, jasmine, wild lilac and hollyhocks growing, and onions & radishes sprouting. Unfortunately, my peach tree has decided it’s time to bloom; since we won’t be frost free for another 2 months, that puts my fruit at risk. One of my 2 crabapples is also budding out. The rest of the trees and shrubs have stayed sensibly dormant. One brave asparagus is peeking out of its bed.

I direct-seeded some cornfield poppies this weekend. I also planted a cecil bruner climbing rose, dug up and delivered by a friend trying to clear stuff out. I have a stack of seed packets I’m getting ready to start under lights: Marigolds (Butter & Eggs, Moonlight), german chammomile, catnip, calendula, white sage, Basket-Pak cherry tomatoes, and echinacea. Closer to planting time I also have sunflowers (Peace & Freedom, Teddy Bear), and a Hopi rattle gourd.  Somewhere along the line I will find a few pepper plants, and plan to add more herbs. I also saved some seed from the tobacco I grew and will start them again, too. I have some seed I saved from my brandywine tomato last year, but I haven’t decided to start it. It doesn’t bear well in our heat. I have been observed sneaking stealthily around neglected, abandoned lawns collecting dandelion seeds and scattering them around my yard.

I also have a tub of leftover seeds out in the garage to sort through and see what calls me this year. I have rosemary and lavender well established, and a pot of lemon grass I started last year that may be ready to set out. I’m negotiating with a gardener; he offered me a reasonable deal to do yard work, but I haven’t gotten the message clear yet. I don’t want him to prune, fertilize, etc., which he is eager to do. That’s my job! I just want him to keep the grass out of my way. We’ll see. I am thinking about only watering the front lawn once a week or so; maybe the fescue won’t run rampant andthe bermuda will slow down a little. It doesn’t have to be green; the rest of the yard (the important part!) will thrive.

Our objective is to get to know the Great Northwest! We just moved from North Carolina, another wonderful gardening haven, but although the PNW is similar, there are enough differences (like no Plant Tone? :)) that I have a new world to learn about. The house we’ve finally bought (it took us a long time because I wanted a house close enough for my husband to bicycle to work yet with at least 10K sf yard–well, we finally found exactly 10k sf!) I fell in love with partly because of the garden here already. She had a lot of nice things planted, that I’m just watching come up. My dream, coming to the Willamette valley, was to have fruit trees in the yard:  we’ve got semi-dwarf pears, apples, and cherries, and 4 different blueberry bushes on the other side.

So that’s a huge objective–I just attempted pruning a bit on the trees and have to learn about organic fruit tree tending.  My daughter would just flip if/when we actually pull fruit from one of our own trees! The blueberries we might actually get some from too, this year (they and the fruit trees just started bearing last year–they’re young). Another objective: learn to love shade. Well, learn to accept it and garden with it. I’m a big sun lover, and we’ve got lots of big trees (the fruit trees are planted in one of the few sunny spots, but I don’t think the blueberries get enough sun–we’ll see–I might have to move them next year to in the front yard-but they’re beautiful, so no one should be upset). But I’d love to wild-flower-ify this shady grove-like area–I just have to watch it this year. Another objective: not buying a ton of plants my first year here!