Monday, April 20, 2015

Gardener's Notebook: What to Plant Now

The Beaverton Farmers Market, a longtime advertiser and supporter of good things in the Northwest, has built a selection of top-quality nursery stock from some of the best vendors in the area. That's because market manager Ginger Rapport is an ardent gardener herself, with a strong commitment to helping people get in touch with their food by growing it themselves. Here's her advice on what to plant now.

What do you think is the first “app” that a farmer puts on his smart phone?

If you said a weather app, you would be right! Chris Hertel of Sun Gold Farm says that he checks his weather app every day. If you are a gardener, he recommends that you do the same, especially this time of the year when high and low temperatures can be all over the place. This weekend’s warm weather will have most of us chomping at the bit to start planting our vegetable and herb gardens. Chris says that the most important plants to get in the ground right now are peas and brassicas—cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. They like the cool weather, as do lettuce, spinach, chard and other greens.

If you want to get a jump on summer, Sun Gold’s booth will have plenty of tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber and squash starts on hand. These heat-loving plants may need a little bit of protection if the night time temperatures dip too low. This is where your weather app comes in handy! If it looks like we are going to get near freezing, Chris suggests that you protect your hot weather veggie starts with something as simple as a paper bag placed over them. Even a crude greenhouse made of sticks and plastic will work. Of course, you will want to uncover your plants during the day.

You can also start perennial herb gardens now. A perennial plant is one whose life cycle lasts for more than two years, so think of herbs like mint, chives, bay, oregano, sage and rosemary. This does not include basil or cilantro; hold off on those tender herbs until nighttime temperatures warm up.

And believe it or not, now is the time for planting strawberries! Hood Strawberries are a market favorite. They are a super sweet berry with the entire crop coming over a short period of time. Sun Gold will also have an everbearing variety called Tri-Star that will keep you in fruit for a longer period of time.

Lastly, it is not too late to plant blueberry bushes. Both Sun Gold Farm and Northern Pacific Farm will have a wide variety of blueberry bushes in their stalls this Saturday. Ask for advice on selecting the variety best suited for your tastes.

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The Beaverton Farmers Market is kicking off their summer season a full week ahead of schedule, so make plans to get your summer going on May 2nd from 8 am to 1:30 pm.

If you happen to have a furry friend with you, the market offers Sit-n-Stay, a drop-in dogsitting service adjacent to the market run by Home Plate Youth Services. Open from 7:30 am until 2 pm, it'll cost just $5 for the first 30 minutes, then $2.50 for each additional 15 minutes after that. Additional donations to HomePlate's program serving young people with precarious housing are welcome.

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