Vegetable gardens: Get started today | Mike Stanley

Mid-May is the very best time to be in the vegetable garden when you live in the Northwest. At this time of year, you can plant just about every vegetable that you want. Unlike a month ago when you didn’t dare plant tomatoes and cucumbers — now you can. You can also still plant the carrots, beets, cabbage and broccoli. It is a little risky planting the spinach, lettuce and peas. I planted mine in early April. They will do best and taste best if they mature in the cooler weather. Planting them now means that they will be maturing in late June and early July. You can plant them in late August for a fall crop. In late June, you will be faced with the dilemma as to whether to pray for hot weather to mature your tomatoes, or mild temperatures so that your lettuce and spinach doesn’t bolt.

So, I encourage you to get out and at least get a small vegetable garden going this year. If you do not feel like you know what to do, come to the community garden and see what we are doing, or send me an e-mail with your questions.

And, if you would like to know more about the community garden weed and slug control programs, send me an e-mail and I will send you our pamphlet describing the approach that is working for us.

Say no to weeds

At the recent Buds and Blooms Festival, we had almost 200 people visit the Federal Way Senior Center's community garden. For many it was their first visit. As I greeted our guests and walked among the raised beds, I found that there was a common theme in our exchanges.

“Welcome to our garden. Do you have a vegetable garden?”

“Oh, I like to grow tomatoes and I have a small area where I grow some beans and carrots.”

“That’s great!”

“I like to garden and really like harvesting the vegetables, but it seems like I am forever pulling weeds and fighting the slugs.”

As we walked a little further, the realization hits them that there aren’t any weeds in the beds. “You must have a lot of volunteers that help you weed this garden. It looks so perfect.”

“Well, yes, we have a great group of volunteers who help out, but they do not have to do much weeding. In fact, I doubt that we spend 5 minutes a day weeding.”

“How do you do that?”

I proceed to share our weed control plan, and sometimes there is agreement that it just might work for them as well.

“And what about the slugs? The plants look so perfect. Surely, you must have slugs.”

“Yes we have slugs. But, again we have a program to minimize their impact on the garden.”

“Boy, you sure have a beautiful garden!”

“Thank you. It is our goal to provide the community with a beautiful and productive garden that can be used as a resource by all members of the community to come and learn ways that will help them be successful in their home gardens.”

Check out a video about community gardens in Federal Way:

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