The Q&A Archives: how to get started

Question: We just moved to Washington and this place has the stangest weather. I don't really have a green thumb but I want to plan a garden. I don't know were to start.

Answer: I agree, western Washington has some interesting weather! This year the winter has been really long and the spring weather has been really slow to arrive. The summers are short (usually June through August), but you can still have some flowers blooming and some cool-season vegetables from April through November.

Whenever you start a new garden it is a good idea to remove any existing grass or weeds, then loosen the soil going down at least six to ten inches. It is almost always better to work with the existing soil rather than import top soil. Mix in several inches of organic matter such as compost or old rotted leaves.

Once you've got your flower and vegetable beds prepared, you can start planting. Because our summer is so short, it might be best for you if you stay away from trying to seed your own plants and just go ahead and purchase flower and vegetable starts.

Plants that love sunshine really need all day sunshine; plants that tolerate shade will sometimes grow in full sun because our summer sun is not as intense as in other parts of the country.

A local nursery will usually have plants that thrive in your local area so visit a few and just observe what they're offering. Read the labels for water and sunshine needs. Then choose the plants that appeal to you and plant them in your garden.

I think you'll be delighted with your efforts.

Best wishes with your new garden!

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