|I just moved to Silverdale, WA 98383, zone 7b. I have three raised beds in my backyard and would like to put flowers in two and vegetables in one. I have no gardening experience, so what would be the easiest plants and vegetables to care for in this region? The beds get sun for most of the day. I know I first need to get the soil tested. Can I buy a kit at Home Depot, or will they test it?|
|You didn't say where you moved from, so gardening in the Pacific Northwest might be a real challenge. Silverdale, and most of the Olympic Peninsula, has a short growing season so the veggies you choose should be early varieties. Lettuce and cole crops are easy to grow but tomatoes, peppers and corn, don't always have enough warmth to fully mature before first frost. I have the best results with plant starts and they are generally available at Home Depot at just the right planting time. Just be sure to find the plants with the shortest maturity dates.
While a soil test can help you determine just what nutrients your plants will need, most soils in the Pacific Northwest are on the acidic side because of the high rainfall. Take this into consideration when you plant pH sensitive plants such as hydrangeas and blueberries. Aside from this, you won't need to worry too much about the pH. What's more important is good drainage (raised beds are excellent in that they drain quickly and typically warm up faster in the spring).
A really good resource and reference for veggies in the Pacific Northwest is the catalog from Territorial Seed Company. They sell veggie starts and seeds for fast maturing varieties. Visit their website and read the requirements of your favorite veggies. I'm sure you'll be inspired! (www.territorial-seed.com)
You might also stop at your local Farmer's Market and talk to the Master Gardeners on duty. They can provide all kinds of information about gardening in Silverdale.
Best wishes with your new garden!