In case you have never been to the Pacific Northwest - let me explain it to you in 5 words - greenest temperate tropical jungle ever! It was mid-May and their rhubarb plants (taller than me by the way!) were already to seed. Their strawberry plants were bigger than mine ever get. Everything was green and HUGE.
I stopped to talk with a Canadian in his front lawn and he said they start planting in January, it almost never gets below freezing, and they get rain like crazy. He showed me plants that were like living monsters. Unreal.
I was depressed. As I walked along the green and luscious streets, I decided I would be moving to Canada. I had already ruled out Seattle (though green and gorgeous) because of the hills and gray weather and Alaska because of it's rocky/acidic soil and complete isolation. So Canada it was.
A quick google search revealed that the entire area I visited (Seattle, lower Alaska, and British Colombia) stood squarely in zone 8. Oh to live in zone 8!!!! A few more google searches and I found a very similar tax structure in Canada versus the United States and a whole lot less freedom. Damn it!!!
Well...it's back to dreaming about the usual zone 8 paradise.....California (still high in taxes but for the moment still blessed with American semi-freedom.)
But back to my garden at home...
I fight with my garden every year. There are no weeds because our soil is hard, dead clay. My plants struggle to grow because it's cold, the ground is hard, and I refuse to use chemicals and methods that harm the soil ecology. I want to improve my soil for the long haul - not just strip mine out a few veggies on my way through.
And to top it off - zone 4 has only about 100 growing days per year. Many of them are wasted due to non-freezing but still cold weather. Grrrr!
So seeing the monstrous shrubs, flowers, and vegetables in the Pacific Northwest, I know that it is not all my fault. My area just doesn't get the same rainfall, enough days above freezing, enough sunny/warm days, or naturally loamy rich soil. So be it. I will have to do my best with what I have and realize that I will never have a "magazine worthy" garden.
So since I left for Alaska during my usual planting time, everything went into the garden early. Everything! It was all in by May 10th.
Returning home, it seems that we had weather between 40-60 while we were gone and almost no rain. Most of my plants survived but did not thrive. Some grew little, some yellowed and look like they might actually die soon.
Here are the highlights:
worst time germinating bell peppers. In the end, I was able to get 2 little plants. It is still cold for them, so I made little greenhouses from empty water bottles and they have survived down to 37F inside. They have not grown much, but they are still alive.
What is going on with the middle blueberry? I pruned it like mad to encourage it to send up new shoots. Has it done so? No! Is it looking sick? Yes! If it doesn't recover, I will swap it out with the rehab blueberry that "died" a few years ago and has been plugging along in the forest ever since. They can swap locales. Then again - it just might be reacting to the cold weather....
These tomatoes were all started inside and allowed to stay indoors until they were a little larger. They are "the haves." I am hopeful that the gap between them will lesson as it gets warmer.
Here's a quick glimpse into the forest gardens:
Forest strawberries with a Fava bean and some Egyptian onions mixed in. Why not, right?
I will update again in June - hopefully with good growth news!
Missing from this update - Dill, Fennel, Rhubarb, Black and red summer raspberries from the forest - Squash (butternut and yellow crookneck), radishes, and bush beans in the garden. And all the bok choy that was either eaten or pulled.
More articles from this year's garden:
19 Tomatoes and counting
Growing Heirloom Tomatoes without electricity
2015 Garden Part 1
2015 Garden Part 2
2015 Garden Part 3
2015 Garden Part 4
2015 Garden Part 5
2015 Garden Part 6
Growing Potatoes from the Grocery store
Growing Espalier Grapes on a Fence
Can Tomatoes Survive temperatures below 28 Fahrenheit?