All one has to do is bite into a juicy, flavorful home-grown tomato, or enjoy beans picked fresh from your own garden that day, to understand why most gardeners dream of a vegetable garden in their backyard. With the information contained in the links at the bottom of this page, your dream of home-grown vegetables may become a reality!
One of the greatest challenges faced by vegetable gardeners in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties is the short growing season, the result of our high latitude and moist, marine-dominated climate. During early spring, when many other areas of the country can sow their vegetables, our soils have yet to warm up, remain too wet to work, and the amount of daylight is still limited. Early in the fall our available sunlight decreases quickly, and our weather turns cool and very wet. The result is that many long-season vegetable crops which are successful in other parts of the country may not do well here (tomatoes, zucchini, bulb onions, peppers, etc).
There are several things that the local vegetable gardener can do to overcome some, but not all, of these problems.
Select varieties of vegetables that do well in a cool, moist environment with a short growing season. Examples of vegetable crops that are expected to do well in our environment include asparagus (a perennial), beans, beets, early varieties of cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, green onions, some early peas, radishes, rhubarb (a perennial), summer squash, and turnips. When in doubt, or when you wish to plant a long-season vegetable, look for varieties which have the shortest days to harvest, usually called "short season" or "early" varieties.
Starting your seeds indoors will give you a head start on the growing season. Don't forget to provide light for your young plants, and make sure you harden them off (gradually exposing your plants to the outside environment) before planting them in your garden.
Purchase transplants rather than sow seeds. This will also give you a bit of a head start with vegetables that need a little extra time to produce. Remember to harden the plants off before placing them in your garden.
Use cloches, coldframes or rowcovers in your garden. These not only allow you to plant directly into your garden a few weeks earlier when the frost danger still exists, but have the added advantage of raising the soil temperature, which encourages plant growth and development.
Use containers or raised beds for your vegetable garden. The soil in these tend to be warmer, which encourages plant growth. Additionally, small containers may be moved under cover during bad weather. Keep an eye on the soil mositure, for these also tend to dry out quickly.
Consider a fall and winter garden. Fall and winter gardens are usually sown/planted in the early-summer or mid-summer. Early-summer plantings are done so crops will have time to mature before the first chilling frost. Mid-summer plantings usually consist of vegetables that can be grown during the cool fall, even after a chilling frost. Make sure your garden soil is well drained, for it will get wet.
Home Gardening. WSU Extension Bulletin EB 0422. A general guide to home vegetable gardening, including information on crop selection, tools, soils, and pests.
Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening. A list of fall and winter vegetables that do well in Western Washington.
When to Harvest Home Grown Vegetables. A guide for when to harvest the various vegetables in your garden.
Vegetable Gardening Frequently Asked Questions. Mary Robson, WSU Area Extension Agent, answers questions about vegetable gardening.
Vegetable gardening articles from the Monthly Regional Garden Column, WSU Extension Library.
Vegetable Pathology Program. WSU Mount Vernon. Focuses on the biology and management of fungal and nematode diseases of fresh and processing vegetables in western Washington.