Today, following up the WNPS native plant sale, we worked in the sunshine to clean up the vegetable garden and plant our new acquisitions. Nathan tackled the tomato forest while I planted the natives, and when he went inside to sort the piles of cherry tomatoes (Sun Gold, Red Fig, Koralik) that came off the vines, I planted our third crop of lettuce — Red Sails, Italian Salidini, Buttercrunch, and North Pole Butterhead.
I started Red Sails, Buttercrunch, and Italian Salidini inside in the warm window in the office and planted out the seedlings under our small wooden cold frame (we made it out of an old storm window at our house on Capitol Hill and hauled it to South Park when we moved). Hopefully sluggo+cold frame will save our sad salad crop from cold, cats, and slugs. Greens are the easiest things to grow year round in Seattle, and we’re determined to finally make it work out this year (chard doesn’t count).We’ve been having trouble all summer with our lettuce seedlings disappearing right after they come up. Naively, I was blaming the cats and the squirrels for digging up our beds, but after a wet summer of harvesting holey kale and cabbage heads with slimy visitors tucked into the leaf bases, I came to the much more obvious conclusion: slugs. Last weekend I finally went out and bought some safe slug bait, iron phosphate pellets (Sluggo is the name brand that we used at the landscaping job, I bought the knock-off at Lowe’s). According to everything I can find about it, iron phosphate is naturally occurring in the soil and is therefore totally safe for the watershed and any larger critters (cats, chickens) that might eat it.
In the street-side beds I pulled out the squash plants that weren’t looking good and left a few that still had small squash and flowers. I planted the Negreta fava beans in the middle bed and added a few to the already-ten-inch long pod favas in the west bed. This is my first real attempt at a cover crop and so far the long pod favas I planted in September are looking fantastic, so I’m excited for our spring harvest!
Along the fence in front we were finally able to complete my planting plan with the plants from the WNPS sale. We showed up just before the sale opened and waited in line, so once we were in we got everything we wanted, particularly the blueberry-like native Black huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) no nursery ever seems to have. Four of those and four Bear Grass (Xerophyllum tenax) completed the design. In the beds in the front yard we added to our meadow grasses with Carex inops and Festuca roemeri and flowers Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift), Camassia quamash (Camas) bulbs, Polemonium pulcherrimum (Jacob’s-ladder). In back, we’ve nearly completed our fern garden with more 4″ pots of Deer fern and bare root Sword Fern. For the second year in a row, I’ve planted bare root Iris tenax. (The trick to getting them to survive will be a strict no-chicken-scratching policy.)