Answer: Get thee to the Master Gardener and/or Tilth Plant Sales
this weekend to buy healthy vegetable starts best suited for our
climate. You'll learn so much just from browsing the sales and talking
to the expert vendors. While you're at Tilth, check out their classes
for beginning kitchen gardeners.
Be sure and plant what you most want to eat - lettuces, parsley, basil, tomatoes, chives, and blueberries are all good candidates for easy to grow and most used in the kitchen. And don't get distracted by edibles that don't have much chance of ripening here, like melons and eggplant, however tempting.
Before planting, weed your patch thoroughly, and dig in plenty of manure-enriched compost, available in bags from just about any nursery, grocery or hardware store this time of year.
Check out Mixed Greens, one of my favorite blogs, which is all about growing food and cooking from the garden here in the Northwest. The current post has a tantalizing recipe for risotto with fresh spring greens. And just in time for the growing season, Taunton Press, publishers of Fine Gardening and former publishers of the late, lamented Kitchen Gardener magazines has just launched an online resource called VegetableGardener.com.
Question: I am interested in learning landscape design and would like information on ornamental plants and shrubs and any other information you might recommend that relates to landscape design. I live in Seattle, so if you could recommend a website or book pertaining to landscape maintenance/design for the Northwest I certainly would appreciate it. Thank you.
Answer: Hi Ted - I think you get the award for asking the biggest question ever. Where to start? You can't go wrong with the latest edition of The Sunset Western Garden Book - be sure and pay attention to all the region-specific information in the front. Also, Sunset just launched an online "Plant Finder" which matches up plants to garden conditions and should be a great learning tool. You can put in criteria like climate zone, size, color, wildlife attracting, and the plant finder will come up with a customized plant list. And remember that we Seattle gardeners are lucky enough to have a horticultural library staffed by librarians who are gardeners themselves - the Miller Library has an amazing bounty of information, free and available to the public.
But my best advice is to get outdoors and work the soil, plant, and observe - there's no better way (coming from someone who would much rather read about most things than actually do them herself) to learn about gardening than to just do it, every day.