A collection of plants and seeds to be planted next week. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

A collection of plants and seeds to be planted next week. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

A GROWING CONCERN: Dig in to fruit and vegetable gardening

OH MAN, CLICHE time: Be careful what you wish for.

Just a few weeks ago I was thinking how I need something new to write about.

After 23 years of writing this garden column, let me try to get creative for the second dozen times on “chores for April” or it’s “spring, time to take care of your lawn.” Right, 23 times over?

Well, as you are all too aware of, life has changed a little in the last few weeks, so then too will this column.

Back to the beginning I guess, for after all it is called “A Growing Concern” which serves a double meaning now for growing produce, herbs and flowers.

Things have never been more appropriate and who does not have concerns?

How wonderful it is that just last week we talked about soil because let me again emphasize just how important, critical and crucial soil is to growing anything.

This is where we will start.

Beginning to turn an old landscape spot into a “Corona Cornucopia” garden. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

Beginning to turn an old landscape spot into a “Corona Cornucopia” garden. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

Two weeks ago I realized that now, especially this year, is a perfect time to expand my vegetable production and I had just the spot.

To begin — it is in full sun, which is great because vegetable gardens are solar factories. The more sun the better. Repeat after me, “the more sun the better.”

This location is surrounded by a concrete slab which not only reflects that massive amount of sunlight but also firmly stores the heat to be released during our always cool, summer nights. These two factors make this spot ideal, plus water is just 20 feet away.

But soil being crucial, I first dug old, rock gravel and clay mixed fill out to create the proper depth for a good garden bed, which is a minimum of 6 inches deep.

Next I went to my favorite community farm, Lazy J Tree Farm, and got two yards of great compost. You can call for delivery of 3-, 5- or 7-yards of product.

Please see if any of your agricultural vendors are offering services.

But back to soil and compost.

Our local soils here on the Peninsula are bark-heavy and therefore have an acidic nature to them. I am adding pounds of lime because vegetables like a “sweet soil.”

New garden spot dug out in preparation for the vegetables and seeds. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

New garden spot dug out in preparation for the vegetables and seeds. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

Then I will add sand because of its particle size and ability to hold onto soil nutrients, thus increasing soil fertility.

Organic blood meal and bone meal, along with potash will be wonderful fertilizer.

I use my fireplace ash, and it’s so good to clean the fireplace out. I have also always saved my coffee grounds, egg shells and peanut shells — which help in soil structure and fertility as well. Into the mix of great soil they go.

So there you are, the bed is ready.

The end product, with raised center for pole beans and pots for zucchini. Lime was added to sweeten the soil. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

The end product, with raised center for pole beans and pots for zucchini. Lime was added to sweeten the soil. (Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News)

Next week planning and watering tricks and suggestions will be given as we get ready to learn more about edible gardening, including fruits and herbs.

We will also dive into containerized gardening, so even people in apartments or limited space can produce in abundance.

One more trick: Call up wonderful local greenhouses and nurseries to get seed and vegetable starts, along with other supplies.

OK, now back to my new garden.

It is lots of work and I certainly have the time. You may even have extra helpers around the house.

________

Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam andJefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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