Home Vegetable Gardening in Washington

Home Vegetable Gardening in Washington

EM057E
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Carol Miles, Vegetable Extension Specialist, WSU Department of Horticulture, Gale Sterrett, Program Assistant, WSU Department of Horticulture, Lyn Hesnault, Program Assistant, WSU Department of Horticulture, Chris Benedict, Regional Extension Specialist, WSU Whatcom County Extension, Catherine Daniels, Pesticide Coordinator, WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center
This full-color guide to growing vegetables in a Washington home garden setting covers growing conditions, how to plant seeds and transplants, ways to arrange vegetables, integrated pest management methods, and basic harvest specifications. Tables provide details on a wide range of commonly-grown vegetables in our state. A table of contents is included for quick reference and a more comprehensive overview.
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Introduction

Planting a vegetable garden can supply you, your family, and your com­munity with an abundance of fresh, healthy vegetables throughout the season. When properly done, gardening can also beautify your land­scape, protect water quality, and conserve natural resources. Environ­mentally-sound gardening approaches will minimize the amount of purchased fertilizers you need by improving soil fertility through crop rotation and turning waste materials into valuable compost and fertil­izer. Additional motivations for starting a vegetable garden include growing crops that are not commonly found in the stores or specialty markets in your area and experimenting with vegetables that are unfa­miliar to you. Some examples of foods to explore with your family are shallots, edamame, corn salad, and fennel.

Vegetable Garden Considerations

To be a successful vegetable gardener there are many considerations and choices you will need to make. Experiment each year to find the crops and techniques that best suit you and your garden site.

Site-Specific Growing Conditions

Convenience is important as you select a vegetable garden site, but full sun exposure and suitable soil are more important. Most vegetable crops require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, so locate your garden for maximum exposure to available sunlight. Also take into ac­count that vegetables require fertile, well-drained soil. If you live in an area that receives heavy rainfall, soil drainage is especially important. Soil drainage is determined mostly by the site but can be improved by using raised beds. Select a location with enough slope for surface drain­age and sufficient subsoil permeability to allow water to drain through. You can add fertilizers to improve soil fertility and use organic matter to improve soil structure. If you are in an area where soils may be contami­nated with heavy metals from heavy industry or old orchard practices, consult with your local Extension office or health department about how to conduct a soil test.

One of the most important factors to consider when selecting vegetable crops to grow in your garden is climate. Climate includes length of growing season (Figure 1A), first and last frost dates (Figures 1B and 1C), as well as temperatures during the season. The USDA plant hardiness zone map (Figure 2) provides information regarding extreme minimum temperatures for Washington.

Vegetables are generally divided into warm-season (summer) crops and cool-season (fall/winter/spring) crops (Table 1). Many warm-season vegetable crops require a longer growing season or warmer tempera­tures than are available west of the Cascade Mountains. In

areas where temperature is limiting, row covers and plastic tunnels may be used to successfully grow these crops. Many cool-season crops can be grown throughout the winter in areas west of the Cascades, depending on the microclimate.

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Copyright 2013 Washington State University

Published Febuary, 2013

Use pesticides with care. Apply them only to plants, animals, or sites as listed on the label. When mixing and applying pesticides, follow all label precautions to protect yourself and others around you. It is a violation of the law to disregard label directions. If pesticides are spilled on skin or clothing, remove clothing and wash skin thoroughly. Store pesticides in their original containers and keep them out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock.

WSU Extension bulletins contain material written and produced for public distribution. Alternate formats of our educational materials are available upon request for persons with disabilities. Please contact Washington State University Extension for more information

Issued by Washington State University Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in furtherance of the Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, and national or ethnic origin; physical, mental, or sensory disability; marital status or sexual orientation; and status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office. Trade names have been used to simplify information; no endorsement is intended.