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Coronavirus COVID-19

COVID-19 Advisory: WSU Extension is working to keep our communities safe. All Extension programming is being provided virtually, postponed, or canceled. Effective March 16, 2020, WSU Extension county offices and WSU Research & Extension Centers will be closed to the public. We are available via email, phone, and webconference.

Grow Your Own Food

Program Contact: Alex duPont, Master Gardener Program Coordinator
360-395-2367 • alex.dupont@wsu.edu

Getting Started

Who

Anyone with a sunny piece of yard, deck or balcony, or even a window box!  If you can grow a lawn, you can grow food.

What

There are plenty of easy-to-grow vegetables.  See some recommendations from Master Gardeners below.  Plant only what you like to eat.  Be realistic.  A 4’X4′ garden bed could keep you in salad greens or squash all summer, but it is not enough room to grow corn or pumpkins.

Skagit County has a short growing season.  Make sure to consider days to harvest (noted on the seed packet) when selecting what to plant.  Also note the spacing recommended on the seed packet.  If plants are too close together, they have to steal nutrients from each other.

Where

Do you have a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun each day?  Do you really need all that lawn?  Consider converting part of your yard into a garden.  Gardens and lawns require similar care.  They both need good soil, sun and water.  Vegetables just require a little more attention.  Containers can make gardening very flexible.  Read more on Container Gardens.  Also, plant some veggies in with your flowers.

When

In the Skagit Valley, May is magic.  Depending on where you live, March gives us our last hard freeze and some vegetables can be planted/transplanted in March and April.  However, frosts are typical in the area through early May.  Most vegetables are sensitive to frost, so May is when you will really start gardening.  Check out the Planting Calendar extracted from the WSU Extension Bulletin on Home Vegetable Gardening in Washington, which is a great all-around veggie gardening guide.

Consider winter gardening too.  There are a number of vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, broccoli and kale that are planted in mid-summer and can be harvested throughout the winter.  Read more on planting a Fall and Winter Garden.

Why

Supply your family with fresh, healthy vegetables throughout the season.

How

Start with a plan for your garden!  Decide how much and what kind of space you will have.  Do you want to plant directly into the ground, raised beds, or containers?  Do you just want salad veggies in between flowers?

If you can, have your soil tested.  There are a number of firms that provide soil testing for a reasonable price. There are two locations in Washington.  Simply Soil Testing in Burlington and SoilTest Farm Consultants in Moses Lake.  You’ll receive a printout of the results, which will make recommendations on basic soil nutrients, pH, etc., which will guide you in amending your soil.

Keep your garden manageable.  Raised beds can extend the season and protect from rabbits, snails, slugs.  Use a cold frame, floating row covers, or tunnels to extend your growing season and protect from insects such as cabbage moths. The options are endless.  If your space is small, consider vertical gardening for vining vegetables like cucumbers, pole beans, and some squashes.

In order to have salad greens all summer long, plant a few seeds every 2-3 weeks for an ongoing harvest.  This is called succession planting.

“Ask a Master Gardener”
Beginning a Vegetable Garden

Part I – Planning and Prepping

Part II – Correct Planting

Need help?

Click here to contact the Skagit County Master Gardener Plant Clinic. Let our Master Gardeners provide science based recommendations to solve your gardening problems.

Growing Food Library

Click here for articles and publications that will help you grow your own food.

Learn More!

Click here for additional information and Master Gardener recommendations for your new garden.