Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Planting a Small Seed

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Maybe you’ve already been thinking about your vegetable garden. I know it’s going to be a while before we can start planting seeds but there’s no harm in doing some dreaming and planning. Late February, early March will be here before we know it and then, weather permitting, we can sow seeds directly in the ground. I sent an email to a couple of avid gardeners and got their suggestions for favorite tried-and-true seeds. Many thanks to Bob and Joan for sharing their local expertise.

I also received a wealth of information from Laura on the garden hotline at Seattle Tilth including a link to the plant lists for their 2008 plant sale. Their lists of veggies, perennials, herbs and container varieties are an excellent way to see what grows well in our climate.

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Pretty much everyone agrees that planting greens, greens and more greens is the way to go. Greens love our cool climate and don’t require much space, not to mention the luxury of having a freshly picked salad every day. Salad mixes give you lots of variety. (You know how much we love MixedGreens). Mentioned from Territorial Seeds are the mesclun mixes — mild, tangy and micro greens, salad mixes — super gourmet and garden heirloom blend. Also suggested were the heirloom cutting lettuce mix and the misticenza mix from Renee’s Seeds. Make sure to get at least one blend that includes arugula or plant it separately.

In addition to the mixes, a few more lettuces sound very tempting. Sanguine Ameliore, a butterhead with reddish brown mottled leaves from Seed Savers, Little Gem and Merlot from Territorial Seeds. Not only are these lettuces beautiful in the garden and in containers, but also look lovely on the plate.

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Chard and kale are also excellent choices for the Northwest garden. Everyone seems to have planted Bright Lights chard but Bob read recently that the taste may not be as good as the Fordhook variety. This definitely calls for a taste test. As far as kale goes, you can’t go wrong with any variety but Nero Di Toscana, Lacinato, and Redbor are favorites that sweeten in our long cool spring.

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Other early starters include peas — edible pod or sugar snaps are favorites of kids grazing in the garden. Radishes are very satisfying for young gardeners since they’re fast and easy to grow. Spinach can be hit-or-miss but the Bloomsdale Savoy variety from Territorial is reported to have done well here.

Seeds to plant later, after the weather warms up, include beans — Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake pole beans are solid choices for pole beans and for an haricot vert bush bean, try Rolande Bush from Renee’s. For cukes try the Armenian or Babylon from Territorial. I’m also intrigued by the Satsuki Madori, a rare Asian heirloom, from the Tilth plant list.


Unless you have plenty of time and a super-green thumb, growing tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatillos from seed can be frustrating. When the time comes to set out the starts, you’ll have lots to choose from at the Farmers Market or the Seattle Tilth plant sale –which has already been scheduled for Saturday May 2. Mark your calendar now.

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As the time to plant gets closer, we’ll have more information for you so you can make your 2009 garden your best ever. I’ve made a list below of links to seed companies recommended by Seattle Tilth. The catalogs are fun to read and give you lots of great information. The Northwest Maritime Garden Guide comes highly recommended as a reference, suggesting what to do in the garden each month. I’ve found that some of the best info comes from other gardeners. If you have suggestions that might help other readers, please feel free to join this conversation and leave a comment.

Omri Organic Seed Database

Abundant Life Seeds

Seeds of Change

Territorial Seeds

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Seed Savers Exchange

Also mentioned by friends:

Renee’s Garden

Ed Hume Seeds ( buy the organic seeds)

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8 Responses »

  1. Great info, I enjoyed learning about what gardeners in the northwest have to look forward to in the spring. Lettuces and other greens are always such a hopeful thing early in the season for the summer that is to come. Can you do a fall planting of kale there? We have a second season of that planted in early fall for greens possibly through December….

  2. Mangochild, Yes, we usually can have kale throughout the winter. This year has been very cold & snowy here but kale it is still available at the Farmers Market.

  3. We got seeds last year at the Seattle Tilth seed swap potluck. They were free with a contribution to the potluck. hopefully they will hold one this year as well.

  4. Poppy,
    I hope you inspire people to plant a few seeds. Its quite easy. The Maritime Garden Guide that you mentioned is an excellent guide based on our west of the Cascades climate. I followed your link to the Tilth site, and they offer basic garden classes, including one-hour ones at the Tilth plant sale May 2nd.

    Mangochild, we are eating kale this evening, it has survived a freeze, several frosts, and a few windstorms which have done the most damage. A few heads of lettuce are still alive, which I have thrown a blanket over on the cold nights, and left on during cold days. The chard leaves wilted but new ones are emerging, and the fava beans as cover crop were more damaged by the wind than snow or cold, but most are still alive, and about 6″ tall now. Our broccoli was killed by the cold.

  5. Bob,
    Thanks for the update on your garden after all the cold, wind & snow. I had no idea that fava beans were that hardy. Good to know!

  6. It’s funny to be mid-January and feel behind on the garden! Good reminder to use a sleepy weekend to think about this year’s edibles. As for my basics, I’ve had good luck with greens of all sorts, from salad greens to kale and spinach, even in semi-shady spots, and beans in the height of summer.

  7. Yes, yes, yes! It’s all about seeds, dreaming, plotting and planning. Even with our crazy apocalyptic winter weather (I’m in West Seattle) I still have mache, kale and mustard in the garden that came through our 2 1/2 weeks of snowcover. After 18 years in professional Horticulture – a friend used to call is Haughty-culture – nothing gets me going like watching veggies grow…ok, the snowdrops are starting to bloom this week and that’s pretty exciting as well. I still have within me, and never want to lose, that little kid with the dixi cup and a bean.

  8. Lorene, thanks for your enthusiasm, I completely understand and share your excitement. Gardening in the NW can be very rewarding.