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DIG THIS | Veggie Gardens Galore

We have so many wonderful local farmers markets that we don’t lack opportunities to purchase luscious fresh produce at least once a week here in Kitsap County. But many of us just itch to put a little bit of our own hearts and souls into creating a garden on our own precious plots of land, or even in containers on our decks and patios.

My husband Pat gave me the most wonderful Mother’s Day present.

He built me three gigantic raised beds and then he and I, on Mother’s Day weekend, shoveled and moved literally several tons of composted soil into the beds. This past week I planted the following types of seeds: winter squash ‘table gold acorn;’ beets; lettuce ‘gourmet blend;’ spinach ‘bloomsdale;’ radishes ‘watermelon’ and ‘cherry belle;’ carrots ‘thumbelina;’ carrots ‘rainbow blend;’ bib lettuce ‘buttercrunch;’ romaine lettuce ‘parris island;’ both bush and pole beans in three colors - yellow, green and purple; and last but not least rainbow Swiss chard.

At the Master Gardener Foundation plant sale I also picked up some plant starts of peppers (banana and jalapeno) and tomatoes ‘aungold’ cherry tomatoes and ‘momotaro.’ I also optimistically brought home several basil plants. I may get really adventurous and try to grow some eggplants this year too if I can find them already started at one of our local nurseries.

Right now, because everything is still fluctuating between quite chilly and quite toasty warm, I’m using floating row covers (commonly called Remay) to keep the plants healthy and happy and not too shocked from all the weather fluctuations. The floating row covers expand as plants grow and also keep any insect pests at bay.

I chose short season varieties of everything I planted. The raised beds each have a section that gets partial shade at crucial parts of the day so we should be able to grow lettuce and spinach all season long. The veggie garden beds are surrounded by lots of pollinator plants and the beds will soak up the sun for 10 or more hours a day. Just perfect for veggies. We’re using very small sprayers and soakers to get the water to the plant roots and everything is on a timer so we won’t overwater.

Other food growing gardens are popping up all over Kitsap County.

Several local papers have covered the p-patch and community garden movement on Bainbridge Island, but several other schools and daycare centers are growing veggie gardens with their students. The child care center at Kitsap Community Resources on Park Street in Bremerton has a garden where the kids plant and water nutritious plants. Students from Armin Jahr Elementary in Bremerton also are growing a garden at the newly renovated Blueberry Park. Options students at Gordon Elementary in Kingston have a raised bed garden and they’ve been making their own compost to fill the garden beds.

WSU Extension Kitsap Master Gardeners at Anna Smith Garden in Tracyton and Raab Park in Poulsbo have been growing extra food for food banks and soup kitchens for more than a decade. Master gardeners are also coordinating p-patches at Raab Park in Poulsbo and Blueberry Park in Bremerton where p-patchers learn how to grow their own food and most of these gardeners plant an extra row or more to donate to the food banks.

In addition, this year master gardeners are planting veggies and other edibles at the Heritage Garden near the Historic Log Cabin at the Kitsap Fairgrounds. During the Kitsap Fair and Stampede these volunteers will be onsite to help families learn how to grow their own nutritious vegetables. All produce grown will be donated to local food banks and soup kitchens.

The Poulsbo Fire Station staff and other community members, led by Master Gardner Brett Annear, are planning and getting ready to plant a garden to grow produce for Fishline Food Bank in Poulsbo. Master gardeners in South Kitsap, led by Ray Garrido and Mary-Cathern Edwards, have cleared a huge garden area to grow food for the Port Orchard food bank. Visit southkitsapgarden.org to watch the progress of this wonderful South Kitsap Garden in Olalla.

Visit this website and you’ll be amazed at how quickly this garden has gone together. It may inspire you to try it on your own piece of land.

Master gardeners Kathy Morse, Kim Schleis, Laura Pittman-Hewitt and Sharon Howard have taught classes during the last two fall and winters on organic vegetable gardening, along with growing small fruits. If you’d like to learn more about growing vegetables and small fruits please call the master gardener hotline at (360) 337-7158 or email ptillery@co.kitsap.wa.us. Organic gardening classes will begin again this fall.

If you’d like to learn more about growing vegetables and fruits, call the Master Gardener hotline at (360) 337-7158.

Peg Tillery, Horticulture and Shoreline Educator for WSU Extension Kitsap, can be reached at ptillery@co.kitsap.wa.us or (360) 337-7224.

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