fertilizer. Several applications of nitrogen overthe growing season, or fertilizing with a slowrelease material, will ensure a steady supply of nutrients. (See CIS 922, “Fertilizing Gardens;” FG0050, “Fertilizer Guide: Vegetable and FlowerGardens, Except Irrigated Central Washington;”and FG 0052, “Fertilizer Guide: Home VegetableGardens, Irrigated Central Washington.”)
Choose cool seasonadapted vegetables.
Cool season vegetables seeds can germinate insoil that is 40
F or cooler. They are also able togrow and mature when exposed to at cooler dayand night temperatures. Most and can resistsome frost and light freezes. Vegetables that willgerminate at 40
F include: fava beans, beets,broccoli, brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage,cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, collards,kohlrabi, leeks, parsley, peas, radish, rutabaga,Swiss chard, celery, and turnips. Lettuce, onion,parsnip, and spinach will germinate at 35
F.Direct planting of these crops is possible in mostgrowing areas. However, when the growingseason is short (less than 90 days) and cold soilspersist, season-extending cultural techniquesmay be necessary to mature even these crops.Techniques include soil warming, growing orpurchasing transplants, pre-germination of seeds,plastic mulches, and plant covers.Of the cool season crops, beets, carrots, andonions will grow well in warmer temperatures,but the others will form seed stalks or producelower yields with inferior flavor when plantedduring warmer temperatures. Crops like Chinesecabbage and celery may also produce seed stalksif exposed to cool spring temperatures unlessvarieties resistant to flowering and seeding areused.Crops requiring 50
F or higher soil temperaturesfor seed germination will need to be startedindoors and transplanted after the soil and airtemperatures warm, or directly sowed at thattime. Examples of such crops are: corn, tomatoes,green beans, dry beans, cucumbers, squash,pumpkin, eggplant, melons, cantaloupe, okra,and peppers. Season-extending cultural tech-niques will be necessary to realize a harvest of some of these crops in areas where the growingseason is less than about 120 days. These warmseason crops will need protection because theywill not withstand any frosts, and cold nightswill slow their growth. (See PNW 170, “Propagat-ing Plants from Seed.”)
Choose early maturing vegetablesand cultivars.
The use of early maturing crops is another im-portant factor for short season vegetable garden-ers. Cool season crops such as spinach, radishes,lettuce, and kohlrabi are generally able to reach astage where they can be harvested in less than 60days. Of those requiring 60 to 90 days, peas,broccoli, beets, carrots, onions, cabbage, andcauliflower can all be planted during fairly coolweather. With corn and bush beans, however, theshort season gardener will need to use season-extending cultural techniques. These techniqueswill become essential with crops requiring morethan 90 days for maturity such as most tomatoes,peppers, eggplant, melons, squashes, and pump-kins. Not only do these crops require a greaterlength of time to reach an acceptable harveststage, but they also must have warmer tempera-tures to grow.Within each crop type, choice of cultivar iscritical for the short season gardener. Chooseearly cultivars with the shortest days fromplanting to maturity. Even a few days can meanthe difference between a harvestable crop or nocrop at all. For example, corn cultivars vary from53 to 112 days in the number of days to harvest.Choose cultivars for “northern gardens” or “coldclimates.” These grow and produce quickly. Look for number of days to maturity on the seedpacket or in the catalog. (See PNW 45, “Choosingand Using Western Vegetables.”)