Garden News Issue 20

Garden News
Issue 20 • Seasonal tips and featured varieties coming to a retailer near you • March 27, 2009


Spring equinox breezed by last weekend and now it’s full speed ahead into high planting season for vegetable gardens!  If you didn’t make it to your local nursery or garden center last week to pick up some spring vegetable starts, don’t worry.  We’ve been sending out flats and flats of veggies again this week, including mini-cabbages, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, chard, European greens, peas, and more.

It may be cool and cloudy now, but as you’re setting out your spring garden think summery thoughts by planning where to put warm-season veggies in a month or two.  Planting time for summer squash, cucumbers, and early tomatoes will be here before we know it!  New varieties to look forward to this year include:

Cucumber‘Alibi’ Slicing Cucumber

If you can only grow one cucumber, ‘Alibi’ is a great all-around choice.  This versatile cuke is firm enough for pickling but tender and succulent for slicing.  Space-saving compact vines produce tons of perfectly shaped 3 to 4 inch fruits in a small space.  Or pick the fruits much smaller, about pinkie-sized, for making sweet gherkins.  Cucumbers need heat and well-drained soil: plant 3 to 4 feet apart in full sun on raised beds or hills.

PepperMiniature Bell Peppers

These irresistible garden treats ripen from green to shiny red, golden yellow, and rich chocolate brown.  Productive plants provide a steady supply of sweet little 3-lobed fruits, just 2½ inches wide and 1¼ inch long, with thick crunchy flesh.  Delicious for veggie trays, in salads, or stuffed.  55 days from transplant.  Plant 12-18 inches apart in rows 24-30 inches apart in full sun in moist but not waterlogged soil.  (OP)

SquashZucchini ‘Bush Baby’

The first mini zucchini!  Chubby little fruits are striped in dark and light green and more proportional than regular varieties used as baby zukes.  Pick them when just 2 to 3 inches long for the best, most delicate flavor (but bigger ones are tasty, too).  Compact, very productive bush-type plants can be tucked into small gardens or containers. 49 days from transplant.  Plant 24-36 inches apart in rows 3-4 feet apart in full sun. Harvest often to encourage additional fruits.  (F1)

TomatoTomato ‘First Light’

Richly flavored, 5-7 ounce fruits should be picked when the lower half is red but the shoulders are still green, for the delightful crisp texture and full tart flavor that makes this taste-test winner ideal for salads and salsas. Strong indeterminate plants produce good yields. 76-80 days from transplant.  Plant 24-36 inches apart in rows 3-4 feet apart in full sun.  Plants grow 3-5 feet tall; provide a cage or trellis.  (F1)

TomatoTomato ‘Momotaro’

Dark pink, meaty round slicers with superb sweet and tangy flavor are excellent for fresh eating. This hard-to-find variety is most esteemed in Japan, where its namesake is a popular folk hero.  Indeterminate plants provide good yields of 6-7 ounce fruits. 70 days from transplant.  Plant 24-36 inches apart in rows 3-4 feet apart in full sun.  Plants grow 4-6 feet tall; provide a cage or trellis.  (F1)


ViolaViola ‘Dancing Geisha’ – Spring is also the best season for violas.  This exquisite new variety has gorgeous maple-leaf foliage streaked with pewter and silver and wonderfully fragrant, pale lilac violets that may appear peeping through the snow in early spring, and continue blooming even into hot summer months.  Silvery mounding plants grow just 6-12 inches tall and prefer a cool site in part to full shade with rich, moist soil.  Scatter them among spring bulbs for an enchanting display of spring color, tuck them among ferns and hostas in a woodland garden, or use as a shady groundcover in beds or borders.


Hellebore Cherry BlossomYes, we highlighted these amazing winter blooming plants last week in Garden News, but just in case we didn’t convey how special they are we’d like to emphasize a few of their terrific qualities:

*Also known as the Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose, Hellebores bloom in winter!  The smooth, cup-shaped flowers start to appear in January or February, holding for several months on the plant.

*Hardy plants with polished, dark green palm-like foliage covers garden beds in lush greenery throughout the year in our mild Northwest winters.

*They aren’t even high maintenance.  Hellebores are happy in shade to part shade, need little cleaning, are usually unbothered by pests or disease – even deer don’t seem to like them!

*‘Winter Jewels’ is an exceptional series introduced right here in the Northwest by world-class hybridizers Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne, who selected for the biggest blooms, purest color, and most vigorous plants.

Grow one or two this year and you may be back for more next spring!

Oregon Live has a video online about the O’Byrnes and NW Garden Nursery hellebores if you would like to learn more.

You can see more of our 2009 New Introductions on the website.

You can read previous issues of Garden News in the Log House Library.