Grab & Grow Gardens
for Eastern Washington
Eastern Washington Gardening Tips: Choose a site where plants will receive at least 6 hours of sun per day (more is better) and you can water them easily. Add aged manure or compost to enrich poor, sandy soils; spread mulch (grass clippings or rotted sawdust) at least 3 inches deep around plants to conserve moisture in hot dry weather; and use row covers or cold frames to protect the most cold-sensitive plants when nights get frosty. See individual plant labels for specific spacing and cultural information.
Transplant early or late in the day when the sun is low (a cloudy day is even better). Loosen the soil around each site with a trowel and mix in some all-purpose organic fertilizer. Wake up the roots by gently separating them with your fingers, then plant each seedling in the bottom of a bowl-shaped depression, even if you’re using raised beds. This bowl directs water below the plant for deep, strong roots. Water well immediately after planting by filling the bowl around each plant with water and letting it soak in slowly.
Tried & True Vegetables
Ready to raise heaps of garden-fresh produce, but not sure where to start? Try this handpicked sampler of the best-yielding and most flavorful tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers for the extreme conditions faced by dry, northern gardens. We interviewed gardeners and nursery owners, researched regional seed catalogs – even grew many of them ourselves – and chose vigorous, adaptable varieties that produce dependable and full-flavored harvests in the Inland Northwest. From garden to plate in minutes, not days: homegrown produce abounds with flavor and nutrition – with no food miles, no additives, no packaging, and no grocery bill! Time to revive that neglected garden plot or till up a sunny patch of lawn and grow it yourself!
Our Tried and True Vegetable kit may include:
Tomato ‘Carmello’ – Indeterminate. One of the finest all-around tomatoes, with large crops of heavy, juicy, full-flavored fruit, even in cooler weather. Very productive vigorous plants need staking for best crop. 70-75 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 24-36″ apart in rows 3-4’ apart in full sun. Plants grow 4-5′; provide a cage or trellis.
Tomato ‘Early Girl’ – Produces heavy crop very early & continues longer than most early varieties. CARE: Plant in sunny area 11?2 to 21?2’ apart in rows 3–4’ apart. Best when staked. Fertilize when transplanting and again when plants begin to bloom. Keep well watered.
Tomato ‘Sweet Million’ – Sweet, bright red, cherry tomatoes are produced on long, multiple branched clusters over a long season. Crack and disease resistant fruits. Indeterminate. 65–75 days. PLACEMENT: Plant in sun 20–30″ apart. CARE: Feed with organic fertilizer. Water regularly.
Pepper ‘Mariachi’ – Large, conical chiles ripen from creamy yellow to bright red, with deliciously fruity, mildly hot flavor at any stage. Very early, dependable, & continuous yields for grilling, pickling, or salads. 65-70 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 12-18″ apart in rows 24-30″ apart in full sun. Keep soil uniformly moist for best production.
Pepper ‘Red Beauty’ – Hybrid bell type. 4″ x 31?2″ green, thickwalled, very sweet fruit matures red in 70-71 days. Heavy yielder. CARE: Plant in sunny area 18″ apart in rows. Fertilize.
Cucumber ‘Burpless Hybrid’ – Glossy black-green fruits with creamy, tender white flesh appear early on prolific compact plants with an open habit for easy harvest. 50-60 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 18-24″ apart in rows 3-4’ apart in full sun. Harvest often, at 5-7″ long, for best flavor & continued production.
Zucchini ‘Black Beauty’ – Glossy black-green fruits with creamy, tender white flesh appear early on prolific compact plants with an open habit for easy harvest. 50-60 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 18-24″ apart in rows 3-4’ apart in full sun. Harvest often, at 5-7″ long, for best flavor & continued production.
Squash ‘Gold Rush’ – Golden skinned zucchini type squash. Good flavor of creamy white flesh is best when picked early. Ready in 45–50 days. CARE: Best in sun in warm (at least 60°F), fertile, evenly moist, aerated soil with compost added. Squash is a heavy feeder. Space 3–5′ apart in all directions.
Winter Squash ‘Sweet Mama’ – Smooth dark green fruits weigh 3-4 lbs. each, with sweet, nutty, fine-grained yellow flesh. Semi-bush plants produce good yields in less space. Good keeper. 90 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 3-4’ apart in rows 8-10’ apart in full sun. Keep uniformly moist. Harvest in early fall when rind has hardened.
Delicious Heirloom Vegetables
Mouth-watering flavor, a rainbow of colors and shapes, the preservation of traditional knowledge and biodiversity – these are just a few reasons heirloom vegetables are making a comeback. Handed down from gardener to gardener for generations, heirlooms are time-tested (often introduced 100 years ago or more); open-pollinated (save a tomato seed and grow another tomato just like it); and high quality (that tomato will taste like a tomato, not just look like one!). These nine delicious varieties are highly adaptable and will produce delectable, ripe fruits on the plains of eastern Washington. Hybrids have their good qualities, but the beauty, nutrition and – above all – flavor of these old time varieties make them worth growing!
Our Delicious Heirloom Vegetable kit may include:
Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’ – Indeterminate. Dusky rose, 8-12 oz. round fruits have complex, old-time flavor that rivals Brandywine – a treat for slicing onto sandwiches. Pre-1890 variety. 90 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 20-30″ apart in rows 3-4′ apart in full sun. Plants grow 4-6′ tall; provide a cage or trellis.
Tomato ‘Moonglow’ – Indeterminate. Gorgeous, brilliant orange globe-shaped 6-8 oz. fruits have fantastic sweet-tart flavor & smooth texture, perfect for fresh eating or making a beautiful, unusual sauce. Heavy yields, good keeper. 80 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 24-36″ apart in rows 3-4’ apart in full sun. Plants grow 3-4’ tall; provide a cage or trellis.
Tomato ‘Snow White’ – Indeterminate. Creamy white cherry tomatoes turn pale yellow when fully mature. Pretty ivory fruits have high acid content for a very fruity, assertive flavor. A favorite for salads, vegetable trays, and snacking in the garden. 75-80 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 24-36″ apart in rows 3-4′ apart in full sun. Plants grow 3-5′ tall; provide a cage or trellis.
Pepper ‘Big Jim’ – Medium-hot, 10-12″ tapered fruits are one of the largest of the chile peppers – perfect for Chiles Rellenos. Each plant produces 24-30 pods which tend to ripen all at the same time from green to red. 75-80 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 12-18″ apart in rows 24-30″ apart in full sun. Keep soil uniformly moist for best production.
Pepper ‘Jalapeno’ – Very pungent, thick walled, dark green, turns red as it ripens, continuous fruit. CARE: Place in garden 18-24″ apart in rows 2-3’ apart. Yield in 70-75 days.
Summer Squash ‘Jaune et Verte’ – Beautiful, cream-colored scalloped fruits become striped with dark green as they mature. Eat when young for the most flavorful, delicate flesh; fruits are rock-hard ornamentals when fully mature. 55-70 days. Care: Plant 2-3′ apart in rows 3-4′ apart in full sun. Keep soil uniformly moist. Harvest often to encourage additional fruits.
Squash ‘Red Kuri’ – Beautiful Japanese variety produces dark orange, pumpkin-like 3-4 lb. fruits, with mellow, smooth dry flesh that tastes like chestnuts. Exceptional for pies, baking, soups. 100 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 3-4’ apart in rows 8-10’ apart in full sun. Keep soil uniformly moist. Harvest in early fall when rind has hardened.
Squash ‘Waltham Butternut’ – The standard for home gardeners, with rich dry pale orange flesh and a distinctive, nutty flavor. Vigorous vines produce 4 or 5 smooth, tan, 3-6 lb. squash per plant. Good keeper. 100 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 5-6’ apart in rows 8-10’ apart in full sun. Keep soil uniformly moist. Harvest in early fall when rind has hardened.
Pumpkin ‘Amish Pie’ – Pale orange, lightly ribbed fruits with firm, moist, golden flesh are among the best for making pies or freezing. Collected from an Amish gardener in Maryland. 95-100 days from transplant. CARE: Plant 5-6’ apart in rows 8-10’ apart in full sun. Keep soil uniformly moist. Harvest in early fall when rind has hardened.
Saving Heirlooms – Learn about heirloom plants & Seed Savers Exchange
Resources for Washington gardeners:
- Home Gardens – A 28-page booklet on home vegetable gardening in Washington, published by the WSU Extension Service
- Vegetable Gardening in Western Washington – A library of vegetable growing resources provided by the WSU master gardeners
- Container gardens – How to raise vegetables in containers for small space gardens, from the OSU Extension Service
- Short-Season Vegetable Gardening – General tips about growing veggies in the Pacific Northwest, from the PNW Extension Service
- Vegetable Families – Learn about vegetable families to better understand their climate and cultural preferences, prepared by Patricia Patterson for the Lane County Extension Service
- USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning – Detailed information about canning tomatoes, vegetables, pickles, and more (with recipes)
- Freezing Fruits and Vegetables – OSU Extension publication
- Drying Fruits and Vegetables – UGA Extension publication
- Pesto Unlimited – Pesto recipes using basil and a variety of other fresh herbs from your garden
- Roast ’em now, you’ll thank yourself later – Roasted tomatoes for sauces and freezing, article by Jan Roberts-Dominguez
- Epicurean.com – a great source for excellent recipes
- Green Gardening – Ann Lovejoy offers seasonal recipes and menus that emphasize the freshest locally grown ingredients
check back with us for more recipes