From salad fixings like lettuce to hearty sides like kale, greens offer an easy introduction to edible gardening with little effort and a lot of reward. Tender greens for fresh eating include arugula, lettuce, spinach and mache. Greens for sautés or soups include kale, collards, mustard greens and bok choy. Be creative with your choices and mix it up.
Any greens can be direct-seeded or transplanted in well-nourished soil in the ground or in a container. Sow seeds in early spring for spring and early summer harvest or late summer for fall to winter harvest. Check your seed packets and your planting guides for specifics.
Liven up dinner – and the yard – with herbs
Herbs offer carefree flavor throughout the year. Once established in sunny, well-drained spots, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and other Mediterranean herbs are a great addition to a diverse landscape and make adding fresh herbs to your meals easy and cheap.
Planting peas and protecting them
Use a soil thermometer to test if your soil is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit for planting peas in your veggie garden. Protect peas from damping off disease by increasing drainage before you plant with raised bed and compost, rotating peas out of same area and not planting them there again for two or three years.
Cutworms are the caterpillar of a brown moth, they are c-shaped in the soil, usually just under the surface, and they “cut” the stem of the young seedlings. They are great songbird food. You can also make a collar out of plastic bottle, toilet paper tube or paper cup and put it around the plant and into soil about 1 inch to prevent damage from cutworms. Remove after plants are 1 foot tall if you like. Copper foil tape applied three inches wide around wooden raised beds or potted plants can help deter slugs.
Growing tomatoes and other edibles
Tomatoes like warm weather and will not prosper if you plant them when the weather is cold and wet. It pays to wait until soil temperatures are at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Choose early ripening varieties to ensure a good harvest since the Willamette Valley is considered a cool summer region. Ask fellow gardeners or your local garden retailer for favorite varieties that thrive in the region. You can also peruse Oregon State University's list of tried and true tomato varieties for Willamette Valley gardens.
Early summer is a great time to transplant peppers, eggplants and herbs, and to sow lettuce, chard, beans, radish, corn, cucumbers and squash.