Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for March 2022 — and a seed swap Saturday

It kind of feels like March is arriving on a wave with all of the rain we have had the last few days. It’s a bit soggy out there! But the good news is that crocuses and daffodils are starting to bloom. I have a feeling spring will be here as soon as this storm passes by us. Or maybe the storm after that. Or the one after that…

First the fun stuff: The planting! Lettuce, spinach, and mustard seed can all be sown outside under cover, or transplanted out successfully now. Lettuce seeds sown thickly can provide a nice harvest of baby greens when it’s time to thin. Later in the month, beets can successfully be sown in the garden, and St. Patrick’s Day is a good reminder to plant potatoes. I normally plant seeds around President’s Day, but decided to wait a bit with our funky cold then wet weather. They can be sown any time now, indoors or out.

It’s also time to get the seed starting gear set up. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chard and kale can all be started indoors all month. Kale and chard may sprout if sown outdoors, but will get a head start if started indoors for a few weeks before transplanting. Tomatoes and peppers can be sown in March. Peppers are more sensitive to cold and may need to be coddled indoors for a few weeks longer than tomatoes, but due to their slow growth, I tend to plant them both at the same time or even earlier than tomatoes.

I say it every year, but it’s time to March yourself out to do some weeding. Spending 10 minutes weeding now will save you hours of weeding in a month or two. One of the worst offenders at the BOG is Shotweed (Cardamine oligosperma), a low-growing weed with pretty white flowers – which turn into little rockets that send tiny seeds flying all over the garden once the seed pods ripen. This menace has been growing all winter, and can set seeds as soon as March.

Do you have extra seeds that you saved last year, or a packet with only one or two seeds gone? Maybe a variety you didn’t enjoy and won’t be planting again? Bring them to our annual seed swap and take home new ones! If you’re a beginner or don’t have any seeds to share, you’re invited too. This is a great opportunity to pick up the seeds you need to get started. The Seed Swap will be held at Ballinger Park at the MLT Senior Center back deck (23000 Lakeview Drive, Mountlake Terrace) from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on March 5. Entrance is free. Note: this event will be outdoors but under cover. Please dress to be comfortable in the weather. For more information, see our Facebook event page.

Have a question about gardening? Ask it on our Facebook page!

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 includes maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain. Want to volunteer, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.

To stay up to date on what is happening at the BOG, including what’s growing, work parties, and events, follow us on Facebook  or Instagram.

— By Robyn Rice

Robyn Rice grew up in Eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by her Master Gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm, and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her science background leads to endless research about the “correct” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and sense of adventure leads her to garden fearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?




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