My first year of gardening in Yakima: January preparations | Explore Yakima


It’s been a year since the moving van pulled up in front of my new little bungalow in Yakima’s Bargeguri neighborhood, and I’m pretty settled now. More importantly, it’s the entire growing season, and it’s time to assess how this first year went and what the coming year will bring to the garden.

I have been gardening in Delaware and Nebraska since I was a child. For the past 30 years I have been gardening on the wet side of the mountains in Bellingham. But Yakima Valley is a whole other world. The basics of growing things have not changed. But I had to tweak a lot of the routines I developed to make my garden as productive here as it was at Bellingham.

If you’re looking to get into gardening, or take your gardening up a notch, follow along with me as I spend the next few months experimenting and learning how to grow amazing gardens in Yakima Valley.

do homework

As soon as I unpacked the box last January, I started planning my new garden. My ex-husband is a garden photographer and sells images of gardening books, so I had lots of swatches.

But the truth is most gardening books aren’t written here for us. The mass market is located on the coast where the climate is mild and humid. He was considering working with a local gardening writer to publish a book on gardening in the Northwest Interior, but was told by the publisher that there was not a large enough market for it to be worth publishing. rice field.

But I kept looking for information.

My most pressing task was deciding what to grow and which types of vegetables would work well here. “Nothing. Spring is short and then hot.” So I wondered if the local gardener had a special cultivar that worked well in the short spring and was heat tolerant.

I called my local gardening organization and asked if they had a list of locally recommended vegetable varieties. No, it wasn’t. They suggested I ask my neighbors. Well, I didn’t know my neighbors yet, and my son on the street didn’t grow broccoli.

When I finally looked through the seed catalog I brought over from Bellingham, I found several broccoli varieties that claimed to be more heat tolerant. And I’m happy to report that those broccoli plants (after the main heads have been harvested) pumped out delicious side shoots until my daughter-in-law ripped the plants open in late fall.

I eventually found a list of recommended varieties for the Inland Northwest. You can buy it for $12 at his WSU Extension office behind the Valley Mall in Union Gap or order it online.

Another book worth keeping on your shelf for quick reference is Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert, and Dry Times by Maureen Gilmer (Sasquatch Books). I have a copy of her in the Yakima Valley Libraries system, but you can also order it from your local bookstore. It also includes heat countermeasures, efficient watering, and a list of recommended vegetable varieties.

If you’re new to gardening or didn’t pay much attention to it in your high school biology class, find a gardening primer to understand the basics of how plants grow. When you read it, keep in mind that growing conditions here are different than what they tell you. You are lucky if the soil is even slightly moist.

The final book I recommend for homework is Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon (available free online as a PDF). Solomon founded his company, Territorial Seeds, and wrote a book about vegetable gardens in the West. Now living in Tasmania where he grows most of his family’s food with limited irrigation, he shares many ideas for saving time, effort and money in starting a new garden. I’m here.

January garden checklist

• Read some of the books recommended above.

• If you are starting a new garden, read one or more of the above books before deciding where to go. Also, discuss the location with your housemates and get their cooperation. Some may object to having their favorite grass dug up.

• Sketch out your garden plan, including what to grow, spacing, placement, and how many plants you need.

• Order seeds if you plan to sow the seeds yourself or if you plan to sow the seeds directly. Mail order seeds are always fresher and offer a wider selection than getting packets from hardware store racks. There are many excellent companies. Good results and selections from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Pinetree Garden Seeds. Oddly enough, they’re both outside of Maine and definitely not for desert gardeners, so read the heat resistance description.

• Finish the fall cleanup.

• If your shrub or tree has had recent aphid infestations, consider a dormant oil spray before the buds begin to swell.

Natalie McClendon moved to Yakima in the winter of 2022. After living on the wet side of the state for 30 years, he was excited to relearn gardening in a semi-desert climate. Throughout the year, she’ll share her gardening adventures, successful or not, in your own garden, or let your imagination run wild.



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