I pay more attention to our average last frost date than our average minimum temperature when determining when to start planting the most tender vegetables outside. According to Jeff Renner, Chief Meterologist for King 5 in Seattle, the last average frost date for Seattle is March 22 and the last average frost date for Bellingham is May 5. Even though we seem to be experiencing an early spring with highs already into the 50s nearly every afternoon, most mornings I still see a thick, crunchy frost on my lawn. It is obviously still too early to set out tomato, squash or pepper plants. But it's not too early to start cleaning up the garden, so that's where I've been lately. I've been spending my afternoons puttering around with my rake and wearing my garden gloves in my already established garden at the Happy Valley Community Gardens.I've raked up some of the straw mulch put down last fall and pruned the raspberries, transplanting those tender new sprouts that poked up where they shouldn't be back into the boundaries of my raspberry patch. I uncovered a couple of the smaller raised beds, raked off the mulch, worked in a little fertilizer and planted my first crop of some of my favorite cool-weather vegetables.
In one bed, I planted Bok Choy Cabbage, Italian Lacinato Kale, Cool Weather Fava Broad Beans, Oregon Giant Snow Peas, Early Wonder Tall Top Beets, Baby's Leaf Spinach, French Breakfast Radishes, and then some Jester Marigolds to discourage the pesky bugs.
In other raised beds, I sowed seeds for my first planting of Red Russian Kale, Prizehead Leaf Lettuce, "America" Spinach, Crimson Giant Radishes, Little Marvel Bush Peas. After pruning back the snapdragons that survived the winter and are sprouting again, in between those plants, I scattered some Brilliant Red Oriental Poppy seeds.