Feb. 22 column

Every year, I write garden columns for The Spokesman-Review from February to October.

I'm happy to report that my first column of the 2015 garden season has run in today's edition of the paper. Here is a link to it: Time to dig deep.

In it, I talk about what I'll be growing in this year's vegetable garden, the newest structure in my garden and how it will be used through both the warm and cold months of the year, and the importance of building your soil every year for the best success at growing plants.

And speaking of soil, it is too early to start working with it because it's still too damp. It's best to wait until the soil has dried out a bit and is crumbly; working with it too early will damage the structure of the soil and it will be miserable to work with through the rest of the season. I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago and, let me tell you, it wasn't pretty!

The easiest way to tell if it's dry enough is to pick up a handful of soil. Squeeze it in your palm. If you've just made a small mud pie and/or your hand is wet, the soil is too damp. But if your hand isn't wet and you are able to poke apart the ball of soil into crumbly bits, it is safe to start working with the soil.

I just noticed that the online version of my column doesn't include the list of what I'm growing in my garden this year so here it is:

Arugula - 'Sylvetta'
Artichoke - 'Green Globe', 'Imperial Star'
Basil - 'Lettuce Leaf', 'Aurelia'
Bean, Bush - 'French Baby Filet'
Bean, Pole - 'Italian Snap', 'Rich Purple Pod'
Beet - 'Cylindra', 'Albino'
Carrots - 'Tendersweet', 'Starica', 'King Midas Long', 'Mokum Hybrid'
Celery - 'Tango'
Cilantro - 'Bac Lieu'
Corn - 'Luscious'
Cucumber - 'Platinum', 'Parisian Gherkin'
Kale - 'Tuscan Baby Leaf'
Leek - 'King Richard'
Lettuce - 'Ruby Glow', 'Outredgeous', 'Reneeā€™s Baby Leaf'
Melon - 'Arava', 'El Gordo', 'Napoli'
Onion - 'Copra', 'Yellow Sweet Spanish'
Parsnip - 'Andover'
Pea - 'Green Arrow', 'Golden Sweet'
Pepper - 'Sunset Mix'
Potato - 'Viking Purple'
Pumpkin - 'Casper', 'New England Pie'
Spinach - 'Bordeaux'
Squash, Summer - 'Romanesco' zucchini, 'Trombetta Climbing'
Squash, Winter - 'Sweet Meat', 'Lakota', 'Sweet Dumpling', 'Cream of the Crop Acorn', 'Blue Ballet Hubbard'
Swiss Chard - 'Peppermint Stick'
Tomatillo - 'Toma Verde'
Tomato - 'Italian Pompeii', 'Jetstar'

I hope you'll enjoy today's column! Next week, I'll write about some of the newest vegetable varieties available this year. It's always fun to see what the plant breeders have been up to.

Happy gardening!