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Can you tell me, what's the deal with watering in winter? I've heard that foundation plants which don't catch the rain under the eaves must be watered even in wintertime. Someone else says that watering anything in winter subjects it to freezing. Now I'm in a quandary. I don't want my plants to freeze to death, nor do I want them to die of dehydration. So what's the answer?
According to Colorado State University Extension, you do need to water if there has not been snow or rain. You should water when the temperature is above freezing and the soil is not frozen. You should water early in the day so that the water can soak in before it gets cold overnight and freezes.
Here in the Puget Sound area we do not have freezing temperatures very often so you should go ahead and water, especially those plants under the eaves.
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Are late July and early August still a good time to start sowing seeds for basil, parsley, and coriander in Seattle?
According to Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest by Binda Colebrook (Sasquatch Books, 1998), you can sow coriander in late August to early September and as long as the winter is not too harsh, you should have success. You may want to keep the plants under cover during winter.
When you sow parsley, Colebrook recommends looking for European varieties which are cold-hardier than the American type. The following article, from the British paper The Guardian (July 1, 2006 issue) discusses summer sowing:
Summer-sown parsley by Sue Stickland
Here is an excerpt:
"Spring-sown parsley often struggles, but sow now and it's easier to get healthy plants. These should give a good crop right through to autumn, and look as decorative in beds, pots and troughs as they do on the plate.
Sow directly where it is to grow, or into small pots for transplanting, and keep it moist. In steady July temperatures, germination should take a couple of weeks (quicker by half than in spring). Plant out seedlings from pots as soon as they are big enough, and before the 'tap' root hits the bottom. This will give stronger, more resilient plants.
The main enemies of spring-sown parsley are aphids and carrot flies. Aphids not only make the leaves unappetising, but carry viral diseases; carrot flies tunnel into the roots, weakening the plant, just as they do with their main vegetable host. When parsley starts to yellow and redden, and plants become stunted, one or other of these pests is usually to blame. July sowings avoid the worst attacks, provided you keep them well away from any ailing plants. Never try to grow this herb in the same spot twice.
For vibrant, deep green leaves, the plant must also have rich soil and plenty of moisture. Add well-rotted manure or garden compost (or a bagged equivalent) to a garden patch, and to the potting compost in deep troughs and pots. Don't forget them in dry spells - most herbs won't need watering, but parsley will. When it turns cold, bring pots into a cold frame, greenhouse or other warm, protected spot. These late-sown plants will provide welcome fresh sprigs in winter and early spring."
Basil is a half-hardy annual, and is best sown into pots in early spring, or directly into the garden in late May. I don't think you can successfully grow an outdoor fall/winter crop. Mary Preus, author of The Northwest Herb Lover's Handbook (Sasquatch Books, 2000), suggests potting up plants from your garden in September and moving them indoors. If given the right light and care, you can keep harvesting throughout the winter.
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While vegetable gardeners are inundated with zucchinis and other summer produce it can be hard to imagine the winter garden. But July is the time to plant seeds for fall and winter crops of cabbage, Asian greens, collard greens, spinach and lettuce. Transplants should go in the ground in mid August. Perennial and biennial flowers can also be started from seed right now. For an excellent list of what plants to sow throughout the year check out The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide produced by Seattle Tilth. It is available for $12.50, including tax and shipping. Call 633-0451 or go online to order a copy.
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January 13 2017 10:35:53