What to plant?
June 4, 2012 12:12 PM   Subscribe

What can I plant that's edible and low-maintenance in Seattle next week?

We are creating some new planting beds and I'd like to get something in there next week rather than just letting them sit until next spring. What can I put in them now that will be attractive, preferably edible, and doesn't require a lot of maintenance? I've always started my gardens much earlier than now so I have no idea what will thrive being planted in mid-June.
posted by bq to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Herbs do really well without much in the way of maintenance. Mint is famously hardy, but can be invasive. Thyme, rosemary and lemon balm are favorites of ours. I've had mixed luck with cilantro.

The failsafe is zucchini, which grows like gangbusters. The local nurseries may still be stocking flats and 1/2 gals of veggies, so you wouldn't necessarily be starting from seed or anything.
posted by jquinby at 12:19 PM on June 4, 2012

Pumpkins, gourds (not edible though) and squash would work well, as would some varities of berries (fall bearing). Lettuce might work. Best go to your local garden center and see what is available. The soil will be warm, so you can still start things from seed, if you want, right in the ground.

Grow a giant pumpkin? Do you have enough sun in that spot?
posted by FergieBelle at 12:26 PM on June 4, 2012

Swiss chard requires almost no care, has colorful stems, and is extremely nutritious.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:30 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Decorate Kale or cabbages though it might still be a smidge early to plant them as they can bolt to seed, though still look pretty. I love them as they look like giant flowers you can eat.

Okra is pretty in flower and is best planted from seed around now, depending on your zone.

Some nurserys are selling very large tomato plants and the like so you might still have time to carefully transplant some of those.
posted by wwax at 12:40 PM on June 4, 2012

Zucchini are fairly indestructible. Cherry tomatoes from nursery plants (seed will take too long) will need staking but that's about it. Sugar snap peas; just give them a branch to grow up.

Radishes are a quick crop and require no work. Mustard and arugala (aka roquette aka rocket) grow like crazy. You can grow onions, garlic and shallots from sets and they are no work at all.

You probably already know about how well blackberries grow in Seattle.
posted by musofire at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2012

Definitely try swiss chard. In fact, winters are so mild here that I have a two year old swiss chard in my garden that I pull leaves from on a regular basis. Winter temps can't seem to kill it and it requires no upkeep at all. And it's not too late for lettuces, especially if you harvest the baby leaves.

Peas can be planted now. They are easy and grow quickly enough that the weather should still be cool by the time they're ready to set pods (and so won't bolt). You can plant another set of peas in September for a fall harvest.

I was at the University District Farmer's Market this past Saturday and there were still several farms selling tomato, pepper and eggplant plants, as well as some lettuce and brassica starts (broccoli, greens, etc.) and even strawberries. You can search for the closest market to you here.
posted by weeyin at 1:13 PM on June 4, 2012

Depending on the source, Seattle is Zone 7B or 8A. USDA says 8A.

I can't speak for the OP, but, for one, thank you all for these suggestions. I'm looking to get into some planting that's appropriate for my general level of laziness, and these are good. Also, definitely mint. It's almost the season for Sweet Tea!
posted by Sunburnt at 1:26 PM on June 4, 2012

In addition to swiss chard, collard greens grow really well in Seattle's climate. One or two plants is really all you need.
posted by bennett being thrown at 1:50 PM on June 4, 2012

You should be able to grow a crop of small carrots from seed.
posted by Cranberry at 2:05 PM on June 4, 2012

Probably too late for strawberries which are generally harvested mid- to late-June, but it might not be too late to plant raspberries, which tend to show up later in the summer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 PM on June 4, 2012

All lettuces do very well here. All they need is watering occasionally. Arugula and red lettuce are a couple of attractive varieties.
posted by bearwife at 3:22 PM on June 4, 2012

I've had good luck with chives, baby carrots, blueberry bushes, radishes and sage.
posted by HMSSM at 3:43 PM on June 4, 2012

Rosemary, rosemary, rosemary. Yum.
posted by bswinburn at 3:43 PM on June 4, 2012

Nthing lettuce. Of all sorts. Planted from seed, you'll have a crop starting in a month or so. There's nothing more awesome than going out into the garden and picking a lot of young lettuce leaves which have been soaking up the sun all day and bringing them in and eating them while they are still nearly glowing with photosynthesis and earthen magic and whatnot.

Blueberry bushes take a lot of prep for the soil, as they are very picky. But it can be done if you do your research. Any number of berry plants work well at this latitude. Here, over near Spokane, I have raspberries and currants growing, but blackberries and such work well, too. Note: any berry plants you put in the ground this year likely won't yield anything useful for a few years down the line. Also, blackberries and raspberries are pretty pernicious, are quite prickly, and will likely seed into places you don't necessarily want them, so plant these with care.

Cherry tomatoes are the way to go with the short growing season this far north. If you put in large tomatoes, you'll find that there is great promise, with wonderful-looking green fruits, and then the temperature will shift and you'll end up with green spherical shells on dead vines and nothing to eat. (This may be different in the Seattle area -- I acknowledge that your climate is quite different from ours.)

Personally, I love fresh green beans, and I don't think they take that long to grow, so you might still have time this year to get them in the ground and have a harvest.

Note: if you plant zucchini or tomatoes, you'll either be learning methods of saving your crop for later consumption, or you'll be leaving bags of them on neighbor's doorsteps, ringing the bell, and running away. Because I have yet to discover a way to plant these and not have so many at one time that I know how to deal with them properly.
posted by hippybear at 10:21 PM on June 4, 2012

Michigan Bulb has a four step plant finder online. Just put in your zone and what you want and it will make suggestions from its catalog. You don't have to buy from them, of course. (Hint, for Step 3 and 4 you have to click each and actually choose "Any" or another choice, or the page doesn't do anything.)
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:38 PM on June 4, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all of the suggestions! I will probably be printing this out to take with me when I go shopping. I am hoping to make long-term plans for these spaces next year, so what we plant this year has to be short term, and then I'm thinking about maybe some dwarf fruit trees or something. I guess that's another question!
posted by bq at 5:03 PM on June 7, 2012

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