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Harvesting Garlic

Garlic may be one of the most anticipated crops to harvest each year. You planted them all the way back in October, it’s now July and you are ready for some fresh garlic! Garlic harvest can be a little tricky. Depending on your weather, when you planted them, and what varieties you planted, the harvest can be anywhere between late spring and late summer. That’s a big gap! So the big question is how do I know when my garlic is ready to harvest?


Since the bulb is in the ground, you are going to look at the leaves. Watch your plants and not the calendar.  The leaves will start to brown from the bottom up. Once about half of the plants’ leaves have browned this is a good sign you may be close to harvest time. Scrape soil away from the bulb by hand to check the bulbs maturity. If the bulb looks too small or the skin is still loose, cover the bulb back up and pat down the soil. Once you have a nice-sized bulb and the skin is tight, you can stop watering for about a week.

It’s important not to wait until all the leaves have died back before you harvest. Without the wrappers protecting the bulb, the cloves will start to separate. This will create some difficulty harvesting your bulbs and they will not store as well.


When harvesting, carefully loosen the soil around the bulb with a garden spade or fork. Grab the garlic bulb from the base and pull up.  Brush off the soil but don’t wash the roots since you will need to dry and cure them for long term storage. If you plan to eat some right away you can trim roots and leaves at harvest time.


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Planting Guide

This spring I have had a ton of questions on when to plant seeds indoors? When to transplant them outdoors? What should be planted directly in the ground? There is no exact answer as we all live in different climates and each have our own micro climate. I have come up with a planting guideline that should help you gardeners out. First things first! You need to find out what your last average spring frost date is. You can get this from senior gardeners in your area or you can call your local state extension agent and they will have an answer for you. For example Ellensburg’s average last frost date is about May 1st.

Planting Guideline

BEANS: Sow directly outdoors, Plant 1-2 weeks after average last spring frost. Minimum soil temp of 52 degrees.

BEETS: Sow directly outdoors, Plant 1-2 weeks after average last spring frost. Minimum soil temp of 50 degrees.

BROCCOLI: Seed indoors. Seed indoors 4-6 weeks before you want to plant outdoors. Transplant outdoors 2-3 weeks before average last spring frost. Minimum soil temp 40 degrees.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS: Seed indoors. Start transplants 8-10 weeks before last frost. Set out transplants 2-4 weeks before average last frost.

CABBAGE: Seed indoors. Start transplants 6-8 weeks before average last spring frost. Transplant outside 2-3 weeks before the last expected frost date.

CARROTS: Sow directly outdoors, Plant 3-5 weeks before the last spring frost date. Minimum soil temp 40 degrees.

CAULIFLOWER: Seed indoors. Start transplants 4-5 weeks before the plants are needed to go outdoors. Plant transplants outdoors 2-3 weeks before the average frost date in spring.

CHARD: Sow seeds indoors or outdoors. Plant outside 2-3 weeks before last spring frost date. Continue planting seeds at 10 day intervals to have all summer.

CORN: Sow directly outdoors. Plant seeds 2 weeks after last spring frost date. Minimum soil temp 60 degrees.

CUCUMBERS: Sow indoors. Plant seeds indoors 3-5 weeks before spring frost date. Transplant outside no earlier than 2 weeks after last frost date.

EGGPLANT: Sow indoors. Plant seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before soil warms up to 60 degrees. Transplant outside when soil warms.

KALE: Seed indoors or sow directly outdoors. Extremely frost hardy. Plant as soon as ground thaws.

LETTUCE: Sow directly outdoors or seed indoors. If seeding indoors start seeds 4-6 weeks before last spring frost. Transplant seedlings 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after last spring frost. If sowing directly outdoors seed as soon as your ground can be worked. Light frost is okay.

MUSKMELONS: Sow indoors or directly outdoors. Muskmelons need at least 70 degree soil temperature to germinate. If planting indoors sow about 4-6 weeks before soil warms up. Transplant when all signs of frost are gone.

ONION TRANSPLANTS OR SETS: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as soil can be worked.

PARSNIPS: Sow directly outdoors. Sow as soon as soil is workable. Cold hardy crop.

PEAS: Sow directly outdoors. Seed outdoors 4-6 weeks before last spring frost.

POTATOES: Sow directly outdoors. Seed outdoors when soil temperature has reached 52 degrees. 2-3 weeks after average spring frost.

PUMPKINS: Sow directly outdoors or sow indoors. If you have a short growing season sow indoors 2-4 weeks before last spring frost. Be sure to harden off seedlings before transplanting.

PEPPERS: Sow indoors. Plant 6-8 weeks before the last average spring frost date. Transplant outside when soil has warmed up and all signs of frost are gone, before transplanting outside make sure you harden off your seedlings.

RADISH: Sow directly outdoors. Plant 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date.

SPINACH: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as the soil can be worked. Spinach need 6 weeks of cool weather. Minimum soil germination temperature 35 degrees.

SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI: Sow indoors. Plant 2-4 weeks before last spring frost. Transplant outside 1-3 weeks after spring frost.

STRAWBERRIES: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as the ground can be tilled.

TOMATOES: Sow indoors. Plant 6-8 weeks before the last average spring frost date. Transplant outside when soil has warmed up and all signs of frost are gone, before transplanting outside make sure you harden off your seedlings.

TURNIPS: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as soil is tillable.

WATERMELON: Sow indoors or directly outdoors. Watermelon need at least 70 degree soil temperature to germinate. If planting indoors sow about 4-6 weeks before soil warms up. Transplant when all signs of frost are gone.

Here is a great resource to find your local extension agents information.


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5 Easy Spring Vegetables to Plant Now!

Spring has finally emerged, and we are just dying to get our hands dirty! Even with a little colder temperatures there are some vegetables that are ready to get in the ground now!


Mouthwatering, tender, fresh sweet peas are a culinary delight and one of the very best reasons for having a garden. Fresh peas have an unparalleled sweetness and are among those vegetables that can never be equaled by supermarket produce. Growing peas are perfect for the beginner gardener, plant them in minutes and in a few weeks they are ready to harvest. Peas are a cool weather crop that can be planted early and harvest heavy yields into early summer.


Spinach is one of the healthiest green vegetables you can grow. It’s packed with iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, various B-complex vitamins, and a variety of other nutrients, all in a leaf that tastes delicious in sandwiches, salads, and cooked. Spinach loves cool weather, seeds will germinate in soils as cold as 35 degrees. Best planted in early spring or fall before the ground freezes. Spinach usually bolts with onset of hot weather.


Sweet, succulent, melt in your mouth goodness! Homegrown strawberries are a must in your home garden. These sweet berries don’t even compete with store bought strawberries.  Plant strawberry roots in spring, in a place with full sun. These berries are easy to grow, tolerate a wide range of soil types and come back year after year!


Onions are one of the first vegetables that you can plant in your garden. Onion transplants are quite frost hardy and can withstand 20 degree frosts. They should be planted 4-6 weeks prior to the last expected spring frost. The earlier you get your onion transplants in the ground the bigger onion bulb you will harvest! Plant this tasty allium and enjoy them all year long! Perfect for the garden cook!



Lettuce, a cool season vegetable, is one of the easiest to grow and the fastest to mature—an ideal combination! Plant some in the spring for mid-summer harvests, and again mid-summer for fall yields. Lettuce is easy to direct sow, and it can grow in many different variations of sun and shade, or directly in the ground or in a container. This is a great way to have fresh lettuce for months.

So gardeners what are you waiting for?! Get in the garden and start planting!

Happy Spring Y’all!

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How to Store Seeds

Seed storage. How long do seeds really last?

There is only few times in the day you can find me outside in the frigid cold. One is, if I have any bottle calves or lambs to feed, and two would be running out to my car to get it started. Yeah I know what you are thinking, what kind of farm girl are you? My husband calls me the fair-weather cowgirl. I just really really hate the bitter cold! So in the winter you can typically find me warm and toasty on the couch with a cup of tea.

When I get tired of reading or binge watching Alaska the Last Frontier, I like to skim through my Irish Eyes Garden Seeds catalog and see what I should grow in my garden this year. Once I make a list of vegetables to grow I gather all my seed jars and see what seed I can use for this year and what I should just throw away.

Containers to store your seeds in….

Plastic bins: These are inexpensive and you can keep them in there originally package with a filing system to organize your seeds by variety.

Shoe Box: This is the same idea has the plastic bins other than they are free! I like free.

Mason jar: I put everything in mason jars…I have plenty, they are reusable and you can usually find them at Goodwill.

Wooden crate: If you’re handy you could build one! This would be a really great gift for the gardener in your life.

Ideal storage conditions…

Seed stores best in a cool dark spot. So consider a cool dark basement, mudroom, or closet. Freezing seeds is not necessary but you can use a refrigerator to keep the seeds in.

Seed Viability

Beans     5+years

Beets      5+years

Broccoli   5+years

Brussels Sprouts

Carrots     3-5years

Cabbage    3-5years

Corn     5+years

Cucumber     5+years

Celery       2 years

Eggplant    2 years

Kale     5+years

Kohlrabi     3-5years

Lettuce/Greens     2-3years

Herbs     3 years

Onions/Leeks    1 year

Muskmelons     5+years

Peas     5+years

Peppers     3-4 years

Parsnips    1 year

Radish     5+years

Spinach     5+years

Summer Squash    3-4years

Swiss Chard     5+years

Winter Squash/Pumpkins    3-5years

Tomatoes     2 years

Watermelon     3-5years





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Starting Seeds Indoors

Whether you are from the Northwest, Midwest or East Coast, the time has come to step into your greenhouse. Dust off your cold frame and clean up your seedling trays! Even though you may look outside and there is a blanket of snow on the ground it is not too early to get some seeds started. There are many vegetable seeds to start indoors and transplant later in spring. If you don’t have a greenhouse, that’s okay a warm window will do the trick!  Starting seeds indoors is a fun early garden project with big rewards! Read on to find out how simple and fun starting seeds indoors is.

Seed starting supplies

Fill your containers with pre-moistened seed starting mix. You can use cell-packs, peat pots, plastic pots, clay pots, or recycled newspaper pots. Gently press the mix into them leaving ¼ inch space at the top to allow air circulation.

Using a dibble (pointed stick or pencil), make a hole in the center of the potting mix about ¼ inch deep, place 2-3 seeds and cover with potting mix.

Remember to label each container with the variety name and planting date. Water lightly with a fine spray. Once the seeds are planted, cover the containers with plastic domes or plastic wrap. They will create a miniature greenhouse, which will keep the medium from drying out and a warm environment for your seed to germinate.

Place containers in a warm spot out of direct sunlight and away from drafts.  On top of the refrigerator is ideal, or you can apply bottom heat with an electric heat mat.  Seed germination should occur in about 5-14 days depending on the variety.

Be sure to check your containers every day. When the first green shoots appear, move them into direct sunlight. Remove the plastic covering and water or mist as needed. Turn the plants daily to keep them from bending to the light.


Check your Irish Eyes garden planner to help with exact dates to plant certain vegetables. Here is a list of seeds that do best when started indoors.