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Gardening in Washington State

Archive for May 2015

Growing Green Beans in Home Gardens

Homegrown beans are fresh, nutritious and relatively easy to grow, making them a good choice for first-time gardeners. Edible-pod beans were once called “string” beans, due to the stringy fiber along the seam of the pod. Modern varieties are mostly free of tough fibers allowing the pod to snap into segments easily for cooking or preserving, thus the name “snap” bean. There are a few cultivars of snap bean with yellow or purple-colored pods. Usually, the purple color fades during cooking, revealing a green pod. Harvest green beans for their edible pod when the seeds start to form, but before they begin to bulge, keeping the seeds tender and sweet.

green beans

Green bean photo source: Jeremy Keith, UK, via Wikimedia Commons

For more information on growing green beans in your home garden, go to

Submitted by: Sheila Gray, May 29, 2015


Growing Tomatoes

Washington or high elevations in eastern Washington because fruit needs to reach maturity quickly in cooler summer temperatures. Varieties that have longer growing seasons are better suited to the warmer summer temperatures of eastern Washington.

cover tomato photo

Tomatoes can be very temperamental, and if not cared for correctly, you can end up with few fruit or mostly green tomatoes.  Water is key to a healthy plant.  Expect to water about 1” per week during peak tomato growth. Using a mulch will help reduce water loss.  Overwatering can cause increased leaf growth at the expense of tomato fruit.  Too much water also encourages disease problems.

For more information, please see

Submitted by: Gary Fredricks, May 26, 2015


Growing Cucumbers

Be sure to select a variety that matures within the growing season of your geographic area. Most cucumbers require 50 to 70 days from planting to first harvest.

Purchase seed from catalogs and garden centers. It is not recommended to plant cucumber seed that have been saved from the previous year, as they are unlikely to produce the same variety.


When sowing seeds outdoors, germination is best when the soil temperature is at least 55 °F. Seeds can be planted in mid- to late-May, 4 to 5 seeds per hill (mounds of soil) at a depth of 1-inch. Space the hills 4 to 5 feet apart.

When the plants develop two to three leaves, thin the plants to three well-spaced plants per hill. Cucumbers grow best when temperatures are between 70 and 95 °F. Cucumbers are frost-tender vegetables, meaning frost will kill the plants.

For more information on this topic, see for a free, downloadable PDF.

Submitted by: Sheila L. Gray, May 22, 2015


Does Buffalograss Grow Well in Washington State?

To determine if buffalograss is a suitable turfgrass for central Washington, Dr. Gwen Stahnke, Extension Turfgrass Specialist for WSU, established the first set of test plots at the Yakima Area Arboretum in Yakima, Washington, over 15 years ago. Plots were also established in Pullman, Washington, but these did not survive, probably because of drying out over the winter. The loss of buffalograss in Pullman may have been due to winter desiccation. Because of the low soil temperatures for much of the year in western Washington, buffalograss is not recommended for planting there, since it is quickly outcompeted by cool-season grasses and weeds. To summarize regarding adaptability, buffalograsses are only suited for use in low- to moderately-maintained areas in central Washington.


For more information, a free downloadable PDF is located here Buffalograss for Use In Central Washington FS 095E

Submitted by: Marianne Ophardt,  May 19, 2015


Organic fungicides

Plant diseases caused by fungal pathogens are very common in home gardens in the Pacific Northwest, particularly west of the Cascade Mountains. Spring rains combine with warm temperatures and tender new plant growth to create ideal conditions for fungi to thrive and spread. Common fungal diseases seen in home gardens include powdery mildew, downy mildews, rusts, and late blight. Fortunately, there are many products available to home gardeners for managing diseases caused by fungal pathogens on plants. This fact sheet describes organic fungicides and provides information on:
• which organic fungicides are legal and available to home gardeners,
• how effective these organic fungicides are, and
• whether the products have unintended effects on people or the surrounding environment

Copper sulfate

More information is available on this free, downloadable fact sheet:

Submitted by: Linda Chalker-Scott, May 15, 2015

Gardening in Washington State, Puyallup Research and Extension Center

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