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Originally published Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:06 PM

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In the Garden

This is the month to plant peas and buy 'Aurora' bareroot blueberries

Ciscoe Morris, Seattle Times garden writer, says March is the month to plant peas, shop for 'Aurora' bareroot blueberries and head for the King Conservation District 20th annual Bareroot Native Plant Sale.

Special to The Seattle Times

We are fortunate in the Pacific Northwest to have the perfect climate for growing peas. If you haven't ever grown your own snap or snow peas, you're missing out on a healthy treat. Peas are high in vitamin C and have many other health benefits, but they also are high in sugar content, making for delicious snacking right off the vine.

Early March is the ideal time to sow peas directly into the garden. Plant the seed an inch deep and one inch apart in a sunny location. Thinning is not necessary.

Before you plant, amend the soil with organic compost and work in a cup of organic vegetable food and a half-cup of bone meal per every 5-foot row. Immediately before sowing, moisten the seed and coat it with an inoculant (available at nurseries and garden centers) to improve nutrient uptake and crop production.

Climbing varieties must be trellised, but bush peas require only a few 2-foot stakes here and there to provide a little extra support. Keep the soil evenly moist but avoid wetting the foliage. Harvest while the peas are young and tender, and harvest often. Try to resist gobbling them all up before you get into the house so the rest of the family gets to enjoy a few with dinner.

Let 'Aurora'

give you

late-season 'blues'

Blueberries are an attractive way to integrate edibles into your ornamental garden. The new leaves emerge a lovely tinge of bronze in spring, soon followed by pinkish bell shaped flowers. In summer, the beautiful blueberries arrive; then the leaves color up brilliantly in fall. After the leaves drop, the bright yellow or red branches liven up the winter landscape.

Blueberries thrive in full sun and in well-drained soil amended with peat moss. The biggest problem with growing blueberries is that the season is generally over by early August.

The newly available 'Aurora' blueberry is famous for producing bumper crops of delicious fruit that don't even begin to ripen until the start of August and in mild summers often keep producing into early September. Look for 'Aurora' bareroot at your local nursery, or online from mail order nurseries that specialize in fruiting plants.

20th annual Bareroot Native Plant Sale

There is a multitude of reasons to include native plants in your landscape. For one thing, native plants require less maintenance. As long as you give them conditions similar to those they experience in nature, once established, native plants rarely need supplemental watering and usually have few disease and insect problems.

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Planting natives will attract birds and other hungry critters to your garden as well by providing edible seeds, fruits and nuts, and flowers rich in nectar and pollen. Natives can be highly attractive as well.

What is more majestic than a noble fir in an open field, as colorful as a vine maple in fall or as tantalizing as an evergreen huckleberry laden with dark blue fruit?

You will find a great selection of natives for outstanding prices at the Bareroot Native Plant Sale (located at the King Conservation District office's parking lot at 1107 S.W. Grady Way in Renton). It's coming right up 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Go on Friday for best selection. Snohomish and Pierce counties are also holding plant sales Friday. Visit www.millerlibrary.org and click on "2011 plant sales and garden tours" for information on all three.

Ciscoe Morris: ciscoe@ciscoe.com. "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.

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About In the Garden

Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.
ciscoe@ciscoe.com

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