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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Home and garden

In the Garden: Even after a tough season, it’s easy to cultivate enthusiasm for this year

Feb. 27, 2022 Updated Sun., Feb. 27, 2022 at 11:23 a.m.

Each growing season offers gardeners a fresh start and the opportunity to improve upon the previous year’s garden.  (Susan Mulvihill/For The Spokesman-Review)
Each growing season offers gardeners a fresh start and the opportunity to improve upon the previous year’s garden. (Susan Mulvihill/For The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo
By Susan Mulvihill For The Spokesman-Review

A new growing season is always full of promise. We gardeners have been finalizing our lists of vegetables and flowers to grow, pondering new methods to try and looking for ways to improve upon previous seasons.

Last summer was one of the most challenging seasons I’ve ever experienced. The mixture of extreme heat, drought and smoke took a lot of the joy out of my favorite pastime. Don’t worry, though, because my enthusiasm is back stronger than ever. I intend to build upon the lessons I learned from that tough growing season.

While we’ve all experienced dry and smoky conditions before, the record-breaking high temperatures made us all scramble to keep our plants as comfortable as possible. I intend to monitor the soil moisture even more closely this year and have evaluated how each crop performed during those tough conditions. Out of everything we grew, the pole beans struggled mightily, prompting me to replace our longtime favorite, Musica, with two new-to-me varieties.

According to my research, Fortex and Rattlesnake beans are more heat-tolerant, so I’m excited to try them out. Last year, I grew a late planting of Topcrop bush beans in a last-ditch effort to make up for the paltry Musica harvest. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Topcrop is one of the tastiest and most productive varieties I’ve ever eaten.

I don’t ordinarily grow three types of beans in a season, but that’s the plan this year. If I end up with a glut, it will be a treat to share the excess with our local food pantry. As you can see by the list of what I’m growing this year, there will be other new additions and plenty of delicious meals to look forward to.

The timing of planting warm season crops was one lesson that finally hit home with me last year. In theory, the Spokane area is finished with frosts by mid-May. I always get so excited to plant my tomato, corn, melon, squash and bean seedlings once May 15 arrives. Unfortunately, Mother Nature always likes to sneak in one more cold snap as soon as I’ve tucked the last tomato plant into its bed. This results in a frantic dash out to the garden to cover the tender crops with every blanket and tarp I can get my hands on.

That familiar scenario occurred once again last spring, so I vowed to wait until late May in future seasons. I fear the only way I’ll stick to that resolution is to put it in writing for all to see. If you’ve had the same experience every year, you are welcome to join me in taking the pledge.

Let’s all raise a trowel to toast the 2022 garden season: May our vegetable plants provide abundant harvests, and let’s hope the weather will be much more pleasant.

Susan Mulvihill is author of “The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook.” She can be reached at Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow a Garden” video at

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