Spring weather in the Pacific Northwest can be so fickle, not only is it important to put the right plant in the right place, it's also essential to put the plants in the ground at the right time.
In fact, starting too early is the number one mistake that spring gardeners make. Jumping the gun on planting means you have to take special measures with products like this that are filled with water to insure that plants stay warm at night. They cost 17 bucks-a-piece... or the thriftier, cheaper route that I took in the past involved re-using old milk jugs or water bottles to make tiny greenhouses that protect the tender seedlings.
While starting from seeds is more affordable - it's not easy to do. And starting seeds too late is the second most common mistake. Some plants have long growing seasons and need a longer summer than the Northwest can provide. You can put root vegetables in right now - like beets, carrots and radishes.
Another challenge: 'hardening' your plants. At this time of year, it can still get plenty cold at night, so it's best to get your vegetables used to outside conditions a few hours a day for two or three weeks. Then, when you transplant them into your garden, they are good and ready for the outdoor climate. It's labor intensive but can make a big difference.
More than 80 million Americans try their hand at gardening every year and, if you'd like to give it at try this year, I recommend starts: it's the fast track to success and you won't be nearly as sad if you lose some of the seedlings out of the gate.