21815 SW Farmington Rd
Beaverton, OR 97007
21815 SW Farmington Rd
When your sunflowers are in full bloom,
it’s time to plant your fall garden!
The mild Pacific Northwest fall and winter make it possible to grow and harvest fresh vegetables long into the holiday season. Cool weather gardening is different from warm weather growing, as plants tend to grow slower and extra effort is needed to protect plants from any harsh weather.
There are some great benefits to fall gardening!
- Insects are fewer. Less spraying and bug picking.
- Rainfall is more abundant. Less watering.
- Weeds aren’t as much of a problem. Fewer backaches!
When you walk into your backyard to gather ingredients for a dinner salad in the middle of November and December, you’ll know it was worth the extra effort.
How do we “Achieve Autumn Abundance”?
- Choose the location.
A southern facing side of your house, shed or barn is a good location for maximum sun exposure and protection from northerly winds. A south facing slope is good as well.
A wall or windbreak can add 10-15 degrees to your fall/winter garden.
- Prepare the soil.
Mix in large amounts of compost to make it rich, loose, light. Good soil preparation results in healthier plants. The roots can penetrate down and have access to more nutrients.
It’s very important for our soil to drain well, especially here in the Pacific Northwest where we have clay soil and usually heavy rains in fall and winter.
- Raised beds are another way to achieve good draining soil.
Raised beds should be 9-12 inches deep and filled with rich compost. They can raise the soil temperature from 8-12 degrees, enabling us to grow our veggies even longer into the winter.
Now, what do we plant?
Most of our cool weather veggies come from the brassica family of plants, which is wonderful because these plants develop deeper, richer flavors once the weather cools down. Kale in particular is even more delicious after the first frost. The cold weather helps to convert some of the starches in these plants to sugars, making them extra tasty.
Here’s a rundown of cool weather loving plants.
*Arugula * Beets * Broccoli * Brussel Sprouts * Cabbage * Carrots
* Cauliflower * Collards * Endive * Kale * Kohlrabi * Garlic * Leeks * Lettuce * Mustard *Onions * Parsnip * Peas * Radish * Rutabaga
* Spinach * Swiss Chard * Turnips
When do we plant?
The best way to figure out when to plant is to look at the plant tag or seed package to find the “days to maturity” Then we count backwards from our first frost date, which is Oct 15-30. And try to plant before that.
For instance, it takes spinach 40 days, from seed to mature plant. So, I count 40 days backwards from October 30 and know I want to have the last of my seeds planted by about September 20.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to wait for September 20. You can start planting before and keep planting every two weeks until then to have a longer and bigger crop.
This is called succession planting which can be a real life saver for gardeners. It makes sure that we have plants at all stages of maturity to ensure against losses due to unseasonable heat or early frost.
Other plants to consider adding to your fall vegetable garden.
Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram, tarragon and chives are all perennials, meaning they’ll come back year after year. And a few short lived herbs really prefer cooler weather, like cilantro and parsley.
Fresh herbs make your food taste so much better than dried ones from the grocery store and they’re so good for you. Full of antioxidents. Nothing is better than fresh sage and rosemary in a roasting turkey at Thanksgiving.
I’m a big fan of having flowers mixed in with my vegetables. They make my garden a more beautiful place to spend time. They attract pollinators. They repel some harmful insects, AND many are edible.
Some flowers you can plant now are marigolds, zinnias, chrysanthemums, pansies, violas, calendula and asters.
In vegetable garden spaces that aren’t being used to produce cooler crops, consider planting red clover or annual rye grass to turn over in the spring and add nutrients to your soil.
Garlic is one of the easiest ways to get into fall gardening. Insects will leave it alone, it doesn’t take up much space and it adds wonderful flavor to foods.
You can extend the growing season even longer by using a cold frame, a poly tunnel or row covers. These will trap heat for your plants and protect them from wind and frost.
Now I’m going to plant a little salad garden…
Washington County in the spring - a farmer's field of crimson clover.
Growing a vegetable garden is beneficial both for your soul and your fresh food supply BUT each crop depletes nutrients from the soil. Growing a cover crop, when not growing vegetables, is one way of putting some of those nutrients back into the soil.
Cover crops planted in the fall are tilled into the soil in the spring. This not only adds nutrients but the organic matter improves the texture of the soil- easier for next year’s vegetables to reach down into the soil. Think carrots and other root vegetables, or deep rooted ones like tomatoes.
Because the tilling is done before the plants go to seed in the spring yet are still alive, it is called adding green manure. Do this several weeks before planting your vegetables.
Read more for how cover crops help and what cover crops we carry this year.
The summer sun has reached its peak and we are experiencing long, sunny days. You might have been surprised how much of that sun is getting to your garden now that shade from buildings and trees is not as long as at other times of the year. We can see why our part of the Pacific Northwest is known as having a Mediterranean climate during this time of year. It has been dry and hot.
You may have areas where plants have been overly stressed because of all this sun and need replacing, or you may just have some blank spaces in the garden that need filling. You now know what conditions you have in different parts of your garden so you can choose the right plant for the right place. To help you with making it easier to choose that new plant, we are having our SUMMER SALE.
While it is not a good time to move established plants in your garden as their roots will get damaged no matter how careful you try to be, plants in pots are perfectly happy being placed in the ground now as long as extra care is taken regarding WATER. This applies to perennials, shrubs and trees.
Whether you plant in the shade or sun, the same rules apply.
- Dig a regular size hole – two times as wide and as deep as the plant is in the pot.
- Now, fill the hole with water and let it drain. This allows the surrounding soil to absorb water so it won’t be sucking up the water intended for your new plant.
- In the meantime, really soak the potted plant. This makes sure the plant is well hydrated before planting in the ground and makes the roots less susceptible to damage. If you have a container large enough to fill with water to let the pot sit in, that is great.
- In a wheelbarrow, mix your compost with native soil and dampen before using.
Are you getting the drift here? Damp hole, damp potted plant and damp soil. At this point, during these hot summer days, you may need to give yourself some hydration too.
- Plant as you normally do, making sure you add water halfway through and tamp down to get out all the air pockets.
- Finish backfilling, water, and then add a few inches of mulch farther out than the plant’s drip line. This helps keep the soil and roots from drying out too quickly. Make sure you do not build up mulch around the trunk. Leave a few inches. You can mound the mulch on the outer edge to create a well. This makes watering easier and helps avoid run off. MULCH
- Plan your watering routine – use a drip system, soaker hose or do a slow, long release from the hose. The plant will be producing new tender roots to grow into the rich, warm soil and should never be allowed to dry out. Deep, frequent watering should continue until we have the steady fall rains. WATER WISELY
It is best to plant on a cooler day or at the coolest part of the day. You might consider creating shade for your newly planted lovely with a sun umbrella or, when extreme heat is forecast, wait a few days to put the plant in the ground. To avoid stressing the plant, keep it in a shady area and remember to keep it well watered. CARING FOR YOUR NEW PLANT