As summertime fades away in the Pacific Northwest, so, too, goes the promise of the season’s agricultural bounty: the red, ripe tomatoes, the crispy cucumbers, the spicy hot peppers — all gone again until next year.
But just because some of the best of our garden’s produce has run its course for the year doesn’t mean that all of it has. Fall in the Northwest, with its mild temperatures and lingering sunshine, can be an ideal second growing season, one that can extend your veggie delight long past summer’s end.
Here’s a quick primer on fall gardening in the Pacific Northwest: what to plant, when and where to plant it and some tips to help make your fall garden glorious.
Location, location, location
Even though autumn in Oregon and Washington is often mild, it’s still the cooling-off phase before winter sets in. That, along with fewer sunny days, means it’s more important than ever for your garden to capture the most sunshine and warmth that it can for a sizable fall yield. Ideally, your garden should be in full sun, protected from the wind and on a south-facing slope. Raised beds often have better drainage and can stay a little warmer, too.
Fall garden favorites
Face it: you’re not going to be growing giant tomatoes or green peppers outside in Oregon or Washington in October. You are, however, perfectly capable of growing all kinds of other produce that can absolutely flourish in your fall garden this time of year.
The Oregon State University Extension Service says fall is a great time to plant these fall favorites:
- Salad greens
- Brussels sprouts
Other crops that can do well in the fall include radishes, beets, carrots and turnips. And don’t forget your garnishes, everything from parsley and cilantro to scallions and chives.
Ways to win
Fall gardening doesn’t have to be tough, but it does take some attention for a solid harvest. Plant by mid-September to ensure you’re taking advantage of the warmest temperatures we’re likely to see for months. Fall gardeners should also consider protecting plants with any number of structures to ensure a good output. Options include cold frames, clear plastic or glass cloches or even the Wall O’ Water. All of these devices help protect plants from wind and rain, retain heat and ensure a longer growing cycle.
Fall is also a prime time to think about next year’s harvest. If you’re not planting a fall garden, prep for next year by tilling in compost or other amendments, then covering your garden with about 2 inches of leaves or other organic material to make sure your beds are in top shape for a late-spring planting.