Year-Round Gardening Advice

Anyone can find wisdom within these low-maintenance gardening tips, so you can bring homegrown produce to the table all year long!

| January 2017

Seasonal gardening collage

Though some seasons offering easier growing and harvest than others, certain produce remains undaunted when it gets cold outside.

Photo by Fotolia/san_ta, struvictory, Lukas Gojda, mayudama

With 40 years of gardening experience under her belt, Linda Gilkeson has written Backyard Bounty (New Society Publishers, 2011), a guide chock-full of down-to-earth advice for Pacific Northwest gardeners. Whether a novice or seasoned grower, looking to start a garden or grow more in the one you have, and no matter where you live, this book offers adaptable tips on garden planning, soil preparation, growing healthy seedlings, and simple pruning and planting guides. Make gardening less challenging and less time-consuming with this seasonal wisdom and these practical tips.

You can purchase this book from the Capper's Farmer store: Backyard Bounty.

The crop schedule and harvest notes in this chapter are for the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest — extending from Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland on the south coast of British Columbia to Washington and northern Oregon, west of the Cascade Mountains. In the warmest microclimates and more southerly parts of this region, spring planting can be a couple of weeks earlier than shown here; dates for planting overwintered crops can be up to two weeks later because crops will have a longer growing period in the fall.

You will be making judgment calls every year, but over time you will fine tune these planting schedules to suit your garden’s microclimate(s). The coastal spring weather is so variable that you should be prepared to handle rapid changes in weather. Be ready to cover plants in a late cool spell and to mulch and shade them in an early heat wave.

Spring (February through May)

Once you establish a year-round garden, you won’t need to battle unpredictable spring weather to get an early start for many crops. There will be plenty to harvest from the garden from March through May. Overwintered lettuce, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and other greens grow new crops of leaves as the days warm and lengthen. Remaining leeks, carrots, beets, celeriac and other roots left in the garden will be in good condition until April. Purple sprouting broccoli and winter cauliflower produce heads from late February through May. Indoors, you could still have potatoes, winter squash, onions, garlic and apples if they have been stored well. In fact, I often have to make a point of using up the last of these in July.

So, go ahead and try planting early peas and potatoes in March if the weather permits, but don’t worry about getting an early start for a lot of other crops. If you wait until the soil warms up, it is a lot easier to get a good stand of seedlings. It also avoids the chance that some will go to seed prematurely if there is a period of cool weather.

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