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Gardening in the Pacific Northwest
Know your growing season
Thanks to oceanic weather patterns and the Cascade Mountains, the Pacific Northwest enjoys some amazing growing opportunitiers. However, depending on where you live, your growing season may be marked by more or less heat and sunshine as well as growing days. Use the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine your zone and what varieties will do well in your region. You’ll see that much of the Pacific Northwest is in zones 6 – 9, with some areas in zone 5.
That zone info is essential in planning your garden. Choose plants that grow best in your area by comparing zone information on the back of most seed packets with what you know about your region.
Monitor your yard for a week
Before you plant anything or build a raised bed, take note of where the sun graces your property and how many hours it sticks around. A vegetable garden requires at least six hours of full sunlight every day to flourish. Therefore, if there is a fence or tree that shades things most of the day, plan to avoid the area or simply choose shade variety plants.
Some plants grow beyond summer
In some zones, broccoli, carrots, and onions can grow into the fall and winter months. Oregon State University Extension Service has developed a publication to help you plan and plant your late-season garden, titled Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest. In it, you’ll also find information about how to keep your plants warm in the winter months.
Watch the water
It’s a mixture of sunshine (heat), soil, and water that make a garden grow. Sure, you’re an important part of that mix too, but your job is to monitor the amount of water your garden gets.
If you live on the west side of either state, watering can be pretty simple. But on the east side of the Cascades, it can get tricky. The goal is to water deeply in those areas. Some of your best watering friends include sprinklers, drip systems, and soaker hoses.
One of the biggest issues with gardening anywhere in our region is drainage. Standing water is never a good thing. Not only does it kill off most plants, it can be a breeding ground for mosquitos in the summer months. Nobody likes that. To avoid that issue, monitor your soil for water saturation. If the ground is still wet at the end of a hot day, lay off the water for a day or more.
Don’t forget about aesthetics
Whether you like to relax on the deck or watch the world go by from the great indoors, give yourself a good view of the garden. Everyone in the family will enjoy watching your plants grow. Plus, keeping a close eye on things can help when it comes time to harvest.