By Jolie Donohue, The Gardening Goddess
Portland’s warm fall and mild winter temperatures are an ideal climate for growing food into winter, and you still have time to plant in September.
According to the farmer’s almanac, our average first frost will be Nov. 15. When thinking about fall and winter edibles, you want them to be at harvestable maturity by then.
So, if you are interested in planting broccoli and the variety you select says90 days to maturity, count back 90 days and you should’ve planted by Aug. 15. Other factors that affect plant growth are the shorter daylight hours and the farther position of the sun during fall and winter.
September may be too late to plant long-maturing crops like Brussels sprouts and parsnips; however, you still have lots of choices. Look for crops with less than 60 days.
Some crops that do well in the cooler weather are: arugula, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chervil, cilantro, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mesclun mix, mustard greens, parsnips, peas, radishes, radicchio, rutabagas, salad greens, scallions, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.
Many crops are intended to overwinter. You plant them in the fall and they mature for harvest the following spring or summer. Fava beans, garlic, onions and shallots are all overwintering crops. There are also many overwintering varieties of broccoli, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower.
A great resource for timing your fall/winter planting is the Territorial Seed Company’s very informative winter planting chart atterritorialseed.com/product/14053. T
o extend your growing season by providing some frost protection, you can purchase a frost blanket from your local nursery. Row covers like frost blankets are placed directly on plants and pass air and water freely. They can typically protect plants down to 26 degrees.
You can also construct a simple hoop house or cold frame over your raised bed. Directions for these DIY projects abound on the internet. Happy planting!
Jolie Donohue is a Concordia neighborhood resident offers garden design and consultation services, and teaches workshops about therapeutic horticulture, floral design and seasonal recipes. For more information, visit missjolieannkitchengarden.blogspot.com and jolieanndonohue.com.