Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Monday, September 3, 2018

What to Plant in September

Good morning gardening friends,

September arrived this weekend. Do you feel the whispering of autumn in the cool early morning as the sun is rising later? Indeed Autumn Equinox is September 21st, however often we have delicious warm weather through September. Late summer in Portland means a garden bursting with fresh delicious produce. The summer bounty we are harvesting in our garden includes: basil, cucumber, cantaloupe, green beans, leeks, mesclun mix, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash, and zucchini.

Local stone fruit and melons are amazing this year, so get them this month while you can. Local apples and pears are just beginning to show up in stores. I've been freezing fresh berries and stone fruit all summer long. As the weather cools in September and October, there is some epic gluten-free baking of cobblers, quick breads, and muffins in store for me.

During those 90 degree August days it is hard to imagine summer is the time to begin thinking about a fall and winter garden. But believe it or not July and August are the months to begin planting your garden for a fall and winter harvest. Unfortunately the bad news is you may have missed your planting window for some winter crops. The good news is there is still plenty you can plant in early September.

Portland’s warm fall and mild winter temperatures make an ideal climate for food growing into winter. According to the farmer’s almanac our average first frost date has now shifted to November 15th.

When thinking about planting fall and winter edibles, in general you want them to be at harvestable maturity by this average first frost date. So if you are interested in planting broccoli and the variety you select says 90 days to maturity you need to count back 90 days from November 15th and plant on August 15th. Other factors that effect plant growth to consider are the shorter day lengths and the farther position of the sun during fall and winter.

Some crops that do well in the cooler weather of fall and winter are:
brussels sprouts
chinese cabbage
collard greens
endive & escarole
herbs-chervil, cilantro, and parsley
mache/corn salad/vit
mesclun mix
mustard greens
salad greens
swiss chard

You can also plant seed potatoes in the summer for a late fall harvest.

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, cauliflower, and leeks.

A great resource for timing your fall/winter garden planting is the Territorial Seed Company. Check out their very informative fall and winter growing guide.

Some of the longer maturing crops are brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, celeriac, rutabaga and parsnip. It is too late to plant those in September for a crop in time for winter. If you want to give it a try definitely use a transplant vs direct seeding and be prepared for season extension with a frost blanket or cold frame.

What I suggest planting in the garden the first week of September:
From seed: arugula, endive, chervil, mache, mesclun mix, radish
From transplants/starts: beets, carrots,collards, cilantro, escarole/endive, fennel, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, parsley, peas-snow & snap, radicchio, scallions, spinach, swiss chard. You can also plant any perennial herbs in September.

In October I will plant bulbs for garlic and shallots to overwinter, as well as cover crops to help enrich the resting soil over the winter. And don't forget September and October are the perfect time for fall-planted spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and buttercups! Stay tuned for more details on these autumn garden tasks.

While you are enjoying the end of summer and reaping the abundant harvest of your garden, remember to grab a glass of iced tea and kick back with your fall and winter seed catalogs and planting calendar. When the winter weather sets in you will be grateful you planned and planted ahead for a cool-season harvest.

Happy Gardening,

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What to Plant in the June Edible Garden

Good morning Portland gardeners!

June is happily arriving and the garden is full of her colorful vibrant blooms and lush shades of green. Wildlife is everywhere from bees, to butterflies, hummingbirds, and all kinds of other happy critters. I just had my garden certified as a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. Fun!

Speaking of garden critters, don't miss my next workshop Organic Gardening to Attract Bees, Butterflies, and Beneficial Bugs Sunday June 3 1pm. Registration & more information here.

My peonies, columbine, delphinium, lupine, rhododendron, and wisteria have just finished their lavish show. Taking center stage now are clematis, poppies, foxglove, catmint, yarrow, spanish lavender, stock, sweet peas, and dianthus. The garden is a delightful explosion of pinks and purples.

Did you notice May was very dry? In fact, it was one of the least rainfall May months we've ever had. I'm not accustomed to watering so much in May and unintentionally let the garden get really dry. Last week I gave a really deep watering to the in-ground garden, raised beds, and containers. Be sure you are staying on top of watering when we receive little to no rainfall. Remember, less frequent deeper watering is more beneficial than frequent shallow watering.

Every day I am harvesting from the edible garden romaine & butterhead lettuce, mesclun mix, mache, collards, lacinato & red russian kale, leaf broccoli, sugar snap peas, snow peas, green garlic, and florence fennel.

Annual edible flowers like calendula and 'lemon gem' marigolds have joined spring-blooming violas with their bright and tasty blooms. Do you have edible flowers in your vegetable garden? If not you are missing out! Join me on Sunday June 3 at 11am for Organic Edible Flower Gardening. Registration and more information here.

Herbs are abundant and I am enjoying the flavors of fresh chervil, dill, lovage, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, thyme, savory, tarragon, mint, lemon balm, and lemon verbena. A handful of freshly snipped garden herbs adds a welcome layer of taste to my cooking. Stay tuned for more information on a summer organic herb gardening immersion workshop in my own garden this July!

Summer fruit season is highly anticipated. My pale pink strawberries are beginning to ripen, blueberries have set their green fruit, and the raspberries are covered in white flowers announcing what is to come later this summer.

The last week of May ended with night temperatures dipping into the upper 40s, which is no good for tender summer vegetables & herbs like basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, peppers, and corn. Nightly I have been covering up our 2 melon plants. So far the tomato plants seem to have withstood the cooler nights. The cucumber plants look tiny, yellow, and wilted. I think the cold has stunted them so I will purchase new plants and replant the 2nd week in June. I am happy I held off on planting basil. The two basil plants I have are happily living in the sunny bathroom until warmer days.

If you are having any problems with disease, pests, yield or other concerns in the vegetable garden I hope you will join me on Sunday June 10 at 11am for Troubleshooting the Organic Edible Garden. Registration and more information here.

You might wonder if it is too late to plant vegetables and herbs in your garden. It is not! Through the rest of June you can continue to plant all of the following crops:

Melons & Watermelons
Scallions/Green onions
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Sweet Potatoes
Tomatillos and ground cherries
Winter Squash

June is still a good time to plant all annual and perennial herbs with the exception of cilantro and chervil that prefer the cooler weather of spring and fall.

Continue planting summer blooming annuals as companion plants to attract beneficial bugs and pollinators as well as provide colorful beauty!

This month as we are turning from spring to summer I think it is too late to plant fruit, as you probably won't get much of a harvest this year. It is too late to start any onions other than scallions/green onions.

As the weather is warming up it is also time to take a break from planting crops that like cooler weather: arugula, asian greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cilantro, cress, endive/escarole, fennel, kohlrabi, mustard greens, peas, radicchio, spinach, and turnip.

Its hard to believe but in July and August we will be turning our attention to planting vegetables for a fall and winter harvest!

Enjoy the sunshine and remember to keep the garden watered, unless we've received an ample rain.

I don't know about you, but I am really excited for summer. This spring has been 3 months of frantic busy work for me! Designing, planning, and planting gardens for work and at home. Garden consultation, container installations, teaching classes, speaking at events, and weekly therapeutic horticulture. I am more than ready for the warm, slow days of summer to take a deep breath, put my feet up, savor a glass of garden-fresh herbal iced tea and enjoy sitting peacefully in the garden.

Hoping to see you on June 3 and 10th at Portland Nursery for my free gardening classes and on June 24 for my 2nd annual open garden. Stay posted for more information on gardening workshops I'm offering in my own garden in July and August.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What to do plant in the May edible garden

Greeting Portland gardening friends,

Happy May Day! Happy Beltane! Happy Spring!

The daffodils and tulips that harkened the end of dreary cold winter have completed their cheery early blooming. The ornamental cherry and pear trees have given way to flowering dogwood in delightful shades of bright pink and creamy white. Lilac, wisteria, bleeding heart, rhododendron, and azalea flowers have arrived in their dazzling annual show. Trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, and perennials have all burst into lush shades of green.

Spring predictably and reliably arrives every year, and yet we are so thrilled and relieved when it is finally here. The season of Beltane celebrates fertility and growth exploding all around us in the natural world.

The first day of May has traditionally been celebrated as the beginning of the growing season, a time of cleansing from the winter, and purification of livestock. Children gave baskets of flowers to family, neighbors, and friends. All danced around the may pole. This seasonal holiday still has relevance to us in modern times. It is an excellent opportunity to take some time strolling in nature, get off the concrete and onto dirt or grass. Observe the spring unfolding all around us.

Bring some fragrant lilacs, tulips, or iris into your home or office. This morning I cut and brought fresh lilacs & wisteria inside, and now my home smells so delicious. Clean out your pantry and donate to the local food bank. Light a candle and thank Mother Nature for her brightness and bounty during the return of spring.

In my edible garden I am harvesting the first of the spring vegetables: mesclun mix, collard greens, leaf broccoli, 'Redbor' and 'Lacinato' kale, crunchy romaine lettuce, and a tender butterhead lettuce in stunning red splashed on green leaves. The snow and sugar snap peas are tall and luscious. They just set their first flowers, pods will soon be on the way in the next couple of weeks. Radish seeds have germinated, but the carrot, scallion and kohlrabi seeds have been slow to sprout. I keep the seed bed covered with a frost blanket, so that marauding squirrels and cats can't destroy the exposed soil.

If you know me, you know growing potatoes in containers is one of Mr. Gardening Goddess' favorite edible crops! Due to the cool wet March weather we got a later start than most years, planting on March 31. 'Russian banana' fingerling and 'dark red norland' are doing great and one month after planting we piled up the first layering of soil.

The herb garden is daily a delightful source of flavorful and fragrant additions to my cooking: chervil, cilantro, chives, lovage, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme.

Raspberry canes have leafed out and soon will reach 6 feet tall. The container grown 3-year-old blueberry bushes are covered in flowers on many new branches. 3 varieties of strawberries, all grown in containers and hanging baskets, have delicate white flowers. Eagerly anticipating berry season is an delectable annual tradition in our home.

Our average last frost around April 15th has come and gone. Warm days can hit the low 80s. Most days average somewhere in the upper 50s to low 60s. Snow, ice, frost, and bitter temperatures are a memory for us. However, hail, wind, rain, thunderstorms, and night temperatures dipping into the 40s are typically with us throughout the entire month of May. These conditions do not equal frost, but it does mean weather that is not yet supportive of hot-season crops like tomatoes and basil. A few days in the 80s do not mean summer is here yet.

In case you are tempted to plant your tomatoes in the next few days when the temperatures warm up, let me reassure you it is still WAY TOO EARLY TO PLANT TOMATOES! Hot-season crops like tomatoes need night temperatures consistently above 55 degrees, and we are still averaging night temps in the low 50s and upper 40s. Typically night temperatures are supportive of growing tomatoes happen around May 15-June.

Please wait a few more weeks for your tomato plants. Planting them too early only causes plants to be stressed, stunted, or die. You don't get any "jump start" by planting heat loving vegetable when the weather is too cool. For full information on organic tomato gardening please read this post.

There is still a lot you can plant in the edible garden including most herbs, fruit, and lots of "cool season" vegetables. With warming soil temperatures, May is the perfect time to direct seed your root vegetables. If you want peas get them planted now! Peas wither in the hot heat of summer, so they are ideally planted March-April, and as late as early May.

Here's what to plant now:
Asian Greens
Broccoli & Broccoli Raab
Brussels Sprouts
Carrots-direct seed
Florence Fennel
Mustard Greens
Radishes-direct seed
Salad Greens: arugula, cress, endive, radicchio-direct seed
Swiss Chard
Turnip-direct seed

These are HOT SEASON crops that need night temperatures consistently above 55 degrees. Typically planted mid May to early June depending on the year. Please wait and do not plant these crops yet: basil, beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, gourd, ground cherries, melons, peppers, pumpkins, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, winter squash, and zucchini.

Even though it is still too early to plant tomatoes, I mark their space in the garden with tomato cages. That way I don't get too overzealous planting cool season crops and don't save any space for warm season crops with later planting dates. I keep all of my unplanted raised bed soil covered with a frost blanket or cardboard to keep out the critters.

Be sure to tuck in several annual flowers in your edible garden. They help attract beneficial bugs. Some of my favorites: alyssum, calendula, cleome, cosmos, marigold, nasturtium, petunia, snapdragons, sunflower, zinnia. May is the ideal month for finding the best selection of annual bedding flowers.

Happy May and Happy Gardening,

Monday, April 16, 2018

Small Space Edible Gardening

Spring greetings gardening friends!

I hope you are well, surviving the dreary dark rainy Portland weather, and holding out hope that soon sunny weather is on its way. When the weather is uncooperative for gardening I can return my attention to writing.

This morning I am reflecting on this spring’s Small Space Organic Vegetable Gardening class I taught at Portland Nursery. About eight years I ago I wrote this curriculum and starting teaching about small space gardening techniques. This class was born out of my 20 years experience as an avid gardener gardening in the full spectrum of living situations.

From container gardening on apartment front stoops, participating in the founding of two urban community gardens, to “homesteading” every inch of an uncultivated backyard rental house, as an urban gardener in Portland I have experienced it all!

During the last ten years of teaching gardening in Portland I have observed gardeners are increasingly gardening in smaller spaces. Raised beds and containers appear to be the preferred methods of edible gardening. I have adapted all of my gardening classes to reflect this trend.

As many of you know, for the past seven years Jay and I have joyfully lived and lovingly tended the bountiful garden at our secret garden cottage in the vibrant Alberta Arts neighborhood. Four mature maple trees shade the majority of our yard. We creatively squeeze vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers into every available spot of sunshine.

If you are interested in gardening and think you don’t have enough room, I challenge you to reexamine your space. In our own current yard, we observed the only full sun site was along the pathway on the side of the front house we share our property with. It had 2 existing older raised beds, neglected by previous tenants, full of weeds, and was attractive to neighborhood cats as a litter box. We've spent a lot of money, time, and energy nurturing those old raised beds to their current healthy glory.

This area was also storage space for a composter and numerous trash and recycling bins sitting on a brick pad. This was truly the hottest and brightest spot in the yard and it was not being utilized to its fullest gardening potential. Creative thinking was vital to reimagining this neglected space as a potential new gardening space.

In small space gardening you really have to prioritize your needs and wants. Successful use of your space takes some organization and planning to prevent ending up with a jumbled overcrowded mess of plants competing with each other. Every year I evaluate, adapt, and replant our evolving small space garden.

My initial dreams included an ornamental flower garden to nourish bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds that would also supply me with cut flowers for my design work. I envisioned an abundant flower bed overflowing with my perennial favorites: dahlias, lilies, peonies, oriental poppies, bee balm, purple coneflower, and brown-eyed susan.

A very old rangy four-foot rosemary shrub consumed all the prime full sun in-ground space and it had to go! It took my then boyfriend, not even husband yet, Jay a half a day to tackle that project. Falling in love with a fellow plant nerd entails designing and building gardens together in the first few months of dating. Once removed, the garden bed extended several feet into unused space, and was lined with a cobblestone border repurposed for other parts of the yard. Viola! I had my new four foot by 6 foot flower bed.

On the other side of the raised beds lives a huge red flowering rhododendron. Absolutely it is very pretty in its few weeks of blooming glory in May. After that its just evergreen leaves taking up prime full-sun space. Rather try and remove it, I pruned it from the bottom and within to open it up. This strategic pruning scored me an additional 3.5 feet by 5 feet of growing space. Due to the rhododendron’s mature root system, I mostly plant annual cutting flowers here. In this new flower bed honeywort, strawflower, statice, cosmos, zinnia, sunflower and cleome have all flourished. I’m experimenting with the addition of perennial liatris, gladiola, and dahlias this year.

When the composter was moved to a shady unused part of the yard, this opened up space to build our third raised bed for vegetables that can tolerate bright indirect sunlight and some light shade. Moving the trash and recycling bins to a new part of the yard opened up a very warm and full sun space for both our fourth raised bed and multiple potato tubs.

In a part-sun space next to our abundant mature raspberry patch were three stunted unproductive old blueberry plants surrounded by overgrown roses, ferns, groundcover, and weeds. Removing the blueberry bushes and other unwanted plants cleared a 3 foot by 3 foot space that was lined with a repurposed brick border. This has been the ideal space for my 6 containers of mint plants.

Three of our raised beds are reserved for vegetables with companion annual flowers and herbs. One raised bed is reserved for perennial herbs. Herbs are essential to me so they were prioritized in the small space planning and design. Every one of our raised beds has a trellis along the backside for vines like peas, beans, and flowers. Utilizing vertical gardening techniques helps maximize your limited space.

Our raised beds total 92 square feet of growing space. An additional 20 square feet is reserved for rotating containers and another 24 square feet of ground space for berries. This gives us a total of 136 square feet of growing space for edibles.

To give you an idea of what is possible in your small space garden, here’s what we are able to grow in our 136 square feet:

Beans-pole & runner
Lettuce-butterhead & romaine
Mesclun Mix
Potatoes-5 varieties
Salad greens-arugula, cress, mache, orach & purslane
Summer squash
Tomatoes-5 varieties


Lemon balm
Lemon verbena
Mints-5 varieties
Oregano-2 varieties
Sage-6 varieties
Salad Burnett
Scented geraniums
Thyme-4 varieties

That is a lot of variety of food in such a small space! Are you surprised?

In addition to planning, my best advice for success in your small space garden is remembering healthy soil=healthy plants. Utilizing organic and no-till gardening methods promote optimum soil health and keep my raised beds performing at their peak. I annually top-dress with compost we make and a purchased compost with manure & earthworm castings, fertilize monthly throughout the growing season, utilize compost tea and sheet mulching, plant companion plants, practice crop rotation, fall plant cover crops, and give the raised beds a rest during the winter season. I avoid the use of all chemicals, even organic pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide.

Small space edible gardening is fun, abundant, and extremely rewarding. It just takes a little creativity, planning, and care. Through personalized edible gardening consultation I have helped many urban gardeners enjoy more success from their small space gardens. I have consultation appointments available in April and May just for you! Shoot me an email jolieann.donohue@gmail for more information and to schedule.

Happy Gardening,

Monday, April 2, 2018

What to Plant in the April Edible Garden

Good morning gardeners!

April heralds a bright beginning to the gardening season in Portland. As I write the sunshine has poked out behind the clouds and I think we may see a nice spring day unfold. If you did not plant any vegetables or herbs in March, you did not miss out and you are not too late. I, myself, held off on planting any vegetables or herbs until April. March weather is super unpredictable and still a chance of frost. When soil and air temperatures are cold, seeds are slow to germinate and small plants are slow to grow.

Our average last frost date in Portland is around March 15-March 31. Historically, our average last frost date was April 15 and I think we will be close to that this year. I see in the forecast that we are expecting frost tonight and tomorrow morning April 3. This cooler weather means we are still planting cool season vegetable crops throughout the entire month of April.

Here's what to plant now and the preferred planting method-seeds vs. starts:

Asian greens-seeds or starts
Beets-great time to plant seeds in April
Brussels sprouts (plant in spring for a fall harvest)-I recommend starts
Carrots-great time to plant seeds in April
Collards-seeds or starts
Florence Fennel-seeds or starts
Kale-seeds or starts
Lettuce-seeds or starts
Mesclun Mix-seeds
Mustard Greens-seeds or starts
Parsnips (plant now for a fall harvest)-seeds
Peas-don't like heat so get them in by the end of April-seeds or starts
Radicchio-seeds or starts
Salad greens-arugula, cress, endive, escarole, mache, purslane-seeds
Scallions-seeds or starts
Spinach-seeds or starts
Swiss Chard-seeds or starts

April is the perfect month for planting potatoes from certified seed potatoes.

Continue planting artichoke and rhubarb plants, horseradish from roots, and sunchokes from tubers. February and March are the ideal time for planting asparagus crowns, though you could still try planting in April.

Allium family-plant leeks from seeds or starts, onions from sets or bunches, garlic from cloves or starts.

Runner beans are the only type of bean that can be planted early and will tolerate light or dappled shade. Plant some seeds now in April, like scarlet or sunset runner. They make beautiful ornamental plants grown up a trellis as a vine hummingbirds will love. Harvest the pods while very young and small for fresh green beans. Or wait until pods are large and dry out for shelling/dry beans.

Herbs-plant cool season annual herbs like cilantro and chervil. Plant all perennial herbs now. Plant hardier annual herbs like dill and german chamomile. Wait on tender warm-season annual herbs like basil and shiso until May.

Fruit-keep planting strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and fruit trees through April.

WAIT until mid to late May when night temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees to plant warm season crops like: beans, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, melons, peppers, pumpkins, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, winter squash, and zucchini. Seriously, just wait until later in May. Planting now does not give you a "jump-start" it actually only risks stunting or outright killing these plants.

In April annual bedding plants become available at nurseries. Don't forget to interplant your veggie garden with annual flowers and herbs as companion plants for beneficial bugs. Some of my favorites: alyssum, calendula, cleome, cosmos, marigolds, nasturtium, and zinnia.

Mid-April is a great time to plant sunflower seeds directly into the garden. April is time to plant lily, gladiola, and liatris bulbs in the flower garden. Wait until May to plant dahlia tubers. April is when you will find the most excellent selection of perennial plants.

Remember to apply Sluggo organic slug bait all around your edible and ornamental garden. Reapply at 2 week intervals to keep slugs under control.

Thank you for reading my blog and I am happy to receive your gardening questions here in a comment. Please contact me at if you are interested in scheduling an in-person or email edible gardening consultation. Happy gardening and happy April!

Warmly, Jolie

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

First Day of Spring

Hello gardening friends,

Happy spring equinox and welcome the first official day of spring! Have you got that spring fever gardening itch? Have you started planting or are you waiting until we are past the average last frost date?

I get a lot of questions about frost dates and I think there is a lot of varied information on the internet, gardening books, and at nurseries. According to this source from the Multnomah County Master Gardeners the average last frost date at the Portland Airport is March 28. In prior years our average last frost date was April 15th. However, due to climate change, most sources will now report an earlier last frost date anywhere from March 15-March 31. So, what is a gardener to do?

Considering the last five years of weather and gardening I do think we are mostly safe from a hard frost at the end of March. The current forecast predicts day temps between 40-60 degrees and night temps in the upper 30s-40s. Thats a big range and pretty typical for early spring.

And if you were wondering, I have not planted any vegetable seeds or starts in my raised beds yet this year. What I have done in my raised beds is top dress with organic granular fertilizer and bumper crop compost. Then covered them back up with a frost blanket to prevent marauding squirrels and cats. This way they are prepped, warm, and dry all ready for planting later this month.

Let me emphasize, you have not missed out if you have not planted vegetables or herbs during March. April is a fine and lovely month for planting all of your cool season vegetable and herb crops. To read the full story on March edible gardening please visit this blog post.

The cool season crops I recommend planting at the end of March:

Asparagus-from crowns
Garlic-from cloves
Horseradish-from roots
Jerusalem Artichokes/Sunchokes-from tubers
Potatoes-from seed potato tubers
Onions-from bulbs or bunches
Shallots-from cloves

Plant from seed directly in the garden or transplants:

Arugula-direct seed is best
Asian Greens
Beets-direct seed is best
Cress-direct seed is best
Escarole & Endive-direct seed is best
Florence Fennel
Leeks-transplants are best
Mache-direct seed is best
Mesclun Mix
Mustard Greens
Purslane-direct seed is best
Radish-direct seed is best
Swiss Chard
Turnips-direct seed is best

I would hold off to plant carrots by seed until April. I typically plant seeds for carrots, scarlet runner beans, and sunflowers at the same time around April 15.

Don't forget about your herbs! Cool season annual herbs like chervil and cilantro can be planted in March, as well as all perennial herbs. You can even begin annual herbs like dill and chamomile from seeds or starts at the end of March. Just hold off on planting your hot season herbs like basil and shiso until May.

Remember I have only 2 more gardening classes this month. Both are fully registered, but you can still attend by emailing me at During April and May I am focusing on my garden consultation and design work. I would love to come visit your home garden for an edible gardening consultation. I am now scheduling appointments for April so contact me ASAP to ensure you are on my schedule! I will resume gardening workshops again in June.

Wishing you the happiest of spring growth and renewal!

Happy Gardening,

Monday, March 5, 2018

What to Plant in the March Edible Garden

Good morning gardeners!

Our average last frost in Portland is March 15th and that is just 10 short days away! It is a good date to keep in mind when garden planning and planting. Light frost occurs at 36 degrees, frost occurs at 32 degrees and most annual vegetables and herbs are not able to survive temperatures that low. Please keep in mind the March 15th date is an AVERAGE based on previous years. We could still get an overnight frost. Also remember it is not officially spring until March 21st and March weather is wildly unpredictable with rain, hail, wind, and fluctuating temperatures averaging highs in the 50/60s and lows in the 40s/30s.

For optimal planting conditions not only do day temperatures need to rise, the soil needs to warm, and dry out some. In wet cold soil potato tubers will rot, seeds won’t germinate and transplants will struggle to grow. As March proceeds into April we generally have more ideal planting conditions.

In March think cool season crops. It is way to early for summer heat lovers like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, basil, etc--you will plant these crops after May 15th.

Working in wet gardens causes soil compaction that impacts plant health. I’ve had my raised beds "lasagna mulched," planted with crimson clover, and covered with a frost blanket that is keeping the soil warm and drier through the rainy season. Sometime soon I will prepare my raised beds by removing the frost blanket, hoeing the fall-planted crimson clover cover crop, leaving greens on soil, sprinkling on an organic granular fertilizer, adding a fresh layer of compost, and then replacing the frost blankets. By mid-end of March when I assess the weather the raised beds will be prepped and ready for planting.

Cool Season Crops to Plant in March:

Asparagus-from crowns
Garlic-from cloves
Horseradish-from roots
Jerusalem Artichokes/Sunchokes-from tubers
Potatoes-from seed potato tubers
Onions-from bulbs or bunches
Shallots-from cloves

Direct seed in the garden with protection of a frost blanket, cloche, cold frame or plant transplants directly into the garden

Asian Greens
Escarole & Endive
Florence Fennel
Leeks-transplants are best
Mesclun Mix
Mustard Greens
Radish-direct seed is best
Swiss Chard
Turnips-direct seed is best

I would wait a little later in March to see how the weather goes for planting: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower. Or if you want to plant these now from transplants into the garden be sure to keep a warming frost blanket handy or use some other kind of protection from a cloche, cold frame or low tunnel. I would also hold off until late March into April for direct-seeding beets and carrots. Make sure the soil has warmed up or their seeds won't germinate!

March is a great time to get started with your herb garden. Cool-loving annual herbs like chervil and cilantro should be planted now from seed or transplants. Biennial parsley can be planted now. Additionally perennial herbs like chives, lavender, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme can all be planted from transplants in March. This month is an ideal time to divide and transplant perennial herbs grown in containers like chives, lemon balm, lovage, and mint.

Late winter into early spring is the ideal time to plant small fruit and fruit trees in your garden. This time of year you will also get the best selection at nurseries. Consider planting a dwarf or columnar fruit tree such as apple, Asian pear, pear, cherry, or plum which all grow excellent in Portland. Fruiting shrubs, canes, and vines include:


And don’t forget the strawberries!

Spring is right around the corner. Please email me to schedule and in-person or email edible gardening consultation. Happy Planting!