Good morning gardening friends!
While the official first day of spring is not until March 21, spring has sprung early in Portland. My apologies to my gardening friends Crystal in Vermont and Mary in New Mexico who are still under many feet of snow. It has been a mild, warm and dry winter here in Oregon. The farmer's almanac points to an early and mild spring. I feel confident it's going to be a great gardening year, especially for tomatoes in Portland. So let the games begin!
Spring is bursting out every where in my garden. Blooming daffodils, crocus, cyclamen, hyacinth, primroses, checkered lily, grape hyacinth, ranunculus, anemones, hellebores, forsythia and daphne are prolific in color and fragrance! My hydrangeas, spirea and maples are leafing out. Perennials, ornamental grasses & ground covers are peaking out of the ground-oriental lilies, bearded iris, corydalis, brunnera, astilbe, japanese forest grass, sedums, creeping jenny, columbine, lady's mantle, lungwort, bleeding heart and even peonies! Herbs are coming back to life-chives, mint, lemon balm, lovage and scented geraniums. It is an exciting walk through the garden every day to see what is new. Several of my borderline hardy herbs like pineapple sage not only made it through the winter, they are still leafed out and were flowering through December.
Sun, rather than showers, are raining down upon Portland and day temperatures are peaking in the 60s. This is the most mild winter and early spring I've ever experienced during 15 years in Portland! This week we've had a couple of nights in the low 30s that brought frost. Traditionally our average last frost in Portland is April 15th and I've remembered years we had frost in May. Our average first frost is October 15th. The last couple of years our last frost has been in March and our first frost hasn't been until November or December so I think it's time to have our average frost dates updated. I'm itching to get our vegetable garden started, like I know many of you are! Though it is on the early side of "spring" I feel safe with starting cool season crops outside now. Please just monitor night temperatures for a hard frost and be prepared to cover your crops overnight with a frost blanket.
Cool season crops to start now:
Peas-sugar snap, snow & shelling
Salad greens-arugula, cress, endive, escarole, mache, mesclun mix & radicchio
I think carrot seeds need warmer soil to germinate, and this also goes for beets to some extent. So I'd definitely wait on carrot seeds until April.
If you want to plant lettuce just continue to monitor temperatures because overnight temperatures in the 30s and a light frost could take out the tender plants.
Herbs-cilantro, parsley, chives, sage, rosemary, thyme, mints. I think most herbs would succeed with early planting if our warm temperatures hold steady throughout March. I'd just hold off on until May on your heat lovers like basil.
I'd also go for it with your potato tubers! It's a little earlier than usual, but I feel confident it's warm enough and dry enough. If you didn't plant your garlic, onion & shallot sets in the fall you could do that now. And it's a great time to begin your onion bunches-this is the way we grow our favorite sweet onions "walla wallas" every spring for summer summer harvest.
Don't forget about your fruit. Late winter and early spring are the very best time to plant your fruit trees, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes and kiwi.
I just can't wait to get started in our raised beds this weekend. If you are new to gardening please join me on March 22nd for Veggie Gardening 101
Happy early spring my friends! Enjoy all that beautiful Portland sunshine.