Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

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,

No comments: