April 26, 2017
Growing a Garden in the Erratic PNW Weather
By Gini Bramlett
For the Calapooia Food Alliance
Personally, I put a lot of serious thought and vast amounts of effort into growing my vegetable garden, as I’m sure many of my readers do I also preserve much of what I grow for my husband and I to enjoy during the off season. I try to do everything I can to protect that investment from the deer and the local turkey flock. But, just as importantly, from the dramatic climate changes we’ve been experiencing in the PNW over the past couple of decades.
The Calapooia Food Alliance Munch Night last Friday at Randy’s Main Street Coffee featured local gardener, Steve Van Sandt who talked about our changing weather patterns in the Pacific NW: -severe warming/cooling trends and how to continue to have a successful garden in spite of our fluctuating weather patterns. According to a recent segment on KATU NEWS, the PNW is in for another unusually HOT summer folks, so make plans to protect your gardens accordingly.
One way to do that is to place heat sensitive plants in more sheltered spots, such as between rows of heat tolerant ones (lettuce between corn rows or pole beans for example), or grow shorter heat sensitive plants on theprotected side of plants that can take the heat. Also, have shade cloth available to protect more sensitive plants from the extra hot afternoons.
Another issue is the shorter growing seasons in the NW, which is not entirely new, but seem to be getting shorter all the time. For many years now, researchers at OSU have been coming up with varieties of vegetables, berries, tree fruits and nuts that do best in our short growing seasons. Think about the extraordinarily heavy rains and cold temperatures we’ve experienced this spring. And, according to various forecasts, it’s ain’t over yet. Garden planting time will have to wait this year.
To lessen loss and worry consider choosing seeds for your veggie garden that have shorter growing times rather than ones with long growing times. The best way to achieve that is to buy seeds grown and tested as close to home as possible. Check Adaptive Seeds near Sweethome or Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany. Peruse a few websites that focus on growing here in the Pacific Northwest.
When buying tomato seeds, for example, don’t be tempted to buy large beefsteak types that take a long time to come to fruition (sometimes never before cold weather hits) unless you plan to raise them in a greenhouse or hoop house. You could also buy fairly large plants grown in a greenhouse from trusted local growers.if you insist on beefsteaks or other long season varieties.
Your best bet is to try short season tomato varieties such as Silletz and Early Girl. The fruit won’t be as big as the beefsteak types, but they’ll give you plenty of nice-sized, flavorful tomatoes for a good part of the season well before long season varieties are even close to ripe. If we have a colder than normal fall, you may find yourself picking baskets of green tomatoes before freezing temperature kill the plants and the tomtoes. Short season varieties is the way to go.
One way to get plants in the ground a bit earlier is to slope your beds facing south. This angle heats the ground faster so you can plant earlier. Warm season plants such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and even cucumbers won’t do a darn thing, and can even rot if we get a lot of rain, if you plant them before the soil warms enough. Soil temperature is as important as air temperature – maybe more so. Wait until the soil is around 45 degrees or warmer to give your warm season plants a healthy start.
There’s lots more information on growing gardens in the PNW, in erratic climates and short seasons online.
The 2017 Brownsville Thursday Market begins this week at 3pm at the corner of Main and Park streets.Vendors will offer vegetable and flower starts, perennials, berry plants, ornamentals, handmade planters and yard decor, handmade soaps and bath truffles, fresh baked cakes and breads, as well as jams, jarred items, fresh salsa, hot coffee and more.
OSU will also have Master Gardeners at the market to answer gardening questions and troubleshoot garden problems.
For more information about the CFA’s new “NO FEE” vendor guidelines, email Gini at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CFA website at www.gocfa.org and click on “market.” A vendor application and vendor rules can be printed from the site. Vendors will need to bring a completely filled out 2017 application with them to the market before setting up. Applications and vendor rules will also be available at the start of the market on Thursday.