A region with lush greenery, rain aplenty, mild seasons, gray days, no shortage on slugs, and some of the best soil in the country comes with many challenges — and many opportunities. Gardening in the Pacific Northwest means cool-weather crops such as greens, root crops and cabbage-family crops will generally thrive, but you may have to take extra care to get high yields of heat-loving crops such as tomatoes and peppers. Starting these summer crops plenty early indoors can give you a jump start.
Giving cool-weather crops an early start in spring and keeping a later planting going into fall and winter can be easier in the Northwest gardening region because winters are typically mild. Try cold frames, low tunnels or a hoop house for all-season growing (these resources on year-round gardening can help).
Some of the best gardening advice about the Pacific Northwest comes from gardening groups, universities and extension offices in the region. Browse these sites for more information:
Average annual rainfall: 50 inches inland to more than 100 inches near the Pacific coast
Time between frosts: 120 days in the east to 200 days near the Pacific coast
Worst insect pests: Slugs, aphids and snails
Hardiness Zones: Zones 7 and 8
Based on a survey of gardeners across the Pacific Northwest, these 10 crops perform the best overall. (The criteria for selection included ease of culture, efficient use of garden space and time, ease of storage, and desirability at the table.)
7. Swiss chard
Do you have recommended top crops and varieties for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest? If so, please share them in the comments section below.
For more information on growing exceptional tomatoes in your region, check out this roundup about the best tomatoes to grow in the Pacific Northwest.
A single region can contain multiple microclimates. To get the most accurate planting times for the Pacific Northwest, try this What to Plant Now tool. The tool uses your ZIP code to access the weather data for your exact location, and then gives you a recommended planting window for 30 common garden crops.
The blue line represents the window in which you can start seeds indoors, the green line tells you when you can plant transplants or sow seeds outdoors, and the orange line represents the expected harvest period for each crop. You can print out a handy planting calendar after you enter your information. Then, the What to Plant Now tool even sends you email reminders when it’s time to plant your crops.
Click on “View Planting Dates” to get started.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS has set up state- and province-specific Facebook pages to help you connect with other homesteaders, gardeners and DIY-ers. You can post gardening questions on these pages, browse and answer others’ questions, and post about local gardening events such as seed swaps.
For even more successful organic gardening in the Pacific Northwest, try some of our other popular gardening tools and resources:
Vegetable Garden Planner: This highly acclaimed online tool makes it simple to sketch out your growing areas, add plants and rearrange them to get the perfect layout. After you select the crops you want to grow, the Planner software uses an extensive database of about 200 crops and nearly 5,000 weather stations to recommend planting times based on average frost dates for your ZIP code.
Grow Planner app: This app takes the amazing functionality of the Vegetable Garden Planner to the iPad platform, making it easy to take your garden plans right out into the garden with you.
When to Plant app: If you like the streamlined planting calendar provided via the What to Plant Now tool, you will really love this easy-to-use iPhone app, which formats planting information for about 200 crops in a similar format.
Crop Growing Guides: Get clear, concise advice on how to grow 51 crops, from classics such as tomatoes to staples such as grains. These guides include cooking suggestions, harvesting tips and organic pest-control advice, in addition to planting and growing basics.
Garden Know-How series: Learn food-growing essentials from award-winning garden writer Barbara Pleasant. The many articles in this series cover everything from weeding, watering and season extension to soil fertility and composting.
Organic Pest Control series: Dealing with pest pressure in your garden? Get info on the main garden pests, several beneficial insects, and the best natural pest control options.
Seed and Plant Finder: This custom online tool lets you search the websites of more than 500 mail-order seed companies and nurseries, so you can find a specific plant variety or species efficiently.
Directory of Mail-Order Seed and Plant Companies: Great new seed companies are popping up all over these days, and our directory profiles each company and helps you find the ones located near you.