Planting Fall and Winter Greens
As summer turns to Autumn the OEC garden is preparing for the chilly and wet months ahead by planting hearty fall crops.
One of the best things about gardening in the Pacific Northwest is the ease with which cool season crops grow in the fall and winter and the abundance of delicious produce they provide. Last week the OEC staff and or Volunteer Garden Crew planted two beds of Lacinato and Red Russian Kale, Rainbow Swiss Chard and Steel Green starts and seeds of Radish, Arugula, Lettuce and Spinach, all which will thrive and grow through the fall and winter as the rest of the garden is winding down and being put to bed. We practice Intensive gardening – growing the most in your space and planting starts with seeds optimizes your production. To learn more about these techniques, consider taking our Comprehensive Organic Gardening Series coming this Spring 2013.
The OEC’s fall and winter greens bed previously grew a succession of buckwheat that was chopped in and covered with burlap to help breakdown and incorporate the organic matter into the soil. We then mixed in a healthy amount of compost and cultivated with digging forks and flat-ended shovels until the beds were fluffy and free of soil clods. Good soil drainage is particularly important for gardening in the fall and winter as they are our wettest months. If your soil doesn’t drain well, pile on the compost and put that digging fork and shovel to work.
Before planting, we added a little vermicompost (which we had harvested a month earlier from our worm bin) under the roots of each vegetable start to give them a nutrient boost as vermicompost is rich in calcium, iron, potassium, sulfur and phosphorus. Adding vermicompost or a complete organic fertilizer (COF) when planting is a great best practice – just don’t add any COF after October, as the rain will likely just wash it away. Granular fertilizer is also dependent on soil temperature, the warmer the more active and effective.
To see photos of our fall and winter greens gardening in the demonstration garden, view the slideshow below!
For further information of fall and winter gardening, check out:
- The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide by Seattle Tilth
- Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest by Binda Colebrook
- Four-Season Harvest and The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman
- Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest
- Pacific Northwest Planting and Harvest Calendar