Lifestyle, Urban Farmer

Rainier Valley Roots: Time to Plant Your Fall and Winter Garden

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  • collard three

By Diana Vergis Vinh, Lifestyle Columnist

Squash are producing, tomatoes are coming on, and there’s barely an inch of space in your garden—yet it’s time to start thinking about fall and winter planting. In our mild climate you can grow fresh veggies all year long.

The first step is preparing the soil so it will drain well. I usually loosen the soil in my raised beds and add lots of compost. (Rains will return in October, and you don’t want new plants to get waterlogged.)

The next step is choosing what to plant. Either put in fast-growing warm weather crops now or pick crops that will survive the first frost, which usually occurs in early October. Mid-July is a great time to plant carrots and dark greens, such as collards. If you don’t start planting until early August, I’d recommend lettuces.

Water your new garden twice a day—in the morning and at night—until the seeds begin to sprout. If the days are really hot, shade the plantings with an old umbrella or a light cloth like Remay. Once the plants are established, mulch them to hold moisture in the soil. (I like to mulch with dried grass clippings; watch out for weed seeds if you use this method.) You’ll need to control for slugs in late August and September. I recommend picking slugs off by hand in the early mornings.

As the days grow cooler, you can use season extenders like plastic covered tunnels. Stay tuned to learn how to make these with simple materials in early fall.