Fall Heuchera

In the Pacific Northwest we are fortunate to have a seasonal weather pattern this is ideal for gardeners to plant in the fall. Our normally dry, warm fall days allow for root growth before the winter months arrive.

Fall Planting

Heuchera planted in the ground

The cool evenings, and eventually cooler days of autumn, will slow down the loss of moisture through ‘transpiration’ - the loss of water through their leaves. New plantings don’t dry out as quickly as in the intense spring sun. The soil is still warm, encouraging root development.

In the winter, nature provides free, effortless irrigation. The top growth slows or stops when the temperatures drop, and the daylight shortens. Although the soil is cooler, the available moisture provides slow-growing roots with plenty of water.

In early spring as the days lengthen and the air warms, plants begin putting energy into their top growth. The roots continue to develop for the coming surge of growth in shoots, leaves and flower buds.

Then in late spring the temperatures continue to warm with hot days, increasing the loss of moisture through top growth and in the soil itself. If you planted in the fall, you’ll have established roots which are less prone to drought damage, and are ready for a spring surge of top growth.

So for those of us that are able to plant in the fall, you’ll enjoy a quicker start because you gave those roots a chance to get established. With a little pre-planning, it’s a great way to get a couple of extra months of solid growth.

Fall & Winter Vegetable Planting

a hand planting onions

Fall and winter gardening, although an old practice, is an excellent solution for keeping the tilth and fertility of your garden's soil at its peak levels. At the same time it yields crops of delicious vegetables throughout the fall and winter that cost a fraction of produce purchased in the supermarket.

When it comes to vegetable and flower gardening, the climatic patterns of the lower elevation areas west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Oregon, Northwestern California, and British Columbia are quite suitable for fall & winter gardening. Winter low temperatures range from 35°F to 45°F with occasional cold continental arctic air outbreaks lowering it to +20°F to 0°F or so. The garden soil can freeze 3 or 4 inches deep for short periods, but the usual winters are not severe enough to damage carefully mulched winter vegetable plants.

The key to successful winter gardening is knowing the average date of the first killing frost in your region (for example late October in the Pacific Northwest). You then plant your winter crops early enough to let them reach their full maturity before that killing frost.

feet walking over a leaf-covered lawn

Early Maturing Crops

Plant by mid September (Approximate maturity 30 days)

Rootcrops

  • Chives
  • Bunching Onions
  • Radishes

Leafcrops

  • Broccoli
  • Cover Crops
  • Leaf Lettuces
  • Mustard
  • Spinach

Lawns

Whether you are reseeding, fertilizing or redoing your lawn, fall is the best time of the year. Your lawn will respond better to all your efforts, especially in the months of September and early October.