Homesteading In The Pacific Northwest

Five Season Plan for 2014

This garden plan is set up specifically for the Pacific Northwest. We have a very short summer growing season that limits what we can successfully grow using traditional gardening techniques.  I have learned to use raised beds with hooped covers, a cold frame, soil warming cables and a small greenhouse to  create a garden that is in production most of the year.  You can modify the plan to fit your climate and growing season.

Winter : Samhain to Imbolc (November 1 - February 2) The Dark Days

These are the short cold days when most gardeners are anxiously waiting for their seed catalogs and dreaming of spring.  I will be harvesting "winter greens" (kale, chard, bok choi, Chinese cabbage and tatsoi) as well as overwintering carrots, beets and turnips from the covered raised beds.  I will have lettuces, spinach, potatoes and hopefully this year, tomatoes.

Winter is the time to start the plants that will reside in the greenhouse all summer long; my peppers and eggplants and a time to get a head start on the tomatoes.  The tomato seedlings will start in small pots under lights on a bench in the greenhouse and be potted up to larger and larger containers until they fill most of the greenhouse floor.  By the time they get transplanted out to the raised beds in mid-May they will be in flower and some will already be starting to set fruit.

Spring : Between Imbolc and Beltane (February 2 - May 1)

The days are lengthening now but without the covers the garden beds would be a sea of mud. This is Washington; it isn't going to stop raining until the Summer Solstice (if we are lucky!).

During February and early March the benches in the greenhouse will be covered with pots containing the seedlings that I will transplant out into the beds later in March and in early May. The last two weeks of March I will direct sow the cool season vegetables (peas, beets, carrots and spinach) into the raised beds, plant the seed potatoes in containers and transplant the Asian Greens into the cold frame. By mid-April I will be harvesting baby greens for stir fry.

Early Summer : between Beltane and Summer Solstice (May 1 - June 21)

Early summer in the Pacific Northwest means more hours of daylight but the days are still cool and nighttime temperatures can still get down into the 40's. I'll start my squashes, pumpkins and cucumbers in pots in the greenhouse (they don't like having their roots disturbed so I start them in large pots and don't do any up-potting). Around mid-May I will transplant the tomatoes out to their raised beds but they will be covered most days and all of the nights with the additions of a heating cable until night temperatures are consistently over 55 degrees. In early June I will direct seed my beans; most of these will grow in containers.

By now I'll be harvest full size Asian vegetables, lettuces, spinach and snow peas.

Late Summer : between Summer Solstice and Lughnasadh (June 21 - August 1)

Our meteorologists say summer in the Pacific Northwest doesn't start until July 12; they are usually right.  In early July it is time to start the seedlings for the fall plantings. By mid-July and early August the garden is fully productive and some of the early plantings are either harvested or beginning to bolt, so I'll be pulling them and amending the soil in preparation for my fall transplants.

Autumn : between Lughnasadh and Samhain (August 1 - November 1)

Early to mid-August sees the direct seeding of more cool weather crops and the root vegetables which will be overwintering. With the addition of the greenhouse to my garden I'm hoping to grow tomatoes and lettuces as well as my normal winter crops.

 Sunlight Graph for Shelton, WA