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How to Grow Vegetables in the Pacific Northwest

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How to Grow Vegetables in the Pacific Northwest

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Overview

According to Washington State University, the Pacific Northwest as of 2010 is experiencing a push toward growing vegetables in community gardening as a way of improving the health not only of the fare at your own table, but the health of your community as well. The Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade Mountains experiences year-round mild temperatures that make gardening possible even in winter. The key to growing vegetables in the Pacific Northwest is to select crops that adapt to Pacific soils and the microclimate of your area.

Step 1

Test your soil six months before planting your garden. Just as the terrain and climate of the Pacific Northwest changes vastly, so does the soil. The majority of the soil in the Pacific Northwest is silty, but gardeners in the Pacific Northwest may encounter sand along the coastline, acidic or boggy soil in the coastal pine forests or rocky soil in the mountains. A soil test can help you determine your soil's structure and pH, as well as which soil amendments you should add to improve soil.

Step 2

Apply soil amendments based on the results of your soil test. Highly acidic soil such as the kind found in the taiga forestland should have powdered sulfur added to it to lower the pH. Adding organic materials such as compost and manure can improve the structure of silty soil.

Step 3

Break up your soil with a rototiller. Spread soil amendments over the soil with a rake and shovel. Mix the amendments into the soil by passing the tiller over it again. In parts of northern California, Oregon and Washington state, the ground may remain soft all year. In parts of Idaho, you may not be able to work the ground until it thaws, and the water left from winter frost and snow drains away in the spring.

Step 4

Select vegetable plants that are hearty to your USDA hardiness zone. The Pacific Northwest covers a range of land from the coast, across the Cascade Mountains and into Idaho. This area is covered by temperate zones that range from 3a to 9b.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Rototiller
  • Sulfur
  • Compost
  • Manure

References

  • Oregon State University Extension: Fall and Winter Gardening in the Pacific Northwest
  • Washington State University Extension: Sustaining the Pacific Northwest
  • University of Idaho Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Idaho

Who Can Help

  • Oregon State University: Extension Service Garden Hints
  • The United States Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: growing vegetables in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Northwest vegetable gardens, USDA Hardiness zones for the Pacific Northwest

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."