What to Plant in Early Spring on the Oregon Coast
For many people, the joy of tending their vegetable garden far outweighs the frustrations of insects, slugs, and weeds invading their garden. We begin to review seed catalogs in anticipation of the coming growing season and dream of serving comfort foods made with our homegrown vegetables.
Gardening on the Oregon coast isn’t easy. Wind, fog, and cool temperatures make it challenging. Still, if you match your plant needs and garden design to the coastal climate, gardening on or near the coast can be a rewarding experience. If you’re wondering what to plant in early Spring on the coast, this will help, but your best resource is the OSU Extension service. Also, always make sure you follow the instructions on the seed packet as the instructions vary depending on the particular variety of seeds. Wait until after April 15th to move your baby plants outside to the garden. By then, the threat of frost is minimal.
A critical factor in gardening success on the Oregon coast is the selection of appropriate varieties. Lettuce, peas, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beans, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, leeks, carrots, and onions do well on the coast. Tomatoes and corn can do well if you use short-season varieties and use a row covering to speed germination and early growth.
Start the following seeds indoors in February: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peas, and Herbs
In March, it’s best to plant: Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Spinach, and Tomatoes
In early April, start these fast-growing plants: Beans, Brussel Sprouts, Corn, Cucumber, and Squash
It would be best if you began your soil preparation in March. Most coastal soils are sandy and don’t hold water well, so you’ll need to add additional organic matter and work it into your soil with a rototiller or shovel. A lack of nutrients limits plant growth in any gardening environment, so be sure to apply adequate fertilizer to coastal gardens throughout the growing season.
Climate and seasonal issues can be a guessing game on the coast. Lack of sunlight and warmth often are limiting factors on the coast, and we never know how much sunshine we’ll get. Consider removing any trees that add shade to your garden area. Orienting your garden rows in a north-south direction helps to maximize sunlight to all parts of your garden. Heavy rainfall in the Spring can be a problem where soils drain slowly. Try adding organic matter and use raised beds to increase soil drainage and speed up soil warming.
Wind protection is vital on the coast. Wind causes moisture to evaporate from plant leaves more quickly than the plant’s roots can take in new water. This can cause drought stress, which can occur in windy areas even if the ground is saturated with water. Place small fences, tires, shade cloth, fencing, or any other objects around plants to help break the wind.
If you don’t have the space for a garden, consider raising herbs and vegetables in containers. You can grow any vegetable in a container with enough care and preparation. Begin by finding or making a container large enough to support your fully grown plants and have the adequate soil-holding capacity to hold the plants’ root systems. The container should have drainage holes.
You can grow your vegetables in almost anything, such as barrels, flower pots, window boxes, baskets, and cinder blocks. For most plants, containers should be a minimum of six inches deep, and a lightweight potting soil is the best growing medium for container plants on the coast. Garden soil is too heavy for container growing, and most commercially sold potting mixes are too lightweight for your garden plants because they don’t offer enough support for plant roots.
Of course, you can always buy some plant starts in March at your local garden shop instead of planting seeds. They tend to sell out quickly, so don’t wait too long to purchase them, and remember, you’ll have to keep them indoors until you plant them in mid-April.