DIGGING DEEPER

Fall Forcasts

I have been posting about how challenging it can me to figure out when to harvest the last of the summer veggies this time of year. On the one hand we want to wait as long as possible for tomatoes & peppers to ripen but wet cold weather can ruin crops like winter squash & dry beans if they are left out too long. Probably the most important thing is to watch the weather forecast – carefully! This time of year predictions can change quickly. I usually keep my eye on the NOAA site and for a longer term forecast AccuWeather.

I recently found this interesting chart that calculates the probability of the last frost in the spring, the first frost in the fall and total frost free days for the season. It is a great help to know when the frost is likely to come so we can plan better for both planting and harvest. The “freeze free” column is also helpful when we think about choosing new varieties for next season. We have access to veggie seeds from all over the world, but our relatively short summer season doesn’t allow us to successfully grow everything here. Especially if certain crops didn’t ripen for you this season, make sure to check “days to maturity” when planting next year. In my experience, crops that need more than 1oo days to maturity in Portland benefit from some extra protection if you want them to have a good chance to fully ripen here. We have a few hoop houses and use them to ripen some of the longer season crops. In your own garden there may be places – like up next to the concrete foundation of the house – that are consistently warmer and can give crops the extra boost they need.