The wet season doesnt mean the end of the gardening season

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Belgian mums and kale can both be planted from August through October.As Oregon’s annual rain storms usher in a season of dreary, damp weather for the next six months, local gardeners may be tempted to hang up their gloves and spade for the season. But just because the sky is gray doesn’t mean that gardens have to match.

In fact, the fall season is an ideal time to get a head start on getting certain plants rooted and comfortable over the winter so they can reach full bloom when spring comes next year.

In particular, chrysanthemums and pansies are a pair of plants that provide a lot of color to fall gardens while being hearty enough to thrive in Oregon’s typical cold and wet season.

“Chrysanthemums, or generically known just as ‘mums,’ are beautiful right now,” said Brian Bauman of Bauman Farms near Gervais. “We’ve got a whole variety of them right now, and they’re great for planting.”

Fall planters need to be choosey in picking which mums are suited for Oregon’s fall climate and planting zones, which fall anywhere between Zone 7 and Zone 9 in the Willamette Valley on the USDA plant hardiness zone map.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Brian Bauman of Bauman Farms displays a flat of pansies while sitting in front of a stand of Belgian mums. Pansies and mums are two flowering plants that can add color to a garden, yet are hearty enough to thrive in Oregons climate.“We grow a variety that’s called a Belgian mum, and they’re very hearty for the Northwest, and they’re in full bloom right now,” said Bauman.

Belgian mums range in color from white to more harvest hues like orange, yellow, deep red and maroon.

The Belgian variety is a very dense plant with a small blooms that form a sphere of color with anywhere from 600 to 1,000 buds on a plant.

They can be grown as either an annual or a perennial, though it’s best to plant it early with fertilizer and several inches of mulch after the flowering is complete to set it up for the winter.

Another flower that Bauman recommends for the winter is pansies. Although the pansies’ small delicate flowers are most often seen as a spring plant, Bauman recommends getting them in the ground early.

“A lot of people wait to plant them in the spring, but if you plant them right now, you get some great fall color,” he said. “Then they get really well rooted so when the spring comes, they just bloom really well and do great.”

To break up the color Bauman recommends adding winter kale to the garden, which can double as both a hearty, green decorative plant that also yields edible leaves that can be added to soups, salads and other vegetable dishes.

The biggest variable gardeners need to be concerned about this time of year is when the first frost hits, which can vary widely from year to year.

“Last year it didn’t hit until November, so a lot of people were able to grow a lot of things throughout the fall, but you never know,” said Bauman. “It could be next week.”

To prepare plants for the coming months, put down a layer of compost and give plants a blanket of mulch to help keep them warm.

“It really helps insulate and protect them for the winter, and it’s also a great way to keep those bulbs and tubers really well fertilized,” said Bauman.

“When the spring comes, they take off so much better.”

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