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Spring gardening tips + tasks for Portland, OR

raised garden beds and plants surrounded by grass and trees

Frost fabric + “season extenders” can keep tender plants safe in early spring. | Photo by PDXtoday staff

Birds are singing, the days are getting longer, and the ground is warming up. Yep, it’s spring in Portland — the season of planting + new growth — and there are so many tasks to prevent a gardener from having anything resembling a social life.

Here’s a simple gardening guide to help streamline the spring season + hopefully free up more time for you (or the gardener in your life) to stop and smell the soon-to-bloom roses.

🌱 What’s growing?

If you planted cold-tolerant crops like leafy greens + root vegetables last year, then you’ll be harvesting them around this time.

Spring kicks off the outdoor growing season for many other plants in our region, starting with hardy varieties like peas and blooming bulbs.

🌱 Maintenance tasks

Fertilize perennial plants once new growth appears + cut back dead stems from last year.

Did you apply a thick layer of mulch to any beds in the fall? Consider scraping some away to aid the sun’s work in warming the soil beneath (this also minimizes the risk of slugs + diseases), or adding a light layer of compost to bare beds. Avoid piling organic matter up against tree trunks or shrubs.

Every gardener’s yearly foe — aphids — will start crawling out of whatever chasm they were lurking in and happily devouring your plants, so you’ll want to take action to keep them at bay.

🌱 Seeds, seeds, seeds

Now it’s time for the fun part: planting seeds. It’s helpful to have a plan in place for when, where + how to plant them — this starts with knowing your hardiness zone and keeping an eye on outdoor soil temperatures.

Tender plants (like tomatoes + basil) shouldn’t be moved outside until after the last frost of the season — generally between mid-April and mid-May here. But if you get excited and plant something a bit too early, you can always use frost fabric to protect it on cold nights.

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