With the weather the way it’s been this summer, who knows what’s on the horizon for the rest of the season? But no matter what the weather holds, you can make the best of it to grow your own food. Here’s how.

1. Choose the right plants. Here is a shortlist of what it is still appropriate to plant now (in the Portland metro area, at least):

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Green onions
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Oriental greens
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips

2. Time your plantings properly. At this time of year, you’ll need to remember to choose varieties with shorter growth periods (days to harvest) and make at least a few different plantings of most things about a week apart. This will ensure that regardless of environmental conditions, at least some of your plantings mature tastily; it will also give you a staggered harvest, so not everything comes on at once.
3. Plan for protection. Your plants may like the weather now, or they may need help hanging on till the cooler weather of fall hits and they experience their ideal growing conditions. Either way, you’ll probably have to modify their environment to suit their needs as the weather changes. Think about shadecloth for plants that like cooler weather (eg lettuces and other greens) and season extenders–cold frames, cloches, and greenhouses–for plants that will need shelter from cooler weather in the fall and winter to remain harvestable.

Finally, check out one of many great local resources for more information: the OSU Extension Service’s Fall and Winter Gardening in the Pacific Northwest. Best of luck, and have fun!