It’s time to think about planting seeds today for beautiful gardens. We’ve reached out to resident hobby farmer and office manager, Christie Smelser for an overview on what to plant, and when. Keep in mind that these tips are for the Pacific Northwest, so check your USDA Hardiness Zones before you break ground!


We are in the USDA Hardiness Zone 8b
  • A zone is a garden climate.
  • By knowing what zone we are in we can be more successful at picking plants, bushes and trees that will thrive. It also helps to know what time of year to plant them.


Another Key factor in planting a successful garden is to know what the frost dates are in the area we live in.
  • Frost dates are the day of the year when it is calculated to be 50% likely for the temperature to fall below freezing.
  • In the Spring we have a last frost date and in the Fall we have a first frost date.
  • The frost dates in Zone 8b are last frost March 31st and first frost November 9th. These are approximate dates and can vary by a week or two.





Soil preparation

  • Once we pick a spot to plant our garden, we need to make sure the soil is healthy and ready for the plants.
  • One way of doing this is to get a soil pH tester.
  • The correct pH level is essential to ensure optimal plant growth and crop yield.
  • Correct pH allows the nutrients to be freely available to the plants.
  • The optima pH level for most, but not all vegetables is between 6.0-7.0
  • We can amend the soil to bring pH up or down depending on what we are planting.
  • By adding ground agricultural lime or wood ashes we can increase the soils pH level and make the soil less acidic
  • By adding sulfate or sulfer we can decrease the soils pH level and make the soil more acidic.
Picking your plants and vegetables
  • Once you know the pH level of your soil you can start planning what you would like to plant.
  • Here is a short list of acidic soil tolerant plants:






Sweet Potatoes




handful of fresh strawberries

Fresh Strawberries

  • Here is a short list of alkaline tolerant plants:






Sweet Peas


Crookneck Squash

a plant sprouting out of the ground

Squash just starting to grow.

  • Perennials vs. Annuals -a perennial plant is one that will come back year after year in most conditions. An annual plant lives for one season. Most plants are labeled as to which they are.


  • Examples of perennial plants that can be grown in zone 8b









Fruit Trees

  • Examples of annuals that can be grown in zone 8b









rows of raised beds with healthy plants and vegetables

Raised Gardens help retain water and control weeds.

  • Most all plants will need daily and even twice daily watering if temperatures are hot.
  • Some plants such a tomatoes, prefer a deep watering rather than two shorter waterings.
  • After fruit bearing bushes and trees are well established, they can be watered once or twice a week when they are flowering and bearing fruit. Most of the year they will not need extra watering.
  • The plants will tell you how much water they like.


Other essential things to know about gardening.
  • Having a garden is a learning process.
  • We will have great successes and sometimes failures.
  • Getting children in the garden is a great way to teach them how food is grown and get them excited to eat the produce that they help grow.
  • Getting dirty is healthy for us. Exposing ourselves to the diverse bacteria that live in healthy soil is good for our microbiome. A healthy microbiome helps build a healthy immune system.
  • There are no hard fast rules for what to plant together. Although a lot has been written about companion planting.
  • Plant flowers in with your vegetables. There are flowers such as Marigolds that are beautiful and help to repel pests.

A great place for additional information is our local OSU Extension service. This one is for Clackamas County.