Gardening in the Pacific Northwest is quite different from gardening in Vermont. I am looking forward to getting a garden established and enjoying a much longer growing season than I did in Vermont.

In Vermont we were in the hardiness zone 4a while here in the Pacific Northwest, outside Tacoma we are in hardiness zone 8b. What does that mean?  The USDA divides North America into eleven separate planting zones based on the dates you can expect your first frost and your last frost. It is important to know what zone you are in so you can know what plants will do well in your region. It is also helpful when planning your vegetable garden.

Our last frost date in Vermont was in May (21-31) and the first frost in September (11-20). I would usually plant my garden Memorial Day weekend and even then I had to keep an eye on the weather because we could often get a frost in June. Seeds would be started the end of February-March so the seedlings would be ready to go in the garden in early June. It was quite a short and challenging growing season.

Hardiness Map

Here in the Pacific Northwest, outside Tacoma we are in zone 8b. The first frost date isn’t until early November (1-10) and the last date of a frost is in April (1-10). I’m going to have a considerable longer growing season by a month on either end. Our average frost-free growing season is from April 15 to October 24thor 192 days!

What a difference that will be having such a longer growing season. In Vermont right now the ground is frozen solid and covered with snow. I would be getting ready to start my seeds indoors but probably not for a few more weeks. Spring would still seem so far away.

grow lights, seed starting

Recently we went for a walk at the Bloedel Reserve. I was so encouraged by the many signs of spring. I was so surprised to see Cyclamen growing wild in the woods and in full bloom! There are numerous seeds I could be starting right now if I was going to be starting seeds this year. The days are still short but I could be starting seeds such as onions and leeks. Believe it or not I could even direct sow seeds outdoors; seeds such as broad beans and sweet peas.

I am really looking forward to establishing a garden here in the Pacific Northwest. I know there will be challenges just as there were when gardening in Vermont, but they will be different. Pretty sure the slugs are much large here in the PNW! Having a longer growing season is going to be wonderful and that is what I am really looking forward to.

15 comments on “Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

Daron on February 6, 2019 5:51 pm

Hello! Thanks for sharing and welcome to gardening in the Pacific Northwest! I’m born and raised here in Washington but grew up in eastern WA which has a very different climate than western WA where I now live.

I’m down near Olympia so not far from Tacoma. I still got a lot to learn about growing here too. I learned to garden in eastern WA – no massive slugs there!

I really enjoyed reading your post and good luck with your gardening! You might like my site – I run a blog all about working with nature to start a homestead and grow your own food. I hope you share how your garden does this year! 🙂

Nancy Wolff on February 6, 2019 8:01 pm

Daron,
Thanks for stopping by, just went and checked out your site! Always looking for fellow gardeners/homesteaders to learn from! We are now searching for our next home, renting in the meantime but anxious to find something!

WT Abernathy on February 7, 2019 1:53 am

I know quite a bit about Vermont, We’re across the way in NH 5b) but little about WA. Your article was a pleasure to read- I love hearing how other grow zones fare compared to our conditions.
Cheers!

Nancy Wolff on February 7, 2019 6:17 am

WT,
I miss Vermont where I knew what to expect but am looking forward to a longer gardening season here in the Pacific Northwest!

nancy on February 7, 2019 1:55 am

Your local extension office will have great ideas. I had to learn to garden here in Idaho, moved from Oregon rain to high desert. I eventually became a master gardener. NW soil can be very acid, needs lime sometimes. Enjoy the green!

Nancy Wolff on February 7, 2019 6:16 am

Nancy,
I was thinking of taking the master gardener class once we are settled. I took it years ago and thought it was the best program ever!

Lacey on February 7, 2019 6:28 pm

I’m just south-west of you in Oregon, and the growing season is the same here. It’s wonderful! Welcome to the Pacific Northwest and enjoy the long season!

Nancy Wolff on February 8, 2019 2:03 am

Lacey,
We are thrilled to be here, it’s a new adventure!

Lisa Lombardo on February 11, 2019 4:47 pm

Love the cyclamens! It would be pretty exciting to have a longer gardening season. 🙂

Nancy Wolff on February 11, 2019 8:16 pm

Lisa,
I am looking forward to having a longer garden season! Ou season was so short in Vermont!

Lesa on February 13, 2019 3:17 am

A longer season is SO exciting – thanks for posting on the Homestead Blog Hop!

Kathi on February 14, 2019 2:16 am

I’ve never lived there but from the photos I’ve seen it looks like an awesome place to garden! I know you’ll love the longer growing season though because we did live in Maine for awhile and now live in the South – that earlier spring is awesome!

Nancy Wolff on February 14, 2019 2:27 am

Kathi,
I am really looking forward to the longer growing season, we lived in Maine for a while too, very similar growing season to Vermont!

Kevin on February 26, 2019 3:15 pm

An extra 2 months of growing time can make such a difference! In the UK, especially down south, it’s always pretty mild. Our frosts don’t really start until late November, and can sometimes last until April. However, it’s currently 18 degrees C which is very strange for this time of year! There’s just no telling sometimes, but I’m not trusting the sun just yet.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy your longer growing season this year 🙂

Nancy Wolff on February 26, 2019 4:15 pm

Kevin,
We have had crazy weather here as well, just when the early spring flowers were all starting to bloom we had snow which is unusual for this part of the world!

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