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Saving (or Supplementing) Your Northwest Harvest

If you’re like me, you’ve noticed that while the days are getting shorter, the heat is still rising across the Northwest! If you’re wondering what kind of gardening tasks in the Northwest you should be keeping up with this harvest season, keep reading.

As I walk around my landscape, I’m always amazed at how much life and color surround me: flowers, vegetables, birds, and pollinators all around. I’m also absolutely aware of how much I just want to relax.

After a busy spring and early summer in the garden, there’s nothing I love more than observing my space, dreaming about future possibilities within it, and finally, to relax outside with those I love.

Consider this an invitation to take on a few tasks to help to extend and sustain your summer:

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Your Fall Northwest Garden Checklist

  1. Save your harvest! Did you grow too many green beans? Do you wish you would never see a zucchini again? Is your basil a little too prolific? Now’s the perfect time to put a little bit of elbow grease in to preserve these flavors for fall and winter baking and cooling. Flash freezing is a great and simple way to preserve berries and beans: rinse them in a colander, lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and freeze them for a day or so before placing them in labeled and dated bags to go back in the freezer. Also do a quick search for what fruits and vegetables like to be blanched – and do that! Didn’t grow much? Head out to a local farm or farmers market to buy some produce and save that bounty – there’s no shame in supplementing this way and you get to support hard working local farmers, too.
  2. Harvest some seeds. You’ll be surprised at how easy saving seeds from the flowers in your garden and garden pots really is. Look for those flowers that have dried out on the stems (especially easy: zinnia, nasturtium, bachelor buttons, and marigolds). Pinch the back of the flower head with one hand, and pinch and pull the seed heads out with the other. Lay them out to dry in a cool, dark spot for a few days, then make sure you label them and store them in a cool and dark space in preparation for planting next spring. Free flowers!
  3. Watch your watering. When the temperatures are still high and your garden is still productive, still plan to water your plants deeply every few days, making sure to water early in the morning or late in the evening, just not midday when the water evaporates most quickly. It’s also a good time to check your sprinkler heads and drip irrigation to make sure you’re not watering the sidewalk or street, and to ensure you’re efficiently watering the plants you want to keep growing!
  4. Take five minutes to think about next summer. What has been thriving in your garden this month? What has been suffering? What would you like to see or grow in your space next year at this time? Write that down, do some research, order some seeds, or dream about how you can make that happen.
  5. Check on your neighbors. This is a good rule of thumb all year round, but especially in the high heat of late summer, it never hurts to give a call, especially to elderly neighbors. Send a text, or knock on a door to see if they need anything inside the home or outside in the garden, and if you can, do what you can. A delivery of a few cut flowers from your garden or from the farmers market never hurts, either!

It’s no secret that summers are getting hotter in the Northwest, and summer has become synonymous with weather in the triple digits and fires raging. Here’s to staying cool and safe, and here’s hoping for a gentler late summer for all of us.

There are so many great reasons to live in the Northwest, not least of which include our beautiful climate, and the opportunity to grow and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether this summer has felt bountiful or like a failure, there are a few ways you can redeem it and carry its goodness with you into the months ahead!

Josh Cleveland

As a self-taught gardener and voracious learner when it comes to home gardening and landscaping, Josh knows how beautiful and how frustrating it can be when learning to grow. While this garden coaching, consulting, and designing is a side-gig, it is a space that consumes much of his heart and mind as he seeks to support our community in its effort to add beauty to our region. His work centers on water-wise and pollinator-friendly landscapes and he loves showing others how lush and accessible this kind of landscape can be if you only give it some thought and intention.


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