Planting in the Fall: What to Plant and What Tools to Use for Success

Planting in the Fall: What to Plant and What Tools to Use for Success

By Ren Verdadero

We highly recommend picking up a copy of the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide. It is packed full of information about what to plant and tasks to do in your garden throughout the year that’s specific to the PNW!


Plant bulbs in the fall to get flowers in the spring! We have Adjustable Bulb Planters and Hori-Hori Knives available to help get them in the ground. Adjustable bulb planters are easy to use in amended, aerated soil that can be easily dug into. You simply push the circular end into the soil and squeeze to make room for the bulb. In places where soil is hard to pierce and has higher clay content, a hori-hori knife is recommended. Hori-hori knives are a Japanese tool made of steel with a serrated end and a smooth end. It’s much easier to push this into a thicker textured spot in your yard. After making a hole for the bulb to be placed, it is recommended to add a bulb fertilizer that will provide the nutrients necessary for a strong root system and vigorous bulbs. We carry E.B. Stone Bulb Food for that purpose, strengthening your bulbs for spring!

Trees & Shrubs:

We carry a wide range of trees and shrubs throughout the year and now is the perfect time to plant them. Planting in fall gives them much needed time to establish a strong root system for the following spring. Set your newly planted trees and shrubs up for success by giving them a "transplanting fertilizer" at the time of planting. The beneficial microbes and mix of nutrients in E.B. Stone Sure Start will do just the trick! If you’re planting in the ground, you’ll want to amend your native soil with a half and half mix of E.B. Stone Planting Compost. This blend of compost helps break down heavy clay in our PNW native soil, as well as many other benefits such as, improved water retention, pH stabilization, and micronutrient enrichment. We also carry a wide range of stakes and ties to benefit newly planted younger trees. When staking, you’ll want to get 2-3 stakes per tree with one on either side or in a triangle formation. Then make a figure eight pattern with the tree chain or tying twine going around the tree and stakes respectively. 

Fall & Winter Arrangements:

It’s pansy and ornamental kale season! While we’ve got both fully stocked, there’s a product you can use this time of year to help your plants thrive. When creating your fall and winter arrangements, try adding E.B. Stone Pansy & Fall Flower Food to your soil. This blended fertilizer contains not only beneficial microbes to help reduce transplant shock and get your plants established quicker, but also seabird guano! Seabird guano is a great source of nitrogen for fall plants because it’s easier for plants to take up into its roots and use in cooler temperatures.

Cover Crop:

If you’ve planted heavy feeders (tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, etc.) in your garden beds at home, most likely your beds are drained of nutrients. Now is a great time to use cover crops to your advantage! Cover crops benefit your soil by adding nitrogen back into your soil, protecting the soil from damaging rains that wash away nutrients, as well as providing a habitat for beneficial soil microbes and worms. Plus! In the springtime you can chop up and let them decompose in your garden to supply plants with more nutrients and organic matter. We stock Botanical Interests Cover Crop seed packets that are 40-65 grams of seed. As well as Renee’s Garden Shaker Cans of a cover crop mix. These are the different cover crops we stock and how they’re used:

  • Crimson Clover: Frost tolerant annual, hardy down to -10°F. In *USDA zones 6 and warmer (In the Willamette Valley and Portland Area, we’re USDA zones 7-8), it is grown as a winter annual for flowering the following spring.
  • Fava Bean: Another frost tolerant annual. Fava beans can germinate in temperatures as low as 35°F, giving them the potential to be grown and incorporated before spring planting. Plus, their white flowers are a great source of nectar for beneficial insects in spring!
  • Peas and Oats Mix: When sown in the fall, peas and oats grow heartily in the cool weather but are killed by the cold temperatures of winter (USDA zones 7 and colder) and won't regrow in the spring. The dead plant material provides wonderful winter mulch that helps prevent soil erosion and is ready to be tilled into the garden as soon as soil can be worked in the spring. This mix can be used as a weed suppressant!

If you wanted to do a second round of cover crop when it warms up in the spring:

  • Buckwheat: It grows better than most cover crops in poor soils and is better at retrieving phosphorus, a macro-nutrient that contributes to later crops' root, flower, and fruit growth. Buckwheat not only grows quickly, it also breaks down quickly in the soil, allowing for planting in the same area just 3 to 4 weeks after incorporating it into the soil. This is another great crop for suppressing weeds!

*USDA Zones refer to our average minimum temperatures. Zone 7 has an overall minimum of 0° to 10°F. Zone 8 has a minimum of 10° to 20°F.

Fall Planting for Winter Harvest, Veggies:

You can sow a variety of greens to harvest throughout the wintertime underneath a cloche or row cover. We carry two sizes of Harvest Guard: Row Cover and Plant Protek: Frost Protection Covers. Nighttime lows and the amount of rainy days we get from year to year will affect just how big a harvest you’ll get. You can start from seed or plant veggie starts this time of year. Here’s what you can plant now: beets (for greens), spinach, swiss chard, chervil, cilantro, arugula, asian greens, cabbage, cress, kale, mustard, radishes, turnips (for greens), endive, and lettuce! 

Overwintering Veggies for Spring Harvest: Garlic! Onions! Shallots! Plant now to enjoy in April and May. We have soft and hard neck garlic, as well as onions and shallots available. Garlic varieties are shown to grow better when chicken manure is added to the bed they’re sown into. We carry 3.75 and 25 pound bags of manure as well as E.B. Stone Planting Compost with chicken manure pre-mixed in.


If you’re an indoor gardener, don’t feel left out! We have supplies for indoor veggie and herb gardens featuring: Mini Greenhouse and Micro Grow Light stands on display near our seed section. If growing food isn’t your focus, now is the time to start acclimating frost sensitive tropical plants back inside to prepare for winter. This includes houseplants, most citrus, and annual flowering plants you want to overwinter. When bringing these plants inside, you want to make sure to spray them down with a dormant spray, neem oil, or insecticidal soap solution to kill any unwanted pests or pest eggs that may be lurking on them from being outside. 

Happy Gardening!