Organic Gardening in the Portland Agrihood

By Yolanda Vanveen

Portland, Oregon is home to many gardeners and most are hooked on organic gardening. It is less expensive because you don’t need to buy any products and everyone is doing it so a great deal of support from neighbors.

Many weekends all of the neighbors get together to work in their gardens. We share our best garden tips, seeds, bulbs, starts, wheelbarrows, tools and time. Our Holly Farm Neighborhood Garden Club is very close with many garden work days ending with spontaneous karaoke parties.

My neighbor Brian’s garden is gorgeous — raised beds and many beneficial flowers mixed in with vegetables and fruit to attract pollinators and ward off damaging insects.

His fence and gate are a work of art.

His artichoke plant made it through the winter and are a favorite for his chickens.

Clematis blooms climb the fence welcoming visitors and all those who walk down the dirt road in front of it.

The strawberry and cut flower garden shortly after planting.

His dark Thai basil not only looks good but tastes good too.

He purchased fencing and cut it in pieces to make his own tomato cages.

Black Heuchera (coral bells) in the shade garden

Raised beds with tomatoes, basil and marigolds.

This lemon tree blooms smell marvelous and he brings it inside in the winter and has a great deal of lemons on it. He knows how to make lemonade out of lemons for sure!

Peppers produce a bountiful harvest.

Nasturtium and strawberries thrive along the road.

Brian taught me a great deal about organic gardening. He purchases organic starts that are good sized in May from the local garden center and farmers markets (not seeds) so they produce quickly and for a long period of time since the season can be short if you wait until it warms up to plant seeds. By starting with larger annuals you will have much more product and you save money in the end because you spend less on groceries all summer through the fall.

The cutting garden is a full of blooms including Dahlia ‘Arabian Night (above) and Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ (below).

Gardening in Portland is easier than nearly any other city in the world because of mild winters and warm summers. There is also an abundance of farmers markets and garden centers filled with perennial and annual organic bulbs, seeds and plants for shade or sun! It is always a delight to watch your garden and your neighbor’s garden grow!