Many of the signs of spring are nearing the corner here in Douglas County. The warm sun has made several appearances in the last week, flowers are in bloom, lawn mowers are humming, and seasonal allergies are making their infamous comeback.
The arrival of spring is met with great excitement for local gardeners. With a uniquely mild and forgiving climate and fairly isolated region, Douglas County is argued to be not only one of the best counties in Oregon to garden, but one of the top areas in the world.
“Douglas County is a gardener’s paradise,” said Horticulture Extension Agent at Oregon State University Extension Service, Steve Renquist. “We really don’t have any limitations for growing any kind of vegetables or crop. Douglas County really has the best climate for gardening in Oregon. People get surprised by that. They think it must be in the Willamette Valley, but it isn’t” said Renquist.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, Douglas County has seen a 210-day frost-free period which is the best for the state of Oregon. On top of that, Douglas County’s geographical location has a large advantage - being positioned in the south to make it warmer and being close to the ocean with no large mountains between the county and ocean makes the winters very mild. Renquist added that Douglas County also sees very nice heat, but nothing excessive.
Additionally, the county has on average a 200-day growing season which makes it optimal for getting multiple crops off, as well as having one of the most diverse soil profile maps in the entire state with approximately 230 soil profiles.
Popular crops in Douglas County include the wine grape which takes up about 4,000 acres locally and continues to increase; blueberries are another widespread crop with Norris Farms in Roseburg being the state’s largest blueberry producer; and hazelnuts are another important crop to the local county and state.
While those crops are produced at a much bigger scale, home gardeners in Douglas County will find they can grow just about anything that suits them. “You can grow virtually anything around here. I grow a citrus in my yard and it survives. We really do have the best county for gardening,” said Renquist.
However, as the nice weather has everyone jumping to start their gardens, Renquist encourages some patience.
“It is best for Douglas County gardeners to start moving their cool-season transplants outdoors, like broccoli and kale, as early as late March or early April since it is a really nice time of year without a lot of frosts or freezes. The warm-season crops start getting planted mid or early May.
You don’t gain much by planting earlier here. I encourage gardeners not to rush the spring and plant in the warm season. We don’t freeze by doing it earlier, but it is risky because they will sit in the cool soil,” he said.
For Douglas County gardening questions or information, visit the local Master Gardeners website at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/douglas.
The 2021 Home and Garden Show will be at the Douglas County Fairgrounds March 5 to 7.
Admission is $5 per person and participants will be required to wear masks at the show and practice social distancing whenever possible. The event is coordinated by the Umpqua Valley Home Builders Association and will include more than 50 vendors focusing on construction, landscaping, equipment, RVs, decor and much more. Food trucks and Two Shy Brewing will also be onsite. Hours are Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.