Great Veggies for Coastal Gardens
By Laura Swanson
Published: 06/15/2010  Updated: 08/15/2019
photo by Laura Swanson

Coastal climates can present a challenge for gardeners. We talked to experts and got the scoop on the best food crops for our coastal environments.

Growing what grows best here is always good advice, and coastal gardening experts Don and Janet Davis from Don's Waterfall Farms in Tillamook have been growing vegetables in the challenging (cool and windy) climate of Tillamook county for 10 years, while providing guidance to local gardeners. "It's important to start with good soil, and raised beds really help the soil to warm up faster," said Janet. "Locally-grown starts make a big difference," added Don. "And there really is a wide variety of vegetables that do extremely well in our environment." Master Gardeners at the Oregon State University extension office agreed that there are a variety of challenges to gardening at the coast, from sandy soils and wind right at the coast line, to the more temperate (banana-belt) areas in some of the valleys. And, nearly all areas deal with our slow to warm up soil. Raised beds and container gardening really improve your success and make gardening easier, making it a unanimous tip from the experts.

Top Crops for Coastal Gardeners:

1 Greens: Lettuce, Kale & Swiss Chard – You can grow fresh salad greens, kale and Swiss chard nearly year-round at the coast. And grow it just about anywhere. Think "salad bowl" containers on your deck.

2 Onions & Garlics – Planted in late fall for early summer harvest or in spring for fall harvest, onions and garlic love our cool soil and dampness.

3 Artichokes – This tender perennial can produce a dozen delectable artichokes from one plant and can keep producing for several years, depending on winter temperatures. After this winter's extreme cold, most artichokes didn't make it. Just plant a new one!

4 Asparagus – Another perennial, spring-harvested asparagus also likes our cooler clime and will produce for many years. There are so many ways to enjoy it–oven-roasted, steamed, pickled–asparagus is tops in versatility, too.

5 Roots: Potatoes, Carrots & Radishes – Root vegetables of all kinds do well at the coast, including turnips, rutabagas and beets. And kids love harvesting potatoes – it's buried treasure.

6 Rhubarb – This is another perennial vegetable (yes, it is a vegetable), and you either love it or not, but it loves our coastal weather and it produces for years. Rhubarb pie, anyone?

Honorable mentions go to Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower–a later planting time is important here. Peas and green beans do well, but are susceptible to powdery mildew.

A note about tomatoes: Yes, you can grow tomatoes at the Oregon coast, but they need to be grown in containers and protected from wind. Starting with locally-grown starts is also a key factor.
Great Veggies for Coastal Gardens