One of the advantages of gardening in mild-winter areas is the opportunity to grow many vegetables during the fall and winter months.The list of crops you can grow during the cool months here in the Bay Area is surprisingly long.
Just like planting for your spring and summer vegetables gardens, get off to a good start by preparing the beds. Work plenty of compost into your garden soil before planting. Loose, light well-amended soil is easier for roots to penetrate, retains nutrients better, and drains well after winter rains. Make sure to use E.B. Stone Organics Sure Start at planting time, then fertilize once every two months. GreenAll® Tomato & Vegetable Food, E.B. Stone Organics Tomato and Vegetable Food and E.B. Stone Organics Fish Emulsion with Kelp are all good to use.
If there’s room in your garden, try succession planting. Consider the salad crops you use up fastest, such as lettuce, then plant a six-pack every few weeks as long as they are available. That way you’ll be sure to have enough plants at all stages of maturity to ensure against any losses caused by unseasonable heat or early frost.
Leafy Greens: Fall and winter are great times to grow your own salads, and these greens are so fresh and tasty. Lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, arugula and other leafy greens all grow well in cooler temperatures. Plant your seeds close together and chop the tops off or harvest from the outside leaves for a continual harvest. Beware of slugs when it rains. Bonide Bug & Slug Killer is ideal for vegetable gardens.
Roots: Root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, beets, turnips and grow well in our winter climate. We particularly enjoy the crunchy sweetness they develop after a cold night. Plant varieties of these to liven up your winter soups and salads.
Cruciferous vegetables: These are members of the Brassica, or Mustard, family. They include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. Some varieties can be planted now and will mature before winter hits, but most will grow to a semi-mature state and then over-winter, to be ready to harvest in the spring.
Protecting plants from the elements: Many plants will survive the winter in our climate, without too much trouble. However, we do occasionally have cold snaps and frosts so it is important to be able to protect your garden. We recommend covering your plants in some way by making mini-greenhouses to keep them warm. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Cover individual plants with plastic jugs with the bottoms cut off and lids removed (gallon milk jugs and 2 liter soda bottles work well).
- Use floating row cover to insulate plants and keep out slugs and bugs. Make sure to secure the edges so it doesn’t blow away.
- Build a cold frame or large cloche to place over plants when needed.
Evergreen Nursery has everything you need to get your cool-season vegetable garden started. Vegetable starts and seeds are arriving, and we carry compost and mulch in our full-service rock-yard as well as bagged soils, soil amendments and a full line of organic fertilizers. If you have questions about what to grow or how to get started, come in and see us! Our Bay-Friendly staff is always here to help!