Nothing says “yum!” like fresh veggies from the garden. Too many people think that ends when summer itself ends, but not so! With strategic planning and planting, you can enjoy much of that summer-fresh goodness from your garden well into the winter.
Besides, your artificial grass lawn looks so great in the “off” season, it’s only natural that you want to keep your planters and garden looking their best, too, despite the colder, wetter weather.
A lot of veggies – especially those with big leaves such as lettuces and spinach – prefer cooler weather. They also grow fast. So if you plant them in late summer/early fall, you’ll have fresh late fall/winter crops to harvest. Now that winter is here, you can still keep your little “farm” going.
Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor longer, there is less labor involved in growing cool-weather crops. With rainier weather, you don’t have to water as often. And most pests have died off or moved on to warmer climes.
What to do now
If you planted veggies or herbs in patio containers this summer, some of them should still be in good shape. Woody herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme are tough and evergreen. (That said, sage can get pretty bedraggled when it gets wet, and if we have an unusually cold snap, it might die back.) So the first thing to do is inspect all your containers to see what is definitely finished and what’s still cooking.
If you have not already harvested sprigs of herbs to dry, do that. You can use them as seasonings, and also to make wreaths or other wintery decorations or gifts. Of course, you can always step outside with a scissor and snip fresh herbs for cooking.
Many people have no idea that root veggies – carrots, beets, turnips – get sweeter when they’re “treated” to cold in the ground. Since the soil doesn’t freeze solid here in the South Bay, leave these veggies in the ground and dig them as you want them, just as you do during the summer. If you have little kids, let them plant radishes, which love cool weather and grow super-fast to keep kids interested.
What to plant now
- Bok choy
- Peas (snow and snap are ready faster)
- Lettuces (midget sizes of butter lettuce and romaine, in fun colors)
Some veggies that prefer cooler weather are also slow to mature – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, for example. So it’s too late to plant them now. But make a list of your favorites, because winter is also the time to plan your next-year garden.
The sun is lower in the sky during winter, which means your yard may be shadier – or shady in different places – than during the summer. Keep that in mind as you decide where to plant your winter favorites. Lettuces and spinach require 2-4 hours of sunlight, root vegetables and members of the cabbage family need 4-6 hours.
Bring it in
You can grow small lettuces and cilantro in a sunny windowsill, too, along with herbs too tender for outdoors such as basil. Plant seeds every 2-3 weeks for successive harvests.
Plant peas, spinach and other fast-growing, cool weather herbs and veggies in late winter, too, so you can ring in the new harvest season as early as possible. And since your artificial grass will be looking lovely, as usual, you can be the first one on your block to host a backyard barbecue complete with homegrown salad.