The weather may not be quite agreeing, but the truth is that summer is coming to an end and the time is here to get winter gardens going. It may be difficult to remember what January can be like (think fog, fog, fog, rain, fog) when it is pushing 100 degrees and the sun is radiating daggers but now is the time to get serious about adding some color to brighten the winter garden. Pansies, violas, and snapdragons come in a variety of colors that can add warmth and light to those dreary days. It is also the time when we, in the Central Valley, get to grow greens, brassicas, onions, and other cool season crops. Getting those plants into warm soil will give them a jumpstart and get the veggie garden on the road to winter production. Kale, chard, and bok choy are all easy to grow from the starts in six-packs that are currently appearing at nurseries.
Onion starts are also available in six-packs and these generally grow much better than the dry ‘sets’ that are also sold. Lettuces are simple to start from seed and can be planted now. You can supplement those with a six-pack or two and be eating home grown salads before you know it. Broccoli and cauliflower are two of the easiest brassicas to grow and getting them in now means they might be big enough to survive the sparrows who will be arriving soon in hopes of feasting on my broccoli starts. Every year it is a contest to see who gets the broccoli and I must admit it is often not me. But this year I have a plan. My plan is to construct yet another enclosure that will either not keep those scavengers out or else be too difficult to get into to harvest the broccoli. Actually, in true optimistic gardener fashion, I’m sure this year’s version will work.
Think about the sunniest spot in your winter garden (not necessarily the same as the sunniest spot in your summer garden) and take advantage of our second growing season. You could be serving homegrown salad, broccoli and chard for your holiday meals if you get them going soon!
As promised two weeks ago, everyone who commented on Exploring The Herbal Kitchen was assigned a number according to when they commented. Using RANDOM.ORG a number was chosen and that number means that Chris Craig-Veit is the winner of a copy of The Herbal Kitchen. Congratulations Chris! Kami will be contacting you soon to arrange delivery…I know this will be a big help to you in expanding your herb garden!