As we enter into the winter season half of the year, lucky gardeners in milder climates can start cool season gardening. For hot climates, this means more comfortable working temperatures and for dry-summer areas, this means enriching rains to encourage new plantings. If you are one of those fortunate gardeners who lives where temperatures rarely or never freeze the ground, then put on your gloves and enjoy some healthy, fun outdoor work.
There are plenty of things that will like being planted in the cool season. Seeds should go in as early as possible in autumn, although many annuals and wildflowers will give a longer blooming period if they are set out in successive plantings. Ideally, scatter seed before rain is predicted to give them a good, moist start.
Potted plants and vegetables that enjoy the cooler weather will also appreciate being planted at this time of year. Here are some lists of suggested plantings for the warm winter garden.
Plant vegetables (from seed, roots or potted plants):
- Asparagus peas
- Brasicas: Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Kale and
- Fava beans
- Root crops: Carrots, Beets, Celeriac, Turnips, Radishes, Salsify
(Don’t start warm weather vegetable seed indoors until February or March.)
Add any annual or perennial flower seed or plants that are ‘hardy’. Seed packages are usually labeled either ‘hardy’ or ‘half hardy’.
Plant Woody shrubs and trees. These will be dormant or semi-dormant and will bleed sap less from the small injuries done to roots and branches during planting. It is also the best time for finding bare-root fruit trees. Bare-root plants are easy to transport and set into place and you will get the best selection of varieties.
Lay new lawns. Getting a new lawn from seed, plugs or sod will be easiest when the days are short, sun is less brilliant and soil stays moister.
Grow native plants. Just like the woody shrubs and trees, native plants will be fine planted during the cool season. In dry-summer areas, this is a better time to plant than in the summer when natives tend to go dormant to deal with the lack of water.
There is a long list of potential flowers here and you might want to look up which plants are best in your local environment. Here is a short list of wildflowers that do well in the Southern California garden:
- California poppies
- Cream Cup
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