One of the many benefits of living in Southern California is that we can enjoy fresh produce from our backyard gardens any time of the year. There is a wide variety of foods that can be grown even in the coldest months, but winter is a particularly good time for growing lettuces and leafy greens for use in salads, juicing, and side dishes.
Some varieties, such as kale, taste better when grown in cooler weather, while others are simply too fragile to thrive in Ojai’s summer heat and must be grown in winter.
Here are 10 tips for growing your own winter greens to get you started with this healthy hobby.
1. Raised garden beds are a great option that allow you to better control your soil content. While kale likes nutrient-rich soil that is not high in nitrogen, many winter greens thrive with a bit of nitrogen added to the soil, so amend your soil according to the greens you are growing.
2. Many leafy greens like their soil moist, which is another reason it is best to grow them during the rainy season to reduce the need for supplemental irrigation.
3. Avoid wasting water by growing your greens in shallow containers with plenty of soil for their shallow root systems but no excess soil to soak up water.
4. Consider starting your seeds indoors if you are planting early when the weather is still pretty warm or planting late and the temperature is already regularly dipping below 50 degrees.
5. Succession planting is the key to enjoying an ongoing harvest throughout winter and spring. Plant a few seeds of each variety each week to significantly extend your harvest.
6. You can also extend your harvest by taking only what you intend to use right away and harvesting leaves at the outer edges of the plant.
7. Growing winter greens from seeds is pretty easy; however, if your thumb is not all that green, you may achieve better results by starting your garden from seedlings from one of our local nurseries.
8. Another way to help ensure success is to choose easier-to-grow greens, such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, or rocket lettuce. Most greens are easy to grow, but these are even easier, so they might be better options for beginner gardeners.
9. If you do not have room for a vegetable garden, grow your greens in containers on your patio, a vertical garden, or in small pots on a windowsill.
10. Add a layer of mulch around the base of your plants to help retain moisture and protect the roots.
11. Consider a simple hydroponics system for growing leafy greens indoors. I grow leafy greens both in soil and hydroponically and would recommend either one for gardeners with any level of experience. Using a hydroponic system allows you to grow greens indoors all year – not just in winter – so that is a bonus. You can purchase an indoor hydroponics system that is complete with grow lights and a pump, but it is also possible to start with a much simpler and more affordable, do-it-yourself option, such as using the Kratky method, which you can easily learn with a quick Internet search.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing. She is also the owner of Mind Your Manors, which provides second home management services.
Fall is my favorite time of year. While we may not enjoy the beautiful displays of entire forests of leaves changing color, it is nice to finally ditch sundresses and sandals for cozy sweaters and boots. It is also nice to be able to spend time working in the garden now that the temperature has dropped enough to actually enjoy outdoor activities. Here is some fall garden inspiration to help you get as excited as I am about getting back out in the garden.
Plant an herb garden.
Fall is a great time to plant an herb garden for you and your family to enjoy. Since our climate allows for year-round growing, you can plant just about any herb you would like, but you will have the best luck starting herbs that prefer cooler weather, such as mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, parsley, or thyme. Any of these can be used both as culinary herbs and as ornamental plants, so consider planting an edible border or incorporating culinary herbs into your flowerbeds. Remember that mint is a thug, so it is best to manage its growth by planting it in a container.
Plant leafy greens.
Sweater weather is on its way, which means it is time to start planting our leafy greens. Varieties of kale, lettuce, and spinach do well throughout fall and winter, so these are good choices for your fall garden. To extend your harvest period, practice succession planting by sowing seeds every two weeks. This will allow you to enjoy fresh greens from your garden well into late spring. If you have limited space, skip the lettuces, and opt for kale or spinach, which offer greater nutritional value and more versatility in the kitchen.
Plant fall vegetables.
While it is generally best to start your fall garden a bit earlier in the year, there is still time to plant cool season vegetables, like beets, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, onions, garlic, and celery. Like with your leafy greens, you can extend the harvest period by practicing succession planting. With foods like radishes or beets, determining how many you and your family will eat each week will help you decide how many seeds to sow for each round of succession planting.
Consider container gardening.
If you have limited space for gardening or want to expand your garden beyond your raised beds, there are many food plants that grow well in containers. I like using fabric containers to expand my garden area so that I can fold them up and store them when not in use. I particularly like tall, fabric containers for growing potatoes and sweet potatoes, since this makes them easier to move around and easier to dump out at harvest time.
Home maintenance tip: It is time to start using our heaters, which means it is time to change our HVAC filters. The coming months will also likely bring some rain, as well as the Santa Ana winds, so it is a good time to clean your gutters to reduce the risk of water damage or gutter debris catching fire. If you need a professional to perform these tasks, remember to support our local economy by hiring local contractors.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is a member of The Davis Group and a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing. She is also the owner of Mind Your Manors, which provides second home management services.
This 40-acre parcel is nestled amongst the mountains of the Rose Valley recreational area in the Los Padres National Forest.
With exceptional mountain views, mostly usable land, and a beautiful, natural setting, this secluded retreat offers an ideal location for a private ranch or weekend getaway.
Historically known as the Gore property and once home to the Mountain Sweet natural spring water company, this versatile property has been used for a family-owned bottled water operation, dry farming Sudan grass and barley for cattle feed, and growing organic snow peas, onions, garlic and other root vegetables to sell to local restaurants.
Rose Valley offers a unique, simpler way of life for folks looking to get away from the city and enjoy a slower-paced lifestyle.
Build your dream home, create an off-grid retreat or simply keep the property as is to enjoy rustic camping in the country with your family and friends.
Visit the property information page for more photos, or contact Nora to visit the property.
This East Ventura home offers easy access to shops, restaurants, schools, parks, and the freeway and features several updates completed in 2022, including carpet in the living room and bedrooms, interior paint, ceramic cooktop, and the primary bathroom.
In the living room, a brick fireplace creates a cozy space to gather, while the breakfast bar between the dining room and kitchen is a great spot for homework or for guests to chat while you put the finishing touches on dinner.
The kitchen also features tile counters, abundant cabinets, a garden window, and a door to the attached, two-car garage for easily bringing in groceries or loading your car.
All the bedrooms have large closets, and there is also a coat closet in the entry and a linen closet in the hallway for additional storage.
Access the backyard through a sliding door in the living room or French doors in the dining room to enjoy a large patio and grass area with space for a garden, fruit trees, a dog run, or play area.
Visit the property information page for more photos and information about this East Ventura home for sale, or contact Nora Davis today to schedule a tour.
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