Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Gardens


One of the biggest perks of living in Southern California is the fact that we can garden all year long. I must admit, I gloat a little tiny bit when I read Facebook status updates from my friends filled with tales of snow shovels and frigid temperatures as I work away in our nursery! I’ll trade my shot at a white Christmas for a chance to garden year round any time.

It’s easy to go into hibernation mode during these chillier months - but winter is a great time to be working on your yard, and it can help to keep you in shape and aligned with those New Years Resolution goals as well.

There are all sorts of things that can be planted: cool season vegetables like beets, carrots and lettuces can go into the ground now, and can even be started by seed. I planted some of these seeds in our gardens at the nursery during the first week of December and have already seen some fast growth. We are going to have some really cool seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for sale in the nursery in the beginning of February; we expect to have a great selection of unusual vegetable and fruit seeds available at that time, which we are really excited about. Planting these cool weather veggies now is great prep for your bigger spring gardens, and nothing will satisfy a severe case of spring fever like some early season veggies ready to be prepped and cooked!

You can still have color in your garden as well. Winters at our nursery are known for nasturtium and larkspur all coming back to life; it never fails to amaze me how these little plants come back after disappearing for the previous nine months! Pansies, violas, primrose and snapdragons are some other annual color that you can depend on during cooler months. Create your own new winter tradition in your yard and plant some sweet pea seeds, there are tons of varieties and color available, both in our nursery and via online resources.

Besides planting, there are all sorts of ways to occupy your time in the garden during the winter: start a compost pile, build a mini greenhouse or ‘hot house’ frame and start your seedlings, check out seed catalogs, build some new raised beds...the list goes on and on!

If anything, the winter months seems to make us appreciate the season more than any other time of the year. I’ve also come to really appreciate the look of deciduous trees in the winter, their bare branches almost become a type of sculpture in the garden. Winter makes me slow down and pay closer attention; those bare branches will one day yield bright green and yellow leaves again, and if you watch close enough, you can see it happen, day by day. That, too me, is what winter gardening is all about - appreciating what we have, patterns of growth, cycles of life, and the promise of a green spring.

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