Winter Garden Tips
Winter has arrived! Thankfully, for most southern California gardeners this doesn’t put a damper in our gardening plans, but, in fact, provides the opportunity to take advantage of planting winter loving plants, and getting your garden in tip top shape for spring!
There are all sorts of things that can be planted this time of year: cool season vegetables like beets, carrots, Swiss chard, kale and lettuces can go into the ground now, and can even be started by seed!
This is also the season to start planting your cottage garden classics, ensuring bountiful blooms for spring. Sweet peas should go into the ground during these cooler months – we will have a big selection from Annie’s Annuals in stock this season – and this is also a good time to plant delphiniums, too. We also like to start planting poppies now. The eschscholzia species grows very well here; you know that poppy as the ‘official California state flower’ that comes in a vibrant orange, but we also have it available in some really cool other colors like rose, alba, yellow and even a new variety called ‘Champagne’. Interesting fact: the species was named around 1810 by a German botanist who was exploring California and the Pacific coast.
For all of these winter plants, be sure you are planting them in soil that drains well, as you don’t want them to get water logged by winter rain, which can cause them to rot. You can ensure this happens and promote aeration in your soil a few different ways. One way is add amendments designed to improve clay soil. Be sure to avoid mulch right now, as mulch can bog the soil down. Look for soil amendments that are specific to promoting better drainage – you can even add a few bags of cactus potting mix to your garden to achieve this. Another way is to literally poke holes in your flower beds! There are tools available to achieve this, spike aerators can be found in hardware stores (shout out to Orange County Farm Supply, one of our favorite spots for all things tools!) for as low as about $25. Another method to improving drainage is to turn over the soil. If you don’t have a lot of material planted already in your garden, literally take a shovel, dig down, and flip the soil. You can do this on a smaller scale with a hand trowel, turning the soil over in the area you are going to be doing planting. In fact, it’s a good habit to get into any time you plant, as it promotes healthier soil and prevents compaction.
You don’t want to fertilize too heavily in the winter, as this is not the season that you want to promote a lot of growth. This is a good season to add amendments though, especially those that are low in nitrogen. We like worm castings and bone meal for this purpose.
Remember too, this is the time for cool season bulbs! Though a bit of work, planting bulbs is a time honored, fun tradition for many gardeners – we all have our favorites. You can also plant seeds for plants like nasturtiums and Larkspur during the winter, too.
There is no rest for the active gardener! Get out there and make the most of these winter months!
PS: Mark your calendars now: our Spring Garden Party for 2020 will be on Saturday March 21st!