Living in California we are fortunate that summer is not the only season you are able to enjoy your outdoor space. Winter can give your outdoor oasis new life, especially if you enjoy gardening! Spring is when most start focusing on the tilling of the garden in preparation for the summer harvest. But, did you know winter is a season that provides amazing things to keep your garden growing all year round? Here are some ideas of delicious winter vegetables to plant in the fall that can make winter gardening a possibility if not a MUST!
Onions are a member of the root vegetable family that love the rain. This is what makes onions happy during the wet winter months. They are a must on the list of winter vegetables to get planted in your garden, due to their nearly fail proof growth. Although it is possible to get onions started from seeds it’s a better idea to start them off as bulbs called ‘sets’. Planting them in the fall will have them happy by spring and will provide your soil with an abundance of needed nutrients for whatever you choose to plant in its space after their harvest.
Parsnips are commonly overlooked by gardeners, but are a hidden must for winter planting. They are a rich source of copper and vitamin C. This trace amount of copper is beneficial for healthy bones, blood vessels, and nerves. Not to mention parsnips are sweet and hearty. Parsnips are fantastic in stews and wonderful when roasted. Remember to keep the soil loose when planting because parsnips need to breath.
Garlic is fantastic! Although it has a longer harvest time and will not be ready in spring, you can still enjoy the early growth called ‘scapes’. Scapes can be used like garlic, but is ready a month or two before the actual bulb. They are great in salads and taste mild and sweet like chives or scallions.
Pak Choi is a type of chinese cabbage that is quick to mature and packed full of healthy vitamins A and C as well as calcium, iron and folic acid. An added bonus is that it’s happy in colder months (if kept under a cover or a ‘gardener’s blanket’). It might not be as happy in an area that freezes if not kept in a greenhouse, but if you are in a tepid climate Pak Choi should grow freely.
One tip for the happiness of your garden in the winter is providing a protective layer of mulch or covering just to insure it does not freeze. These vegetables are rather resilient, but it wouldn’t hurt to protect your hard work. After the cold of winter has passed you will be ready to clear off your outdoor patio set and have a wonderful summer meal created with the homegrown bounty you gardened during the winter months. Enjoy your fresh meal and relish in the watching, waiting, and winter upkeep you maintained this winter.