Late Winter Plantings
Spring is right around the corner! Although our fingers are still crossed for more rain this month, the recent spurt of warm, dry weather already has us dreaming about tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other hot weather crops. It’s not time to plant our favorite summer vegetables just yet (we highly recommend waiting until April or May, or even June depending on the crop), but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to plant at this time of year. Our rule of thumb is to plant quick crops that will be ready to harvest before your tomatoes get planted in April or May, or to set aside an area for crops that can tolerate colder weather before taking off once the temperature rises. Looking for examples? Below are some suggestions of what to plant here in the Bay Area in these late winter months.
Late February and March are the perfect time to seed almost any root vegetable that comes to mind – from parsnips and turnips (Japanese red rounds, pictured above) to kohlrabi and carrots. We especially recommend radishes and beets, as both are crops that, if seeded now, will be ready to harvest in a month or two – just in time to make room for your tomatoes!
This is also a great time of year to plant all of your favorite leafy greens, including the swiss chard, chrysanthemum greens, and curly kale that you see in the picture above. Greens don’t mind the colder temperatures that we often have in February and March, but will really take off as the days get longer and warmer. This is also the perfect window of time to plant any lettuce or spinach varieties that can’t handle the summer heat, as well as any Asian greens (bok choi, pac choi, tatsoi, etc) that tend to bolt quickly during the warmer months.
Another Round of Brassicas
If gophers, birds, or aphids got to your overwintering brassicas, don’t despair! You can always plant another round of all your favorite varieties of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Just keep in mind that these crops take a long time to produce and take up a lot of room – if space is limited in your garden and you want to get your tomatoes in by April or May, you may want to stick to things that are faster growing and less space intensive.
Replenish Your Herbs
Rainy, cooler months are also the perfect time to replenish the herbs in your garden. The winter can be rough on perennial herbs (we’ve especially had a difficult time with our sages this year!), so go ahead and replace anything that didn’t make it or is looking a little rough. It’s also an opportunity to take stock of what you use most in the kitchen. Do you never use your marjoram, but are always running out of thyme? Then maybe scale back to one marjoram plant and add a few more thymes! Also, if you’re looking for something a bit different this year, we highly recommend zaatar – it’s a Mediterranean herb that combines the flavor of many of our favorite herbs, including thyme, oregano, and marjoram.
Edible Flowers & Tea Plants
We can’t recommend enough growing edible flowers and tea plants in your garden. Not only do they attract pollinators and beneficial insects, they’re also a treat to add to all your favorite meals, cocktails, and hot beverages. For the tea enthusiast we recommend lemon verbena, while the cucumber flavored borage flower (pictured below) and the cheery calendula (pictured above) are a great colorful addition to your salads.
We hope this inspired you to get outside and plant some late winter and early spring vegetables, herbs, and flowers! If you have questions or want to learn more, feel free to stop by Persimmon Park for the next DIG IT class on Saturday, March 5th from 1-2PM – we’ll be talking about what to plant at this time of year, how to maximize your garden space, fertilizing, pests, and more. We hope to see you there and happy gardening!
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PHOTO CREDITS: HOMESTEAD DESIGN COLLECTIVE