Seasonal Gardening Tips for Beginners
As the days get shorter and temperature gets colder, most of us don’t think about our garden as much. But with the Bay Area’s amazing year-round growing climate, winter is no reason to put your green thumb to bed! From beets, broccoli and brussels sprouts to kale, garlic, spinach and collard greens, cruciferous vegetables love our winter weather and even like a little light frost!
The first thing I do to prep my winter garden is amend the soil. Many summer vegetables are heavy feeders and drain the soil of vital nutrients. You can amend soil by adding dry leaves, new soil, minerals, or, my favorite…bunny poop! In terms of enriching the soil, Peter Rabbit is worth his weight in brown garden gold! Rabbit manure is dry, odorless and can go directly in the garden. It breaks down quickly and is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. Chicken, horse and many other manures can take six months to a year to “season” or could potentially burn your plants.
For Valentine’s Day last year, I asked my partner for 12 yards of compost so I am pretty passionate about poop! LOL. If manure is not your thing, though, you can also plant cover crops that help replenish the nutrients in the soil. Cover crops such as clover or field peas can help fix the nitrogen in the soil when it gets tilled back into the ground at the end of the season.
This past winter, we tore down my garden and rebuilt it with new, raised beds (shameless brag on my amazing garden). Raised beds make working in the garden infinitely easier on the back (my poor, old back has thanked me every time!) and they also help control the soil quality and reduce weeds. Another option would be the super-versatile trellises now available. The trellis can be covered with plastic to make a DIY green house for sprouting spring garden seeds!
Many of the major garden stores sell baby veggie starts or you can always direct sow into the soil now. My weekend plans include planting radish, turnip and beet seeds, plus two beds of delicious garlic cloves. There are so many great options for this time of year, but whatever you choose to do, I have one thing to say…happy planting!